14 July 2016

Overland Explorer

" We were super-impressed with these ‘Manufactured In Canada’ Expedition Campers ... "

A couple of years ago we attended Overland Expo East, an event for overland adventurers that included classes, seminars, exhibits and vendors. It was a very interesting couple of days and it peaked our interest in expedition style vehicles. We are currently travelling in the second truck camper rig we have owned. It raised the question ... should we continue to upgrade and maintain this vehicle or, should we investigate the enhanced travel capability that an expedition camper presents?

This past spring Overland Expo West was held in Flagstaff, AZ and a new expedition vehicle, the Overland Explorer; manufactured by a Canadian company LITE Industries, garnered rave reviews. After looking at their website and Facebook pages we realized that a slight detour in our route north would allow us to visit their facilities.

An email to their Sales department was promptly answered by Arnold Baker, one of the co-owners of Overland Explorer Inc. Arnold was pleased to tour us around their manufacturing facility, gave us some company history and explained their decision to move into the expedition vehicle marketplace. 

Over the past 10 years LITE Industries, manufacturer of the Overland Explorer line of vehicles, has specialized in using lighter, stronger building materials for custom bodies mounted and transported on highways and off road. They have been supporting the resource and commercial communities with service bodied trucks and vans for fire, medical, rescue, mining and oil & gas.  

They recently diversified and have added flatbed expedition campers to their line of utility bodies. Mark Cymbaluk, the founder of LITE Industries and Arnold's business partner has had a keen interest in truck campers and RVs for quite some time. Utilizing a Ford F650 (photo below), as the base cab-chassis, he spent nearly 2 years building an expedition truck that is still regularly used by his family.


Given their teams' build abilities, and LITE Industries' expertise in the applications of lightweight, strong, industrial  strength materials; designing and building an expedition camper was a logical expansion of their business.

The construction of their prototype camper, Overland Explorer adhered to the same exacting standards as their commercial builds. They use composite materials to construct structural panels for the roof, walls and floor that are lightweight, strong and 100% moisture resistant. 100% of panel seams are bonded with adhesives instead of mechanical fasteners. Testing was performed to determine how much force would be required to damage the panels and they were found to be virtually indestructible, requiring nearly 11000# of force to separate the panel from the extrusion. The adhesive bond does not fail, the FRP skin separates first.

Equal amounts of attention have been given to all on-board, vehicle equipment and systems. Their designs strive to eliminate gadgetry and focus on functionality.

                                   Espar heater                                     Diesel storage tank
All appliances and mechanicals operate on diesel - the Espar heater for example requires approximately 1 cup of diesel to run for a 24 hour period. The glass cook-top can also be used as a secondary heat source. On demand hot water heating and an ultrasonic water pump are standard.

The interior and exterior LED lighting throughout is powered by a minimum of 200 watts of solar and their newest build includes a 3000 watt Go Power inverter. They are presently building a flatbed model X11 that will come in at an impressive, (under) 2,600 lb dry weight and will be installed on a 2015 Dodge 3500 cab-chassis. The custom built flatbed deck will include a 5th wheel mount, built-in rubber mounting pad and custom bumper - all weighing in at 900 lbs, just slightly more than a standard pick up box.

Interior finishes are designed to be functional and above all durable. Stainless steel, high quality super strong vinyl floor, fabric coverings made from top of the line outdoor fabrics.

This is a company that thinks outside the box and is focused on what is really important in an expedition vehicle. Exterior and interior components and finishes are designed to be lightweight, strong, durable, comfortable, efficient, low maintenance and virtually trouble free. 

What are they working on? 

 " ... LITE Industries is building expedition vehicles, not RV's ... "

We saw several vehicles being built up; a Mercedez Sprinter van, a Ram 3500 flatbed truck camper (Update: Build complete below), and a Mercedez Arctic Explorer cab-chassis build. Understandably, we weren’t allowed to photograph any proprietary systems, areas of the plant where private vehicles were being converted or new prototypes vehicles were being developed.

 We had a very informative and thoroughly enjoyable visit.  

" Thank You! ... Mark and Arnold for taking time from your schedules to answer our questions and allow us to tour your facilities.  "

Check these guys out when you shop around for your next Expedition Camper and watch for the OVERLAND EXPLORER logo ... 

                                                                                                                                   Crusty ... reviewing

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TEAM: LOAF, Crumby, Wry & Crusty