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Old 05-29-2018, 08:49 PM   #1
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Default Off Pavement?

I am brand new here but have been looking into Class B units for several years. I love their compactness and mpg's. They have everything I need except, possibly, the ability to go where I want to go. I travel quite a bit and use the interstate and other highways to cover many miles. But, most of the places I want to get to are, at best, at the ends of rugged rocky switchedbacked or muddy roads. At worst, they are challenging, in places, to my Jeep 4wd. When I look at the ground clearance of an RT, I imagine parts being torn off by potholes and rocks. To be sure, these units have the benefit of added storage placed low to the road surface. But, am I right to think these Class B's are really only usable on more civilized paved surfaces? I've seen a few 4wd units but even they look pretty low slung. I'm a reasonably civilized guy, but I also have a need to escape from civilized touristy places. Any suggestions on how I can get to those remote trail heads?
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Old 05-29-2018, 09:25 PM   #2
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I have lifted my 210 Popular 4 inches and will be converting it to 4WD next month.

My build thread here -

http://www.classbforum.com/forums/f8...uild-6756.html

From this -





to this -







Photog also lifted his Roadtrek here -

http://www.classbforum.com/forums/f8...190v-1552.html
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Old 05-29-2018, 11:21 PM   #3
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Default Off Pavement?

Thanks Hondo. Your post gives me a little more optimism for getting one of these units up and off the highway. Your post led me to others that seek to do the same. I will, clearly, need to enhance my knowledge of vehicle suspension systems beyond my current basic knowledge. These posts have also raised another concern with regard to safety and handling with raising an already high center of gravity even higher. I don't want ot overstate my experience in off roading but, I sometimes travel back roads that have a whole lot of horizontal incline, especially when navigating around a rock or a hole or a whatever. Sometimes one feels outriggers would be a good thing. A high center of gravity is not a plus. I am trying to get a realistic sense of what capabilities I can build into one of these Class B's and still be safe.
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Old 05-30-2018, 01:29 PM   #4
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....But, most of the places I want to get to are, at best, at the ends of rugged rocky switchedbacked or muddy roads. At worst, they are challenging, in places, to my Jeep 4wd. ....
We spend a lot of time on forest roads and dirt roads with no problem, you can increase clearance, add bigger better off road tires, even add 4WD to a Van, but Camper Vans are NOT 4WD Jeeps. Even 4WD lifted Vans are NOT 4WD Jeeps. If the locations you want to get to challenge your Jeep, your gonna either be STUCK, or do damage to a Camper Van. Vans are wider and taller than a jeep, with less turning radius, less clearance, and a longer wheelbase, and simply will not FIT in some of the same places as a jeep.. You'll have dishes, electronics, furniture, plumbing and cabinetry in a Camper Van; none of which was really built for (especially in a RT) "rugged rocky, muddy roads".
Possibly consider a Sportsmobile our Outdoor Van built for your intended use, OR, get just a wee bit more civilized...
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Old 05-30-2018, 02:05 PM   #5
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.

You can build the most capable 4 wheel drive system.
You can install the most badass off-road tires.
You can have lockers coming out of your ears.

Nothing matters.

The only way you can go anywhere challenging is to get that 8,000 lb off your back.

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Old 05-30-2018, 02:21 PM   #6
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If you really want to go off road with a van and not just go down rough roads then I think the only real option is not an OEM Sprinter 4wd system but something that will get you larger tires and more clearance and a real 4wd system. Maybe a used Sportsmobile on an Econoline van or if they are actually making it, the new Sportsmobile built on an Econoline cutaway with their shell mounted on the back. Or a Quigley Chevy Express is another option. If you want to do it in a Sprinter then you should look at an aftermarket 4wd system that is more suited for off road than the OEM system. Just my opinion...
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Old 05-30-2018, 03:53 PM   #7
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Cliffhanger,

You can also check out my thread (see signature). I have a 2WD Roadtrek with a locker and a good 4"-5" lift. It's still not back from the shop. They're finishing up alignment but I should have it Saturday and look forward to finally seeing how capable it is.



But, to be honest, I only built it for mild offroad. I plan on making it easier going down dirt roads, accessing hard to reach camping spots and beach camping... But nothing close to rock crawling and I hope to avoid mud and snow (but that's just because I come from Canada).

