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This trio of off-road, made-to-order machines offers the luxury of unhurried exploration.
By Alexandra Cheney | September 29 2020
No longer must one sacrifice space or endure discomfort to answer the call of the open road or the beckoning of the great outdoors. Autonomous adventure travel to remote destinations, known as overlanding, continues to gain momentum as expedition vehicle producers pair customizable sanctuaries with capable trucks. These off-road campers are made-to-order machines that offer the luxury of unhurried exploration.
For Colorado-based EarthRoamer, simplicity remains paramount for optimization. Limited to a Ford F-550 chassis and one of five pre-existing floor plans, EarthRoamer’s latest expedition vehicle, the LTi (pictured above), offers impressive in-house technology: It has the first carbon-fiber, vacuum-infused camper body.
By draining air out while simultaneously pumping resin into its carbon-fiber construction, EarthRoamer avoids air bubbles, sheds weight (1,500 pounds less than its predecessor) and gains insulation. Customizing the size and layout of the galley, dinette, pantry and sofa allows for additions like a lockable gun space, biometric safe and a separate ski locker with air blow dryers to allow wet clothes a space to dry without interference.
Cedar closets, an app-controlled, air-ride suspension (to level out the vehicle when parking on uneven sites) and a heated, wet bathroom come standard. EarthRoamer opts out of generator power; the F-550 6.7-liter, turbo-diesel V8 engine will idle should the four 330-watt solar panels and dual inverter systems need an additional boost. Running 29 feet in length with a maximum height of 12 feet, the LTi requires four to six months from order to delivery.
From $590,000, earthroamer.com
The notion of an expedition vehicle connotes pure, unadulterated discovery paired with extreme ability. By all means, travel over the river and through the woods: Global Expedition Vehicles (GXV) builds mobile military command centers when the Springfield, Missouri-based company isn’t constructing personal-use exploration machines.
Its Pangea sits on a medium-duty chassis (the engine and cab) of the owner’s selection, from Mercedes, Kenworth or BAE, to name a few options. From there it’s a ground-up, choose-your-ownadventure situation. Indoor saunas, heated tile floors, dual-pane windows with integrated shades and insect screens, and an interior garage for bicycles or motorcycles are all possible thanks to GXV’s kinetic mounting system. Full-compliance articulation permits the rear of the truck to move independently of the cab, isolating stress from the frame rails into the body. Consider it a valuable feature when rock-crawling or piloting challenging terrain.
This vehicle isn’t about campsites or finding a place to plug in, but rather objectively getting lost and adventuring deep into lands unknown. Typically measuring around 27 feet long, Pangea holds 180 gallons of water and features a proprietary combination of Mastervolt lithium-ion batteries, up to 1.4 kw of solar power on the roof and a diesel generator for backup power.
Clients decide between a wet (shower, toilet and sink all in one room) or dry bath. All systems (think electric, water, AV) can be controlled with an iPhone or iPad. When parked, Pangea’s lifting roof is designed to expand, exposing two separate queensize sleeping areas, each with windows and reading lamps. When collapsed, the windows become hidden by GXV’s structural composite sandwich panels, creating a more secure and durable exterior.
From $650,000, globalxvehicles.com
Perhaps it’s the abundance of iron oxides that encourages the rust-colored, ruddy soil of the Australian outback to cake onto every external crevice of the Commander 8×8’s composite fiberglass panels and octet of wheels. Gold Coast-based SLRV uses its home country’s topography to challenge and perfect the eight-wheel-drive, four-point torsion-free chassis mounting system — an essential off-roading approach that allows the body and the cab to twist freely of one another, increasing performance while minimizing transfer between the two parts. SLRV can build on any truck base, including MAN and Kenworth, homologating to American, Australian or most European countries’ standards.
Once the destination is discovered, remaining in the wild requires a shrewd water routine. SLRV’s 264-gallon, multiple-cell water system substitutes one tank for four, allowing users to isolate water qualities. Select from different sources for distinct needs: clothes or dishwashing water can be of a lesser caliber than drinking water, for example.
Offered as a single or double story, the Commander 8×8 usually measures roughly 26 ft long. If selected, the second story adds a mere foot to the overall height when minimized. Upon expansion, it provides six-foot ceilings and additional quarters via a spacious and private master suite or communal sleeping space for up to half a dozen beds.
Although the vehicle layout is tailor-made, SLRV’s two decades of experience includes an adroit design philosophy centered around the notion of ‘under bench,’ or maximizing room by encouraging open counter space. Instead of an upright refrigerator, SLRV recommends a duo of highly efficient, waist-high, marine-compressor fridges.
While it’s common for solar panels to line the roof, should owners find themselves in need of electrical assistance, SLRV can use remote entry to get into the system to access and diagnose any issues. From first discussion to delivery requires a little over a year.
From $780,000 for the two-story Commander 8×8, slrvexpedition.com.au