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Rigs of Moab Part II: Live-Aboard Adventure Vehicles

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The one good thing about all the rain we've had is some great photo opportunities! You gotta love a rainbow like this outside your front door.

The one good thing about all the rain we’ve had is some great photo opportunities! You gotta love a rainbow like this outside your front door.

This is a post I wrote last summer (in May 2015) but never got a chance to publish to the blog. So rather than let it go to waste, I thought I’d let you see it now.  It’s the the second part of a series of posts on the rigs of Moab. (see it here
Moab is one of the adventure capitals of the world because of the great things it has to offer. It has world-class climbing, mountain biking, white-water rafting and Jeeping/ATVing (among other things) all in one of the most beautiful settings on the planet. Because of that, it attracts adventurous, free-spirited people  (like the ones who read this blog) from across the globe; therefore, there is a constant flow of vehicles that people are living, traveling and having adventures in. Adventure vehicles are so common that I decided to do a post just to show you some prime examples of them. All these photos were taken on one busy afternoon in town except for the shot below of the Astro based Tiger. I was very lucky and he came in on my last day in Moab. I took this shot as I was driving away for the last time that summer.
The Tiger RV conversions are one of the very best, and pretty uncommon. They didn't do many Astro conversions so these are very rare and desirable.

The Tiger RV conversions are one of the very best, and pretty uncommon. They didn’t do many Astro conversions so these are very rare and desirable.

This is the second post on adventure rigs of Moab; the first one was mostly cheap vans and RVs, but in today’s post we’ll be looking at some pretty expensive and exotic rigs. They are probably out of most of our price range, but no harm in looking and lusting, right?
The first category is 4×4 vans, and as you can imagine there were quite a few of them ranging from VW AWD vans all the way up to $150,000 Sportsmobiles. Enjoy the eye-candy!
When I win the lottery, this is what I am going to buy. But that seems unlikely since I never buy tickets!
This next vehicle is not so common, in fact it is the only one like it I think I’ve ever seen. It is a Class C with a Quigly 4×4 conversion–they are a company that takes a factory vehicle and adds 4×4 components to it.  If you look under the front end you can see the front differential and there is a Quigly emblem on the side.
In Europe they have a far greater range of options for both live-aboard and adventure vehicles–and they often combine them. This next vehicle is a Land Rover Defender turned into a Class  B.
This next photo is also of a European caravan and I think it has a Sprinter nose, but I don’t know who makes the body.
There were many Sprinter based Class Bs in town but they are so common I’ll just include a couple shots of them.
This Airstream based on Sprinter was very impressive. Notice all the mountain bikes, Moab is an international Mecca for mountain bikers.

This Airstream based on Sprinter was very impressive. Notice all the mountain bikes, Moab is an international Mecca for mountain bikers. I wonder how many people there are in that family?

A beautiful, and expensive, Roadtrek.

A beautiful, and expensive, Roadtrek.

Tis Sprinter is old enough to be somewhat affordable and has some stealth ability. It would make a great home.

This Sprinter is old enough to be somewhat affordable and has some stealth ability. It would make a great home.

If I were going to buy an RV, it would be a small Class C or a big Class B+ like this one. I think it’s a Born Free.
There was a very beautiful home-built 5th-Wheel around town that I greatly admired.
There were a couple of the new Dodge ProMaster and the full-size Ford Transits in town.
The new Ford Transit.

The new Ford Transit.

And the new Dodge Van.

And the new Dodge Van.

But with all these exotic and great rigs, the adventure rig that works by far the best for the most people is a simple conversion van with a mild high-top. It does everything well and at a reasonable price.
The Ultimate van dwelling rig!

The Ultimate Affordable Adventure vandwelling rig, an AWD Chevy Express!

