We’ve been living full time in our XPCamper now for 6 months! This isn’t just stationary, plugged-in, on the grid camping — we’ve put over 15,000 miles on the rig as we explored Canada, Alaska, and Mexico. My point is this: the rig is receiving a lot of wear and tear. We’re popping the camper up and down at least every couple days.
In addition, Erica seems to relish finding routes that are off the beaten path. Routes that typically take longer to drive and are often on dirt or unimproved roads. Routes that invite adventure!
We purchased our XPCamper mostly with a theory about how we would use it. So, how do our choices look now that we’ve lived in it for so long?
XPCamper Base Setup
The base XPCamper has been working well for us. Below are descriptions of the major components and our experience with them.
First off, the shell has been amazing. We’ve had no leaks whatsoever, and we have been in some torrential rain. This may seem like a little thing, but there are some other folks doing this trip with brand new campers who have been nervous about the rain — caulking up their brand new campers just to be safe (Note: just heard on Facebook that this camper has some leaks after a week of hard rain — yikes)!
Erica has really appreciated having the toilet. It adds a whole level of extra comfort when you are staying in remote areas without any facilities. In addition, emptying the cassette toilet is extremely easy.
The clips used to hold the shower curtain (when it is stowed away) have given us some trouble:
These become loose every week or so and need to be tightened. We typically do it by hand (it takes about 10 seconds). If we used a wrench, it may last longer. This is pretty minor; I think if it was secured down with some other system, it may take longer to setup.
It’s been great to have 70 gallons of fresh water in our tank. Each tank has been lasting us about 5 weeks! Click here to read about how we’ve been finding water in Mexico.
The stove, while slow to warm up when compared to propane, is working great. It consumes so little diesel fuel — we’ve only used about 2 gallons of fuel since we entered Mexico. In addition, we don’t have to worry about finding propane, which can be a hassle in central and south america.
We added several floor mats to the XP to try to keep the floor clean. When you are beach camping, it’s really easy to track in sand. Otherwise, the floor is amazing. In fact, the entire teak trim is something that visitors often comment on.
We’ve had major trouble with our vent fans. When we picked our XPCamper up, they were squeaking very loudly. Marc’s (note: Marc is the owner of XPCamper) team took a look, and we thought it was fixed, only to have it start up again. They replaced the motors, which fixed the problem for a while but the squeaking still keeps coming back. I don’t believe Marc is using this model of fan any more, so new XP owners won’t have to worry, but now that we’re in Mexico, we’ll have to figure out how we can replace them while we’re on the road.
Shelves & Cupboards
We had a few issues with the shelves below the sink; we put too much stuff on them and they cracked. Marc’s team reinforced them the last time we stopped by their shop, and we’ve had no issues since then.
Stairs are working well. They are sometimes tricky to navigate if you’ve drank too many beers — so be careful. I would like them to be slightly larger (by the way, on all new XPCampers the stairs have been redesigned and have larger steps). Once over the last 6 months I had to tighten a couple of bolts on the stairs. The action of sliding them in and out and locking them into the vehicle has been great.
Our door has been operating fine, but I really wish that the seal on it was tighter:
I worry about mosquitos or bugs getting in while we are sleeping. I think Marc may be exploring ways to fix this seal, so it may be a non-issue in future XP builds.
Windows & Skylight
The back window is probably one of our favorite features of the XPCamper. We love backing up so we have an incredible view out the back window.
We had an issue with the small window in the door–the hinge froze up after getting too much Baja dust in it. We didn’t open this window very often, so it hasn’t been a big deal.
The medium size window to the left of the sink doesn’t operate quite as smoothly as the other windows. We mentioned this to Marc and he told us it just isn’t designed as nicely and there isn’t really another option in this size range. Regardless, we’d still rather have the window and the light it lets into the camper than a smaller window or nothing at all.
Only other comment about the windows is that they all have mosquito screens which don’t keep out all the bugs (some small noseeums and gnats can still get through). Of course, if they used finer screens on the windows, it would be harder to see through the windows and you wouldn’t get as much air flow through them. Since noseeums are only issues in some camp spots, it’s not something I’d change necessarily. I’m working on a little project to add noseeum screens to the windows that you could easily throw up and remove; I’ll update the blog to let you know how this goes.
The bed is great. We added a tempur-pedic topper in order to make it a bit softer. We use a standard set of queen sized sheets, a fleece blanket, and a down comforter when it is cold.
We added a Mighty Bright flexible book light that is attached to the pockets on the far side of the bed so that each person has a reading light.
Storage on the XPCamper is great; there are about 64 cubic feet, according to my calculations. If anything, we have too much stuff!
One of the options we’ve loved is the two hooks that Marc inserted over the bathroom:
We installed a few extra hooks because these are so great for towels or rain jackets. These are just the simple stick-on hooks. They look a bit ghetto, but they get the job done. It sounds like in the future, Marc will install more of the metals hooks in the camper!
The flatbed is great–I’ll never get tired of the reaction you get from people (“Wow!!!”) when you pull out the 6 foot sliding drawer. We love using the drawer as a food prep and BBQ area. Storage on the flat-bed is convenient.
XPCamper Custom Configuration
When you purchase a new XPCamper, there are dozens of options about how to configure the camper. Do you want an awning? Extra batteries? Extra solar panels? In addition, Marc (owner of XPCamper) will have his team modify and customize your truck in almost any way you want.
Here is how we chose to configure our XPCamper:
The air compressor is integrated directly into the flatbed. Inside the primary storage boxes, right behind the cab, there are air compressor outlets. We have used the air compressor a ton! Remember all those crazy roads Erica sends us down? Well, air down the tires and the ride gets much smoother on both you and your rig. Airing down the tires typically takes about 10 minutes, and filling them back up takes about 15 minutes. In addition, we bought a set of air compressor fixtures at Walmart for about $20, and these allow us to use the air compressor as a cleaning device.
