Rocket camper van keeps it roomy with pulleys, straps and carabiners
On a mission to create a lighter, more versatile breed of camper van for families, German motorhome dealership Rocket Camper launched one of the buzziest vans at this year's CMT show. With solutions like a pulley-lift bed, hanging dining table and deconstructed indoor/outdoor bathroom, the 236-in (599-cm) Rocket One kept the crowds pouring in right until the show's end (we know because we were waiting patiently to get a few photographs). The Rocket One is definitely a sportier, more flexible spin on the camper van, but is it a more intelligent design?
With a dealer lot stocked full of camper vans from Weinsberg and VanTourer, Rocket Camper noticed something missing. In conversations with its customers, it felt demand for a different kind of camper van and started to flesh it out in early Rocket One sketches. After several years of development, it launched the highly distinctive Rocket One this month at CMT.
Rocket Camper essentially set off a bomb in the middle of the camper van interior, blowing up many of the design standards common throughout the market and replacing them with new solutions. Its brief in doing so was to rearrange things to create a more functional, livable space for a family of five. To start with, that meant eliminating the ubiquitous dining bench with two drive seats in order to fit three rear passengers on the ride to and from camp.
Of course, in a space as finite as a van cabin, adding an extra seat necessitates deleting something else, in this case the full-time wet bathroom you would reliably find in other camper vans this size. In place of a wet cell, Rocket breaks the bathroom down into its base components and arranges them around the full-width, L-shaped kitchen block, which becomes more of a "living block."
Located against the sidewall, the sink works as part of both kitchen and bathroom. The toilet is stored away in a drawer to the left, a hard cover allowing it to double as a step, both for children accessing the sink and for adults stepping up onto the rear bed. A shower sprayer hooked to the water system hangs on the wall behind the sink, designed to run out through the purpose-built dropdown side wall panel and serve as an outdoor shower. During showering, the side panel itself works as a shower shelf.
Sliding over toward the passenger side, the kitchen occupies the bulk of the block in front of the transverse rear bed. A single- or dual-burner stove rests below a hinged cover, creating a seamless workspace and opening onto the bed when it's time to cook. The flat underside of the cover can then be used as extra work space, assuming you don't mind working atop the mattress.
In back, the raised bed measures 55 x 76 in (140 x 193 cm), relying on a divider curtain to create a bit of closed-off privacy. The space below the bed is left open as a storage garage with tie-down tracks, and the odd little pulley hanging in back works to lift the rear half of the bed up to add extra storage space.
Cutting weight is also a focus of the Rocket One design, which starts with the pop-up roof. Rocket developed its own roof to increase interior space and save weight. The sleeping quarters inside are fitted with LED lighting and USB ports.
Back downstairs, lightness takes the form of decentralized storage. Rather than loading up with wardrobes, shelves and drawers, Rocket uses light, compact solutions like Keder rail, fabric pouches and retention nets for simple organization. It adds overhead storage cabinets above the rear bed.
The most conspicuous part of the Rocket One interior is the table hanging from the ceiling. The removable tabletop is attached to the side wall but relies on support straps in place of a pedestal, freeing up legroom for all five people. The straps easily attach and detach to ceiling hooks by way of carabiners. Completing the dining lounge, the individual rear seats with Isofix points mount to the floor rails and can be easily removed when storage space takes priority over passenger space.
When we first came across the Rocket One, we were sure it was a concept van, as it seemed to have a whole bunch of ideas thrown together, some practical, some questionable. But the van is an actual product that bases in at €57,650 (approx. US$63,875)when built atop a 118-hp Peugeot Boxer. Standard equipment includes a 48-L fresh water tank, Webasto diesel heater, electrical system, 80-L compressor fridge and 18-L portable toilet.
The price seems quite high, especially when you consider that the van comes standard as a two-sleeper, equipment like the extra rear seats and pop-up sleeper roof are optional. As equipped at CMT, the Rocket One priced in at €75,153 ($83,275).
The van seems best-suited to the young, active entry-level end of the market, given functional but inelegant solutions like the pull-out toilet and strapped-up table, and we don't see Rocket Camper selling many at that higher price point. But the project seems less about pushing vans off the lot and more about experimenting with different ideas. Rocket Camper only plans to produce a limited number in conjunction with manufacturing partner Volklandt GmbH, and the van will serve as a jumping off point for evolving in-house design ideas. It also made a pretty effective billboard at CMT, located in Rocket Camper's home city of Stuttgart.
Source: Rocket Camper