I believe the main issue at this point is the "furniture" in the van. Any rough bump causes really loud and annoying noise in the back. It's like taking a drive in your home kitchen.

Yes I'll definately be able to enjoy it in wilder areas but let's not get carried away.

I chose not to upgrade to 4x4 because I don't think I'll be able to reach areas where it will be necessary (and budget too). But I did make sure I had the means to get out of trouble (Maxtrax, winch, tow points).
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Old 05-30-2018, 04:26 PM   #8
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A lot of good thoughts and ideas here. Mat I really like your Mobile. It may be in line, realistically, with what I'm trying to accomplish. I'm not trying to go true off road. I'm just thinking of those occassional times when the road, in sections, did get really tough. In most cases, with care I think one could work this RV through. The other option being considered is towing a teardrop with my Jeep. These, allegedly, can be towed over very rough terrain or they can be dropped for a week while taking the 4wd the rest of the way.
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Old 05-30-2018, 05:07 PM   #9
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How long are the trips you are planning? How many passengers/campers?

Because a lift like Hondo and mine are in the 10k$ and above.

It seems you are planning short trips so I'm thinking the teardrop is a better choice for you.

We built ours to travel the pan-american highway but most likely ship it to Europe instead (includes more adventurous trips to Morroco, Turkey and beyond).
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Old 05-30-2018, 06:36 PM   #10
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Cliffhanger,

You can also check out my thread (see signature). I have a 2WD Roadtrek with a locker and a good 4"-5" lift. ...



....


Badass

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Old 05-30-2018, 06:56 PM   #11
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Badass

Thanks!
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Old 05-30-2018, 09:19 PM   #12
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I think the responses here have been, well, responsible. We all pretty much agree a camper van is never going to be ideal for off-roading. Sportsmobile is probably the best option although there are some other very expensive custom options (e.g. Outside Van). As for me, I wanted a camper van capable of pretty much getting to any mountain bike trail head. Something many call soft-roading as opposed to off roading. Said another way, can it do White Rim Trail in UT. I think the only commercially available van that would apply is the Winnebago Revel. A cool van but pretty basic inside per today's camper van standards but luxurious compared to tent camping. In the end I ended up the sacrificing the 4X4 and ground clearance I wanted for a MUCH more usable and livable floorpan. We need up ordering a Travato. I have confirmed with others it can make it to Gooseberry Mesa and other trailheads I desire to get to. It can not remotely tackle White Rim Trail. I have ordered it with dealer installed SumoSprings to increase rear ground clearance one inch. I will also be switching out the stock tires for T/A K02 tires down the road a bit. I may even look into some of the newly announced lift options to help with the clearance issues. Sounds simplistic but it really is important, rank order your needs and preferences and go from there.
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Old 05-30-2018, 11:25 PM   #13
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Most of my travels, in the past, have been 10-20 days on the road and\or into the back country. However, the reason for joining up here is that I plan to hit the road in the future for months at a time. I want to visit small towns all across the USA including into Alaska and Canada. With some additional courage, I may go down through Mexico into South America. Along the way I plan to savor all the wilderness places via backpack trips. Otherwise photography, rockhounding, and nature immersion will be primary. Oh, and when I'm not out on my own, I'd hope to meet interesting people along the way.
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Old 05-31-2018, 12:39 AM   #14
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...the reason for joining up here is that I plan to hit the road in the future for months at a time. I want to visit small towns all across the USA including into Alaska and Canada. With some additional courage, I may go down through Mexico into South America. Along the way I plan to savor all the wilderness places via backpack trips. Otherwise photography, rockhounding, and nature immersion will be primary. Oh, and when I'm not out on my own, I'd hope to meet interesting people along the way.
Cliffhanger, awesome plans you have got. You did not mention in you original post if you will be traveling solo or with others, pets? Also, of course, budget is big input into this equation. One thing that jumped out at me, and I only know from reading about it often, is that if you genuinely believe you might be headed south of the border stick to gas or an old diesel. Clean diesel fuel for recent Mercedes Benz Sprinters seemingly is NOT available in South America.

