Outdoors

In photos: Small, off-grid living in vans, on roofs and in trailers

TouRig's Terracamper Sprinter has a folding bed like the Vansports Camper, also a Terracamper-based conversion, but without the greater tuner-car, high-performance aesthetic
TouRig's Terracamper Sprinter has a folding bed like the Vansports Camper, also a Terracamper-based conversion, but without the greater tuner-car, high-performance aesthetic
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Our look at cool camper vans started before we even got to Overland Expo
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Our look at cool camper vans started before we even got to Overland Expo
We saw this van in Southwestern Colorado, on our way down to Flagstaff 
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We saw this van in Southwestern Colorado, on our way down to Flagstaff 
The best-looking roof-top tent of Overland Expo: the Eezi-Awn Stealth
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The best-looking roof-top tent of Overland Expo: the Eezi-Awn Stealth
The Stealth roof-top tent is designed to be popped open within minutes by a single person
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The Stealth roof-top tent is designed to be popped open within minutes by a single person
Eezi-Awn highlights its Series 2000 awning next to its new Stealth hardshell roof-top tent
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Eezi-Awn highlights its Series 2000 awning next to its new Stealth hardshell roof-top tent
The Eezi-Awn Stealth
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The Eezi-Awn Stealth
The Eezi-Awn Stealth has a listed weight of 220 lb (100 kg)
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The Eezi-Awn Stealth has a listed weight of 220 lb (100 kg)
The Eezi-Awn Stealth is designed to sleep two adults on its built-in quilted mattress
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The Eezi-Awn Stealth is designed to sleep two adults on its built-in quilted mattress
Another segment that showed some expansion at Overland Expo: pop-up/flip-out truck campers
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Another segment that showed some expansion at Overland Expo: pop-up/flip-out truck campers
The AT Overland Habitat can even be a trailer-top tent ... assuming your trailer is a trailerized pickup bed
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The AT Overland Habitat can even be a trailer-top tent ... assuming your trailer is a trailerized pickup bed
We looked at the Tacoma Habitat at last year's Overland Expo West; this year AT Overland shows Habitats on other trucks, like this Ram
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We looked at the Tacoma Habitat at last year's Overland Expo West; this year AT Overland shows Habitats on other trucks, like this Ram
AT Overland Habitat flip-out bed camper
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AT Overland Habitat flip-out bed camper
One of our favorite campers of 2014, the XVenture from Schutt Industries is now available in new XV-3 sizing
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One of our favorite campers of 2014, the XVenture from Schutt Industries is now available in new XV-3 sizing
The XV-3 is a smaller alternative to the XVenture XV-2
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The XV-3 is a smaller alternative to the XVenture XV-2
The Eezi-Awn Stealth features a matte-black powder-coated aluminum hard-shell case
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The Eezi-Awn Stealth features a matte-black powder-coated aluminum hard-shell case
We originally thought Roambuilt was a new brand specializing in full camper vans, but after speaking with reps at OX West, we were told it specializes in exterior components, leaving interior work to the customer or a few companies that they work with
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We originally thought Roambuilt was a new brand specializing in full camper vans, but after speaking with reps at OX West, we were told it specializes in exterior components, leaving interior work to the customer or a few companies that they work with
Roambuilt accessories make for a downright mean-looking Sprinter
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Roambuilt accessories make for a downright mean-looking Sprinter
Roambuilt's founder Cec Annett worked with a welder to build parts for his own van and received so many questions about them when he was traveling, he decided to build a company out of it
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Roambuilt's founder Cec Annett worked with a welder to build parts for his own van and received so many questions about them when he was traveling, he decided to build a company out of it
Roambuilt-accessorized Mercedes Sprinter
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Roambuilt-accessorized Mercedes Sprinter
Roambuilt-accessorized Mercedes Sprinter
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Roambuilt-accessorized Mercedes Sprinter
Roambuilt-accessorized Mercedes Sprinter
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Roambuilt-accessorized Mercedes Sprinter
The meanest camper van of Overland Expo
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The meanest camper van of Overland Expo
An engineer at Global Expedition Vehicles calls this van his personal toy. Some (big) kids have nicer toys than others
