Let’s face it, RVs are great for driving into the outdoors. Unfortunately our houses on wheels can’t go everywhere. True outback exploring requires more nimble, rugged overland RV trailers or at minimum a tow vehicle (toad) outfitted with sleeping quarters.
The annual SEMA Show in Las Vegas is a prime source of ideas for overland RV trailers and toads. It’s the biggest trade show for the automotive industry, but the public can also attend for a price. At this year’s event, dozens of overlanding RV trailers and toads were on display but two stood out from the rest: Australia’s Patriot Campers and Portugal’s James Baroud Rooftop Tents.
Explore Anywhere with Overland RV Trailers
Sturdy and built for off-road travel, overland RV trailers are popular with people who want a back country experience that normal RVs just can’t deliver. Many opt to convert their existing tow vehicle into a DIY overlanding toad while others with more cash just buy a ready-to-go model with all the bells and whistles. A few brave souls will even triple-tow it behind their RV’s toad!
Overland camping for most people isn’t usually as epic as an Earthroamer off-road vehicle or a KiraVan extreme RV. The typical camper tows a scaled-down but sturdier version of a regular RV. Some rigs are as simple as a rooftop tent installed on a 4×4 jeep, while others also include a galley, sleeping quarters and bath.
The Overland RV Trailer Built for the Outback Tackles North America
At this year’s event, Australia-based Patriot Campers showcased their Grand Tourer trailers. These rigs meet the needs of serious overlanding enthusiasts who don’t mind paying top dollar to have the best overland RV trailer money can buy.
The largest of the company’s two rigs is the X1. Built from a monocoque aluminum body that weighs in at just under a ton when fully loaded, you can pack up to 1,200 pounds of supplies stored in 70 sq. ft of cargo space.
Solidly built onto the company-designed X-Cruise Suspension, the trailer features independent dual coil shocks, adjustable airbags that allow for independent leveling and a whopping 18 inches of ground clearance for tackling tough terrain. The trailer’s hitch even allows for 360-degree articulation.
The X1 makes backcountry living more comfortable with standard features like:
- 40-gallon fresh water tank with water heater
- fold down dining table
- Dometic CFX50 60L refrigerator/freezer
- Weber Q1000 Barbeque on swing-away bumper stand
- integrated tent and awning
- coil spring mattress sized at 5.1ft x 6.5ft
- slide-out galley stove, kitchen sink and prep-top counter
- deep cycle batteries with management system
- 250W inverter
- USB and 12V charging stations
- LED lighting
- Starts at $42,990 USD
A more compact and less costly version is the X2. It’s smaller and more lightweight, weighing just 1500 pounds. Built for the weekend warrior, the overlanding rig has many of the same features as the X1. Thankfully the $34,990 sticker price is much easier on the wallet.
A Budget-friendly DIY Backcountry “Camper” Idea
Of course the sticker price may make you want to build your own overland RV rig. Thankfully you have lots of cheaper ways to do it. The most simple yet rugged rooftop tents make a great foundation. Many companies at SEMA showcased how they’re jumping on the passenger car rooftop tent craze, but few have been making them as long as Portugal’s James Baroud Rooftop Tents.
Twenty five years ago the company introduced rooftop tents for European passenger vehicles ranging from Jeeps to MiniCoopers. Easily mounted to most roof racks, the aerodynamic shell is made with a fiberglass-fortified polyester material tested to withstand extreme weather.
The tents keep you safe in the worst weather. Waterproof and built for extremes, they can hold up in winds up to 60 mph. Spend the extra money for an optional Isothermic insulation kit and you’ll cut down noise and boost your comfort level. Cool features packed into each tent include:
- Removable storage pocket and ceiling storage net
- Optional awning kit
- The aluminized polyester fabric tent is 100% waterproof, UVand heat-resistant
- Insects cannot get inside the windows while you’re inside
- The company offers a five year warranty on hard-sided pop-up tents and a 3-year warranty on their soft-shell folding tents
You might find these rooftop tents to be more budget-friendly than fully-loaded competitors. A hard-sided tent starts at $3,900 USD and soft-sided versions run as little as $2,700 USD.
If you’re tired of stopping your RV adventures where the pavement ends, it’s not too difficult to explore beyond the end of the road. A good place to start your overland RV research is by talking to other overlanding, back country enthusiasts in the iRV2 Travel Trailer or Toads and Motorhome Towing discussion forums.
Rene Agredano and her husband, Jim Nelson, became full-time RVers in 2007 and have been touring the country ever since. In her blog, Rene chronicles the ins and outs of the full-timing life and brings readers along to meet the fascinating people and amazing places they visit on the road. Her road trip adventures are chronicled in her blog at LiveWorkDream.com.