This Wisconsin-Made Expedition-Style Trailer Exudes Ruggedness, Quality Craftsmanship, and True Four-Season Creds
Snow is blowing sideways outside our camper windows, and the outdoor thermometer reads a nippy 15°F with a wind chill near 0°F. Inside, it’s toasty warm, just as Steve Geary, the sales manager for Nelson Industries, assured us it would be in these types of winter camping conditions. Nelson Industries is the parent company of Imperial Outdoors, which makes the XploreRV X145 trailer I’m sitting in as I write this review.
Geary’s praise for this high-end 2023 expedition-style off-grid trailer is well founded — Nelson Industries’ has a stellar, decade-long reputation for building premium RV ice fishing houses out of their St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin factory.
The new 21’4”, 6,172-pound GVWR XploreRV X145 four-season overlanding trailer is a direct spin-off of the same technologies and building practices acquired building ice fishing houses.
XploreRV X145 Designed For Off-Road Use
While ice fish houses are designed to be towed over rough roads to a frozen lake and parked, the X145 (and big brother X195) is designed as a true off-road, off-grid overlanding trailer for two that’s up to all the challenges RVers who love taking those less traveled backroads might encounter.
For example, the 21’7” heavy-duty boxed-steel frame is powder-coated and fitted with a Cruisemaster ATX Off-Road Independent Air Suspension with disc brakes imported from Australia. This state-of-the-art air suspension allows +/- five inches of air adjustment per side. It provides a full 21 inches of clearance between Terra Firma and the steel skid plates. These plates protect the 60-gallon fresh water and grey water tanks. The tanks are mounted in the enclosed and heated underbelly of the trailer.
The plumbing and wiring of the X145 are routed well above the frame, too, so they are well protected from damage caused by rocks and other large obstructions.
The chassis is also fitted with a Cruisemaster DO45 Plus articulating hitch, which allows the trailer to swivel, pivot and rotate separately from the tow vehicle, significantly smoothing out the towing feel inside the vehicle. The unique hitch design also provides a more secure hitching system than the traditional ball mount.
In a nutshell, wherever the vehicle towing an XploreRV X145 can go, the trailer is perfectly capable of following along with minimal jarring and jostling of things stored inside. We towed the X145 behind a 2023 GMC Sierra AT4X 1500 (Click here to read GMC review) and never once felt the jerk-and-bounce typical when towing a more conventional travel trailer.
An Overlanding Trailer Built For Extreme Temperatures
Jeremy Evans, the owner of Technique Vehicle Outfitters in Bend, Oregon, provided this camper for us to check out during a multi-day overlanding trip exploring Oregon’s High Desert in late winter. He also assured us we’d be comfortable even deep into minus temperatures.
“Imperial Outdoors builds their ice fishing houses to keep anglers warm down to -40°F,” says Evans, who is the exclusive dealer for the XploreRVs in Oregon. “These trailers are built the same. The composite walls of the X145 are three inches thick and filled with a special insulation material that gives an R10-R12 value. The acrylic thermopane Euro windows and heat ducting under the insulated floor provide an additional barrier to the cold.”
We’ve had the thermostat set at 68 degrees, and the 14,300 Btu LP furnace has no problem keeping the interior temp right there despite the outside temps.
Likewise, the heavily insulated X145 camper would be an ideal overlanding trailer for use in the heat of summer because the thermal barriers work just as well, keeping the burning desert sun at bay and maximizing the roof-mounted, high-efficiency 12-volt 6,800 Btu A/C unit.
Camping Off-Grid In An XploreRV X145
This is day three of our four-day outing camping off-grid in the X145. I’ve noticed a lot about this trailer that I like—and a few things I don’t like. It’s small at just 14’5” of interior space with 6’3” of ceiling height. The space is used efficiently. It’s bright and airy. You don’t feel confined in any way.
For example, the X145 has an RV Full bed (75”x53”) in the front that’s oriented East-West. There are two big wall-mounted shelves, one at the head and one at the foot of the bed, just above the full-opening acrylic windows. The shelves serve well as places to keep jackets, hats, gloves, and other items.
Xplore X145 Galley Pros & Cons
The street-side galley stretches about five feet from the bed to the pantry/fridge divider, topped by an airline-style compartment above with a single flip-up door. Underneath the deep stainless sink are two large slide-out drawers on high-quality extension rails. To the left of the sink is a True single-burner induction cooktop, and underneath is a big slide-out shelving rack for cookware.
This galley design provides an abundance of storage space. But the sink is too big and the single-burner cooktop too small. The sink didn’t have covers, leaving minimal food prep space, and having at least two burners is a must to cook meals when camping—unless you’re just making one-pot meals. The camper is also sans a microwave.
Across from the galley, on the off-side, is an “L”-shaped dinette. Again, lots of open storage beneath the seat cushions, and the table is just large enough for two to dine—or use as a desk as I am at this moment.
