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Will a Rivian Make a Good Camping Vehicle?

Will a Rivian Make a Good Camping Vehicle?

Switching to a vehicle that doesn’t use fossil fuels is still just a dream for many. But Rivian has made wishes come true with the design of their R1T truck — an all-electric pickup decked out for an adventure. Could this be the beginning of a revolution in the RV world? Let’s see if the Rivian has the power to pull travel trailers and provide support for off-the-grid camping trips.

All-Electric Rivian Truck and SUV: Good for Recreation?

With the R1T truck and soon to be offered R1S sport utility vehicle, Rivian sets the standard for future all-electric off-road exploration trucks. Both vehicles have a range of 300 miles on one charge, with a battery upgrade that will extend that range to 400 miles. You can find a lot of adventure within a 300-mile radius of charging stations!

Always Learning | Adventurous Forever | Rivian

The models come with all-wheel-drive and offer a whole new type of drivetrain, with an independent motor for each wheel. This gives Rivian great traction in all kinds of road conditions and should be superior to most any other production vehicle off-road. It can get you to virtually any location. In theory, the hub motor design also greatly reduces the number of moving parts and bearings from a conventional vehicle. This should make them much more reliable than a traditional vehicle.

The R1T can use all-terrain wheels, reinforced underbody shields, and tow hooks for more aggressive off-roading. And for those looking to camp directly from the vehicle, Rivian offers an innovative camp kitchen with a gear tunnel built into the truck’s bed. It includes a  two-burner induction cooktop that uses 1440 watts of power from the vehicle’s battery, a collapsible sink with a spray faucet, and three drawers full of cooking equipment and eating utensils. This all slides out of the gear tunnel and sets up on an attached table.

Add a rooftop tent that sleeps three and sits on Yakima crossbars, and you have the perfect campsite available wherever you park for the night!

Towing and Payload Capacity of the R1T Electric Truck

The R1T pickup can tow up to 11,000 lbs and haul 1,760 lbs of payload. With 14 inches of ground clearance and a wading depth of 3 ft, the truck can handle most medium-sized trailers. You need to remember that the range is cut in half when towing at full capacity.

First Drives | Electric Adventure Vehicles | Rivian

Towing Capacity of the R1S SUV

Rivian’s R1S sports utility vehicle touts 14 inches of ground clearance. It also has a towing capacity of 7,700 lbs. This seven-passenger auto can go from zero to 60 in three seconds, which makes driving the R1S more like handling a sports car.

How Much Do They Cost? 

The Rivian R1T truck has three trim levels. Its first vehicle off the line is the Launch Edition, with a price of $73,000. It comes with all the bells and whistles, including the standard 300-mile range battery, upgraded Meridian sound system, leather upholstery, powered tonneau cover, gear guard, full glass roof, heated steering wheel and seats, and an air compressor kit. 

Rivian vegan leather interior
All Rivians have vegan leather seating.

In addition to the standard features, the Launch Edition has special badging, priority delivery, upgraded wheels, and a unique green paint color. This level has already sold out, and after several delays, it will “launch” in January of 2022.

The Adventure Package is one step down from the Launch and includes all of the premium items found in its more sassy counterpart. It will also sell for $73,000 MSRP once it hits the market after the Launch Edition is delivered.

The Explore Package has a sport interior with a manual tonneau cover, textile floor mats and headliner, a standard audio system, no gear guard, and a black interior finish. It costs $67,500.

standard truck bed
Unlike a standard truck bed, the Rivian R1T’s bed is made of a wear and corrosion-resistant composite material.

Like the R1T, the Rivian R1S SUV has three trim levels with the same interior offerings as the truck. But purchasers can choose a five-seat model or a seven-seat one. The Launch Edition and Adventure Package cost $75,000, and the Explore Package costs $70,000.

Both vehicles have many optional upgrades, including a maximum battery package with a 400-mile range on one charge for an additional $10,000.

Will Rivian Make a Good Camping Vehicle?

The R1T and R1S models can enhance the camping experience in several ways. From towing a recreational vehicle to your selected campsite to attaching a tent, take a look at the options. 

Rivian Towing RV?

As long as you remember that the battery distance is cut in half when towing at full capacity, an R1T or an R1S can work great for camping. They have plenty of power stored for use at a dispersed campsite. Plus, they offer a stylish and comfortable way to get there!

Hot Weather Towing | Progress Report | Rivian

Rivian With Truck Camper?

Because the R1T bed only measures 4.5 feet long, you’ll have difficulty finding a truck camper with a short floor that will fit in the bed. The only other option is a truck tent that covers the bed and may extend past the tailgate. 

Need help finding a pickup truck that can handle the size of your truck camper? Read this: What Is the Best Truck for a Truck Camper?

Truck Tent on a Rivian?

One option available to R1T owners is a platform tent that fits on Yakima rails. You can place the rails on the sides of the truck bed or over the cab. The tent sleeps three and has a foam bed included. Users can take advantage of the truck battery to run lights and charge electronics from the comfort of their tent.

Rivian R1T Electric Camper Truck Walk Around: Overland Expo

SUV Tent on a Rivian SUV?

Any tent designed to fit over the tailgate of an SUV would work well on the Rivian R1S. You can also use the 120V outlet in the cargo area at the back of the vehicle.

Can You Charge a Rivian While Camping?