The awning extends over the entrance to the XPCamper. You can manually extend the awning about 9 feet. There are no poles or stakes or ropes that hold the awning down–it’s entirely self sufficient. The good news is that the setup is easy — it takes less than a minute to put the awning out. Unfortunately, this means that you have to be careful about the awning in the wind.
We didn’t use our awning at all through Baja, simply because it was never so hot that we really needed it. However, now that we’re on the mainland, we’ve used it a couple of times and it definitely keeps the camper cool when there is intense sunshine.
Ultimately, we haven’t used the awning enough yet to have a strong opinion about it, but I wish that there was a better way to secure the awning so I wouldn’t have to worry about wind. To date, this hasn’t been an issue, because we’ve never been in conditions that were both hot and windy.
2,000 Watt Inverter & Battery Monitor
Originally, we didn’t opt for the 2,000 watt inverter. However, in the middle of the build, we changed our minds. The primary reason was that Erica wanted to bring our blender. With a blender, we could make soups, smoothies, salsas, and more. In fact, we have made all of these with our blender now that we’ve been on the road and we’re extremely happy with it!
Here is a video of us making some award winning pork verde sauce in our blender:
In addition, we’ve used the inverter for our mini bread maker. You don’t need a powerful inverter to do things like power laptops and recharge batteries, but it does a fine job at this.
When you opt for the 2,000 watt inverter, you also get a battery monitor kit, which is much more precise than the monitor provided with the GoPower solar kit. I’ve appreciated having finer level control of seeing very accurate voltage and amperage readings.
Finally, only recently have we actually plugged our camper in at a few camp sites. It’s actually quite nice to have the inverter charge the batteries — even on cloudy days!
We decided to take the back seats of our truck and use that space for storage. Part of that space was reserved for a 35-liter ARB refrigerator/freezer. Marc’s team made a mount to secure the refrigerator, and added an extra 12-volt port in the back of the truck so the ARB fridge will run off the camper batteries.
Looking back, this is probably one of the best decisions we made. We love having access to a refrigerator in the truck. We can keep drinks cold while we drive, and it’s a great place to stash your lunch so you don’t need to pop the top when you are on the road.
We turned the rest of our back seat into a secure storage locker, which you can find our more about here.
We splurged and replaced the weather seats in our truck with brand new Recaro seats. While expensive, we have absolutely loved the extra support that these seats give us.
Options that didn’t make the cut…
So you’ve about all the options we selected; but what about the other options we chose not to add?
Extra Solar Panel
This is probably the one option that if I reconfigured my XPCamper today, I would more seriously consider. Our two solar panels are doing great, keeping the batteries nicely charged, but during the day we also like to recharge other devices like laptops, camera batteries, etc. I think having one more solar panel would allow us to plug in more devices like this at once, while still leaving enough amps leftover to top off the batteries.
The new solar panels Marc is installing are even more powerful than the 155-watt panels on our XPCamper, so maybe this isn’t really necessary. The other consideration would be how much weight this adds to the rig; I can’t imagine the solar panels weight that much, but I’d definitely check.
Our two batteries give us 150 usable amp-hours of charge. Marc allows you to add 2 more batteries giving you a total of 300 usable amp-hours. The main downside is extra cost and weight (these batteries are really heavy).
The main power sinks for us are our refrigerators. They probably pull about 1 to 2 amps per hour, so we typically need between 35 and 45 amp hours per night. We’ve been in some seriously rainy weather up in Alaska, and we have gone without solar for three days without issue, but you really have to be conserving at that point!
If we reconfigured the XP, I don’t think we would add any more batteries. If we need to use a lot of power, for example if we are running the blender, we can always turn the truck on for a 10 or 15 minutes to help the batteries take the load.
We have met lots of folks who travel the Pan-Am Highway without even having AC in their truck, much less their camper! We decided that we’d make do with fans, and if things got unbearably hot, we’d just have to decide to head south to escape it. As we’ve been on the mainland Mexico recently, the temperatures and humidity have definitely increased. Our fans are seeing a much better workout in the heat, but I have never wished that we had A/C yet.
While it would be an amazing convenience at some points, in our mind, it’s just not worth the extra room it would take up. In addition, options like the AC or microwave would probably necessitate getting the extra batteries, so the cost can add up quickly.
We’ve watched some movies and TV shows on our laptops, but this has probably been less than 10 hours over the last 6 months. We’ve been reading a lot more and have been loving it. Save your money and get a kindle! Your brain will thank you!
Hard Sided Panels
We’ve had a couple questions about hard-sided panels and the rain. Let me say that even in the rain, we have had no issues with the soft sided panels in terms of water getting into the rig. In addition, they seem to be fine in terms of heat/cold transfer in the environment we’ve been in. If we were going to be in more extreme environments, we probably would have more seriously considered options like the AC and the hard sided panels.
The standard shower can already be snaked outside the rig, so we didn’t opt for this one. If we were going to be exclusively doing beach camping, maybe we would have more seriously considered this. We’ve found that now we are in Mexico, we are trying to conserve as much of our purified water as possible, so we haven’t used the shower at all. In the US and Canada, this was a different story. There is pretty easy access to non-potable water in Mexico, and I wish that we had just packed a solar shower instead; maybe we’ll be able to find something like this at a Walmart in Mexico.
After 6 months of continuous use, I’m a firm believer that the XPCamper is the best truck camper you can buy! While there are a few minor issues that could be improved, I know that Marc is hard at work constantly fixing things like this, and overall the camper is extremely solid. We are thrilled with our choice and are looking forward to traveling in the XPCamper for years to come.