Stealth is an outright lie, always has been, and always will be. Promoters push cargo vans solely because they cost more to convert, and if you follow their advice & links they’ll make more money. The only other people pushing stealth are thhe victims of the promoters who are trying to unload a cargo van camper that nobody wants. People who worry about stealth are only fooling themselves. Windows for the view, ventilation, & cost savings, and being a good neighbor will get you much farther than “stealth”.
I’ve had camper vans (both factory & DIY), buses, motorhomes, trailers of every sort, and even live aboard boats. For reference, I am mostly a city camper, who parks for free on city streets when it’s legal.
Here are my preferences in order:
- A cheap, older, gas, pre-computerized, unmodified, factory motorhome with low miles. (If it’s a big one, tow an economy car.)
- A cheap, older, gas, pre-computerized, unmodified, factory bus of any length, converted by myself.
- A cheap, older, gas, pre-computerized, unmodified, factory camper van.
- A cheap, older, gas, pre-computerized, unmodified, factory passenger van, converted by myself. (NEVER A CARGO VAN!!!)
- A cheap unmodified, hard sided factory pop up trailer.
- A cheap unmodified, hard sided factory trailer.
- A cheap unmodified, factory tent trailer.
Each of the above has their unique advantages & disadvantages. Generally cost, comfort, convenience, and reliability are the most important to me. With older vehicles, there are many things you can do to improve gas mileage. I think the place to start saving money is with the initial purchase. I’ve only paid over $2500 for a rig ONCE in my life, and it was hands down the worst vehicle I have ever owned. Patience waiting for that right rig to come along will save you money up front, and for as long as you own it.
Newer rigs depreciate rapidly. Let someone else pay that price. A fully depreciated rig will hold it’s value indefinitely, and possibly even appreciate. I’ve actually made money on over half the rigs I’ve sold. The only one I ever lost money on was an overly expensive 2 year old diesel cargo van. I built it out myself, and it was as beautiful & functional as a factory camper. The problem was nobody wanted it, including myself, due to the lack of windows. I lost over $30k on that one, thanks to the lying, thieving, cargo van promoters. AND… It was the exact opposite of stealthy!
I also built out a van front U-Haul, adding windows all around, and converting it into a beautiful Class C motorhome. It was great, since it had no holes in the roof, it also had no leaks. Since all my water tanks were on the inside, just like on the buses I converted, freezing weather wasn’t too much of a concern. If you’re going to spend much time in below freezing temps, I highly recommend either indoor tanks, or more simply, no plumbing at all, which is what I have in my current camper van. (I still have a double sink, a toilet, & a shower, just no plumbing.)
"Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst." ~ Murphy