Rivian is installing a network of fast chargers across the country that will provide enough energy to power their vehicles for 120 miles on a 20-minute charge. But they have also designed a portable charger for use with 240V and 120V outlets. Drivers can charge their Rivians at a campsite with plugins or a generator

However, it will take quite a while to complete the charge. The battery will recharge at a rate of 16 to 25 miles per charging hour in a 240V outlet. In a typical household outlet of 120V, it will recharge at a couple of miles per hour.

Powering Adventure | Adventurous Forever | Rivian

The Best Way to Take Your Rivian Camping

With the thoughtful and tested design, Rivian has created trucks that you can use as a camper just as easily as they can tow one. Jumping into the all-electric market, the company produces vehicles with realistic driving ranges and power to spare. That power will provide great off-grid camping experiences and adventures for weekend travelers looking to make less of an impact on our environment.

Would you rather have an electric motorhome than an electric tow vehicle? Let’s see if one is in your future: Are Electric RVs The Future? This Is The Reason We Haven’t Seen One Yet

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Jack+McGonegal

Friday 13th of August 2021

For a great look at the Rivian, check out Ewan McGregor’s documentary, “”Long Way Up” on Apple +. (And might as well watch Ted Lasso, too, which is awesome). McGregor and best friend Charley Boorman rode electric Harley motorcycles from the tip of South America to Los Angeles. Two of their support trucks were the first Rivians ever made. Great series and great companion piece to their other two travel docuseries, “Long Way Round” and “Long Way Down.”

Richard Hubert

Friday 13th of August 2021

While you bring up many good, valid points, you fail to really address many of the current realistic downsides of EVs - and particularly of the concept of EV RVs.

First - you mention the high costs of ownership many times. Not many have the budget to afford an $85k truck to pull a ~$50k trailer. (the higher capacity Rivian is really the only model to consider for towing)

2) Range - you mention how exciting it would be to go to remote places - but most of these are exactly that - remote! As such they are unlikely to have many charging station options (if any), and even if they did how can a long rig (PU towing trailer) fit into the charging stalls without blocking up many other charging stations for many hours?

3> RV park charging - you say several times how one could simply charge up while parked in an RV site - but there are very few parks which have the electrical capacity to support this. I have seen mostly the opposite - where even current 50 amp services are challenged to maintain voltages on hot days while many run their A/C. The reality is that most parks cannot allow EV charging of any kind.

So many then say that RV parks can simply upgrade their entire park electrical grid. Really? Very few parks would be willing to make that investment. Not only that but there is an assumption that the local electrical grid can even support higher demands – which may not be the case at all. So where is all the additional electricity supposed to come from to support the projected huge number of EVs which are being mandated into our future? This is one of the main EV fallacies - that there is somehow unlimited electricity - when the reality for many locations is there is not even enough for current demands (ie - Texas and California)

4> Rivian Superchargers - Highly unlikely these will be installed in any of the remote places RVers want to go. How many would ever be installed in Alaska or along the highways to/from there with very limited partial year demands? Instead - they will be installed along major interstates that have chance of being utilized by more customers.

5> Solar - We have a great solar & LiFePO4 batteries on our Class A - which I love. BUT - we are not always parked in non-shady sites, and there are also rainy, cloudy days. So thank goodness for our ICE Onan generator to help us out in those situations. Solar is great - but it is not always reliable or dependable.

I am not anti-EV at all - but there are many realities that must be considered around what makes this technology practical, affordable and realistic for many drivers. I strongly favor hybrid technology, currently driving a RAV 4 plug-in hybrid. It has many advantages of EV technology (70 mile full charge range with regenerative braking capability), yet has the ICE generator to extend total range greatly.

I am also very much against government mandates on future technology. In my experience the government needs to get out the way and let the free market work to develop realistic, affordable, practical and reliable alternative energy systems. Then you have to let the consumer decide with their purchase dollars what technology is best for them. The level of current ICE technologies is astounding, making current ICE vehicles much more attractive to consumers - for many good reasons.

Silas Longshot

Friday 13th of August 2021

Pretty cool truck. about on par with some standard trucks in performance and price. BUT until there are charging stations as numerous as regular gas stations, I'm thinking electric vehicles of any kind will be a very tiny number of the 'traffic population'.

Ric Doedens

Friday 13th of August 2021

As the owner of an electric car, I'm all for the idea of an electric truck. However, we are a long way away from this being a practical alternative to the ICE. Your article mentioned the 50% drop in range with a trailer, which takes us down to 200 miles if you have the extended range vehicle (150 miles if you don't). If you take advantage of the onboard features like the induction cooktop, your range drops even further. If you are a winter camper, deduct another 40% from your range. A 400 mile range with a trailer in the winter drops to a mere 120 miles. You can barely get out of your driveway before you have to stop for umpteen hours to recharge your batteries so that you can travel another 120 miles.

All this could still work if there was a supercharger at every corner like we have now with gas stations, but we are a long way off from that reality. And the idea of using a generator to recharge your electric vehicle? Bring lots of gas. No irony in that is there?

So a small tent on the back of the truck used in the summer is likely the only way you will get near to the full range of the vehicle, whch still limits you to travel distances of less than 200 miles in one direction and/or a detailed map/app indicating all the available charging stations within the range limit of your vehicle. To be fair, if you travel to a campground with electrical hook-ups, a 240V supply will charge your vehicle at 16 miles/hr or 25 hours for a full charge if you arrive with an near empty battery.

Bottom line, range anxiety and extreme patience will be the reality and requirement for anyone using an electric vehicle for any camping outside of your local neighborhood.

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