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Any Advice on best 4x4 RV for off-road Boondocking?


TotalBalance
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Hi all, I'm a passionate novice to Boondocking and new to this group.
Could any of you offer advice/help on the best type of motorhome I should buy for cross-country, 100% off-grid, Boondock traveling?
I've done a good amount of research but I'm having trouble putting all the "pieces" together to make the best-informed decision possible for what motorhome, preferably used, I should be looking to buy.
Here's what I've put together so far in an attempt to meet my needs.

Goal: Easily boondock cross-country and into the mountains in my motorhome.
Budget: Maximum, all-inclusive cost - $100,000
Requirements:
Class C Motor Home (This seems the best class for my needs, let me know if otherwise!)

  • Maximum length to still allow for city street parking
  • Sleeps a minimum 2 people, preferably 4
  • Heavy duty 4x4 transmission to handle off-road driving up into the mountains
  • Motor Home Design: Easily provide 100% off-grid capability e.g. easy to add solar, water collection/distillation, efficient system for disposal of grey & dark water waste, etc.

So, does such a motorhome exist or will I have to have one custom built that will probably put me way over budget?
From my research, here are two motorhomes that appear to accomplish what I'm looking for, but it's over my budget e.g. $125,00 - $150,000. Is there any mainstream make & model out there that offers similar features compared to these custom build?
2018 Unity FX
https://leisurevans.com/serenity/videos/?video=serenity-video
2018 Pleasure-Way Plateau XLTS Tour
http://pleasureway.com/the-plateau-xlts/

Thanks in advance for any help on my quest to find the best, affordable, motorhome for this 61-year-old "wannabe" full-time boondocker ?

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Welcome to the forum!

It really depends on what you mean by "boondocking", how self sufficient you want to be (ie., how many consecutive days away from "services") and areas and types of terrain you plan to spend the majority of your time... among others, ie., traveling solo or not.

There really is no "perfect" rig that will suit all roles without compromise so it's important to have a clear idea in mind as to where your priorities will lie.

For instances, in the most general terms [*see caveat]:

A class C would be more suitable as a "get around towner", RV parks with regular dry camping overnight thrown in and a couple 3 or 4 day "light" boondocking trips on occassion. They have fairly small on-board tanks, low ground clearance and low cargo capacities (which is also something to consider if you plan to full time)... among other things. Expanding your capabilities a bit would be to include a towed vehicle into the mix. That would allow you more freedom to explore off the beaten track, but you'll still have to RTH (return to home) daily.

With a tow vehicle and 5th wheel your options open up a bit more. Not really "in-town friendly", but you can always park, disconnect, and your TV (tow vehicle) is now a city street machine. Large tanks, higher cargo capacities, ample/convenient storage spaces and a 4X4 TV (if you desire) would likely expand your boondocking capabilities... however... they're also heavy and require higher clearances. That can be a problem in some areas. As with a class A or C, a towed vehicle is an option. 

IMO, there is a reason 5th wheels are so popular. They "straddle the fence" quite nicely between being a great RV camp rig as well as more self suffient for longer periods of time while dry camping/light boondocking. Floor plans, sizes, price/quality options and being highly modifiable... they are a "very" attractive option that open up a lot of possibilities.

The main con for boondocking is their weight, clearance requirements (both ground and upper) and length (turning radius).

To be fair, those factors may not be an issue and depends on where you travel. Ie., if you spend your time in the South on mainly (what I would call) flat lands, they are likely to not have as much impact as in the Rockies, Cascades, etc..

This seems like an appropriate place to mention truck campers. Great in town, great in RV parks, more remote locales and 4X4... not (typically) a problem. Ground clearance... nice! The down side? "Very" small holding tanks, "very" low cargo capacities and limited storage space. The center of gravity is quite high so tipping can be an issue on undeveloped roads and weight is also quite concentrated so soft soil, mud, etc. can present some pretty hairy situations.

TV and TT (travel trailer). For more serious boondocking it offers a nice blend of the above, IMHO. [Just to be aware... it's my current tow package of choice so I am likely bias. Take the following with a grain of salt ;-)]

Cargo capacities can rival 5'ers, larger holding tanks than a class C or TC, low clearance requirements, tighter turn radius than a 5'er, better weight distribution and lower center of gravity on soft or uneven terrain than a TC, highly modifiable, better in town than a 5er and disconnecting is an option. TV options are broad.

Cons? Storage space can be inconvenient (truck bed) and decent tire options are limited. Compromises in floor plans against structural concerns is highly likely if your intent is mainly boondocking. It can be a challenge to find a TT that will "tick" all of the boxes for a decent boondocking rig. After purchase modifications are likely to mandatory, however, they typically cost much less than a 5'er so... there's your "mod budget".

