This year’s Sea Otter Classic had more custom camper van builders, overland suppliers, and offroad-capable trailer campers than ever. And they were rad!
From remote lift suspensions to outback-ready rooftop tents, and lifted Sprinters to modular Ford Transits, this mega roundup has something for (almost) every budget and lifestyle…
VanDOit’s modular interiors add options
VanDOit is one of our favorite builders thanks to their assembly-line style of manufacturing and modular interiors that make them super easy to customize…and with (usually) shorter lead times than boutique builders.
Their latest demo van adds storage boxes, a Park Tool repair stand, and lots of little hooks and slots for hanging bike shoes, helmets, wheel bags, and more.
They’ve also recently added the option for Lithium auxiliary battery packs, but just note that they take up more space. See that extra bit of T-track aluminum jutting out from the left-side cabinet? That’s there to make room for the batteries, which eats in to your cargo space a bit.
Another new option that we found on several van builder’s demos was a zippered screen door. Rather than the magnetic screens that work well enough (but can be a bit cumbersome getting in and out of), these get pressed in under the weather stripping to hold tight. We noticed they could pull the stripping down a bit in the corners, but overall seems like a more solid option that might even stay put when you close the doors…maybe.
Xplore RV’s monster overland trailer
If you’ve gotta have more room and all the creature comforts even if you’re trying to get way out there, the Imperial Outdoors Xplore RV XR22 is the all-terrain camper trailer you’ve been looking for.
It’s ultra insulated to be cozy down to -40ºF, has roof-mounted solar with 200W juicing up two 100Ah lithium batteries, and has a 60″ wide ramped door on the back so you can load your bikes straight into it when it’s time to roll.
A remote controlled hydraulic suspension will lift it from 12″ of ground clearance up to a properly off-road worthy 20″ with the press of a button. And huge 33″ Maxxis tires on 15″ rims should roll over anything that comes its way.
The couches fold together into a bed, then a top bunk lowers down from the ceiling to sleep up to four people. Need more? Add a roof top tent to create two more spots.
All counters are solid surface and it has a full kitchen with a decently large fridge. The full bath has a shower that even tall people can actually stand up in, and there are 30-gallon fresh and gray water tanks on board. A few of these features are optional upgrades, and kitted out packages are available to further customize it for different conditions and adventures.
Total length is 23’4″, including the two full-sized spare tires hanging off the back. Price? Well, if you have to ask…it’s best you just inquire on their website.
Muse Outdoors custom Sprinter camper vans
Muse Outdoors offers two layout options, a two-seater with a benched dining table setup, and this Endeavor 5-seater that puts three seats behind a small table directly behind the front row. Or opt for a two-seat bench for a 4-seater, but you’d lose a bit of bed length as the table can be lowered to create a bed out of the bench seats.
The interior is filled with wood cabinets, a kitchenette with inset sink, fridge/freezer combo, and optional stovetop. The standard builds don’t include a cartridge toilet, but we’re betting you could add one under that small bench in front of the bed.
There’s more storage, plus the electronics, under the bed, but it’s likely a bit too short in stock form for a bike. Fortunately you can customize the build to your liking, and the bed’s platform simply rests on removable supports, so you could take the entire platform out as needed.
One particularly cool option is this articulating shower rod, which hinges down from the roof rack rail and draws water from two tube tanks on the front of the van. Solar panels charge up auxiliary batteries for off-grid adventures.
Starting price is $129,000 and goes up with options…and that’s with YOU providing the Sprinter van. Check them out at MuseOutdoors.com.
GTFO Overland Outfitters x Darche Tents
GTFOverland is an online retailer of all things overland, with a retail location in Long Beach, CA. Coincidentally, one of the crew there used to write for us, so it was great to see Chris K. at the Otter. Unfortunately, he didn’t get to drive his own rig here, so these are the personal vehicles of the rest of their team.
Which make a great showcase for the brands they rep here in the U.S. Those include Darche Australia, Element Fire Extinguishers, Emu Wing, Hard Korr lighting, Road Chef 12V ovens, Sturdy Bros. waxed canvas goods, Sunflare Xplor series solar panels, and Surf Grass Mats.
This new oversized rooftop tent from Darche uses the same heavy duty ripstop poly-cotton canvas as the rest of their collection, and the same fine bug mesh windows, but has a massive footprint that sleeps up to four people!
