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Old 09-12-2020, 01:26 PM   #1
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I5 4x4 Xplorer Cold Weather and Backcountry Use

My wife and I are seriously considering a 2021 I5 4x4 with Xplorer package. So far most info is shaping up well for us to think about moving ahead, but we do have some questions that we would like to get other ownerís feedback on.

1. We are planning on using this package in the winter. We live in the Albuquerque, NM area and would be planning on taking this to ski areas and even where we could safely access backcountry skiing (obviously from good roadside or parking area locations where traction is still reasonably good). What are peopleís experiences with these units in colder temps? What things should we plan and be prepared for?

2. We also do plenty of backpacking and off grid camping. We would like to be able to take this unit into more remote locations, but are a little concerned about some clearance issues. Specifically with the low points of the levelers and the two exhaust pipes (engine and generator). They seem a bit low. Before you reply to this question, please donít assume we are planning on 4-wheeling this rig. We mostly want to know what people have experienced with clearance issues, if any, on dirt roads that might have a few more pot holes, etc. to be concerned with.

So far weíve really liked what weíve seen (we checked out a unit at MHSRV outside of Ft Worth this week that did not have the Xplorer package) and look forward to reading what folks have experienced using this unit (or even the 28ss) in situations like Iíve described.
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Old 09-13-2020, 03:11 PM   #2
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I think you are trying to fit a square Peg into trapezoidal hole ! These are not off road vehicles so clearance is an impossible quality for owners to estimate especially as the vehicles are designed around an inflexible wheel base. In addition the amount of flex designed into the chassis is not really suitable to the amount of chassis twist found in off road situations. These happen even on roads. Qualities like departure and approach angles, Jack access, under carriage protection are not addressed from an off road perspective. So if you were to go off the asphalt so to speak, it better be flat in surface with gentle slopes. The rear of virtually all RVs represents literally yards of overhang. All of which is at risk. Even gas station access can be problematic. Sure you have traction with 4wd but that allows you to to drag your hitch along the asphalt/concrete and not worry about rear wheel spin getting you stuck. But not great for frame stress. For off road you need to think Earth Roamed or Sportsmobile or anything with big wheels, lift and limited overhang.
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Old 09-13-2020, 04:34 PM   #3
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It seems tough to find anybody with real world experience in the 28SS with Explorer package.
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Old 09-13-2020, 05:11 PM   #4
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I believe Brian has taken it into the mountains for skiing but most will not attempt off road work because of their experience with other coaches leads them to the conclusion that it wont work. I have tried this in a shorter Born Free and all the shortcomings I listed were evident.

Somewhere on the site is an owner that did a large wheel conversion to improve clearance and increase approach and departure angles but Brian has warned that the frames are not built for this. The Explorer package is for temperature flexibility not for terrain traverse and none of its features address what you are proposing. Just look at the Earth Roamer spec if you want to get an idea of what is needed for off road work without down sizing to a Sportsmobile or an SUV.
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Old 09-13-2020, 06:07 PM   #5
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That's a very tough question to ask because differerent peoples version off offroad varies quiet a bit.

I take my 40' DX3 plus 24' enclosesed trialer plenty of places that would make a lot of people squeamish. The biggest downsides are the ones you mentioned. A 28SS would only be better, however after a certain amount of ground clearance is needed youre still going to be SOL. At the end of the day I still scout every departure from asphalt in my jeep wrangler first to assess the feasibility. I dont think a 28SS would absolve you of this, just make a few more roads an option. In the end seat time, good judgment and comfort will dictate where you can and can't go.

I had the opportunity to tour a 28SS in person recently and was quite impressed with a lot of the design choices. And impressive amount of usability in a very short package.
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Old 09-14-2020, 12:03 PM   #6
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You can always attempt to order the coach with the leveling jacks deleted and ask for the $$$$ credit. Then manually level the coach with ramps/blocks/etc. Gain clearance and save weight.

Next, any competent exhaust shop will be able to make customizations to the exhaust to gain SOME clearance. You still need a way to get the exhaust out from under the coach, but there are ways to make it “better”. There’s a guy on the Isata 5 Facebook group who had his exhaust exit re-routed from behind the rear tires on the passenger side to in front of the rear tires on the driver’s side. It sits right next to the generator exhaust now. I assume this gained him some departure angle in the back.
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Old 09-14-2020, 12:18 PM   #7
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Just because it's called a 4x4....doesn't mean it will do what you think it might do.
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Old 09-14-2020, 01:42 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by hwobs View Post
My wife and I are seriously considering a 2021 I5 4x4 with Xplorer package. So far most info is shaping up well for us to think about moving ahead, but we do have some questions that we would like to get other ownerís feedback on.
1. While I have only camped in this particular coach in the mid 20's, I have camped in its "inspiration model" when it was in the single digits. (on a ski trip).

