(Muskoka Foundation) Jay Shapiro built the EcoRoamer.
Man Builds "Expedition Vehicle for Tree Huggers"
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NOVEMBER 19, 2010
Muskoka Foundation

Until now, if you wanted a low-impact way to travel around the world you were pretty much limited to a Bicycle or public transportation; And if you had a family, that meant riding the chicken & goat bus through mountain roads with your kids.
The new EcoRoamer provides an environmentally friendly option to comfortably, safely and reliably travel with a family to the ends of the earth.
Built entirely from recycled and sustainable materials, this new expedition vehicle is big enough to sleep 7 on any mountaintop, while maintaining a carbon neutral footprint throughout its manufacturing and travels.
Best of all, the EcoRoamer is an open-sourced project of the non-profit Muskoka Foundation, which means interested travelers can get the detailed plans for free online, or buy a ready-to-drive vehicle for about half the price of equivalent competitors.
Based on a Ford F-650, this four-wheel drive expedition vehicle will carry a family of 7 up to 1,000 miles before needing to fill its two fuel tanks with more BioDiesel.
The military grade Meritor 4x4 system and Michelin 43" mud tires will ensure that the on-board family can reach the most remote travel sites. Should they happen to get stuck along the way, the two 16,500lb Warn winches are there to help pull them out.
Once reaching the day’s destination, the family can relax to home cooked meal on the outdoor BBQ, or in the fully equipped kitchen including a two burner ceramic top stove, GE convection oven, dual fridges and a dedicated chest freezer.
If the day's activities get a little muddy, then the built-in washer/dryer will make sure they are set to go again the next day.
And all of these utilities are powered by the EcoRoamer's on-board 11 batteries, 9 solar panels, 2 alternators generating 400 Amps, and if all else fails, a BioDiesel powered 8.5kW generator.
About the Truck
How is The EcoRoamer Different?
1) ECO FRIENDLY
What sets the EcoRoamer apart is that it has been designed from the ground up to have as little impact on the environment as possible.
The RV industry is responsible for the cutting of millions of board feet of plywood every year. The EcoRoamer on the other hand is 100% Plywood free. The floors are made from recycled sawdust and wood fibers, the counter tops from paper. All of the cabinets are made from bamboo materials fully certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Rainforest Alliance. Bamboo –technically a ‘grass’ and not actually ‘wood’ – is the fastest growing plant on the Earth, and is harvested by hand from a Moso forest requiring no pesticides or irrigation.
On the outside of the vehicle, the entire shell is constructed out of Alucobond, an 80% recycled aluminum composite manufactured by Alcan. It’s lightweight and incredible strength are ideal for an overland expedition vehicle.
The water system in the EcoRoamer is also mindful of the environment. All drinking water is first processed through a four- stage filtration system using NASA developed technology for water recycling. An external tap enables the EcoRoamer to filter up to 2L of standing water per minute for the communities that the EcoRoamer’s visit. Waste is either dealt with by the Airhead Composting Toilet, or is incinerated using the heat generated from the truck’s exhaust.
While driving down the road, the EcoRoamer is powered by Jatropha based Bio-Diesel whenever available. The 350HP Caterpillar engine will also run on standard Ultra-Low or High sulfur diesel when necessary. Jatropha was recently cited by Goldman Sachs as one of the best candidates for Bio-Diesel production, as it is incredibly robust and non-edible therefore not responsible for raising the prices of food crops.
The entire EcoRoamer project has a Carbon-Neutral footprint by offsetting the full manufacturing carbon footprint and the first year’s worth of full-time travel included with every unit. Owners are encouraged to continue calculating and taking responsibility for their carbon footprint while traveling.
2) ENERGY EFFICIENT
Every watt of energy on the EcoRoamer is precious, and so all systems have been designed to maximize the efficient use of that energy.
The primary power generator of the Vehicle, the Caterpillar engine not only propels the vehicle down the road, but also generates 400 Amps of electrical current through its two massive military grade alternators. The heat put off from the engine is captured and re-used to heat the domestic water in the camper for hot showers and washing.
