If you’re thinking of buying a ‘van that will also be practical for daily use, a small campervan could be the option for you. Manoeuvres and parking are likely to be much easier to accomplish in a compact campervan, while navigating your way through towns and narrow roads will also be simpler. In our best small campervan guide, we’re sharing our pick of the standout models we’ve seen in recent years, including ‘vans from some of the leading van converters and brands, such as Volkswagen, Bilbo’s, Wellhouse Leisure and more.

Unlike the ‘vans in our best campervan guide, these are all models that come on a short wheel base and are under five metres in length.

If you’re in a rush, you can also see take a look at our speedy box below, and jump to a particular model.

What are the best small campervans?

Volkswagen Caddy California
Auto-Sleepers Air
Ford Nugget
VW California Ocean 2.0 TDI
Bilbo’s Nexa HL
Camper King Monte Carlo
Wellhouse Leisure Trento
Danbury Surf Special Edition

The best small campervans:

Volkswagen Caddy California pitched up

Volkswagen Caddy California

  • Berths: 2
  • MTPLM: 2350kg
  • Payload: 601kg
  • Shipping length: 4.50m
  • Width: 2.10m

Reason to buy:

  • Impressive boot area

Reason to avoid:

  • Cab seats don’t swivel, no toilet or sink

When we tested the Volkswagen Caddy California, we were impressed by what was on offer in this compact campervan. We liked the steady ride it provided, with little sway experienced when we went round sharp corners, although we did think it could be a bit sluggish when it was in a lower gear.

There’s a nice interior, with the bed made up independently of the row of back seats – all you do is flatten the backrests and unfold the bed, which otherwise sits discreetly behind it. This is a simple one person job. We were impressed by the length too – 1.98m long! That’s better than you’ll see in the majority of coachbuilts.

At the rear, a one-burner gas hob can be found, which is pulled out until it locks. We thought it was impressive to see a cutlery and kitchenware drawer in the boot area too, which both reside beneath the hob. Underneath the bed sits a storage bag, a foldaway table and a chair set.

VW Caddy California hob pulled out

We’d point out there’s no toilet (check out our best portable campervan toilet guide to see our top picks) or sink, and the cab seats cannot be swivelled round to face the table, but they do come with fold-down tables (think aeroplane-style).

An addition we particularly like are the detachable zip-up compartments on the rear windows. These can hold up to 5kg, and also act as useful day bags.

Full review: Volkswagen Caddy California

Auto-Sleepers Air

Auto-Sleepers Air

  • Berths: 4
  • MTPLM: 3200kg
  • MiRO: 2300kg
  • Payload: 800kg
  • Shipping length: 4.97m
  • Width: 2.27m

Reason to buy:

  • Spacious, plenty of storage, portable toilet

Reason to avoid:

  • No night-time lighting in raising roof

When we saw the Air, we were surprised by just how spacious it manages to be. Based on the SWB Ford Transit Custom, this is a small campervan that can sleep up to four, and is packed full of features, including a roof that rises on gas struts, and an electric step for the side entrance.

Another useful feature is the sliding bench seat, manoeuvred backwards or forwards as required by a locking lever.

To the side of the front seat sits the bracket for the steel table leg, with cab seats swivelling around in a circle arrangement.

The roof is simple to raise and lower, providing decent headroom and a comfy double bed in the evening, which is reached by a ladder. We should highlight the lack of night-time lighting, but are pleased to see the side vents.

A second double bed can be made up in the lounge – this is a comfortable and nicely sized space.

In the side kitchen, we thought there was a decent amount of storage on offer, and liked that it came with a Dometic two-burner hob and a grill, as well as a 45-litre Dometic compressor fridge. It’s a smart worktop, and integral lighting is usefully included too. In the cupboard, you can find the portable toilet.

One of our favourite features in the Air is the excellent storage on offer – the motorhome manufacturer has done a great job of fitting a lot in. For instance, the tailgate at the rear provides cupboard and a small wardrobe. The cold shower will be handy for muddy boots or mucky canines too.

Then there’s the 60W solar panel, a Webasto Air Tap 2000 diesel heating system, the LPG filling point, a gas BBQ point – the list goes on.

Full review: Auto-Sleepers Air

Ford Nugget with raised roof

Ford Nugget

  • Berths: 4
  • MTPLM: 3200kg
  • Payload: 961kg
  • Shipping length: 4.97m
  • Width: 1.97m

Reason to buy:

  • Excellent to drive, ideal for day-to-day use

Reason to avoid:

  • Passenger seat tricky to swivel, storage could be better

We found the Nugget was a very impressive vehicle when we took it for a test in 2021. It is one of two Nuggets made by Ford, with the other being the larger Nugget Plus.

