Often neglected by pundits and recreational websites, the chassis-mounted truck camper has, nevertheless, grown in popularity over the last 20 years. One of the benefits of a chassis-mounted camper is that it’s a full-time, fully-integrated rig—you never have to worry about loading or unloading it. Not only that, the chassis-mounted camper is larger, offers more living space, and features bigger tank capacities compared to a traditional slide-in truck camper. Based out of Springfield, Missouri, one of the premier builders of the chassis-mounted truck camper is Global Expedition Vehicles (GXV). One of the company’s newest releases is the so-called Adventure Truck, a low-profile, 4×4 expedition rig capable of going practically anywhere. To learn more about this incredibly capable rig, we spoke with Michael and Rene Van Pelt of GXV.
TCA: Thanks, guys, for taking the time to talk with us. But before we do so, can you tell us how Global Expedition Vehicles got its start?
GXV: We started GXV in 2005 after believing we could build a better expedition vehicle after years of traveling the world in typical RV style configurations including 4×4 motorhomes, fifth wheel trailers, and off-road campers. Over the next 13 years, we’ve become the leading manufacturer of expedition vehicles with over 10 models and our highly customizable capability. Our new state of the art facility that opened in 2017 shows our commitment to meeting the needs of our valued clients.
TCA: What is GXV’s signature product?
GXV: The Patagonia model is our most popular model of the large truck chassis; with our Turtle model, being very popular in the pickup truck chassis models. But we see our new Adventure Truck line as one that will fit the need of those wanting a smaller footprint in a more budget-friendly price point.
TCA: What rigs do you currently offer?
GXV: Our product offering ranges from the Adventure Truck, priced at $198,000, to our Pangea Lifting Roof Model, priced at $650,000. Our versatility in the ability to build on a wide variety of truck chassis is one of the key characteristics that makes Global Expedition Vehicles different from other builders. We can build on truck chassis ranging from the Fuso FG (14,050 GVW), Dodge 5500/Ford F-550 pickup chassis (19,500 GVW), up to a class 7 or 8 medium duty truck such as the Kenworth K370, International, Freightliner, Mercedes, etc.
TCA: Tell us more about the Adventure Truck. How did the concept and design start?
GXV: After years of building highly custom expedition vehicles, we decided it was time to offer a more economical design with an aggressive off-road capability that would allow a new segment of RV type clients to experience the capabilities of the GXV vehicles. Instead of highway limited RV vehicles, clients can now access hard to reach areas of the globe.
TCA: We saw the Adventure Truck at the 2018 Overland Expo and were very impressed with it. What makes the Adventure Truck different from other rigs in the overland market?
GXV: A seamless integrated design is apparent the first time you see the Adventure Truck. Each part of the vehicle is designed for durability, light weight, and ease of use by the client. We have integrated many of the components from our larger models into a smaller design with keeping the same high-quality that GXV is known for.
TCA: What is the MSRP of the Adventure Truck?
GXV: The Adventure Truck starts at $198,000 with standard components.
TCA: What does the total price include? Does the price include the truck and any modifications done to the truck like the suspension?
GXV: The MSRP of $198,000 includes a $50,000 allowance for a Ford F-550 or RAM 5500 Chassis. The Adventure Options Package, which does include suspension mods, is an additional $50,000, making the optimized Adventure Truck $248,000.
TCA: What is the Adventure Truck’s total weight?
GXV: The GVW (Gross Vehicle Weight) for the Ford and Ram truck is 19,500 pounds with a chassis weight of about 8,000 pounds. The approximate weight of the body, components, and suspension upgrades are about 5,100 pounds, leaving a payload for passengers, fuel, cargo of about 6,000 pounds.
TCA: What is the overall length and height of the rig?
GXV: The overall length of the rig is 21 feet 6 inches. The overall height is 11 feet.
TCA: What are the Adventure Truck’s holding tank capacities?
GXV: The 60 gallon fresh water tank is standard, with a 90 gallon optional upgrade. The grey water holding tank is 26 gallons.
TCA: How many batteries does the battery compartment hold? Do you offer an upgrade option for lithium-ion batteries?
GXV: It is sized for three 270 amp hour Mastervolt AGM batteries, with an upgrade option for one or two Mastervolt 400 amp hour lithium-ion batteries.
TCA: What about fuel capacities? How much diesel can the rig carry?