What you should prepare for is mainly (I hope) common sense. If it gets really cold, slide IN vs. slide OUT will help maintain temps. The furnace is plenty big to handle it either way, it just depends on if you want to conserve LP. The winter curtain worked wonders...so we did not have to heat the cab area, but be prepared to have a really cold cab compartment...no water bottles left in there.

The one difference between this and the original is power. The original E450 version has (4) flooded batteries, 100w solar. The Isata 5 has (4) Lithium (which is equivalent to (8) flooded), 800w solar. BUT, the Isata 5 has a whole house inverter, the E450 had no inverter. No TV's for that matter.

So, even with the extra power, you need to plan to conserve (leave inverter off) unless you really need it. If you don't have snow covered solar you have a little more flexibility.

Even houses have drafty areas. So the slide out floor will be colder than the back bedroom, the cab-over will be colder than the living area. I kept the T-stat at 68 or 70 and was comfortable the entire time at every location. The bathroom was a few degrees colder, but I have since upped the size of the duct to that area.

2. The best sales pitch for this was a picture of a guy that got rid of his big motorhome for a 4x4 Isata to launch his boat.

I think once you say "4x4 and off road" people seem to envision rock crawling, mud bogging and crossing shallow creeks and sort of lose the concept of what this can do.

Maybe it is just (as it was designed) to go off the edge of the road near a sand dune and be able to get out. A flat, but wet patch of yard, or maybe pull into the "unplowed" section of a ski resort parking lot (yet to be plowed even). Or go onto an unimproved service road.
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Old 09-15-2020, 06:43 AM   #9
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Thanks for you insight Brian. Having owned 4X4 vehicles since Audi launched the Quattro and which I now race, and Land Rovers since the 60s, I continue to be amazed at how so many people misunderstand the purpose of 4X4 and how the various means of creating the potential for drive from 4 wheels differs with each application. With out LSDs or lockers on both axles, most are still 2 wheel drive (one front and one rear) or at best 3 wheel drive, so traction is not always going to be there. Add the front axle weight of most pick-ups to the equation and you have a recipe for making their 4X4 investment quite worthless. As you wrote, its a helpful problem solver but usually not a means to a completely different mission.
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Old 09-15-2020, 12:30 PM   #10
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My wife and I are in the exact same point in our purchase as hwobs. We are looking at the same options but for us it is the cold weather challenges rather than handling the roads in winter conditions as we will be putting the rig into winter storage before the road salting starts. We hike and mountain bike so some of the locations may not have the best condition roads and having the extra traction may save the day. The other difference is purchase location specific; we are buying in Canada. It is only mid-Sep but we had frost last night and if we wish to extend the season a bit we have to manage the temperatures.

Our dealer has provided us a build out sheet to tic off the options and I noted that the I5 is only available in 4x4; my question is why did Dynamax opt to only ship the I5 to Canada as a 4x4?

Note: This is not a complaint as the 4x4 is what we wished to buy.

Thanks, Ian
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Old 09-15-2020, 12:50 PM   #11
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my question is why did Dynamax opt to only ship the I5 to Canada as a 4x4?

Note: This is not a complaint as the 4x4 is what we wished to buy.

Thanks, Ian
It was merely to limit the types of chassis to juggle.

When we have two types, its tough to try to balance how many of each, so you may end up sitting on one over the other when a model change happens. That creates a whole other range of complications. So we opted to offer 4x4 only.

