It is such a treat to catch up with EarthCruiser owners and hear their story. Last time we heard from EarthCruiser FX owners #59, this time we get a glimpse into the compelling lifestyle of Maile and Kent Krumpschmidt on the road. Let’s just say, we’re all a little jealous of how they’ve outfitted their EarthCruiser into a mobile clinical lab and the ultimate live/work/play set-up. Read below how they got into overlanding and found their way to EarthCruiser, plus helpful tips if you’re seriously considering full-or-part time overlanding as a way of life.
Hi Maile. Thanks for taking time to chat. Tell us about yourself.
I was a college athlete in collegiate track and field and was an olympic qualifier post-college. I competed for a while until I tore the majority of my ligaments in my left knee and found my way into the medical field. I’ve always been athletic and enjoy trail running, hiking and especially alpine skiing. We’ll climb up a mountain and ski down.
I currently work as an Oncologist focused in clinical research measuring and monitoring cancer-specific clinical trials. My work is 100% remote unless I have a meeting to attend to. What’s really nice, is I can work from the road and review patient data under regulatory guidelines, and keep up with patients, clinics and hospitals, from anywhere.
How did you get into the overlanding lifestyle?
My husband and I have never been fond of camping in the typical crowded campgrounds. We realized if Kent, my husband, had time off from work, I could bring my work with me for longer remote getaways so we started playing around with the idea of off grid camping or overlanding. We upgraded to a sprinter van from a Toyota Tacoma and built a table with a couple of screens so I’d have more real estate to work off of for my mobile clinical office. It took us two years and was totally outfitted but had no galley or bathroom. It helped us get our feet wet with that lifestyle and we used it for several years.
Working from the road is a dream for many. What’s that been like?
We spend 30-40% of the year traveling around with the majority in winter. I love my work and it’s easy to put in over 12 hours a day. Being able to have this kind of lifestyle and opportunity to keep up with my outdoor passions helps keep me balanced and from burning out.
My husband built a desk for my laptop, monitor, mouse and phone, for the passenger side of the cab so I can work while he’s driving. For longer drives between places we’ll make those after work hours so it doesn’t disrupted. Sometimes cell service is an issue and you drop calls. We have a cell phone booster though and I pair my computer through that to get online. I also use a noise-cancelling headset with the mic to plug into my phone to block any road noise.
How do you find your way to EarthCruiser?
We had bought a LMTV and were going to make an outfitted adventure vehicle yet struggled to figure out how to get started. We spent a year or two doing research and following people who built them out and realized it was too big and wouldn’t be able to take us where we wanted. We then started questioning and analyzing where we couldn’t go in the sprinter van without a 4×4 and began doing research into different models of these types of vehicles, including EarthRoamer. We actually knocked on the door of a stranger’s house when we saw one in the driveway and shared that we’d been looking at them and asked if we could take a look at theirs as we had not toured the inside of one yet.
After that we looked closer at the size of EarthRoamer, and watched maneuverability videos we questioned if this vehicle was the right fit for us. The people using it aren’t really going that far off-road and are mainly going down gravel roads, at least that’s what it seemed like to us. When we checked out the GXV and the weight and size we thought, “we don’t want that big of a vehicle because if we have to get around a rock face on a narrow road, vehicles like that can’t handle it.”
We would go to Bend all the time for camping and mountain biking and came across EarthCruiser because we kept driving by the headquarters. We would stop and peer through the fence and drive up and down the road and look at them until we got in contact to see what they were. After that, we ended up at an RV show in Portland, saw EarthCruiser and spent three hours talking to the team.
We loved the simplicity of the design and how it’s all laid out for you in an intelligent way. The maneuverability in an EarthCruiser is the best we’ve ever seen and was one of the biggest things that drove us to get one. We needed flexibility in the frame to maneuver narrow trails in the backcountry. It’s also not super heavy and is an all-year any-season [vehicle]. We also liked it’s ability to fit and ship in a shipping container to anywhere in the world you want to explore.
We pulled the trigger and sold the sprinter and rolled it all into the EarthCruiser.. Out of all of our wishes, our EarthCruiser satisfied everything. We ended up buying a barely-used pre-owned model with 4 solar panels and a lithium battery. My husband was drooling over this machine. We could have waited for a custom model but we didn’t want to and we’re so glad we didn’t.
How do you use your EarthCruiser?
