Expedition Truck under 7.5 Ton: Fact or Fiction?

Full size expedition truck in dessert

7.5 ton (7500kg or 8.27 US Ton), a magical number for many who dream of their own expedition truck. Marketing tries to convince you it is within reach. A recent article in a German offroad magazine even had the bold title “Honest 7.5 Ton”. But here is what the past 4 years – through building an expedition truck and talking to many owners – taught us:

Yes it possible, BUT you might need to leave your love one at home …. and your fuel and/or water! Oh, and be ready to compromise on a lot more too.  

The official versus real weight

Here is the thing. In many countries driving a vehicle above 7.5ton requires a different class of drivers license. Therefore, it’s more convenient if you can stick below that number. Like in the regular motorhome business (where the magical number is 3.5ton) manufactures try to get their vehicles registered as a <7.5 ton. We understand that. BUT what they do not tell you, if you don’t explicitly ask, is how they weighed the vehicle and how much extra weight you can still take with you. So be ready to ask questions and do some calculations. 

Be aware that in some countries expedition trucks have the option in which class they are registered: as a motorhome/camper or a regular heavy-duty vehicle (semi, lorry, … ). And as a result they weigh the truck differently. So check if the diesel and the water tanks were full when the truck rolled on the scale. 

For example, when we put our truck on the scale, all the tanks– 300 l (79 US Gallon) diesel & 430 l (114 US Gallon) water – were filled up, everything was installed, I was still sitting in the truck (we will skip that weight 😉 ), and most of the cabinets were already in use too. Our weight was 9.2 ton.

So is it then all a lie?

There are full size expedition trucks (we’re not talking about vans or lightweight commercial vehicles etc) that stay under 7.5 ton. A few even without lying in their paperwork. But there aren’t many, and they did need to compromise on things you might not want to. 

In the choice of our vehicle (one that is build to tackle rough terrain) and the material used inside the camper unit, we chose for durability and reliability over lightweight. And yes, the terrace and bike rack added extra weight. But leaving them off wouldn’t have kept the truck under 7.5 ton and even if they had, they are so worth it!

In addition, we wanted to enjoy the freedom of traveling overland and be as independent as possible. Thus, carrying food and water for more than the average week,  making wild camping and remote journeys possible.

 

 

Thus, if you want an expedition truck that is truly ready for serious adventures, 7.5 ton is more fiction than fact. 

 

 


Are you ready for a sensational adventure?  

Then this is a ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME opportunity to own our unique and high-end expedition truck.  The only thing you need to do is turn the key and go. 

More information can be found here: 

Happy travels,

Nicole & Elmer
Terratrotter®


6 thoughts on “Expedition Truck under 7.5 Ton: Fact or Fiction?
  1. Hey guys.

    Such a nice and true article.

    I did manage to do this and keep our small truck under the 7500KG when fully loaded with the standard fuel tank and the first of two 150L water tanks we have. I chose a twin tank set up on both fuel and water for when both liquids are plentiful and when crossing boarders I just have fluid in one fuel tank and one water tank. That is unless the fuel is cheap and we dump the water and use the payload for both fuel tanks 😉 . The reserve in both liquid capasity tanks and the trucks actual carry load limits (9+ tons) will be used in places where the liquid will be used up allot (long miles and will be reduced quickly or going off piste for a few days where none will check or we will need showers lots 😉 ) .

    I have been super aware of weight in the build though. 3mm compsite for the cabinates with a light weight aluminium frame was used and even on the twin wheel carrier I only take one full spare wheel and just a tyre the other side so I can swap that if needed in an evening (hopefully some place nice.. Lets face it.. the chances are it won’t be when it happens!). I also went with a lightweight composite habitation box to save a good few kilos.

    I pretty much filled 2/3 of the roof with a 1200W solar set up that works well and just kept the very rear end roof area free for now incase I felt I needed more in the winter months. If I don’t I will most likely fit a marine roof window as the truck gets so hot inside with just moving around and cooking ETC without the heating on when it is above 0*C that we have to open the windows to let cold air in.. Crazy hey! I am glad I left that space back there to chop a hole in.. I thought I might need that in the summer months but the insulation of the roof kept the hot out so I need to have a serious think about cutting that hole..

