There are a lot of amazing conversion vans on the market, from off-the-shelf builds by well-known brands like Winnebago to custom Sprinters that can sleep a family or stay off the grid for weeks. The only downside is that even the most tricked out rig will likely be limited to its current continent thanks to expensive export fees and regulations. But what if you want to take your camper on an international adventure? Love campers and trailers? Come join our new community group.
Oregon-based EarthCruiser solves this problem by building expedition vehicles designed for world travel. Founded in 2008 by Lance Gillies, EarthCruiser grew out of Gillies’ experience in the Australian backcountry and his desire to travel long distances over difficult terrain—think sand dunes, swamps, and the like. Gillies brought the company stateside in 2013 and has since produced adventure campers that can go anywhere.
EarthCruiser’s flagship model, the EXP is built on the reliable Mitsubishi Fuso 4x4 chassis and fits into a standard shipping container. This means (drumroll, please) that the EarthCruiser EXP can go anywhere in the world; all you have to do is load it into the container and then fly yourself to pick up your camper at your destination. Unlike some other builds, EarthCruisers have gone on some serious trips, including a 16,000 mile trek across Russia and Mongolia.
In order to survive off the grid and on tough trails, the EXP features a kinetic subframe mounting system, good ground clearance, heavy duty bumpers and shock absorbers, multi-pack leaf spring suspension in both the front and the rear, and off-road tires. An extended range fuel tank helps you get where you want to go, and high-efficiency, impact-resistant solar panels flush mounted to the roof work with a Pure sine power inverter to keep you charged.
You enter the camper thanks to electrically operated stairs and once inside, a pop-up roof deploys at the push of a button to provide more head space. A queen-size bed provides sleeping space for two, and creature comforts like an air and water heater and recessed ceiling fans make the camper feel like home. The kitchen includes a swing-away dinette table that converts to a second bed, a 4.34 cubic feet refrigerator, a ceramic cooktop, and a dual sink. And since it can be hard to find water on the go, a water-purification system allows you to draw safe drinking water from any source, including a well, stream, creek bed, or lake.
A cassette toilet slides away when not in use, and an external shower helps you to stay clean. Other perks include a reversing camera, exterior awning for shade, and LED lights both in the interior and as exterior flood lights. The design of each EXP is set to optimize space and storage; this isn’t a bespoke build that you can customize a ton. But there are some optional upgrades, including a microwave, additional solar panels, a front and rear recovery winch, and a lithium house battery system.
With prices starting at $290,000, the EarthCruiser EXP is a compact, well-designed rig that we were lucky enough to tour at the Overland West Expo in Flagstaff, Arizona. There are bigger and more expensive designs out there—like the $1.5 million EarthRoamer XV-HD—but the fact that an EarthCruiser can fit in a standard parking spot makes it especially appealing. Add for those who dream of van life overseas, the EarthCruiser becomes a downright covetable camper, even if it’s out of reach financially for most.