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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I just returned from crossing most of the U.S. (Pennsylvania to Washington's Kitsap Peninsula and back) in my Transit camper van and thought I'd post some observations.

The number of modern camper vans of all types seems like it has doubled since I made the same trip in 2021. They were everywhere, especially in the "ultra-cool" places like Bozeman.

A rough guess would be the following:
50% were Sprinters
40% were Dodge Promasters
10% were Transits

Of the Transits I did see on the road, most were the extended length, and many were towing either a car or a trailer.

Wondering how this compares to other Travelers' observations.
 

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Last summer when the fires were real bad all across the west I think every van lifer in America made it out to Washington to find clean air and views I hunt all over the state and know tons of boondocking sites and most were occupied. Returning from a hike in Mt Rainier NP I counted vehicles (not all vans) from 32 different states in the parking lot.

Van conversions are definitely increasing in ratio compared to RV's and campers but still probably less then 20% of that group but seemingly growing by the day.
 

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We have been in central Colorado (mountains in the Leadville, Durango-Silverton-Ouray-Ridgecrest, Gunnison areas) for more than a month. I've never seen so many Promasters, primarily white self-builds. One day sitting in the parked van in Ridgeway, I saw five other PMs at once. Mercedes tend to be Revels or the older pre-2007 style. Very few Transits.
 

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I'm surprised you saw a lot of extended transits towing a car. Take an 8000+ pound build out, add full fuel, water, food, camping gear, two adults and a dog and there's not much left in even a 12,600 lb GCVR van to tow a car.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I'm surprised you saw a lot of extended transits towing a car. Take an 8000+ pound build out, add full fuel, water, food, camping gear, two adults and a dog and there's not much left in even a 12,600 lb GCVR van to tow a car.
It wasn't clear as they sailed by on the Interstate whether the Transits towing cars were full camper builds, but I was surprised too. You see a lot of motorhomes pulling cars to drive after they park, but I think of the Transits, even the extended vans, as being a nimble enough that you wouldn't be tempted to drag a car along on trips.
 

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I'm starting to see a lot more Transit based camper vans this year. We have been up and down the West Coast and spent a week in Tahoe and about 40% of the vans we saw were Transits, which was a massive change from just a few months ago. Not sure if it's a real trend or just some form of West Coast and High Sierra sample bias.
 

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And this evening I saw a nissan 4x4 van with accessories, bikes etc on it, being towed on a trailer by one of the monster class C types. This was a Midwest siting.
 

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Wonder if it's a south-west thing... but we see more like 50% Sprinter, 40% Transit and 10% PM. No shorties on the Transit; mostly extended but maybe 30-40% of them mid-length. So many less of the old Sprinters now... but there's still quite a few.
 

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On the Olympic Peninsula in Wa state just going down 101 for my weekly business
runs in my car I have noticed a lot of promasters home builds , Sprinters too
but not so many transit ,weird it’s seems a year or two ago I saw lots home build
Transit conversions.
been busy with vanbuild and other stuff but have done a few overniters camping
and have not seen much increase in overall vanlife campers at my favorite camp
boondock spots or campgrounds , kinda surprised really , but usally go during week
and avoid weekends.
I don’t know about the rest of the country , but 2020 summer was way busy here
with campers Van, tent , full rv, 2021 less, this summer way less busy , maybe high
gas prices..?? Still busy but bearable at least during the week
 

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It wasn't clear as they sailed by on the Interstate whether the Transits towing cars were full camper builds, but I was surprised too. You see a lot of motorhomes pulling cars to drive after they park, but I think of the Transits, even the extended vans, as being a nimble enough that you wouldn't be tempted to drag a car along on trips.
I'm having one built at an upfitter right now and will be on the edge of whether I'll be able to tow my Civic. 99% of the time I won't tow but a few times a year it would be nice to have an extra vehicle along to use as a shuttle when kayaking. But I bought the van for mobility so towing a car or trailer defeats the purpose. I'm even thinking about a small motorcycle on a hitch carrier but don't feel good about 300 lbs cantilevered off the back of a vehicle that already has departure angle limitations.
 

