Weird Campers, Unusual RVs, and Other Bizarre Rolling Rooms

Hotels are nice. Motels are cheap. Earth ships are, well, you know earthy. But for real travelers — the wanderers with a lust for wheels — there’s nothing more intoxicating than traveling the countryside in a camper.

Watching the scenery glide past; getting a sunburn on the arm hanging out the window; reveling in the freedom to stop anydamnwhere you please…ahhh, this is when traveling becomes adventure.

There are many different kinds of mobile living quarters: campers, RVs, and mobile homes are for the common person. For the true wandering spirit, only a unique rolling room will do. What qualifies as a “unique rolling room”? From the Train RV, to the Little Bugger Mini Home, to the ass-kickin’est overlander imaginable, here are 10 of the most unusual rolling rooms on the planet.

Road tripping is nothing new, of course. If you think about it, the exploration of the Old West was just one long, nation-wide road trip. Covered wagons, though, were not the ideal medium for cross country caravanning. Therefore, since the earliest days of travel, clever wanderers have longed for their own portable space on the open road.

For example, one of the oldest known campers is this converted Model T from 1920. Part house and part car, this novel cottage on wheels — complete with its own sunroom and back porch — gives a new spin to the term “life on the road.”

The guy who converted the Model T didn’t corner the market on wooden campers, though. Check out this truck-slash-log cabin. It doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere soon, but it’s nice to know that whereever you’re parked, you’ve got a window to throw trash out of and a tiny stove for cookin’ up some grits.

In stark contrast to that wobbly-looking log cabin camper, this mighty behemoth oozes testosterone and sweat. Fit to tackle all manner of terrain, but homey enough to receive all your favorite episodes from the Travel Channel, this camper — dubbed the Train RV — is the little camper that could.

Okay, so maybe the Train RV is a little big. Fair enough. Maybe you’re more into this completely stylized, totally tricked-out, all-season Vanagon. This particular Vanagon features:

  • a Thermal Systems 6000 BTU Platinum Cat power vented catalytic heater
  • Warm Window insulated curtains and a uniquely designed self-supporting awning
  • a Sony SAT-B3 DSS receiver; a portable, collapsible Winegard satellite dish; a Sony Trinitron AC/DC color TV; front & rear Boston Acoustics Pro Series speakers; an Alpine AM/FM cassette receiver with wireless remote control; and a compact disc changer
  • a 90-watt roof mounted BP solar panel; a Morningstar Sunsaver photovoltaic controller; an Exeltech XP125 true sine wave inverter; and a power distribution panel with the meters and switches to monitor and control it all.

Yes, this Vanagon is THE camper for the wandering geek.

Vanagon isn’t the only cool VW camper. Haven’t you ever heard about the Little Bugger Mini Home? This 1967 Little Bugger Volkswagen Conversion Camper is one of only 200 made by a shop in Irvine, California — and it can be yours, if you win the eBay auction.

Volkswagon clearly manufactured the most hackable vehicles of the 1970s and 1980s. Disagree? Check out this Hybrid RV, featuring a bus with a pop-out and a Vanagon with a pop-up:

Switching gears slightly, designer Kevin van Braak has figured out a way to bring a little countryside into the city. Essentially a trailer that unpacks into a thriving green space, the crafty trailer easily unfolds, allowing you to camp in a camper, on some grass, in the city. For more images — or to see how van Braak built this concept car — check his website.

Urban camping takes on a new meaning with Michael Rakowitz’ P(Lot) project, which we mentioned recently. Grab a sleeping bag; find a parking space; and you’re good to go.

Hit the brakes! Before we spend too much time getting INTO the city, let’s remember what campers and RVs are for: getting the heck outta dodge! Were I to get the chance to travel the world, this may be the overlander I’d choose to do it in. Sturdy, compact, and complete with a map in case I forget where I’ve been, this rugged little piece of machinery can take you almost anywhere you want to go.

And for the places that this overlander CAN’T take you — you can always rev up this bad boy. Owned by Zulu Overland, this overlander is typical of the vehicles I saw zooming through Zambia. With space below for food and gear, and plenty of seats above for convenient game-viewing, these monsters were notorious for screaming over potholes as though they were pinholes.

UPDATE: Our good buddies at Autoblog recently pointed out some other cool campers, including:

The one-of-a-kind, Wothahellizat (say it out loud…):

The sleek, Euro RV, the Knauss V-Liner:

The Terra Wind, a floating motor home:

And a custom-built 1958 Edsel Ranger Motor Home:

Can’t afford one of these campers? No worries. Just take a road trip and see some countryside for yourself.