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Equipping the Overland Vehicle Vehicle accessories - Making your home away from home comfortable, safe and reliable.
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Old 10 Oct 2018
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Build camper-trailer or Buy Van

Hi guys,

I'm new to the forum although I've lurked for a while. I would like to get your opinions on a dilemma I'm facing at the moment, seeing as so many of you are actually experienced travelers and not merely tinkerers who like to build stuff or bolt on parts to their 4WD (nothing wrong with that either).

I'm based in the US and I have a nice 100 series Land Cruiser that we have used over the past 5 years on some great local and cross-country trips. It was found after a long search, is well-maintained, paid off, and is more capable off-road than I care to utilize (but it's comforting to have the capability). For those reasons I find myself reluctant to let it go.

Over the course of several long trips, we (me, wife and 2 small kids) have come to realize, what we really need in order to do longer and/or more unplanned sojourns is inside living space that's weatherproof, secure, self-contained and lends itself to stealthy camping. Our plans for the future include the Western United States & Canada, and at some point, South America. I'm not precluding the idea of shipping the vehicle to Europe or Asia should the opportunity present itself.

So here is the dilemma: Should I buy a new cargo van (thinking Quigley converted Transit or Nissan NV) and convert it, or should I build a custom camper-trailer?

Here's my perspective on how the van compares:

- Less capable off-road than LC but is that still valid if the latter has to tow 1500kg?

- Less build time and work to equip. Interior building only, vs interior, exterior and chassis for the trailer.

- Both will need a 40 ft high cube container or RoRo. Van won't fit into 20ft low container due to both length and height.

- New vehicle, vs 15 yo LC. but I still trust the LC more. Spares outside NA continent is probably better for LC.

- Costs $60k USD which means 6 more years of payments vs the trailer I can probably build within $15k USD

- More maneuverable than LC+trailer

- Neither are diesel engines. Van probably has slightly better fuel economy than LC pulling a trailer. Say 20% more.

- Self-contained and no need to leave cab to sleep, eat, drink or use the bathroom. The trailer will be roomier for 4 people.

I would like to hear your thoughts on this subject, both the above points as well as things that I haven't considered yet. Has anyone here travelled with a trailer and found it miserable? Is the additional expense of the van worth it's advantages?

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