I’ve been on a search for the most rugged camper that I could find. A number of campers claim to be able to go on an adventure, but disappoint when you get to look them over. Of course, there are crazy custom builds, but what I’d love to find is the manufacturer building perhaps the most durable campers on the planet. I’ve found what seems to be a good contender with Australian company Brüder. All of this company’s campers are built to handle way worse than most of the trailers you’d find at a dealership.
Brüder is a newer player in the camper world, but it seems that the company has some good ideas. This company packs its trailers with so much tech and noteworthy ideas that breaking down its entire lineup would probably result in a 9,000-word post. So what I’ll do for this entry is talk about the company’s flagship, the EXP-8. This is supposed to be the pinnacle of Brüder’s prowess, and so much of what’s found here trickles down to the company’s smallest EXP-4.
In Brüder’s opening statements about this camper, the company gets right to the point: it’s built to be the ultimate off-road, off-grid camper. They even claim this camper is built for all seasons and all environments. I can’t say that I’ve seen this level of confidence before in marketing, but it seems that Brüder is willing to back it up.
At the heart of Brüder’s campers are its chassis and suspension design. Starting with the suspension, Brüder’s setup sounds pretty phenomenal. In the standard EXP-8, you get 18-inch wheels with 32-inch mud tires. Those are bolted to a unique axle and suspension system. Getting the trailer through whatever you throw at it is an air suspension system with eight mono-tube remote-canister shock absorbers. This suspension system has a few awesome highlights, like how it’s able to traverse rough terrain without unsettling the trailer much.
That sounds great enough, but what I really like are the additional benefits offered by the air suspension. Brüder says that the trailer’s suspension can be calibrated to the ride height of your tow vehicle. And when parked, the air suspension will level the trailer.
Perhaps just as impressive as the suspension is the fact that Brüder’s trailers have been reviewed off-road, and they sound like they get the job done. Here’s an excerpt from an Expedition Portal review of the EXP-8’s smaller sibling, the EXP-6:
Everything I knew about towing a trailer told me we were screwed. The ledge was too tall to roll over, our speed was too high to swerve, and our angle of approach was a perfect offset to flip the trailer. Even if we miraculously managed to stay upright over the jump, the dip and mud pit on the other side would surely finish the job. I had only a split second to look at Dan, the driver, and mutter an expletive before his 200-Series Land Cruiser struck the edge. The vehicle launched into the air with a shudder, throwing my stomach up into my throat; I found my gaze pinned to the trailer in the rearview. Half a moment later, the Brüder’s front left tire struck, and I held my breath—this was it. I waited for the impending pitch and subsequent roll of the EXP-6, but to my utter disbelief, it never came. The body of the trailer flowed over the ledge, through the ditch, and across the mud pit as if it were on a freshly graded dirt road. I started breathing again and looked at Dan, who moments before I was sure would kill us. He laughed and quipped, “Like I said, you just have to experience it.” I could now see what he meant.
Complementing the suspension is Brüder’s chassis. The company says that its chassis consists of thick, fully welded, and sealed laser-cut sections. In addition to the beefy structure, you get a rear winch, tow recovery points, and hydraulic disc brakes. And it connects to your vehicle through an off-road coupler. Another point of pride for Brüder is how it builds its camper bodies. Brüder says that the EXP-8 features an engineered epoxy-bonded closed-cell composite body construction with wall thickness paired to provide maximum strength, durability, and insulation.
The body on the EXP-8 is said to be good from -22 degrees Fahrenheit and up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. And Brüder isn’t kidding about this being for all seasons. The roof has been reinforced so that heavy snow loads don’t cause damage.
Moving inside, the EXP-8 is supposed to be a luxury home regardless if you’re at a campground or at the base of a mountain.
Looking through the features list, you get everything that you’d expect from a camper from a queen-size bed to a wet bath with a shower and toilet. Despite that, there’s still stuff worth highlighting here. You get a pressurized air filtration system meant to keep dust and dirt out of the camper. And speaking of filtration, your kitchen sink also gets a filter.