GXV: For the Ram truck 52 gallons standard, with an optional second tank for 74 gallons combined from OEM. For the Ford 40 gallons rear tank, with an optional second tank for 68 gallons combined from OEM. We also offer an option for a 50 gallon tank that can be added to the standard 52 gallon or 40 gallon OEM tanks.
TCA: Can you tell us about the Adventure Truck’s heating, cooking, and refrigeration systems?
GXV: A Webasto Diesel Heat System heats the living area cabin, as well as the fresh water for the kitchen and shower. As a redundant system, heat from the chassis cab can also travel through the pass-through into the Adventure Truck. Cooking is with a single burner induction cooktop, 120 volts. Refrigeration is provided with a 3.2 cubic foot stainless steel compressor refrigerator.
TCA: Is the bathroom a wet-bath or dry-bath?
GXV: Wet-bath with a 5-gallon Thetford Cassette Toilet.
TCA: How many people can the Adventure Truck accommodate and where does everyone sleep?
GXV: The standard Adventure Truck is designed to accept a regular cab chassis with a full size 54 x 80-inch bed for two.
TCA: How durable is the roof on the Adventure Truck? How much weight can it support?
GXV: The Adventure Truck roof is built with a 30 millimeter GXV fiberglass composite shell. The roof is laid out with solar panels and the AC unit, leaving little space for anything else. The standard package includes a front body mounted 40 x 52-inch roof rack for exterior storage. Additional storage for such things as bicycles can be accommodated at the rear of the body. At an overall height of 11 feet, storing additional items on the roof may not be suggested.
TCA: What are the advantages of going with a rig like the Adventure Truck rather than going with a flatbed slide-in truck camper?
GXV: The Adventure Truck is a one piece molded composite 30 millimeter design taking advantage of possible inch of space for interior living space and exterior storage. A one-piece design allows for a more uniform design and increased storage capacity below floor level. Flatbed slide-in units typically don’t offer an integrated entry door below the floor level. Slide in units usually have a higher center of gravity as they are added to an existing truck bed, instead of building right on the frame rails of the chassis. Our design also allows for integration of the electrical systems and diesel fuel system between the truck and the Adventure Truck.
TCA: I assume standard solar panels and roof racks can be installed on the roof. Is that correct?
GXV: Yes, the Adventure Truck comes standard with 400 watt solar panels with an additional 250 watt upgrade. The Roof Rack is part of the standard components.
TCA: What innovations does Global Expedition Vehicles incorporate into every Adventure Truck build?
GXV: Lots of things. While all expedition vehicles have solar panels placed on a flat roof, the Adventure Truck has its solar panels on an angle on both sides AND on the flat portion of the roof. This will allow it to maximize the solar potential throughout the day. In addition, we use one type of fuel—diesel. No propane in these rigs! Our electrical system is by Mastervolt, world leader in mobile electronics. We offer the choice to upgrade the batteries from AGM to a superior performance lithium-ion battery, and most clients do so. And, we should add that it is a real 120 volt AC system with a Mastervolt 2,500 watt Inverter/Charger. Our rigs offer easy monitoring of fluid capacities, battery levels, solar input, etc. which is accomplished through the Mastervolt Easyview, digital screen that can be programmed to display your preferences for viewing the electrical and capacities. In addition, you will find tons of storage space in our Adventure Trucks, split between interior accessible and exterior accessible. If you like lots of light, you will love the amount of windows in the Adventure Truck. And, with the optional large glass skylight, you will feel one with nature.
TCA: Your interiors are light and airy with white cabinetry. Do you offer any options in cabinetry like wood finishes?
GXV: The finish choices of the cabinetry, countertops, flooring, and upholstery are chosen by each client. Our current Adventure Truck show truck has modern gray/white design laminate cabinetry.
TCA: Can customers order an inverter that’s fully integrated with the camper’s 110-volt electrical system?
GXV: Each Adventure Truck comes with a Mastervolt Mass Combi 2,500 watt Inverter/Charger, which provides 2,500 watt of inverted power and 100 amps of charging. There are two 120 volt outlets in the Adventure Truck, as well as other 120 volt appliances, such as the induction cooktop and the microwave oven. The batteries may be charged either by solar, the truck’s alternator, or by shore power. It’s a fully-integrated design.
TCA: What’s the largest solar power option that you offer with the Adventure Truck?
GXV: The Adventure Truck option package includes the 650 watt solar panel upgrade, while the larger size of the Adventure-XT allows for a max of 850 watts of solar.
TCA: Wow, those are large systems! What entry step system is provided with the camper?