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The Transits I see towing tend to be passenger vans towing storage trailers. Maybe camping equipment for the crowd in the trailer?
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I'm starting to see a lot more Transit based camper vans this year. We have been up and down the West Coast and spent a week in Tahoe and about 40% of the vans we saw were Transits, which was a massive change from just a few months ago. Not sure if it's a real trend or just some form of West Coast and High Sierra sample bias.
I have been curious to see if the addition of AWD to the Transit in 2020 would convince more of the pro van builders to switch to that platform instead of the Promasters or maintenance-costly Mercedes.

While I'm happy with my AWD for the additional traction I do have to admit that the lifted 4x4 Mercedes vans do look pretty badass. I wouldn't mind having a bit more clearance. 😀
 

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I have been curious to see if the addition of AWD to the Transit in 2020 would convince more of the pro van builders to switch to that platform instead of the Promasters or maintenance-costly Mercedes.

While I'm happy with my AWD for the additional traction I do have to admit that the lifted 4x4 Mercedes vans do look pretty badass. I wouldn't mind having a bit more clearance. 😀
I was about to buy a Sprinter "4x4" before I test drove an Ecoboost T250. For me the big downsides to Sprinters are: 1) that they are quite a bit narrower inside, 2) severe lack of servicing options outside major population centers 3) not much diesel south of the border and 3) the motor is gutless.
I think the real shame is that the switch to the 10 speed and the launch of the AWD Transit effectively killed the market for Quigley and Quad Van Transits, which IMHO are the best of all worlds.
 

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We were in Yellowstone over the 4th of July, coming from California, and entering through West Yellowstone then out via Jackson.

It was a pretty even mix of vans as I recall, though most of the Transit's we saw were windows-all-around (and many with roof vents, so some amount of conversion). Most of the Sprinters were Revels. Saw the HR Abyss Gray van I had on 2022 order at the Grand Teton's Visitor Center, and I recall it was festooned with a rack and traction boards.

3) the motor is gutless.
I effortlessly passed MANY Sprinters that were struggling to do the speed limit on uphills with short passing opportunities. Ecoboost for the win!
 

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It would be interesting to know the stats on how many people are converting vans for fun/travel vs how many are forced to downsize and live full time in them? Just driving around big cities at night I see so many people sleeping in their cars…it’s just crazy.
 

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I just returned from crossing most of the U.S. (Pennsylvania to Washington's Kitsap Peninsula and back) in my Transit camper van and thought I'd post some observations.

The number of modern camper vans of all types seems like it has doubled since I made the same trip in 2021. They were everywhere, especially in the "ultra-cool" places like Bozeman.

A rough guess would be the following:
50% were Sprinters
40% were Dodge Promasters
10% were Transits

Of the Transits I did see on the road, most were the extended length, and many were towing either a car or a trailer.

Wondering how this compares to other Travelers' observations.
How long was your trip? I'll have 13 days off this fall am I'm thinking about driving from Detroit to Moab in back. I have a motovan/sleep and really want to ride (dirt bike and harley chopper) out in Utah.
 

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We just did a trip between Northern ID and Seattle area. Promasters and Sprinters are neck and neck in popularity with Transit a distant third. JDM Toyota/Mitsubishi campers becoming more popular as well. DIY Transits are rare enough that we wave to them when we meet!

Also saw my second Winnebago Ekko out in the wild.
 

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While I'm happy with my AWD for the additional traction I do have to admit that the lifted 4x4 Mercedes vans do look pretty badass. I wouldn't mind having a bit more clearance. 😀
while i agree the 4x4 sprinter with slightly bigger than stock tires or even a lift is the better looking van of the 2 (i never thought promasters ever looked good) but more ground clearance is just a visual perceived myth, especially transit with VC lift. ive measured all the vulnerable items under both platforms (sprinter with + size tires and transit with VC lift and + size tires), front cross member, axle, ad other bits, transit actually has more clearance at front cross member (by .5") and close to the same at rear axle etc. where the sprinter wins is in body, exit and approach angle clearance. but remember the sprinter "4x4" system is a 70/30ish AWD system with a button to turn it off (which has to be done in while not in motion) and the transit is 50/50 awd in mud/ruts

I do really wish quigley/quadvan would continue with the 2020+ platform like they say they are developing, but i highly doubt there is enough demand for it. i personally would probably get a 2wd converted to true 4x4. ive found myself shopping for one as plan B lately, but i just like the interior features of the 2020+ vans more. that and since i just finished importing 2 vehicles form US to Canada i moved with me 4 years ago, im not looking to go through that headache again
 
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