Choosing the Right Camper
To tell you the truth, this whole crazy idea started one very cold October night at Chaco Culture Historic Site in New Mexico. We were visiting my friend who was working there and were then using a Flippac on the back of my truck. A Flippac is a great medium between tent camping and RV type camping. The issue that night was it got down to about 10 degrees Fahrenheit, that’s too cold for my 3 year old and the wife. Christina got heat stroke when she was a little child, which caused her body to forget how to regulate her body temperature. So if the temperature is slightly too hot or cold, her body starts to flip out.
Needless to say we needed to find a better option for camping. Why spend all this time and money camping you might ask? Christina and I made a decision that camping was going to be our “family thing”. With my job, it makes it hard to really get good family time, and I like getting out of the small town where the bad guys know me (and sometimes they don’t leave me alone). Beach Boys? Anyone? Ok moving on.
I grew up camping with my family, sometimes tent camping and sometimes in our small RV. I learned how to read maps, climb rocks and trees, and enjoy the outdoors. I very much want that for McKenzie and the twins. Christina had never been camping before we started dating, but she wants to spend time as a family and outdoors where there are no TV’s or cell phones, so she was down.
Earth Roamer ($300,000-800,000)
At first we looked at Earth Roamer. In the US they are like the number one in expedition vehicles, as in they advertise everywhere. We first saw them at Overland Expo a few years back not really thinking we would ever buy one. They look cool, but when you start looking into their trucks I started to feel this company wasn’t for us. Earth Roamer’s are luxury RV’s pushed into an expedition rig’s body. Marble countertops, flat screen TV’s inside and outside, Maple and redwood interior (that kind of thing, aggressive panhandling to rival most 3rd world countries). You pay the price. I’m not trying to say the Earth Roamer’s are bad trucks, I have never driven one, but I’m not planning on driving it from LA to Joshua Tree for the weekend. I want something I can take anywhere, if that means Utah, Alaska, or Africa. I don’t need nor want outside 50” flat screen TV’s. We needed something a little less flashy, and less expensive.
Tiger Adventure Vehicle ($170,000-250,000)
So we needed to find something cheaper and less extravagant. We were trying to camp at Canyon De Chelly on the Navajo Reservation (I would NOT recommend a visit) and we came across a Tiger. Tiger Adventure Vehicle’s are 4X4 RV’s. They look neat on the outside, but their layout is kinda weird. We needed a real bed for the little one to sleep on and the Tiger’s second “bed” was functional to say the most. We started to do more research. The trucks just didn’t feel like they could handle any extended off-roading. The inside was pulled right from a Winnebago with no consideration for the vehicle’s “purpose”. It felt like they put an RV shell on a 4X4 chassis and called it an adventure vehicle.
Fuso Based Campers
We then started to look at the Fuso based trucks. There are a few companies who use this chassis. To tell you the truth I feel most of them are all the same trucks. There is Earth Cruiser, which is an Australian based company but they sell here in the USA. Prices start at I believe ($250,000) and go up from there. Global Expedition Vehicles, which uses multiple platforms, have cool designs. GXV has a bad reputation right now because of an ongoing legal battle with a former client which is all over forums and the web. Their prices are I think ($230,000 and up). The other big Fuso camper is All-Terrain Warrior. Priced at (230,000 and up). Phoenix Campers also makes a “box” which they mount onto a Fuso chassis. I think the camper alone is $120,000.
Bliss Mobil ($110,000-290,000) No Vehicle Included
Bliss Mobil is a Dutch company who makes campers that are based off a shipping container. Their 20’ model can be loaded onto a ship as a container. The idea alone is brilliant, but the camper is pretty cool too. They have campers from 10’-20’ long. You have to provide your own truck but Bliss also will manufacture a mount for your truck if needed. These are a very good option for anyone who plans on doing any international traveling. Some units have internal garages for ATV’s or motorcycles (if you are into that kind of thing). What is cool about Bliss is they have multiple layouts per size camper. Some units even sleep 6+. Their campers are based off a “no single point of failure”. Every system has a backup. The campers are well thought out and seem to have spawned by real world functionality. They are the only company I know of in the world who uses Lithium Ion batteries as a standard feature. The smaller campers have 400ah and the larger units have 800+ ah. They are the modern day expedition camper, with a built in wireless router, GPS tracker, Smart phone controlled, this is the camper for the explorer who doesn’t want to totally disconnect from the world. These campers are nice without being flashy and luxury. Bliss has just started testing a pop-top version, which might be a great option for people who need a little more room. Bliss has offices and service centers all throughout Europe, Russia, China, Australia and will be opening a North American office in short order.
XPCamper ($70,000-120,000) No Vehicle Included
So we started to look for something that we could really buy in the foreseeable future. I ran across the XPCamper thread on Expedition Portal. The idea looked cool and the numbers were right. This was the first truck we had looked at which did not come with the truck chassis. It did not faze us, we could then just pick which truck chassis we wanted. There was a sense of freedom and real choice with XP. XPCamper has 2 different models on hard-sided pop-up campers. I know what you are thinking, but no, this is not your average pop-up.
The V1, which is designed for full size pick-up trucks, is a hydraulic pop-up with hard sides, yes, hard sides. So it folds down to only 56” higher than the truck cab, and when setup has 6.5 feet of headroom. The V1 looks more like a sailboat than an RV inside. Everything is molded fiberglass, you won’t find cheap plastic or particleboard inside this camper. The roof does not have any seams so it is virtually leak-proof.
Ok, I see you aren’t convinced yet. The true genius of this camper is the small details. The heater and cooktop are diesel powered, no LP gas (which can be hard to find in some countries). The hydraulic pump has a hand crank in case of system failure. The windows and door are placed in a way that when the camper is lowered, the windows and door are unreachable (may I say theft-proof?). Just like a sailboat, every little bit of space has been turned into usable storage. Everything seems as if it is there for a real reason. But then we saw a new section on the XPCamper website called the XPCube. The Cube seemed to be a completely customizable space priced on how many square feet you wanted.