GXV: Two-step manual operation. An aluminum electric step is optional.
TCA: How many 12 volt/USB charging outlets come standard?
GXV: Two USB outlets, along with two 120 volt outlets
TCA: What options, if any, do you offer for awnings?
GXV: Manual operation awning (white or black case).
TCA: Can you tell us a bit about how the Adventure Truck is constructed?
GXV: The Adventure Truck is a one-piece molded 30 millimeter closed cell, recycled foam, composite body which is then attached to our kinetic mounting system, allowing for full-compliance articulation while isolating the stress from the frame rails into the body. The composite body is not built with balsa wood which will rot over time.
TCA: How large are the tires and what is the ground clearance of the rig?
GXV: Ground clearance may vary from depending on chassis brand and specifications. The standard size is 285/70R19.5 Tires 19.5-inch Wheels. The option package comes with 335/65R20 tires, 20-inch wheels and an optional 5-inch lift kit.
TCA: What are the approach and departure angles of the rig?
GXV: 39 degrees approach; 33 degrees departure.
TCA: Is there anything unique about the Adventure Truck that you’d like to point out?
GXV: The Adventure Truck has not only created its own category of expedition vehicles, it is backed by a team dedicated to providing the highest quality, fit, and finish available. Here are a couple of items which are unique to this vehicle:
- Our Adventure Truck body insulation consists of closed-cell foam, which gives it more insulation value than a standard balsa wood core. We should also mention that the foam is recycled.
- The Adventure Truck body is also made with an exterior and interior mold, which give a finished white gelcoat surface to the interior, as opposed to an unfinished surface that must be covered up to be completed.
- Security—The entry door and all storage doors are Integrated into the body with a 60 millimeter (2.36-inch) framework.
- The large curved skylight in the front of the body is a two-pane glass skylight, not acrylic. There is a larger surface, allowing for more natural light and more viewing space. Also, the glass surface can have a security film installed, making it virtually impenetrable, where the acrylic skylights can be pried open fairly easily. As an upgrade option, the glass skylight can be made to be electrically dimmable—hit a switch, and it goes opaque, hit the switch again, and it goes clear!!
- We also use a full aluminum step system, as opposed to the typical steel step. We have been very happy with this upgrade, as the steel steps were found to be unreliable, needing to be replaced every two to three years.
TCA: Is the Adventure Truck a true four-season rig?
GXV: Yes, It has redundant electrical power systems, Webasto diesel heat water/cabin air systems, with the optional Webasto coolant heat system to provide engine heat for cold starts, allowing the Adventure Truck to be a true four-season expedition vehicle.
TCA: Why should customers go with an Adventure Truck rather than going with something else like an EarthRoamer?
GXV: The Adventure Truck has been designed as an economical solution to the overland community from years of world travel experience, giving it industry leading quality and durability. The 30 millimeter closed cell foam construction is also superior to the fiberglass over balsa wood construction used by many body manufacturers, which is subject to rot. Want something larger for more travelers, more capacities or just more space? Global X Vehicles also manufactures a complete model lineup for a wide variety of truck chassis, to meet more travelers needs, instead of making the travelers’ needs “fit” the vehicle.
TCA: The Adventure Truck is a terrific rig and a great value for the money. If readers wanted to order one how would they do it, factory direct or through a dealership?
GXV: Each Adventure Truck is handled from beginning to end through our Springfield, Missouri headquarters located in the Missouri Ozarks. Readers can start by researching our website or can schedule a tour of our facility.
TCA: What is the wait time if somebody wanted to order one now?
GXV: Completed delivery times can depend on many variables including chassis availability. Typical delivery times for the Adventure Truck usually run about three to four months after the receipt of chassis.
TCA: Is there anything else you’d like to say before we close?
GXV: Yes, Mike, one more thing. We have a new expedition rig model being released in January 2019. Building on the concept of the Adventure Truck starting in the Fall of 2018, Global X Vehicles took the series one step farther by adding a spacious cab-over sleeping area to create the Adventure-XT. By moving the mattress to the over-cab area, the kitchen almost doubles in size, creates a dining booth that can also be used as a bed, and increases interior storage cabinet volume and options. The increase in roof area allows up to 850 watt solar panels combined with Mastervolt lithium ion batteries up to 800 amp hour capacity. Mounted on a Ram 5500 or Ford F-550 crew cab chassis with massive 335/80R20 wheels and tires, this bold expedition vehicle has created a new class for performance, range, comfort, and affordability.