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Which Is Better: A Camper Van Or A Teardrop Camper?

A camper van in a forest setting on the left and a teardrop trailer on the right in a woody area

Camping season is a time of the year that many people anxiously look forward to. As the weather slowly improves and the grass starts to turn green, our minds turn to what things we need to do to get the camper ready for the first big camping weekend of the season. But if you don’t have a way of camping you might be wondering what you should buy and what is right for you.

Which is better, a camper van or a teardrop camper? It depends on your budget, how often you will be using the vehicle, how many people will be camping, and other factors. For a lower budget, a pull-behind teardrop may be better while a camper van, if you can afford it, can offer more creature comforts.

Camping is a way to be able to experience the freedom of the outdoors, spend time with family and friends, and unwind after a busy work week. The whole process shouldn’t be stressful. Read on as I point out some of the good and bad things of each vehicle and give you a couple of things to think about when trying to make your decision.

While budget and space will be some of the things we consider, we also need to take into account where we would be staying and how long. Is this a permanent life change, or is it just for adventure or maybe to break up the boredom of doing the same thing?

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The Camper Van

A camper van is typically a van that has been remodeled from a full-sized van into a living space. Renovated similar to an RV, it is much smaller and does not have the same restrictions that a traditional RV or motorhome would have. Although a Class B motorhome is also called a camper van, a considerable number of vanners have converted a cargo van for this purpose.

The Good

One of the advantages of a camper van is that it doesn’t always look like a camper. Some people may also bring a tent and air mattress with them while traveling to allow for outdoor camping as well if they want a change of scenery. Tenting would allow for outdoor camping without taking up a large amount of space for gear.

Due to looking like a typical full-size van, you could potentially use places, such as the parking lot of a big box store, to stop and catch a few Z’s while you are traveling to your destination. While I would not recommend this on a regular basis, they probably won’t notice you if you’re only there for a few hours.

Since you will probably be doing the renovating yourself, you have the option to go as green as you can, which also allows for some cool upgrades. You might want to install solar panels across your roof, which will enable you to charge your batteries so that you can have electricity available for appliances and electronics.

Camper vans are easy to drive and maneuver, so you don’t have to worry about finding a longer parking space that will also accommodate your camper.

The Bad

Since you are looking at a renovated van, you are also looking at a lack of restroom facilities. The plumbing and the water storage space needed to be able to install a toilet and/or shower can make for some issues due to the limited space you have to begin with. It is for this reason putting in a bathroom is a challenge in some camper vans.

Speaking of limited space, that is another issue you may find with a camper van. There is limited cupboard space and storage space in general, and it can get even smaller depending on what you feel you need to survive. If you plan to live in your camper van for an extended period, you may want to consider Wifi, which also means you will need a constant supply of electricity.

If you do go with solar panels, you will need to make sure you have enough batteries to be able to store the electricity you gather during the day for nighttime use. Having a place for batteries will eat into your storage space as well, but you might have the option to mount the batteries underneath the camper van.

We have a couple of posts that have a lot of helpful information on inverters that you will like, “What Is An Inverter?” and “Selecting An Inverter For Your Van Build.

The Ugly

There is the cost of the renovation and the continued expense of maintaining your van. If you blow the motor or drop the transmission, you could potentially have to choose between spending the money to fix it or have to do it all over again. If you already have a low top van, you won’t be able to stand up in it, which makes doing certain activities in your van extremely hard.

The limited space also needs to go into the ugly category for the camper van as well, but not because of storage. If you are trying to live in one, more than two people becomes too much for the small space. And it is all the more trying when you are confined inside because of rain.

Teardrop Camper

A teardrop camper, also called a pull behind, attaches to a tow vehicle. Typically making use of the hitch on the vehicle, a teardrop is also called a bumper pull since you don’t necessarily need a big truck to pull them.

The Good

One of the most significant advantages of teardrop campers is cost. Though a new teardrop camper can still be on the expensive side, they cost less than a new camper van. Teardrop campers are also cheap to maintain—no concern over engines or transmissions, only tires, and axles. Most often, when talking about repairs, it means something got damaged, not worn out.

Another significant advantage is space. A teardrop camper does tend to have more storage space and more space for the family. Some teardrops can even come equipped with slide-outs, which provide additional room once you are parked.

Since a teardrop a lot of the time is longer than a camper van, there is usually more storage space as well. Some teardrop campers offer a wet bath, which can allow you to be able to use the bathroom and take a shower.

The Bad

You will need to make sure you know where you are going without having to make too many pit stops as some teardrops lack bathroom amenities. If you get tired and want to stop for the night, you have fewer chances of being able to just park in a big box store overnight. You can’t just park in any old parking spot or parking lot, for that matter. Some planning is going to be required.

Height is another issue that can come with teardrop campers. While this may be an issue with tall people with just about any type of camping vehicle, the design of the teardrop camper can make it even more so of an issue. And some of the teardrop campers are really small, making it an even bigger problem. The lack of height can lead to back cramps for the taller of us, especially if you want to live in one for the long term.

The Ugly

You need to be more alert while towing a teardrop camper. Turns need to be wider, and you won’t be able to back into or pull out of spaces without having some knowledge of what your camper will do. If you don’t know how your camper will react to the turns, you risk hitting someone or something and damaging more than just the camper.

In the interest of making more space inside, some teardrop campers have a hatch in the back for the kitchen. Having the kitchen here can be an issue when it comes to weather. While outdoor cooking is fine when it’s 70 and clear, it can be more of a problem when the forecast calls for rain and lots of wind.

Summing it Up

As you have read, there are advantages and disadvantages to each option. To pick the solution that is right for you, you will have to consider a few questions. Which one will fit your budget? Do you feel comfortable pulling a camper? Is your vehicle big enough to tow a camper? Do you want to use it only on weekends or live in it full-time? Finding the answers to the previous questions will help you to decide which option is right for you.

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Ever since I was little I have been a traveler at heart. It all started when I was six years old and my family took a road trip to Alaska. I enjoy visiting new places and revisiting some of the great locations that I have been to already.