Rig Roundup: Innovative Class Bs for Vanlifers

Aug 30, 2021 | Rigs

Rig Roundup: Innovative Class Bs for Vanlifers

As Class B vans grow in popularity, manufacturers are stepping it up. The lifestyle isn’t for everyone—but these eight floor plans might convert you.

By Ashley Rossi

Photo courtesy of Thor Motor Coach

Travelers love Class Bs because they’re easy to drive and maintain, they require little setup, and they fit into smaller-sized campsites. But they’re limited on space and lack some of the creature comforts of larger rigs. A Class B floor plan can be suitable for those looking to travel on weekends or live a more minimalist lifestyle. 

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We asked vanlife and outfitting experts for advice on what to look for when purchasing a Class B. Creative storage spaces, off-grid packages, and some wet bath alternatives made the list. 

Important Features to Look for in Class Bs

Whether you’re looking to modify a van or pick a floor plan from the dealer lot, consider these items when making your purchasing decision. 

Off-Grid Features

The ability to go off-grid is an appealing feature for most people looking to buy a Class B. If this is you, make sure to account for storage space and other features like roof racks, solar panels, ground clearance, suspension, and lift kits, says A.J. Turner of van conversion builder Off-Highway Van. He also recommends using low-maintenance, hard-wearing, and long-lasting materials if you plan to take your rig on tougher terrain. 

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Bruce Ter Veen of RV dealer General RV says the most important upgrades to consider are portable power systems, cell phone signal boosters, and gear racks. Also consider features like screens and flip-out tables that let you expand your living space outdoors. 

Bathroom

Vanlife is about paring down, so you’ll need to decide if you want a cabin wet bath (that takes up more space) or if you want a cassette toilet, no toilet at all, and/or an outdoor shower. You’ll find floor plans for all of these options in the Class B rig category. 

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If you’re looking to modify your van to include a shower, Karyn Veneklasen of luxury Mercedes Sprinter van conversion company Muse & Co. Outdoors warns that installing one inside the cabin can lead to mold, mildew, and rust issues. Instead, her company uses Yakima RoadShowers, which are 10-gallon roof-mounted tubes that heat with passive solar energy. 

Platform

The three most popular van platforms on the market for Class Bs are Mercedes Sprinter, RAM ProMaster, and Ford Transit. Turner‘s experience building on all three platforms lends him to recommend Sprinters for their quality and dependability, Transits for parts availability and ease of driving, and ProMasters for their value, which gives buyers more room in their budget. Veneklasen favors the Sprinter platform for its longevity and notes its high resale value.  

When picking a platform, also consider the height. “We typically build on the high roof models, but have done a few low roofs that turn out great,” Turner says. “It’s a good idea to walk through a few different chassis platforms in different lengths and heights to get a good idea of the space you’re working with.”

Budget

Ter Veen notes that well-equipped vans start around $90,000 to buy new. If you’re modifying it yourself, budget for each project by making a list of your top three priorities, recommends campervan builder Katie Diederichs of Two Wandering Soles. Items like toilets can vary in price from a basic option under $50 to a $1,000 composting toilet. The same goes for electricity, which is likely the most expensive part of a van modification budget. “You can use a 12-volt inverter—which typically costs around $30—to charge small electronics while your vehicle is running,” Diederichs says. “However, if you want to have appliances or work from your computer, you’ll want a more robust system, which can get quite expensive depending on your needs.” 

According to Veneklasen, most Mercedes dealers can finance 75 percent of the total price of the van, plus the cost of the modification. For example, if you’re buying a $70,000 Sprinter van and doing a $150,000 build, the dealership might be able to roll it into a $220,000 loan. She also suggests listing your finished van on peer-to-peer rental platforms to help cover monthly costs. “We list one of our own [modified] vans for $350 per night, and it’s consistently booked when we aren’t using it,” she says.


Innovative Class B Models We Love

Check out these six floor plans, plus two custom-build options for Class Bs. 

Thor Motor Coach Scope 18T

The Scope 18T stands out from other Class B models thanks to its open floor plan and fully equipped kitchen. Enjoy fresh air with screen doors throughout, as well as an external LP connection. A 190-watt solar panel with a solar charge controller comes standard for your boondocking excursions. To keep the layout spacious, there’s no bathroom on board; instead, there’s a rear water sprayer. As an alternative, the 18M floor plan comes with a rear wet bath.

