Ford F-550 single-cab Mini RV navigates off-road treachery with aplomb
Modern six- and seven-figure all-terrain expedition campers tend to be "size is no object" creations – massive truck cabs with stretched cabins that live like a house. Just have a double-take at this crazy behemoth. After previously releasing an impressive expedition RV build that played by those exact rules (or lack thereof), Canada's Wilderness Vans has turned its attention to something smaller. Its new Grid Mini still relies on a heavy-duty Ford F-550 cab chassis but provides a smaller, nimbler platform for journeying farther to deep-forest and high-alpine wild campsites.
The thing that immediately caught our attention about the Grid Mini was its two-door F-550 cab. Even the rare North American (or Japanese) expedition vehicle based on a midsize truck tends to have a full crew cab or at least an extended cab with coach-style rear half doors. By contrast, the short, stubby F-550 single cab gives the Grid Mini a unique compacted look that reminds us a little of the Jeep Action Camper we covered way back when or even Toyota's more recent Chinook redux ... particularly when pictured against a sweeping backdrop.
The original full-size Wilderness Grid struck us as an all-terrain RV optimized for making base camp at the edge of a greater wilderness the travelers would be exploring via foot, pedal, paddle or other muscle-driven means. The Grid Mini, on the other hand, is meant to push a little bit farther into those wild spaces under motor power, giving adventurers more of a head start.
Wilderness Vans summed it up quite effectively when it announced the Mini on Facebook in October: "We'd like to introduce you to the Grid Mini, the full-size camper platform that actually lets you say, 'Yes, I can do that. Yes, I can get there. And yes, I did.'"
Whether that ultimately means bobbing across talus piles, mountain goating over high-alpine passes or squeezing around tight canyon corners will be up to the driver, but the Grid Mini will be ready to push the limits. The motorhome box itself has been shortened by over a foot to match the smaller truck chassis – Wilderness defines the Grid v Grid Mini cabin by the distance from the rear axle to the back of the cab, as pictured below.
The shortened motorhome cabin is just as obvious inside, where the Grid wet bathroom becomes the main casualty. The Mini instead uses a decentralized part-time bathroom split with a retractable shower with fabric curtain and floor pan and a pull-out portable toilet hidden below the dining bench.
The layout is otherwise much the same as the original Grid, albeit slightly smaller. It's a floor plan Wilderness calls the GM1 and it starts with a kitchen block located just inside the passenger-side motorhome door. The induction cooktop and rectangular sink are tied together with bamboo countertop. A 139-liter Vitrifrigo fridge with 16-L top freezer is located across the way, a microwave in the overhead shelving directly above.
The two-seat dinette is across the aisle on the driver's side, directly in front of the refrigerator wall. The convertible unit transforms into a single bed, combining with the double in the alcove to sleep a total of three people, matching the three available seats in the Ford single cab. A pass-through makes for seamless movement between that cab and the camper.
Wilderness' Victron Stage 4 electrical package starts with a 271-Ah 12-V lithium battery and also includes a 3,000-W inverter, 350 watts of solar charging, a 30-A shore power hookup and a Cerbo GX touchscreen monitoring system with Bluetooth connectivity. The rig also brings a Webasto gas heater, 68-L water tank and LED lighting.
Grid Mini pricing starts around CA$305,000 (approx. US$225K) but will vary according to layout, options, F-550 off-road upgrades and other variables. Buyers are responsible for supplying their own truck, so that price is just for the aluminum base motorhome with GM1 floor plan.
The launch model with the aforementioned specs and upgrades, plus an off-road-modified F-550 chassis, is currently advertised for sale on Wilderness' website for a price of CA$439,000 (US$323,500) – not exactly a "mini" figure but still lower than the full-size US$350,000 Grid price from February. The advertised Grid Mini is also built on a newer F-550 from MY2023.
Source: Wilderness Vans