*"The" caveat: All the above are used in degrees in every capacity mentioned, successfully, and their owners are perfectly content. All have limitations, compromises and there is no "one size fits all". These are my own generalized opinions, only.

Circling back to your original question... you may be perfectly happy in a class C travelling regularly, primarily on improved roads, ready access to take on water, dump tanks, plug in and don't plan on venturing too far off the beaten path for lengthy periods of time. There's no shortage of dry camping spaces accessible in a class C.

Edited by Yarome
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Ground clearance and grey tank capacity would be your main concern.

Any RV can travel down a good gravel road. With our 40' motorhome we traveled many miles on forest service land and BLM lands.  You certainly won't be doing any big rock hopping.  You can scout out the road by using a satellite map view. If you're still not sure and you are towing a car, disconnect the car and do a trial run before bringing the RV.

Fresh water you can always haul in extra jugs. The black tank seems to last longer than the grey tank. There are ways to cut down on your grey water with short showers (turning the water on and off) and not doing dishes every day. Wipe them off with a used paper towel/napkin and there won't be any smells.  When doing dishes you can dump the dishwater down the toilet for extra space. Turn your water pump off when flushing the toilet and use the dishwater instead.  You can grill outdoors and use paper plates to save on dirty dishes.  We didn't dump grey water at our campsite.

Boondocking can easily be done.  With our tank capacity we could last 10-14 days. By that time we were ready to move on anyway so we'd leave, find a dump station, load with fresh water again and move on.  We loved it!

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WOW, what a great forum! I'm sooo impressed by the community's knowledge. Thanks soo much!

Yarom and 2gypsies thank you for your very informative and helpful replies. I'm truly grateful for how much time you must have spent to help me learn and narrow down what might work best for my "retirement" lifestyle. To help fill in the gaps for why I need what I need here are some more details.

  • My business lifestyle is one of online ventures, writer, and advisor to charitable organizations. All from the comfort of my home :DPublic Profile.
  • My Finances: I just sold my existing online businesses. Now, I have $200,000 to begin this journey. I've budgeted $100,000 for the RV and $100,000 to bootstrap some more online businesses (I do have to survive after all ROFLB) If I spend more on the RV there's less to invest and it'll take longer to flip the online venture for the intended ROI. Spend less on the RV, just the opposite.
  • Intended uses: Besides living and working in it full-time, I'd like to go cross-country, exploring all the way, while still running my businesses.

Based on the above and what I've learned from all your replies, I'm thinking the requirements should be what's below, tell me if you think otherwise:
* An RV I can both work and live in full-time, whether driving cross-country, visiting friends in the city or going completely off the grid for a week or more. I'm the opposite of claustrophobic so smaller, yet more off-road is OK.
* Reliable Internet, preferably military grade ROFL:)  I'm hoping satellite will do but understand there may be times and places I won't have access. When in those areas I'll treat it like vacation time from work :-)
* Able to park overnight(s) in a parking lot or city street parking without worrying about a ticket.
* A passionate athlete, explorer and outdoorsman living in Breckenridge, CO I'll want to be able to go off-road up to the highest mountain peaks possible.
Speaking of Breckenridge, OMG we're getting dumped on with our champagne snow and skiing tomorrow will be awesome!! On that note, good RV insulation is paramount!
* If all this means I'll sometimes need to park the RV at "base camp" and take my towed off-road vehicle the rest of the way that's fine. These "extreme" trips will only be a couple times a year and a week or so at most.

Bill Joyce & folivier , thanks for the recommendations and links! The Earthroamer, though I love it and it would be ideal, is out of my price range unless there's a decent resale market for used ones.
The Tiger looks ideal for my needs but again, it looks like it's going to end up being in the $150K range that I'd really prefer not be. Is there a good resale market for Tigers?

sandsys , I'll definitely check-out Sportsmobile.com

Again, thanks all for your replies, it's really helping me make the best decision possible.

Edited by TotalBalance
grammar syntax
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Again thanks, soo much for sharing your knowledge. Incredibly helpful :)

Bill Joyce, I'll be checking your link and add to my resource list. Thanks!

rm.w/ aview , great information and website. Really helpful, thanks so much! And I'll be looking more closely at the B+ models B)

I hope you all don't mind if I keep you updated asking more questions along the way :blink:

Edited by TotalBalance
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4 hours ago, TotalBalance said:

I hope you all don't mind if I keep you updated asking more questions along the way :blink:

Please, do. We enjoy helping others. In fact, it's the way some of us stay connected to this community now that we are no longer fulltimers ourselves.

