A Fire Truck Camper: Because You Are Just That Bad of a Cook

What is better than this? Camping with a RV that can help get a cat from a tree and can allow you to run red lights. This fire truck camper does it all...


Saw It Liked It: Delorme InReach Explorer

Some day, there will be an easy, affordable, and lightweight way to combine smartphone with satellite capabilities for text and emergencies. Until then, we’ll have to be happy with incremental progress, like the Delorme InReach Explorer. Previous InReach models simply connected to your phone the Explorer handheld gives you GPS capabilities and rudimentary mapping, as well as letting you send and receive texts via satellite. Most compelling, you aren’t tethered to an annual contract, but can buy monthly use.

Guest post - Overland Expo EAST

In the last six years, the Overland Expo has grown from its enthusiastic beginnings to the largest event of its kind in the world—a combination of overlanding university, outdoor shopping mall for all things related to vehicle-dependent travel from flashlights to $300,000 Global Expedition Vehicles, and—perhaps most important of all—social event during which people from all over the world meet, share experiences, and plan new ones.

When attendance passed 6,000 people, we realized it was time to share the event with the other side of the U.S. (And it’s not as if we could have ignored the three or four hundred emails that came in each year from the “back side” of the Mississippi.) So we’re delighted to annouce the first Overland Expo EAST, scheduled for October 3rd through 5th at Taylor Ranch, just eight miles outside Asheville, North Carolina.

As westerners we naturally assume we have an exclusive on beautiful landscapes, but North Carolina shut that up. The Blue Ridge Mountains captivated us, and Taylor Ranch, the site for the 2014 event, is nestled in their foothills among pine and oak trees. Asheville proved to be perfect as a convenient urban hub, with—among other benefits—the densest population of microbreweries we’ve seen anywhere.

Registration is now open for Overland Expo EAST, and we are working on the schedule of classes. Our partner Land Rover will be there in force, and we’ll have a challenging driving track where attendees can receive expert instruction behind the wheel of a new Range Rover or LR4. Our Camel Trophy training team members will be there as well, and we’re working on a suite of advanced driving and recovery scenarios, along with classes in winching, ropework (Need a bridge? No problem), and all our other offerings from loading and lashing to provisioning and cooking, from navigation to photgraphy.

At Overland Expo WEST the percentage of attendees with truck campers has been increasing steadily, and campers now fill a substantial part of the day-pass parking and camping areas. Since Roseann and I drive a 2012 Tacoma fitted with a Four Wheel Camper (the JATAC—our second such setup), we’re perfectly happy with this—a truck camper is simply one of the best compromises for those of us who like to get off the beaten track while remaining comfortable for weeks at a time.

We hope to see a bunch of truck campers at Overland Expo EAST as well. Please visit the Overland Expo home page HERE for more information. And many thanks to Joshua for the opportunity to be here!

Different Types of Truck Campers

Truck campers are an American institution.  They help people to enjoy the great outdoors in comfort and style.

If you are in the market for a truck camper, it can be a difficult decision to make.  You first need to understand what the best truck camper for your needs will be.  You need to choose one that matches in with your particular needs, lifestyle and also budget.

With so many truck campers for sale it is a mine field.   To help you out, a summary list of the most common truck campers is provided below.  Enjoy!

Arctic fox truck camper

This camper is the most popular truck camper in both Oregon and Washington.  The reason is simple.  It can be used in any conditions – especially the cold – and is a true all weather camper. 

They also have huge slide outs and are home built in Oregon.  A great choice if you are heading out in any weather.

Truck bed campers

As its name suggests this is a truck camper that has a bed.  It can come in many shapes or forms, ranging from metal frames to wood structure to simple canvas.

If you are using the truck camper for overnight trips then you need to have a bed.  Simple!

Slide in truck campers

These are truck campers that have moveable walls.  These walls allow the space of the interior to be expanded. 

To have slide in’s you need to have a frame design – not a pop up.  It can be a great option if you have more than two people using the camper as it creates significantly more space.

Pop up truck campers

Pop up truck campers are perfect if you are traveling long distances and want to minimize weight and wind resistance.  In other words, save fuel!

The pop ups are low profile and the roof has to be raised mechanically when camping.  They can be both soft walled or hard walled depending on the design.

They are often well priced and make for a versatile option.

Pick-up truck campers

This refers to when a camper is placed on the back of a pick-up truck. 

Perfect for those who want space, and the power to tow anything – or go anywhere.

The only downside is fuel efficiency.  But it’s a worthwhile compromise!

Small truck campers

As the name suggests these are smaller truck campers that generally include a small living areas and a bed.

They are perfect for couples, or people looking to get away for only a few nights.

We know of a lot of people who use these as a way to save money when traveling.

As a benefit, depending on the vehicle they are placed on, they can almost go anywhere.

In summary, when you see a truck camper for sale, you need to quickly assess if it matches your needs.

The key questions to ask yourself are:  What is my budget, what are my space requirements, and where will I be going in the truck camper.

If you ask these, then finding the right truck camper for your needs becomes a lot easier.


History of Truck Campers

There is something distinctively American about truck campers.  Looking at their unique and versatile design, as well as the freedom they provide, it’s easy to see why used truck campers and in particular adventurer truck campers are high on the agenda for many weekend warriors.

What’s more, truck campers are popular with a diverse range of people.

