A Decade of Winnebagos: Comparing a Class C RV, Rugged Vans & a Small Towable
A Decade of Winnebagos: Comparing a Class C RV, Rugged Vans & a Small Towable
Long-time RVer shares about life in various types of RVs.
By: Abby Holcombe
I’ve traveled far and wide in multiple different Winnebagos with my parents, Kathy and Peter Holcombe. From a cozy Class C motorhome to a rugged off-road van and even a small towable, I’ve slept in multiple RV styles over the last ten years.
In my last GoLife article, I talked about the different styles of RVing we’ve done. And in this article, I’m going to cover each vehicle we’ve lived in, why we picked it, what we used it for, and why I ultimately chose the Winnebago + Adventure Wagon now that I’m traveling independently of my parents.
Our First Winnebago: The Class C View
The Winnebago View 24J was our very first RV. We lived full-time in it from 2014 through 2018. (Our first View was a pre-owned model and we upgraded to a newer View in 2016.) The View was the perfect steppingstone to full-time van life. Before the View, we would spend our summers living out of my dad’s crammed red pickup truck.
When we toured our first View at our local RV dealer, we were all amazed by how nimble it looked on the outside, yet how much living and storage space there was on the inside. The slideout blew my ten-year-old mind, and I felt like I had stepped inside the RV equivalent of the magical Harry Potter tent. I was also so excited about the over-cab bunk, as previously I had been sleeping across the backseat of my parent’s pickup truck.
These are the top three reasons for why my parents chose to purchase the View:
1. Dedicated beds for a family of three.
This was really important to my parents. The idea of unfolding and folding sofas, tables, etc. was not appealing. Because we were living in the RV full-time, they wanted everyone to have their own dedicated space to hang out in. This is why they picked the View 24J with the corner bed for them, the U-shaped dinette so we could comfortably eat dinner together, and the over-cab bunk for me.
2. Easy to drive and maneuver.
We had always traveled in pickup trucks, and my parents were scared that traveling in an RV would limit where we could go. However, the View was the perfect mix of maneuverability and comfort for us. We had everything we needed, and we were able to drive to almost everywhere we wanted to go in the first four years of travel. Including driving to Alaska! (Read more about our Alaskan adventures in 2017 here.)
3. Diesel engine.
A diesel engine offers good mileage, longevity, and strong resale value, which were big factors as to why my parents chose the View. Because, after all, selling our house and moving into an RV was a big risk and they wanted to make sure that they weren’t being reckless financially. The View checked all the boxes, and we had four amazing years traveling North America in it.
Is a Winnebago View Right for You?
Are you a small family who wants the comforts of a tiny home but with the option to wild camp and boondock? Or maybe you want more space than a van, but are intimidated by driving a big RV? If that sounds familiar, I would highly recommend the Winnebago View or a similar Class C motorhome.
Going Off Road in the Winnebago Revel Van
After four years of continuous travel, North America started to feel small. So, my parents sold our beloved View for the endless potential of international travel that the Revel had to offer.
In 2019, we planned to ship our Winnebago to Europe for six months of European culture, pastries, and phenomenal scenery. Even though we were giving up a lot of the comforts that made us fall in love with the View (storage, fridge space, dedicated beds), we knew that the Revel was the perfect fit for our overlanding dreams!
1. Off-road capability.
The off-road capabilities and high clearance are what first caught my parents’ eye when they looked into the Revel. And let’s be honest, my dad had been dreaming about owning a 4x4 Sprinter for as long as I can remember. The Revel also came out around the same time we wanted to expand our travels to more remote and far-off places.
It’s also important to mention that the campers/RVs in Europe are small and the Revel was often one of the biggest vehicles on the roads we traveled. If you are interested in shipping your Winnebago internationally, definitely consider a smaller vehicle so you don’t have any limitations to where you can go.
2. Off-grid living.
While it has grand off-road potential, we also liked that the Revel has lots of battery capacity, a hefty water tank, and a cassette toilet that we could dump easily.
Since it was smaller and I no longer had a dedicated bed (like in the View), we modified the Revel to give me the option to sleep inside the van on a fold-out bed while boondocking. But I would sleep in a tent, when possible, to give myself more space.
