When I hear “RV”, I still think of my grandparents. Over the years they owned a variety of recreational vehicles, from very big to enormous, in an era where slide-outs were the latest thing. Today’s RVs are bigger than ever, but the sector has also evolved toward those looking for a smaller footprint. Personally, I don’t love driving anything longer than your average swimming pool. So CanaDream’s Deluxe Van Camper (DVC) was my choice to rent this summer. Designed for two adults, it offers a lot more than the basic vans of yore. This is #vanlife with deluxe #bellsandwhistles.
You have to use the word “amenities” when describing CanaDream’s DVC. It is bursting with them. But it looks so sleek from the outside that you will probably underestimate what’s on the inside.
The DVC features a wet bathroom and that means it includes a shower—the sink faucet extends upwards and attaches as a showerhead. You engage the water heater, pull the curtain across, and shower away. And when the dual doors are closed, you forget the bathroom is there.
The removable table can serve as a workstation or dining table. You hand-install the table either in front of the rear sofa, or just behind the driver and passenger seats (which swivel when you’re not driving). The two tabletops also serve as the bed boards under the sofa cushions that power-fold down in seconds to create the queen-sized bed.
The centrally located kitchenette includes a microwave oven, a recessed two-burner propane cooktop, a large sink that you can close off with a removable inset counterpiece, and a surprisingly large Nova Kool compressor fridge/freezer that’s always on (powered by the deep cycle RV coach battery, supplemented by the roof solar panel).
This machine is built for comfort, from the memory foam cushions to the air-conditioner, to the Truma Combi Eco Plus furnace/water heater, to the generator that will power your heating or cooling when you’re off-grid (it utilizes the van’s 25-gallon gasoline engine tank). But it’s also built to conserve energy; every appliance and system is smart and ultra-efficient. For example, you can use the three-speed roof-vent skylight fan instead of the air conditioner, and it uses very little power and cycles the air through the rear slider windows so they blow cool air on you as you sleep. And if you’re worried about rain at night—don’t. The fan is connected to a sensor and it will power itself closed in the event of rain.
The DVC is certainly built for comfort, and it’s also built Ford tough. The base vehicle is the Ford Transit (in the Coachmen Beyond series). It packs a lot of power under the hood—3.5L Eco Boost V6 310 HP engine with 400 lbs. torque and 10-Speed Auto Transmission with Overdrive—but unlike my grandparents’ RV, it is very fuel-efficient. (MPG: 14 city/18 highway.) So within reason, you can explore some backcountry roads, which we did.
During a summer with very few campsites available, we used our DVC as an extra bedroom/bath at our family cottage, and embarked on road trips around nearby Algonquin Park every day. We carried inflatable paddleboards to sample the local waterways. And we camped out a night on the shores of a small lake off a logging road.
For someone who has tent-camped since the age of 10, the DVC experience is redolent of security and reliability. It is built like a tank and you feel safe in it. You don’t need to worry about bears or weather tearing through your campsite. Cooking and cleaning up is a snap. And the queen bed is more comfortable than my bed at home.
You have everything you need in this self-sufficient cabin on wheels. Need to charge devices when you’re off-grid? No trouble. You can plug in all your devices off the coach battery and solar panel (and you have the generator if you need it).
When I was Bluetoothing my Spotify to the Jensen audio system (which also supplies audio to the TV installed above the back seats) and reveling in the crystalline sound quality, I thought: “This isn’t my grandparents’ RV.”