To each his own, but I feel that pretty much ALL of the so-called benefits of a pass-through are little more than fancy excuses to justify one.
And for most applications, there are far more logistical drawbacks to a pass-thru than actual benefits.
I admit, when designing our camper, I really entertained the thought of a pass-thru.
But in the end I came to my senses. And never do we wish we had one.
Ours is a custom truck camper though.
With a legit integrated camper, especially a cab-over design, it can work well.
When I was in the design phase I was determined to have a pass through no matter what, for reasons that I can't remember now but it might have been for our dog who has been gone a long time now.
The pass through was going to be complex, my camper has a lifting roof with hard sides that fall into the pass through space and making it well sealed against the elements was not going to be simple so it was delayed,......for ever.
During the construction we used the rig and after many years I saw that for me it wasn't going to be needed, from "I have to have one" to "I don't want one" came about.
There are pros and cons to everything you cram into a rig and eventually the things that are important to you will rise to the top, pick your battles! So a good pro-con list is needed:
Pro: - Stay out of the weather entering camper.
-Get into cab from camper without going outside. For whatever reasons.
-Can access toilet, kitchen, fridge etc while driving.(passenger only)
- Sense of security.
-Makes a hole in camper. This was a big one for me, that hole into the cab would be right where the bed is and our camper is well insulated with double glazed windows etc and a big hole into a single pane windowed cab that gets hot in the summer and cold in the winter made no sense, I know a plug can be used or an insulated door but in a tight camper where do you keep the plug and how much swing space does the door take?
-Crawl through gets old fast.
- Walk through is better, but, you need a big rig for that, I went to great effort to keep my rig small which is much harder than going big.
-Lose a wall in a small camper.
-Both camper and cab structural strength compromised.
Well there is a start to the list, I'm sure others can add to it and as previously said the rig is yours and whatever YOU want to have is up to YOU but everything becomes a compromise in the end, you cant have everything!
To me, a pass through is what makes an camper and vehicle integrated in addition to the more permanent nature of the mounting system. Not all pass throughs are created equal either. Some allow for effortless connection to the living area like in a converted van and others are just barely large enough to reach a hand through for a chilled beverage in the back seat cooler. Having one has all sorts of benefits. Done well, It can allow you to have a shorter vehicle in many cases as pets may travel comfortably in that location instead of having an extended or crew cab. It can allow you and/or your passenger easy passage to or from the living area when weather is bad, or other outside deteriorating situations. It's easy to go from camp mode to drive mode and vice versa when the situation arises. It's easier to leave everything in its place so you don't have to transfer things back and forth as everything is easily accessible. I find Pass throughs as more essential when traveling in more populated and unfamiliar areas.
For Pass throughs to be effective they need to be large. Like in a van they're large enough to swivel seats and you can essentially walkthrough the space. The cab space doubles as living space and the converse is true as well, so you can get away with a shorter vehicle. The downside is the cab usually needs insulation as the large window is likely going to be the greatest source of heat transfer. Being able to secure the pass through is advisable for RoRo travel where others have keys to your vehicle and consequently all of the contents in the living quarters. (ed: same goes if dropping the vehicle off for service / repairs, etc.)
Is a pass through essential? Of course not. Most of the time when camping, the whole reason is to spend more time outside. Setting up camp is just part of the process. When traveling with pets, they usually need to get outside time when pulling in to camp regardless of weather. If you plan to use the vehicle without the living quarters, the passthrough portion of the truck may be bit awkward if poorly designed. All of this said, I do wish more truck camper manufacturers would offer a true pass through as it's really only available in builds of ~$300K+.
Well - I learned a lot. About some people, not so much about pass throughs.
Since this thread is back from the dead, I'll put down my "pro" pass-through vote. I think potential weather is a big factor, I once had an instance trying to cross Wyoming in February - crazy windstorm closed I80 for hours - literally couldn't see to the end of the hood due to blowing snow. So I pulled to the side, moved to the back and had a nice little nap. When I woke up the snow seemed to be slowing, so I made a pot of coffee, used the facilities and moved back to the front, rested and ready. In that instance I was very happy for a pass through.
So if I'm going to the expense of an "integrated" camper, I'm going pass through. If I'm buying a slide in, probably not worth the cost for the convenience. But it is occasionally nice to have, in my opinion.
I will agree a pass through is a very very nice addition to a unit. I would recommend an actual lockable pass through and not a class c motorhome or van style walkthrough as they are very hard to ship with any items in the camper due to inability to close it off securely from the cab. We love to use the crawl through for bathroom breaks, food, drinks etc. I really love the ability to roll in late wherever we are sleeping and simply crawl through and not have to go outside if its miserable or maybe sketchy. Best part if it does get sketchy and I want to leave, the steps are not down and I can simply crawl through and drive away. I also appreciate the extra space when camping. Our backseat turns into a bed and kids can use the space for guitar and movies while still being "in" the vehicle. While not absolutely necessary, I would highly recommend one if it's possible.
Sheesh, where is that, looks like goose island . I know they are having floods there!
As to pass throughs, I prefer them if given the option. On bullfrog 2.0 I took out the rear window and accordion booted the cab to the camper shell. I got a little more noise, and a little longer to cool, but was nice in crappy weather to just scoot into the bed area ( was an excerise in squirming as it wasnt a "true" pass through) . Now with bullfrog 3.0 it isnt an issue as I have much more room in the excursion and movement forward or rear is easier.
One benefit of the pass through that really cant be denied is that there is no inclusion of outside conditions on the interior (rain, snow, mud, sand storm, locusts, bears, lions, tigers, magma, mosquitos, etc.)
One issue with a passthrough as found on vans and class c's (non lockable doors) you will hear every rattle and every squeak, doubly on washboard roads. If I was getting a new European style expedition truck I would have a passthrough, otherwise its a hard pass on it.