Which Vans Are Best for Vanlife?

White Mercedes Sprinter van by mountains

Which Vans Are Best for Vanlife?

Buy or Sell Campers

Buy or Sell Campers

20 January 2023

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When it comes to vanlife, finding the right van is a BIG deal. Not only does your camper need to be comfortable and spacious enough, but it also needs to be a good fit for your lifestyle and travel dreams.

After all, it doesn’t matter whether you’re planning on spending years, months, or just days on the road, you want to make sure that you get a van that will work well for you. The search can get confusing, but don’t worry, we’re here to help!

What makes one van “the best” for one vanlifer may not be the same thing that makes another one “the best” for another vanlifer. A small campervan might be perfect if you like to pack light and go off-road little and often, while a larger roving home could be better suited if you love to travel with a lot of gear and want all your home comforts.

So how do you find the right campervan for you?

In order to answer the question ‘which vans are best for vanlife?’ we first need to flip the question a bit to ‘which vans are best for YOUR vanlife?’ Here are five questions to help guide your search:

1. What kind of roadtrips are you taking?

If you want to spend most of your time in built-up areas, then a Short Wheelbase (SWB) or Medium Wheelbase (MWB) campervan might be best. They’re easier to park, and have higher stealth credentials. Great if you plan on spending nights in parking lots with height barriers! However, for what you gain in stealth, you lose in head height – you probably won’t be able to stand.

On the other hand, if you’re planning on spending lots of time in remote areas, trekking off-road or navigating rough terrain, then you might want an even smaller, more agile campervan – such as a minivan.

Or perhaps you’re thinking about full-time vanlife in the wild? Then a Long Wheelbase (LWB) with a high-top will give you more space, and a 4×4 will make easy work of dirt and gravel.

2. How big's your crew?

If you want to be able to comfortably sleep your whole crew, then a larger van might be right for you. But if you prefer to travel solo or as a couple and want something more compact, then a smaller campervan would be better.

When you’re looking at campervan listings, remember to check how many seat belts a van has – just because it has 4 beds, it doesn’t necessarily mean it has 4 seat belts, and vice versa. Extra seats and innovative space-extending sleeping dens – rooftop tents and pop-tops, for example – can always be added, but you’ll need to keep this expense in mind when you negotiate a price.

3. What's your budget?

You don’t need to blow your budget in search of the perfect campervan. A large high-spec campervan may seem like the ideal choice for some, but it’s important to consider whether or not you can actually afford it.

Do your research and find out what your options are within your price range. That way you can focus on finding the best van for your vanlife travels, without worrying about money too much. It’s also good to factor in how mechanically-minded you are. If you’ve got some skills, you might be able to pick up a classic, at a bargain-bin-price.

4. What caught your eye? What's your style?

Campervans come in a wide variety of styles – from classic VW vans to modern, high-spec campervans, kitted out with all the home comforts. Whether you prefer a more vintage look or something more contemporary is up to you, but it’s important to choose a campervan you love!

5. What will you pack in your campervan?

Another important consideration when choosing the right campervan is what you’ll pack in it. If you have a lot of outdoor gear that needs to be stashed, then make sure your van has enough space for it! A fixed ‘garage’ is a real bonus for adventure seekers.

Similarly, if you’re planning on doing lots of cooking or want to keep a little herb garden on board, you need to think about what kind of kitchen will work for you!

Is it a priority to find space for a four-legged friend? You’ll want a pawsome built-in kennel!

Ultimately, packing lists might change over time, but a bit of consideration will help you define your ‘non-negotiables’ when it comes to the perfect campervan. That said, whatever campervan you choose, you can easily adapt and make changes as necessary – so keep this in mind.


Finding the perfect van for your vanlife comes down to knowing what your needs and preferences are, and doing the research to find a vehicle that matches up. So before you hit the road, take some time to think about what you want out of your van, and what will work best for your particular style of travel. With the right campervan, you can be sure that your next roadtrip will be one to remember!

