You may ask yourself continuously “what wheel base camper van is best for me?” before pulling the trigger on a new camper van, and that’s a great question to ask because of the wide number of choices available on the market.
There’s a wide number of things to take into consideration when choosing a camper van, because for most of you, it may be your every day driver too.
You could be choosing one to convert, you could be choosing one to buy out right, or you can be asking yourself what wheel base camper van because you’re looking at buying one for business reasons.
In this article we’re going to give you all the information you need to help choose the correct wheel base van based on your own personal needs.
We’ve driven tens of thousands of miles around the world in all different types of vans, some micro, some medium and some just out right gigantic. Each type has their pros and cons, and we’re here to help you choose the right one, so let’s jump right in.
What Do You Want The Van For?
The majority of you reading this are most likely looking for your van to become a camper, so this article is going to be aimed towards that. That being said, a camper comes in all shapes and sizes and there’s a wide number of things you have to take into consideration before buying one. So, ask yourself the following questions:
- Will I be using it as a daily driver?
- Will I be converting it myself?
- Bigger wheelbase means bigger budget, can I afford to convert it?
- Do you have private parking at home? If not, where will you be leaving it?
- Are you get at driving and manoeuvring a large vehicle?
- Do you know that larger vehicles tend to consume more gas?
- How many people will be living in the van when camping?
- Are you living in it full time or using it for short term trips/weekends?
Your answers to these questions should give you a better understanding about what wheel base camper van you are looking for. Larger isn’t always better. For example, if you’re not confident doing parallel parking, or 3 point turns then a larger wheel base camper van might not be for you, and it might be worth looking at micro campers.
But if you want more space, have a larger budget, and want to take the family with you on camping trips then a large wheel base might be mandatory, because more space means more features and comfortability.
We always recommend that you have private parking for your camper vans too, for many years I personally had to park my van on public roads so space was constantly limited as I had to reverse into small spaces to find a parking slot. This meant that I had to invest in a smaller camper van, which made it easier for me to park in tight spaces and easier for me to whizz around the busy city.
What Does Wheel Base Mean?
Wheel base means the width between the wheels of a vehicle. For example, a short wheel base van has a shorter width compared to a long wheel base van.
The wider vans typically have a bigger centre of gravity meaning more space, but short wheel base (SWB) vans are easier to manoeuvre through cities and they’re also easier to park.
Don’t get it mixed up with van length, a typical Ford Transit is roughly 4900mm long, but the wheel base is only 3300mm long because it’s the length between the front and back wheels.
What Wheel Based Camper Vans Are Available?
There’s no “official” measurements of wheel based camper vans, but they usually come in short, medium and long sizes. It all depends on what the manufacturer is advertising it as. But usually you can get an idea of these sizes by looking at “SWB” or “LWB” camper vans.
Sometimes this doesn’t mean more space but most camper van manufacturers have multiple wheel base types to choose from. For example a Mercedes Sprinter comes in short, medium and long wheel base, it’s up to you to choose which fits your needs best.
Small Wheel Base (SWB) Dimensions
Short wheel base camper vans have an average wheel base length of 3250mm.
Medium Wheel Base (MWB) Dimensions
Medium wheel base camper vans have an average wheel base length of 3600mm.
Long Wheel Base (LWB) Dimensions
Long wheel base camper vans have an average wheel base length of 4000mm.
Extra Long Wheel Base (XLWB) Dimensions
Extra long wheel base camper vans have an average wheel base length of 4000mm+.
Best Short Wheel Based Camper Vans?
If you’re looking for advice on a short wheel based camper then you’ve came to the right place, we here at Tiny Home Hub have reviewed many camper vans in our time from European to American vehicles.
The short wheel based van is actually the most popular of all categories because micro campers even fit in this bracket. If you’re looking for a small camper then we advise looking at the VW Caddy Maxi. A European van perfect for couples and weekend retreats away. If done correctly it can sleep two, it can feature a pull out cooking area, and a bunch of storage to keep your things tucked away neatly.
For the normal short wheel based camper vans we advise taking a look at the Mercedes Sprinter or the Ford Transit. These are very versatile vans and can be converted fairly easily, and on a budget too!
What makes these choices so great as that they are very popular vehicles meaning theres lots of parts around the world so repairs are cheap and there’s thousands of people who have converted it themselves meaning plenty of advice!
Best Medium Wheel Base Van?
For those of you asking how much does it cost to convert a VW van into a camper? Then the VW Crafter is probably our go to medium wheel based van, if you want something a bit more compact perhaps the VW Transporter is more up your street, these come in SWB too!
For our American readers the Ford E350 is by far one of the best all round medium wheel based camper vans, but be prepared to pay a pretty penny as they are high sought after.
With medium wheel base vans you get both the space and the compact size which crafts the “perfect” sized camper van. Van Life is meant to be about minimalising, so sometimes bigger isn’t always better. The medium wheel base van is most popular in USA and Canada.
Best Long Wheel Base Van?
This is a tough one because their are so many to choose from. You can choose panel vans or move into the motorhome category. Panel vans are much cheaper but motorhomes already come pre-packaged ready to go.
If we had to choose one, it would most likely be the long wheel base Mercedes Sprinter for a number of reasons.
Firstly, it’s easy to conver to yourself. There’s plenty of videos, blueprints, products and guides made specifically for converting a camper, so it’s easy to do it yourself.
Secondly, parts for these vehicles are everywhere, so it’s not like buying a rare VW T2 where parts are hard to get hold of and repairing one costs a fortune, no. Parts and repairs for Mercedes Sprinters are easy to get hold of and more importantly they don’t cost you an arm and a leg!
So there’s a little information regarding what wheel base camper van is best, hoping that this article helps you make that very important decision!