Jetty Jumper

The Lightweight Pop-Top Truck Camper Revolution

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I like these,I wish these were available a few years ago, I had to settle for an A.R.E.

 

By: Bryon Dorr

The hottest trend in the car camping/overland world right now is the lightweight pop-top truck camper. They combine a truck topper shell and rooftop tent. These go-anywhere truck campers are ready for adventure!

Light pop-top pickup truck camper

The pop-top truck camper gives you interior standing room, a comfortable bed, and a large, locked storage area. It also offers up a solid platform to mount all your big adventure sports toys, like kayaks and bicycles, on the roof. The lightweight pop-top truck camper fills the void between the traditional truck topper and a full-featured, RV-style, slide-in truck camper.

The idea of an integrated tent in a truck bed topper/canopy isn’t new. Lately, though, there’s an all-new crop of this camper type sprouting up. And most of them incorporate wedge-shaped rooftop tents.

Let’s take a look at the current offerings in the lightweight pop-top truck camper space. Which would you buy?

AT Overland Equipment Summit

AT Overland Equipment Summit

AT Overland Equipment has been making quality products for the North American overland community since before most people had ever heard the word “overland.” The company started with off-road-capable adventure trailers.

Over the past few years, AT has moved into rooftop and truckbed living systems. The brand delivered more than 100 Habitat flip-open truck campers in the less than two years it’s been on the market.

AT Overland Equipment Summit

The new wedge-style Summit truck camper was introduced at Overland Expo West this year. Theis new camper is built on the same architecture as the proven Habitat. The big advantage over the Habitat is that you can leave up to 100 pounds of gear on the roof when you pop the top. No one wants to take down their adventure sports gear to make the bed!

The Summit is made of a lightweight honeycomb composite skinned with aluminum. This construction allows for impressive strength, low weight, and quality insulation, separating it from the competition.

AT Overland Equipment Summit

The Summit’s bed is 48-by-80 inches, the length of a queen-size bed. It has a 2.5-inch-thick mattress and pivots upwards out of the way when not in use, assisted by gas springs. And there’s enough room between the sleeping platform and closed roof to leave bedding in place. Making your bed at camp was never so easy!

With the bed up out of the way, the space between the truck bed and tent ceiling measures 8 feet.

AT Overland Equipment Summit

AT is also the only builder of this style of camper that currently has a full continent-wide dealer network. This allows you to buy the Summit and get product support much closer to home, or wherever your travels might take you.

AT Overland Summit

  • Price: $8,900
  • Available: Direct and retail sales channels, deliveries starting late Sept. 2018
  • Weight: 340 pounds
  • Materials: 5052 aluminum and honeycomb composite shell with wax-impregnated, fire-retardant canvas tent
  • Fit: 5-foot and 6-foot bed in midsize trucks (Tacoma, Colorado, Frontier); 5.5-foot and 6.5-foot bed in full-size trucks (Chevy, Ford, RAM, Toyota).
  • Options: Windows, access hatches, skylight with lighting, roof rack, solar power systems, heater, insulated tent, cabinetry, toilet, water systems
  • Website: www.atoverland.com
  • Location: Prescott, Arizona
  • Company established in October 2001

Go Fast Campers (GFC) Platform/Platform XL

Go Fast Campers Platform

If you want a little bling, and by far the easiest access to gear in the truck bed, the GFC Platform Camper is for you. This extremely lightweight camping system is designed for “go fast” camping adventures in remote off-road environments. The Platform is designed for midsize trucks while the Platform XL is designed for full-size trucks.

Go Fast Campers Platform

Low weight and immense strength are the ideas behind the Platform. GFC says, “We build these things to jump.” The Platform frame is made of steel tubing similar to a roll cage. This allows the camper to be extremely rigid and for all the sides to open, as they aren’t part of the structure. The crazy strong and very sexy roof latches and hinge mechanisms are all machined from aluminum.

Go Fast Campers Platform

If the weather is nice, there’s no better camper to be in. The GFC Platform fully opens up like your own personal cabana. And GFC makes all this camper’s components in-house. This allows them to control, modify, and upgrade everything in the Platform Camper system as the company grows and they receive more customer feedback.

Go Fast Campers Platform

Go Fast Campers

  • Price: Platform $5,750; Platform XL $6,250
  • Available: Direct sales since Oct. 2017
  • Weight: Platform 275 pounds; Platform XL 290 pounds
  • Materials: CNC machined and extruded aluminum, honeycomb composite panels, DOM steel tube
  • Fit: Tacoma, Tundra, Current RAM (1500, 2500, 3500), Ford (F150, F250, F350), Colorado/Canyon
  • Options: Lights, racks, vent fan
  • Website: www.gofastcampers.com
  • Location: Bozeman, Montana
  • Company established in August 2017

Snap! Outfitters Treehouse

Snap! Outfitters Treehouse

Snap! Outfitters was born out of necessity. Not a single camper of this style was available two years ago. After over a year of testing, the Treehouse has finally come to market. This Aluminum truck camper is feature-rich and built to order. That means it will fit your truck and your needs.

