Our plan has been to travel through the western United States up through Canada to Alaska, over to the East Coast, and then to ship the truck to South America for another year or two of travel.
We’ve just finished the first leg and are driving back from Alaska right now. But instead of going directly to the East Coast, we’re heading to Kansas City for a few weeks. We’ve put the Buffalo up for sale and are going to take a few weeks in KC to regroup and finalize our next steps.
So, what’s going on and why are we selling the Buffalo?
The Buffalo is (obviously!) a complete beast built for ultra-rugged adventures. It’s designed to cruise over rocks, sand dunes, and other terrain that most other vehicles would not even consider. It has a “crawler gear” for goodness sake.
But…we’re a family in our 40s and 50s traveling with a four-year old, and a dog. Looking back at our choice to buy the Buffalo, it feels like we were a little aspirational about taking advantage of its unique abilities. Unless gravel counts, we haven’t rock crawled a single time. We don’t drive over sand dunes. We’ve never used the 17.5 ton winch. Based on driving up to Alaska and back, the unexciting reality is that we haven’t done anything in it that a good RV couldn’t handle – which amounts to a few long, bumpy dirt roads.
Another factor we didn’t fully consider is the convenience of pulling a vehicle (which we didn’t). Based on what we saw in Canada and Alaska, an awful lot of RV’ers do pull vehicles. It turns out that there is a sensible reason for this.
When you just want to run out and buy a few groceries, you really do not want to have to disconnect the power, water, and sewer to maneuver such a big vehicle into parking lots. You just want to zip around in your normal car, truck, or SUV.
But despite the practicality of towing a vehicle, South America doesn’t seem like a great place to start. A lot of the Andean roads are already treacherously narrow and windy. We don’t want any more length than we strictly need.
As we considered our options, we noticed that in Alaska and Canada quite a few people were driving truck campers. These aren’t as common where we’re from in the Midwest. At least, we didn’t notice them as much in Kansas City where most people opt for the big Class A motorhomes and fifth wheels.
But truck campers make so much sense on those northern roads that get rough and slippery with mud, snow, potholes, and gravel. They can go almost anywhere that a 4x4 truck can go, which is most places – and certainly everywhere we’ve gone so far in the Buffalo. And a big plus is that we can periodically disconnect the RV from the truck to run errands or more nimbly explore the local area.
As we researched truck campers, we gradually became convinced that these are the right choice for us as we transition to South America. For the truck, we have decided on a 2019 HEMI gas-engine RAM 3500 dually. It has a 7000 lb payload, which is plenty to carry any of the campers we are looking at. And, its gas engine allows us to travel freely in South America without worrying about finding the high-Sulphur diesel required by modern American trucks.
For the camper, we’ve 99% landed on the 1165 Eagle Cap. It is sturdily built and insulated for four seasons. And from a comfort perspective, it has three slide-outs – one of which contains recliners (a key requirement for Matt). Overall, it will end up giving us a little more livable space than we currently have. We’re going to view it in person on our way back to Kansas City.
A truck camper won’t have nearly as much storage capacity as we do now, so this will be a compromise for us. We’ll solve for it by towing a small, heavy-duty little cargo trailer. We will be a smidge longer, but will be able to keep our bikes, inflatable kayak, and a few other things like that locked safely out of sight.
We’ll use this time in Kansas City to finalize these final details and are still on track to head to South America in February. Meanwhile, I hope the Buffalo finds a new owner ready to use it like the beast of a truck it is. It was born to roam and deserves to be off road more!