If you’re interested in living the campervan lifestyle, you may be wondering which rig is best for traveling the country. While you could go all-out on a massive Class A motor home, pop top camper vans can be a much more affordable and versatile option.
In this article, we’re going to look at the best pop up camper vans on the market, as well as show you why they can be so valuable and rewarding.
What is a Pop Top Camper Van?
Class B RVs are also known as camper vans due to their smaller size. Typically, camper vans have more limited room for sleeping quarters, but pop-top campervans allow you to extend the roof for additional sleeping. This design will enable you to get more out of your rig without having to upgrade to a much larger (and costlier) RV.
One of the best benefits of a pop top camper van is that they come in various shapes and sizes. You can even convert a standard minivan into a van pop top, meaning that you can travel in style without breaking the bank.
Best Pop Up Camper Vans
To help you get an idea of the value of these popup vans, we’ve compiled a list of the top 6 models.
However, if you’re interested in a pop-up camper van conversion, we’ll discuss that possibility later on.
- Dimensions: 18′ 4″ long
- Amenities: Portable toilet, two-burner propane stove, mini-fridge, full-size convertible bed, rooftop A/C
Using a standard Ford Transit van chassis, the ModVan CV1 pop top camper is an excellent way to get on the road. With seating and sleeping for four (technically five), you can bring the kids along with no issues.
The pop-up top on this van is spacious and easy to get into, making it an ideal choice for spending the night underneath the stars.
Inside, the CV1 popup van has all the essential amenities, including a two-burner stove, kitchen-style sink, and a mini-fridge.
There is a toilet, but be aware that it does not connect to a black water tank. So, emptying the rig can be a bit off-putting at first, but you’ll get used to it. Just make sure that you have some extra water handy to help flush your waste, and you’ll be fine. You should also invest in some high-quality toilet tablets to make the job even easier.
Since the CV1 pop top camper van uses a modern Ford chassis, you get all the usual refinements you’d expect in a brand-new vehicle. A backup camera, Bluetooth stereo, cruise control, and rain-sensing wipers are all par for the course.
- Dimensions: 19′ 9″ L, 9′ H
- Amenities: Murphy or convertible sofa bed, wet bath, removable table, dual-burner stove, rear double doors
When choosing the best pop up camper van, there are some significant advantages to buying an “off the lot” model.
The Solis from Winnebago is much more fully-loaded than a converted rig like the CV1, meaning that you can enjoy the benefits of indoor plumbing. Yes, you still have to empty the black water tank (and use tablets), but the experience can be more enjoyable than emptying a portable potty.
As far as sleeping arrangements, you can pick between a convertible sofa bed or a fold-up Murphy-style mattress. The sofa is helpful for when you want to just relax inside your popup van, but the Solis comes with plenty of seating and table space, so either option is comfortable and versatile.
This rig also comes with tons of storage options, meaning that you can bring all the supplies you need for a weekend or full-time traveling.
- Dimensions: 20′ 9″ L, 9′ 5″ H
- Amenities: Wet bath, swivel TV, removable dining table, dual-burner and kitchen sink w/convertible countertops, full-size fridge, closet, outdoor shower
One standard limitation of pop top camper vans is that they often only have enough room for a toilet and maybe a sink in the bathroom area. While that is true for the Zion Slumber, you also get an outdoor shower so that you can stay clean during your travels.
Even for its size, the wet bath in the Zion is sufficient for most individuals and makes it easy to maintain impeccable hygiene.
Another primary selling point of this popup van is its abundance of storage space. You get overhead compartments, under-floor storage, and even a full-size closet for all of your clothes and other accessories.
If you’re traveling as a pair, you can use the pop-top as a makeshift attic, giving you even more room to bring all your belongings.
- Dimensions: 17′ 9″ L, 8′ 2″ H
- Amenities: Single-burner stove, swivel front seats, stainless steel sink, interior climate control, roll-up canvas screens, convertible sofa bed
At just under 18 feet, the Pleasure Way Tofino is one of the smallest pop up campers on this list. However, you don’t have to sacrifice comfort and security just because a couple of feet are missing on the back end. This popup camper van is ideal for couples, but it can sleep four easily, thanks to the convertible sofa bed in the back.
Overall, the best part about this cheaper Class B RV is its open-air interior. While this rig doesn’t come with all the bells and whistles of some other models, it feels more spacious and relaxing inside.
Plus, it comes with roll-up screens, meaning that you can leave the doors open to get a cool breeze without inviting all the local wildlife inside.
- Dimensions: 20′ 11″ L, 9′ 5″ H
- Amenities: Wet bath, dual-burner stove, swivel front chairs, swivel TV, dinette area, full-size fridge available
When comparing pop up camper vans, most new models allow you to choose between multiple floor plans. Typically, these plans will enable you to select each amenity placement, but the Thor Tellaro pop up van allows you to customize your rig a little more.
The primary element to pay attention to is the sleeping arrangements. Beyond the pop top on this campervan, you can choose between a pull-out sofa bed or convertible bench seats. The next option is whether you want a full-size fridge.
