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

ExpoMike

Well-known member
Something I think a few are overlooking, especially given this will be full time living is, this is a couple, i.e. two people living out of the rig. Finding a rig that works for one person is much easier than finding one that works for two or more. If I was building my rig for just me, I would be doing things much different (and likely a different rig) then building something for my wife and I. You need to account for the wants, needs and comfort of the other person which will result in making compromises in the overall design and type of vehicle.

If money was not an issue, for me, my first choice would likely be an Earth Cruiser. They are not much bigger footprint of a full size truck but give you a lot of living space. In the realm of more realist price, likely a full sized truck (standard cab, long bed) with a flat bed conversion and a FWC Grandby flat bed model camper. Both of these would be great for two people, for full time living.
 

OllieChristopher

Active member
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?



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.
Very well said rruff. The OP and his wife have a lot to think about. There is always going to be some kind of compromise. If you have a rig like Joe917 you are going to travel in very luxurious comfort with some decent capability on mellow 2 track. OTOH if you are looking to really get off the beaten path then any of those huge beasts are a no joy.

Just my little part of the world here in California a big heavy rig would be unable to travel in most of the harder desert and mountain two track. And definitely could not make it cross country over the open desert unless they had a chase vehicle along. The terrain is too unpredictable and getting stuck is a real possibility. Death Valley is a good example. Even with warning signs and the weather knowledge rigs are alway getting buried and rolling over in seemingly easy two track.

With a lighter rig the possibilities of true hard core off road travel are opened up immensely. Then the comfort is going to suffer.


If money was not an issue, for me, my first choice would likely be an Earth Cruiser. They are not much bigger footprint of a full size truck but give you a lot of living space. In the realm of more realist price, likely a full sized truck (standard cab, long bed) with a flat bed conversion and a FWC Grandby flat bed model camper. Both of these would be great for two people, for full time living.
Again it will be a compromise. FWIW I have always had lightweight 2WD trucks and have got into some pretty gnarly situations and been able to unstick myself. And my off road driving experience is very limited on 4 wheels.
 

ExpoMike

Well-known member
Again it will be a compromise. FWIW I have always had lightweight 2WD trucks and have got into some pretty gnarly situations and been able to unstick myself. And my off road driving experience is very limited on 4 wheels.
True, I used to wheel a Baja Bug so light 2WD vehicles can work well. At the same time, trying to live full time, for two people, lightweight will mean low capacity and that might be hard to find something to fit. For me, most of my offroad/camp rigs are 4WD even though I might use 4WD 15-20% of the time in the dirt. What I find is I use it for times I don't want to risk damaging the trail. Sure I have had many hills I could have climbed in 2WD but it runs a bigger risk I might be spinning a tire or two. This just tears up the trail. Since I am very pro "Tread Lightly", I will throw it into 4WD, which most of the time it will prevent any wheel spin or greatly minimize it. IMHO 4WD isn't about "rock crawling" but trail preservation. Since we typically go solo and are not going to have anyone to help us, I judge where I go based on the risk of getting stuck and/or getting unstuck. It isn't always about what drive mode I am using.
 

Metcalf

Expedition Leader
One of the more impressive smaller campers I have seen lately...


It is in that spot between living 'around' vs 'in' the vehicle for longer distance and duration travel, but overall a great balance.
The owners have put some time in it and shows with the details in packing, organization, and layout.

Something like this could be built on most any pickup, including a regular cab USA version, without having to completely ignore the GVW rating.
For me, I would love to see a hard side pop up version of something this size with an inside cooking option.
 