    On our last shake down trip I was just a little over 7500kg when fully loaded with full twin tanks of fuel and water and to be honest I would probably never drive around with the truck like that for very long in any case. With the liquid down to single tanks each it works well and under load. Our truck is considered a small truck though being a MAN FAE 8.150.

    The areas save shaved quite a bit of weight on and have further reduced weight on is by..

    1 Switching the battery bank to Lithium (that was a huge weight saver)
    2 Carrying a tiny 50cc motorbike but taking out the tiny 50CC engine and fitting a 140CC engine 😉
    3 Carrying one full spare wheel and just a second spare tyre to swap over so not carrying two full rims. (time will tell if this pays of.. It does make me feel nervous due to our past experience. That said I can now change a wheel in under 20 minutes on my own..)
    4 If fuel is plentiful and about the same price in the next 3 countries you drive through and is at regular 100KM stops just use the primary tank and stop for snacks and chat to people who hang around fuel stops, just because that can be fun.

    I did get a bit twitchy about being overloaded and have built our truck so it can come in under weight when needed by simply dropping the water crying volume that is never at full capacity when driving on the road.

    This summer was an interesting one for us on the shake down of the truck. We travelled out eastwards and we did get pulled in at the boarders and we did get weighed. What I did learn after chatting to the officials in Hungary, Romania, Serbia etc.. is the reason they weigh vehicles is for one reason only.. They just need to know what to church foreighn vehicles for the Vignette or road tax for that county in the time you travel there.

    If it is under 7500kg you get that road using tax you just pay that and if you weigh in over the 7500KG you just pay that! From memory there was a €60 difference. We did hand over out vehicle documents to the officials and the only thing they did seem to be interested in was the fact we were from the UK and drove a LHD vehicle.

    I hope this helps,

    Jed

    1. Interesting what you did to keep the weight down. Our experience also says that finding diesel is far easier than finding a place to fill up your water tanks. Plus setting up camp in gorgeous spot for multiple days doesnt impact your fuel but your water supply is always tapped into .
      We assume your truck is registered as regular truck (LHD???) not as a camper/motorhome – and therefore you could have its official weight (in the papers) without all the water and diesel tanks filled up 🙂
      Our experience is as well that weight is also important for toll and vignette charges, especially when registered as a regular truck (because cost then can differ substantially) Since we’re now registered as a camper this became less of a thing. We just only once needed to show the spanish toll officer our official paperwork, to prove we were indeed a camper and thus in the cheaper toll class – but that is a next article 🙂
      By the way we can definitely recommend a roof fan, especially to suck out moisture (from cooking, showering, …) and to create a refreshing breeze during no-wind hot summer days; it makes a massive difference. One of the best things we installed.

      Thanks for sharing!
      Nicole & Elmer

  2. Great conversation & really useful for me with a MAN L2000 current registered in the UK as a LHD 7.5T Motorhome. Thanks.

  3. If the truck is on paper 7.5t and loaded 8t. Who cares while driving in the desert? I know a lot of trucks and campers that are overloaded and never had any problems. Not even in Europe.

    1. Hi Ivan,

      Thanks for your input. We understand your view on this and we know others who share this view with you. We believe it is something everyone has to decide for themselves if they want to drive an overloaded vehicle or not; some are willing to take the risks and others don’t (a new article is in the making about this topic 🙂 ). However, you can only start making this decision if you’re aware it is something you need to decide upon. We have come across people who were taken by surprise how little extra load they could legally take with, or that their truck official weight was with almost no diesel in the tank and no water. Saying or advertising an expedition truck is <7.5t is not the same as being able to travel with it as a <7.5 ton. Aside from that we haven't come across many full size expedition trucks that were only little above the 7.5 marker. Again we only mention this to help people with their decision making based on more realistic expectations; when we started this expedition truck journey we had to adjust our expectations about this as well 🙂

      Cheers,
      Nicole & Elmer

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