So... We need to talk about your weight.

beanmachine314

New member
GVWR

My wife and I are finally at a point of making the decision to eschew our normal life and full-time it in some sort of mobile tenement. We've "talked" about it for years, though never seriously, but over the past year a few things have happened to make us realize this isn't just want we want to do, but what we need to do, but I keep falling into the same problem.

Size VS GVWR

We have about 1 year before we need to start looking seriously at purchasing some sort of vehicle and the main thing I'm attempting to nail down is: How does everybody do it? I see 2 options mainly used.

Small/Mid Truck size: This is Wrangler, Gladiator, Tacoma, basically anything Land Cruiser size or smaller. This seems to be what people are using that actually travel the globe. This is what I want. I want to be in the cities, somewhat blending in. I've heard this size is about as big a vehicle that can get through many "non-modern" cities. At this level we're talking about a max payload of ~2200lbs/1000kg (Land Cruiser 70).

Big Truck: This is a great option as we could buy a brand new Ford truck with a 4600lb/2000kg payload, put a sweet (probably DIY) house on the back and go. This is easy, simple, but I've also heard you're stuck skirting the outskirts of many cities and taking cabs to get into the city. Not ideal for us. Also, at this level is the Mercedes truck that is so prolific. With this you get a (better?) drivetrain for truly around the world travel and much higher GVWR as well. If we're too big for the cities what does one size up matter?

I don't see how people are outfitting smaller vehicles and still being under/at GVWR. Maybe you can do it with a Troopy, but even then, 2200lbs isn't much when you're talking about being full time. We would like to be truly self sufficient for at least a week (including the ability to shower every other day). This means that fuel and water is taking up a large (~700-1000lbs) budget of our payload.

TLDR: Is it true that a Land Cruiser is about the biggest vehicle that will reasonably fit through many older cities? How do people live in these trucks and not be over GVWR (or is this just not a huge concern)? Will we be stuck just hanging out on the beaches (how terrible) in Mexico/Central America or will we be able to fit a bigger truck (which I imagine we'll be forced into) into a city?
 

ExpoMike

Well-known member
My take on it, based on what I have read/watched over the last decade. It seems a lot of the smaller/mid sized vehicles, if self contained (i.e. not pulling a trailer), for long distance and extended times, seem to be single person exploring. It seems when you move up to having two people traveling, these smaller sized rigs just don't have enough capacity to comfortably support 2 people unless grossly over GVWR. Big trucks have the capacity but you do run the risk of not getting into every place you might want to but the comfort level for extended time and travel can be more than worth it.

It seems the sweet spot for a lot of couples traveling is the van route. A 1 ton van is likely going to give you the GVWR you need and the added interior space will make it much more comfortable. Since most cities still rely on delivery vans to move supplies, most vans are going to fit most places.

There is no "perfect" rig. Every one has it's advantages and compromises. What you need to do is find what will give you BOTH the comfort level you want to expect. Does no good to have a rig that can fit down some tight city roads if one of the people hates being in it long term. One thing I like to think in my planning of a rig is, extended times you must stay in the vehicle. You will run into bad weather that can last for days. How do you want to spend those days?

Good luck on your search.
 

beanmachine314

New member
My take on it, based on what I have read/watched over the last decade. It seems a lot of the smaller/mid sized vehicles, if self contained (i.e. not pulling a trailer), for long distance and extended times, seem to be single person exploring. It seems when you move up to having two people traveling, these smaller sized rigs just don't have enough capacity to comfortably support 2 people unless grossly over GVWR. Big trucks have the capacity but you do run the risk of not getting into every place you might want to but the comfort level for extended time and travel can be more than worth it.

It seems the sweet spot for a lot of couples traveling is the van route. A 1 ton van is likely going to give you the GVWR you need and the added interior space will make it much more comfortable. Since most cities still rely on delivery vans to move supplies, most vans are going to fit most places.

There is no "perfect" rig. Every one has it's advantages and compromises. What you need to do is find what will give you BOTH the comfort level you want to expect. Does no good to have a rig that can fit down some tight city roads if one of the people hates being in it long term. One thing I like to think in my planning of a rig is, extended times you must stay in the vehicle. You will run into bad weather that can last for days. How do you want to spend those days?