Layout for a van floor plan that features a pull out bed and galley
Photo courtesy of Thor Motor Coach
Specs
GVWR 8,550 pounds
Towing Hitch 3,500 pounds
Chassis RAM ProMaster, Gas
Fuel Capacity 24 gallons
Exterior Length 17 feet, 11 inches
Exterior Height 9 feet, 6 inches
Fresh Water Tank 16 gallons
Gray Water Tank 8 gallons
MSRP $76,000

FEATURES AND OPTIONS WE LOVE:

Add on the Thule bike rack on the rear door to carry along your bikes. For a more defined sleeping space, and extra room, upgrade to the pop-top.

More information on this Class B can be found here.


Winnebago Solis 59PX

This rugged Class B features plenty of storage options and space-saving features like the rear murphy bed and movable tables. A four-person sleeping capacity and open floor plan make this Class B comfortable for a family with kids. The designated rear storage space also leaves plenty of room for bikes.  

Layout for a van floor plan that features a dining area, wet bath, galley, and Murphy bed
Photo courtesy of Winnebago
Specs
GVWR 9,350 pounds
Towing Hitch 3,500 pounds
Chassis RAM ProMaster, Gas
Fuel Capacity 24 gallons
Exterior Length 21 feet
Exterior Height 9 feet, 5 inches
Fresh Water Tank 20 gallons
Cassette Toilet Capacity 5 gallons
Gray Water Tank 20 gallons
MSRP $107,821

FEATURES AND OPTIONS WE LOVE:

A solar panel system and Eco-Hot water system—both come standard—bring creature comforts to boondocking. 

More information on this Class B can be found here.


Coachmen Nova 20RB

Coachmen’s Nova utilizes the rear for a wet bath and the main living area serves as a converted sleeping area with two twin beds on either side. At the front of the rig, you’ll find the galley across the entry point with a removable table and two swivel captain’s chairs. The exterior features an awning and optional bike rack. This rig has one of the larger water tank sizes for its class, so you can travel with convenience.

Layout for a van floor plan that features a wet bath in the rear, a converted sleeping area in the middle, and galley near the front of the van
Photo courtesy of Coachmen RV
Specs
GVWR 9,350 pounds
Chassis Ram ProMaster, Gas
Fuel Capacity 24 gallons
Exterior Length 20 feet, 11 inches
Exterior Height 9 feet, 4 inches
Fresh Water Tank 27 gallons
Gray Water Tank 23 gallons
Black Water Tank 10 gallons
MSRP $134,856

FEATURES AND OPTIONS WE LOVE:

Add on the gray tank water heater for warm showers. If you’re looking to cook often, upgrade to an induction cooktop instead of an LP. 

More information on this Class B can be found here.


Airstream Interstate 24X

Airstream’s latest touring coach comes with standard features like a roof rack, an exterior wash station, an exterior heated shower, a rear zippered screen, an outdoor table mount, an LP accessory hookup, off-road tires, and plenty more. Inside you’ll find elements that make vanlife easier, including a heated wet bath, an L-track storage system, a microwave, and a convertible sleeping and living space. 

Woman organizing climbing gear in the back of a van on a seat platform with the doors open, enjoying the outdoors
Photo courtesy of Airstream
Specs
GVWR 11,030 pounds
Towing Hitch 5,000 pounds
Chassis Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, Diesel
Fuel Capacity 24.5 gallons
Exterior Length 24 feet, 6 inches
Exterior Height 9 feet, 9 inches
Fresh Water Tank 23 gallons
Gray Water Tank 24 gallons
Black Water Tank 11 gallons
MSRP $213,850

FEATURES AND OPTIONS WE LOVE:

There’s not much that doesn’t come standard at this price point, but add on hydraulic leveling jacks if you plan to take your van on rugged terrain. 

More information on this Class B can be found here.


Entegra Coach Ethos 20A

Entegra Coach’s Ethos 20A is a popular option for those combining day touring and van camping. The floor plan features four captain’s chairs, a large refrigerator, a wet bath with a foot-flush toilet, a full-featured kitchen, and an exterior awning. Other notable features include an outside shower, remote keyless entry, Thule roof racks, a solar panel, and heated holding tanks.

