A jeep and a tent are fine for a weekend excursion. An RV can go longer, with more comforts, but only on paved roads with special hookups required. The Colorado-based EarthRoamer is hand-built for both—and beyond.
EarthRoamers are basically high-tech, solar-powered camper vans mounted on beefy, four-wheel-drive Ford F-550 diesel trucks. The camper body and all the bells and whistles are pieced together by hand at the company's facility in Dacono, Colorado. It's a family affair, according to founder and engineer Bill Swails, who says EarthRoamer employees take great pride, showing customers exactly which parts they worked on when crafting the one-of-a-kind uber-campers.
The standalone EarthRoamer weighs in at up upwards of 17,000 pounds and costs a half-million dollars, but the taskmaster takes the most adventurous off the grid with every refinement of home. The exclusive voyage vehicles feature kitchens with full-sized microwaves and sinks; standup-height shower and bath areas; indulgent sleeping compartments with room for up to six people in super-stretch models; solar systems; motor- and diesel-powered hot water heaters; massive fuel and water capacity; satellite TV and Wi-Fi; video-GPS tracking systems; spacious living and dining arrangements; ample storage units; big, sunny insulated windows; a star-gazing roof-hatch; and more.
EarthRoamer owner Lisa Swift, of Evergreen, Colorado, says her favorite features are the king-size bed and the 90-gallon water tank. The bathroom is pretty handy, too. "It’s really nice to take a shower after a long mountain bike ride or be able to go to the bathroom while you’re driving down the highway," she says. "I must say my favorite part of owning an EarthRoamer is that our kids love going on adventures in it too."
The EarthRoamer is all about luxury living, even in remote locations. Adventure and total comfort go hand in hand, suggests Swails, who appreciates the camper's plush conveniences more as he ages. But that doesn't mean his lust for adventure has waned.
Swails, who left a life of camping out of a Nissan Sentra and ultralight backpacking for a pimped-out EarthRoamer existence, has driven his expedition camper from Colorado to Costa Rica, all over Alaska, from canyon lands to mountain passes, and just about every road in between. On the outside the excursion motorhome is tough enough to tackle a variety of terrain, as long as the body of the beast fits, with a swank interior that's got every comfort covered.
The Swift family has taken their EarthRoamer off-road near Steamboat Springs, Colorado, and to Big Bend National Forest, the Redwood Forest, Glacier National Park, Crater Lake, and even to lacrosse games. "It's so convenient to pull up to the campsite at 2 a.m. in the rain and just be able to go to bed," says Swift of her first EarthRoamer trip up the California coast. "It was also really nice to be able to level the EarthRoamer using the independent air suspension over each wheel. In the morning, after making breakfast on the stove and brewing a pot of coffee, you’re able to shut everything down and hit the road in about 5 minutes. Also, because we have the regular 25-foot-long version, we can fit it at most any campsite."
What started as a custom expedition camper made by two guys in 2002 has become a burgeoning business for the wealthy adventure set. There are now several models featuring different styles of capability, comfort, and convenience. Next year the company introduces a heavy-duty model—described as the original EarthRoamer XV on steroids—for a $750,00 price tag. To date, the company has only made about 140 of the pricey rides, with 20 or more in the works, but Swails says they the exclusive vehicle is not entirely out of reach for the average American.
If you do have a cool half-million these vehicles have remarkable appreciation, unlike an RV that loses value the second you drive it off the lot. Some customers, says Swails, have turned around and sold EarthRoamers for a profit two years after they bought them.
The company also helps unload pre-owned EarthRoamers for around $100,000, with some folks proving it's possible to live in the luxury wheeled condos full-time. Retirement, anyone?
Swails says EarthRoamer is also flirting with the idea of fractional ownership, such as how splitting personal aircraft might work. And, last ditch? If you're lucky enough to know an EarthRoamer owner, hit up your rich friend for a ride.
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