Campervan Size: What is the best van for a camper conversion?

Campervan Size: What is the best van for a camper conversion?

Campervan Sizes: What is the best van for a camper conversion?

There is no “best” campervan size – a high-roof Sprinter van will be less suitable for off-roading and parking in cities with height limits, for example. There are crucial questions you need to answer to narrow down the best campervan size for your camper conversion project, so let’s break them down whilst adding valuable insight and personal top tips from us.


Where to start with your Campervan Size?

Building a campervan for weekend trips to the seaside by yourself is a very different build than a full-time home for two adults, two kids, and a dog.

Chances you, you’re somewhere in the middle.

Before considering all the options, you must decide why you are buying a van to convert into a campervan. This will drastically help decide what van makes and models to search for.

Whether you want to make short weekend trips away, take some awesome summer road trips, tough it out for some winter ski trips, or even go full-time, you need to know this going in.


7 Questions to Ask Yourself


People. Just you? Your significant other? Are there kids to consider? Pets? Do you want to accommodate friends? This affects the size of the vehicle and the number of seatbelted seats you need in your campervan, and the number of bed spaces.


Trip Length. Weekends away? Summer holiday roadtrip?  Full time? How long your trips away are, determines how much space and what functionality you need in your campervan. Short trips away, you can deal without a toilet and shower, maybe even without a sink and proper storage, but for full-time? No way…well…it will be a very short full-time living experience.


Location. Just down the road? Out of the country? Offroad? Heading to other countries or even continents means the road conditions may be different. Knowing this in advance means getting the right vehicle beforehand (4WD).


Climate. Hot summers? Cold winters? If you plan to travel in the height of a hot summer or in the depths of a cold winter, you need to feel comfortable inside, so insulation, aircon, and a heater might be required. Frequent rainy days might mean you spend time inside your campervan, so a small camper might not be suited.


Activities. Hiking? Surfing? Mountain Biking? What do you plan to do whilst in your campervan? Do you need to store large pieces of equipment? How about cleaning up after (shower/hot water) or getting changed easily (ability to stand up)?


Budget. Knowing your budget helps you know what’s reasonable and if you need to adjust accordingly. Having £2,000 as a budget, but needing a large fully kitted van is impossible.


Wants. Solar? Hot water? Shower? Toilet? Batteries? Having things you know you want and won’t sacrifice helps eliminate especially smaller vehicles, as stuff requires space.


Answering these questions will help you decide what size and shape of vehicle is right for you. With these answers in mind, let’s figure out what vehicle is best for you.


Narrowing down your choices

There are hundreds of different van makes and models in the world, and the one that is best for your needs is out there.

You may have an idea of what campervan size you’re after (eg if you’re going for full-time living, then the tiny campervans are out of the running), but knowing what category best suits your needs is key to narrowing down your campervan choices.

A note here, as a general rule, the larger the campervan, the more expensive they are (both the vehicle cost and the conversion). This is not a budgeting guide, we have one of those written here if you are more interested, but this is something to bare in mind.


The 'Mila' Build
Sheila the Agila
The Compact Camper Company

Car Campervan

  • Average Length: 1.5-2m
  • Average Width: 1-1.3m
  • Average Height: 1-1.2m

These are the smallest possible campervan, usually just long enough to squeeze a bed into, with some very basic storage. If you have a cooktop, you best hope it isn’t raining outside.


Car Campervan Pros

  • Looks like a normal car. You’ll blend in with traffic on the road and in car parks. You’ll be stealthy.
  • Cheapest vehicle. If you have a small budget, these can be the cheapest vehicles to buy and convert.
  • Pesky height barriers mean nothing. Being short means fitting in multi-storey car parks and under height barriers.
  • Easy to drive. It’s a car, so as long as you can drive, it’ll be easy.

Car Campervan Cons

  • No personal space. Being so small, space will be tight…maybe too tight.
  • Gymnastics involved. Every task requires faff to complete since space is at a premium.
  • Batteries, water tanks, cooktop, toilet, how? Fitting everything you want in might not be possible.

Who is a Car Campervan best for?

These camper conversions are best for people who want to do short trips away, don’t mind spending a lot of time outside/at campsites, and simply need a bed for the night and a few other essentials. It’s glorified tent camping, without the backpack but still remaining lightweight.

example of a car campervan –> 


micro campervan van conversion

Micro Campervan

  • Average Length: 1.5-2.5m
  • Average Width: 1.3-1.6m
  • Average Height: 1.3-1.5m

These mini vans are big enough to fit a bed, some storage, and even a tiny kitchen or toilet in. They’re brilliant for testing vanlife and for short trips away. Read our blog on the best vans for micro camper conversions.

Micro Campervan Pros

  • Still small. Though bigger than a car, you can still get around easily and fit in tight spaces and under height barriers.
  • Use it every day. Just because it’s a camper in the back, you can still use it for your daily driving, a 2-in-1 vehicle.
  • Easy to drive. Not any harder to drive than a larger car.

Micro Campervan Cons

  • Space is premium. You may try to fit too much into too small a space, making it feel cramped.
  • Only for 2. Transporting and sleeping more than two people is difficult with these campervans (not impossible… difficult, depends on how close you are).
  • Climate Control? Insulating these vehicles and/or fitting aircon/heater might be tight with space, so not always possible.

