VW Caddy camper (California) vs Caddy camping conversion (DIY or boot jump/camping box)

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Which one is better – the factory-built small camping van VW Caddy Camper or the standard Caddy converted to a camper using a DIY or ready-made camping box (boot jump)? This post will compare three options: buying a VW Caddy and converting it yourself into a camper, or buying a camping box / boot jump or buying the VW Caddy California Camper with everything built in.

If you Google “VW Caddy camper” you might see various results – some talking about the standard Caddy and its conversions to a camper, whether using a ready-made camping box (boot jump) or a DIY conversion. But there’s also a VW factory-built Caddy California Camper. Is it worth bothering with a DIY conversion if you can buy a complete camper? Let’s dig into it.


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Price & Feature comparison table

I will be comparing the VW Caddy Life with the VW Caddy California (SWB – short and LWB – Maxi versions). I won’t be comparing the van version as their interior features & comfort are too different. The Caddy Life is very close to the California in terms of standard features and sizes except for the special camping ones that the California brings to the table.

VW Caddy
DIY Camping conversion
VW Caddy with
a Camping box (boot jump)
VW Caddy California Camper
Price newfrom £24,653 / 28,857 EUR (Short)
or £28,723 / 33,621 EUR (Maxi)
from £24,653 / 28,857 EUR (Short)
or £28,723 / 33,621 EUR (Maxi)
from £29,965 / 35,075 EUR (Short) or £31,285 (36,620 EUR (Maxi)
Average price used (year 2015)£11,157 / 13,059 EUR (Short)
or £12,038 / 14,098 EUR (Maxi)
£11,157 / 13,059 EUR (Short)
or £12,038 / 14,098 EUR (Maxi)
none found (one 2013 for £16,995 / 19,893 EUR on eBay). There are other used campers – those aren’t the original VW factory ones, but privately custom made.
Camping boxDIY: £100 – £850 (0 – 1000 EUR) (upper limit is really up to you)Camping box: £768 – £3400 (900 – 4000 EUR)
TOTAL PRICE NEWfrom £24,753 (Short)
or £28,823 (Maxi)
from £25,421 (29,756 EUR) (Short)
or £29,491 (34,520 EUR) (Maxi)
from £29,965 (Short) or £31,285 (Maxi)
Notethe minimum 100 GBP is a price for some basic material for a DIY bed. Doesn’t include comfort items like curtains, foldable bed, storage solutions – which will add several hundred to the price, but still remain as the cheapest option.Lower price range camping boxes will have less fancy features but should cover all basic needs (bed, storage, kitchen). They will not cover curtains or other storage solutions around the car. See camping box comparison below.Comes with all basic camping needs covered (kitchen, bed, storage) + adds more comfort on top (curtains, more storage). See camping box comparison below.
Total length450 (Standard), 487,8 (Maxi)450 (Standard), 487,8 (Maxi)450 (Standard), 487,8 (Maxi)
Bedyou can make yourself up to 225cmtypically 200cm200cm
Boot width (cm)155 (2nd row doors) / 117 (trunk)155 (2nd row doors) / 117 (trunk)155 (2nd row doors) / 117 (trunk)
Boot height (cm)126126126
Storage – frontper chosen model + DIYper chosen model + camping box optionall built in and quite a lot!
Comfort (interior)per chosen model + DIY additionsper chosen model + camping box options5/5 – integrated fly screens, LED lights over the bed, storage bags over rear windows, (optional) 1.4m2 panoramic glass roof + magnetic curtain

See my full review of VW Caddy as a camper (DIY or camping box)

VW Caddy Camper California camping equipment vs Campal camping box

I’ve chosen Campal camping box as a benchmark for this comparison for these reasons:

  • it’s reasonably priced, yet offers good balance of features
  • it looks and behaves very similar to the camping box in VW Caddy California (similar features)

VW Caddy Campal camper box (the £1400 / 1638 EUR versions)

At £1400 / 1638 EUR, you are looking at a total price for a new Caddy Maxi with the Campal of
£30,023 (35,143 EUR)
+ £200 curtains
+ £200 additional storage
= £30,423 (35,611 EUR)
(there’s also cheaper camping boxes, so this option wins almost every time – only if you go for higher price range camping boxes it’ll cost you more in total, but you’ll also get more features for that).

