Van vs Pickup w/Camper Question



  • I am hoping to get another winter out of the van, but eventually there will come the time when I need a replacement.

    Everyone who knows me knows that budget is minimal, so although I would LIKE to have a hightop van of the Promaster/Sprinter variety, it's not likely to happen.

    My current van is a 1990 E-150 hightop, and I would like just a little more space. So, I'm thinking the possibility of a pickup with a slide on camper with the over-cab bed(which I would convert to storage, and make the bed in the lower section).

    Question - How do campers feel when it comes to being hot inside for the dog, compared to a conversion van with privacy shades on windows, which is my current thing?

    I go to the southwest and come late March have to be careful to park under shade so as to manage temps for my dog and also if I am hanging in the van during the day. Park with front window away from sun, cover front and front side windows, and make sure the privacy shades are drawn. By mid April, if I can't find a good shade spot, I simply can't do it safely.

    If a camper is similar - then I can consider a camper as an option. But I have to wonder. With the van, there's even a significant difference between temps atop the bed, and on the floor. I can't imagine an open camper has that variance.



  • @Happiegrrrl said in Van vs Pickup w/Camper Question:

    I am hoping to get another winter out of the van, but eventually there will come the time when I need a replacement.

    Everyone who knows me knows that budget is minimal, so although I would LIKE to have a hightop van of the Promaster/Sprinter variety, it's not likely to happen.

    An option you've not mentioned is rebuilding the power train on what you have. Presuming the body itself is okay, and from what I understand about East Coast that may well not be the case, the cost can be dramatically lower than buying even a "new" used rig. Alas, my 2001 F-150 sporting 300K miles on the odometer was almost there, engine and front end rebuild completed, exterior body and paint in great shape, with only the transmission remaining when a ditz talking on her cell phone rear ended me and totaled it. Insurance payout was based on those 330K miles, however, and next to nothing.

    Be all that as it may, certified rebuilt/remanufactured engines and transmissions are pretty reasonable compared to replacing the rig itself. The big gotcha w/such options is finding both competent and honest labor. Vans are more oft than not a pita access wise to work on so that ups the ante in the labor department. Sadly, it's really a roll of the dice, w/odds being against you. Definitely something to consider and a major risk with this option. Supplemental comprehensive insurance is also something to consider if you go this route. See last sentence in paragraph above.

    Taking all of above into consideration pales in comparison to monthly payments plus full coverage insurance costs for a new rig. It is what I am planning for my '91 F-150. That is going to be a bigger job than the '01 though. Even so, I am the original owner and have more confidence in a "known entity" compared to a used rig.

    My current van is a 1990 E-150 hightop, and I would like just a little more space. So, I'm thinking the possibility of a pickup with a slide on camper with the over-cab bed(which I would convert to storage, and make the bed in the lower section).

    Storage up high is never a good idea unless minimal and lightweight. Otherwise going to end up top heavy and handling will go from bad to worse. Store loads as low to the wheel base as possible, preferably centered between front and rear wheel axles. Of course this is all a matter of degree, depending on how heavy you pack.

    If you can forgo the overhead storage, maybe consider a pop-up slide-in. Lowers your wind profile and the "sail effect" during side and head wind conditions. Sails can do wonders in the fuel economy department when you're running with the wind. ๐Ÿ˜œ

    Question - How do campers feel when it comes to being hot inside for the dog, compared to a conversion van with privacy shades on windows, which is my current thing?

    It's all going to be hot if you're hanging out in the desert. New stuff has air conditioning. No clue what kind of solar panels you'd need for that though... A big key is ventilation. As I am sure you know, hot air rises. So give it somewhere to go. I used to have two roof vents. Downgrading to only one made a big difference (some asshat busted one trying to break in and I had to make emergency repairs). In modern times of solar, give it extra encouragement to vacate the interior premises via active ventilation.

    Bottom line is that you're not going to be able to leave your dog locked up in there whilst you go off and play. That said dogs can do a pretty good job of acclimating to whatever provided it's gradual rather than radical change. To wit, Team Husky from bitd saw So. Cal summers and Fairbanks, AK winters. I did not, however, transition them from one to the other overnight.

    I go to the southwest and come late March have to be careful to park under shade so as to manage temps for my dog and also if I am hanging in the van during the day. Park with front window away from sun, cover front and front side windows, and make sure the privacy shades are drawn. By mid April, if I can't find a good shade spot, I simply can't do it safely.

