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

1leglance

2007 Expedition Trophy Champion, Overland Certifie
We love our van and I think it is the best balance between size and capacity, and I am UNDER GVW :)
The low roof, short wheelbase 130in Transit has a GVW of 8600 and with wife, dog and all our stuff we are at 7800lbs for weeks of travel.
Personally I would NOT go hightop as that is tall for Latin America but a midroof and poptop ($15k at SMB West) and an interior you build yourself can really balance GVW and space.
My Quadvan 4wd conversion is $15k and goes everywhere I ever want to.
So for $30k for the van and $30k for someone else along with another $10k buildout you can have a killer ride
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Alloy

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).

NA families on summer vaction need horsepower because they have allot more distance to travel......


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rruff

Explorer
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.
Width and turning circle and length... and maybe height. These are what you care about. A full size 1/2 ton pickup is the same size as a 1 ton, so might as well get a 1 ton and have good payload. Vans are the same way... higher load ratings aren't any bigger.

Even in NA I'd avoid a diesel for the emissions issues... and the Sprinters have their share of emissions issues. The 4wd isn't that hot either. I'd go with a Transit for a van. There is an AWD option. Add a 2" lift and bigger tires. You can also get a cab-chassis for ~$10k less than a highroof, and build or buy your own box. You can get true 4wd systems for these too, but $$$.

Bottom line is that you will spend a good deal more money making a van as offroad capable as a truck, so if offroad capability is a high priority, starting with a truck makes sense.
 

Alloy

Well-known 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?
Renting a couple type of vehicles will be the best money you'll spend.
 

beanmachine314

New member
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.
This is really good to hear. Everything I've been hearing is that anything larger than a LC has a hard time getting through major cities. I've only been to a few places in Mexico (the touristy places) and they all seemed like a bigger truck wouldn't have many problems.

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).

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'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.
This is why I started looking at the MB/MAN style of truck. You can get almost double the living space within the same wheelbase.

Yes, but what about living in a ~2m box? 4.5-4.8m is a lot more room. That hood eats up a lot of space/wheelbase.
We've already agreed that a 2m box on a shortbed truck would not be enough space so an NA truck would have to be crew cab long bed.

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.
We are planning to be full time with options to go anywhere we see fit. The plan is to spend a year travelling the US then head off somewhere (mainly dictated by where I end up working).

We love our van and I think it is the best balance between size and capacity, and I am UNDER GVW :)
The low roof, short wheelbase 130in Transit has a GVW of 8600 and with wife, dog and all our stuff we are at 7800lbs for weeks of travel.
Personally I would NOT go hightop as that is tall for Latin America but a midroof and poptop ($15k at SMB West) and an interior you build yourself can really balance GVW and space.
My Quadvan 4wd conversion is $15k and goes everywhere I ever want to.
So for $30k for the van and $30k for someone else along with another $10k buildout you can have a killer ride
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I was literally "building and pricing" this exact set up yesterday minus the pop-top. My first 2 choices would be a 4x4 Sprinter, but the diesel problem kills it, or a 4x4 Transit, but the 4x4 problem kills that. This definitely piques my interest as it ticks 90% of the boxes and still comes in at a decent price.

Width and turning circle and length... and maybe height. These are what you care about. A full size 1/2 ton pickup is the same size as a 1 ton, so might as well get a 1 ton and have good payload. Vans are the same way... higher load ratings aren't any bigger.

Even in NA I'd avoid a diesel for the emissions issues... and the Sprinters have their share of emissions issues. The 4wd isn't that hot either. I'd go with a Transit for a van. There is an AWD option. Add a 2" lift and bigger tires. You can also get a cab-chassis for ~$10k less than a highroof, and build or buy your own box. You can get true 4wd systems for these too, but $$$.

Bottom line is that you will spend a good deal more money making a van as offroad capable as a truck, so if offroad capability is a high priority, starting with a truck makes sense.
I'm not really looking for a diesel, it's just that we seem to be pushed into an GVWR area that only has vehicles with diesel engines. I do want true 4x4, but actual off-road ability isn't as huge a concern. 90% of what we'll do will be doable by a 2wd, but I do want the ability to 'explore' something if it seems interesting.

I'm really liking the idea of a van. Either something like @1leglance was showing or an overseas MB Vario 4x4 (shame I just found these). We've pretty much decided we'll need something larger just because, if we're living out of this full time, it seems smart to trade a bit of maneuverability for some extra comfort.
 

Rovertrader

Supporting Sponsor
Folks sometimes lose a bit of perspective. True 4x4 on a van (yes, Ive had a few) is very very seldom if ever needed given anything in your described parameters. The high COG not to mention physical size/proportions are the limiting factors.
A real rear locker- like Detroit or selectable will get you 80%, then a winch will handle the balance.
All that said, an AWD Transit with the EB gets you the power for NA needs. Add a rear selectable locker and a winch and let the travels begin.
We have explored from New Foundland to Alaska, coast to coast across the US and Canada, same in Central America and most of EU via motorcycle and Land Rovers, and would not hesitate to do same in a van as described above....
Good luck and happy travels!
 

highwest

Active member
an AWD Transit with the EB gets you the power for NA needs. Add a rear selectable locker and a winch and let the travels begin.
Does the AWD Transit have a lockable center diff? Isn’t that a prerequisite for a locker?