If you asked me “What is the ultimate affordable adventure rig?” without any hesitation I’d tell you it’s a newer Chevy Express with All-Wheel-Drive, a small lift kit and a little bigger tires. And of course a pop-top on the roof. The AWD was a factory option for a few years so it’s fully covered by it’s factory warranty and getting parts and service won’t be any problem. With the 5.3 liter V8 you can get 18-20 MPG; but not only does it get great MPG, it’s also a very strong and very reliable motor. I’d go so far to say I think it’s the best American motor on the market today. The AWD will take it everywhere I would want to go and it has very good ground clearance. It’s my ultimate adventure rig that I could actually afford, and not just dream about. At some point I’d have to add my own high-top. The only problem with them is they are a little hard to find, but well worth the effort!
I hope you liked this trip down memory lane. What’s your ideal adventure rig?

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  1. Drew

    Bob, With regard to the aluminum-clad 5th wheel you have a picture of, it is actually a rebuilt Fleetwood Prowler, I stumbled across their blog a few weeks back. Here is a link to information about that rig:

    • Ching

      Hey Drew, thanks for figuring out what rig that is and I hope you enjoyed our site!
      Hi Bob, what a pleasant surprise it was for us to see our home included in this post! Thanks for the admiration. FYI, we’ve name our RV the Toaster – you can probably figure out why!

      • Bob

        It’s a small world Ching! Hopefully our paths will cross again but then we’ll know about each other and say hello. Do you plan to go to Moab again soon?

      • Bob

        Ching, I loved your blog, first time I’ve seen it. We have many similiar ideas but you are doing a better job of living them. I looked for a way to get your posts by email but didn’t see one. Did I miss it? I’d like to subscribe!

    • Bob

      Thanks Drew, I hadn’t see it before either, I’m glad to have you point it out.

  2. Lucy

    Bob, I LOVE the raised top Chevy van, looks nice & comfy, I haven’t seen one like it, all I have seen are low top ones & they must be hard on your back hunching over while U’re in.
    Good article- as usual.
    My regards, Lucy.

    • Lucy

      My ideal adventure rig would be an EarthRoamer, but, who can afford it ? The only way I could get myself one is by hitting the lottery & it has to be A BIG JACKPOT !!!
      My regards, Lucy.

      • Bob

        Me too Lucy!

    • Bob

      Lucy, you get used to the low-top. You set it up so you step in and sit down, usually on the bed. Then you can reach everything inside by stretching or crawling across the bed. That way you minimize the standing and stooping which is very hard on my back and neck.

  3. Jeff Johnston

    Bob, I love all your motor pics, thanx for displaying them. Moab is a beautiful area, I was out there last spring when I was tenting in a car.As you mentioned in an earlier blog if you upgrade to a van as I did you will feel like you are living in a mansion. You are so right! My 2010 transit connect that I bought 6 months ago fits all my needs. With the combination of getting good gas mileage (upper 20’s) on the highway and cheap gas prices I love travelling down the road!

    • Bob

      Jeff, I’m a very big fan of the Transit Connect, you can make them an amazing home and still get 26-30 MPG. Not many rigs you can say that about.
      Maybe I’ll see you in Moab one of these days.

  4. Jake

    At last! I’ve been waiting for this post since last May. I thought you forgot! The 4wd vans are my favorite. If only they were more widely available, and thereby much cheaper.

    • Bob

      Jake, you have a very good memory and are very patient! I would never have guessed someone was waiting. I love Moab, it has such an amazing energy with all the fully alive people that go there.
      I hope to be back this summer on my way north, maybe we will run into each other.

  5. Paul Hunter

    Hey the gadgets part of the RTR I saw someone with a Powerhouse generator. I’ve been looking at them and the Honda..was wondering if the Honda is really worth twice the price of the Powerhouse ? Thanks Paul

    • Bob

      Paul, it’s just an opinion but I think yes, it is. The service life of a Honda is measured in decades and that’s been proven. What’s the service life of one of the clones, and how well proven is it? Some people say they are a third of the price, I’ll just by three of them. But I doubt three will be enough to last as long as a Honda and they will be a constant hassle along the way.
      But, if that’s all you can afford then they are a very good choice.

