Jolene Van Vugt’s UTV Is Built to Explore
Words & Photos: Jason Stilgebouer
Pack a sleeping bag and some clothes and hit the trails: a pretty basic formula for adventure. But for so many of us, it’s really all you need.
If you’ve ever daydreamed about throwing a tent on your UTV and riding into the sunset, look no further because stunt woman and Nitro Circus member Jolene Van Vugt has a new adventure Polaris RZR Pro XP 4 build. Ever since we threw the ARQ4WD awning on our own do-it-all RZR Pro XP, we have become overlanding connoisseurs. (So we thought.) But when we heard about Jolene’s side-by-side transformation, we knew we’d have to check it out for ourselves. And it just raised the bar.
Some may call this an “overland” build because it has a rooftop tent and some nifty upgrades. But over the past few years, “overland” has become somewhat of a trigger word for many as the true translation has been filtered, if not lost, through the world of Instagram hashtags and generous sponsorships. In many cases, overlanding has lost its meaning. So for the sake of discussion, we will just call any off-the-grid, vehicle camping an “adventure”.
There are many UTVs which offer a great platform, but Jolene chose the Polaris Pro XP 4 Ultimate, for a great reason! It has plenty of horsepower, Fox Live Valve suspension which can stand up to the extra weight, and it’s jam-packed with features anyone would need while on the trail. The Pro XP base package is one of the most diverse and capable on the market.
The most apparent feature of the build is the James Baroud rooftop tent mounted to the custom platform roof rack on the UTV Wolfpack cage. These tents aren’t the lightest in the world, but they are made of the highest quality materials possible, making them durable enough to withstand the abuse Jolene can put them through. Many people may be thinking that the rooftop tent is too heavy for the RZR, but we were able to see first-hand for ourselves which wasn’t too heavy. After joining Jolene on a trip through the desert, the Pro XP 4 Ultimate proved that it handles just fine, and it’s maneuverable and nimble over a variety of obstacles.
Keeping the build simple, she primarily left the suspension alone while upgrading the factory tie rods to Assault UTV. Jolene kept it classy by running an iconic Vision Wheel wrapped in 32-inch BFG KM3 Mud Terrain tires. Speaking of iconic… What could make this contemporary expedition build more classic than pairing it with KC HiLites – a company deeply rooted in the desert racing scene with an itch for adventure. Vugt opted KC HiLites Pro 6 lightbar to brighten her path with integrated KC Flex mounted to the pillar. Of course, no quest is complete without a Pro-Eagle jack, fire extinguisher, and Trauma Kit from Desert Squadron. After all, this RZR is built for going deep into the unknown and being prepared is an absolute must.
While Jolene isn’t the first person to put a roof top tent on a UTV, she might actually be the person who can go furthest with one. Most of the other examples have become show cars with flimsy roof mounts to a subpar tent which merely claim to be “overland.” But with someone as meticulous and genuine as Jolene, there’s no doubt her adventure-mobile has been crafted for strength, stamina and superior performance. Regardless of what’s on this mean odyssey machine, there is one thing for certain: Jolene will take it as far from civilization as she can.
The driver in this case is the true keystone of the build. And that’s what makes it so great. Perhaps, if she’s not too caught up doing amazing motorcycle stunts on movie sets all summer, we might just join in on her next epic journey. (One can hope.)