Back in 2019, Winnebago rolled out its most inexpensive camper van in the Solis but was still unable to break the six-figure barrier. After another couple years of work, it has managed to limbo below $100K with the all-new Solis Pocket … albeit just barely. The Pocket joins the original Solis in the “more affordable but still not very affordable” section of Winnebago’s lineup, bringing a sporty, flexible design built to react quickly to the changing everyday needs of the modern nomad.
The Pocket is essentially a simpler, smaller non-pop-top Solis variant that seems like it should have launched right alongside the original Solis in 2019. At that point, Winnebago could have made a big deal about the Solis lineup starting under $100K instead of basing it right over the $100K line. But a year and a half later, as yet another “most affordable” Winnebago camper van, the Solis Pocket feels too expensive at just under $96,000. And given Winnebago’s recent history of year-to-year price leaps, it probably won’t be long at all before the company is once again without a camper van below six figures.
That’s not to say the 214-in (544-cm) Solis Pocket isn’t a cool, little camper. Winnebago gives it an identity quite distinct from the other Solis vans with some innovative fixtures and features. It starts with a shorter 136-in (345-cm)-wheelbase Ram Promaster equipped with a 280-hp gas V6 and six-speed automatic. It builds in a rear-bed floor plan with a transverse 52 x 75-in (132 x 191-cm) bed that folds up toward the driver’s sidewall when not in use.
The wide rear side consoles leave a narrower gear garage than you’d find in some other camper vans but still enough space to accommodate bikes, boards and other large cargo, complete with L-track for securing everything down. The raised height of the bed is designed to set up over top the contents below so that valuable gear doesn’t necessarily have to be removed at night.
Winnebago doesn’t even try to squeeze in the central bathroom you can find in the larger Solis or European camper vans of the Pocket’s size and layout, instead placing the convertible dinette directly in front of the bed on the driver’s side. This creates a neater, more integrated dining area that does not rely on the cab seats, but it limits table seating to two people. If there’s a third aboard, someone will have to dine separately in one of the cab seats or up on the bed.
With the removal of the table and addition of a few cushions, the multifunctional dinette becomes a sofa or a daybed, with or without side table. The wall console behind the sofa back has integrated storage, charging, cupholders and shelf space for added convenience. At night, the dinette converts over into a small 25 x 61-in (64 x 155-cm) bed good for a child who will find a three-point seatbelt for the ride to camp on the rear dinette seat.
The Solis Pocket kitchen block packs the usual glass-cover dual-burner stove and stainless steel sink, with an 85-L fridge/freezer integrated into the front end under the counter. Permanent countertop space appears quite limited, but, much like we’ve seen from Storyteller Overland and Pleasure-Way, the Solis Pocket bed platform doubles as a long worktop, good for food prep, standing laptop work, gear repair or whatever else van dwellers might need it for at any given moment. A fold-down tabletop on the outside of the kitchen block grows overall prep space.
Another handy Pocket feature is the MOLLE panel on the gate between the under-bed garage and kitchen/living area. It can keep cooking tools at the ready on the front side and hold camping tools or bike accessories on the rear side.
Winnebago may skip the bathroom for this van, but it does pack a portable 12-L cassette toilet under the rear-facing dinette seat. It also adds in standard air conditioning and heat, calling the Solis Pocket an “extended-season” design, which sounds something like the three-season tent of camper vans. Also included are an electrical system with 170 watts of solar charging and dual deep-cycle AGM batteries, side and rear screen doors, and 76 liters of fresh and gray water storage.
The Solis Pocket is an attractive camper van that seems like an intriguing option for honeymooning van tourers that might soon be expecting. But if Winnebago is going to keep advertising a DIY-inspired camper van meant for not “breaking the bank,” it really should try challenging the $75K Pleasure-Way Tofino, a four-sleeper pop-top family camper that launched a year before the original Solis atop the same-size Ram Promaster. Option out the AC, heater, solar charging and even portable toilet and get the price closer to something that vaguely resembles “DIY affordability” instead of trying to convince us that $95,736 is affordable simply because it’s the lowest-priced Winnebago van.
Regardless, unless there’s a sudden and drastic reversal of the pandemic-fueled RV craze by the time the Solis Pocket goes on sale this fall, we don’t imagine Winnebago will have any trouble selling it.