The 3 Most Popular Campervans

Buy or Sell Campers is the only global marketplace for campervans. We have reviewed our 2022 listings to bring to you our ‘Top 3 Most Popular Campervans’.

In order of popularity, we’re excited to reveal that these roving homes make the most popular campervans, according to Buy or Sell Campers buyers and sellers:


1. Mercedes Sprinter

2. Ram Promaster 159

3. Ford Transit


So let’s get the lowdown on all the pros and cons for each of the most popular vanlife vans:

2 Mercedes Sprinter vans for sale in outdoor settibg

Mercedes Sprinter

Could the Mercedes Sprinter be the best van for vanlife?

It could well be! The Mercedes Sprinter is the most popular van, according to our global buying and selling activity. And it’s not just the most popular by a bit! The Sprinter literally left the other campervans in the dust – in 2022 we sold twice as many Sprinters as any other van. Great-looking vans, these premium vans make for a really desirable – and practical – campervan.

Not only is Mercedes known for their innovative design and high-performance capabilities, making them a great choice for anyone looking to hit the road. Sprinters also offer lots of space both inside and out, with plenty of room to store gear or even bring along some furry friends.


Incredibly versatile, Sprinter vans come with three lengths:

5267mm – SWB/L1
6967mm – LWB/L3
7367mm – EXLWB/L4


And there’s also three roof heights:

1,719mm – Standard roof (H1)
1,974mm – High roof (H2)
2,243mm – Super-high roof (H3)


The height measurements shown are internal height so, with a head height of over 7ft, the super-high roof Mercedes Sprinter is lofty enough to accommodate even the tallest vanlifer!

However, with all this space and style comes a larger price tag – so if you’re on a tight budget, the Sprinter might not be the right option for you. Additionally, the maintenance on these vans can be a heavier price to pay, with parts costing a premium. That said, being as popular as they are, you shouldn’t face any delays while parts are sourced.

Mercedes Sprinter Campervan Pros:

  • Great performance quality (some Sprinters have been known to do 600,000+ miles).
  • Parts are readily available.
  • Sprinter conversions hold their value.
  • Difference sizes are available.
  • Loads of kit available to upgrade Sprinters.
  • Typically diesel (cheaper to run, especially in UK, EU and US).
  • Rear-wheel drive.
  • One of the most spacious vans on the market.

Mercedes Sprinter Campervan Cons:

  • Sprinter campervans are more expensive, as are parts. Even used Sprinters cost a lot, especially if you want one with good mileage…but this goes to show that they retain their value, which is also a pro!
  • Tapered design means that you lose some space in the cargo (living!) area.

Overall, we’ve got a lot of love for the Mercedes Sprinter campervan. We’re increasingly seeing builders opt for the pretty invincible 4×4 Sprinters too, and we’re a fan! This is the only van in this list with a factory 4×4 option; not only do these look great, but they also offer extra hold on or off(!) the road. And there are more upgrades coming for this van – we’re looking forward to testing the Mercedes E-Sprinter in 2024!

Grey Ram Promaster Capmpervan on beach - best vans for van life
Ram Promaster 159" High Roof, 2020 Ram, Tommy Camper Vans

Ram ProMaster 159

Next up on our list of the most popular campervan vans is the Ram ProMaster 159.

With a sleek and modern design, these vans offer the perfect balance of style functionality.

One of the biggest selling points of Ram ProMaster vans is their adaptability and flexibility. The design of these vans offers a flexible base for a campervan conversion, and the options in terms of length and height are impressive too. The 2023 ProMaster is available in a whopping 19 different configurations including three wheelbases and four cargo lengths: 8 feet, 10 feet, 12 feet, and 13.5 feet.

Ram offers three roof heights, including a new “super high roof” option for extra cargo (living!) space. And, unlike the curvier Mercedes Sprinter, the shape of the Ram ProMaster deploys a more ‘boxy’ design, so no space is lost.

Many campervan buyers and sellers opt to forgo the expensive cost of a new Mercedes Sprinter and instead opt for the budget-friendly Ram ProMaster (which is typically cheaper than a Mercedes Sprinter or a Ford Transit). It may not be as eye-catching, but its affordability makes it an ideal pick for budget-conscious vanlifers. Furthermore, parts are more affordable too.