Horseback riders love them!  Especially, when they have competitions or are camping in the wilderness.

Fishermen, hunters and other outdoor sports people love them because they can go anywhere and carry anything.

Families love them because they can go on family holidays and get away from the big smoke.

The biggest benefit of course is that they are large enough and strong enough to tow horse floats, boats, and trailers.  It makes the great outdoors experience even greater.

People often ask:  When were the first invented?  The answer to this is below.

When were truck campers first invented?

These versatile recreational vehicles were first developed in the mid-1940s.  Clever engineers saw a need for a vehicle that could go anywhere, and that you could also sleep in.

Effectively they were based on the design of a pick-up truck.

Modern truck campers

Moving forward 70 odd years, they have evolved to include dozens of different options.  There are now pop up truck campers, light weight truck campers and adventurer truck campers to choose from.

Any type of recreational vehicle that can be easily pulled apart and changed, qualifies as a truck camper.  That’s a lot of vehicles!

Manufacturers

As it’ such an American concept, there are still many truck camper manufactures in the United States and Canada.

Many of these companies go beyond just the vehicles, and also manufacture truck camper jacks, truck camper tie downs and truck camper tops.

While there are many overseas manufactures, because of the patriotism at play, many people choose to pay slightly more and have a homemade truck camper.  They also look great with American flags on them!

Used truck campers

While many people choose to buy new truck campers, used truck campers are generally in very good condition, and cost significantly less than their more expensive brand new cousins.

There are literally hundreds of places in the US where you can by yourself a used truck camper, so you have many options to choose from.

World’s largest truck camper!

For information, the world largest truck camper, is believed to be a Snow River camper which was produced in British Colombia in Canada.  The design is a total of 18 feet long and is placed on top of a massive Ford F550.  It has removable jacks and even includes a dryer and dishwasher.  Now that’s living!

It’s a great design and shows just how inventive you can be with a truck camper.

In short, truck campers have a long history in the United States as well as in other parts of the world - Australia in particular has a lot of truck campers.

They are more than just a vehicle.  Truck campers are a lifestyle choice that enable people to enjoy their hobbies, have freedom and live the American dream.

If you have been considering buying one, then it is well worth looking at the different options available to you.  They are a great investment and can create hours of fun.

Truck Camping under a Canopy: Overlanding the American West

In contrast to the conventional route of installing an actual camper on the back of my pickup, I went with the sleeker and more stealthy truck canopy option. 

In January of 2012 I set out on a year long climbing and truck camping adventure across the American West. From the mountains of Colorado to the Deserts of the American Southwest and back up along the coast. I spent many days in nights in all sorts of conditions in the back of that truck... From 100+ degree scorchers in Death Valley to below freezing blizzards in the Canadian Rockies.

Sleeping underneath a canopy certainly does not afford the space luxuries and built-in organization of a truck camper, it does however offer more mobility and more discretion--the ability to camp in areas where it might not otherwise be permissible. Under the nose of residential neighborhoods or in certain commercial areas where a truck camper, trailer, or RV would certainly raise eyebrows, and perhaps even calls to the authorities.

Additionally, the lower clearance, width, and weight all allowed me to venture into remote areas and wild bushwhack-like roads without a care.

Indeed, my 1991 Toyota 4x4 Pickup with a Leer 122 raised canopy on top made for an ideal home for my many months on the road.

I specially outfitted the back of the truck with gear storage areas and sleeping areas. By creating a movable center platform I was able to maximize my options--I could sleep above in the elevated position when I just needed a quick nights rest in a Wal-Mart parking lot, or when I had a place to call 'home' for a while, I could move the platform into the lower position and have more room to sit up, move around, and just a generally better quality of life.

Now, living in the back of a truck may sound like a dream come true, at least to my climbing bum friends. But it's not all scenic vistas and splitter weather. Indeed, there are some downsides. 

One must be vigilant and careful about hoping into the back of their truck for a good nights rest, especially when camping in areas where it is not permitted. I would do a double take to make sure no one was around, walking back to their car, or out walking their dog--both in the evenings and mornings.

Sometimes the weather just isn't playing in your favor. It is difficult when you are unable to escape the blazing heat of the desert. I came down with a cold while in the Owens Valley in California, and I wished for nothing more than a couch in a room with air conditioning and perhaps a Netflix account. While camping in the Canadian Rockies at the cusp of winter I had to battle with virtually everything freezing... From my peanut butter in the jar that would nearly bend my butter knife in half, to swimming trunks that stayed frozen for weeks after a dip in the Banff hot springs. 

Some people looked at my like I was crazy for leaving a solid career in the corridors of power in Washington DC to go become a glorified homeless person in the American West. Others, of course, looked on with reverence and wished they could do what I did.

Despite the occasional downsides, it was beyond a doubt an incredible experience, and one that I wouldn't trade anything for. Those experiences in that truck have continued to shape and define my path in life. Instead of living out of a truck, I'm not living out of a backpack in South America. Man, I do miss my truck though!

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AUTHOR BIO: Ryan is an avid climber, hiker, and outdoorsman. In January 2013 he set out on a year long trip through the American West, living out of his pickup. In 2014, he packed his bag and headed to Colombia where he is exploring a new language, culture, and continuing to avoid a desk. You can follow his adventures at http://www.DeskToDirtbag.com