    If a camper is similar - then I can consider a camper as an option. But I have to wonder. With the van, there's even a significant difference between temps atop the bed, and on the floor. I can't imagine an open camper has that variance.

    Aye, there's the rub. Been pondering this one for decades myself. There is no perfect solution. It's all a balance of compromises and choosing the lesser of evils, all the while facing conflicting priorities. Damn, why can't we have our cake and eat it too?

    Have you considered "supplementing" your current set up w/a modest pop-up tent trailer? Give you that extra space, maybe a halfway decent kitchen config, not too heavy, ventilate well and can "drag 'em and drop 'em" fairly safely provided you don't store anything of value inside. Yeah, towing is a drag...

    My $0.02. You get what you pay for. Caveat emptor and all that. I'm interested to learn what others may contribute to this one. ๐Ÿ•



  • @toby Thanks for the mention on top-heavy. I'll have to keep that in mind.

    I've done the desert for several years, and when they chopped down the ONLY shade tree available in town, which allowed one to park under for the dog so could go climbing, that was the end of JT climbing for me.

    I do okay with my dog for the most part, but in the van, once it's April it's simply too hot in southern CA/AZ/southern UT, which is my stomping grounds. This last spring was the first time I could stay in Sedona, and it was so great.

    I talked to one guy about a rebuilt engine and he said "not me." The body is still okay, but it is starting to rust and each year I have to visit family in salty roads WI., so it's going to get worse.

    Anyway - I do like the van set up. Campers are cute, but all the cabinetry is such a waste. I'd like to get an old one and gut it. Bed platform with storage beneath and a countertop for workspace & inclimate weather cooking, and that's it.



  • I had a Chevy Astro cargo van for many years with my dog. I sometimes tear-up thinking about it now that my dog has past and my life is more complicated. The thing was awesome. It had tinted windows and a little vent on the roof that you could crank open. Never had a problem with it, didn't pay much for it either.

    I think a larger version would be the way to go. Perhaps a Chevy Express? You might even find a 4X4 version. I think a camper on a pickup would be more of a pain. A friend of mine had one but got rid of it because of how it drove.

    I'd stick to the van personally.

    S....



  • @Skywalker Let's hear it for man's best friends! ๐Ÿ•

    Good point about the full height slide-in. Hence my mention of the possibility of a pop-up. I needed 4x4 for getting places I wanted to go and complimented that w/a camper shell rather than the full monty. Nowadays I think a van might be a better fit. Wife likes more comfort and the idea of kitchen w/an oven, a shower and toilet so I guess it also depends on how much you want to rough it. And that pretty much puts you into an expensive tow vehicle sporting a diesel if you want to go anywhere w/mountains. Damn, where is that cake, eh? ๐Ÿฐ



  • camper on a pickup will be not cheep and wicked bad fuel economy. If you can somehow swing it a 2003 to 2006 dodge sprinter in 140 in wheelbase has gobs of room and gets insane fuel economy. I am getting 25.6mpg I just talked to a lady with a massively built 170in wheelbase o6 sprinter with roof rack, soler, ladders up the side, huge awning on the side completely furnished with shower and pooper and she is getting 24mpg. she got her rig with under 100k for 7.5k Mine had 112k on it and cost me 9k... Astros are tiny....



  • Of course, each of us has different wants & needs for a vehicle to both transport us & host us. A climber, engineer, scientist friend, Gary Clark, who retired with a decent amount of income around the turn of the century, worked through all the details & decided on a 4-wd pickup with a 5th-wheel trailer. He explained that he wanted to drive the pickup on challenging high-clearance roads to explore, & he & his wife wanted a comfortable camper with a kitchen, shitter & shower.

    Iโ€™ve stayed with my Toyota 4-Runner, which I can sleep happily in the back of, since Heidi & I still can't agree on what we want for a "sissy-wagon."

    This spring I learned that my 4-Runner's short turning radius works well when a backcountry road goes to schist, per this story from "deepest Nevada."

    "A good road soon lured us up a steep alluvial fan to the 1870โ€™s mining town of Aurum in Silver Canyon. After entering the canyon, we found rock walls that once housed a stamp mill, then the good road narrowed & dense juniper, pinyon, & mountain mahogany closed in on our vehicles. After about a ยผ mile of scratching the hell out of our paint we found a difficult spot to turn around & park. I could easily turn my 4-Runner around & park it & Jerry took 15 minutes & much trying to turn his full-sized 4-wd Chevy pickup around. By the time we started our hike, Jerry was a little pissed-off.



  • My astro was a very nimble jeeperโ€ฆ



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