This convo has strayed towards full sizes and vans, so this may not be relevant, but the OP originally saddled mid-sized trucks with ~2200lb payload. I think, for the US at least, that number’s closer to ~1000lbs payload. Which requires a lot of discipline for world travels…
 

beanmachine

New member
Folks sometimes lose a bit of perspective. True 4x4 on a van (yes, Ive had a few) is very very seldom if ever needed given anything in your described parameters. The high COG not to mention physical size/proportions are the limiting factors.
A real rear locker- like Detroit or selectable will get you 80%, then a winch will handle the balance.
All that said, an AWD Transit with the EB gets you the power for NA needs. Add a rear selectable locker and a winch and let the travels begin.
We have explored from New Foundland to Alaska, coast to coast across the US and Canada, same in Central America and most of EU via motorcycle and Land Rovers, and would not hesitate to do same in a van as described above....
Good luck and happy travels!
You're probably right, but there's certain things that I'm willing to pay extra for because it's a want or a comfort thing. Indoor shower and 4x4 are 2 of those. Since we'll be traveling North America for the first year we will probably stay with the AWD and have it converted when we leave.
Does the AWD Transit have a lockable center diff? Isn’t that a prerequisite for a locker?

This convo has strayed towards full sizes and vans, so this may not be relevant, but the OP originally saddled mid-sized trucks with ~2200lb payload. I think, for the US at least, that number’s closer to ~1000lbs payload. Which requires a lot of discipline for world travels…
No CDL which is my main gripe with the Transit, but with a rear locker would do ok. Probably will still have it converted to 4x4 before we leave the US though. Yes, ~1,700lbs is the highest payload you'll get in a true mid sized truck. 2,200lbs is the payload of a Land Cruiser troop carrier, which is about the most you can get in a "not full size truck" size. Which is still pretty restrictive if you're full time living and not just taking short trips.

Sent from my SM-G781U1 using Tapatalk
 

calicamper

Expedition Leader
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).
Except most of those Cab overs are pretty much zero survivors in any sort of road crash. Pretty sure modern US passenger crash ratings have some impact on the light and medium duty trucks in the US. I’d rather be in a modern Ford 550 than a VW delivery cab over truck.
 

OllieChristopher

Active member
Width and turning circle and length... and maybe height. These are what you care about. A full size 1/2 ton pickup is the same size as a 1 ton, so might as well get a 1 ton and have good payload. Vans are the same way... higher load ratings aren't any bigger.
Actually only the tape measure dimensions are the same. Payload capacity and weight of vehicle are a whole bunch different and ride will suffer if not loaded to capacity. 1/2 ton trucks have an excellent payload as long as it's not exceeded. It is very important to figure out what weight you plan on loading then size accordingly.
 

rruff

Explorer
I do want true 4x4, but actual off-road ability isn't as huge a concern. 90% of what we'll do will be doable by a 2wd, but I do want the ability to 'explore' something if it seems interesting.
Folks sometimes lose a bit of perspective. True 4x4 on a van (yes, Ive had a few) is very very seldom if ever needed given anything in your described parameters. The high COG not to mention physical size/proportions are the limiting factors.
Yes, people like to believe they can "explore" technical trails in their massive beast... if only they have 4x4 and lockers. Maneuverability, size, and weight disagree. How many chances do you want to take with your huge "house" anyway? Can you hike... or ride a bike instead to explore?

IME (it's kinda old, but extensive), if you want to get away from the masses, it's most important find beautiful spots that are unpopular. It's isn't actually that tough. Beautiful spots that *are* popular will still be overrun by more capable machines than your house. People might have to park their massive land yachts a few miles away, but they'll be there in their ATVs.

A real rear locker- like Detroit or selectable will get you 80%, then a winch will handle the balance.
You *need* very little. I was 13 years fulltime in a wee 2wd pickup with poor ground clearance, crappy tires, no locker, no low gears, and no recovery equipment except for a rope and a pump. It's shocking where I was able to go in that thing, so long as I wasn't shy about frame and underbody dents. o_O And I never once got stuck to where I needed help to get out. Air down....

But... to minimize drama (and dents!) in a 2wd vehicle, I'd recommend good ground clearance and tires, low gears, and a locker.

The problem with a stock Transit or similar van is the poor ground clearance. You can get 2" lifts, raise the rear shock mounts 2", and fit bigger tires... but it still won't do as well offroad as a good truck due to poor articulation and ground clearance, and smaller tires. I haven't looked into the aftermarket 4x4 options, but I know they are expensive.
 
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