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An engineer at Global Expedition Vehicles calls this van his personal toy. Some (big) kids have nicer toys than others
A van big and burly enough to be worthy of a spot at Global Expedition Vehicles' booth
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A van big and burly enough to be worthy of a spot at Global Expedition Vehicles' booth
After revealing the new GZL at Overland Expo East last October, EarthCruiser shows additional sizes at Overland Expo West
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After revealing the new GZL at Overland Expo East last October, EarthCruiser shows additional sizes at Overland Expo West
Beyond the Tacoma: GZL 400 and 500 models expand EarthCruiser's pickup camper to larger trucks
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Beyond the Tacoma: GZL 400 and 500 models expand EarthCruiser's pickup camper to larger trucks
The GZL 300 is the size of the original GZL we looked at last year, designed for mid-size pickups like the Chevy Colorado, Nissan Frontier, Toyota Tacoma and Honda Ridgeline
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The GZL 300 is the size of the original GZL we looked at last year, designed for mid-size pickups like the Chevy Colorado, Nissan Frontier, Toyota Tacoma and Honda Ridgeline
The GZL 400 is sized for half-ton pickups like the Chevy Silverado, Nissan Titan and Toyota Tundra
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The GZL 400 is sized for half-ton pickups like the Chevy Silverado, Nissan Titan and Toyota Tundra
The GZL 400 interior has been more fully built out from the GZL we looked at last year
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The GZL 400 interior has been more fully built out from the GZL we looked at last year
A heater keeps the GZL 400 warm in the cold
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A heater keeps the GZL 400 warm in the cold
The GZL 400's kitchen faucet pulls out to work as a shower
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The GZL 400's kitchen faucet pulls out to work as a shower
The GZL 400 has under-seat storage in its convertible dinette
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The GZL 400 has under-seat storage in its convertible dinette
Treeline Outdoors offers roof tents compatible with Goal Zero solar systems
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Treeline Outdoors offers roof tents compatible with Goal Zero solar systems
Wilco Offroad shows a Toyota with mounted Treeline Outdoors roof-top tent
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Wilco Offroad shows a Toyota with mounted Treeline Outdoors roof-top tent
Patriot X2 trailer
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Patriot X2 trailer
Patriot's X2 off-road camping trailer starts at US$22,295
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Patriot's X2 off-road camping trailer starts at US$22,295
The growing overlanding market has led to a US influx of established brands from markets like Australia and South Africa. Patriot Campers is one of the latest examples
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The growing overlanding market has led to a US influx of established brands from markets like Australia and South Africa. Patriot Campers is one of the latest examples
No TH610 just yet, but Patriot is bringing some of its off-road trailer hardware stateside
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No TH610 just yet, but Patriot is bringing some of its off-road trailer hardware stateside
Patriot X2 trailer with Smarttek6 hot water heater
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Patriot X2 trailer with Smarttek6 hot water heater
Patriot's larger X1 camping trailer starts at US$33,990 for the base Tourer model and $38,390 for the fully optioned Grand Tourer
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Patriot's larger X1 camping trailer starts at US$33,990 for the base Tourer model and $38,390 for the fully optioned Grand Tourer
Patriot offers an optional BBQ swing-away on both the X2 and X1 trailers
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Patriot offers an optional BBQ swing-away on both the X2 and X1 trailers
That's one rugged ladder inside the Patriot X1 trailer
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That's one rugged ladder inside the Patriot X1 trailer
Patriot shows the X1 trailer at Overland Expo West 2017
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Patriot shows the X1 trailer at Overland Expo West 2017
Patriot shows the X1 trailer at Overland Expo West 2017
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Patriot shows the X1 trailer at Overland Expo West 2017
We saw a lot of rental trailer, camper van and expedition vehicle services this year, for those who don't want to buy and own
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We saw a lot of rental trailer, camper van and expedition vehicle services this year, for those who don't want to buy and own
Oregon's Adventure Wagon builds sports/camper vans to be modular rolling base camps supporting sports like snowboarding, mountain biking and surfing
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Oregon's Adventure Wagon builds sports/camper vans to be modular rolling base camps supporting sports like snowboarding, mountain biking and surfing
Adventure Wagon shows off one of its sporty van conversions at OX West 2017
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Adventure Wagon shows off one of its sporty van conversions at OX West 2017
