Just one look at an EarthRoamer and you’re hooked. That’s because the EarthRoamer XV-LTS is pretty amazing. Imagine a solar-powered, 4×4, luxury truck camper rig on steroids and you’ve got the EarthRoamer. The company calls it an “Xpedition Vehicle,” or “XV” for short rather than an RV. The acronym fits because this luxury off-road rig isn’t anything like your grandpa’s truck camper or motorhome. Unlike the standard 2WD class C motorhome, which is pretty limited on where it can go, the EarthRoamer, with its massive 41-inch tires, Buckstop Winch Bumper and 4WD drivetrain, can go practically anywhere. Due to the EarthRoamer’s cost—the new LTi model will set you back around $500,000—you have to be pretty dedicated to own one. To find out what it’s like to own one these amazing rigs, we spoke with Carolyn, who along with her husband, Morgan, are part owners of Adventure Alliance, a new film company dedicated to adventure travel.
Thanks, guys, for talking with us. We’ve always wanted to talk with an EarthRoamer owner. Can you tell us about your EarthRoamer and why you chose to buy one?
Carolyn: Big Red is EarthRoamer #133. It was built in 2014 and is the only red EarthRoamer ever made. The idea behind investing in such a huge vehicle was to have a home on the road, able to handle any climate or terrain. We are officially her third owner, and have tripled the miles she had on her when we purchased her.
Being that you’re the third owner, what did you pay for it?
Carolyn: As far as the cost of the Earthroamer….a lady never tells.
Do you live full-time in it?
Carolyn: We were full time in the truck up until about a month ago. We purchased a small cabin to be a home base in Colorado. Usually we hit the road for two to three months at a time, then come home for a month or so to recharge and deal with “life stuff.”
We love that approach to living and traveling. What mods, if any, have you made to your EarthRoamer? Or is everything all stock?
Carolyn: We have made some small upgrades such as a new outdoor grill, a two burner induction stove, vinyl wood flooring, new “kitchen tile” (which equates to about 2-square-feet) and installed a Nintendo Switch for a little rainy day Mario Kart. There is always mechanical maintenance to be done on the engine and camper systems, but we do our best to stay on top of it.
How large is your EarthRoamer’s off-grid electrical system?
Carolyn: We have 1,200 watts of solar on the roof. The camper batteries and the truck’s alternator are tied together as well, so if we are in a rainy, inclement environment, it’s very simple to start up the truck and charge the camper batteries. In normal conditions, the sun does a phenomenal job of charging-up the camper within a few hours.
What features do you like best about the EarthRoamer XV-LTS?
Carolyn: Without a doubt, the capability to easily get off-grid and into the back country. We film on-location quite a bit, and having a cozy, warm home base really changed our travel experience. The luxury is not lost on us, because we started with a cross country trip in a rooftop tent and a 2012 FJ Cruiser. For long trips, the EarthRoamer keeps us warm, our food cold, and our equipment safe.
The EarthRoamer XV-LTS is a pretty large expedition vehicle. Has its size been a hindrance in any way?
Carolyn: We have gotten into some mighty tight spots with Big Red. The trickiest problem is tree limbs, because Big Red is almost 12-foot tall. We have a few inches of air ride height we can utilize to get over or under obstacles. But to be honest, you’d be amazed what you can accomplish once you get good at maneuvering—and a good spotter goes a long way too.
What kind of mileage are you getting with it?
Carolyn: We currently get about 10 miles to the gallon, which isn’t much worse than our FJ Cruiser fully loaded with a rooftop tent and two months worth of supplies.
You’ve been to a lot of cool places in your rig? How do you find them? Word of mouth? Google Earth? Instagram?
Carolyn: People ask us all the time about locations. Things have changed a lot since our cross country trip in 2016…there are so many more resources available. Our favorite go-to apps are: Campendium, AllStays, The Dyrt, Harvest Hosts (great for when you’re long-hauling across the Midwest), AllTrails, OnXOffroad, and we also utilize topo maps to see what kind of terrain we are headed into.
What size wheels and tires does your EarthRoamer have and what inflation values do you typically run? Do you ever air down?