Good luck on your search.
Makes sense, as we're looking for enough interior space to spend the day if we do run into foul weather, but I assumed the 1-ton vans were similar in size to a 1-ton truck. I can get a brand new truck and build a camper on the back for the same price as something like a Sportsmobile, especially if they both have the same size issue. Though I do like many of the features of the van over a truck. If it wasn't for the whole diesel Sulphur issue I'd just get a 4x4 Sprinter and that would probably be as close to perfect as we could get.
 

ExpoMike

Well-known member
A typical 1 ton van is similar to a standard cab, long bed truck. If you keep your camper build not extending wider or longer than the bed, they will be about the same form factor. The problem that typically happens is, people end up with a double cab, long bed truck which will be much bigger in overall length. Then they put on or build a camper that is wider than the truck bed. Now width can be an issue.

One advantage of the van is, it is more like a cab over (COE) design, so the driver/passenger and engine take up minimal forward space. This leaves you a lot of room behind you but keeps that overall length short. Trucks, have a much longer nose, which if you keep the same over space behind the driver/passenger, you will end up longer overall.

I ended up getting an ex-military M1010 rig, since it is still fairly short (228") but gives me 9' of box space that I can access from the cab. The box is no wider than the truck cab, so it keeps it narrow. Kind of combined van and truck in one.
 

Joe917

Explorer
Having driven a 9 tonne Mercedes all over North and South America, I can say size is rarely an issue. The ability to carry water and fuel for 2000km or a month in remote areas and be comfortable in all weather is well worth the size.
 

beanmachine314

New member
People live out of backpacks for months, you just have to define your priorities for support gear.

I would bet most 'overland' vehicles are over GVW by close to a thousand pounds....not just hundreds.
Yea, and our priorities have defined that we probably won't be fitting our lives into 1,500 lbs lol. I have to imagine they are as well.

Having driven a 9 tonne Mercedes all over North and South America, I can say size is rarely an issue. The ability to carry water and fuel for 2000km or a month in remote areas and be comfortable in all weather is well worth the size.
Did you ever feel like you missed out on any of the cities because of the size of your truck? It would be nice having the amenities a larger truck would allow, but we don't want to be stuck only travelling through remote areas because of the narrow streets.

Edit: Spelling
 
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Joe917

Explorer
Yea, and our priorities have defined that we probably won't be fitting our lives into 1,500 lbs lol. I have to imagine they are as well.



Did you ever feel like you missed out on any of the cities because of the size of your truck? It would be nice having the amenities a larger truck would allow, but we don't want to be stuck only travelling through remote areas because of the narrow streets.

Edit: Spelling
We put the truck into some pretty tint spots!
Every town has delivery trucks, so getting into and through towns is not a problem. Stay out of places like Old town Cartagena or Cusco.
All those historic districts are walkable or in reach of a cheap cab ride. There is enough info on the web to prep for particularly daunting cities!
We were too tall for "the road to the sun" and technically too long for a couple of US national parks although both times the ranger on the spot gave us the go ahead. We are also too tall for White rim, there is a squeeze we would not get through.
 

Overdrive

Adventurer
Are you familiar with The Turtle Expedition? Gary & Monika Wescott have been travelling the globe since '72. They started in a Series Land Rover, then up-sized to a full-size truck with at first a small camper then a pop-up, now a purpose-built much larger rig on an F550. It does not seem to me they've missed out on seeing anything with that big of a vehicle. As said above, you can always get a ride into the heart of a city if you wanted to.
 

billiebob

Well-known member
Go here, Dan has several videos explaining his choices, and he he spends years overlanding in foriegn countries.
Your questions are far too big to answer on a forum thread.