The Tow Sport CW-19 is a light, minimalistic camping trailer that can be built up with options 
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The Tow Sport CW-19 is a light, minimalistic camping trailer that can be built up with options 
The Tow Sport CW-19 folds and slides into a cooking and dining area
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The Tow Sport CW-19 folds and slides into a cooking and dining area
With accessories, the CW-19 provides a private shower, organizes cooking gear, holds lanterns and garbage bags at camp, and hauls gear
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With accessories, the CW-19 provides a private shower, organizes cooking gear, holds lanterns and garbage bags at camp, and hauls gear
The Tow Sport CW-19 has a cargo box and a lid with tie-down rails
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The Tow Sport CW-19 has a cargo box and a lid with tie-down rails
Adventure Rentals trailer galley
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Adventure Rentals trailer galley
Colorado's Odin Designs is another roof-top tent manufacturer
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Colorado's Odin Designs is another roof-top tent manufacturer
Modular camping units from Germany's Terracamper are making their way into the US market on vans designed by TouRig and Sportsmobile
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Modular camping units from Germany's Terracamper are making their way into the US market on vans designed by TouRig and Sportsmobile
We recently looked at the Dogscamper, one of the models Terracamper is bringing to the US, and Terracamper's US partners showed off other Mercedes conversions at OX West 2017
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We recently looked at the Dogscamper, one of the models Terracamper is bringing to the US, and Terracamper's US partners showed off other Mercedes conversions at OX West 2017
Oregon Trail'R plays with compact teardrop styling with its off-road-ready DoDrop Alpha trailer
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Oregon Trail'R plays with compact teardrop styling with its off-road-ready DoDrop Alpha trailer
Inside Oregon Trail'R's DoDrop Alpha trailer
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Inside Oregon Trail'R's DoDrop Alpha trailer
Colorado's TouRig specializes in custom builds and is now starting to offer Terracamper-based Mercedes Sprinter and Metris conversions
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Colorado's TouRig specializes in custom builds and is now starting to offer Terracamper-based Mercedes Sprinter and Metris conversions
Terracamper brings its Vito package over to the US-market Mercedes Metris
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Terracamper brings its Vito package over to the US-market Mercedes Metris
Terracamper's kitchen faucet can secure to the side of the van with the suction mount and work as an outdoor shower
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Terracamper's kitchen faucet can secure to the side of the van with the suction mount and work as an outdoor shower
Terracamper's modules are designed to be removable so owners can use their camper as a regular van
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Terracamper's modules are designed to be removable so owners can use their camper as a regular van
A look at one of TouRig's custom vans
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A look at one of TouRig's custom vans
A look at one of TouRig's custom vans
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A look at one of TouRig's custom vans
TouRig Terracamper Sprinter
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TouRig Terracamper Sprinter
TouRig's Terracamper Sprinter has a folding bed like the Vansports Camper, also a Terracamper-based conversion, but without the greater tuner-car, high-performance aesthetic
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TouRig's Terracamper Sprinter has a folding bed like the Vansports Camper, also a Terracamper-based conversion, but without the greater tuner-car, high-performance aesthetic
Van Compass has fun with hammocks
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Van Compass has fun with hammocks
Tepui showcases the aluminized tent canopy that will be available for the Baja roof-top tent
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Tepui showcases the aluminized tent canopy that will be available for the Baja roof-top tent
Tepui said this aluminized canopy is still a prototype
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Tepui said this aluminized canopy is still a prototype
Tepui tents not only make cozy beachfront condos, they also make an impromptu stage
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Tepui tents not only make cozy beachfront condos, they also make an impromptu stage
Tepui's Zipper Gimp system makes it easy to change between fabrics - mesh for hot weather, nylon for moderate weather, aluminized fabric for cold weather
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Tepui's Zipper Gimp system makes it easy to change between fabrics - mesh for hot weather, nylon for moderate weather, aluminized fabric for cold weather
While we were at TouRig, the Terracamper guys drove the Metris camper away to Sportsmobile, where we came across it again on our way out
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While we were at TouRig, the Terracamper guys drove the Metris camper away to Sportsmobile, where we came across it again on our way out
