Five top Düsseldorf 2019 camper vans for adventurers of different stripes

Five top Düsseldorf 2019 camper vans for adventurers of different stripes
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Slovenian adventure and expedition van shop Phantom Mobil shows a VW Crafter with folding rear bed and gear tie-downs on the floor
The Phantom Mobil Crafter looks like a good choice for mountain bikers, skiers, surfers and others who want to load up on gear for their camping trips
Phantom VW Crafter/MAN TGE adventure vans start at €53,500, but this one was of course optioned well above that, wearing a sticker of €83,572, not including tax
An indoor/outdoor fridge position is a nice touch for any adventure camper van
If you were hoping to walk home with the Sunlight Cliff 4x4 Adventure, bad news: it's clearly not for sale, just a concept
The Cliff 4x4 Adventure supports bikers with a repair stand built into the rear door
Sunlight explores more out-of-the box storage with gear nets, a modular ski/snowboard rack and more
A look inside the Sunlight Cliff 4x4 Adventure
The coolest features of the Sunlight Cliff 4x4 Adventure are on the roof, where you'll find not only a gear rack but also a collapsible hammock and wakeboarding winch
We'd say the Cliff 4x4 Adventure was the most adventurous van of the show
Climbing holds replace the ladder for roof access
The collapsible bike jump is yet another unique feature of the Cliff 4x4 Adventure
The Cliff 4x4 Adventure's hammock ready to hang
When they're not in use on the ends of the hammock, the telescoping poles set up inside to work as a gear rack
Westfalia's most adventurous van at the show was the all-new James Cook Classic, based on the Mercedes Sprinter 4x4
The James Cook is a nice choice for taller bikers who don't want to scrunch their achy legs in a transverse bed because the slide-out makes room for a comfy 6.8-foot (2.1-m)-long bed
The Westfalia James Cook's slide-out opens in about 40 seconds to add some serious space to the van interior
We were surprised to see that the Cliff 4x4 Adventure wasn't the only van on show with a roof lounge — this custom Sprinter 4x4 from Reisemobil Manufaktur has a seat atop its burly roof rack
Two sliding doors add some convenience to Reisemobil Manufaktur's adventurized Sprinter 4x4
Reisemobil Manufaktur's 7-m Sprinter 4x4 custom had a price tag of €105,982 and included equipment like 300 watts of solar, a 300Ah lithium battery and General Grabber all-terrain tires
The Reisemobil Manufaktur Sprinter 4x4's lift-away bed makes it an excellent option for gear-hauling missions
This particular CS-Reisemobil Luxor didn't include the available off-road kit, but we still got an adventurous vibe from it
The lower garage and available fold-away right bed panel ensure the Luxor offers plenty of storage space
The little classic timepiece mounted over the dining area was a nice touch that set the CS Luxor apart from the average camper van
This Luxor also includes nice wood trim and furniture throughout
Instead of descending to the sleeping quarters, as you would on a boat, you have to climb into the CS Luxor rear bed
CS Luxor kitchen area
The CS Luxor is based on the 7-m, long-wheelbase Sprinter
Another CS-Reisemobil model, this Duo Independent included 4x4
A look inside the CS Duo Independent
This Duo Independent had a unique rear wet bath/dual bunk layout, a different floor plan from any other van we saw at the Caravan Salon
A look at the CS Duo Independent's split rear
Terracamper builds some of the most rugged off-road camper vans in Germany, and the Vader Van is certainly no exception
The Terracamper Terock rear with its stacked storage crates just yells utility and form following function
Modular furniture and lash rails throughout make the Terracamper Terock super-versatile
A quick snap of the La Strada Regent 4x4, a more capable Sprinter 4x4 thanks to aftermarket 4WD upgrading from Oberaigner
The Weinsberg CaraBus MEG [Outlaw] has a rear garage good for motorbikes, bicycles or even a quad
Unlike some other motorcycle transport camper vans, the Weinsberg MEG Outlaw has a very traditional layout and feel in the camper area
The MEG Outlaw's high bed makes room for the sealed garage area below
A pass-through between MEG Outlaw living area and garage
Weinsberg debuts the MEG Outlaw floor plan at the 2019 Caravan Salon
A look at the MEG Outlaw show van's garage with bicycle and motorcycle carriers
Those looking to bring an ATV to camp will like the new Citroën Biker Solution Multi
The Biker Solution Multi's dual bed panels fold to the sides and the rear seat removes when it's time to load toys up
Another handy indoor/outdoor fridge, Citroën Biker Solution Multi
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As regular readers may have already noticed, this year's Düsseldorf Caravan Salon was absolutely overloaded with new and innovative camper vans. Automakers like Volkswagen and Ford joined major motorhome brands like Westfalia and Dethleffs in debuting smart new vans built for traveling highways and exploring open spaces. While the show didn't quite step up to Overland Expo or Abenteuer & Allrad levels of ruggedized off-roading, it did have more vans than usual built up for unadulterated outdoor adventure. Each of these vans is carefully honed for a distinct profile of adventurer, from the sophisticated globetrotter to the Red Bull-soaked, circuit-touring semi-pro athlete.

The biker

If you enjoy both camper van and motorcycle travel, it stands to reason that at some point (or all points), you'll want to combine those two loves into one. Maybe you want to van over dusty dirt roads before continuing onward via dirt bike, or maybe you'd prefer parking your van at an amenity-loaded campground before touring the scenic local roads in the saddle.