The smaller Nugget makes do without a separate bathroom, but if you want a discreet ‘van that you can drive to the office on a Friday and then embark on a weekend break, this could be the compact campervan for you.

Sliding habitation doors can be found on both sides of the vehicle, and the cab sits on a Transit Custom – when we reviewed it, we thought it felt “car-like” and “well above average”.

However, our favourite thing about this small campervan is how it drives – our test model was fitted with a six-speed automatic gearbox, which prompted our reviewer, Peter Baber, to comment that it “glided”.

No movement was felt either, until a particularly sharp bend was encountered.

Something we look for in the best small campervans will be how easy they are to manoeuvre into tight gaps. The gearbox and rear-view camera meant this was incredibly simple.

Nugget from rear

The rear bench offers three travel seats which can be slid forwards for day-to-day use and includes an Isofix fitting for a child’s seat too. The two cab seats swivel, but we found the passenger’s seat tricky to turn and get into a comfortable position, unless the passenger door is already open.

The kitchen is an impressive option, with an L-shaped kitchen going across the rear of the ‘van. Here, you get a two-burner hob and a round sink. Two mains sockets are provided, as is a usefully placed 12V socket and a 40-litre top-loading fridge.

The ‘van’s roof bed is created by unfastening clips that otherwise hold it up during the day. A small ladder lets you access the large bed, which we found comfortable, with flexible spotlights creating a space that is ideal for reading.

We were impressed by the size of the second bed that can be made up in the lounge, with space carved out under the sink. Just make sure your feet don’t get tangled up in the water heater connections!

A Porta Potti could be kept in the cupboard under the wardrobe, and the sink can be used for a wash. While there is an external shower attachment, it only runs on cold, even though the ‘van has a water heater.

One area that we thought could be improved in the Nugget is the storage. Space for clothes is at a premium, with no overhead lockers provided.

Full review: Ford Nugget

VW California Ocean 2.0 TDI

VW California Ocean 2.0 TDI

  • Berths: 4
  • Payload: 537kg
  • Shipping length: 4.90m
  • Width: 2.29m

Reason to buy:

  • Smooth drive, stylish exterior

Reason to avoid:

  • Driver’s side sliding door on offside

Another Volkswagen campervan makes its way onto our list, this time the California Ocean 2.0 TDI. When we tested it in 2021, we thought it excelled on the road with the seven-speed gearbox leading to a smooth drive.

An intuitive DAB+ navigation system and the heated front seats provide a comfortable experience on the road, while rear seating comes with decent legroom. We did think the driver’s side sliding door may have been more popular if it was on the nearside though.

Internally, you can move the seats back and forth as required, and access a large drawer beneath. We thought the interior styling, while fine, could have had some more flair added, especially when you look at that eye-catching exterior.

The roof can be raised within seconds at the press of a button, giving access to the comfy roof bed. The front seats rotate round to face the hidden table, while the kitchen comes with a two-burner hob, a fridge and a sink.

Pulling out the rear seats and dropping the headrests also lets you make up the bottom bed. There’s no toilet or shower included.

Full review: VW California Ocean 2.0 TDI

Bilbo’s Nexa HL

Bilbo’s Nexa HL

  • Berths: 2
  • MTPLM: 3000kg
  • Payload: 759kg
  • Shipping length: 4.91m
  • Width: 2.10m

Reason to buy:

  • Flushing toilet, good steering

Reason to avoid:

  • Only a two berth

Bilbo’s is a well-known converter, having won a gold award at our 2023 Owner Satisfaction Awards.

When we saw the Nexa, we were impressed – after all, this is a campervan that comes with a flushing toilet. Based on the T6.1 Transporter, Bilbo’s has opted for the Kombi version, which has additional body strengthening.

In the Highline version of the T6.1, the Nexa also come with plenty of features, including a CAT1 alarm, post-collision braking, adaptive cruise control, and more. Electromechanical power steering is useful too.

The kitchen is found on the offside, and comes with a sink, a three-ring hob, and either a mini-grill or microwave, along with a 50-litre compressor fridge.

Combining the swivelling cab seats with folded down rear seats gives two comfortable single beds, measuring 1.87 x 0.6m – there’s also the option of making them into a double.

The previously mentioned swivel-bowl toilet resides in the rear offside corner, and we found the raising roof easy to operate too.