3. Diesel engine.
Same as the View, the gas mileage, longevity, and strong resale value were very important to my parents and luckily the Revel checked all of the boxes.
Is a Winnebago Revel Right for You?
I would highly recommend the Revel to solo travelers or couples who want to get off the beaten path. The Revel is a great vehicle for storing and carrying gear to fit every adventure, including overland travel. It is the perfect combination of comfort and off-road capability.
My parents are still adventuring in their Revel and are currently on a long-term, multi-continental van trip!
Adding More Space with the Winnebago HIKE Trailer
After a grand European overland adventure, we returned home just before the beginning of the pandemic. While our international travel plans were on hold due to COVID-19, we decided we wanted to expand our living space to be a little more comfortable while stateside. This is when we were introduced to the Winnebago HIKE.
I had been sleeping on either the fold-out bed my parents built for me in the Revel or in a tent, and I was grateful to have a dedicated bed and storage space again. Having the trailer was great because if we wanted to go somewhere that wasn’t trailer-friendly, we could find a secure place to leave it and optimize the Revel’s off-road capabilities. It was the best of both worlds.
1. Dedicated beds.
After six months of folding out a bed in the Revel or setting up a tent outside the van, we were ready for a break and our biggest priority in the trailer was a more dedicated space for me and my stuff. The Revel is amazing, but with three people and a 70-pound yellow lab, we needed a bit more space until we could resume international travel.
2. Extra storage space.
We also thrived having another kitchen, workspace, and way more storage space than we’d been used to in the Revel. The Revel and HIKE were the perfect blend of the comfort we loved so much about the View and the off-road capability we loved so much about the Revel.
3. High clearance and off-road capabilities.
Out of all the travel trailers on the market, we picked the HIKE because it had higher clearance than most other trailers and still allowed us to go to remote and wild places with all the comforts of home. (And the HIKE 100 FLX has even MORE off-road features!)
Is a Winnebago HIKE 100 Right for You?
Whether you are a family with a truck who is hoping to start camping more comfortably, or you already have a van and want a little more space for the family, I would recommend the HIKE 100 or HIKE 100 FLX. This is especially true if you need something with more off-road capacity than a traditional travel trailer.
A Great Start to Van Life in the Winnebago + Adventure Wagon
I chose the Winnebago + Adventure Wagon because it seemed like the best vehicle for an intro to solo van life. My main priorities when choosing my first RV were:
1. Easy to drive.
As a young driver, I knew I wanted a nimble vehicle with lots of safety features. I love that the Winnebago + Adventure Wagon is on the 144” Sprinter chassis. It’s short, easy to maneuver, and has various safety features (blind spot assist, 360º backup camera, etc.) that gives me that extra confidence boost.
2. Self-contained and safe.
It was really important to me to be completely self-contained with an on-board toilet. I didn’t want to have to get out to use the bathroom in the middle of the night and I wanted the ability to crawl up front to easily drive away if I ever felt unsafe. (You can read more in my article on safety tips for boondocking.)
3. Gear storage.
I kayak almost every day, and it was really important to me to have easy access to the kayaks I train in most. I liked that the Winnebago+ Adventure Wagon had lots of storage under the bed, so I could put my most-used kayaks inside without having to load and unload them off the roof every day. I currently have four paddles, three kayaks, two surfboards, and a bunch of kayak gear stored under the bed for easy access.
Is a Winnebago + Adventure Wagon Right for You?
The best part of the Winnebago + Adventure Wagon is how flexible and customizable it is. Whether you are a DIYer who doesn’t have time to start from scratch, a young couple who has been dreaming of van life and doesn’t know where to start, or an athlete who needs more space to store equipment, this van is a great option!
Final Thoughts on Choosing the Right RV
We have traveled in various ways, in a different assortment of vehicles and ultimately, the right RV looks different for everyone. It comes down to how you are going to use your RV and what you want to get out of it.
If you want to base out of each destination for long periods of time, a trailer will probably be the best option for you! If you want to go to remote places that require four-wheel drive and high clearance, you should probably consider purchasing a Revel or other off-road capable vehicle.
The examples could go on and on, but I suggest you dream about where you want to go and what you want that experience to look like, and then choose the Winnebago that would give you the experience you desire!
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