10 amazingly livable and lovable mini-campers of 2021
It was another pandemic year and another big year for RVs of all shapes and sizes, especially the smallest variety. 2021's collection of new mini- and micro-campers included some of the most versatile multipurpose camper vans we've ever seen, tiny teardrop trailers light enough to tow by bicycle, and modular camper kits so small and flexible they can make campers out of three-door hatchbacks. It proved a very interesting year indeed for the world's smallest campers.
Freizeitmobile Dailycamper city-to-mountain adventure MPV
One of the smallest camper vans to cross our path this year, the Dailycamper was also one of the most impressive. The 187-in (475-cm) Fiat Doblo-based van gets its name from the fact that it readily trades out its side kitchen for a three-seat rear bench in order to transform from holiday camper to five-seat daily commuter. As a camper, it has a snug two-person floor plan that's plenty comfy thanks to a folding 47 x 79-in (120 x 200-cm) bed, compact kitchen block with single-burner stove and sink, and a Dometic cool box and optional toilet hidden below the seats. The adorable mini-MPV/RV still starts at €38,900 (approx. US$43,900), according to the Dailycamper website as of December 2021, making it as affordable as it is functional.
Edgeout rotomolded teardrop trailer
Billed as a first of its kind, the South African-born Edgeout trailer is like a high-end rotomolded cooler on wheels, only large enough to sleep two adults very comfortably rather than just carry milk and eggs to camp. Plastic rotomolding specialist 4EVR Plastic Products uses its expertise to marry individually molded living and kitchen modules into a single teardrop-style camping pod planted atop a rugged chassis. The result is ultra-durable, seamlessly weatherproof and much more affordable than other molded composite trailers at a starting price of R249,000 (US$15,680).
Nissan x OGUshow NV350 Caravan ES Mobility Concept workation wonder
A quintessential mini-camper of the COVID-19 era, the Nissan x OGUshow NV350 Caravan ES Mobility Concept had such a long, clunky title, we renamed it the Workation. That's because it's the ultimate work/play van, optimized for throwing a fishing rod, surfboard or bike in back, dropping a laptop bag in the front seat and escaping for a day or week of extra-remote office work. The key to this versatility is the folding rear bench/bed setup that can become a double bed, a single bench/bed or a functional workstation. The tubular racks above hold fishing rods or surfboards and hang wet gear for drying.
The Workation was just a concept when we looked at it in February, but Nissan and Co do offer very similar NV350 camper vans, including the ¥3.4 million (approx. US$29,825) Multibed we looked at a few weeks later.
Hobby Beachy caravan
With a sleek, curvy exterior, simple, functional layout and beach-inspired vibe, the new Beachy caravan from Hobby is timeless and contemporary at the same time. It brings the same spirit of freedom and adventure as the classic VW pop-top, but for a new generation concerned with mobile connectivity and up-to-the-minute design trends. The Beachy looks like a smartphone or Apple mouse on wheels from outside and houses an elegant interior with hanging lamps, fabric-trimmed walls and warm, bright colors. With a large center aisle and foldaway table, the little caravan can transport sports gear like a toy hauler before setting up into a beachfront tiny home.
The Beachy comes in three different sizes with prices that started at €12,000 (US$13,550) when we looked at it in June.
Girovaga Box modular camper bricks
Why can't building out a camper van be as simple and fun as building with Legos? Italian startup Girovaga Box makes it so with camper kits based around rearrangeable boxes that store gear, form the frame of the bed and remove from the van to stack up into the outdoor kitchen. Campers can create a single or double bed, using any leftover room to store gear as large as bicycles. When the camping trip is over, the boxes easily remove and return the van to stock form. The Girovaga package is a unique spin on the camper-in-a-box system, and it appears quite user-friendly. With Kickstarter pricing that started at €1,818 ($2,050), the Rodos small van kit was also rather wallet-friendly.
Escapod Topo2 composite teardrop
The Escapod Topo off-road teardrop trailer was a winner when we tested it in the Utah desert in 2019, and it's only improved since then. The all-new Topo2 replaces the simple aluminum-on-wood construction of the original Topo with a molded single-piece composite shell that's bigger and bolder while towing lighter. The new interior houses a full 60 x 80-in (152 x 203-cm) queen-size bed and a pair of entryway "mudrooms" good for hanging wet clothes and drying them with the air heating. The tailgate galley, meanwhile, brings a long countertop with plenty of work space, large Ruvati sink, slide-out dual-burner stove, Yeti 75 cooler and multipurpose cabinet door/side table. A new independent suspension system helps the Topo2 level out all kinds of rugged terrain while making its way to remote campsites.
