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Unimog Campers: The Kings of Global Off-Road Adventure Vehicles

A Unimog or “Mog” Truck is a 4×4 Mercedes-Benz multipurpose off-roading vehicle specifically designed to endure any terrain it encounters. Developed by Germany after WWII, it was first built as an agricultural vehicle to tow farm equipment.

A Unimog camper is essentially a Mog truck that features an adventure camper on the back—also known as the “Mog Home.” Sometimes these campers are called habitats. Essentially, it has all the amazing off-roading capabilities of a Unimog, but you can live in it. It’s a true beast, and it’s perfect for extreme overlanding adventures because it can handle just about everything.

But what makes Unimog campers so amazing? Let’s take a closer look. 

What Makes a Unimog So Off-Road-Worthy?

Since WWII, the Mog Truck only become bigger and more rugged as advancements in technology continue. They are heavy-duty and heavy (recent Mogs weigh in at a whopping 18,800 lbs) vehicles intended for very challenging tasks.

What sets a Unimog apart? Quite simply, the build. It has portal axles, a multi-speed drivetrain, a flexible but sturdy frame design, and a torque tube with coil suspension. Because of its versatility in almost every environment, Unimogs are used worldwide for various military, police, and agricultural endeavors. 

All of the above make them fantastic off-road machines, but this comes at the price of on-road comfort. While they are street legal, many have very low top speeds and very few creature comforts and safety devices for the driver.

This is common, however, among many off-road capable vehicles: the better off-road, the worse on the road.

ULTIMATE 4x4 DIY UNIMOG Camper Conversion TOUR - Off-Grid Overland Vehicle Home - Van Life Ep 16

What Is a Unimog Camper Like Inside?

Like most campers, it comes with a bed, a dinette, a kitchenette, a small bathroom, holding tanks, and even a solar set-up coupled with a top-of-the-line battery bank. But you can completely customize your “Mog Home” based on your specific needs. 

Unimog camper
The Unimog camper is built on the base of a Unimog truck.
Source: mercedes-benz-trucks.com

Pro Tip: Take your Unimog on your next overlanding adventure, but make sure you have it stocked with the 11 Top Essential Gear for Overlanding.

The answer to this question will vary from country to country, but if you’re in the United States, they are usually street-legal. They must abide by federal motor safety laws, have a license plate, and meet emissions requirements, among other things. But, you’ll definitely want to do some test drives before you head to your destination. They can be a bit awkward to drive, and as one owner puts it, “they ride like fast tractors.” 

Like we mentioned above, all the off-road capability makes them slow and cumbersome on city streets.

Do You Need a CDL to Drive a Unimog?

Surprisingly, you probably don’t need a CDL to drive a Unimog camper.

However, in some locations, you may need a special license for the weight class. These rigs can be very heavy and exceed the standard 14,000lb gross weight of pickup trucks.

mercedes benz unimog camper
Roam the world in a massive Unimog camper.

What Engine Does a Unimog Have?

The Unimog’s engine has changed quite a bit throughout the years. However, if you ordered one today, you’ll have the choice of an OM 934 LA or an OM 936 LA diesel engine. Your Unimog engine will depend on the model and variant you choose. 

For example, if you choose the U 5030, you’ll have the OM 936 LA engine. Or, if you choose the U 4032, you’ll get the OM 934 LA engine. 

How Many MPG Does a Unimog Get?

As you probably guessed, Unimogs aren’t known for being the most fuel-efficient vehicles. The MPGs they get will vary based on the type of terrain they encounter, speed, and how they are built out.

Nevertheless, TopSpeed.com estimated their fuel economy at 8 mpg in the city and 16 mpg on the highway. While this estimate was from 2013, countless other articles and forums echo this 15 mpg range. 

Because these are diesel vehicles, their economy is actually better, however, than many gas motorhomes.

unimog camper

How Much Does a Unimog Camper Cost?

As we mentioned before, a Unimog is a completely customizable camper. Because of this, the price you pay will differ depending on the features, specs, and variations. But, regardless of what you choose, these beasts don’t come cheap. We’re talking about a starting price of over $580,000 new. 

Pro Tip: Are you tempted to name your Unimog? These are 5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Name Your Camper.

Can You Buy a Unimog Camper in the US?

Unfortunately, you can’t buy a new Unimog in the United States. Mercedes-Benz only sold Unimogs on one brief occasion—from 2002 to 2007. Nowadays, Americans will have to rely on auctions such as Bring a Trailer or a licensed Unimog importer such as Expedition Imports.

Keep in mind that these will all be used Unimogs, and you’ll have to factor in any fees or taxes that come with imported vehicles. 

Unimog Alternatives

If you’re interested in rugged, off-road camper alternatives similar to the Unimog, several brands and models offer great versatility and robust capabilities. Here’s a look at some notable options:

  • Scania 4×4
  • Steyr 12M28 4×4
  • MAN TGM & TGS
  • Iveco Eurocargo 4×4
  • Mitsubishi Fuso Canter 4×4
  • Mercedes-Benz Zetros

You can find some specialty expedition manufacturers working with these chassis.

Is a Unimog Camper Worth It?

Are you an overlanding enthusiast who wants the ultimate adventure RV? Is it your absolute dream to have a Unimog? Then we think it’s totally worth it to at least explore what’s out there.

Keep in mind, however, that these are not great on-street vehicles, and if you want to move quickly and put miles on them, perhaps a different type of vehicle would be best suited for you.

Of course, if you’re in the U.S., you’ll be limited to used and imported Unimogs, and each one will have its own price point, history, and unique condition. Therefore, the decision is totally up to you, your budget, and the inventory available. 

We don’t recommend putting yourself in a position where you can barely make ends meet just to afford one. But if you’re able to find the perfect Unimog for you (that’s within your budget), more power to you!

Whether you want a Unimog camper or similar, finding a used overland vehicle can be challenging, especially if you don’t know where to start looking or how to search. Check out our advice here: How to Find Used Overland Vehicles for Sale (And Where We Found Ours)

We Renovated A 20 Year-Old Truck Camper Into A Luxury Overland Vehicle
While not a Unimog, we built out an Overlanding beast of our own!

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About Tom Morton

Tom, a Pacific Northwest native, is our technical genius. Born in Washington and raised in Alaska before settling in Michigan. He's the man who keeps our operation running, both figuratively and literally.

With a background in Electrical Engineering, Tom specializes in RV solar systems and lithium batteries. He made history as the first documented individual to use a Tesla battery module as an RV battery. Tom has personally assisted countless RVers with system installations and has educated thousands more through his videos and articles.

Cinematography is another of Tom's passions, showcased in his work on the Go North series. You can see his camera skills on display in The RVers TV show on Discovery Channel and PBS where he also stars as a co-host.

Tom's mechanical expertise extends beyond RVs to boats, planes, and all things mechanical. He's renowned for taking on maintenance and repair projects single-handedly and is often spotted underneath RVs, making him the technical backbone of our endeavors.

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