Who is a Micro Campervan best for?

A micro campervan is perfect for those short trips away where you want a few important things but still want to fit anywhere a car can and enjoy the trip. These are also great vehicles to experiment with for your first campervan, as was true with us in New Zealand, where our vanlife journey began.


Example of a Micro Campervan —>

Love Campers Medium Van Conversion

Transporter Cargovan Campervan

  • Average Length: 2-3m
  • Average Width: 1.3-1.6m
  • Average Height: 1.3-1.5m

Slightly larger than the micro vans and usually longer, these campervans offer more storage space in a still small campervan shell. Read our blog on the best vans for cargo camper conversions.

Transporter Cargovan Campervan Pros

  • A bed and more. This size van can easily fit a full-length bed, a kitchen, and a garage space for some awesome adventures.
  • Large yet low. Despite their longer length, these vans are often still able to fit in places where other vans of their floor size can’t due to it being a short-height van.
  • Space for goodies. These campervans often have a garage which means you can fit outdoor gear in your campervan.

Transporter Cargvan Campervan Cons

  • Can’t stand up. Despite their floorspace, you still can’t stand up in them, which might be a dealbreaker.
  • Only for 2. Transporting and sleeping more than two people is difficult with these campervans (not impossible… difficult, depends on how close you are).
  • Expensive. These campervans are not that diverse. Only a few companies make this style of van, and it might be expensive to find one of good quality, especially the original VW.

Who is a Transporter Cargovan Campervan best for?

A transporter-style campervan gives more space than all the others before it whilst still being low-roofed, perfect for cities where multi-story car parks and height barriers are everywhere. If you’re looking for a campervan with lots of space that can still park in busy cities, this might be the one.


Example of a Cargo Campervan —>

Exploring Alternatives Van Conversion

Exploring Alternatives Van Conversion:

Medium Campervan

  • Average Length: 2.5-3.5m
  • Average Width: 1.6-1.8m
  • Average Height: 1.5-1.9m

Finally, the ability to stand up! These vans offer a lot more volume and the ability to fit in gadgets and gismos whilst allowing you the freedom to stand up in your campervan!


Medium Campervan Pros

  • Standing up. This cannot be overstated. Being able to stand up in a campervan is a whole different game compared with those previous.
  • One car park spot. Despite being larger and taller, these van types can still fit in 1 car parking spot, meaning it’s not too difficult to park.
  • More than 2. Although tight, these vans are the first to sit and sleep more than two people properly.

Medium Campervan Cons

  • A bit too cosy. As stated, fitting more than two people is tight. For long trips away, being cooped up in this small space might not be ideal if you’re a family.
  • Harder to drive. Compared with a smaller car or van, these vans do take a bit of getting used to when it comes to driving.

Who is a Medium Campervan best for?

For those of you wanting some more space to play with for your campervan design and layout, this van is the perfect sweet spot of being large enough to fit everything in whilst not being overkill. It’s also the first van size commonly used for full-time vanlife.


Example of a medium Campervan —>

high roof open plan van conversion - Freedom Strider

Large Campervan

  • Average Length: 3.5-4.5m
  • Average Width: 1.8m
  • Average Height: 1.5-2.1m

This is a life of luxury for a campervan. A full 4m+ space to fill with a bed, garage, shower, toilet, heater, kitchen, living area, and more. Read our blog on the best vans for full time camper conversions.

Large Campervan Pros

  • True space. Although it doesn’t seem like it if you’re reading this from a house, this length of van is incredible for what you can build in it and gives you so much opportunity.
  • 4 people? No problem! These vans can easily seat and sleep four (or more) whilst still giving room for general living at the same time.
  • True off-grid. With the roof space for solar and storage, the weight capacity for water tanks, and the space for heaters, aircon, batteries, kitchen storage, and outdoor gear, you can truly pack this campervan full of goodies if you design it right for off-grid living.

Large Campervan Cons

  • You stand out. You can’t hide when driving around in these; you stand out everywhere, which can be bad if you’re wanting to stay invisible.
  • Harder to park. These vehicles are tall and long and take 2 car parking spots, which is something to bare in mind.
  • Off-road…maybe not. True off-roading is out of the question for most vans this size, as the weight of these vehicles makes them impractical to take them off the tarmac. That being said, it didn’t stop us from doing so.

Who is a Large Campervan best for?

For a true life in luxury and the space to be creative to your heart’s content, these campervans are amazing for truly designing and creating a campervan for longer trips away and full-time living. This is the van size we chose for our current campervan.


Example of a Large Campervan —>

Which campervan size is best for me?

As mentioned at the beginning, there is no right or best size for a campervan.

You may need a small van that can go off-road and only sleep you, but also be parkable in a city. In this case, a micro campervan would fit your needs perfectly. You may have a family of four who go out every summer across Europe, in which case, a medium or large campervan is your choice.

Everyone is different. In our A-Z of Vanlife Bootcamp series, we discuss a lot of wants vs needs vs the dream in terms of what to have in your campervan. This is a vital step at the stage of picking the right campervan for your campervan conversion.


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