We’ve had our EarthCruiser for two years now. We try to do the big EarthCruiser family meet-ups, at least pre-COVID. We did one in 2019 in Utah with Lance and Michelle and 4-5 other EarthCruiser owners. We learned so much from fellow owners and experienced first hand the need to carry a smaller chainsaw and store it in the back because we’ve had to cut branches and logs that we couldn’t move across the road way.
We love the EarthCruiser family and often turn to the forum for help. The people are amazing. We’ve had issues on the road and we call Lance and EarthCruiser to talk to someone and they help provide input for resolution in the middle of nowhere. Who does that these days?
We take our two dogs pretty much everywhere and our biggest time we use the EarthCruiser is in the Winter. Normally, we go to Canada and Mt. Baker to remote areas and park and ski from there, and we’re self sufficient. We don’t have to fight traffic or crowds. We go to Baker because it’s a large mountain there’s reception and I can bring my work.
A typical day is to start early in the morning around 6:30a.m. and work a few hours, then take a break and ski for a bit, then come back and jump on calls to give presentations, then around 4p.m., go skiing again.
Sometimes we’ll stay through the weekend. There’s a lot of camaraderie from fellow winter campers in the evening time. People have fires going and it’s a great way to meet people. Sometimes weather conditions turn so we pack up and pop over to Canada and go skiing there. T-mobile is free in Canada and I can still do all my work and be online.
What is your favorite feature?
I love the cab because it’s big and roomy. The dogs like to come and lay in the center console, which is surprising that two 55 lb dogs can fit curled up in that space. Another favorite feature is the cooktop because it heats up so fast and, because we do so much in the winter time, we don’t have to go outside to cook – and we still have a kitchen counter.
It’s also easy to clean and wipe down. Our dogs play in the water, mud and snow, and we bring them in and hose them off in the bathroom area, or the outside hose. It’s easy to wipe down and no vacuuming like you see with RV’s. I feel like it’s very dog proof. They sit on everything like the table nook or in the seats with us, but it’s all super durable and we don’t have to worry about dog nails making a hole in something.
What advice do you have for people considering living an overlanding lifestyle, either full-time or part-time?
If you’ve done some kind of outdoor activity but don’t have your feet wet on living on the road and especially in an adventure vehicle, I advise you to make it similar to living at home or in a tiny house, but on wheels. You can have the same comforts of home and all you have to do is understand the vehicle.
You can just get out there and, if you’re happy with being outside and going from place to place, then just do it because it has the creature comforts from home. [EarthCruiser’s] have heat, windows, AC, a table, a comfortable bed and fridge. It’s all the comforts at home and you’re not washing dishes with a water bottle, here you have a sink with a tank.
Another nice thing is you can pack enough supplies to live off the grid for a month, or weeks, if you want and live off electricity from the embedded solar panels and find a water source and pump into EarthCruiser tanks which have its own filtrations system. I tell people it’s like a self-sustaining bubble you can live in.
EarthCruiser owners like to explore and often find themselves in some hairy situations. Ever gotten stuck and, if so, what did you do?
EarthCruiser’s are equipped to help yourself out of a jam. A lot of people ask if we’ve gotten stuck or stranded and if it makes us nervous to go far. With our EarthCruiser, it’s freeing to go off road and know this vehicle will make it in tight turns and narrow roads and not worry about getting stuck. We have all these things to get us out, like a front and rear winch, maxtrax, and so many options.
One time, my husband took the EarthCruiser on a solo trip and got the back end completely stuck in the mud above the tow hitch. I was at home, hours away and unable to help. He was able to use the front winch to tie it off to get himself out with the help of the max trax, which I’m glad we bought. He had to get into the hole of the mud and put it down to get the tires traction when winched so it would have initial traction to move. He was able to do that on his own.
There’s also an air compressor on board to fill up and deflate which is helpful when we have to air down our tires if going on a really rocky road, or sand. Then once we get through it we air back up. We’ve also helped so many people on the road, filling flat tires or getting them unstuck. There’s been a ton of these situations. People don’t know how self-sufficient you can be until they realize how much this machine can do for you.
Do you have any dream trips planned?
We do have a dream to drive all the way down to Chile with our dogs and go skiing. We’d also like to ship it to Australia and Africa for traveling in those areas. We were supposed to go to Alaska, where I can work remotely easily, and started planning but with COVID we put it on hold. We also found out Canada is very strict right now and is only allowing people two days to go through.