Most camping trips you’ll take will involve a vehicle one way or another. There are many factors to consider when choosing the right vehicle. Do you want something that is fuel efficient for long distance highway driving? Do you want something spacious for many passengers or cargo? Do want off-road capability? All-wheel-drive? 4X4? Or, do you want something that’s practical for the city, as well as the country-side? What about towing capacity? Something expensive? Something cheap?
There are many considerations to take for a camping vehicle. Here we’ll talk about the different options you have.
If you are concerned about fuel efficiency, you’ll typically have to sacrifice size and power. The most fuel-efficient engines are typically small and have low power output. Look for turbo-charged models to give you the most efficiency. Driving at 55 miles per hour is recommended for maximum highway efficiency. If you really want to maximize highway efficiency, consider putting on smaller (thinner) tires and slightly over-pressuring them. Be careful though as you’ll have less traction, so keep your speed down.
How much your vehicle can haul behind it is measured in towing capacity. Not only do you need a more powerful engine, you’ll also need a vehicle with a strong transmission and frame to support the extra load. You can find out the towing capacity for your vehicle from official documentation. We recommend a non-turbocharged or supercharged engine. These engines can offer the power you need to tow a trailer or boat, but the forced-induction over long periods of time can be a reliability concern.
We recommend a naturally aspirated, torque-biased V8 for towing applications. Naturally aspirated engines mean they are not equipped with a force-induction power adder, like a supercharger or turbocharger. This generally means that the engine will be more reliable, but less efficient with fuel. A V8 will have the torque you need to pull a heavy load.
An important factor when deciding what vehicle to take on your next camping adventure is cargo space. Choosing a smaller, more fuel efficient vehicle is great for highway cruising. But what you make up for in fuel efficiency, you’ll lose in cargo space. Make sure you choose a vehicle that you can at least sleep comfortably in, such as a mini-van or van, or station wagon, crossover, or suv. Having a larger vehicle (especially one with a roof rack) can give you the capacity you need to stow all your gear.
So, what makes the best vehicle for camping? We recommend a V8, full-sized van. Although it may not be the most fuel efficient, it will be the most efficient for camping out of and for bringing gear. Avoid vehicles with built in camping kitchenettes, as you can do better by bringing a portable camping stove and a water reservoir. Vans offer the camper with many possibilities and configurations. Not only can you sleep in it and bring copious amounts of gear with you, but you’ll have the power to tow your toys along with you as well.