Joni Mitchell had it right when she said they paved paradise and put up a parking lot. The world of camping has gotten so gentrified that the people who claim to be roughing it are lugging around more comfort than most of the world lives in on a daily basis. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to lay your head in a nice location, but you should at least be out in the true glory of nature, not slid into an asphalt slot. It’s time to get the greatest of all worlds and find an off-road camper that can keep you comfortable and go into the wild.
What makes a camper an off-roader is easy to define. They’re typically lifted, giving greater ground clearance for fording streams and heading for the hills. The exteriors aren’t gentle siding with decals but hardy metals and fiberglass, ready to take on branch scrapes and gale force winds. They pack down tightly, since they’ll be jostled and bumped time and again as the terrain tries to knock loose all your survival gear. They need to be rugged beyond buzzwords. Few make the cut, but those that do become the best off-road campers and trailers for the gypsy and the overlanders.
Big Woody Camper
Rather than buying an off-road camper, you can the plans from Big Woody and make one yourself. The DIY manual is 153 pages, making it quite an exhaustive tome, but it walks you through every step of the process, so anyone with a little tool know-how and a yen to make their trailer a real handcrafted home can do it. Big Woody even suggests hardy utility trailers that will work well when it comes to providing stability and the ability to tackle the savage outdoors, so if this doesn’t suit you, there’s no one else to blame.
Manley ORV Explore
The Manley is for the type who will sleep on the floor beside a plush bed, because that’s how they’re comfortable. Bare bones basic, there’s no frills here, just a pop up tent, a stow bin for your gear, and a haul hook on the back for when you need to yank some stuck fool out of the ditch. It has what you need and doesn’t waste your time with flim-flam, jibber-jabber, or hoity toityness.
Schutt Industries Xventure XV-2A
When you claim your product is “severe duty” you’d better be bringing the hits, or the hill folk will string you up. Backed by military engineering and technological know-how, the XV-2A is lucky it lives up to its own hype. Made entirely out of aluminum, it shrugs off rust even when you leave it out in the elements for months at a time, but can be outfitted with a stainless steel galley that beats most home kitchens for industrial-grade cooking appliances. Feel free to load your dirt bike or ATV onto the back. It can take it.
The words “A-arm coil” didn’t mean much until we saw how well it made the suspension of the XTR cope with rolling across uneven and broken terrain without attempting to lie down and die. It helps that the body sits on Fox Racing shocks and hearty all-terrain tires on the end of 3500lb. axels. Massive storage boxes along with a little power shell really add comfort and luxury to the go-anywhere, never-say-die body.
Highland Expedition Outfitters (HEO) T3
The small base is completely comprised of aluminum, tipping the scales at a scant 550lbs, which allows it to be towed by nearly anything under the sun. Loads of clearance and a compact shell permit the T3 to go over the hill and through the woods without getting jackknifed behind you or trying to take a shortcut without your express permission. Pop it up and it’s a nice raised sleeper capable of holding 3 people, and has features upon features you can add in, all the way up to your own solar array for off-the-grid living.
Patriot Campers X1
The X1 has been a juggernaut in the trailer industry since the day it was unveiled a few years back. Rather than rest, Patriot has been hard at work ever since, throwing in upgrades to sweeten the already delicious pot. An integrated Howling Moon tent of ripstop canvas tops the X1, fitting nicely with a wraparound awning for loads of coverage all the way around. The body is pressurized with dust filtration that makes a Hazmat room look like a sty. There’s a list of features as long as Gisele Bündchen’s leg, all on a rock solid base, so stable it makes the Cleaver family look dysfunctional.
Oregon Trail’R TerraDrop
A little post-apocalyptic love nest built for two, the custom constructed TerraDrop is precisely the kind of smart, functional, aesthetically pleasing trailer a long-time camper would design. Every nook and cranny is lined with cabinets and smart storage solutions that make the most of the minimal space, while using a camp kitchen on the outside to handle all of the meal prep. Warmth is kept wholly inside, thanks to a refractive lighting system that captures every precious whisp of heat.
TC Teardrop Trailer
TC has been forever expanding their beautiful Teardrop line, and have concocted 4 variations of this traditional beast, each more impressive than the last. The prices are so reasonable that it’s difficult to believe they’re up to handling the hardships of the wild, but one trip will be all it takes to convince you. Campers who prefer to go off even the unbeaten path can upgrade any size Teardrop with an “off-road” package tha beefs up the tires and the clearance, along with giving you sturdier tow options and a 3500lb axle.
VMI Xtender Compass
Hot and cold running water, air conditioning, central heating, an LED television, and front to back goods make the Compass a welded aluminum bastion of opulence. Even more impressive, those are the features of the base unit, with more waiting in the wings for you to add on as you see fit. A pricey little bugger, it’s as tough as it is tender.
GXV (Global Expedition Vehicles) Turtle
This is a BYOTruck situation where you can get the rear that fits whatever big chassis you’re working with. While you can’t take a wrong turn with any of GXV’s products, the Turtle is their classic, and the best for the off-road consumer who just needs a comfortable living space, not an armored personnel carrier. That basic cube has everything you could want, all in a build that can be taken down the road less traveled…or the one you make yourself.
Tiger Adventure Vehicles Siberian
Tiger is another company that doesn’t have a flaw in their lineup, but if you’re going to spend the dough, you might as well skip the smaller fare and go right for the Siberian. All aluminum on the outside, what looks like a rolling tank opens up into a luxurious suite, with an interior meant to coddle your weary bones. The storage is artfully handled with wood grain all about, complete with a TV on a flexible arm that’s so decadent it’s easy to forget you’re camped out on hell’s doorstep.