Their motto is “one life, live it.” We couldn’t agree more. Stephy and Leigh, who travel and live full-time in a Land Rover Defender 130 and Four Wheel Camper Grizzly rig, have explored 36 countries over a five-year span and are still going strong. The couple’s rig, of course, allows them to do it. The capabilities of the Land Rover Defender 130 are well known. Couple a Land Rover Defender with an equally capable Four Wheel Camper Grizzly, and you have a truck camper rig that is truly special. Indeed, there probably isn’t a more capable rig than this lightweight combo. To learn more about their rig and their travels across four continents, the couple was kind enough to answer a few questions.
Thanks, for talking with us. Can you tell us a little bit about yourselves?
Steph and Leigh: We are Steph and Leigh from France and Australia and we’ve been driving around the world in our Land Rover Defender 130 and Four Wheel camper for five years. Over the five years we’ve driven through 36 countries. Stephy and I share a passion for travel and adventure. We enjoy rock climbing, hiking and exploring new places and cultures. Above all else, we love meeting new people from all over the world. Together we’ve visited over 50 countries and have no plans of stopping anytime soon.
We love your Land Rover Defender-Four Wheel Camper setup. Can you tell us more about it?
Steph and Leigh: We live full time in our 2014 Grizzly model Four Wheel Pop-Up Camper. For North Americans unfamiliar with the Grizzly, the lower half of the camper consists of a Four Wheel Camper Fleet and an upper half of a Four Wheel Camper Hawk. These model campers were made for the European market only. Our camper is carried on a 2010 Land Rover Defender 130. We purchased both our vehicle and camper in Germany. We lived in our Grizzly for three years as a stock model before deciding to modify it in Japan in 2020 during the COVID pandemic.
What mods, if any, have you made to your Four Wheel Camper? Or is it all stock?
Steph and Leigh: We completely stripped out the interior and rebuilt it with a new design. We added new storage cabinets, removed all propane gas appliances, replacing with diesel heating and electric induction for cooking, added a larger 540 watt solar system, and upgraded to 480 amp hours of lithium batteries. A video of the rebuild can be found here.
Can you tell us about your truck?
Steph and Leigh: Our Land Rover Defender 130 is named “Bear” and he’s been modified to suit our needs as full timers. The vehicle has a remapped 2.4L Ford Duratorq engine with upgraded turbo and intercooler. The truck is on full air suspension from Airbagman Australia, which has to be one of our favorite modifications. We can adjust our ride height to suit conditions and also self level for those uneven camp sites. We have a long range main diesel tank of 140L along with an auxiliary tank of 70L. We carry 160L of water in three holding tanks.
Nice! Are you over or under your truck’s GVWR?
Steph and Leigh: We are right on our maximum weight limit with all water and diesel tanks full. Many months of planning went into the decision of what rig we should attempt this massive project with. A Four Wheel Camper was chosen due to the company’s many decades of experience in truck camper construction, the ability to have our home and vehicle independent without towing, the compact size when packed up allows us to fit inside a standard sea container for shipping, the awesome off road capabilities of the Four Wheel Camper and the living comfort.
What kind of mileage are you getting with your setup?
Steph and Leigh: Our average fuel consumption is 13L/100km.
What size wheels and tires does your truck have and what inflation values do you typically run? Do you ever air down?
Steph and Leigh: We’re running Cooper STT Pro tires sized 265/75R16 or 32-inch. Larger tires are just not necessary and put additional stress on bearings and wheel hubs. We typically run 60psi rear and 40psi front on road and will air down for other conditions. On soft beach sand we’ll go as low as 12psi front and 28psi rear. We have an ARB twin cylinder compressor for airing up.
Can you tell us where you’ve taken your rig so far?
Steph and Leigh: In 2017 we departed Paris City and headed south through Spain, Portugal and Morocco. We then headed east speeding time in more European countries before traveling through eastern Europe to Croatia then south into Bosnia Herzegovina, Albania, Greece, and into Turkey.
From Turkey it was north to Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. From Azerbaijan we loaded our truck camper onto a ship along with ourselves and crossed the Caspian Sea living in our Four Wheel Camper on the top deck of the ship. This voyage lasted five days before we arrived in the western Kazakhstan city of Aktau. To the east from Kazakhstan through Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Kyrgyzstan. Central Asia was a highlight and so we spent almost two years in this region.
From Kazakhstan we crossed the Russian Altai and into Mongolia crossing the country from West to East before again entering Russia. Through Siberia to the eastern city of Vladivostok where we boarded a ferry for South Korea. From South Korea another ferry to Japan. We spent 12 months in Japan before shipping via a RORO vessel to Taiwan. Then we spent six months in beautiful Taiwan then into a shipping container with the destination being our current location of Australia.
What has been your most memorable adventure?
Steph and Leigh: When asked about our biggest adventure we will always answer that our month in Afghanistan would have to be top of the list. We drove the epic Wakhan corridor then hiked for 160km to spend time with the Kyrgyz nomads living in this extremely remote corner of the world. Afghanistan and it’s people were kind and welcoming and we’ll always remember fondly our time here.
What kind of challenges have you encountered on your worldwide travels?
Steph and Leigh: We’ve experienced many challenges over this five-year journey with the standout being when we attempted to cross a frozen river in a remote region of eastern Mongolia. Halfway across the river the ice broke with our vehicle falling through and becoming stuck. We were 50km from the Russian border and needed to cross the next day or risk losing our visa.
Without the incredible assistance of four local men to whom we’re forever in debt we don’t know what would have happened. A six-hour recovery had us on the opposite bank at midnight in -20C temperatures.
What is the highest elevation where you’ve taken your rig?
Steph and Leigh: We have camped at more than 4000m (13,123 feet) multiple times with the highest pass we’ve done in the truck and camper being 4655m (15,272 feet) in Tajikistan. At that elevation, I did suffer from altitude sickness, but Stephanie did not.
What country has been your favorite so far?
Steph and Leigh: We often get asked where our favorite place is and that’s a tough one to answer. We’ve absolutely loved all the countries we’ve visited and the friendships made. If we had to list a few we could say Turkey, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Japan and Taiwan would be up there. All countries with amazing people, landscapes, food and trails.
How well has your Four Wheel Camper held up in the extreme weather and temperatures?
What are the benefits of traveling in a pop-up truck camper?
What are your future plans?
Steph and Leigh: As for our future plans we’ve got no intention of stopping and will continue this international overland adventure for as long as we possibly can. From Australia it’s still uncertain where we’ll ship to but the Middle East, South America and Africa are all high on the list. Our passion for this lifestyle is stronger than ever and we can’t imagine settling down for many years to come.
Do you have a website and/or social media channels where our readers can follow your travels?
Steph and Leigh: We’ve documented the journey from the beginning five years ago with weekly YouTube videos on our GrizzlyNbear Overland channel. We also share the adventure on Instagram and Facebook under the same name.
Anything else you’d like to tell us before we close? Do you have any advice for our readers?
Steph and Leigh: Traveling the world overland in our truck camper is something we worked for many years planning and saving to make this dream a reality. It’s been the journey of a lifetime and we love sharing this with others. If you’ve ever thought to try living full time in your camper traveling for extended periods then we say do it, you will never regret the decision. Thanks for joining us and we’ll you on the trails.