EEXP: Does it Measure Up?

EEXPMeasureUp 1One of the first pieces I wrote about the EEXP was “Why?” In this article I laid out all of my round the world overland vehicle requirements. After traveling in the EEXP for over 3 months now, I feel like it is time to give you a first impression of how the rig is measuring up to the initial design goals. The following is a detailed breakdown of how the “finished” rig compares to the requirements I set up in that early article:

EEXPMeasureUp 2Overall Requirements:

“Must fit in a shipping container while being as small, light and nimble as possible. Must be able to handle single vehicle travel in remote tough off road environments. Must have international parts availability. Must be able to get from drivers seat to bed without leaving the vehicle. Must be able to carry all my adventure sports gear; 3-6 kayaks (6’-10’ L), 2 mtn bikes, kiteboard setup (size of Golf Bag), climbing gear (2 backpacks), paddles (up to 200cm L), paddling gear (2 duffles) and biking gear (1 duffle). Must be capable of carrying, and provide living space for, 2 full time passengers and their supplies.”

The EEXP camper with all its systems in place only weighted in at 1,289 lbs. This is super light for this type of camper! The down side is that fully loaded with gear, water, fuel and two people the entire rig weights in at about 10,500 lbs. This is bad, because the GVW on the 2001 Dodge Ram 2500 is only 8,800 lbs. The rig is 8’7″ tall, 22’5″ long and 7′ wide, meaning it should fit in a high cube (entry door height is 8’5″ & interior width is 7’6″) 40′ shipping container, once you air the tires down a bit. Tight fit for sure! The EEXP proved it’s offroad prowess right away with tackling the entire length of Lockhart Basin Rd in Moab UT, the longest Jeep trail in the area. While the Dodge Ram truck does not have all that good of international parts availability, the Cummins engine that powers it has widely available parts and service. The designed cab to camper pass through has not yet been built, so you can not get from the driver seat to the bed without leaving the vehicle. All adventure sports gear and living supply carrying criteria were met. It is a snug living space, but it feels quite spacious when kept clean and organized.

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(Photo: Matthew Scott)

EEXPMeasureUp 4EEXPMeasureUp 5EEXPMeasureUp 6Vehicle Requirements:

“4×4 with low range, able to be registered in the US, 800+ mile range, preferably diesel (does not need emissions inspection in MD and for torque and durability), 3+ seats w/seat belts, 2 comfortable seats, fog lights, offroad driving lights, backup camera, quality sound system, loud horn”

The Dodge Ram 2500 has a solid factory 4×4 system (especially with the addition of the Posi-Lock system), can easily be registered in the US, has about a 546 mile range (34 gal factory fuel tank + 8 gal of Roto-Pax = 42 gal capacity at about 13 MPG), is 5.9L 24V Cummins diesel powered, offers 3 seat belted seats across the front row, the factory bucket seats are pretty comfortable, PIAA fog and offroad lights were added, an Edge Products CTS monitor with backup camera was installed, the sound system works for now (but a better head unit with aux input will be added soon) and the factory horn is adequate (an upgraded louder unit would be nice).

EEXPMeasureUp 7 EEXPMeasureUp 8The truck’s capabilities are also greatly improved by the addition/use of: General Tire Grabber AT2 285/70R17 E rated tires, Icon Vehicle Dynamics 2.5″ remote reservoir adjustable shocks, Method Standard Wheels (provided by Xplore Baja), Hellwig rear sway bar & load assist springs, Synergy steering box brace, Borgeson steering box & steering shaft, 2 Group 31 (semi) batteries, Buckstop front bumper, Warn 16.5ti winch, Bushwacker pocket style fender flares, Hi-Lift Jack & assec, Maxtrax, Factor55 winching accessories and an ARB front diff cover, diff breather kit & recovery accessories. Also a huge shout out to the team at Canby Signs & Graphics for the vehicle graphics that finished off the build.

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EEXPMeasureUp 10

(Photo: Matthew Scott)

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(Photo: Matthew Scott)

Camper Requirements:

“Sleeping: minimum of full sized bed (54”x75”)bed must be able to be used with living space in normal transport configuration”

The 3 sided dinette converts into a full sized bed easily and quickly. The cab wall side of the dinette also has a wide enough cushion for one person to sleep while another works at the table. Memory foam in the seat/bed cushions are key to comfort.