The 20KT model allows you to pack more food, while the others only come with a standard mini-fridge.
Another highlight of the Tellaro pop top camper van is the inclusion of a wet bath. This term means that the whole bathroom serves as a shower, enabling you to stay clean without having to leave the van. You do have to get used to a wet bath a little, but it’s worth it for the convenience.
- Dimensions: 16′ 8″ L, 7′ H
- Amenities: Sleeps four, rear bench seating, swivel front seats, optional solar paneling, roof racks, and rear pull-out kitchen
When it comes to pop top camper vans, the Metris Getaway is more of a sleeper van than an RV. Mercedes has simply converted its standard Metris minivan camper into a popup van, meaning that it allows you to sleep in it overnight.
Otherwise, the amenities are limited, although you can choose add-ons to give you more versatility. The base model only has a convertible rear bed, a pop-up sleeping area, and a central table. So, if you have to use the bathroom, you need to either find a bush or find a toilet.
Overall, the Getaway is ideal if you just want a simple and easy-to-use popup camper. However, if you want something you can live out of, it might not be the best choice.
Convert Your Van to a Pop Up Camper Van
As we mentioned, one of the primary benefits of using a pop top camper is that you can convert an existing minivan. This option allows you to save a lot of money while getting the amenities you and your travel partners deserve.
Even if you have to buy a used minivan, the conversion costs of putting in your own pop top in a van can be cheaper than buying a brand-new fully-loaded Class B RV.
When it comes to pop up campers, there are several companies that specialize in this particular conversion type. They can also convert most van chassis, meaning that you shouldn’t run into any logistical issues when switching to a camper.
Sportsmobile is one of the oldest van conversion companies on the market, and they specialize in installing pop tops on vans.
These penthouse style pop up campers can be installed on a low roof van like a Mercedes Sprinter, Ford Transit or Dodge Promaster.
The pop tops run about $9,000-$10,000 for an installation.
There are two ways that you can convert your van into a pop top camper. First, you can simply add a sleeping area to the top of your rig and keep everything else the same. The second is to take advantage of interior conversions that provide kitchenettes, extra storage, and additional sleeping space.
Colorado Camper Van can convert most van models, including Sprinters, NVs, Transits, and even Eurovans (where applicable). If you’re feeling extra industrious, you can get a conversion kit and install the pop top (and other amenities) yourself.
While Colorado Camper Van can convert almost any mini or full-size van, Ursa Minor specializes in only two models – the Honda Element or the J30 Jeep. So, if you have one of these vehicles, you can get a pop-top conversion.
Ursa Minor does offer a few extra add-ons, including solar panels, racks, tie-down mounts, and mini-fridge installation. However, since these vehicles are light on space, there are not many upgrades you can expect.
Pros and Cons of a Pop Up Camper Van
While pop up camper vans can be a lot of fun, they do require some realistic expectations. While large Class A models can come with all the amenities and luxuries you’d ever need, Class Bs are much less extravagant.
That said, once you know what to expect, you can enjoy your travels just as much as you would in a bigger rig. Here are the top pros and cons of living the van life in a pop up camper van.
Brand-new RVs can cost as much as a modest house in some parts of the country. If you’re not ready to drop seven figures on a new vehicle, pop up campers are much more affordable campervans.
These rigs are also ideal for weekend warriors who want to get into RVing without a substantial investment. In some cases, a conversion can cost only a few thousand dollars (or a few hundred) compared to the price of a new campervan.
Con: Limited Amenities
Typically, pop up camper vans only have the essentials. These include a bed, a small kitchen area, a mini-fridge, and, in most cases, a toilet. Extras like showers, tables, ovens, microwaves, and even TVs can be luxuries in smaller rigs.
So, if you want to camp with a lot of luxuries, a camper van might not provide as many accommodations as you’d like.
Pro: Easier to Travel
If you haven’t driven a massive Class A motor home before, you’ll be shocked at how hard it is to maneuver on city streets. Even something as simple as parking can be a massive headache, particularly if you’re traveling with a trailer.
Pop up campers, however, have a much smaller profile, and many of them fit into standard parking spaces with no problem. Not only can you park your rig more efficiently, you don’t have to worry about getting stuck in a tight spot.
Overall, camper vans can go many more places than a full-size RV.
Con: Not Ideal for Groups of Three or More
Although a pop top camper van can technically sleep up to four or five people, that doesn’t mean that everyone will enjoy the experience. Since you have such limited space inside, the campervan can feel cramped almost immediately.
Usually, multiple sleeping arrangements are ideal when traveling with small children, but two adult couples may feel a bit claustrophobic, even when bunking in for the night. Privacy can also be in short supply, which may be problematic with larger travel groups.
Other van life stories to check out:
- 40+ ways to make money on the road
- The best campervan mattresses for a DIY conversion
- 4×4 camper vans to get you off-road and overlanding
Kristin Hanes is a journalist who founded The Wayward Home as a place to learn about alternative living. She currently lives on a sailboat and in a Chevy Astro van, and has written articles about alternative living published in Good Housekeeping, Business Insider, Marie Claire and SF Gate. Read more about Kristin here.