EarthRoamer XV-JP "Northwest Edition"

kjp1969

Explorer
I wanted the original concept to work so badly- most campers are either too big and heavy for a good trail or too small to live in, and this just seemed to balance the two so well. But everyone seems to think it didn't work. Never having seen one in person much less used one, I just have to trust that it's so. I'd love to get my hands on one someday, but with only a dozen or so made, it probably won't happen. Luckily I still have my '95 Bronco, so maybe it will get camperized someday.
 

Drewgould

New member
I wanted the original concept to work so badly- most campers are either too big and heavy for a good trail or too small to live in, and this just seemed to balance the two so well. But everyone seems to think it didn't work. Never having seen one in person much less used one, I just have to trust that it's so. I'd love to get my hands on one someday, but with only a dozen or so made, it probably won't happen. Luckily I still have my '95 Bronco, so maybe it will get camperized someday.
Hey, never give up, you might find one, one day!
To add some balance to my desire to change the roof on mine, we have used ours in bad weather (see picture) with the flysheet Earthroamer supplied to help keep it water tight. To be fair, on a trip last year we camped for two nights with what the UK weather were describing as a storm. The rain was going sideways past the Jeep, and the wind was between 35 and 50 mph, and everything held together + stayed dry. We also this year in June (great British summer!) camped at the Overland show at Stratford upon Avon for the weekend to display the Jeep, and had a short sharp shower on the last morning we were there. This time we had no flysheet, and the rain was moderate, + no wind, and apart from a minor dribble from by a window zip, we stayed dry. The biggest issue we've had, which is the main reason for looking at an alternative roof design is that in a storm, being 9ft + up in the air leaves you quite exposed! Even on camp sites with wind break hedgerows, you're actually sleeping above these, and with the roof 'tent' being just that, and fabric it can get a bit noisy. It's also obviously a bit of a faff to fit the flysheet, although some of this is practice. The other consideration for us is that we want to (OK, I want to, Claire's not as keen!) head north through Norway at some point, and I'd prefer it to be during the aurora season, which will be cold, and having a large roof area made of canvas will not be as practical from a heating perspective on a trip like that. So this, along with the generally wet and windy weather we get in the UK is what has driven my planning for an alternative. On a (rare) glorious summers day, with a gentle breeze, and pitched up in a remote scenic spot, I've yet to find anything that does a better job than the Jeep, size, weight etc all considered.

Enjoy your Bronco, and don't forget to share pics when you camperise it!
 

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mhiscox

Expedition Leader
I can see where this thread, and other mentions around the web, would make owning an XV-JP seem like a dreadful idea. ☹

It's not, though . . . I'll second what was just implied: the balance between trail capability and cabin comfort is unmatched with the XV-JP. Unmatched to the point where it seems almost unfair to park with your fellow trail runners, climb in the back, turn on the lights and heat, open up the fridge to select your meal, crank up the stove and have dinner ready while the everyone else is still organizing the camp kitchens.

But the XV-JP is admittedly a better idea for one. Two rather friendly people can use it if most of their time unrelated to the palatial original bed is spent outdoors. But with only one person, you can (after a wee bit of modification) sleep on the bench without substantially deploying the roof. Lessening the roof opening is the key to making the cabin work in foul weather. Keep the roof closed or slightly ajar and problems of noise, heat retention, awesome clearance height, leaks and general tent integrity are hugely reduced.

But another way to optimize the XV-JP experience is to just not use it when its weaknesses will come out. On a still, warm and dry evening after a fun day on the trail, climbing into the original tent for a good night's rest under the stars was tough to beat. The problems come with wind, rain and cold. The original tent is too noisy in a high wind, too cold in low temperatures, too damp in substantial rain and unworkable in snow. Still, there are many workarounds, from earplugs to rain flies to better sleeping bags, that can create a tolerable situation.

Unfortunately, you still have the problem of perhaps needing to fold the dripping--and maybe even frozen--tent back up when it's time to move. Which one could correctly point out is no different than what thousands put up with using a rooftop tent, so why make such a fuss? Unfortunately, the difference is that the drippy XV-JP tent gets folded up INTO your living space, which is seriously hard to live with. One's willingness/ability to avoid frequently doing this is, to my mind, the biggest issue that establishes the line-in-the-sand, go/no-go workability of the XV-JP for any potential owner.

IF you can keep the roof largely closed in inclement weather because there's only one person sleeping in it OR because you don't take the rig out when the tent will get wet, the XV-JP is a great option. I assure you that having the comforts of a "mini-motorhome" while having the footprint and trail capabilities of a built Rubicon is very special and exceptionally fun.
 

mk216v

Der Chef der Fahrzeuge
I'll second what was just implied: the balance between trail capability and cabin comfort is unmatched with the XV-JP. Unmatched to the point where it seems almost unfair to park with your fellow trail runners, climb in the back, turn on the lights and heat, open up the fridge to select your meal, crank up the stove and have dinner ready while the everyone else is still organizing the camp kitchens.

