5 EKKO Mods for Off-Road RVing
5 EKKO Mods for Off-Road RVing
An adventurous owner’s tips for all-terrain gear that can help get you off the pavement.
By: Greg Bond
When you live in the desert with mountain forests only a couple of hours away and you’re not an RV park type of person, what do you do? If you’re like us and you want to get away from it all to explore the great outdoors, you need to go off-road!
We grew up camping off the beaten path and have spent many years tent camping with the family. As soon as we purchased our first small travel trailer more than 17 years ago, we were hooked on the RV life. Since then, we’ve had one travel trailer, two Class As, three Class Cs, two toy haulers, and now our EKKO – which is our third Winnebago RV. I have taken each of those RVs into places that most people wouldn’t attempt. Many of those camping spots were epic, and all were challenging to get to, along with a few that just weren’t worth the effort.
Although each of those RVs were different in style, length, capability, power, and clearance, each one had its pros and cons. When the EKKO came on the scene, it all changed for us. The EKKO provided us the space we needed along with the gear garage and the AWD Transit chassis. The EKKO also turned out to be a dream for those people like me who like to do modifications to their RVs, since it is easy to personalize.
Important Note: As for any mod, making changes to your RV would be at your own risk. The mods listed here are not a direct recommendation from Winnebago. This article is comprised of tips from a fellow RVer for those wanting to pursue mods of this kind. Going off-road in your RV is also an activity that is done at your own risk, and it usually requires a lot of experience as well as proper gear to do so safely.
5 EKKO All-Terrain Mods
I had already started planning my mods prior to the delivery of our EKKO. However, before I made any major modifications, I wanted to see how the EKKO performed in some of the areas I’ve previously took our other RVs to get a baseline. I was surprised at how well it handled on some rocky, less-traveled forest service roads without any mods to the chassis. Even though the EKKO handled well, I decided I still needed a few mods to help me get to those hard-to-reach places.
1. Lift & Tires
I needed more clearance, so we installed the 2” Quigley QLift. With the install, we also upgraded the front stock struts to Bilstein struts and replaced the stock rear shocks with Falcon 3.3 SP2 adjustable shocks. This combination improved the off-road ride and got us a few more inches of clearance.
After the lift was installed, we had the clearance to increase the tire size to not only give us a little additional clearance but also to add a solid all-terrain tire that could handle the rocks, mud, and sand that we are typically in. We switched to 245/75/16 Falken Wildpeak tires with a 1” spacer between the rear dual tires. The tires perform great so far and don’t seem to be any louder on the pavement than the stock tires.
2. Auxiliary Lighting
Many times, we will arrive in the sand dunes or desert at night or need to travel down long dirt roads in the forest after dark. Having some auxiliary lighting helps to not only see farther down the road, but with side lighting in place I can see on both sides of me to determine a potential camp spot, or a road, without having to point the RV in that direction to see what it looks like or get out with a flashlight to look around. It also helps in seeing those tree branches you want to avoid and assists with lighting up the camp area when setting up.
The EKKO, with its optional roof rack on top, was the perfect platform for my lighting design and fabrication. I first wanted a great LED lightbar on the front, but I didn’t want the wind noise that they can produce inside the cab. I custom designed an aluminum fairing with an integrated place for a 50-inch Baja Design LED lightbar. The fairing/lightbar is mounted to the front of the roof rack with an additional crossbar for support. This light bar also doubles as additional marker lights with the integrated amber lights.
Next are the side LED pod lights also from Baja Design. There are two lights on each side, one at the front and one at the back facing out on each side of the EKKO. Each side is wired independently so either side can be turned on/off.
On the rear bumper I also mounted a pair of flush-mount Baja Design pod lights that allow me to see behind me and it is very helpful when loading off-road toys on my trailer when that goes with us, or just for backing up.
All of the lights are controlled by a Switch Pro 8 switch panel power system, and it’s mounted over the rear-view mirror in the cab. All of the lights can be controlled by the switch panel or by the Switch Pro Bluetooth App on my phone.
3. Traction Board Rack
Since we are off-road a lot, we can’t just call a tow truck to help get us out of a jam. So, we always take along some standard recovery gear along with traction boards.
I didn’t want to take up valuable storage space to take the traction boards, so I built a rack out of some angled aluminum and flat stock aluminum and mounted it on the roof rack behind the solar panels. This is an easy mod to make and mount, and it securely holds the traction boards on the roof.
4. Gear Garage Personalization
Our Gear Garage mods are in a constant state of flux. It’s one of the great things about the EKKO, you have almost endless options to configure depending on what kind of trip you’re doing and where you are going. Sometimes we want to take our mountain bikes, so I can easily install the bike mounts that are secured to the L-track, then load up our bikes and other gear and hit the road.
5. MOLLE Panels
I love the fact that Winnebago includes MOLLE panels on the side doors of the gear garage. It’s a great way to store items and leaves more room in the garage for other fun things. We keep a well packed first-aid kit, along with multiple pouches for small items and some recovery gear. These are very versatile panels, and you can configure them any way you want.
Bonus: RV Outdoor Movie Theater
Okay, I know it’s not off-road related, but how many RVs have you seen that have a big screen outdoor movie theater? Our EKKO does! Our EKKO has the optional batwing awning that is mounted on the driver side.
We use a wall from a 10x10 pop up canopy and attach it with Velcro to the batwing awning. We then set up a projector on the back side to project the movie on the canopy wall. Put an outdoor mat, a small propane fire pit, an inflatable couch, popcorn and drinks, and we have a nice little outdoor movie theater.
We’ve made many other mods to our EKKO that are popular with many of the EKKO owners. I’ll continue to make more mods and enjoy all the new and exciting places our EKKO takes us - off the beaten path, of course.