Dogscamper is the latest camper van brand from Martin Hemp, whose work also includes the versatile Volkswagen and Mercedes van creations of Terra Camper, and the delightfully retro VW Flow Camper. The cornerstone of Dogscamper’s design is what it calls the Vari-Modular System, a series of grid walls that mount to the floor rails inside the van, allowing the owner to create kennels of different sizes and layouts as needed.
The system is designed to save on weight and bulk when compared to a permanent dog room or portable crate, while offering a more comfortable, adjustable space for one or more dogs to relax in during the ride and at camp. The Vari-Modular dog area closes securely and keeps dogs safely in place during the ride. Interior and exterior doors can be opened up at camp, allowing dogs to roam in and out of the vehicle and retire for a nap when desired.
The dog area mounts neatly below the folding bed, so that humans also have a comfortable place to spend the night. The pop-up roof offers a second bed, providing sleeping space for four people.
Other helpful features for dog owners include a ramp that lets Fido or Fifi board and deboard through the liftgate with ease, a dog food/accessory case that hangs on the back next to the spare tire, and a wall mount/hook system that provides a place to hang up leashes, as well as other items, like coats and lanterns.
Beyond its dog-friendly features, the Dogscamper is a smartly laid out camper van that relies on Terra Camper’s expertise in modular furniture design. It features an indoor/outdoor driver-side kitchen area with removable camping stove and slide-out refrigerator. The fridge can be accessed from inside or out thanks to a pull-out that rides right through the sliding side door. The sink includes a sprayer hose to double as an outdoor shower, another feature that promises to be quite handy for dog owners.
The kitchen equipment is secured to the floor rails, allowing it to be easily removed, and the van can then ride as an open cargo van or as a passenger van with seating for up to six, making it a truly versatile work and play horse. Owners can also add other removable modules, such as a toilet. The modules feature an aluminum and composite construction for a combination of light weight and durability.
Dogscamper offers its conversions for both the Volkswagen T6 Kombi and the Mercedes-Benz Vito Tourer. Volkswagen versions can be ordered in short- or long-wheel base and front-wheel or 4Motion all-wheel drive with engines ranging between 101 and 177 hp. The Vito version comes on the long-wheelbase model only and can be configured in front-, rear- or all-wheel drive with engines between 87 and 188 hp.
Dogscamper doesn’t have a price list on its website, but a number of German motorhome publications list the starting price as €49,900 (US$52,000).
North Americans aren’t out of luck with this camper van, the way they often are with cool European-designed vans. California-based Terra Camper North America just launched its Mercedes Metris (American market Vito) camper vans and is offering the Dogscamper as an optional equipment upgrade on the Tecamp model. The Dogscamper package starts at US$1,799 for the front and rear walls, each with a door, the ramp, and a bumper pad to prevent the ramp from scratching up the bumper. Additional kennel walls are available optionally.
The Tecamp conversion with pop-up roof with bed, folding cabin bed, floor rail mounting system, indoor/outdoor kitchen, two removable seats, and accompanying cabinetry and equipment starts at $35,900. That price is for the conversion only and doesn’t include the price of the base Metris Passenger Van, so you’ll be up around $70,000 for the entire Dogscamper, possibly well over that figure if you start darkening option boxes.
Most motorhomes aren’t nearly as pet-friendly as the Dogscamper, but there are a few other man-dog camper designs out there. One of our favorite motorhomes of 2016, the NOAH Cross City Capsule, showed what a compact Japanese-designed canine-friendly camper van looks like. And if you’d like to try out a dog-friendly motorhome without committing to buying it, Germany’s 4pfoten-Mobile (4paws Mobile) rents one with a dedicated dog compartment with padded floor, anti-dribble water bowl, camera system to keep an eye on the dog during the journey, dedicated exit/entry with non-slip ramp and other dog-friendly features, not to mention plenty of amenities for the humans, too.