This weekend’s Overland Expo West show promises to deliver some seriously burly go-anywhere camper vans from around the United States. But before that show begins, we have an equally rugged, stunning all-terrain camper van from across the Atlantic. The new Rocket Mountain Camper pulls Rocket Camper’s unique floor plan into a rugged MAN TGE 4×4 platform, inviting adventurers to string together global expeditions from patches of hot desert sand, high-alpine granite and snow, and loamy forest floor.
Rocket Camper broke all camper van molds when it introduced the fanciful Rocket One camper van in early 2020. Some of the concept’s thought-provoking but impractical features have since been traded out for simpler alternatives, but the distinctive floor plan lives on in Rocket’s small but growing lineup of camper vans. With the new Mountain, Rocket brings that layout to a stout, all terrain-ready platform in the MAN TGE 3.180 4×4.
At its debut at the 2021 Düsseldorf Caravan Salon, the 19.7-foot (6-m) Rocket Mountain wore a gorgeous tint of matte bronze paint matched to black-out trim. It looked a little too good, in fact, as we don’t even like imagining what happens to that pristine paint job when the van rambles down even an easy-going trail lined in scrub brush, boulders and tree branches. Besides, the van looks perfectly at home on the carpeted floor of Rocket’s expo booth.
But no one’s buying the Rocket Mountain to display it standing still, and any sane owner will want to put MAN’s torque-splitting all-wheel drive to use in creating epic memories. The show model is all dressed up in optional support gear, including a full-length platform rack, off-road auxiliary lighting and all-terrain tires. We’re surprised they left off the obligatory snorkel, but that does appear on the options sheet, as do additions like a differential lock and underbody skid protection.
Rocket Camper’s distinctive floor plan remains intact inside the sliding door. In back, the transverse bed pushes out into the pod-like side flares that look almost like Land Rover Defender-style gear carrier modules from outside. That bed includes tilt-up positioning at the rear, but instead of the pulley the original Rocket One used, it relies on a simpler pair of struts to push the bed frame up.
The typical camper van has its kitchen block on a sidewall, but Rocket supports bigger culinary explorations with an L-shaped kitchen that runs sidewall to sidewall. A single-burner or available dual-burner stove is located below a large, flip-open worktop cover just next to the bed, while the sink stands on the driver’s side. An 80-L compressor fridge keeps fresh food close at hand in the cabinet unit below the stove, just millimeters over from a slide-out portable toilet that ensures van dwellers don’t have to wander outside and dig a hole on dark, moonless nights.
The Mountain comes standard with a fixed roof, thereby sleeping only two. With that in mind, the show model from Düsseldorf left the rear seats behind to pair the swivel cab seats with a removable dining table attached to the console next to the sink. A pop-up four-sleeper configuration is available optionally, and the integrated rails on the floor ensure that buyers can also add in two rear seats for a complete four-person configuration.
The Rocket Mountain starts at €83,750 (approx. US$98,200), and the base TGE van brings a 174-hp diesel four-cylinder, eight-speed automatic transmission and aforementioned all-wheel drive. Standard equipment includes a Webasto heater, array of 230-, 12- and USB outlets, full insulation package, and insect screens and shades on the windows. Options include the pop-up sleeper roof, solar power, water heater and outdoor awning.
Source: Rocket Camper