If wine is your jam, there’s a 10-bottle wine holder that converts into a regular storage area. Brüder goes on to note that this interior has ducted air-conditioning, a diesel heater for keeping you warm, water-resistant flooring, and double-layer windows.
On the equipment side of things, it does appear that these are built with long journeys in mind. You get a 79.25-gallon freshwater tank and a 19.81-gallon grey tank. Water lines are kept warm and the trailer can pressurize its own water in the event that you get water from a remote source. Power comes from a 16.7KWh battery hooked up to a 5000W inverter and a 1600W solar bank.
Power management is handled through a touchscreen and for a sort of silly feature that I love, your interior lighting is RGB.
As a reminder, this is everything that you get right out of the box, and I didn’t touch a number of other features on the list. If you want even more features, Brüder offers options like a leather sofa, 37-inch mud tires, a second awning, a washing & drying machine, a generator, a microwave, and apparently a system to charge EVs. If you’re a caped crusader, you can also have it in black.
The company has a rugged origin story to go with its products, and it starts with two brothers named Dan and Toby. They say their father was a pilot in Northern Australia, and when he wasn’t flying a plane, he was taking his sons on outdoor adventures. The family traversed everywhere from the northern wilderness to the southern ski fields, learning about camping and exploration along the way.
Apparently, the father did this when the sons were as young as six weeks old, so camping is pretty much a family tradition for them. As the brothers grew up, they spread their wings and went exploring on every continent and through different climates. Eventually, the two decided to take what they’d learned through all of their adventures and turn it into a camper manufacturing business. Then, Brüder—German for brother—was born. The company fired off its first trailers in 2016 and now it has a whole lineup.
Now for the catches, and there are a few. At 7,716 pounds unladen, the EXP-8 isn’t something that you’ll be towing with a Jeep or a small pickup. It also starts at $180,000, or $199,900 if you want it in black with most of the options list coming standard. But for once, I think I can see where that money is going. If these are as good as they appear, then you’re getting a trailer that will survive what far cheaper rigs may fall to.
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Actually, the word “Brüder” means “brothers” (plural). “Brother” (singular) in German is “Bruder”, with an “u” (not an umlaut) instead of an “ü” (umlaut).
“There’s a sucker born every minute” . . . possibly PT Barnum.
Some people will do anything to avoid sleeping in a tent.
What’s the point of that aggressive tread on trailer tires? On our farm where all the trailers were by definition off road, we used either load appropriate truck tires or ribbed steering tractor tires. For extreme duty we used surplus’s airliner tires with no tread to speak of at all.
They look awesome.
If you’re an all-in overlander and pulling a trailer is your jam, you find a way to match the bolt pattern on your trailer axles that matches the bolt pattern on your tow vehicle. If necessary, lift the trailer so you can use the same wheel/tire combination as the tow vehicle. Voila! One set of spares fits everything. Before it was called overlanding, Jeepers did this back in the 1970s with home-built trailers.
In this use, the knobby tires *might* have more plies in the sidewalls to help prevent sidewall punctures. The knobby tires might help with braking in snow or on loose trail surfaces.
I had the same thought on tires. Lowest rolling resistance would make the most sense for the majority . It’s not like the tread is helping with traction to get you moving.
Although the point about matching the tow vehicle is valid, as is braking and potential strength considerations.
What about traction on a slop? Last thing you want is the trailer sliding sideways off the trail and dragging your truck down the hill.
The pricing on all this stuff is insane. Anything that isn’t standard A or C class old school RV is absurd for what you get in comparison. I really wish there were more companies making legit smaller trailers that were spartanly equipped for reasonable price.
Are they offering mirrored floor plans to match LHD and RHD tow vehicles?
I claim BS on this company break room design box. First they made the big mistake of over building for toughness. The Empire learned a lesson building the Deathstar that way. Frankly i think having a woman included in the designing would have got them out of a vault on wheels. No a $200,000 vault on wheels for the cheap version. Set up the challenge get one loaned to DT and let him use it as an ice hut on the river in Detroit when the other ice fisherman put out their cabins. Dave bring your scuba gear and an alternate transportation. Overbuilding often means incompatible for less extreme uses. And if you are going vault how about treads instead of tires? But yeah road use? But at $200,000 i expect a motor.