Carolyn: We have 41-inch Continental tires with beadlock rims. We run 90 psi in the back and 45 in the front. When roads are extremely rough, we air down by half, and it makes the ride so much more enjoyable. Listening to your dishes crash around in the cabinets can get a little stressful.
We agree. Do you have any favorite places or trails where you like to explore? What was the most difficult and challenging?
Carolyn: Every time we find somewhere new, it has the potential to become a favorite…that’s the beauty of traveling. As far as challenging terrain, Utah has stretched our comfort zone with tight switchbacks and “certain death” drop offs. Adrenaline and control are key out there. In terms of a favorite location, we love the wide variety that Colorado offers, as well as Southern Idaho’s lakes and forests.
Have you done any serious off-roading in your EarthRoamer?
Carolyn: Off-roading? We’re almost always off-road! One of our favorite trips was to Caineville, Utah, where we filmed DB Industries: All Day Every Day, and brought Big Red out to every location we shot at. It was a little like having a spaceship on the moon.
What emergency prep gear do you typically take with you?
Carolyn: As far as emergency gear, we carry tow straps, winches on the front and back bumpers, a small chainsaw (thanks Dad!) and MaxTrax (which, to be honest, knock on wood, we’ve only ever needed to help others). We have a well stocked medical kit, bear deterrents, a Garmin InReach for hiking and satellite texting, as well as a Garmin Overlander for navigation off-grid.
What’s the most worrisome or scariest moment you’ve experienced during your travels?
Carolyn: Being off grid always holds an element of danger. You can get injured far from help, get lost, or the truck can break down. Traveling in a vehicle this large means that you sort of have to fend for yourself, most tow trucks can’t help you. One of the worst experiences we had with Big Red was when her fuel pump broke, leaving us stranded in 5 degree weather and our heat—which runs off diesel—was down as well. We had to have a big rig tow truck come at 2:00am and it cost over $1,000 to get the truck to Denver for service.
Have you had any notable run-ins with wildlife during your travels?
Carolyn: Lots! We have two bears affectionately named Punch and Judy (a momma and her cub) which like to come visit the truck in Breckenridge. Fortunately we’ve always been safely inside. In Texas we had an armadillo visit when we were sitting around the campfire. Elk, antelope, foxes, pine martens…and my least favorite, a bunch of baby rattlesnakes in Northeastern Colorado.
Tell us about some of your favorite places you’ve visited so far?
Carolyn: Utah will always be a favorite destination because the terrain is just mind-blowing. When we are on our way out there, we usually stop at Colorado National Monument or the Grand Mesa, both of which are incredibly scenic places off of I-70 on our way west. We also have a very secret spot in the Pacific Northwest, which only has eight campsites and is in the heart of a rainforest.
What foods do you like to eat when you’re out exploring?
Carolyn: When we are full-time in the truck, we often cook big batches of things on Sundays. Sometimes that means making breakfast burritos for the freezer, as well as chili or soups. When we are shooting or on the move a lot, it’s nice to know that we can have something already made waiting for us back at camp. Preparation is key; otherwise, you end up with a smushed granola bar and burnt gas station coffee. Oh, and speaking of coffee, we are huge fans of the company Swift Cup. They make the best instant coffee packs we have ever had, for hot or iced preparation. We really love coffee, so trust us and give them a try.
Do you have a website and/or social media channels that our readers can follow?
Carolyn: We have a website for our film company, www.redpupfilms.com, and we run several social media accounts which all sort of tie together. @redpupfilms (where you can see which projects we’re working on), @theserversstomach (on the road restaurant reviews from our travels) @theroamingredpup (full of Big Red glamour shots!), and @adventurealliancetours (which is our newest venture, taking outdoor enthusiasts into the backcountry and getting them comfortable with overlanding).
Do you have any other hobbies as they relate to the great outdoors?
Carolyn: Adventure Alliance! At the beginning of the year, we formed a new company with our dear friend and business partner, Spencer Park. The goal is to combine our love of travel with overlanding education and backcountry experiences for people who are starting out just as we did—with big dreams of seeing this beautiful country. Once it’s safe to travel in groups again, we will be leading excursions for limited numbers, heading out to some of our most secret and beautiful camp spots. There will be opportunities to learn about their individual vehicles, how to recreate responsibly, and how to get out to remote locations safely, while having fun doing it.