  6. Scott

    My ultimate adventure rig would be the New Winnebago Travato G. Well, not exactly the “ultimate” in luxury, but as far as I can tell, it has everything I need (and just a little more), and is the lowest priced new “B” unit on the market. All I need now is gofundme site.. 😉

    • Bob

      Big money Scott! But boy it would be nice huh!

  7. Cae

    The AWD van is a nice rig, but kinda hard to find. But I agree, a lifted AWD van is about perfect for boon docking.

    • Bob

      Cae, I had a friend looking for one, he searched craigslist nationwide and when the one finally came up he jumped on a plane and flew to Kansas City and bought it! He’s loved it every since!

  8. joe

    Hello Bob man you are teasing me with all those great vans I still own my 99 astro van its still OK 165 k miles I think it’s still reliable I thought about raising the roof to one idea is to find a old paddle boat cut your roof and weld it on but that may be to much also there is a guy in ft Collins co that can do the job but it will cost like 5 grand that what he told me for a canvas design I would rather just look for a used one anyway I also knew a guy in steamboat that sold his 94 tiger for 5000 g ,s that is what I would like to find at some point any way thanks for sharing the photos it will give me something to dream about take er easy !

    • Bob

      Thanks Joe! All it takes is money, right!


    We parked next to ‘The Toaster’ at the space museum in McMinnville, OR in early Nov ’15. I saw all those PV panels on the rear portion of their roof and thought, “Now we’re talkin’!” We had no PV at the time but now we have a single 420 watt panel and LOVE it. Now we’re looking to sell our noisy 5600 watt genset and maybe get a little Honda 1000 — just a little something to run the vacuum cleaner once a week or so. BTW, we enjoyed our time at RTR even though we left early and missed the stew feed. We’ve been parked at Ferguson Lake (North of Yuma) since then and rolling out on Tuesday — need to be in Chino, CA by 2/4.

    • Bob

      Jim, 420 is a good amount of solar and having the Honda 1000 should be good insurance. Sounds like a great plan!

  10. Jane Hendrix

    Enjoyed seeing the Tiger GT built on the Chevy Astro. When Chevrolet discontinued the Astro, Provan (the Tiger manufacturer) discontinued the GT (pop-up) and XL van RV’s. Now, the Tiger RV’s are Class C’s and are built on Ford or Chevy trucks. The company is now called Tiger Adventure Vehicles ( and is located in West Columbia, SC, having moved there from the Denver, CO area several years ago. Not many Tigers were produced and people who have them love them so it’s hard to find used ones. Here’s the link to the Tiger owners’ blog that lists used Tigers for sale:
    We own a 2002 Tiger CX 4WD RV built on a GMC Sierra truck chassis. In our opinion, this is the best all-around Adventure vehicle. It has a 33-gallon fresh water tank and 20-gallon & 17-gallon black & gray water tanks. We’re not full-timers yet but have comfortably boondocked in our Tiger for as long as 4 months. We have no generator, no air-conditioner, no TV, no microwave, no oven and don’t need them. Our 50-watt solar panel and 2 deep-cycle batteries provide us with all the electricity we need. When we return to our home, we don’t park our Tiger as it is our only vehicle. It fits into a normal parking space at the grocery store. Having just one vehicle saves us a lot of money and hassle.
    We are new to your website, Bob. A fellow camper at Telephone Cove near Laughlin, NV gave us your link. We love your site! There’s so much information here that is never found in camping or RV’ing publications or websites.

    • Bob

      Thanks for your very nice comment Jane!! I appreciate it. I am a big Fan of the Tiger Conversions. I’d have one if I could afford it. Oh well, when I win the lottery!!

  11. Tom Bruetsch

    Bob, I admire the work you do for the nomad community. I have some questions as I am about to buy a rig. I saw a post here about a Toyota Tacoma with a Tufport slide in unit. I thought that would have an advantage over a van if I got a 4wd pickup. However you mentioned a van offers protection against a bear attack. Two questions: how would a fiberglass slide in protect against animal attacks. Also, is a 4wd necessary for booddocking? Or is a RWD van sufficient? Thanks.

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