At $39,500, the Topo2 debuted at double the price of the original Topo, but it certainly strikes us as a work of art as much as a light, off-road-ready camper.
Vanderer Urban Camper rear lounge mini-camper
Somehow the minds at Germany's Vanderer have managed to take one of Europe's smallest van families in the 187-in (475-cm) Citroën Berlingo/Peugeot Partner and turn it into a space in which campers will actually want to spend time. And we don't mean just "grabbing a quick night of sleep below a hard roof" time but valuable daylight hours spent chatting with campmates inside the lounge while preparing an espresso or bowl of soup.
Many mini-campervan converters are happy to follow the same safe but boring cookie-cutter format, but Vanderer flips its floor plan around, giving its Urban Camper a full rear sofa lounge and dining area and indoor/outdoor kitchen space. It still saves space for five passengers and cargo during the ride. With help from the pop-up roof, four of those passengers have a warm bed on which to spend the night. The modular kit even removes, freeing the van to be used as a seven-seat MPV. Due to the demand for campers, and the vans upon which they're based, Vanderer announced a significant MY2022 price increase in December 2021 to €41,990 ($47,400) for its Berlingo base model.
CarCamper camper car in a bag
We've seen many interesting camper-in-a-box systems over the years, but the CarCamper kit we looked at this year was the first camper-in-a-bag we can recall. The ultralight, ultracompact kit features a collapsible aluminum frame and rollable bed platform that carry in a canvas bag. Within minutes, the pieces build up into a one- or two-person bed that stretches to sleep full-height adults. Top it with an inflatable or folding mattress and your car is now the tiniest of RVs. Best of all, the CarCamper kit is designed to work with virtually any hatchback vehicle – even little three-doors – so you don't have to own a van to create a camper.
Sure, a €249 ($275) solo bed platform kit isn't exactly a complete camper, but CarCamper plans to spend next year adding additional components like a kitchen and storage unit.
ModyPlast Mody teardrop bicycle trailer
A list of mini-campers of the year would be quite incomplete without the miniest of them all. A true micro-camper, the Mody from Germany's ModyPlast looks briefly like a typical teardrop trailer. Zero in on the short body and narrow tires, though, and you realize something's amiss: This teardrop is built to be towed by bicycle, not automobile. If pedaling a 93-plus-lb (42-plus-kg) trailer up and down your local hills and valleys doesn't sound enticing, that's okay because the Mody trailer is really designed with ebikes in mind, the electric-assist powertrain helping to tug the trailer along comfortably at speeds up to 15.5 mph (25 km/h). At camp, the Mody is large enough to accommodate the cyclist and perhaps his or her dog. While it doesn't have a built-in kitchen, ModyPlast offers an optional cooler and collapsible outdoor kitchen — you're on your own with finding a bathroom, though.
The Mody trailer comes in road, hybrid and off-road varieties. Prices published online as of December 2021 start at €4,999 ($5,650) for fiberglass versions and €6,999 ($7,900) for lighter carbon fiber models.
Southvan Allrounder nine-seat camper van
One of the most impressive uses of space we've seen in or out of the van market, the Southvan Allrounder is a true multifunctional workhorse. A veritable small school bus, the 197-in (497-cm) MPV can carry up to nine people to and fro during the week, quickly transforming into a camper on Friday afternoon. It can even carry all nine people to camp alongside the kitchen, but most campers will want to swap a few seats out for bikes, camping gear, fishing tackle or whatever they have in mind.
At camp, the Allrounder sleeps four people on its folding lower bed and pop-up roof bed and feeds the family via the indoor/outdoor flex kitchen with single-burner stove and fridge. At €51,990 ($58,900), an Allrounder definitely sounds cheaper than buying the separate daily commuter and pop-top camper van it cleverly combines into one.
After a strong 2020 and 2021, will 2022 prove a third big year in a row for mini-campers? We'll be keeping our eyes peeled for new designs the minute we swap out calendars.
Note on prices: Unless otherwise specified, the prices given are from the time we originally looked at the camper in question during 2021 and may have since changed. We included December 2021 prices where available and identified them accordingly. All conversions are based on exchange rates from December 2021.