 
American truck fanboys please move on.
I have traveled to a lot of places on 5 continents in my life. I have noticed that “typical American pickup trucks” have huge tow ratings, but comparatively tiny load capacity and load space. Due to enormous hoods (bonnets), and the mfgs putting engines with up to 1000 ft-lb torque into a chassis with load capacity of 1.0-1.5 metric tons. The same engine capacity might be used in MB or MAN with load capacity 6-10 metric tons. With a body that doesn’t use 4-5’ for a hood.
It’s amusing and ironic that a F250 Powerstroke is rated at ~1000 ft-lb, that it needs like a hole in the head unless towing >30’ luxury trailer, which most would never take to Baja, let alone Namibia. But the same engine is downrated to ~700 ft-lb for the F750, which has a 26-33k lb GVW. Useful for 2 months wandering in Namibia and Botswana, although the 5’ hood uses up space and maneuverability.
Far more useful than a F250-350 is for example a MB Atego, with maybe 5-6 ton load capacity, and either a 5 or 8 L diesel. Comparable empty weights.
F550? Better load capacity and more appropriate GVW/power ratio. But trying to find SRW wheels that work at both ends is like trying to solve 2 equations with 3 unknowns. Especially if one cares about semi factory offsets (i.e. wheel bearing loads).
 

billiebob

Well-known member
American truck fanboys please move on.
I have traveled to a lot of places on 5 continents in my life. I have noticed that “typical American pickup trucks” have huge tow ratings, but comparatively tiny load capacity and load space. Due to enormous hoods (bonnets), and the mfgs putting engines with up to 1000 ft-lb torque into a chassis with load capacity of 1.0-1.5 metric tons. The same engine capacity might be used in MB or MAN with load capacity 6-10 metric tons. With a body that doesn’t use 4-5’ for a hood.
It’s amusing and ironic that a F250 Powerstroke is rated at ~1000 ft-lb, that it needs like a hole in the head unless towing >30’ luxury trailer, which most would never take to Baja, let alone Namibia. But the same engine is downrated to ~700 ft-lb for the F750, which has a 26-33k lb GVW. Useful for 2 months wandering in Namibia and Botswana, although the 5’ hood uses up space and maneuverability.
Far more useful than a F250-350 is for example a MB Atego, with maybe 5-6 ton load capacity, and either a 5 or 8 L diesel. Comparable empty weights.
F550? Better load capacity and more appropriate GVW/power ratio. But trying to find SRW wheels that work at both ends is like trying to solve 2 equations with 3 unknowns. Especially if one cares about semi factory offsets (i.e. wheel bearing loads).
very true, North America is driving with blinders on
our logic and choices are prehistoric compared to the rest of the world
always have been, we want everything bigger, supersize me eh
 

NoDak

Member
A gasser F350 super cab with a 6 3/4' box and 4.30 gears will get you over 4000lb payload. 148" wheelbase for maneuverability and room and excess capacity for a 4Wheel Camper.

My dream travel rig is built around that starting configuration and I have driven Land Cruisers and Nissan Patrols across Africa and the Middle East.

I want to be in the cities, somewhat blending in. I've heard this size is about as big a vehicle that can get through many "non-modern" cities. At this level we're talking about a max payload of ~2200lbs/1000kg (Land Cruiser 70).

Big Truck: This is a great option as we could buy a brand new Ford truck with a 4600lb/2000kg payload, put a sweet (probably DIY) house on the back and go. This is easy, simple, but I've also heard you're stuck skirting the outskirts of many cities and taking cabs to get into the city. Not ideal for us.

Is it true that a Land Cruiser is about the biggest vehicle that will reasonably fit through many older cities? How do people live in these trucks and not be over GVWR (or is this just not a huge concern)? Will we be stuck just hanging out on the beaches (how terrible) in Mexico/Central America or will we be able to fit a bigger truck (which I imagine we'll be forced into) into a city?
I've seen locals drive those Nissan and Toyota buses into some pretty interesting places in the middle of some very old middle eastern cities. Those are the same size if not bigger than a F350 with a slide in camper.
 

billiebob

Well-known member
Makes sense, as we're looking for enough interior space to spend the day if we do run into foul weather, but I assumed the 1-ton vans were similar in size to a 1-ton truck. I can get a brand new truck and build a camper on the back for the same price as something like a Sportsmobile, especially if they both have the same size issue. Though I do like many of the features of the van over a truck. If it wasn't for the whole diesel Sulphur issue I'd just get a 4x4 Sprinter and that would probably be as close to perfect as we could get.
But where will you Overland, just North America or plus Mexico or plus South America or plus Europe, Africa????

We are just spinning tires without some parameters.
 
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