The Ultimate Adventure Vehicle?

Sportsmobile’s 4WD camper vans make it easy to ditch the crowds.

Like a lot of aging baby boomers, I still love the outdoors. But the romance of sleeping in a tent on my adventures wore off a few years back after an all-night downpour turned the floor of my nylon-walled digs into an indoor swimming pool.

After that incident, the creature comforts an RV provides started looking pretty good, even though the idea of spending my days at the helm of the lumbering land yachts offered by manufacturers of traditional motorhomes wasn’t all that appealing. Not to mention spending my nights in the crowded campgrounds those big rigs are forced to call home.

Luckily I discovered a unique alternative from Fresno, California-based camper-van manufacturer Sportsmobile West. Designed as a rolling base camp for a variety of outdoor pursuits, their rugged RVs feature all the comforts of a full-size motorhome—including a full-kitchen, bathroom facilities, and sleeping accommodations for four—built into the compact shell of an ordinary Ford cargo van.

I took one of Sportsmobile’s four-wheel drive camper vans for a spin on the gnarly off-road trails outside Moab, UT a couple of years back and found this modest-sized motorhome to be every bit as comfortable as its bigger cousins. More importantly—at least from my perspective—was the fact that the rig’s compact dimensions and impressive new four-wheel drive system and long-travel suspension allowed our group to explore and camp in all kinds of blank spaces on the map where the tourist hordes just can go.

Add the ability to custom design your own interior layout, and I found Sportsmobile’s products offer a level of freedom and flexibility larger RVs just can’t touch.

What’s Extraordinary

  • Impressive off-road capability
  • Turbodiesel V-8-powered models offer decent fuel economy and can be converted to run on environmentally-friendly biodiesel
  • Literally all the comforts of home in the middle of the wilderness

What’s A Bummer

While perfect for two, interior can feel cramped with four aboard

While good by motorhome standards, a car packed with camping gear still gets much better fuel economy

My Advice

This is a great way for two people to travel, especially you’re looking to get off the beaten path. If you need more room, check out Sportsmobile’s 4WD Dodge Sprinter conversions and toy-hauler models.