It's as if you've tested your theory a few times. :p
 

kjp1969

Explorer
Here's the thing- the original is a clever design, and I love that. Clever designs don't always work, though.
It seems like inclement weather, high wind, cold temps, that's when you really want a camper. So, however clever it is, it needs to do bad weather reasonably well. If it's nice out, a ground tent and good air mattress is acceptable for me. And much, much cheaper. A 4wheelcamper or similar seems also to be pretty good, but things start to get heavy and bulky pretty quickly from there.
 

mhiscox

Expedition Leader
TAH-DAH . . .

After about 2.5 years, I’ve completed yet another revision of my endlessly-revised Earthroamer XV-JP #003. This is Version 5. :rolleyes:

P1010322 v1.JPG

Faithful readers—assuming there might be a couple of you left after all these years—will recall that Paul Jensen and his wife (unshockingly) decided they could use something bigger for their travels and I got the ER Jeep back. However, as my days of serious adventure travel are largely behind me, I re-bought it without any plans for what I would do with it. After a while, though, I recalled the success of Dan Grec’s Wrangler-‘Round-Africa travels and decided to change #003 into a serious long-trip vehicle for one.

Unfortunately, I found it easier to think about what to do than to actually do it. I didn't start working on this rebuild seriously until last fall, and even then, it was just a handful of hours a day. However, as the shop warmed up this spring, I started putting in serious time and just recently got most everything completed. I bought lots of shiny new bits and moved a lot of things around. I re-equipped and rewired and replumbed and reworked . . . and spent disheartening amounts of time sanding.

So now everything is in place and (apparently) competently installed and #003 is thus ready for some additional testing. I’m still verifying that I attached things in their optimum spots, so there are a few bits of finish carpentry with higher-end materials to be left until the very end. But it’s totally driveable and usable now.

P1010321 v1.jpg

My initial uses have been promising. All of the major changes made since I had it in 2015--the fixed roof, the long nose cone, the cab roof height extension, the big rear door, and the side-mounted spare and tools—have proven to be definite positives in actual use. Then I put in new insulated awning windows and a (possibly zany, but so far very cool) big fabric sunroof, and these changes are working out, too.

I really have to thank Paul for the fixed roof, as it is a major improvement. Turns out that even with taller tires, the overall rig is lower than it used to be with the roof rack. I cut off the floor Paul made at the point where it crossed over the lower floor section where the Wrangler rear seats used to be and thus I have stand-up-straight interior height in the front third of the cabin along to go with just-slightly-bent-head clearance in the aft two-thirds. (Split-level living: All the rage in the late 1960s.) I also put in some extended driver's seat tracks and made a cabinet cutout to permit better driver’s seat recline, so now it's both comfier to drive AND I now have clearance to get out of the seat and don't have to go outside to get into the cabin. Having no campsite setup whatsoever is a big plus.

Some (me included) might think this latest version doesn't look as slick as my pre-Dion wedge-tent version,


15077541724_99d8f5921d_n.jpg

but this configuration definitely beats it for practicality, livability, weather-tightness and security. It’ll be interesting to see if everything continues to seem so brilliant once it gets some harder use, but I think it might.

P1010319.JPG

P1010320 v1.jpg

Perhaps the biggest change I made was to commit to sleeping just one person inside. I still have room for two to sit and eat comfortably, but life got a lot easier once I didn't have to find a way that the cabin could comfortably sleep two. And, also, the new setup is not too good for tall people, both because they’d have to bend their heads a bit more to stand in the cabin and because the sofa/sleeping bench wasn’t set up to be long enough to accommodate them. Pretty much perfect for someone under six feet (e.g., me), however.

Not having any idea whether anyone still cared about this rig--and also, unlike Paul, not having lots of clever construction techniques to share--I didn’t bother to document the build. But I am happy to answer questions, provide more specific photos, etc. should interest warrant. Post here if you have matters of group interest, or send me a private message if you have something idiosyncratic.

Carry on bravely.

Mike
 

Gear

Explorer, Overland Certified OC0020
Thank you for the update and the continued transformation. It would be cool to see some current interior photographs when time permits. Also is the spare a skinny full-sized tire. i like that idea!
 

PaulJensen

Custom Builder
What, no inside shots…???…

Mike sent me some previews and it’s pretty cool and cozy…

Nice job Mike, well thought out and great execution…!!!…
 

Spencer for Hire

Active member
TAH-DAH . . .