Sportsmobile is Terracamper's other US conversion partner. It was hosting a dinner/concert, where the Terracamper Metris was on display
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Sportsmobile is Terracamper's other US conversion partner. It was hosting a dinner/concert, where the Terracamper Metris was on display
The Terracamper stove lays beneath a two-tier countertop lid
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The Terracamper stove lays beneath a two-tier countertop lid
Terracamper's kitchen includes indoor/outdoor hardware
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Terracamper's kitchen includes indoor/outdoor hardware
Terracamper fridge slide-out
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Terracamper fridge slide-out
Terracamper kitchen ready to prepare and cook food
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Terracamper kitchen ready to prepare and cook food
Sportsmobile shows the Terracamper-outfitted Metris at OX West 2017
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Sportsmobile shows the Terracamper-outfitted Metris at OX West 2017
Sportsmobile shows the Terracamper-outfitted Metris at OX West 2017
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Sportsmobile shows the Terracamper-outfitted Metris at OX West 2017
Sportsmobile shows the Terracamper-outfitted Metris at OX West 2017
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Sportsmobile shows the Terracamper-outfitted Metris at OX West 2017
Hot off a $2.4 million Kickstarter campaign, the iKamper Skycamp folds open at OX West 
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Hot off a $2.4 million Kickstarter campaign, the iKamper Skycamp folds open at OX West 
One of the more innovative new products in the roof-top tent market, the Skycamp combines the size of a fold-out tent with the hard packaging of a hard-shell model
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One of the more innovative new products in the roof-top tent market, the Skycamp combines the size of a fold-out tent with the hard packaging of a hard-shell model
iKamper at OX West 2017
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iKamper at OX West 2017
iKamper at OX West 2017
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iKamper at OX West 2017
Inside Geo Adventure Gear roof-top tent
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Inside Geo Adventure Gear roof-top tent
Geo Adventure Gear shows its neat-rolling cover and hanging boot/gear bag
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Geo Adventure Gear shows its neat-rolling cover and hanging boot/gear bag
Geo Adventure Gear is a Venezuelan brand with distribution in Miami
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Geo Adventure Gear is a Venezuelan brand with distribution in Miami
The interesting feature of Geo Adventure Gear's tents is the sliding air conditioner bracket designed to work with your typical window A/C unit. This is a common feature in Venezuela, but not at all common in the US market
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The interesting feature of Geo Adventure Gear's tents is the sliding air conditioner bracket designed to work with your typical window A/C unit. This is a common feature in Venezuela, but not at all common in the US market
Trail Tested trailers
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Trail Tested trailers
Van Compass offers off-road upgrades for vans like the Ford Transit and Mercedes Sprinter
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Van Compass offers off-road upgrades for vans like the Ford Transit and Mercedes Sprinter
Van Compass at OX West 2017
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Van Compass at OX West 2017
Roof rack giant Yakima shows its SkyRise roof-top tent
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Roof rack giant Yakima shows its SkyRise roof-top tent
Nomad Vanz shows off the stylish custom van it's named "Mud Men, the Betty Edition" a play on the well-known US TV show "Mad Men"
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Nomad Vanz shows off the stylish custom van it's named "Mud Men, the Betty Edition" a play on the well-known US TV show "Mad Men"
Nomad Mud Men 
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Nomad Mud Men 
A few signature touches of the Nomad Mud Men van include the teak shower grate and table and in house-upholstered plaid seats
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A few signature touches of the Nomad Mud Men van include the teak shower grate and table and in house-upholstered plaid seats
A look at the Mud Men's bed
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A look at the Mud Men's bed
In back, the Sprinter-based Mud Men features a three-bike garage with air compressor
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In back, the Sprinter-based Mud Men features a three-bike garage with air compressor
TouRig vans touching noses
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TouRig vans touching noses
We looked at the Hiker line of trailers last year, and this year, the company told us it's added a few improvements, including available air bag suspension
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We looked at the Hiker line of trailers last year, and this year, the company told us it's added a few improvements, including available air bag suspension
Hiker Trailer at OX West 2017