EEXPMeasureUp 12 EEXPMeasureUp 13“Kitchen: outdoor gas stove that can also be used indoors (1 burner, 1 grill/griddle surface), 3.2cu ft+ fridgeoutside cooking surfaceindoor sinkoutside faucet/sink”

Camp Chef sorted us out with 2 One Burner Butane Stoves and the Rainier Campers Combo propane grill. We love this setup as it ensures that we can always find a fuel to cook with and the Butane stoves allow us to cook indoors, when ventilated properly with the use of the roof fan and open windows. We have a HUGE Dometic 3.8cu ft top load fridge, that offers plenty of room to keep our food and adult beverages cold. We have a Spinflow sink system indoors and an outside shower head that is accessed through the exterior storage compartment.

EEXPMeasureUp 14 EEXPMeasureUp 17 EEXPMeasureUp 16 EEXPMeasureUp 15“Power: house battery/s, solar recharge system, LED lighting, 2,000w+ inverter”

GoSol Power outfitted the EEXP with a full electrical system that utilizes top of the line equipment that includes a 255w Solar panel, solar controller, 150 amp hour house battery, engine battery isolator and a 1,000w inverter. After some calculations with the equipment that we regularly use, we found that 1,000w of 120v power was more than enough for our current needs.

EEXPMeasureUp 18“Inside Office: table (can hold 2 laptops at once), seating for 2+, multiple 120v power outlets”

The dinette area easily allows two people to spread out and work on their laptops. We’ve also had up to 6 people seated around the dinette, 4 comfortably. There are 3 120v outlets on our inverter, and 6 12v USB outlets throughout the camper.

EEXPMeasureUp 19“Bathroom: toilet (cartridge, no plumbing), shower (outside, maybe inside as well), fresh drinking water tank w/faucet”

We use a small cartridge toilet that is treating us well. There is an outside shower in the outdoor storage cabinet. There is an onboard 30 gal fresh water tank with full filtration and a Spinflow sink system.

EEXPMeasureUp 20EEXPMeasure UP 24“Outside: awning, area lighting, spare tire carrier”

Our Dometic legless awning works great at creating an outside living space that we have used quite often for cooking in the rain or on a hot sunny day. The one-piece awning deployment tool is a bit large and a pain to carry, but through the use of some Mini Quick Fists, it has found a good home in the camper. There currently isn’t any area lighting outside, but it would be really nice to put some LEDs just below the awning for outside light. Through design changes during the camper build a spare tire carrier on the back of the camper became a poor option, due to the new possible location’s height and distance behind the rear axel. The spare tire is carried in the stock location under the camper.

EEXPMeasureUp 21 EEXPMeasureUp 22Conclusion:

Hindsight is always 20/20 and there are a ton of things that I would have done differently in regard to both the build process and build itself. In the end the build was a collaboration between Exploring Elements and XPCamper. This collaboration created a truly unique and capable overland vehicle that met most of the original design goals. As with all collaborations there were also some disagreements on the direction and design of the build. These disagreements both improved the overall product and also hurt it in a number of ways. I also don’t suggest trying to design and build something like this on a tiny budget and in only 3 months! It can be done quickly, or it can be done with lots of money, don’t try to accomplish both, as the product and/or your budget will suffer.

On paper the EEXP only falls short on a few of the original design goals. The only major goal not accomplished was the pass-through from the cab to the camper. I hear arguments for and against the importance of this feature every day. In the end it is a feature that has been and is important to me, for my style of overland travel. Another goal that was not reached was the 800+ miles range (achieved about 546 mile range). So far this has not been an issue, and for places where longer range is needed fuel cans can be strapped to the rear bumper or on the roof rack. The addition of an aux tank was in the plans, but no one makes a larger primary or aux tank for a short bed ’01 Dodge Ram. There is room for a custom aux tank between the camper and truck frame, but that option is cost prohibitive. I was also shooting to have the fully loaded vehicle at or below GVW in order to optimize parts longevity and offroad capability. The fully loaded rig is 1,700 lbs over GVW. While you can for sure tell that you’re driving a heavy rig, the EEXP is amazingly agile and capable offroad.

Sarah and I live and travel in the EEXP everyday and we love the nomadic life that we live. We are grateful and proud of the home that we’ve built for ourselves and are excited to see where it takes us in the future. As with all adventuremobiles, the EEXP is a work in progress and we will continue to fix, improve and upgrade it, as necessity and budget dictate.

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(Be sure to keep up with all things EEXP on the rig’s dedicated page HERE.)

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