View of a van layout from the rear with the doors open. There's a sink, seating area, and view of windshield
Photo courtesy of Entegra Coach
Specs
GVWR 9,350 pounds
Towing Hitch 3,500 pounds
Chassis Ram ProMaster, Gas
Fuel Capacity 24 gallons
Exterior Length 20 feet, 11 inches
Exterior Height 9 feet, 3 inches
Fresh Water Tank 25 gallons
Gray Water Tank 16/17 gallons
Black Water Tank 12 gallons
MSRP $130,795

FEATURES AND OPTIONS WE LOVE:

The customer value package is mandatory but includes lots of bonuses, like a Winegard Connect 2.0 4G/WiFi/Digital TV antenna and E-Z Drive system. 

More information on this Class B can be found here.


Pleasure-Way Ontour 2.0

The Ontour 2.0 floor plan impresses with high-end features, a wet bath with a foot-flush toilet, and a roomy seating area in a rig that’s less than 20 feet long. The rear electric sofa converts to a queen-sized bed, making the transition from day to night living a breeze. During the day, enjoy an open floor plan with plenty of seating, a TV, and screens that cover the rear double doors.

Interior view of a van showing in L-shaped couch in the rear, cabinets, and a sink and induction cooktop
Photo courtesy of Pleasure-Way
Specs
GVWR 9,000 pounds
Towing Hitch 2,200 pounds
Chassis Ford Transit, Gas
Fuel Capacity 25 gallons
Exterior Length 19 feet, 8 inches
Exterior Height 10 feet
Fresh Water Tank 25 gallons
Gray Water Tank 15 gallons
Black Water Tank 11 gallons
MSRP $136,305

FEATURES AND OPTIONS WE LOVE:

Off-grid features include a power awning, solar package, instant water heater, LP quick connect, and an exterior shower—all of which come standard.  

More information on this Class B can be found here.


Custom Build: Endeavor 5 Mercedes Sprinter

Muse & Co. Outdoors, a van conversion company, designed the Endeavor 5 floor plan based on traveler needs and feedback. The layout is built exclusively on Mercedes Sprinters with a 170-inch wheelbase and high roof, produced in 2019 or later. This floor plan has a unique layout with a queen-sized bed in the rear, a mid galley, and a long dining table with seating for five. The front seating area converts to a bed for two children or one adult and can serve as a workstation during the day. Thoughtful standard features include thermostat-controlled heat, off-grid power, and under-bed storage. The fresh water tank capacity is 24 gallons and the gray water tank capacity is 7 gallons. For your bathroom needs, there’s a pull-out cabinet inside the van that accommodates an optional cassette, cartridge, or compost toilet, and an optional 10- or 20-gallon passive solar Roadshower on the roof. Van builds start at $125,000, which doesn’t include the van chassis. 

Interior view of a van with the front seats facing away from the windshield at a long table with three passenger seats
Photo courtesy of Muse & Co. Outdoors

FEATURES AND OPTIONS WE LOVE:

Add on a roof rack, outdoor shower, bug screen, and retractable awning to expand your living space outdoors. 

More information on this Class B can be found here.


Custom Build: Sundance Kid Mercedes Sprinter

This layout, designed by van conversion company Off-Highway Van, can be built on the Mercedes Sprinter or Ford Transit chassis. In the galley area, there are two 6-gallon tanks for fresh and gray water, a fridge and freezer combo, a sink, and counter space. The living and sleeping area consists of a modular bed and bench system which allows for optimal storage. The build comes with a house electrical system, outlets, and solar panels. There’s no bathroom, but you can upgrade to an electric water heater with larger tanks and an exterior shower. Van builds start at $64,500, which doesn’t include the van chassis.

Exterior view of a Class B van in a mountainous landscape. The van has off-roading features like a front light, grill, and rugged tires.
Photo courtesy of Off-Highway Van

FEATURES AND OPTIONS WE LOVE:

If you camp in warm-weather destinations, add on a rooftop A/C unit.

More information on this Class B can be found here.


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Togo RV is part of a joint venture, partially owned by Thor Industries, Inc., of which Airstream, Entegra, and Thor Motor Coach are subsidiaries.

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Ashley Rossi

Ashley is the managing editor at Togo RV. She comes from a background in travel writing which has taken her from Australia to Haida Gwaii. Her favorite national park is Zion and she's helping her parents plan an epic cross-country retirement trip in an Airstream.

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