During the day, the 9 solar panels & solar vents on the roof capture the sun’s energy and store it in the EcoRoamer’s battery bank.
At night time, All of the lighting in the camper uses high-efficiency white LEDs, estimated to be over 80% more efficient than halogen bulbs.
3) FAMILY READY
The EcoRoamer was designed with the traveling family in mind. It is truly kid-friendly, and has room enough for everyone without feeling like they are living on top of each other:
3 distinct and enclosed bedrooms
Built-in Laundry Washer / Dryer
100 sq ft enclosed Kids room on the back deck
4) AFFORDABLE
We live on a remarkable planet. Exploring it shouldn't be limited only to those who can afford to spend a million dollars on a land yacht.
At the same time, we know that the putting people into EcoRoamers, empowers them to go out into the world and implement some of the Muskoka Foundation programs to create a positive impact.
So, The Muskoka Foundation is offering all plans & resources on an Open-Source basis to any individual who wants to build one for themselves.
The Muskoka Foundation is also offering fully assembled EcoRoamers on a non-profit basis. Any proceeds after costs & salaries go to support further charitable development projects in the Muskoka Villages.
5) SECURE
This vehicle is designed for travel across the remote regions of Africa, South America and Asia. If you're doing that with kids in tow, then security becomes a primary concern.
The EcoRoamer has both Active and Passive security elements built in to provide comfort and security in uncomfortable situations:
ACTIVE
- Clifford Anti-carjacking system - lets the carjacker take the vehicle and get away from the family, then disables the vehicle and sounds the alarm within a known radius.
- Spot GPS Tracking system, allows family & friends 'back home' to track your progress via the internet, and receive instant alerts and location information if any SOS type situations come up.
PASSIVE
- All doors on the vehicle have Overland Hardware padlock hasps so the vehicle can be completely secured if left alone.
- All windows are double pane acrylic, and the cab windows have Llumar 4mil security film to prevent smash & grab attempts. The camper windows have locking metal flaps concealing them during travel, or when boondocking where you don't want to alert people to the fact that the EcoRoamer is not a cargo truck.
- Lockable door between the truck cab and camper unit, provides security when shipping the vehicle between continents.
6) AMERICAN
The EcoRoamer is built entirely in America, using a Ford Chassis and a Caterpillar Diesel engine. The Muskoka Foundation is proud to be creating jobs in and around Elkhart County, which is unfortunately famous for having the highest unemployment rate in the country during this financial crisis.
Jay Shapiro, chief designer of the EcoRoamer spent most of the past 14 years living and traveling in Asia. He and his wife enjoyed overland expeditions in their Jeep Wrangler and Toyota Land Cruiser. One night while lying under the stars in southern Thailand, in the back of their converted Land Cruiser, Jay & Alice dreampt of someday traveling around the planet. Five years and two children later, the couple are ready to do it, but couldn’t find an appropriate vehicle to take them. Jay commented: “We knew what we wanted, but we either had to leave the kids at home (Alice deemed this not an option), pay almost a million dollars for some European rig, or restrict ourselves to interstates and KOA campgrounds... so we decided to go out and design our own.” The goal then became, how to build a vehicle that could comfortably carry a family of four for over 2 years, with as little impact as possible on the environment. Almost coincidentally, we wound up designing the best family-sized expedition vehicle out there, at almost half the cost, while protecting the world we’re supposed to be admiring.
For more information about the EcoRoamer, please visit: www.EcoRoamer.com.
Founded in 2008, The Muskoka Foundation was created with the mission to help global overland travelers “do good as they go”. By providing programs, training, and local partnerships to aid in sustainable international development, the foundation makes it easy for travelers to leverage their own passions and experiences for the benefit of the communities they are already visiting. Founders Alice Gugelev and Jay Shapiro bring a unique mix of entrepreneurial, technology, banking, strategy and non-profit know-how to develop programs suited to global travelers' interests and developing countries needs. The foundation is based in the New York City area and welcomes all inquiries from global overland travelers and dreamers at www.TheMuskokaFoundation.org
Read more: happynews.com/news/11192010/entrepreneur-family-will-trot-globe-ecoroamer