Arctic Trucks. The name fits. In support of an epic electric vehicle (EV) trip to the magnetic North Pole and back, the company recently converted two Ford F-350 chassis cab trucks into what the company calls its AT44. This conversion not only provides a third axle and 6WD, but also a proprietary suspension system and 44-inch tires. In support of this historic expedition to the North Pole, Arctic Trucks mounted a Total Composites Bobcat flatbed camper to one of its AT44 trucks. With its rugged construction and high insulated panels, the Bobcat was an excellent choice. The result was quite unlike any other truck camper rig ever built. There’s no doubt about it. One look at the Arctic Trucks AT44 Bobcat and you know it’s not just another truck camper rig. To learn more about this epic trip and the truck camper rig built to support it, we spoke with Kyle Leeds, Arctic Trucks Director of Sales.
Thanks, Kyle, for talking with us. Can you tell us a little bit about Arctic Trucks?
Kyle Leeds: Founded in Iceland, Arctic Trucks has over 30 years of experience engineering and building vehicles designed to operate in the harshest environments in the world. We recently established a production facility in Cheyenne, Wyoming to bring our technology to the North American market. Some of our accomplishments include driving the first vehicles ever to the magnetic North Pole, the first expedition through all seven continents, and the first Antarctic crossing with a passenger vehicle. To date, we’ve built over 14,000 vehicles worldwide.
Can you tell us more about this epic trip to the magnetic North Pole?
Kyle Leeds: Both 6x6s were used to support the Pole to Pole EV Expedition. In total, three vehicles and seven people participated in the first leg of the expedition to reach the magnetic North Pole in April 2023. These were the first two AT44 F350 6x6s built in North America, so it was also a great opportunity to rigorously test the trucks in an extreme environment over thousands of miles. They we’re built at our facility in Cheyenne and drove the entire way to the magnetic North Pole and back.
How long did the trip to the magnetic North Pole take?
Kyle Leeds: Using Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada as the “start,” it took 24 days to get to the magnetic North Pole and back.
Can you tell us about your Total Composites Bobcat truck camper and why you chose that particular make and model?
Kyle Leeds: Arctic Trucks selected Total Composites due to the ability of creating high efficiency, lightweight custom campers. The thermal free composite construction was vital to avoid condensation and ice build up in extreme low temperatures. Through many detailed conversations they understood the importance of reliability and redundancy. Therefore Total Composites installed just one custom double pane real glass window, an insulated composite entry door, and two Autoterm 2D diesel heaters. Total Composites was a great choice for our purposes due to the superior insulation design, quality, and durability. Our setup is a variation of the Total Composites Bobcat 8-foot model, which has provided adequate room for our team to stay comfortable during this long expedition.
Seeing that the Total Composites camper is essentially a ‘blank canvas,’ how did you build out the interior?
Kyle Leeds: The interior is practical without much fancy luxuries you would see in “vacation” expedition trucks. The habitat serves as bedroom/kitchen/workshop space and general hang out (we call it the club house). Our primary needs for the camper centered around having a warm place for our team of seven to sleep and take shelter from the extreme, -38F Arctic temperatures. Therefore, we opted to build the interior in a very straightforward way, strictly for utility—a large sitting/sleeping area with some built in storage. Yes, the team was up close and personal, but having a warm place to eat and hangout was well worth it even if it was a little on the tight side.
Can you tell us about the Bobcat camper’s electrical system?
Kyle Leeds: The interior electrical is tied into the truck’s system for interior lights, diesel heaters etc. Because there are no other big electrical users you would typically find in an expedition truck the “system” and therefore complexity could be kept pretty minimal. Given that the trucks stay running 24/7 in the Arctic and have the capacity to manage our electrical needs, the camper is tied into the truck’s electrical system via a 40 amp circuit. It can also be plugged into a separate generator if needed. Inside are just the basics—lights, a few outlets, a fan, and auxiliary heater.
Can you tell us about more about the Arctic Trucks AT44 6×6 conversion?
Kyle Leeds: Arctic Trucks’ 6×6 conversion offers exceptional off-road capability when carrying heavy payloads or towing. The conversion begins with a Ford F350 chassis cab, where we fully box the rear frame to prepare for the third axle and completely new, proprietary suspension system—all designed by Arctic Trucks. The leaf springs are replaced with a linked suspension with air bags that are fully adjustable in-cab to accommodate varying payloads. This is a true 6×6 drive system that can also operate on the road comfortably in 2WD. The trucks were driven from our plant in Cheyenne, Wyoming all the way to the Magnetic North Pole and back, then down to Overland Expo West in Flagstaff, Arizona.
What are the advantages of going with a 6×6 than a basic 4×4?
Kyle Leeds: Adding the third axle in combination with our proprietary Nokian/Arctic Trucks 44-inch tires reduces the ground pressure of the truck compared to a 4×4, allowing the 6×6 to carry additional payload in off-road environments like deep snow where flotation is a key to performance. The 50 percent increase in the number of tires also directly improves its ability to gain traction when climbing or in areas where heavy articulation occurs. It’s a very formidable yet versatile off-road platform.
Were there any takeaways with build? Anything you wished that you had done differently?
Kyle Leeds: Every expedition has some takeaways, but in general everything worked quite well. We would likely have added additional windows to the camper and a dedicated cooking area with some other amenities.
What kind of mileage do you get with the Bobcat Rig?
Kyle Leeds: This varies heavily depending on the terrain and environment of course. On the highway, we were able to maintain between 12-14 mpg.
What tires do you have on your truck and what inflation values do you typically run when driving off-road?
Kyle Leeds: We are running 44-inch Nokian/Arctic Trucks Hakkapeliitta. The pressure settings off-road are heavily dependent on the terrain, vehicle, and payload. All Arctic Trucks vehicles are installed with CTIS (Central tire inflation system) to dynamically deflate or inflate pressures on the fly, allowing the truck to quickly adapt to the terrain. It’s not uncommon to operate at 2 or 3 psi in deep snow.
Interesting. Can you tell us more about the tires. How well do they handle both on- and off-road and in the snow?
Kyle Leeds: The 44-inch Nokian/Arctic Trucks are exceptional in the snow—they are designed to run at very low pressures (we operate as a low as 1 psi) to achieve max flotation. Tires that are not designed for this will fatigue and eventually fail. These 44s are DOT compliant, so they can be driven on the road and perform quite well. They perform quite well on the in-between terrain too—light/med rock, gravel, and dirt.
Tire selection is a pivotal decision to achieve proper performance, regardless of what type of terrain you intend to operate in most frequently. Choose wisely!
What kind of response are you getting from the public for this rig? Are you planning on taking it to any shows?
Kyle Leeds: We just returned from 2023 Overland Expo West, which was our first major public showing of these trucks in North America. The response was fantastic. It was really cool to see the enthusiasts reactions that were already familiar with Arctic Trucks—many have learned about Arctic Trucks from the Top Gear episode in 2007, where the guys took an Arctic Trucks AT44 Toyota Hilux to the North Pole. For others not familiar with Arctic Trucks, the dedication to building trucks with true capability along with the unique proportions—low lift with very large tires—are simply captivating.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about your truck camper rig that would interest our readers?
Kyle Leeds: For Total Composites this was a huge opportunity to prove their claim about the durability, efficiency and zero thermal conductivity. The same construction and materials are used within their range of truck campers. We’re introducing the AT44 Ford Super Duty conversions to the North American market, both in 4×4 and 6×6 configurations, as an ultra-capable workhorse platform. Our immediate core focus is providing solutions to commercial customers seeking a versatile, efficient, low maintenance platform that excels in snow/ice and cold weather conditions.