But don’t move around too much because the cushions are not attached to the wood bases they are covering. You move, and they slide. Another annoyance is the dinette pedestal is quite robust, leaving very little knee/leg room for the person sitting on the off-side seat.
Setup Suitable For Multi-Day Camping
One of the many features of the XploreRV X145 that we liked a lot was the size of the pantry and the efficiency and space in the 12-volt fridge below. We could easily stock the pantry for a week’s worth of provisions (if needed). Perishables were kept cool in the fridge, powered by the camper’s healthy 12-volt GoPower solar and Expion360 LifeP04 lithium-ion battery system.
Another great use of space is the X145 bathroom. The wet bath shower, with a translucent pocket door, can easily accommodate someone six-foot-plus, and it has excellent water pressure and instant hot water thanks to the Truma On-Demand system. The automatic ceiling vent keeps the moisture out—and serves as a nice place to dry wet clothes.
The vanity, farm-style bowl sink, and drawers under the sink are ideal for this type of camper and camping needs. The furnishing, lighting, and accent treatments are classy and of high-quality products.
XploreRV X145 Dry Flush Toilet
Of course, the primary focus of a bathroom is the toilet. It’s what’s used more than anything else when camping. What’s cool about the X145 toilet is it’s a Laveo Dry Flush waterless system. Use the toilet 8-10 times, shake in a little of the supplied chemical to gel any liquids after each use, then hit the “flush” button. The toilet spins, sucks, and seals the waste in the mylar bag, then pulls the sealed waste down, leaving a clean, new silver bag ready for use.
After several days of using the Dry Flush, you pull the liner up/over the mylar bag and replace it with a new cartridge. Your hands never touch anything other than the plastic liner. No muss, smell, or need for a black tank or using an RV dump station.
The X145 comes with 60-gallon fresh and grey tanks but no black tank because of the Dry Flush toilet. Sixty gallons of freshwater should last two people 4-5 days camping off-grid.
XploreRV X145 Big On Solar Power
When it comes to electrical power, the camper we are sitting in has the optional 740-watt solar roof panel kit with the Stage 3 (1080aH) triple battery LiFe system mated to a GoPower 2000 inverter/charger—all stored under the bed. That’s by far the most significant upgrade, cost-wise, on the XploreRV X145, adding $17,000 to this custom overlanding trailer’s $104,300 base price.
The plus of the solar/battery option is a no-brainer for anyone planning a long off-grid camping trip without a generator. The upgrade is robust. We’ve spent three days under mostly cloudy skies. We used the cooktop morning and night and kept the interior LED lights on longer than necessary. Additionally, we ran the furnace and water pump. Despite this, the monitor system shows we still have more than 50 percent power remaining.
Exterior Storage Solutions of the X145
Off-grid camping trips, or extended time overlanding, requires packing equipment and provisions that don’t fit inside. For example, carrying extra fuel, water, tools, spare tire, firewood, camp chairs, and even mountain bikes is prudent. The X145 can carry all those and more.
On the exterior, enclosed and positioned beneath the bed, is a pass-through compartment ideal for securely storing longer items. In front, on top of the trailer’s tongue, is a big steel storage box with enough space on top to carry e-bikes. The storage box has room inside to house the dual 20-pound propane tanks on the off-side and other gear on the street-side corner.
The X145 is designed to carry multiple jerry cans, a spare tire, a utility box, Hi-Lift Jack, and special gear panels to hold other off-road accessories. Up top are the standard 270-degree bat-wing-style awning, the solar panels, the bathroom vent, and the A/C unit. And on the front upper section is yet another panel for carrying more gear.
Imperial Outdoors XploreRV X145 Final Thoughts
Imperial Outdoors XploreRV X145 overlanding camper is an elite-level, stout, custom trailer built to last decades of hard, off-grid, four-season use. The company only manufactures about 400 per year, so the X145 is truly a limited-edition model.
If you are looking to make a statement during your overlanding adventures and off-grid camping trips, the X145 is sure to do just that, all the while delivering a comfortable camping experience regardless of the season or location. It’s also a good match for ½-ton pickups and full-size SUVs.
Imperial Outdoors Xplore X145 Specifications
- GVWR (Loaded): 6172 lbs.
- UVW (Empty): 4,400 lbs.
- Suspension: Cruisemaster Independent w/ Air
- Axle(s): Cruisemaster ATM Single-Axle (2 @ 3100 lbs.)
- Hitch Weight: 450 lbs.
- Cabin Length: 14’6”
- Overall Length: 21’7”
- Exterior Height: 9’9”
- Exterior Width: 7’7”
- Interior Height: 6’3”
- Fresh Water: 60 gals.
- Gray Water: 60 gals.
- Black Water: n/a
- Sleeping Capacity: 2
- Awning Size: Extra-Large 270° awning (Bat Wing)
- MSRP: $104,300
- MSRP: $124,300 (as tested)
Special Thanks: Technique Vehicle Outfitters
Photography by Bruce Smith
For more small trailers check out Top Small Camping Trailers for Outdoor Enthusiasts.
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