Todd n Natalie

Observer
True, I used to wheel a Baja Bug so light 2WD vehicles can work well. At the same time, trying to live full time, for two people, lightweight will mean low capacity and that might be hard to find something to fit. For me, most of my offroad/camp rigs are 4WD even though I might use 4WD 15-20% of the time in the dirt. What I find is I use it for times I don't want to risk damaging the trail. Sure I have had many hills I could have climbed in 2WD but it runs a bigger risk I might be spinning a tire or two. This just tears up the trail. Since I am very pro "Tread Lightly", I will throw it into 4WD, which most of the time it will prevent any wheel spin or greatly minimize it. IMHO 4WD isn't about "rock crawling" but trail preservation. Since we typically go solo and are not going to have anyone to help us, I judge where I go based on the risk of getting stuck and/or getting unstuck. It isn't always about what drive mode I am using.
Yep, it really comes down to where you want to go. Staying in North America? Want comfort for two but still want to explore? There is always this route:

 
Somehow didn’t see those on Gibb River Rd, or road to Karajini (Rudall River) NP.
But magically amazingly made it in vehicle 20hp/ton. With flushing porcelain toilet, kitchen sink, shower, etc.
 
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beanmachine

New member
I appreciate all the comments and we've narrowed in on a style of vehicle we'll be going with, but not 1 particular model yet. Still tons of research to do.

We do plan on making this fully capable of round the world travel and we will be living in this full time. So right now we've pretty much written off a North American pickup truck as you have a similar wheelbase as a van/cabover with about 2/3 the livable space.

Right now the Transit is looking pretty decent as long as we feel comfortable about being able to be repaired outside the US. This is my main concern as I don't see the 3.5 V6 being used much elsewhere, but I haven't done much research.

About 4x4. Yes, I know that you don't need 4x4 to get many places, I also know I'm not going to be "exploring" in a large van/truck, but I've been in many situations where it's so much easier to just flip it into 4x4 and drive up the hill instead of fighting to get up there in 2WD. It's a comfort item that I will not be giving up. Just like an indoor shower. We could easily stay in a smaller vehicle, but both of us want to be able to shower as we see fit, and we're willing to spend the extra money to make that possible. If this pushes us into a big truck and we have to walk/bike/cab to places that's a sacrifice we'll make for some personal comfort.

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rruff

Explorer
We could easily stay in a smaller vehicle, but both of us want to be able to shower as we see fit, and we're willing to spend the extra money to make that possible. If this pushes us into a big truck and we have to walk/bike/cab to places that's a sacrifice we'll make for some personal comfort.
Any ideas how much water you'll need to carry to "shower as you see fit"? It can vary a lot depending on the person...

From what I've been able to gather (not an extensive search), the Transits everywhere but NA have little diesel engines... and the 3.5L turbo isn't used outside NA in anything.
 

beanmachine

New member
Any ideas how much water you'll need to carry to "shower as you see fit"? It can vary a lot depending on the person...

From what I've been able to gather (not an extensive search), the Transits everywhere but NA have little diesel engines... and the 3.5L turbo isn't used outside NA in anything.
We're looking to be independent for about a week at a time so less than 50 gallons would get us, but we haven't settled on exactly what we'll need as we need to do some more testing.

This is what I've seen as well, I haven't found the 3.5 anywhere, it's all been a 2.0l diesel. I have no desire for the turbo motor. We'll be in no hurry to get anywhere and plan on just moseying around.

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rruff

Explorer
I'd highly recommend the chassis-cab or cutaway if you go that route. https://shop.ford.com/build/transit...L.20C.CC.LRL.AWD.998.CS3.~YZKAA.X4L.44U.CTL.]

Saves >$10k vs the highroof, even the SRW has a bit longer wheelbase option (156" vs 148"), and you can put a better box on for good insulation and more room. Should give you decent payload... Victorian estimated 5200lbs before the box was installed for his 2wd, ~4000lbs after: https://expeditionportal.com/forum/threads/ford-transit-cab-chassis-with-composite-camper.209666/

When you say 4x4 do you mean an aftermarket system or the factory AWD?
 

Martinjmpr

Wiffleball Batter
WRT showering, you really don't need that much. You're not going to be taking a 15-minute "Calgon Take Me Away" shower on the road. More like a "Navy shower", I.e: Turn on water, wet yourself, turn off. Grab soap, shampoo and apply quickly. Then turn water on to rinse for maybe 30 - 45 seconds. That's your shower. Shouldn't use more than maybe a couple of gallons, if that.

And honestly, if you have a tiny "wet bath" like many RVs do, it's kind of a PITA anyway so you might find yourself just doing a quick "whore's bath" as we used to call it in the Army: Strip to whatever level you feel comfortable, quickly wash with a washcloth and soapy water, and then dry off. Not as nice as a hotel shower but it's quick and will get you through a couple of days.

