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Ah, the age old question: If you were to choose a camper van to live out of, would you rather have a tried and true brand like Airstream for the home of your dreams on wheels, or would you rather get a Sprinter custom-made to you by Vansmith? Okay, it isn't an age-old question, but for this article it will be. While these two vans can vary wildly depending on your decisions regarding the latter (and ladder, that's an option on the Vansmith), one thing is to be sure: If you were opening up your wallet for either of these, it would take a lot of cash to make your #vanlife dreams happen. Thankfully, Omaze is giving both of these away, so it doesn't have to cost you the same amount I paid for my first house. Let's check them out.
Win an Airstream® Interstate 24X or a Vansmith-converted Sprinter - Enter at Omaze
Vansmith Sprinter vs Airstream Interstate 24X: What's the same?
Since both of these vans use a Mercedes Sprinter as their platform, a lot is the same. Both are powered by a 3.0L turbo diesel mated to a seven-speed transmission, which puts out 188 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque. Both have four-wheel-drive as well as accompanying A/T tires, and both have a towing capacity of 5,000 pounds. Both can sleep two people comfortably, have front seats that swivel, plenty of storage, a sink and cooktop option, an awning, exterior lighting options, solar power and a cash alternative of over $100,000 if, for some reason, you win either one and realize that van life is not for you.
That's pretty much it for the similarities. Let's get down to the differences.
Size - Winner: Airstream Interstate 24X
Remember when I said that these were both based on the Mercedes Sprinter? Well, all Sprinters aren't the same. While the Vansmith Sprinter has a wheelbase of 144 inches, it’s dwarfed by the larger Airstream, which has a wheelbase of 170 inches. 26 inches might not seem like a lot, but in an already small space that can be the difference between having a bathroom or not, whether or not that’s a good thing.
Looks - Winner: Vansmith Sprinter
This one is close and very subjective, but when it comes to looks, we’re talking about the exterior here. To me the Vansmith Sprinter looks more rugged, which is my preferred aesthetic. That being said, both vans are very similar in appearance and will turn heads when you arrive at your campsite.
Layout - Winner: Airstream Interstate 24X
The Vansmith Sprinter is customizable, so in theory you could come up with a layout that bests the Airstream, but the extra space allows for more creativity when it comes to the interior. I love that it features a full bathroom, as well as two exterior wash stations, and the fact that the bed can turn into seats when not in use, allowing for a clear pathway from the rear of the van all the way to the front is impressive. The fact that the stove is set down into the countertop and can be closed when not in use, creating more usable counter space, is a big plus as well.
If you don’t need a bathroom and storage space is your priority, the Vansmith may be the one for you.
Customizability - Winner: Vansmith Sprinter
As we said above, the Vansmith is completely customizable, so if you know what you want, it is hands down the way to go.
Sustainability - Winner: Vansmith Sprinter
It should be no surprise that the smaller van with something named “The Green Package” would be the winner when it comes to sustainability. According to Vansmith, The Green Package “uses sustainable products in lieu of our standard build materials, without sacrificing style or strength.”
That means, among other materials, wool insulation, bamboo countertops, blue pine wood from beetle-kill trees and a 72,000-lb carbon offset package to cover your carbon footprint for more than a few miles.
Cash - Winner: Airstream Interstate 24X
Both of these vans are expensive, and if you take the cash alternative you could do a lot with the money, but the numbers win out here. The cash alternative for the Airstream is $170K while the Vansmith is $106,500.
Materials - Winner: Tie
The interiors of both of these vans are exceptional in their own ways. If you are a fan of the vintage Airstream look, brushed aluminum with rounded off windows, unsurprisingly the Airstream is the one to go for. The Vansmith conversion has a much cozier, earthy feel, with wood ceilings and cabinets, as well as soft fabric covered insulated walls. Either way, you can’t go wrong.
Honestly, I would gladly accept either one of these vans. For my use case, I think the Airstream Interstate 24X slightly outperforms the Vansmith conversion, but it could go either way. I like the fact that it can seat six people over the Vansmith’s two, which means others can come along on my road trips and that it is more flexible for those of us who have families, and the longer wheelbase means extra space.
Which one of these camper vans would you choose? Why? Leave us a note below in the comments. In the meantime, if you want to make your van life dreams a reality without shelling out all of that cash, head on over to Omaze and put your money where your mouth is. With a little luck you can be living your dream van life.