After about 2.5 years, I’ve completed yet another revision of my endlessly-revised Earthroamer XV-JP #003. This is Version 5. :rolleyes:

View attachment 795469

Faithful readers—assuming there might be a couple of you left after all these years—will recall that Paul Jensen and his wife (unshockingly) decided they could use something bigger for their travels and I got the ER Jeep back. However, as my days of serious adventure travel are largely behind me, I re-bought it without any plans for what I would do with it. After a while, though, I recalled the success of Dan Grec’s Wrangler-‘Round-Africa travels and decided to change #003 into a serious long-trip vehicle for one.

Unfortunately, I found it easier to think about what to do than to actually do it. I didn't start working on this rebuild seriously until last fall, and even then, it was just a handful of hours a day. However, as the shop warmed up this spring, I started putting in serious time and just recently got most everything completed. I bought lots of shiny new bits and moved a lot of things around. I re-equipped and rewired and replumbed and reworked . . . and spent disheartening amounts of time sanding.

So now everything is in place and (apparently) competently installed and #003 is thus ready for some additional testing. I’m still verifying that I attached things in their optimum spots, so there are a few bits of finish carpentry with higher-end materials to be left until the very end. But it’s totally driveable and usable now.

View attachment 795451

My initial uses have been promising. All of the major changes made since I had it in 2015--the fixed roof, the long nose cone, the cab roof height extension, the big rear door, and the side-mounted spare and tools—have proven to be definite positives in actual use. Then I put in new insulated awning windows and a (possibly zany, but so far very cool) big fabric sunroof, and these changes are working out, too.

I really have to thank Paul for the fixed roof, as it is a major improvement. Turns out that even with taller tires, the overall rig is lower than it used to be with the roof rack. I cut off the floor Paul made at the point where it crossed over the lower floor section where the Wrangler rear seats used to be and thus I have stand-up-straight interior height in the front third of the cabin along to go with just-slightly-bent-head clearance in the aft two-thirds. (Split-level living: All the rage in the late 1960s.) I also put in some extended driver's seat tracks and made a cabinet cutout to permit better driver’s seat recline, so now it's both comfier to drive AND I now have clearance to get out of the seat and don't have to go outside to get into the cabin. Having no campsite setup whatsoever is a big plus.

Some (me included) might think this latest version doesn't look as slick as my pre-Dion wedge-tent version,


View attachment 795466

but this configuration definitely beats it for practicality, livability, weather-tightness and security. It’ll be interesting to see if everything continues to seem so brilliant once it gets some harder use, but I think it might.

View attachment 795449

View attachment 795450

Perhaps the biggest change I made was to commit to sleeping just one person inside. I still have room for two to sit and eat comfortably, but life got a lot easier once I didn't have to find a way that the cabin could comfortably sleep two. And, also, the new setup is not too good for tall people, both because they’d have to bend their heads a bit more to stand in the cabin and because the sofa/sleeping bench wasn’t set up to be long enough to accommodate them. Pretty much perfect for someone under six feet (e.g., me), however.

Not having any idea whether anyone still cared about this rig--and also, unlike Paul, not having lots of clever construction techniques to share--I didn’t bother to document the build. But I am happy to answer questions, provide more specific photos, etc. should interest warrant. Post here if you have matters of group interest, or send me a private message if you have something idiosyncratic.

Carry on bravely.

Mike
very nice but inside pics would be nice. thank you
 

mhiscox

Expedition Leader
Thanks for the interest, folks. I've got some interior shots, but they are pretty lame because it's hard to photograph a five-foot long cabin when you can only get about four feet away. It'll take a little work on your part to figure out how things go together. :)

The spare tire is, indeed, a skinny version of a nearly full-sized spare mounted on a narrow and lightweight rim. However, the new Wildpeaks of this version are about 1.3 inches taller than the prior Duratracs, so the wheel with the spare will have less circumference, making it more of a limp-to-civilization spare than anything that should be driven very far. I haven't tested out how bad it is yet; a larger skinny tire may be in order.
 

mhiscox

Expedition Leader
As promised, I managed to get some reasonable photos of the interior. The lighting isn't great--where's Paul and his camera/talent when you need it?--but they'll likely serve. (The task got a lot more plausible when I realized that I could take the wider-angle photos if I stood on a ladder and aimed through the sunroof and the upper windows.)

Looking aft:

P1020805 V1.JPG


Looking forward:

P1020806 V1.JPG


Looking to streetside:

P1020804 v1.JPG


Looking to curbside:

P1020808 V1.JPG


Looking forward through rear door:

P1020809 V1.JPG


Cab through curbside door:

P1020801 V1.JPG


Cab through streetside door:

P1020802 V1.JPG


Cab ceiling:

P1020803 V1.JPG


Roof facing forward:

P1020807 V1.JPG


It may still take a little puzzling to figure out everything, but this ought to help. Don’t hesitate to ask for any explanations that will help or for request specific photos.

Thanks,

Mike
 
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