The other advice I'd pass along that helped us decide which B van to choose recently was test driving a few and finding a dealer that will simply let you hang out inside any van being considered for a while. It sounds corny but it really is helpful to go through the motions and activities of living out of a van. Pretend to make coffee and breakfast and clean up (doing this I realized the small marine sinks are problematic). Sit on the stool and move the showered around your body, relax and imagine watching a DVD on the TV. One thing that was a stopper for me in many vans was shaving. I don't mind washing my hands in the kitchen sink but shaving in the kitchen sink seems like a road too far and then you need a portable mirror. What will you really be eating on the road and is the fridge large enough? How are you going to cook it all? For example, the Revel's small galley seems manageable thinking one will cook outside but what happens if there are several days of rain? Will the van be comfortable then, is one burner, no microwave or oven, and a tiny fudge enough. For some absolutely it is, for us nope.

Where you live and plan to travel is a factor. In many parts of the West there is less need to run AC but in the midwest, east coast and southeast AC may be needed all night. Meaning generator noise and hour restrictions have to be balanced with cost of lithium solutions.

Just start bouncing around inside a short list of vans is my recommendation. As others correctly stated, one or two will just feel right. Listen to that little voice because it probably knows best. My rational head space liked the 4X4 Agile but every time i went inside one I felt anxious. Closed in, old fashioned, dark. It would have been an expensive mistake. Conversely, the first Travato K I stepped in I was like, "Wow, this is awesome." I'd be happy hanging out in here. And holly crap look at the size of this rear bath - this is useable. And the more time I spent in Travatos the more I liked them. So we went that direction - sacrificing off-road capability but hopefully securing enough dirt road capability to get to the trailheads.

If the van gets us to the trailhead I'm content. From there my bike will take me deeper in the wilderness. For you backpacking will do that.

But, if for example one of us had a physical limitation then a van that can go much deeper into the wilderness would be a priority and Revel would be top of the list. So I am back to my previous post, figure out your priorities and then go rattle around in a bunch of different vans. It's fun. After you have a short list this forum and/or user groups can give you their two cents on a final decision.
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Old 05-31-2018, 01:09 AM   #15
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I am brand new here but have been looking into Class B units for several years. I love their compactness and mpg's. They have everything I need except, possibly, the ability to go where I want to go. I travel quite a bit and use the interstate and other highways to cover many miles. But, most of the places I want to get to are, at best, at the ends of rugged rocky switchedbacked or muddy roads. At worst, they are challenging, in places, to my Jeep 4wd. When I look at the ground clearance of an RT, I imagine parts being torn off by potholes and rocks. To be sure, these units have the benefit of added storage placed low to the road surface. But, am I right to think these Class B's are really only usable on more civilized paved surfaces? I've seen a few 4wd units but even they look pretty low slung. I'm a reasonably civilized guy, but I also have a need to escape from civilized touristy places. Any suggestions on how I can get to those remote trail heads?
I had a 4x4 van and it was not as good as my 4x4 truck. As i went over rough terrain you can hear the van creek as it twisted. The main difference between your jeep and a 4wd van is the jeep is light and the B van has all that weight twisting and pressing on the frame and suspension. Sure it will do a lot more than a 2wd but don't expect it to do what you can with your Jeep or truck. Not to mention a tree limb coming up and poking a hole in a holding tank or knocking off a valve. I had that one happen to my B just on the road.
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Old 05-31-2018, 01:28 AM   #16
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... As for me, I wanted a camper van capable of pretty much getting to any mountain bike trail head. Something many call soft-roading as opposed to off roading. ... In the end I ended up the sacrificing the 4X4 and ground clearance I wanted for a MUCH more usable and livable floorplan. We need up ordering a Travato. I have confirmed with others it can make it to .. trailheads I desire to get to. I have ordered it with dealer installed SumoSprings to increase rear ground clearance one inch. I will also be switching out the stock tires for T/A K02 tires down the road a bit...
Excellent! I have exactly the same thing: Front wheel Travato with Sumos and KO2 tires.. She's no rock crawler, but handles forest roads and rough dirt roads with no problem... And I got a great little RV with all the features I want, saved $30K or possibly much more, don't have to deal with diesel, and get great gas mileage.
In sand and mud, I think a 5 ton 4wd will sink just as fast as a 5 ton 2wd..
On rough solid ground she does fine (albeit slow).
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Old 05-31-2018, 03:49 AM   #17
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I've ridden the White Rim 5 times on a motorcycle and wouldn't take my Roadtrek in 4WD on that...maybe a dedicated SAG van that i didn't care too much about with much less weight.