Whatever your two/four-wheel travel dreams, there are a few moto transporter vans perfectly equipped to make them reality, and the new Weinsberg 630 MEG [Outlaw] was the best van in Düsseldorf for the task. A full bike garage awaits inside the rear loading doors, and Weinsberg offers a foldable ramp and dirt bike carrier to simplify loading the bikes. It properly seals the garage off from the fully equipped camper interior, which has sleeping space for up to three people, a kitchen block and a wet bathroom. Bike hard all day, lock the bikes away at night and retire to the comfort of a warm camper van with roomy queen bed.

The 630 MEG [Outlaw] joins Weinsberg's list of available floor plans for the Fiat Ducato-based CaraTour and CaraBus camper vans, with prices starting at €44,870 (approx. US$49,100) for a 118-hp van.

The ATVer

Prefer your adrenaline served on four wheels instead of two? Technically the MEG Outlaw can accommodate quads, but the Citroën Biker Solution Multi is better optimized for the task. Not only does it have a wide, open load area and tie-down rails, but its quick-stashing dual ramps and remote control winch make it easy to get those large, heavy four-wheeled toys on board. Purpose-built cabinetry stores a helmet, riding clothes and more.

Once the sun drops, the Multi's double bed folds down where the quad used to be and the roof pops up to sleep two more people. In the morning, a full kitchen with stove, fridge and sink starts the day with a proper breakfast, and a multi-position removable tabletop locks in to create an indoor dining room. Based on the 162-hp L3H2 Citroën Jumper van, the new Biker Solution Multi starts at €51,100 ($55,900).

The overland bush basher

For some van enthusiasts, it's not about transporting sports gear, and it's not even about transporting themselves to any particular destination. These purists are all about the journey and living in the moment. While you certainly can enjoy a journey on paved road alone, we can't help but feel that scaling a few scree fields and diving into a river crossing with wild abandon along the way really ups the enjoyment factor. THE booth at any given German motorhome show to find the right type of weapon-grade van for that kind of vehicular adventure is Terracamper, which recently changed hands and re-headquartered to Kassel, Germany. The new owners Kanittha and Lars Cramer bring a background in engineering and an intimate familiarity with Terracamper vans, particularly the VW Transporter-based Terock they've used to overland and island-hop around Europe the past four years.

As per a July announcement, the clients-turned-owners will apply their years of in-field experience and tweaking toward developing the Terracamper lineup. In the meantime, their art-covered, road-weathered "Vader the Van," was the one drawing Düsseldorf attendees to the company's booth like moths to a floodlight, and it was very much the most beastly adventure van of the show.

The Terock package centers around rugged, removable camper modules that mount to floor rails to create a full camper van without giving up everyday driver capabilities. Highlights include a slide-out fridge also accessible from inside, pressurized water system, and storage shelves sized to accommodate Euro boxes, making for streamlined packing and loading. The options list adds possibilities like the aluminum "extreme open-sky" roof with secondary hatch, air suspension, snorkel, winch, hideaway toilet seat, and solar/lithium power.

We didn't see a current price anywhere on this one, but on a happy note for Americans who look upon European camper vans with fiery green eyes of envy, Terracamper has been selling select kits in the US for several years. The Tecamp, a Terock-style modular conversion with four seats instead of three, starts at $35,900 for the conversion hardware. A sadder note: Since the US doesn't have a VW Transporter (or any mid-size 4x4 van), the kit is only available on the 2WD Mercedes Metris passenger van.

The worldly explorer

Adventure doesn't have to mean going head to head with tire-sucking mud fields or storm-engulfed mountain peaks. There's plenty of eye-opening unknown to be discovered along more civilized highway, paved byway and graded gravel, all of which can be taken in with high levels of comfort and luxury. The CS-Reisemobile Luxor is the tool for this type of journey, its wood furniture and trim, compartmentalized rear bedroom and analog wall clock inspiring images of seagoing vessels and their incomparable mix of open-ended adventure and luxurious living.

CS' explorer yacht for the road provides plenty of room for captain and co-captain to breathe and thrive inside a 23-foot (7-m) 163-hp long-wheelbase Mercedes Sprinter cabin. High-end standard equipment includes a powerful 265Ah gel battery and Truma gas heater/water boiler, and an extensive options list carves out a true home away from home with possibilities like a solar/lithium power system, air conditioning, SMEV grill, wireless smartphone charging and entertainment system. The Luxor wasn't the most rugged model on CS' stand, but available all-wheel drive, reduction gear, all-terrain tires and off-road package make it a very capable platform for on/off-road touring. Pricing starts at €73,900 ($80,850), and the Caravan Salon show model carried about 50 percent more capability and luxury, wearing a €107,952 ($118,100) pre-tax price tag.

The year-round adrenaline fiend

The Sunlight Cliff 4x4 Adventure van proves you don't have to settle for just one activity when camping. Built for the pro skier who stays in shape by hike-a-biking first-ever descents down unnamed summits, and others who get after it the whole calendar year, this multi-sport machine is optimized for all-season, all-terrain trips of a lifetime. Cliff's boundary-breaking conversion deletes the idea of an off-season, packing a tow winch for wakeboarding and snow sports, a built-in repair stand and jump ramp for bike trips, a ski/snowboard rack to hold things steady on powder days, and an integrated climbing wall on the rear doors for warming up tight muscles when pulling gear down off the roof. After the day's storyline has been written, a scenic roof-top hammock awaits with open arms.

The only thing the Cliff 4x4 Adventure is missing is a removable dash-mounted camera system to eternalize every minute of in-van and out-of-van action. That, and a price tag — this one's just a concept van that will never see the light of day. Its innovative ideas certainly should inspire some DIY garage builds, though.

Check out the photo gallery for more of these vans and a few other rugged adventure vans we spotted in the halls of the 2019 Caravan Salon.

View gallery - 45 images
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