My first question when evaluating an off-roader is whether the bead-locks are real or poser bling. Not immediately obvious from the picture, but these could possibly be real. For the price, I would expect real ones. Any input, Mercedes?
The odds of having hard cover expedition journal collection and a Leica M rangerfinder onboard – 100%.
This is the fancy side of overlanding that is equal parts pompous and impressive. Like those huge Mann and Kazak trucks that require a winch to change a tire.
Hmm. If (big if) this is as durable as they claim, and if you look at it as more of a portable cabin than a trailer, I can actually kinda see it. What would it cost, and how much work would it be, to build something equivalent on a plot way out in the woods? Now, imagine if you could just plunk this thing down and be done with it—and also take it with you if you wanted it to be somewhere else for a while. It’s got a big-ass battery, a solar array, water filtration and pressurization, a full bath, fridge, cooking facilities, heat and AC, and a bed. It’s kind of an all-in-one solution.
IMHO, for “plunk this down and be done with it” use cases, a second-hand fifth wheel travel trailer would offer better value for money.
I was thinking more about locations that you wouldn’t be able to drag a traditional trailer out to.
Not surprised at the pricetag on this, and while eye-wateringly expensive it seems like it might actually be justified in this case. Two concerns though:
-An 80 gallon fresh tank and a 20 gallon gray? Where do you plan to put that 80 gallons of water after you’ve used it? I will never understand this.
-Seems a little light on cabinets inside. I appreciate that it makes the interior feel a bit more open not having cabinets at head height, but I still wonder how that will work out in practice.
Well you drink some of that, and they expect that some of it will go overboard right away as shower water. Some of the “less gray” gray. It doesn’t list a black tank though so I wonder how much that contributes.
You’re technically not allowed to dump gray water either though. Designing a trailer around something that is illegal in most places seems like a bad strategy.
I suppose the counterargument is that this is designed to go places without any law enforcement presence so who’s going to know, but still.
Five minutes of video showcasing the EXP-8 https://youtu.be/uAZfmRjkXXU
I wonder why they have these things black, you are generally camping in warmer weather and being off grid you will have some issues cooling that thing
Because tactical, duh.
While not my type of camping/RVing, it is a nice rig and has the comfort when you get off the trail.
I would be more of a Class A/Super C myself (money no object) as I want a rolling vacation home for the family and feline overlords.
Turn key, drive to location, hook up, unhitch towable, have fun.
Dang. I like it, but I want to buy a house more, so I guess I’ll keep that half a house in payment in my bank.
Everything in overlanding is a compromise.
I’ve seen a larger Brüder on a trail, and the suspension travel was pretty amazing. The build quality and engineering seem appropriate to handle offroad trails where sustained vibrations and bouncing are de rigueur. One can find cheaper trailers built by the famous names in Elkhart, Indiana, but they won’t have the suspension or decent frame. You get what you pay for.
The compromise is, as Mercedes mentions, you need a beefy vehicle with the towing capacity for the larger Brüders. Another compromise not mentioned is agility. Even with modern map apps — hello Gaia GPS — we still run into surprises that force us to turn around in VERY tight spots. U-turns in trailers are a nightmare.
Still, the EXP-4 seems interesting because one could tow it with a mid-sized vehicle such as a Tacoma or 4Runner.
Gaia is amazing. I’ve been using it for years now as a hiker, and it’s really an awesome app. Not surprised that overlanders are into it as well.
$180K? I guess if you’re into that sort of thing…
Cheaper than an actual house… Do they offer 30 year financing?
Buy a 2-year-old one for $50k.
Or a 10 year old one for $2700.
I could by 3 houses for that kind of money or 18 vans down by the river.
Really need a farley Gif here.
Houses almost universally appreciate.
Campers are one of the fastest depreciating vehicles you can buy.
I’m totally not into camping at all. Roughing it for me is anything below Concierge Level at a nice hotel.
But I totally see where the money goes in a build like this. I have much respect for the thoughtful engineering and found the price pretty good for what you’re getting. That said, I’ll never be a customer.
or $199,900 if you want it in black! (´･_･`) That’s just crazy money!!