Money is a common roadblock to travel. So it’s no surprise the questions we get most often are, “How do you afford to travel full-time?” and “How much did your Jeep cost?”
We’ve already answered the first question in detail. If you’re curious about how we’ve financially sustained full-time travel since February 2014, then pour yourself a cup of coffee for the full story:
Today, we’re here to answer the second question: how much did it cost to build the Jeep Gladiator we’re driving around the world for 10-15 years?
To dig deeper, you can pair this article with our Build Sheet, which describes our modifications in detail and explains why we made specific build decisions:
DISCLOSURE: THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS, MEANING WE GET A COMMISSION IF YOU DECIDE TO MAKE A PURCHASE THROUGH OUR LINKS, AT NO COST TO YOU. PLEASE READ OUR DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.
Monetary Value of Our Jeep Gladiator Build
Part of me wants to try and make this cost list interesting, but it really isn’t that interesting unless you want an overlanding vehicle similar to ours. Maybe that’s just me.
These cost numbers are based on MSRP in 2021.
2021 Jeep Gladiator Sport S: $44,008
Factory-ordered, includes Max Tow Package, 8-speed 850RE automatic transmission, Popular Equipment Package, auxiliary switch group, Mopar rails, and rails installation (for Alu-Cab Canopy Camper install)
Alu-Cab Canopy Camper: $9,499
Alu-Cab Canopy Camper fit kit: $499
Alu-Cab Shadow Awning (passenger): $1,499
Alu-Cab awning gutter: $129
Alu-Cab midge nets on the side windows of the Canopy Camper to keep bugs out (2): $279.98
Alu-Cab rear door screen kit on the Canopy Camper: $195
Alu-Cab spare wheel tire bracket on the back of the Canopy Camper (carries up to 33-inch tire): $295
GP Factor drop-down tables inside back door (2): $599.90
Alu-Cab Shower Cube: $694
Alu-Cab 13-gallon water tank: $599
Alu-Cab storage bags on water tank: $375
Shipping charges: $750
GP Factor exterior molle panel on rear passenger side of Canopy Camper: $395
Cascadia 4×4 280 watts of solar power (80-watt VSS System on the hood and two 100-watt panels on the roof of the Canopy Camper): $439 + $1,000 approx. (beta product)
Renogy 170 amp hour lithium battery: $1,599.99
2,000-watt Cotek pure sine wave inverter: $660.97
REDARC Electronics Manager30: $1,379
REDARC Electronics RedVision System: $1,494
Goose Gear universal deck plate to cover bed of truck: $790
Goose Gear double drawer modules (2): $3,490
Goose Gear rear utility modules (2): $1,490
Goose Gear bulkhead panel: $359
Goose Gear sleep deck panels, which fit on top of the double drawer and utility modules, creating a sleeping platform for Caspian (3): $585
Goose Gear corner unit to organize electronic components: $99
Goose Gear 60 High Seat Delete: $895
Goose Gear Solo Fridge Slide with cutting board: $569
National Luna fridge from Equipt Expedition Outfitters: $1,295
Webasto petrol heater: $1,200
Misc. installation parts: $369
Rigid Industries Scene lights in white and amber (6): $659.94
Labor: $3,100 (31 hours)
Water pump with line to shower nozzle: $360 (parts and labor)
Long Range America fuel tank with exhaust fitment kit: $2,245 + $175
Labor: $1,600 (16 hours)
Parts for the following: $116.64
- Aluminum hanging bar on back door
- Hanging system inside Canopy Camper
- Power outlets connecting the inverter to Goose Gear corner unit
- “Table” cover for Webasto heater ducting, so it doesn’t get crushed
- Custom-fabricated molle panel for back corner of Canopy Camper
Design, fabrication, and labor: $4,200
Rexing S1 dash cam with wiring kit: $282.61 +$14.99
Blue Ridge Overland Gear attic: $79.99
2-inch Mopar lift kit: $2,016.70
Dobinson’s dual rate rear coil springs: $275
Air Lift rear air bags: $119.06
Hellwig rear sway bar: $302.71
Teraflex bump stops: $115.99
WARN Industries 9.5XP winch with Spydura Nightline synthetic winch rope and HUB wireless controller: $1,381.45 + $166.82 + $80.56
WARN Diamond Cutter wheels: $1,565.49
33.5-inch BFGoodrich KO2 All-Terrain tires (5): $2,050
Rigid Industries lights: D-Series Pro spot lights (2), D-Series Pro flood lights (2), fog lights (2), 10-inch E-Series Pro light bar: $229.99 + $229.99 + $499.99 + $539.99
Rock Hard 4×4 aluminum front bumper: $1,649.95
AEV snorkel with Sy-Clone pre-filter: $844.01
ARB air compressor on Wayalife mount: $318 + $58.60
ARB diff cover, front and rear: $358
Labor: $5,600 (56 hours)
67 Designs JL Rail Mount / Gladiator Series 55 Rail Mount, camera mount, MagMount G3 device holder, and accessories: $268
Viper alarm system with install: $1,206.34
GP Factor molle panels, which mount inside side wing doors of Canopy Camper (2) and inside back door (2): $559.98 + $259.90
Blue Ridge Overland Gear Tire Storage Bag XL: $165.99
MaxTrax (2 sets): $599.98
Expedition Essentials MaxTrax mount: $372.75
Cascadia 4×4 Flipster, which holds front license plate while allowing access to the winch: $109
WeatherTech floor mats and window deflectors: $262.34
Locking gas cap: $19.59
Stubby antenna: $24.99
Doing the Math
The sum of all this puts the total monetary value of our Jeep home on wheels at $112,616.17.