Or, two people really comfortably with all the room for all the things. Setup a Surf Grass mat under the steps for a soft, clean place to kick off your shoes before climbing into bed.
The Darche Eclipse 270º awning literally wraps around your car, yet it packs into the same size case as standard awnings. Just fold in the wings and put the cover on and it’s tucked up against your roof rack for highway driving. Add walls and you can create a private space with easy access to your vehicle and plenty of room for cots underneath.
From stoves to lights to tents and chairs, they also rent most of the items so you can try before you buy (or just not have to worry about where to store all the stuff that won’t permanently attach to your car). Go down the rabbit hole at GTFOverland.com.
Escapod TOPO2 composite camper trailer pod
The Escapod TOPO2 is their next generation pod-style camper trailer. What sets it apart from every other thing like it is its new one-piece composite shell with an “infused structural PET core” made from recycled milk jugs. That shell let them push the interior a full foot wider than the sectional version, so you have more room while also enjoying a stiffer, sturdier, and more durable body.
Underneath is a long-travel shock-in-spring suspension, and with big offroad tires, that give it a massive 23″ ground clearance so you can pull it just about anywhere your truck can go. And it’s 250lbs lighter than the original, so it’ll save on gas, too.
Inside is a queen-sized bed with memory foam mattress. Gaze up through the huge front window, and pop it open for fresh air. Or kick on the MaxxAir exhaust fan with forced air heating when the outside temps aren’t to your liking.
In front is a trunk with tons of storage, plus about 13 cubic feet of interior cabin storage, so there’s likely room for everything you’d
want need to bring.
The galley has a big sink, slide out gas stove, and cubbies for all the pots, pans, and plates…all of which are modular so you can size and shape them to fit your accessories. Starting price is $39,500 before you add options and accessories (like a rooftop tent) that can easily push it north of $60k. Build your own at Escapod.us.
Dave & Matt build custom Promaster vans
Not only do they build them, they also rent them. Built on the compact front-wheel drive Ram Promaster vans, they a simple layout that still manages to fit in a kitchenette and bed, and even an optional rear seat for two extra passengers.
Fortunately, it looks like you could fit 4-5 bikes underneath easily, so you can bring those friends, or just bring your road and mountain bikes along with your bestie.
They have inventory of vans, so you can pick one that fits your budget and needs, then start customizing it. This one, as shown, ran $81,653. Check them out at dmvans.com.
Four Wheel Campers Project M truck bed topper
Four Wheel Campers is better known for their slide-in camper shells that come in varying degrees of built, letting you buy just as much camper as you want or need, then finish off the rest yourself.
Now, with Project M, they have an even more affordable option that’s not a slide, but a shell. Bolt it into your truck bed and it provides an insulted shell with pop-up tent top.
Once expanded, it creates a grandma’s attic over the cab, with tracks mounted throughout for securing accessories. It’s a blank canvas that you can build into whatever style of camper or storage spot you need. Starting at just $9,795, it’s by far the cheapest option (save for a rooftop tent) for giving yourself sturdy, weatherproof shelter. Throw a cooler and air mattress in there with your bikes and we’d say it’s time to GTFO. Check out all the options at FourWheelCampers.com.
Winnebago Ekko camper van pops its top
Adding an RV-style twist to the Ford Transit cab, the Winnebago Ekko uses a full custom shell to sleep two very comfortably inside, and adds a pop-up tent top to sleep two more overhead.
Inside, it’s typical Winnebago style, with four seats and all the amenities in a floorplan that’s both wider and taller than you’ll get from a regular Sprinter or Transit van conversion.
In addition to the extra sleeping space that doesn’t require you to dismantle your dinette or reconfigure the interior, you’ll also get a full-height stand-up shower inside the bathroom. The pop top is an option on the standard Ekko, which starts at $171,845.
Their Revel, which is built on a short-wheelbase 4×4 Sprinter with 3-liter turbo diesel engine, gets a few updates for 2022…
…the main one being an electronically lifted bunk bed system that makes tons of room underneath for bikes. With tie down loops and an easy-clean floor, it’s a solid option for well-to-do couples (or young families). They start at $196,506, and you can build your own at Winnebago.com.