Hardscrabble hill and Murphy's Hogback might be able to completed in a 4WD Class B but there are quite a few places that you could get high centered. I wouldn't want to drive through Potato Bottoms or scrape the sides on the low overhangs either...


For me, I want to able to get through 90% of what's out there including snow, sand washes, rocky passes and light mud- these machines are too heavy (as previously mentioned) to navigate mud bogs and deep sugar sand...
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Old 05-31-2018, 04:31 AM   #18
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I've noticed the Travato but never been up close. It sounds like I need to. I am getting great insights from everyone. My only motored RV experience has been with an old Toyota Minicruiser that I absolutely loved. I used to claim it was 4wd but really it was a dually. I don't recall the ground clerance but it could get me just about anywhere. Kept it outfitted for family camping in summer and hunting in winter. Great surround windows in the back. Teck, I appreciate your pointing out the issue with lack of diesel heading South of the border. Hmmm I don't like that information though..... Yes Hondo sugar sand and deep mud will bog just about anything... I've been throwing out worst case scenarios. But, hopefully, judgement will kick in and keep me from tackling anything beyond what's reasonable for the vehicle I finally choose. After just 1 day of chatting I'm excited to pick something..... and go!
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Old 05-31-2018, 04:43 AM   #19
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I expect most of my travel will be solo but I expect I'll have a companion along for parts of the trip as they're available. As far as cooking, I'm not very creative, or interested, in that department and have been wondering about that. It's time consuming and a bother. If I didn't get weak, I wouldn't bother with food. It's one thing to fast food for a 10 day trip and entirely another for so long on the road. Restaurants would get expensive and waist expanding. One of my other pass-times is running. I'm planning to run road races around the country. They're usually on Saturdays. Look around an area for a week, run the local race and then head down the road to the next town with a run.
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Old 05-31-2018, 05:10 AM   #20
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Iíve taken my 2013 RT RS on many maintained gravel roads and some unmaintained ones. Itís on the Sprinter 3500 dually with the 170Ē wheel base. Thousands of off pavement miles. A few times in inches of snow. And many miles of desert washboard the locals call Nevada highways. Dry lakebeds. Death Valley. Black Rock Desert and places in the Southwest.

Itís mostly worked fine. My rule is to never drive someplace I donít think I can back out of. A few times Iíve backed up a couple of miles when a road got too sandy or I decided too rough. The Sprinter has taken us many remote and rough places. But itís for sure not a high clearance 4wd. I pay close attention to not getting in situations where I can get caught with the center of the Sprinter across a hump. And I go slow over rough washboard type roads. For example I drove all but the last couple of miles down Hole in the Rock trail in Escalante National Monument. Drivers in lighter 4wd and SUVs were often going 30 mph. I probably went half that speed. But I made it to the same place most turned back. But I had a well equipped camper van to enjoy while I was there.

Iíve also spent extensive time to de-squeak the RV with different types of foam, spring cords, Velcro and towels. Basically anything that can rub or vibrate is treated in some form. Lots of effort into sound deadening.

I get it that not everyone like the appearance of the Roadtrek. But it all mostly works. Great bed. Working bathroom with shower. Electric fridge. Propane system for cooking, space heating and water heating. And to run the generator for the occasional microwave or AC use. 200w solar feeding two 220 ah agm 6v batteries. Always enough to make things work overnight. Not all this stuff is needed on short trips, but is great to have on long trips. In East Texas right now where it is mid 90ís with high humidity. Iíve spent more than a hundred nights in the Roadtrek in the last two years and maybe 5 of those nights had hookups. It is really nice to be able to plug in when AC is needed overnight.

Someday a higher clearance shorter wheelbase 4wd Sprinter is in my future. But our current Roadtrek Sprinter has been a stud and a good value. Iíll bet I spend more on the new Sprinter than I have into the current one.
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