Back in April, I announced that I found what might be the most ridiculous camper on the market today. The Living Vehicle HD Pro had stats that would make you faint. Well, as it turns out, I should have waited another month, because I found something even more mind-boggling at Overland Expo West. This is the Global Expedition Vehicles Pangea Sky Lounge. It’s an absolute mammoth vehicle with six-wheel-drive, rear steer, 1,850 lb-ft torque, locking differentials, 200 gallons of diesel, and oh, an expanding roof that reveals a second-story lounge.
It’s not often I find a camper that stuns me. I’m talking about the kind of shock that stops you in your tracks, causes your brain to blue screen, and you just stand there as your systems go through a hard reboot. Overland Expo West had a ton of awesome different overlanding rigs that ranged from the cheap and cheerful to the absurd. The silly and fun Extinction Level Event trailer was there! However, I think I have a new winner for the ridiculous camper crown.
When I first laid my eyes on the Global Expedition Vehicles Pangea Sky Lounge, I at first believed it was one of those roadshow trailers with an expanding deck. When I realized it was an expedition vehicle, I think I uttered some expletive as I took it all in.
Global Expedition Vehicles
The company behind this gigantic rig is Global Expedition Vehicles (GXV). According to RV Business, the company built its first expedition vehicle in 2006 and has since grown to become the apparent number one builder of expedition vehicles. GXV’s saying is that you’ll “run out of world before you run out of truck.” The owner of GXV, Michael Van Pelt, explains how his company got started:
Travelers have been using various forms of “Expedition Vehicles” since the development of the wheel. The seed from my ideas originally came from a small article in the National Geographic Magazine back in the 80’s. I mostly remember the photographs of a military looking Mercedes Unimog going up and over sand dunes and thinking that my 4×4 pickup truck wouldn’t do that. What made this so unique was that it had a small basic rectangular expedition camper box attached as a bed. I kept referring to this original off-road expedition vehicle that I saw in the magazine over the course of 25 years. Although this world travel vehicle was homemade, I kept thinking how neat it would be to travel like this. You could go anywhere you wanted to go, stay as long as you wanted to stay, and really explore the world.
In the last 10 years my thoughts have drifted back to this article and that extreme expedition RV many times, mostly because of the frustrations that I experienced with all of the different four wheel drive motorhomes, off-road campers, and 5th wheels that I have owned. It seemed that every time I went where I wanted to go in my RV, I would get stuck. I got tired of being attached by an electrical umbilical cord to posts beside slabs of concrete, surrounded by hundreds of people in the same situation that I was in.
I mean, RV’s are supposed to be self-contained, right? If they are self-contained, stand-alone units, and I wanted to run the air conditioning, then why should I have to plug it in? What if there wasn’t a dump station to deposit waste into? Some of the other things that always irritated me were the squeaking of the cabinets and furnishings, with the blinds banging back and forth while negotiating corners, and heading for the next asphalt/concrete jungle of like-minded individuals. That’s not exactly the optimal road trip.
Pelt did as many of us would have done and made a list of features that he didn’t like about the RVs of the past. He then began thinking about his dream expedition vehicle, the kind of camper he would build if he got the chance. Pelt designed his new camper around the Mercedes-Benz Unimog and he thought about the problems you’d run into when exploring the world. Specifically, Pelt wanted a 4×4 RV that would have the same equipment you would expect in a boat crossing the ocean. So, his RV would have a durable chassis, great off-road capabilities, huge capacities, and would run on one common fuel. Diesel would power the RV and its equipment from heaters, to the furnace and its kitchen appliances.
Pelt has an entire story about his inspirations. You can read it by clicking this link.
Out of the other end of his adventures have come beasts from the $360,000 Ford F-550 or Ram 5500-based Turtle (above) to this the $2.1 million Pangea Sky Lounge.
This Colossal Expedition Vehicle
The Pangea Sky Lounge is the expedition vehicle that you get when a box on the back of a Mercedes-Benz Unimog just isn’t big enough. This is an RV that you buy when your expedition vehicle will also be your home. And, given that it costs way more than tons of houses, the Pangea might end up being your home.
The backbone of the Global Expedition Vehicles Pangea Sky Lounge is an International HX series. GXV doesn’t say, but it looks like an International HX620. GXV did some tweaking under the frame. Normally, these come in 6×4 and 8×6 configurations. This truck is 6×6 with rear steer. It also sports front and rear locking differentials, an air suspension, and a 200-gallon diesel tank. Normally, I try to take pictures of RVs without people in them, but this time, I wanted people in the pictures just for scale. It’s so large that you can use its tires as armrests while you’re standing. It’s so large you could probably hide multiple cars in front of the bumper without the driver noticing. You don’t want to be a pedestrian meeting the business end of this eldritch monster.
Power comes from a 14.9-liter Cummins X15 diesel making 500 HP and 1,850 lb-ft torque. It’s backed by an Allison 4700 RDS seven-speed automatic transmission and rides on Hutchinson military-spec aluminum split-rim beadlock wheels. Those are wrapped with 46-inch Michelin tires and the truck features a semi-automatic tire inflation system.
