Carbon-Kevlar Ram HD expedition RV smashes free from camper van shell
Since launching in 2019, Alabama's Storyteller Overland has been focused entirely on all-terrain camper vans, from the stealthy to the beastly. Now it's going in a different direction with the all-new Hilt, a heavy-duty camper truck optimized for pushing even farther and deeper off-grid. The burly new Hilt carries a family-size modern efficiency apartment atop a 6.7-liter diesel-powered Ram 5500, bringing a fully off-grid utility set for a comfortable stay anywhere in the world.
The launch of the Hilt truck follows Storyteller's acquisition of Global Expedition Vehicles (GXV) back in January 2022. At the time, Storyteller said its plan was to expand the company's 550 HD-series adventure truck line through higher-volume manufacturing in Alabama while GXV would continue building larger custom expedition rigs out of its Springfield, Missouri facility. The Hilt becomes the first production-ready Class C truck camper to emerge off that product map.
The 27-foot-long (8.2-m) Hilt evolves from the Adventure Truck lineup GXV introduced in 2019 and carries over some aesthetic DNA in the form of the prominent row of round auxiliary lights stretching across the front alcove. That feature dates back to the original non-alcove Adventure Truck, which wore a lighting-fronted rack over its cab. GXV later launched the XT alcove camper truck with more integrated front lighting, and the Hilt brings an even cleaner spin on the style with five KC HiLites across the width of the alcove, the front stretch of a 360-degree KC lighting array that extends around the entire edge of the roof.
There's not yet any mention of the Ford F-550 option offered on previous GXV Adventure Trucks, but the Hilt does follow the other half of the formula with a Ram 5500 base chassis. That truck brings a 360-hp Cummins 6.7-liter turbo-diesel under its high, wide hood, providing up to 800 lb-ft (1,085 Nm) of ground-grinding torque. A LiquidSpring smart hydraulic suspension analyzes driving conditions and inputs 1,000 times per second, automatically adjusting damping and ride height for the best performance. That suspension and the 41-inch multipurpose tires hugging beadlock wheels give the truck 10.5 inches (27 cm) of overall ground clearance (with up to 22 inches at the front).
Storyteller's living module features a composite construction made with a vacuum-infused resin process. Carbon and Kevlar reinforcements add strength and integrity, and 2-in (5-cm) closed cell foam provides fully insulated living inside. The module is attached to the 5500 chassis via a specially developed "Zero Torsion" subframe that isolates movement from the chassis to decrease stress on the motorhome.
The Hilt interior features a clean, neutrally colored rear-lounge floor plan. The lounge has a wraparound sofa to seat four to five people around the dining table at the center, converting into a 60 x 78-in (152 x 198-cm) bed at night.
Off-grid readiness is one of the Hilt's strong suits and begins with a 16.8-kWh lithium battery bank that distributes electrical power out across the motorhome with the help of two 3,000-W inverters. A 1,325-W solar charging system pulls solar energy in to charge the batteries, and a Mission Control color command screen makes it easy to monitor and switch the entire system.
The passenger-side kitchen makes liberal use of that electrical system via its dual-burner induction cooktop, 195-L fridge/freezer, stainless steel convection oven, microwave and air fryer. The sink is plumbed to a Guzzle H20 water purification system to ensure clean, potable water is always available.
The wet bathroom is conveniently located right below the alcove double bed. It includes a shower, flushable cassette toilet, sink, exhaust fan, mirror and storage. A retractable clothes line serves to dry wet clothing.
The Hilt carries 454 liters of fresh water and 189 liters of gray water. A 197-L diesel tank stockpiles plenty of fuel for long-range expeditions. A 10K-BTU hydronic heating system and 15K-BTU air conditioner provide all-season climate control at camp.
Storyteller introduced the Hilt on Monday at the Elkhart RV Open House in Indiana, where Westfalia also plans to sneak-peek its US return. It calls the truck a market disruptor and the first of its kind to be built at scale.
"Vehicles like this have historically been outrageously expensive, built to order, and complicated to buy," explains Jeffrey Hunter, Storyteller's CEO. “We wanted to solve for this by making it easier to own and lowering the barrier to entry without sacrificing a single bit of quality – instead actually elevating the quality and capability in the process."
Hunter's definition of "outrageously expensive" seems different than ours. The truck is launching at a "very limited introductory" price of US$398,786, and Storyteller makes clear that pricing will go up after the limited number of launch models sells out. That certainly sounds expensive to an outrageous degree to our ears, but we suppose this particular market brings a unique set of expectations.
The Hilt action video below isn't as informative as the typical camper walkthrough, but it's definitely more theatrical ... as out there as the truck is built to get. Storyteller starts the journey of digging deeper in this 18-min mini-documentary, part 1 of 3.
Source: Storyteller Overland