What exactly defines an RV? We all have our strict definition, but we also sometimes like to see what others are doing. That curiosity extends to pickup trucks – where so many of us love our traditional trucks but also are curious about the pending electric trucks. Can they cut the mustard? Or, more to the point, pull the mustard wagon?
To that end, our articles on the forthcoming Rivian pickup truck have been popular reads. But I found out the company also has its sights set on the R1T truck as a camper, of sorts, as well. In fact, what they’ve done is literally designed the best outdoor camp kitchen I have ever seen.
The idea behind Rivian’s camper isn’t to be an RV, per se. But it does pay homage to all the overlanders out there who put a roof-top tent on their four-wheel-drive vehicles and go places that you can’t find on your AAA paper maps.
Wait. Does anybody even use AAA paper maps any longer? Heck, do they even print them still?
Anyhow, since electric vehicles aren’t burdened by having to accommodate a large internal combustion engine and all the support pieces to make that thing work, we’ve seen a lot of creative uses of space in electric vehicles. For example, the forthcoming Ford electric pickup has a trunk in the front where you’d normally find Godzilla. Well, the Godzilla V8 if we were talking about the Super Duty gasser.
Rivian’s Gear Tunnel holds the Camp Kitchen
And the Rivian, too, has a front trunk since it doesn’t have to accommodate a metal enclosure to contain flying pistons. But the Rivian goes that one better with something called the “Gear Tunnel.” This is a tunnel between the cab space and the bed of the truck, accessible from both sides.
Think of this is a large pass-through storage bay as you might find in a travel trailer, but with a sliding deck. And that deck has a couple of 120vac electrical outlets on it. It’s pretty cool.
So with this in place, someone at Rivian got the idea of making a three-piece camp kitchen that neatly fits into this space. Since this is an electric vehicle, that camp kitchen incorporates two induction burners.
But you don’t have to worry about having the right cookware for those burners as the Camp Kitchen comes with a full cookware set from Snow Peak.
The Camp Kitchen comes well-outfitted
Form-fitted, cork-lined drawers will include a three-piece nonstick cook set, prep tools, water kettle, coffee grinder, dishes, flatware and insulated mugs for four. The Camp Kitchen also comes with conveniences like a towel bar and bag holder for recyclables or waste.
There is an on-board four-gallon water pump and a “dog bowl” sink. It is called that because they sort of resemble a dog bowl. You dump the contents on the ground or down a drain but it doesn’t have a drain, per se. You just lift it out and flip it over. Probably best to think about where you’re dumping your dish water if you’re in the woods or wherever. What really impressed me is how very well thought out placement of all the utensils and pots and such were and how well designed this is. I don’t mean to be a jerk, but this is what you get when someone other than the RV industry designs RVs. Sort of like when GMC designed their own Motorhome – it’s still a better design than some modern ones.
As for sleeping accommodations, that’s where a roof-top tent comes into play. But Rivian envisions that being mounted above the bed of the pickup rather than on the actual roof. Funny thing, I spoke with someone who was camping in a full-sized van next to where I had a spot in a campground and they had a roof-top tent on the van. Their description of the experience was “inconvenient.” That’s kind of what I imagined it to be.
The Rivian truck
The company is claiming that its four-motor truck is capable of going from a dead stop to 60 miles per hour in three seconds, once the territory of high-performance sports cars. It also claims that you can drive through up to three feet of water and can tow 11,000 pounds.
In its base form, the truck is claimed to have a 300-mile range. But for a mere 10 grand more, you can up that to a 400-mile range. At $67,500 for the base price, the Rivian is about where some of the fancier pickup trucks are today in price. Size wise, it is somewhere between a traditional full-sized truck and a mid-size truck like the Ford Ranger.
When you compare this to some of the old camper vans, it actually really makes sense. If you already have a Rivian pickup truck, this is a simple and easy thing to put into the “Gear Tunnel” and head for the hills.
The Camp Kitchen package, though, ain’t cheap at $5,000. If you want the sleeping accommodations, as well, you’re going to have to plop down another $2,500 for the three-person truck-bed-top tent package. It does come with all the mounting bits and such.
The other issue is probably the biggest one – will you see one of these in someone’s garage? The company has certainly had its share of challenges bringing the truck to market, as we’ve reported elsewhere here. So I might not want to be the first in line – but, then, who will be?
There are also other electric pickup trucks announced by companies with a hundred years of history of actually producing products and then selling them. So the space is certainly heating up.
But this Camp Kitchen and the pickup it’s wrapped with does show that there is lots and lots of room for real innovation in the RV space. I think this is a beautifully packaged kitchen. Maybe only available in a Rivian, if they come to market, maybe copied elsewhere. But I do like this design.
These RV reviews are written based on information provided by the manufacturers along with our writer’s own research. We receive no money or other financial benefits from these reviews. They are intended only as a brief overview of the vehicle, not a comprehensive critique, which would require a thorough inspection and/or test drive.
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