My wife hates the wet bath in our travel trailer so that's normally what she does on longer camping trips.

In the US, at least, you can almost always find a public swimming pool or "recreation center" in a decent sized town. $5.00 or so will get you a day pass that you can use for a REAL shower. Doesn't even have to be a big town, they have one in Pinedale, WY which is tiny.

In Mexico or South America, for a few bucks you can likely get a hotel room for a night that will include a shower - might be a "communal" shower, but it's still a real shower.

So I wouldn't get too wrapped up about having a shower.
 

beanmachine314

New member
I'd highly recommend the chassis-cab or cutaway if you go that route. https://shop.ford.com/build/transitchassis/#/select/Config[|Ford|Transit Chassis|2021|1|1.|501A.W7P.156....XL.20C.CC.LRL.AWD.998.CS3.~YZKAA.X4L.44U.CTL.]

Saves >$10k vs the highroof, even the SRW has a bit longer wheelbase option (156" vs 148"), and you can put a better box on for good insulation and more room. Should give you decent payload... Victorian estimated 5200lbs before the box was installed for his 2wd, ~4000lbs after: https://expeditionportal.com/forum/threads/ford-transit-cab-chassis-with-composite-camper.209666/

When you say 4x4 do you mean an aftermarket system or the factory AWD?
I looked into the chassis-cab first and it's about $2k less than the van body. Plus, I like just having to do the interior rather than build the camper box as well. Insulation isn't terribly high on our list right now as we plan on chasing the decent weather where we can and want to have a pop top to keep overall height as low as we can while still giving us the entire "bottom floor" as living area instead of having a bed constantly taking up space.

By 4x4 I mean actual 4x4 with low range. If we go this route I'll probably stay AWD until we decide to leave the US then have it converted.

WRT showering, you really don't need that much. You're not going to be taking a 15-minute "Calgon Take Me Away" shower on the road. More like a "Navy shower", I.e: Turn on water, wet yourself, turn off. Grab soap, shampoo and apply quickly. Then turn water on to rinse for maybe 30 - 45 seconds. That's your shower. Shouldn't use more than maybe a couple of gallons, if that.

And honestly, if you have a tiny "wet bath" like many RVs do, it's kind of a PITA anyway so you might find yourself just doing a quick "whore's bath" as we used to call it in the Army: Strip to whatever level you feel comfortable, quickly wash with a washcloth and soapy water, and then dry off. Not as nice as a hotel shower but it's quick and will get you through a couple of days.

My wife hates the wet bath in our travel trailer so that's normally what she does on longer camping trips.

In the US, at least, you can almost always find a public swimming pool or "recreation center" in a decent sized town. $5.00 or so will get you a day pass that you can use for a REAL shower. Doesn't even have to be a big town, they have one in Pinedale, WY which is tiny.

In Mexico or South America, for a few bucks you can likely get a hotel room for a night that will include a shower - might be a "communal" shower, but it's still a real shower.

So I wouldn't get too wrapped up about having a shower.
You're absolutely right, 50 gallons is just a quick "overguesstimation" using 1g for shower, 1g to drink, and 1g for hand/dish washing per person, so 7x6 = 48g rounded up to 50g. We typically go through <5 gal of water on a 3 day trip currently so 20-25g would likely get us a week just fine. I want to do some testing though before settling into that number as weekend camping and full time living is a bit different, obviously.
 

ChasingOurTrunks

Well-known member
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.
I don't disagree with your point, but to add a bit of context to the choice between full or midsize trucks: 1/2 ton trucks have a better payload than mid-size, but it's not that much better when all is considered. I've shared this example before but I have both a full size truck and a mid size truck. The full size truck only offers about 350 lbs more payload than my midsize truck. However, it's about a thousand pounds heavier overall, and the footprint is much bigger, so the scant advantage of 350 lbs in payload is quickly washed away by the disadvantages of the size in other respects. Fuel economy is about the same, so that's a wash. If I were to go for a full size truck, I would go for one of the HD offerings because if my needs could be met with the half-ton, odds are with minimal sacrifice I can make them work just as well in the mid-size and not have to worry about the disadvantages.