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  • Good-bye French Press! The rapid brewing AeroPress avoids the bitterness and high acidity created by the long steep time required by the French press. Plus, the AeroPress paper Microfilter eliminates grit and means clean up takes seconds.
  • Makes 1 to 3 cups of American coffee per pressing in about a minute, and unlike a French press, it can also brew espresso style coffee for use in lattes, cappuccinos and other espresso based drinks.
  • Perfect for home kitchen use, the AeroPress is lightweight, compact, portable and durable, making it also ideal for traveling, camping, backpacking, boating and more!
  • Includes the AeroPress press, funnel, scoop, stirrer, 350 microfilters and a filter holder. Phthalate free and BPA free. Mug not included. Assembled measurements: 9 1/2" h X 4" w X 4" d
  • 🚗{Retractable Windshield Sun Shade}----With the self-retracting design, easy to use, just one hand to fix it in 2 seconds, super save time and convenient.
  • 🚗{Premium Material}----Made of high-density polyester sun shade fabric and reflective aluminum membrane, which effectively blocks 99% of the harmful UV rays and up to 85% of the sun's total solar energy to protect your skin from sunburn and allergies and keep the car cool.
  • 🚗{Easy To Install}----Equipped with sturdy bracket, simple installation, no more fussing with large pieces of cardboard, no more mess when folding it up, free disassembly, space saving.
  • 🚗{Perfect Size}----Windshield sunshade size is 70 * 155cm, fully stretched to cover the entire windshield, shrinking the small size, easy to store, suitable for most of SUV cars.
  • 🚗{Updated Strong Suction Cups}----2021 new upgraded double vacuum large suction cup more stable and not easy to fall off, after testing, which can hold over 20 pounds, very strong and durable. We provide you with comprehensive after-sales service.
  • 【Multi-functions Survival Tools】This 11-in-1 emergency survival kit comes complete with paracord bracelet, compass, 2 carabiners, whistle, emergency blanket, paracord, flintstone with scraper, wire saw, torch, plastic storage box.
  • 【Affordable&One-Stop Service】This versatile emergency survival box has no expensive packaging. We hope to provide customers with a very cost-effective product. At the same time, we provide peripheral products for this emergency box. If you are an adventurer, camping enthusiast, outdoor survival enthusiast, you can find a lot of related products on the discount page. Not only provide you with quality service but also save you a considerable amount of money.
  • 【Lightweight & Convenient】Portable plastic tool case, measures 6.3" * 4.1" * 1.8", total weight 15.5oz, lightweight and easy to carry, can be placed in a backpack or car.The Portable Case is waterproof and shockproof to protect your survival tools.
  • 【Emergency Blanket & Fire Starter】When you camp in the wild or in an emergency, it is most important to stay warm. Warm fires and blankets are very useful.
  • 【Applicable Scenes】It is widely used in camping, hiking, adventures, survival and in emergency situations, best choice for adventurer, explorer, wild survivor, everyday use.It can be a good gift and placed in the trunk of the car.

Conclusion: …and the winner is…

As you can see, they are pretty similar. I’d say the Campal built is nicer (wood) – but that is subjective and you can’t tell the build quality from the pictures. Unless you go for a top range camping box, it’s cheaper to choose a VW Caddy Maxi and buy a camping box, than to buy a VW Caddy California Camper. Plus you will get more options that way as there’s plenty of camping boxes with different features available. You will need to sort out curtains or LED lights yourself though.

With the DIY alternative, it’s always cheaper + with the added benefit of having it your way.