Full review: Bilbo’s Nexa HL

Camper King Monte Carlo

Camper King Monte Carlo

  • Berths: 4
  • MTPLM: 2800kg
  • Shipping length: 4.80m
  • Width: 2.00m

Reason to buy:

  • Ideal for everyday use, well-lit

Reason to avoid:

  • Fridge probably isn’t big enough for four

When we saw the Monte Carlo in 2019, we liked what we saw.

Firstly, there are the five belted seats, a very useful addition, making it a practical option for everyday use. They’re comfortable too.

The short wheelbase means storage is always going to be a bit restricted, but a cupboard can be found on the offside, and the kitchen has good options. The work surface is a decent size too, and it can be extended with a glass cover that goes over the combined gas hob/stainless steel sink unit when it’s not in use.

A combi oven/grill and a small fridge are also both provided, and we thought the lighting was brilliant for evening use.

The fold-out double bed is easy to make up, and we found it very comfortable. There’s also the option of making up another double, although we think this is a ‘van that is primarily suited to couples who may occasionally find themselves needing an extra two berths.

Full review: Camper King Monte Carlo

Wellhouse Leisure Trento

Wellhouse Leisure Trento

  • Berths: 4
  • MTPLM: 3200kg
  • Payload: 650kg
  • Shipping length: 4.97m
  • Width: 2.08m
  • Height: 2.07m

Reason to buy:

  • Clever design touches throughout

Reason to avoid:

  • Height needs watching at barriers, ladder cumbersome if taken on tour

We thought this was a brilliant small campervan with smart design touches throughout when we reviewed it. The Trento came about from the combination of converter Wellhouse Leisure and the Transit Custom Tourneo.

The campervan layout sees a side-furniture arrangement, with a rear seat that can take up to three people. As this is on rails, it can be moved as the scenario dictates. The furniture unit comes from Tecnoform, and we like how it gives the ‘van a modern feeling, thanks to its glossy white finish and the radiused edges.

If you push the rear seats back and swivel the cab seats, you’ll be impressed by the floorspace provided, and there’s even a second table. We would recommend leaving the ladder for the upstairs bed back at home though, due to its cumbersome nature.

In the kitchen, a Dometic compressor fridge, a two-ring hob and a sink are all provided.

One thing to be aware of with the Trento – its height means it can be an issue if you need to get under a barrier under 2m.

Full review: Wellhouse Leisure Trento

Danbury Surf Special Edition

Danbury Surf Special Edition

  • Berth: 4
  • MTPLM: 3000kg
  • Payload: 673kg
  • Shipping length: 4.89m
  • Width: 2.29m

Reason to buy:

  • Well-lit, good setup by rear bed

Reason to avoid:

  • Kitchen work surface could be better

When we saw this ‘van, we were impressed by the USB sockets and the wireless charing pad on offer, as well as the lighting. Okay, the kitchen could have a higher spec, but it is a compact campervan after all.

We did find the fold-out table could be awkward to remove from where it resides in the sliding door, but it offers enough space for four to sit at, even if it is set a bit low for adults who are sat at the rear bench. The lighting is excellent here, and there is also a mains socket in the lounge.

The kitchen is a bit of a compromise, with only two gas burners – there’s no oven or microwave. A small sink with cold water is fitted though. Two mains sockets are useful if you want to take an appliance like a motorhome kettle with you, while the kitchen also includes a 50-litre compressor fridge with a freezer compartment.

The small camper van comes with an external cold water shower. There’s no real room for a Porta Potti anywhere in the main part of the ‘van, so you’d probably have to store it in the boot.

A double bed is made out of the RIB bench; it’s a long double, coming in at 1.85m long and 1.20m wide. We’re fans of how you can make use of the wireless mobile phone charger pad, a useful drinks holder, and a spotlight on both sides of the bed, and also like the USB slots found in the lights too.

We also think the two strip lights in the roof area are an unusual but welcome touch.

The roof bed can be folded down in two parts – we’d recommend taking a thick pillow though, with the headboard not great for either bed.

Full review: Danbury Surf Special Edition

How we choose the best small campervans

Practical Motorhome launched in 2001, and since then, we’ve been putting the latest releases to the test in real-world conditions. Every review we conduct is fair, and we ensure we point out both the pros and cons of every model we look at – visit our About Us page to find out more about our testing process.

We also conduct the Practical Motorhome Awards – here, our expert panel will select the standout motorhomes across a wide range of categories. When we combine this with the results of our Owner Satisfaction Awards, we’re in a strong position to select the best small campervans on the market.

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