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Hiker Trailer at OX West 2017
A look at the Hiker's air suspension
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A look at the Hiker's air suspension
Hiker Trailer at OX West 2017
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Hiker Trailer at OX West 2017
A Hiker trailer neatly matched with the tow Jeep
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A Hiker trailer neatly matched with the tow Jeep
The Jeep and Hiker wheels match neatly, too
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The Jeep and Hiker wheels match neatly, too
Teardrops NW at OX West 2017
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Teardrops NW at OX West 2017
Oregon Trail'R's standard DoDrop trailer typically weighs in somewhere between 550 and 700 lb (250 and 318 kg), depending upon options
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Oregon Trail'R's standard DoDrop trailer typically weighs in somewhere between 550 and 700 lb (250 and 318 kg), depending upon options
Oregon Trail'R's DoDrop Alpha is a prototype version of its DoDrop covered in LineX BedLiner and including accessories like the RoadShower
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Oregon Trail'R's DoDrop Alpha is a prototype version of its DoDrop covered in LineX BedLiner and including accessories like the RoadShower
A different style of pickup camper, the Topper EZLift is an electric lifting system powered by the truck's 12 V battery
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A different style of pickup camper, the Topper EZLift is an electric lifting system powered by the truck's 12 V battery
The Topper EZLift makes room for large gear like dirt bikes and turns into a camper with the available camper packages
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The Topper EZLift makes room for large gear like dirt bikes and turns into a camper with the available camper packages
Anaconda: another Venezuelan roof-top tent brand with air conditioning hardware
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Anaconda: another Venezuelan roof-top tent brand with air conditioning hardware
KS Overland Evolution shows a mean Jeep with Anaconda roof-top tent
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KS Overland Evolution shows a mean Jeep with Anaconda roof-top tent
Smittybilt Scout trailer
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Smittybilt Scout trailer
Smittybilt Scout trailer
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Smittybilt Scout trailer
VW pop-top camper van
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VW pop-top camper van
We had to get a few more photos of this ultra-rugged camper van/expedition vehicle on Day 2
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We had to get a few more photos of this ultra-rugged camper van/expedition vehicle on Day 2
We had to get a few more photos of this ultra-rugged camper van/expedition vehicle on Day 2
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We had to get a few more photos of this ultra-rugged camper van/expedition vehicle on Day 2
Off The Grid Rentals ... another expedition trailer and equipment rental company
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Off The Grid Rentals ... another expedition trailer and equipment rental company
Well-used VW camper van
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Well-used VW camper van
Well-used VW camper van on show at OX West's special exhibition vehicles section
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Well-used VW camper van on show at OX West's special exhibition vehicles section
We've seen little Mitsubishis at Overland Expo before, but this Delica 4x4 expedition van was clearly the coolest
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We've seen little Mitsubishis at Overland Expo before, but this Delica 4x4 expedition van was clearly the coolest
The couple behind this van is currently undertaking a 3-year, six-continent trip in a Delica they've named "Vanda." They've set up the site greetingtheworld.com to discuss the journey
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The couple behind this van is currently undertaking a 3-year, six-continent trip in a Delica they've named "Vanda." They've set up the site greetingtheworld.com to discuss the journey
Patriot X1 trailer
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Patriot X1 trailer
Patriot X2 trailer
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Patriot X2 trailer
Patriot X1 trailer
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Patriot X1 trailer
Conqueror UEV-310
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Conqueror UEV-310
Conqueror is a South African brand bringing its rugged trailers over to the US, and we first checked them out at last year's Overland Expo East
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Conqueror is a South African brand bringing its rugged trailers over to the US, and we first checked them out at last year's Overland Expo East
XVenture XV-3 trailer
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XVenture XV-3 trailer
It's not a rugged off-road trailer, but the Aether Airstream PanAmerica still looks great in the parking lot
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It's not a rugged off-road trailer, but the Aether Airstream PanAmerica still looks great in the parking lot
Camper vans of OX West 2017
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Camper vans of OX West 2017