The total value of the modifications we made is $68,608.17. This is an important number because Jeep Gladiator prices have gone up significantly in the past year, and you likely can’t get one for what we paid. You’d need to take today’s price for a Gladiator Sport S and add $68K to get a better idea of your expected cost.
A note on labor. According to the three shops we worked with in Colorado, Arizona, and Texas, the total hours of labor spent on our build totaled about 150. If you are doing your own labor, you can subtract a good $14,500, putting the total modification value at $54,108.17.
What the Heck? You Spent $112K on Your Truck?
No, we didn’t spend $112K on our truck. For the first time in our 10 years of marriage, we finally got out of debt in 2021. One of our big goals for this trip around the world was to not take debt with us. We didn’t have $112K in cash to spend on a vehicle, even if it was the vehicle we were going to live in for 15 years on all six habitable continents.
We’re grateful to have 27 gear sponsors who made this build happen. It’s because of them we have such a well-equipped home. Otherwise, we would’ve had to leave components out for the sake of our budget.
Nonetheless, we have most of our life savings in this rig. And it’s worth noting this is the only home we have. We don’t have a mortgage, property tax, HOA fees, flat-screen TV, sofa, or…well, you get the idea.
Instead, we’re making an investment in the type of life we want for ourselves and our son. A life of full-time travel around the world.
What Is the Right Amount to Spend on an Overlanding Vehicle?
This big question is outside the scope of my article, but it’s vital to consider before you start on your own build. Before you spend your hard-earned money, I encourage you to read a free ebook I wrote this year called, “What We Wish We’d Known Before Overlanding Full-time.” It’s an easy read that will save you time and money because you can learn from the lessons we stumbled into the hard way.
Many of you have been waiting for us to share the total monetary value of our Jeep for a long time. Thanks for waiting! I hope this article satisfies your curiosity, but I also hope you take the right perspective away.
Overlanding isn’t about the vehicle you use. It’s about where you go and what you do. Overlanding is about who you meet along the way. The vehicle is just a tool. So don’t spend so much on your vehicle that you can’t afford to actually travel. That misses the point completely.
We appreciate you being along for our journey.
A bargain for sure. Luckily, for us most of the labor was done ourselves or donated for our project. It gets scary cause even when all done a. You either can’t finish everything by the hit date (especially with issues of supply chains). B. Find something through use that can be improved or changed. -Stephen, @GladiatorOverland – Veteran Overland Project
Stephen, thanks for your comment. The labor is definitely a huge piece of the expense. We don’t have the skills to DIY. But even if we did, there are so many parts of an install that require expertise. A vehicle’s electrical system can get complicated quickly, and there is danger in botching an electrical install. Josh at Juniper Overland is an electrician by trade, so we were very confident having him configure our house battery, inverter, RedArc system, etc. Also, sealing the Alu-Cab Canopy Camper is easy to mess up. People do mess it up, and then blame the product. Being one of the first Alu-Cab distributors in the U.S., Juniper has done so many of these installs and knows how to do them right to avoid dust and water getting in. Just a couple of things to point out to anyone trying to decide what to DIY. As far as your build, are there any things you’ve found from use that you want to improve or change?
It appears you worked with a number of different installers. Is there one installer/outfitter that could do this as a complete project? We are contemplating a similar adventure and the lessons learned on this build are very applicable to us.
Gary, thank you for your comment. Juniper Overland did the bulk of the build, including the Alu-Cab Canopy Camper installation, all other Alu-Cab components, the electrical system, all of our Goose Gear install, and more. If you could only work with one shop, then I would recommend them. Some people DIY the Canopy Camper install, but we really don’t recommend that. The water ingress issues we hear about are almost always due to DIY. It’s important to get a good seal, and Juniper will make sure that happens. Additionally, it’s super important to get the electrical system right. Josh Abram is an electrician by trade, so we felt really good about putting our fairly complex electrical system in his hands. For the record, we love all the shops we worked with. Sonoran Expedition Collective is excellent at creative solutions to unusual problems. And we have a long relationship with Just Jeeps, so we preferred to have them do everything from the chassis down. But, again, if you are looking at a similar build and want to work with one shop only, it would have to be Juniper because of their Alu-Cab, electrical, and house component expertise.