Having spent my entire life exploring the backcountry of Colorado, I have endured a multitude of challenges, but this trip had levied some particularly unique hardships. As we crested our last mountain pass of the week, I realized the wine cabinet had gone empty, the steaks were no more, and I had eaten the last of the cherry turnovers in the refrigerator. Compounding the seriousness of the situation, the remote control batteries for the surround sound system had died, and I conceded a sock was missing, probably at the back of the cedar-lined closet. It was about as bleak as it gets when traveling in an EarthRoamer, but we pressed on undaunted––We’re just that type of people.
Kidding aside, my typical camping forays often have me wrapped in thin layers of nylon and plopped in the dirt, my only luxuries little more than an inflatable pillow and maybe a flask of whiskey to soften edges. That should not imply that I’m a troglodyte or bereft of an appreciation for the finer things in life. So, when the offer was extended to take out the EarthRoamer demo truck for a week, I had to pinch myself. Who could turn down such an opportunity?
It all started a few months ago when I was given a tour of the EarthRoamer facility in Dacono, Colorado by company founder, Bill Swails. Those few short hours impressed upon me the passion behind these trucks and the extensive process under which each vehicle is fabricated. [To Build an EarthRoamer] I walked away from that day with an admiration for their efforts, but I still wasn’t entirely sure I understood what living and traveling in an EarthRoamer was all about. It seemed a bit…excessive. Now that I’ve spent a few days in an EarthRoamer I realize they truly are excessive––and I loved every minute of it.
An EarthRoamer is if anything, a superlative generator. Everything about it exudes the pursuit of refinement and capability. Expressly designed to provide the most comfortable accommodations perched atop a formidable off-road platform, it is a travel experience like none other.
Now, before I continue any further, and beating some of you to the comment box to interject, let me dispense with the obvious. These are not vehicles for everyone––no vehicle is. They are enormous, do not come cheaply, and you won’t be slipping through any tight off-road tracks or using one to take the kiddies to soccer practice. Everything in life demands compromise and this is true for an EarthRoamer. For what it is however, there isn’t likely an equal peer.
Standing in the shadow of one of these behemoths it is impossible to not be affected, maybe even intimidated by the sheer size of it. A Ford F-550 is not a small thing on its own, and the body does tower over it, but with proportions that fall well within the chassis constraints. Big as it is, it is the minute details that make an XV-LTs so exceptional.
With its wide track and long wheelbase, the XV-LTs feels stable and planted, even when the terrain gets interesting. The center of gravity is curiously low, reducing body roll and reinforcing driver confidence. What is even more reassuring is how poised it feels when navigating twisty mountain roads at normal speeds. To accomplish this, EarthRoamer employs a very thoughtfully designed air suspension system paired to custom valved King shocks. Augmenting the positive ride attributes are the Continental tires with their stout sidewalls capable of shouldering such a heavy vehicle.
Fuel and water
The outdoor galley
The living quarters
The two leather couches are extremely comfortable and with the flick of a switch can be electrically adjusted to afford the most comfortable seated position. Pushing the switches forward even more closes the gap between the two seated surfaces making for an additional sleeping quarters for two.
The main galley
With a tile backsplash, an induction cooktop, stainless steel sink, and a touch-sensitive faucet, the main galley is a culinarian’s dream come true. With a soap dispenser and separate faucet for filtered drinking water, cooking in the backcountry has never been so elevated. There is ample storage space for food stores and cooking tools and two additional wood prep surfaces can be accessed from behind the right side couch cushions. The convection oven is also a microwave to conserve space and the high volume refrigerator accommodates enough food and drink for more than a week’s travels. The real gem in the galley is the built-in coffee machine.
Nothing beats press-button coffee on a cold and early morning. Scrabble with a glass of Bourdeau at 10,000 feet in the Rockies was a nice alternative to our usual tent camp. Knowing it was 27 miles up a dirt road made it all the better.
The cedar closet is a nice touch. The head includes a sink, shower, and mirror. The touch-sensitive faucet produces hot water on demand, and it is hot, not just a warmed attempt at hot water.
I’ll be the first to admit, I didn’t particularly see a need for a full assortment of entertainment goodies, but for those on protracted travels, these are not unworthy additions. With full satellite connectivity, the XV-LTs has WiFi, Direct TV, and a full compliment of surround sound speakers paired to a swing-out HD TV that is, because why not, 3D. The various Bose speakers produce excellent sound quality and are built into the interior walls.
With every electronic feature afforded the most finely appointed brick and mortar homes, the XV-LTs defies the wheels beneath it.
It genuinely took a full week with the XV-LTs to completely comprehend its seemingly endless bells and whistles. Bill and his team have done an incredible job of addressing every possible travel scenario and providing the solutions needed to make this vehicle the proverbial ready for everything platform. From the twin compressor outlets on either side of the truck to the winch used to lower the full size spare, nothing was overlooked and proves their team not only builds the product, but uses it extensively. In speaking with Annie, their sales manager, and Spencer, their service manager, they take every opportunity to put their trucks to use. From these real world trials, they learn how to make their offerings better, more capable, and ultimately more livable.
(Clockwise) Every time you open a door, the retractable steps deploy. The dual compressed air ports are positioned mid-ship for convenient access. The cassette toilet repository is easily accessed on the left side of the truck and can be emptied in any standard flush-toilet. No more searching for sewage treatment facilities. The front windows not only allow for added light, they import fresh air for comfortable slumber.
The main entry stairs retract automatically when the primary entry door is opened, and retract when closed.
The off-road performance
This is the attribute of the XV-LTs that some overlanders, mostly crotchety nay-sayers, will want to dispute. In doing so they will only expose their own bias against this impressive vehicle. An EarthRoamer will conquer more terrain than anyone would dare believe possible. The wheel articulation is better than expected, the traction is almost bizarre in its effectiveness, and the turning radius is impossible to comprehend. However, it is a large vehicle and there is an obvious compromise made when you bolt a refined apartment to the back of a big pickup. This is obviously not a rock crawler. It is a travel platform designed to best the terrain befitting of its design purpose. On our trip we plowed through drifts of snow as high as the door sills, with nary a moment’s hesitation by the truck. Try that with your Winnebago.
The EarthRoamer XV-LTs is not for everyone, but for those who are looking for the apogee of travel comfort and off-road performance you need look no further. More road worthy than many RVs, more off-road capable than some vehicles built for that end use, the EarthRoamer is for lack of a better word––astounding. We have heard tales of these trucks traversing some of Colorado’s rugged trails like Taylor Pass and reaching the far ends of the globe. There are certainly better vehicles in the dirt and RVs with more opulence, but few if any combine the two attributes as well as an EarthRoamer.
I will forever be changed by our week in the XV-LTs. The next time I go camping and prostrate myself in the dirt for a long night’s nap, I will dream of fresh brewed coffee, a steak on a gas grill, and wine plucked from a padded shelf. If I’m lucky, maybe Bill will give us another go in their next demo truck. Until then, I’ll have to content myself with walls of nylon.