Vehicles like the EarthRoamer XV-LTS and other off-road, off-grid behemoths are among the big draws of Overland Expo West, but not everyone has the will or means for such a massive global wanderer – fun to gawk at, not necessarily relevant to your immediate or future travel plans. More practical are the legions of off-road trailers, camper vans and roof-top tents that pop up (often literally) at every corner of the show. This year's show had plenty of trailers and a broader field of camper vans and roof-top tents than we've seen in the past. These compact, mobile shelters will get you every bit as far off the grid as huge, diesel-truck-based expedition vehicles, but they'll keep size and pricing down.

Van life veers off road

The idea of leaving routine, 9-to-5 life behind to travel and live out of a van has captured the US imagination in the Van life movement that's been intensifying over the past few years. And why wouldn't those types of nomads, who carry an unquenchable thirst for adventure and new experiences, want to hang a left off the highway and rumble over rock and dirt toward less-explored corners of the world once in a while? Why wouldn't they want a 4x4 van, maybe a fully ruggedized adventure van with tons of aftermarket love?

If the increasing buzz around camper vans at this year's Overland Expo West is any indication, some of the rootless van-campers want just that. Ruggedized, 4WD camper vans have been a part of the OX show for as long as we've been attending, with brands like Sportsmobile highlighting how basic cargo and passenger vans can become go-anywhere adventure campers. This year, though, new brands and camper van designs seemed to be lurking down every aisle, and rental van services were also well represented.

Putting the off in off-road

Building a proper expedition camper van all starts with getting the right base van. The Mercedes Sprinter has fast risen in popularity due to the fact Mercedes opened up the 4x4 option to the US market starting with the 2015 model year. Van converters can now take delivery of a Sprinter 4x4 without having to equip it with an aftermarket 4WD solution, the way they have to do with other vans. With four powered wheels running the show, aftermarket brands can have fun doing what they like to do – dressing the Sprinter up in the kinds of ruggedized components you'd expect to find on a fully kitted 4x4 or truck.

Roambuilt-accessorized Mercedes Sprinter
Roambuilt-accessorized Mercedes Sprinter

Overland Expo hosted a number of off-road van component brands, but Roambuilt was one we had been waiting to check out for nearly a year, as it had been hosting a placeholder "coming soon" web page for at least that long. The actual full website launch keeps getting pushed back, and owner Cec Annett explained he's striving to get all his production ducks in a row before going fully live, ensuring that he's able to fulfill orders, not just take them.

Annett has every reason to expect that the orders will roll in, having started Roambuilt in response to the enthusiastic inquiries he was receiving while driving around in his own Sprinter, dressed up in components he self-designed with help from a local welder. Other people clearly shared his vision for van design, so he launched Roambuilt, tapping into the branding and product development experience he cultivated in a career that saw him co-found The Clymb outdoor gear discounter and work as an Adidas VP.

Roambuilt will offer a line of Sprinter accessories like ruggedized bumpers, skid plates, roof racks, ladders and more. Its Sprinters were definitely among the most rugged and memorable of the show, so we can see why would-be customers are anxiously awaiting the full launch.

Van living

We originally thought that Roambuilt was planning to do full camper conversions, but we learned it's focused solely on exterior components, leaving interior work up to the owner or a few interior conversion shops it's teamed with. We had a chance to tour the work of one of those partners, North Vancouver-based custom van shop Nomad Vanz (not to be confused with British VW van converter, Nomad Campervans). We looked at its Mud Men, the Betty Edition, a van combining nostalgic design inspired by the Mad Men era with a healthy love for modern-day mud and dirt.

Nomad Vanz shows off the stylish custom van it's named "Mud Men, the Betty Edition" a play on the well-known US TV show "Mad Men"
Nomad Vanz shows off the stylish custom van it's named "Mud Men, the Betty Edition" a play on the well-known US TV show "Mad Men"

The Mud Men's interior caught our attention immediately with the blue plaid of the VW tartan upholstery, glossy laminate furniture and surfy teak wood. A closer look revealed a kitchen with a cooktop piped to the diesel tank of the base Sprinter, a 200-watt solar panel-backed electrical system with lithium-ion storage, a Webasto heater, a cassette toilet, a rear platform bed, and a folding two-seat bench good for sleeping two kids.