Your overall point is spot on though and I totally agree with you -- one has to figure out what weight they plan on first, and then size accordingly; which brings me to my next point for the OP as figuring out those weights is an important step. And there are needs beyond weight to consider too -- there may be other advantages to the 1500 series trucks for some users that don't apply to me (for example, cab space is not high on my priority list, but it's immensely better in the full size as compared to the mid-size which might make the 1500 series more attractive for others).

(I should also mention that not all 1500-series are the same; I've learned from users of this forum that Ford has a high payload option which is definitely an exception to the above observation).


We're looking to be independent for about a week at a time so less than 50 gallons would get us, but we haven't settled on exactly what we'll need as we need to do some more testing.

This is what I've seen as well, I haven't found the 3.5 anywhere, it's all been a 2.0l diesel. I have no desire for the turbo motor. We'll be in no hurry to get anywhere and plan on just moseying around.

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I emphasized the "Testing" above because that's exactly what I was going to suggest. From personal experience, I have travelled around the world out of a backpack. I had all my stuff that I thought I needed to meet my needs. About a month in, there was a large box of "essentials" on it's way to my parents house -- there was a ton of stuff I just didn't need after all. My first time doing any adventure travel on a motorbike was the same; I had a ton of stuff I didn't really need or use and left behind more and more as I travelled more frequently. And, our approach to our 4x4 touring has the same pattern.

When we finally settled on a mid-size for our needs, we did so because we wanted the maximum payload available (at the time) in a mid-size footprint because of exactly what you've described -- we don't want to limit where we can go, and a North American "Mid size" is a "normal sized" vehicle pretty much everywhere else in the world. We were coming from a Jeep, so we had our system pretty dialled in, but we went through a huge process just to make sure we were making the right call because in reality we actually wanted to keep our jeep, but that would mean fitting an 850lbs payload. We already knew what our "essentials" were because we had travelled so much -- if you don't have that figured out yet, as my story above illustrates, I'd test the heck out of your systems on longer trips and figure out what's a "must have" versus a "nice to have". I also suggest ranking according to flexibility -- what are you least willing to compromise on? And what are you most willing to compromise on? That's a slightly different lens than "must" and "nice" that can help with deciding what you actually bring with you.

Anyway, once we had our system dialled in and knew exactly what we needed for long-term living, we busted out the scale and weighed everything we intended to bring with us. I mean everything, right down to the toothbrushes. We then researched lighter alternatives -- again, for everything, including considering titanium cutlery; grams and ounces add up fast. Some stuff was obvious -- swapping a metal winch line for synthetic for instance (Still TBD for us, but it's on the list!). Other stuff was a bit more of a cost benefit analysis -- is it worth spending hundreds on a titanium fork to save 3 grams? Not for us. You might find that if you do a similar exercise with your "must have" items, you will similarly be able to shave a fair bit of weight by looking to alternatives, which might help you get into a payload range of a vehicle with the footprint you desire.

There are also other compromises you can explore - when you are away from civilization for over a week, are you also far away from water? In our case, we like to shower daily, cook and clean as you've described, and all we use is a 5 gallon jerry can. But we make due for several weeks at a time just fine because invariably, we encounter water somewhere in a day and can refill (and have a pump and filter system that allows us to do so easily and safely from virtually anywhere). We had to do that because we didn't have the payload for extra water storage. When we are going to places where water is less available (i.e. arid climates), we acquire some extra water just for those times and accept that we'll be a bit heavy, but for the majority of our trips we are able to resupply more often and avoid the weight penalty.

And finally -- there's a vehicle that checks literally ALL my boxes and will likely be the next overland rig for me, and it might be for you too as there's currently nothing quite like it on the market except maybe the LC Troopy. The Ineos Grenadier is promising the "Mid-size" footprint with a 2000 lbs payload; if they deliver on this promise it will have a lot going for it as an overloading rig and so if your purchase timeline is next year, you might want to look into it (they are slated to be up for pre-orders at the end of this year, I think).
 
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