Ram ProMaster Campervan Pros:

  • The most affordable option from our ‘Top 3 Most Popular Campervans’.
  • Easy to get serviced.
  • Parts are typically more accessible than for a Mercedes Sprinter.
  • ProMaster’s have great maneuverability with a tight turning radius.
  • Ram Promasters are the widest of our ‘Top 3 Most Popular Campervans’, with just over 6ft of interior width

Ram ProMaster Campervan Cons:

  • The Ram ProMaster doesn’t have as much power as the Mercedes Sprinter when it comes to mountain roads.
  • Ram ProMaster campervans are only available in 2WD.
  • Ram ProMasters are front-wheel drive (typically less desirable).
  • Less power than similar vans.
  • This is a ‘budget’ option; the lack of premium features may also be off-putting for some buyers.

Overall, if you’re looking for a great campervan at an affordable price point, the Ram ProMaster might be just what you need!

White Ford Transit by the sea
Ford Transit (2020), Vanning in Plain Sight

Ford Transit Campervans

Last but certainly not least, we have the Ford Transit – another popular option for campervan builds.

While the Ram ProMaster is the widest of our three most popular campervans, the Ford Transit is the tallest at 77″ (compared to the Sprinter’s 75″ and the ProMaster’s 74″).

The Ford Transit is well-known as a workhorse van, with great performance and reliability. It’s tough enough to withstand even the most rugged terrain, making it perfect for those who want to get off the beaten path on their adventures. Cost-wise, Ford Transits sit between the budget-friendly Ram ProMaster campervan and the premium Mercedes Sprinter campervan. Additionally, parts are readily available and affordable, so you won’t have any issues getting your van serviced or maintaining it over time.

Ford Transit Campervan Pros:

  • Very easy to get parts.
  • Square shape is perfect for a build-out.
  • Cheaper than favorites such as the Mercedes Sprinter (parts and initial purchase).
  • Non-Ford parts are more acceptable.
  • The Ford Transit’s drivability is considered better than the Mercedes Sprinter’s.
  • Considered to be the most ‘stealth’ option.
  • Rear-wheel drive.

Ford Transit Campervan Cons:

  • Typically gas as opposed to diesel – less fuel efficient.
  • Transits have gained a bad reputation when it comes to longevity, specifically regarding rust issues.

If you’re looking for a reliable workhorse van with plenty of space and functionality at a reasonable price point, the Ford Transit is definitely a campervan to consider.

Other Great Campervans

Looking for a campervan but not sure which model to choose? There are many great vehicles out there that make perfect campervans, whether you’re looking for affordability, adaptability, or performance, there’s something out there for everyone!

The options might vary depending on where you are located. Take the Volkswagen Crafter, for example. The Crafter (fondly known as the ‘Grafter’!) is considered practically the same as the Sprinter. Indeed, until 2018 these two vans were based on the same platform, with the same interior, and were built in the same Mercedes factories in Germany! The Crafter is a really popular campervan alternative to the Mercedes Sprinter in the UK and EU, but this campervan is not available in the US.

Mercedes Sprinters, Ram ProMasters and Ford Transits are the most popular campervans in the global Buy or Sell Campers marketplace (based on sales), but should you want to look outside these three power performers, you might like to consider:

  • Volkswagen Crafter
  • International School Bus (Skoolies)
  • Mercedes Vario 814
  • Iveco Daily
  • LDV Convoy
  • Vauxhall Movano
  • Ford E350
  • Classic VW Camper
  • Citroen Relay
  • Peugeot Boxer
  • Fiat Ducato
  • Renault Master

Final thoughts...

Whether you’re planning to become a weekend warrior, a full-time vanlifer, or anything in between, there is a van out there that’s perfect for your needs. Whether it’s gas or diesel power, classic lines or sleek modern design, the right van will help you find adventure and freedom on the open road. So what are you waiting for? Start searching today!

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