The best option in my humble opinion is to get a good used VW Caddy Maxi Life and depending on your preference, either get a camping box or do a DIY camping conversion.

If you have more money than time, then get a shiny new VW Caddy Camper (California) and don’t worry about anything else. Or search for a used Caddy Camper that might not be the official VW Camper, but a custom made one, as good as any nonetheless.

You should look at any VW Caddy (Maxi) and a camper box or a DIY camping solution

  • if you want to save money (huge savings – 10,000 or more if you buy a used Caddy + a new camping box)
  • if you want to customise your camping box
  • if you want wood instead of steel and plastic
  • if you want to make the camper interior yourself
  • if you want it customised to your needs (i.e. fit a bike, a dog, have a mini toilet, a laptop table etc)

You should look at the official Caddy Camper (California)

  • if you don’t mind the higher price
  • if you want it quickly and hassle free
  • if you want the latest VW Caddy model
  • if you want a massive panoramic roof window (1.4m2)

Read next: What’s the difference between a camping box, a teardrop camper / micro camper or a DIY conversion?

Find this helpful? Help this blog by sharing, thanks!

These might come in handy...

...and you'll help keep this website going too - thanks! :)

The best budget car tent you can find:
ARPENAZ BASE M tent

Confirmed to fit: Sharan, Touran, Berlingo, Caddy, Partner, Kangoo, Combo
At around 99 GBP or 93 EUR, it's a bargain that does the job of a 300+ GBP tent

See my full review + video here arpenaz base m car tent BUY NOW
at Decathlon UK
Or see my full review here
  • Popular with coffee enthusiasts worldwide, the patented AeroPress is a new kind of coffee press that uses a rapid, total immersion brewing process to make smooth, delicious, full flavored coffee without bitterness and with low acidity.
  • Good-bye French Press! The rapid brewing AeroPress avoids the bitterness and high acidity created by the long steep time required by the French press. Plus, the AeroPress paper Microfilter eliminates grit and means clean up takes seconds.
  • Makes 1 to 3 cups of American coffee per pressing in about a minute, and unlike a French press, it can also brew espresso style coffee for use in lattes, cappuccinos and other espresso based drinks.
  • Perfect for home kitchen use, the AeroPress is lightweight, compact, portable and durable, making it also ideal for traveling, camping, backpacking, boating and more!
  • Includes the AeroPress press, funnel, scoop, stirrer, 350 microfilters and a filter holder. Phthalate free and BPA free. Mug not included. Assembled measurements: 9 1/2" h X 4" w X 4" d
  • 🚗{Retractable Windshield Sun Shade}----With the self-retracting design, easy to use, just one hand to fix it in 2 seconds, super save time and convenient.
  • 🚗{Premium Material}----Made of high-density polyester sun shade fabric and reflective aluminum membrane, which effectively blocks 99% of the harmful UV rays and up to 85% of the sun's total solar energy to protect your skin from sunburn and allergies and keep the car cool.
  • 🚗{Easy To Install}----Equipped with sturdy bracket, simple installation, no more fussing with large pieces of cardboard, no more mess when folding it up, free disassembly, space saving.
  • 🚗{Perfect Size}----Windshield sunshade size is 70 * 155cm, fully stretched to cover the entire windshield, shrinking the small size, easy to store, suitable for most of SUV cars.
  • 🚗{Updated Strong Suction Cups}----2021 new upgraded double vacuum large suction cup more stable and not easy to fall off, after testing, which can hold over 20 pounds, very strong and durable. We provide you with comprehensive after-sales service.
  • Battery powered strip lights decorate your indoor space, such as dining room, kitchen, bedroom, washroom, tent, etc.
  • With the remote control you can adjust colour, brightness, scene mode, etc.
  • RGB SMD 5050, Powered by 3xAA battery (not included) with easy installation. Super adhesive backing tape; suitable for most surfaces.
  • Each led strip lights have 60 lamp beads, and each led can be cut.
  • 12 months warranty with timely and intimate services.

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