RVs obviously come in various sizes with all kinds of different features, but have you ever checked out expedition vehicles — you know, the kind of RV that could basically help you survive a zombie apocalypse?
Expedition vehicles (aka adventure RVs, aka survival RVs) are rigs that, whatever you call them, are essentially built like tanks but loaded with the creature comforts of what most of us consider more “traditional” RVs. And they’re especially adept at overlanding.
What is overlanding?
Well, as the folks at TruckResource.com put it, overlanding “isn’t taking a relaxing weekend away at a local campsite or driving off-road. It’s about self-reliant exploration, seeing new sights and conquering challenges.”
It’s the kind of thing that needs a special kind of RV.
Let’s start with an example that I recently took a look at courtesy of its owner, Greg McHugh.
Expedition Vehicles can handle anything
I met McHugh a couple of years ago at the Overland East Expo (well before the COVID-19 pandemic) and he gave me a tour of his adventure RV (Global Expedition Vehicles’ Patagonia model) — and offered some insight into the mind of an expedition vehicle owner. (Check out the full video at the end of this article.)
“Our plan originally was to sell our house and get a big Class A, like everybody else who full times,” he said, adding that both regular Class A and Class B RVs had too many limitations in terms of where the couple could travel.
“(We) discovered that we clearly didn't want a big RV because the people in the bigger RVs were always stuck in RV parks and not getting into the places we wanted to go to,” said McHugh. “But then we also found there were a lot of… roads that (we) wanted to go down and we couldn't go down in the (Class B), just because of the clearance and the not having four wheel drive.”
Taking those variables into consideration, the McHughs ended up with an expedition vehicle.
Consider some of what their Pantagonia model (built on a Kenworth chassis) specifically offers: a tank that can hold 200 gallons of diesel; a water tank that holds 130 gallons of fresh water; a 1,000-watt solar system on the roof; 720 amps of lithium batteries; and a 6,000 –watt Onan generator.
“You never run out of power no matter where you are,” said McHugh.
In terms of size, the Patagonia expedition vehicle is 12 feet high, 26 feet long, and 8 feet wide.
Inside are all kinds of features: TV, queen-size bed, refrigerator/freezer, induction cook top, wet bath with a cassette toilet, a dining table with a bench seat on one side and an office chair with a desk on the other.
But it isn’t exactly cheap. The base price for the unit McHugh showed me was $420,000 — a number that obviously goes up as more features are added (each one produced is custom built). Based on the comments from the video I posted with McHugh, many can’t justify the costs of an expedition vehicle — though it’s worth noting not all are quite that expensive.
Still, like anything, it comes down to personal choice and for the McHughs this was it.
“(We’re) selling our house and we're going to be heading mostly to the western U.S.,” he said. “All of Canada, Alaska…as far as we can go and just spend the next few years exploring…wherever we want to go, down any road we feel like going down.”
Expedition Vehicles: Buying Tips
By no means is Global Expedition Vehicles the only company selling adventure RVs.
In fact, a whole slew of companies produce such vehicles.
To be honest, there aren’t a lot of guides out there offering tips for buying one of these specialized RVs.
However, the couple at Outliers Overland recently produced a video called “12 Tips for Buying a 4×4 Expedition Vehicle.” It has 12 great questions to ask when considering buying an expedition RV. This couple, Ben and Rebecca, live and breathe expedition vehicles. Check out their channel for lots of info. But to help with the buying questions they give in their video, I put a summation of the questions below.
- Who are you? This question pertains to who will be traveling in the vehicle. The answer (solo, couple, family) will determine how much space (floor plan, etc.) and the kind of amenities you will need.
- Where on the globe do you want to go? The couple notes that the size of the vehicles is not necessarily suitable for city travel or travel abroad (where larger vehicles aren’t quite as accepted as they are in North America).
- Are you going to be able to find fuel? Diesel is the more common type of fuel for these vehicles. Make sure you’ll be able to find it wherever you’re going. Also, you’ll need to be able to find ultra-low sulfur diesel for any newer vehicle.
- Are you going to be able to find parts in the event of a breakdown? The couple recommends considering vehicles produced by global brands, like Mercedes-Benz.
- When and where do you want to go camping? This question is really about 4×4 and if you really need it for where you plan to RV, as well as the time of year.
- How will you be living in your unit? If you anticipate using your vehicle in extreme temperatures, you are going to want features that will protect you and your vehicle, such as double-pane windows, a dehumidifier, and more.
- What is your budget? This one is pretty self-explanatory.
- What components will you need for your journey?
- How much power are you going to need and how can you conserve electricity?
- Where and how do you plan to sleep? This will impact both your comfort and the layout of your vehicle’s interior?
- Have you considered the costs of shipping a vehicle for use overseas (if using that way)?
- What kind of compromises are you willing to make for those you’re traveling with?
The couple also has several other tips that are worth considering, as well as some interesting thoughts on what it’s like to travel in an expedition vehicle. You can check the video out here.
(Below is the video I did with Greg McHugh on his Expedition Vehicle RV.)