As you know, our first Sprinter didn’t work out. It was a low roof.
What did we learn and how did we learn it?
We bought our Sprinter in May and were on the road by mid-June. Our inaugural trip was 3062.1 miles from Oregon to Michigan via British Columbia and Montana.
Our first stop was an hour from home. CD thru hiked the PCT using a homemade beer can stove. Car camping isn’t something that comes to him naturally. Sprinter camping is obviously even a step beyond that.
In any case, he agreed to let me buy a camping stove. We parked at an REI just South of Portland and bought our stove. Since we were already parked, I ducked into Whole Foods. I must have been in the store for only 15 minutes. The kids were standing in the van making lunch when I came out.
A couple of hours later we were back on the road. It seemed like we were off to a slow but good start.
Now on to the cruel realities of the low roof Sprinter.
- My head bent 45 degrees when I stood up. CD’s was even worse. My back and neck were sore
- I could prop up on an elbow when laying on the bed but couldn’t sit up beyond that. This was less than ideal
- The kid’s bike laid down in the back under the bed. This meant that everytime we got the coat box, shoe box, suitcases, or anything else out of the back, the bikes had to be removed. This usually meant untangling a peddle from tire spokes or something along those lines
Was the low roof a mistake? YES. Is the high roof really that much better? Yes.
Interestingly, prior to buying our first Sprinter, I read a blog written by a family that traveled by Sprinter. They had bought and sold a low roof and recommended not buying a low roof in the first place. I appreciate that they were trying to help me and I wish I had listened!
Why is the high roof better?
- I can sit straight up when on the bed. The kids can sit up fully on their knees
- CD and I can both stand up fully on the floor. My neck and back no longer hurt
- The kids bikes slide under the bed and stay upright. CD built a fancy bike rack to make this even easier
- The vertical space offers many more options for storage
- The high roof allows us the stack 2 mattresses on the back bed and storing the mattresses this way is key to our 2 bed conversion. Even with 2 mattress there, I can still lay and sit up on them.
Is cross – wind assist worth it?
We are not sure but we think so. We drove our high roof during some strong wind across the plains and think it really helped.
Do I recommend rear AC? Yes, Yes, Yes.
The windows in the back don’t open. The rear AC works better than the front AC. I have walked to the back seat more than once to find that it is too cold back there. One of the main complaints we heard from other Sprinter owner’s prior to buying our own was that the back was too hot in the summer. We have not had that problem.
It should be noted that if you have passengers, the AC is great. If you don’t have passengers, it may not be needed.
It is also worth noting that the AC takes up room on the roof. This is a consideration when looking at racks or solar panels but we don’t consider it to be a barrier at this point.
What about lane change alerts and back up cameras?
Our low roof version did not have these and it was possible to drive around without these but life is way better with these accessories. I recommend these!
Is an electric sliding step worth it?
I don’t know what this cost or if it is worth it. We bought our van used and this was included but I find it to be handy. It has been a shelf for cooking supplies when I am cooking next to the van with the door open, a door mat to scrape off mud and sand, a bench to take off shoes and socks or just rest a bit, or as an alert to let me know that I haven’t shut the door all the way. Would I get this feature again? Sure
Our current van is a 2015 Mercedes Sprinter 144 passenger van. It has cross wind assist, back up camera, lane change alerts, and rear AC. If you haven’t spend much time in Sprinter’s yet, please know that the most fancy feature we have found is the giant Mercedes symbol on the front. The inside of the van has been quite underwhelming. If they made the Sprinter with even a fraction the features of my Toyota Sienna, it would be a traveling family’s dream!
Please comment or contact us if you would like more specific details about space in the low roof vs high. CD handles measurements and that sort of thing and is happy to share what he has learned.