We are weighing that option in the states as well.
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Old 09-15-2020, 03:06 PM   #12
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I have had to get my 31 foot E350 Motorhome tugged out of a soft spot I shouldn't have tried to back into more than once. 4X4 is a great option to have. Nobody is going to take one of these up something challenging enough to get a wheel off the ground and require a locker or LSD. That being said, I have seen people do a lot of really stupid stuff with the ram 5500 long chassis and huge heavy weights on them out in the oil field. Crossing ditches, climbing hills and being towed by bulldozers through things that would make your head spin. The Ram chassis is tough! Point being there is nothing on the factory truck you need to worry about, it's all the low hanging fruit like sewer pipes, the relocated (dropped a bit?) exhaust and stabilizers that will be first to take the pain. Not to mention the entire painted body... but that's not the point. It's mission would be to go down a dirt road that might have some pretty good ruts or the odd muddy section or even to be the guy that's pulling through the muddy field at a concert that people are getting their pick up trucks stuck in... I think the OP is looking for real world feedback from a current owner on how the 28SS has been with the Explorer package. So far I haven't heard from one... Can't wait to hear from somebody in the real world who might be using the Explorer package like it was designed... I'm a couple years away from being able to buy one!
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Old 09-15-2020, 04:19 PM   #13
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Running the mountains in the winter and not having to chain up
Being able to shift in and out of 4 wheel drive on the fly as you are either climbing up into snow country or coming down out of and you encounter sections of no snow and then snow.

The pits at the motorcross track after a good rain
Parking on the beach
We have a few lakes where there are shorlines which let you camp right at the waters (soft) edge
Pismo beach OHV camping
Parking lot at the ski resort in a snow storm
Snow camping period! my kids love it

Many CA campgrounds in OHV riding areas
That favorite little spot just off the beaten path.
Using the low range to pull that steep boat ramp especially when the water is way low.
Google Lake McClure CA at low water levels, there is a ramp there that is narrow, steep and windy, good stuff!



There is hundreds of applications for short 4x4 SUPER Cs that aren't going to twist it to pieces.
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Old 09-15-2020, 04:31 PM   #14
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Thumbs up

Yup!
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Old 09-17-2020, 12:36 AM   #15
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Well I thought Id chime in here since I took possession of a lovely dark version of the 28SS + x pkg in june and since have driven from Indiana to Alaska (home base) then the wife and I since have driven up the, what I would call the worlds worst 18 wheeler dirt road in the world, The infamous Dalton Highway. (picture on forum somewhere)to 60 miles above the arctic circle to Coldfoot, AK Only Truckstop ( I say that jokingly) in the whole 500 miles from Fairbanks to the Northslope, and back to home Eagle River AK (1500+ miles of which 500+ was dirt). The biggest complaint I've had about the ride was those dang conti tires, so spent a few $ and changed to Michelins and taking another's advice for airbags in the rear. The weather never got to freezing (low 40's) toasty inside and plenty of electrical juice (800 amps solar) We were dry camping the whole way and got 11mpg round trip. Wife loves comfort of the seats and I love the Dodge setup, especially since the truck is so solid and so secure. When the Canadians reopen the border I plan on a round trip to key west next year, since there are only so many roads in alaska and most of them are dirt.
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Old 09-17-2020, 03:18 AM   #16
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Wow to Key West from Alaska! Awesome.
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Old 09-17-2020, 08:35 AM   #17
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That sounds like a fantastic trip.

Great to hear your experience. I got to see one in person a few weeks ago and was very impressed with the overall design layout of the rig. Lots of storage and usefulness packed into quite a compact package.
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Old 09-17-2020, 09:14 AM   #18
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Please read my line item 2 and disclaimer. Thanks.
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Old 09-17-2020, 09:18 AM   #19
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Well I thought Id chime in here since I took possession of a lovely dark version of the 28SS + x pkg in june and since have driven from Indiana to Alaska (home base) then the wife and I since have driven up the, what I would call the worlds worst 18 wheeler dirt road in the world, The infamous Dalton Highway. (picture on forum somewhere)to 60 miles above the arctic circle to Coldfoot, AK Only Truckstop ( I say that jokingly) in the whole 500 miles from Fairbanks to the Northslope, and back to home Eagle River AK (1500+ miles of which 500+ was dirt). The biggest complaint I've had about the ride was those dang conti tires, so spent a few $ and changed to Michelins and taking another's advice for airbags in the rear. The weather never got to freezing (low 40's) toasty inside and plenty of electrical juice (800 amps solar) We were dry camping the whole way and got 11mpg round trip. Wife loves comfort of the seats and I love the Dodge setup, especially since the truck is so solid and so secure. When the Canadians reopen the border I plan on a round trip to key west next year, since there are only so many roads in alaska and most of them are dirt.

Awesome, thanks for taking the time to post!
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Old 09-17-2020, 09:18 AM   #20
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Thanks for your input. One of the more useful I've read.
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