GXV does not say much all of this weighs, but International says that these heavy tractors have Gross Vehicle Weight Rating of between 53,200 to 92,000 pounds depending on configuration. Incredibly, you do get a winch up front, but GXV doesn’t say what capacity it is. The truck also sits so high that the headlights had to be moved down into the custom bumper.
The truck part is joined by an equally massive camping unit. GXV says the 24-foot-long body is made out of 60mm composite with a closed cell foam core. The interior is what you’d expect from an expensive motorhome, except maybe the king size bed. What makes it different is how much of everything you get. The home portion has a Mastervolt electrical system powered by 1,200 Ah lithium batteries and utilizes two 3,500W inverters. There are 1.2kW of solar panels on the roof and an Onan QD-5000 diesel generator on board.
For cooking, there’s a 15-inch induction cooktop and a double drawer 12.6 cubic foot refrigerator. The kitchen, as well as the bathroom, feeds from a 150-gallon tank of fresh water, backed by 56 gallons for gray water. GXV doesn’t say what you get for your waste water.
Aside from the sheer size of well, everything, the highlight of this camper is that you get a stairway leading to the Sky Lounge, which is revealed by lifting the roof. On your personal roof deck, you get a second kitchen, a seating area that turns into a bed, and an entertainment system that more or less turns the deck into a mini nightclub.
GXV lists just a couple of options and they consist of a 12V-powered awning and an electric rear deck to hold a motorcycle. Sadly, I wasn’t able to take a full tour of the titanic camper. GXV’s people told me that there’s just one of them thus far and when they allowed people to take tours, they tracked in mud and other dirty stuff into the rig’s interior. The roof has a rubberized floor, which was apparently difficult to clean.
I’m not entirely sure where you’d take a rig like this. Given the Pangea Sky Lounge’s over 30 feet of length (a total length isn’t published) and its 13 foot, 4 inch height, you aren’t getting it down any technical trails. And its hefty weight means if you get stuck somewhere remote, the truck might end up your home for a while. That said, I imagine if you can find a wide and open place that’s large enough, you’ll be the king or queen of wherever you end up. It also appears to have enough of everything that you could live off-grid for a long time.
In case you were wondering, GXV got this Pangea in and out of the show on a lowboy trailer. I didn’t get a picture of it on the trailer, but wow, what an absolute unit.
If all of that sounds appealing enough, GXV told me that this particular example costs $2.1 million. The cost of a custom build will vary. This rig doesn’t even have an entry on GXV’s website yet. Alright, barring something somehow even more outrageous, this is the most ridiculous camper I’ve found this year. Now I fear I’ll find something even bigger.
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It’s cool, but also…that’s a house, man. I don’t wanna move my house.
I’m pretty sure this thing’s illegal to drive in most parts of the world anyways just due to the weight. An average weight 0f 37 tons means it already exceeds the three axle non-industrial limit for the UK and the EU by 20,000 pounds (max three axle weight is 57,320 pounds or 28.66 tons), and it’d be hard to argue for an exception. Plus good luck getting any ship that would allow this thing onboard. And even if the port authority let this thing through, it’d take months of certifying everything on it.
You’re better off buying a capsule house that can be airlifted in and out via helicopter both in terms of showing off how rich you are and being able to actually use your ostentatious purchase.
I think I’d rather have this – https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/8/8e/Landmaster.jpg
I’m unimpressed..sure it’s nice and all, especially with all the anemities
But lets be honest, I’ve been in an expedition where no truck or even plane can go. ( iceberg proof ship was mandatory, zodiac was a poor secondary option when we had to head back to where a plane to get us, helicopter would have been the option if we had enough money to throw at it.[ they would have had to set up refueling stations, so think : extremely expensive, way beyond an alpinism expedition budget in a remote area of earth ] )
For me expedition means you have to have people with you that are ready to handle the hardships tied with the term ( hours long walking carrying a 40Kg+ bag ) using streams as water source, digging a hole ( far from the water source ) for the small one and the big one, sleeping in tents ( or under a rock when the tent is not an option ) and so on…
But I’m probably a bit hardcore in that area… thus heavily biased.
Edit : Oh and I know roads in the French Alps where it wouldn’t be allowed to go just because it’s too big/heavy despite the fact that it would be it’s perfect environment. ( which honestly is most high level, and all valley dead end roads. Sure you can get it to Chamonix, but not much further. You defeinitely cannot get it to La Bérarde or Ailefroide, nor over many of the Tour de France famed roads.)
So, there are no pictures of the lounge? Did I miss something? Did it not load?
According to the article, Mercedes wasn’t allowed to tour it (nobody was) as the company said there is only one, and tours tend to track in a LOT of dirt and mud throughout the interior as well as the rubberized flooring on the lounge, which is difficult to clean.
And it would appear the company doesn’t have promotional photos to offer.
Wait — dirt and mud are a problem for an “expedition” vehicle?
Honestly, I’d just skip on writing the article entirely or hold off until they can figure out how to supply photos or shoe covers (think boat show).