Linda Sand

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Thanks Linda for confirming what I hoped:)

And on that note ...

Thanks to everyone's help and links I've narrowed it down to a B and possibly a B+. To stay within my budget of $100K, I've realized I'll probably have to look in the used/resale market. That said,  rather than looking at a custom build that'll cost be $130 - $150K.

Are there B+ makes/models that are both 4x4 to handle off-road, at least to what could work as a "base camp" up in the Rocky mountains and preferably, able to park on city/town streets without having to find a mall or grocery store parking requiring a bit more than one parking lane. Does such a make/model exist?

If the B+ just can meet my minimum requirements above, 

Edited by TotalBalance
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You might take a look at a Phoenix. Kind of a "half way" step between something like a sportsmobile and a traditional class B. A used rig would likely be within your budget and is available with 4-wheel. Where a class B is more "full-time" live-able and a sportsmobile best suited as an excursion vehicle.

There really is no one size fits all RV that is going to be just as at home in town (stealth camping) as well as being able to get you into the high country. (Excluding those that use their RV's as a base camp and pack a toad.)

With any chassis mounted RV though, cargo capacities are going to be extremely limited. Not that it isn't doable, but you have to be very much aware of your gear and budget accordingly. Ie., a sportsmobile is great for getting you into the hills, but with a basic 2 day load out you're very likely going to be over max load ratings. Doable for a 2 or 3 day excursion, but ill suited for full-time use. KWIM?

Small holding tanks can be combated by packing 5gal cans, but at 40+lbs a pop, what else isn't going to be able to go? For the high country you'll also have "must haves" that you wouldn't typically need in a blacktop RV (Ie., full shovel, come-along or farm jack, ax, tow rope, etc.).

None of the above are deal breakers, but should be considerations in your rig selection and where your priorities lay.

I see time and again where folks say they can go "anywhere" in their class B or van conversion. Not saying they don't, but I will say that from my "own" personal experience over the years... of the folks I find "stranded", blocked in, broke down or axle deep... an inordinately high percentage of them have been class B's, C's and van conversions... and barely even a shovel between them. ;)

 

 

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  • 1 month later...
On 1/21/2018 at 8:30 PM, TotalBalance said:

Thanks Twotoes. I'll see what I can find yet concerned the newness will again put the cost over budget :(

I'm getting a new Winnebago Revel for $103K.  However they are becoming harder to get and prices may go up due to its popularity.

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 4 weeks later...

This is a slightly old thread, so it's probably too late.  But here's my recommendation - you can review their website for full information:

1.  Look for a used 24 foot Lazy Daze Class C motorhome and have it converted to 4X4 by one of the topnotch 4X4 conversion companies.

2.  They're only built on the rugged and reliable "overkill for a 24 foot Class C" Ford E450 chassis, that is easy to service anywhere and that has stock ground clearance at least as good as a stock pickup truck.  You can easily increase ground clearance by installing larger than stock diameter tires on it after you buy it.

3.  Their coach roof height is low compared to most other Class C motorhomes, and may be in the ballpark of many Class B/B+ motorhomes.

4.  Tank sizes are generous and should allow 1-2 weeks of non-hookup camping for one person - and maybe two - if absolutely needed.

5.  The coach's outer skin is alumimun everywhere - sides, roof, back, and front.

6.  The windows are double pane for a quiet interior that is also easier to heat and cool durinig weather extremes.

7.  Lazy Daze does not build Class C motorhomes with slides.  This provides for a more trouble-free coach mechanically, and provides for a stronger coach structure when on rough off-highway roads.

 

 

 

 

Edited by pnichols
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  • 3 weeks later...
On 3/24/2018 at 11:00 AM, noteven said:

How is the Revel for fragile equipment located underneath the vehicle? 

I was thinking along the travel van lines until I looked underneath - lines and tanks and what not hanging in the danger zone...

Sorry for the long time between replies.  Yes, underneath the Revel is somewhat fragile just like any other RV, and that's why I had a RIP (Road Improvement Package) from Agile Off-Road installed, along with larger tires.  That combination increased the ground clearance by 3-4".  No more clearance problems!

Rivrer xing.jpg

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  • 1 month later...

Persoanlly I would build my own. Start with a half decent school bus and convert it to 4x4 and build the insides the way I want it.

the way we do it now is boon dock as far off road as you can with a dp with hiway tires ( not very far) and then explore with either my pickup 4x4 or my side by side 4x4.

Edited by Jimalberta
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  • 3 months later...

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