Van Life Gets a Little More Low-Key With the Peugeot Rifter

Personally, I’m one of those weirdos that likes to be inconvenienced when camping. The van life is, in most cases, the antithesis of that logic. Vans are all about bringing all you can. However, I like sleeping in a tent, cooking over an open fire, and taking as little “fluff” as possible when I get outside. Heck, I camp in a sports car, the automotive equivalent of bringing a camping knife to a camping gunfight. However, this little Peugeot Rifter simplifies the van life, I love it, and so should you.

Less is more in the Peugeot Rifter

The fold-out cot in the back of the Rifter van
The Rifter van with cot | Peugeot

I apologize for the lack of reference, but the Peugeot Rifter may just be the most compact van life option on the market right now. Just looking at it, you can tell it’s tiny. The vehicle fits its entire self into a box only 173x72x73 inches big. Now, I understand some may view this as a problem. Maybe you have a family, a couple kids, a dog, whatever. Sure, the Rifter probably isn’t for you.

And I’m deeply sorry for that, because the Rifter is, on the surface, just right. It’s the Goldilocks of van life. The vehicle’s size and usability are excellent for people like me. Younger people with no kids, or maybe just a dog. That’s clearly who the French marque is targeting here. Their press materials and photos are full of more young, smiling people than a beer advertisement.

You don’t need much to enjoy the van life

The Rifter's tent lets you live the van life, seen here attached to the side of the van
Tenting in a Peugeot | Peugeot

It’s that minimalism that helps market the Rifter to that market. Peugeot partnered with Japanese firm RV Land Concept to design a small cot for the rear of the Rifter. All you have to do is fold the seats flat and pull out the cot. Honestly, that’s about all you need to spend a night out in the woods. Sure, there’s other requisite camping gear, like bug spray, bear bags (especially here in Colorado), and a good book. But that’s it. However, should you desire more, you can have it.

Peugeot will offer a tent to accompany the Rifter on your van life adventures, and it can serve as anything from a “second bedroom” to a shaded sitting area. Really, in all honesty, that’s why the Rifter is so appealing. We take so much stuff with us through our day, and camping should be about getting away from that. The minimalism of the small cot and tent speaks to that in the Rifter.

Yet more forbidden fruit for America

A new Rifter van on display at an auto show
A stock Rifter | Robert Hradil via Getty Images

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I’ve neglected to mention something, in the hopes of getting you all excited. The Rifter is more automotive forbidden fruit. You can get a Rifter in Japan and Europe, but not here. Just like the Nissan GTR of yesteryear, you’ll have to wait a bit to bring in this kind of small van. Thankfully, there’s some other small van options, like the Mercedes Metris. You’ll have to convert those for camping yourself, unlike the Rifter, but it’s at least a start on your journey to minimalist camping happiness.