New Overlander, want to stay a Ford man

Martinjmpr

Wiffleball Batter
One final note: Don't skimp on the comfort for your family. Awesome, capable vehicle + miserable family = you're either going by yourself or you're just going to stay home and not go anywhere.

Happy wife = happy life and that goes double for the kids. ;)

I say that as a guy who was single most of my life until I married a woman with kids (and now we have grandkids.) The way I used to travel would simply not be viable for traveling with a wife and kids, it just wouldn't. So I put it out of my mind and travel a different way.

I bring a lot more "stuff" than I used to, but that's OK. Over time, we've discovered what is "necessary" vs. "nice to have" vs. "nothing but excess weight."
 

McCarthy

Is it riding season yet?
Speak of the devil, jump over to the for sale section there's a 2013 F350 lariat for sale for $29,500 that has everything I listed earlier done to it, except the flat bed and camper. Could have the entire thing done for 55k,
 

maxster17

New member
Thanks a lot for all the advice! Really valuable nuggets in there.

We don't plan on full time living in this thing. It'd be weekend trips here and there. I really liked the idea of a self-contained platform that we could just pack up and go since prep time is less trail time. However, you all's insights have made me re-evaluate my expectations. I originally had the towing expectation for a small SUV so my wife could get around when she wanted or so we had a spare set of wheels to not have to break camp anytime we wanted to range out somewhere.

Martin - I think you're absolutely right, going with a single sole platform does ask for a lot of compromises not just of the vehicle, but of my family. You also hit it on the head about keeping the wife happy. I just don't think it'll happen with a single platform, so the trailer combo is now a serious contender.

Carleton/billiebob brought up a great point too with safety belts and seating. We have one in diapers and the other a toddler, so I need to be able to put decent car seats in. Grandpa/grandma may come out with us as well, which means seating for five.

Taking all this into consideration, I'm leaning towards modifying the Ex a bit, along the lines gatorgrizz/shovel mentioned - suspension, raised roof, bumpers/winch, self-recovery gear, internal storage (gear for outdoor kitchen/shower/storage) to make it a fairly capable overland truck, but really only need to provide some sleeping space in it if I'm going to venture farther from a "base camp" with one or two of the kids (obviously when the infant is older).

I haven't eliminated any of the other choices just yet though. So far, I think a 4x4 econoline with the right mods can probably do all the off-roading I'd want, and ultimately have more interior room than the Excursion. It could probably have similar towing capacity as well. I just think it'll cost a bit more to get a van setup properly and I'd have to go through the process of selling the Excursion.

A transit van may still work too, but I definitely would stick to an EB size due to the overhang issues Carleton mentioned, and am aware that they will always be the least off-road capable.

For the folks mentioning FWC, I took a look at this video/site which I thought brought up a couple good arguments why the van option is better. However, I'll be honest, I have't researched FWCs all that much so I'll take a look and maybe they can beat the camper trailer option if they can be dismounted and function as a standalone for basecamp.
 

badm0t0rfinger

Raptor Apologist.
You already have an Excursion and you're thinking about anything but an Excursion? Shoot those are good trucks.

With the 60 to 70k budget, assuming your truck is already paid off, you could easily make such a well built vehicle.
 

Todd n Natalie

Observer
I think the biggest difficulty with this kind of thing is that some of your requirements are mutually exclusive. You want something that will sleep your family and have a bathroom but it also needs to be able to go off road. Bath and sleeping requirements mean HEIGHT. You have to be able to stand up, at least 6' of headroom. Unless you have a pop up that's a tough thing to accomplish without getting something that is tip-over prone.

Maybe you're trying to do too much with one platform? The simplest solution to your dilemma, IMO, is one that hundreds of thousands of people (or millions, I don't know) choose every year and that's a capable tow rig + a travel trailer of appropriate size.

Now it's true, that "combination" is not as capable overall - you aren't pulling a travel trailer over a rugged trail (hell I wouldn't pull a small Teardrop over one.) But if you can modify your method of traveling, it could work. Essentially, you would "base camp": That is, go to a specific location and set up your trailer in a "base", then unload everything you'll need to live while using the tow vehicle to explore.

Is it as versatile as an all-in-one arrangement? Absolutely not. But it also requires a lot less compromising in terms of comfort for your family.

The nice thing about the tow rig/trailer combo (full disclosure: That's what the wife and I have) is that it allows you to maximize each separate portion of the whole setup without compromising the other portion: IOW you can have a trailer big enough to be comfortable to be in AND have a vehicle with decent-enough off-road chops to get you far into the back country. An all-in-one arrangement forces you to prioritize one over the other.

Yes, in a perfect world, we'd all be driving vehicles that could run 4+ off road trails, sleep 5 comfortably, has a full shower and bath and gets 40 MPG. But that vehicle has a perpetual motion machine engine and unicorn-skin seats.
Beat me to it.
 
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