“Here is our brand new, top of the line [item] with a very unique [feature] but we don’t have photos of it and you can’t view it yourself.” smh
Yeah! I was looking too and then started reading to realize we weren’t going to see it. So bummed. But after reading about the weight, Im like whatever. Imagine trying to unstick this from mud? No way. You’ll need a tank.
Hopefully it comes with some brushes to clean off mud before entering.
WHAT A COLOSSAL PIECE OF FECES. I am glad for the story but this is just an answer to a question noone asked. I want it to go where no other vehicle will go. Apparently he has no plan on how because not road legal without a pilot car. I want it to go into the wilderness. By crushing the wilderness and then not being able to see it because minimal windows. A lounge needs people this thing sleeps 4. Talk about a depressing night club. If anyone buys this and takes it camping I hope they get eaten by bears.
Somebody saw the movie Sorcerer and decided they wanted to make one of those trucks into an overlander…
The rickety suspension bridge scene in the film was epic. But IRL you’re never getting that much weight over such a decrepit assemblage of rotted wood and rope. That’s what Suzuki Jimnys are for.
What an absurd waste of money and resources.
This feels like total overkill, especially when compared to Rob Grey’s legendary Wotthellizat which is a home made aluminum body on an old Australian army truck.
I think anything bigger than an LMTV with a box body creates more problems than it supposedly solves.
As for getting it unstuck in an emergency, an M88 tank recovery vehicle or Leopard Bergepanzer will do it but not much else
I’m not seeing 2 million worth of stuff here. What the fuck are people who buying these get versus a 2 million dollar house?
that money isn’t going to launder itself
I’ve seen a number of rigs like this in my travels through Utah. They are mostly parked in campsites or where any RV can park. I’ve seen one that had crossed a river, but I also watched a rental RAV4 cross the river right after…
My opinion on big trucks like this is that they may work in less developed countries with wide open spaces, but they make no sense in the US. Even in the most remote and open places in the US I can think of (and have probably been too), it isn’t the right vehicle for the job.
My opinion on self contained overland living is that its gone too far if you need a winch to change the tire.
The mishmash of aesthetics is really weird. Is it a rugged, badass mil-spec cosplay prop, or the living room of the hoity toity people on your street who are always calling bylaw enforcement on everyone?
Also wtf is up with a ROOF you can’t get dirty?! Do birds not crap on this magnificent creation?
Have you seen “Little Vampires”? There’s a rig just like this to catch the dirty vamps with! I don’t think the interior is quite the same though.
Anyways, when hunting vampires you have to have garlic and holy water around you to be safe. All you jokers are trying to get mud all over the garlic circle and soak up the holy water protection moat. Well, these guys called the bluff, you aren’t getting them.
The only thing you can winch this up to is another ones of these, and what are the odds on coming across another one?
No tree/boulder could possibly even bear that weight.
Nah, everybody is thinking about the winch, the wrong way. This winch will only be used to pull another vehicle closer to the mothership. With the mass similar to black hole, you simply winch someone closer to you in case you need some company or different snacks or something else.
This whole “keeping up with the Flanders’s” thing is getting ridiculous.
The thought of someone driving this without a CDL gives me shivers. Then again, if you can afford 2.1M you can afford a CDL lol
They can afford one, but who has both 2.1M, and the commitment and ethics to spend time with the Poor’s getting a CDL?
Obviously they have money, which means they’re better than you and I. Rules, Laws, Licensing, and Safety are for Other People.
Why not start with an Oshkosh Striker or a HEMMT instead of a highway truck?
An Oshkosh Striker is almost 10′ wide, much too wide for public roads.
I like cab overs for big trucks, I can’t see shit behind those huge hoods.
The raised suspension plus the cowcatcher out front make the visibility over the conventional hood even worse here. On the other hand, the problem with cabovers (other than the looking-over-the cliff effect with something this tall) is that when you’re driving one, you’re the first to arrive at the scene of the accident…
And they are not a smooth ride.
A big tough guy rig like this can’t handle muddy feat? The outdoor section has a floor that’s hard to clean? What the hell?
Either that floor is a massive fail, or they have some other reason they don’t want you up there and they made up a bad excuse.
Maybe just didn’t want to clean up after broke lookie lous? It is the real reason the McDonalds Ice Cream machine is always broken.
The roof awning would have been quite welcome on the old Airstream Skydecks.
maybe hill climb competitions? Rally/ Baja events. Certainly no place too far off road. You also better check your route and make sure you are allowed to use the little bridges all over the country that are falling apart, less you fall in the stream yourself. I guess this could probably drive right out tho.
Neat that it exists, better marketing vehicle than anything else.
This was the first thing I thought of. If you’re taking this thing out to nowhere, you’re likely going to need to cross some pretty gnarly old bridges. While I’m sure this thing could handle some water, I’m less sure it can handle nearly vertical, eroding streambanks.
It might be able to handle water but pretty sure it would violate the EPAs rules given they don’t allow puddles to be disturbed.