By Tony Barthel
I wouldn’t call myself a Class B van-likely customer but when I saw the innovative features in the Pleasure-Way RECON, I had to give it a second look. Meanwhile, over at Winnebago they must have sensed my excitement about the RECON so they fired a return shot and called it the Winnebago Solis Pocket.
Okay, I admit I’m sure Winnebago has been thinking this rig through for some time. They didn’t just respond to the article you saw on the Pleasure-Way like magic. And, to be honest, the Solis Pocket is both a logical competitor to the Pleasure-Way RECON but is also very, very different.
Pocket full of kryptonite
If you don’t have an Instagram account and haven’t wasted hours dreaming of going to the places that many Instagrammers post pictures of, you may not be aware that “van life” is a really hot thing nowadays. But only for those who can strike a yoga pose from the roof of their vans. Okay, not really.
However, as popular as vans are with folks, there are enough of these van enthusiasts taking old cargo vans and converting them to RVs that the RV industry sits up and takes notice. Especially a company that is as media-savvy as Winnebago. So they set about to offer these customizers something with a factory warranty that also offers them more than many of them could build themselves.
As such, the company took Ram’s front-wheel-drive ProMaster® van with the 136-inch wheelbase and high roof and did their own conversion.
This makes a lot of sense, as this van is really not much bigger in length and width than the full-sized pickup trucks so many of us are driving around. In fact, it’s also not much bigger than some larger SUVs from a drivability standpoint. It is taller, of course, which makes a difference. But a vehicle this size could easily be put into daily driver service. That’s something Winnebago had in mind when they created this.
The name comes from the van’s being part of Winnebago’s Solis line. Being the smallest member of the family, it got the name Pocket. Cute.
While I equated this van with the RECON, honestly, it’s really more of a competitor to the Thor Rize 18T that we were looking over last week. But the Winnebago is more off-grid adventure; whereas, the Thor is more like that van’s city cousin.
What’s inside the Winnebago Solis Pocket
I think the reason I equate this more with the RECON is simply that Winnebago has also made the Solis Pocket a very flexible floor plan. But they get super bonus points for how they did it.
For example, on the road side is a sitting contraption that can be a 25” X 61” bed, a sofa with a table, a day bed with a table or a settee/love seat. Behind this in cabinets on the wall are spaces for your laptop or other things. There are even outlets in these cabinets to charge the things.
Of course, the front seats swivel around. That means you can have four folks all sitting around staring at one another wondering who’s going to go out on UNO® first. Since the ProMaster is front-drive, there’s no big engine and transmission hump up front. This is one of the nicer things about this platform.
For those who want more motorhome, though, the portable cassette toilet sits under this seating area. So if you want to quickly end that game of UNO, making use of this is a very quick way to accomplish that. In other words, this is likely for emergency use only.
However, what will find greater favor with your fellow occupants is the fact that there’s a handy galley on the camp side. This is accessible by standing both inside and outside of this coach. That galley consists of a two-burner propane stove, a sink and a small 12-volt refrigerator that you can open from inside or out.
More than sleepy time
The bed is a big part of the adventuresome nature of this rig. It’s a folding arrangement that will allow for the center aisle of the Solis Pocket to be used for longer things like surf boards or bicycles during transit.
By flipping it up against the wall you open up the space in the van to be, well, a van. And there are plenty of tracks to lock your goods in so they don’t become more portable than you’d like in a sudden stop.
Between the back bed space and the front living space is a “MOLLE” gate-type panel. This basically looks like a large, holey panel and allows you to hang things from it. This means that, with the bed down, this panel closes off the space under the bed. It’s totally conceivable that this could be use as a pet crate. While Fido is in this space dreaming of the walks he’ll take, you can be above him dreaming of the walks you’ll take him on.
A warm place
Owners will love the fact that the Solis Pocket has received Truma’s “Gold Standard” for its climate control system. Essentially this is a standard that measures how quickly the van’s interior can come up to a comfortable temperature after it’s been frozen for several hours with the windows open.
Of course, Truma is the supplier of that wonderful warmth in the form of their VarioHeat system. Fueling that system is a single 20-pound propane bottle, just like the kind you probably are using to fire your propane-powered grill. The advantage of this type of system is that just about anybody can fill or swap these bottles. Interestingly, Winnebago has this bottle in the interior of the van in a cabinet.
One of the reasons the old VW Westfalia campers were so popular was that they were very drivable during the week and then offered a comfortable place to sleep and camp on the weekends. I think the Winnebago Solis Pocket is essentially the same thing.
Its size makes it a respectable daily driver but the features make it a really decent camper. Add to that the fact that you can bring along your adventure gear and you have a nice package overall.
The one area I do see that might make some prospects think twice is the lack of an indoor shower and the fact that the porta-potty is your singular choice. Not that that’s completely unusual and you’re still way ahead of your parents and their Westfalia van. But it’s just something to think about.
I still can imagine there’s going to be a lot of people enjoying this Pocket and it’s a lot nicer than many of the custom builds I’ve seen. It’s interesting that that’s even a thought as a competitor.
These RV reviews are written based on information provided by the manufacturers along with our writer’s own research. We receive no money or other financial benefits from these reviews. They are intended only as a brief overview of the vehicle, not a comprehensive critique, which would require a thorough inspection and/or test drive.
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