Sometimes it’s hard to decide between the living space of a camper van, and the off-road capabilities of a 4×4; this is where overlanders come in, and this is where American Expedition Vehicles shines. They’re well-known for their custom truck conversions and after-market parts, but now they’ve created the ultimate compact survival camper that is absolutely chock-full of gear and completely customized for even the toughest of off-road adventures.
Based on the original Outpost from way back in 2006, AEV has created its successor from a 2016 four-door Jeep Wrangler JKU, using over 600 custom made parts. Everything about it screams adventure: its meaty 17” off-road tires, its steely grey paint and mountain decals, even its name connotes the very sense of wild remoteness that overland drivers crave. The Outpost II’s hefty bull bars, snorkel with pre-filter, front spotlights and AEV Borah DualSport wheels aren’t just to make it look badass, they’re also extremely practical for getting in and out of any situation on the trail, as is its 9,500 pound winch, stability jacks, rearview camera and MaxTrax (under-wheel grips).
AEV has really gone to town on creating this custom adventure vehicle too, kitting it out with a whole selection of goodies from their warehouse shelves: a 5.7L HEMI engine with A580 transmission, AEV 4.5” DualSport suspension, high capacity springs, Dynatrac axles, big brakes and lockers.
To create the camper box on the back they removed the rear doors of the Jeep and extended the back using parts from their JK Brute double cab pick up: the rear frame extension, tire mount, spare tire winch, exhaust and many more were all utilized. They crafted the frame, or so-called “birdcage” from powder-coated steel, tied into both the roll-bar and the floor to provide structural rigidity when lifting the pop top roof; this is the same reason they built the walls from fiberglass and honeycomb polypropylene panels.
The pop-top roof itself is a work of innovation with serious attention to detail. It’s electronically extendable, supported by Jeep bonnet hinges and constructed from thin gauge steel. A 265W eNow flexible solar panel is mounted on top, and the angle of it is designed for optimal solar charging in the far Northern hemisphere, so long as the truck is parked facing West. This also ensures that it will always start no matter where in the world you might run out of battery, as the starter battery can be charged from the solar panel as well as the Jeep’s leisure batteries. The roof is made of breathable tent fabric with small side windows in the wall for ventilation, and there’s even an awning and motion-sensing lighting for spending evenings in the great outdoors.
Moving indoors, the space is comfortable, compact and clean, with an 80” long leather sofa doubling as a bed dominating the driver’s side, and a homely wooden kitchen running along the other. Here you’ll find a National Luna Twin Weekender 50L compressor fridge/freezer on sliders, a steel stove and food storage cupboard, all of which are accessible from inside or out of the truck, which means you can have coffee indoors in the morning and cook dinner outdoors in the evening.
There’s a surprising amount of storage underneath the sofa and in the hanging closet and cubby holes, and despite its small size the Outpost II has got fully functional water and electrical systems. There’s a 22 gallon fresh water tank and a 4 gallon hot water tank that is insulated to hold water up to 200ºF and keep it warm for up to 24 hours, heated by a custom-built system using a heat exchanger, engine coolant and with an electrical back up just in case.
The water is pumped by a 12V pump into a thermostatic mixer to blend with cold water and cool it down to a usable temperature. There’s no toilet or grey water tank, but heating is provided by an Espar B5 13,000 BTU gasoline heater. The truck’s LED lighting is powered by Optima Blue Top Marine batteries with a National Luna dual battery kit charger and monitor.
Has the AEV Jeep Wrangler Outpost II got you drooling yet? It certainly has us, but unfortunately, it’s only a one-off concept design created for AEV’s founder Dave Harriton. It’s unlikely to go into production any time soon, if at all, but it’s captured the imaginations of many and leaves us excited for the future of AEV.
Image credits: Truck Camper Adventure