Between the bed compartment wall and the rear double doors, a bicycle garage holds three bikes, a built-in air compressor, and the "ground control" system with plumbing, heating and electrical equipment. It's a van that challenges occupants to play hard before retiring to their cozy mobile abode.

Adventure in tow

Last year saw an explosion of new trailers at both Overland Expo West and East. Trailers didn't seem to have quite as dominating a presence at this month's show, but there were still some new faces around, including one of the latest overseas brands breaking into the US market, Australia's Patriot Campers.

Patriot X1 trailer
Patriot X1 trailer

Short of launching big toy-hauling campers like the TH610, Patriot brought two of its smaller staple models to the show, including the multi-award-winning X1. The X1's electrical and safety equipment has been reworked for the US, and the trailer has been certified to US standards. It rides on a galvanized interlocked chassis and utilizes a standard airbag suspension for on/off-road versatility and easy campsite leveling.

The X1 has a monocoque aluminum body and a variety of cabinets, drawers, slides and fold-outs, and standard and optional equipment includes a trailer-top tent, add-on kids' dual-bunk tent, slide-out kitchen, heat and hot water system, 150 W folding solar blanket, AGM or lithium-ion battery storage, Bluetooth stereo system, and generously sized awning fanning out over the kitchen side and rear. Prices start at US$33,990, and Patriot is also offering the smaller X2 starting at $22,295.

Patriot X2 trailer
Patriot X2 trailer

Bedding down in a pickup bed

Truck canopies and bed campers were popular in 2016, with models like the Tacoma Habitat and EarthCruiser GZL making debuts at Overland Expo. Both of those truck campers were shown in expanded lineups at OX West 2017, sized up for larger full-size pickup trucks. We also came across an entirely different breed of truck bed camper.

The Topper EZLift makes room for large gear like dirt bikes and turns into a camper with the available camper packages
The Topper EZLift makes room for large gear like dirt bikes and turns into a camper with the available camper packages

Combining the advantages of a truck topper, open pickup bed and pop-up camper, the Topper EZLift system lifts a pickup topper (sold separately) straight up with a push-button electrical system wired to the truck's 12 V battery. This allows for hauling oversized gear like ATVs and motorcycles without having to remove the topper completely and also creates space for camping, space the Minnesota-based company fills with its own line of fabric camper packages. Each package includes ventilated side windows, and insulation is available at extra cost. A Topper EZLift with camper package starts at $2,400, as currently advertised on the company's website.

Roughing it from penthouse level

iKamper at OX West 2017
iKamper at OX West 2017

Hot on the heels of our first roof-top tent camping excursion, we took in all kinds of new RTT names, models and designs at Overland Expo. Tepui showed the aluminized fabric designed to turn its Baja tent into a cold-weather shelter, and iKamper previewed its Skycamp expandable hard-shell tent for both general attendees and the early supporters who helped it raise $2.4 million on Kickstarter just months ago.

One roof-top tent that we hadn't previously seen in person, the Eezi-Awn Stealth (pictured below) has a design so slick we might even call it sexy, not an adjective we're used to using for roof-top tents. The tent's matte-black powder-coated aluminum body and sharp lines give it an almost aeronautical look, while total weight comes in at 220 lb (100 kg). The unique elevated shape of the roof is designed to add space for stored bedding. Salt Lake City-based Equipt Expedition Outfitters is South Africa-based Eezi-Awn's US distributor and sells the Stealth for $3,900.

The Eezi-Awn Stealth features a matte-black powder-coated aluminum hard-shell case
The Eezi-Awn Stealth features a matte-black powder-coated aluminum hard-shell case

In the coming days and weeks, we'll be looking at a few more standout camper vans, trailers, roof tents and pickup campers from OX West 2017. In the meantime, you can have a look at the accompanying photo gallery to see the entire field of products we checked out.

1 comment
Bob
Much of this off grid stuff can't even be considered practical.