Snap! Outfitters Treehouse

One of the coolest integrated features of the Treehouse is the three-step ladder from the truck bed to the sleeping platform. Everything on the Treehouse is designed for ease of use by nearly anyone.

Snap! Outfitters Treehouse

The barn door-style rear entry and swing-open side hatches are also unique to Snap!. These features make it incredibly easy to access gear in the truck bed while also keeping the elements out.

Snap! Outfitters Treehouse

Snap! Outfitters is owned by veterans. It manufactures the Treehouse in rural Pennsylvania to each customer’s individual needs. For example, if you want side windows instead of side hatches, they can do that.

Snap! Outfitters Treehouse

  • Price: $6,999.00
  • Available: Direct (possibly retailers soon), deliveries started Feb. 2018
  • Weight: 340 pounds
  • Materials: Aluminum
  • Fit: Custom built to fit any pickup
  • Options: Windows in the cap doors, wired for solar, color matching to the truck
  • Website: www.snapoutfitters.com
  • Location: York Haven, Pennsylvania
  • Company established in January 2017

Vagabond Outdoors The Drifter

Vagabond Outdoors The Drifter

The owners of Vagabond Outdoors have over 12 years of pop-top camper ownership under their belts from a variety of manufacturers. They have used that experience and knowledge to build what they think is a better product. The Drifter pop-up wedge-style truck camper was born in early 2017 and just recently went into production.

Vagabond Outdoors The Drifter

One killer feature not currently being offered by competitors is a standard drop-down cab window. This allows for a crawl-through to the cab of the truck from the truck bed — if the truck is fitted with a large enough opening rear window to crawl through.

The bed in The Drifter is a full 3 inches thick and sports a high-density mattress with waterproof cover. The lid/bed design also keeps bedding in place when the camper is collapsed.

Vagabond Outdoors The Drifter

Besides focusing on The Drifter’s production, Vagabond Outdoors is also striving to become the premier overland outfitter in the San Francisco Bay Area. It’s currently a dealer for top brands like; Frontrunner, Goose Gear, Blueridge Overland Gear, Dometic, Total Chaos, and Baja Designs.

Vagabond Outdoors The Drifter

Vagabond Outdoors The Drifter

  • Price: $6,500
  • Available: Direct sales model, deliveries began in March 2018
  • Weight: 315 pounds
  • Materials: 1/8-inch 5052 aluminum, aluminum tubing, vinyl-coated polyester, stainless steel, composites
  • Fit: Tacoma and Colorado (possibly Frontier)
  • Options: Fantastic fan, roof racks, additional lighting, side access windows, insulation
  • Website: www.vagabondoutdoors.com
  • Location: Benicia, California
  • Company established in January 2018

Leentu Campers

Leentu Campers

Leentu has been perfecting their truck camper design since 2015. It’s had two prototypes on a wide variety of terrain and in a variety of weather conditions. The final design is extremely unique and offers lots of interior living space and an aerodynamic shell.

Leentu Campers

The less payload you add to a vehicle, the better it will perform — especially off-road. The Leentu Camper should offer up impressive fuel economy and retain payload for supplies and adventure gear. With a target weight under 150 pounds, this thing should be crazy lightweight!

Leentu Campers

The loft bed converts to a lounge seat or stows in seconds. When the camper is popped up, the interior standing room in the entire truck bed measures over 6 feet. Standard features of the Leentu Camper include a full host of LED lighting, charge ports, and a ventilation fan. It’s also pre-wired for solar, and the Carbon model includes a 60-watt solar panel.

Leentu Campers

Leentu Camper

  • Price: $10,295 (fiberglass); $13,995 (carbon fiber)
  • Available: Direct sales model, November 2018
  • Weight: < 150 pounds (fiberglass); < 100 pounds (carbon fiber)
  • Materials: Pre-impregnated fiberglass or carbon fiber, honeycomb-core,
    weatherproof canvas tent
  • Fit: Long-bed (6 feet) Tacomas (second- and third-generation, 2005-present),
    short-bed (5 feet) Tacomas (pre-orders being taken later this year), and all midsize and full-size 2019 trucks (based on consumer demand)
  • Options: Solar and color matching upgrades available for the standard Leentu Camper; both are included with Leentu Carbon
  • Website: https://www.leentu.com/
  • Location: Founded in San Francisco, California, with production starting in Indianapolis, Indiana
  • Company established in January 2017

OVRLND Pop Top

OVRLND Pop Top

The OVRLND Pop Top is a full pop-up design. This lightweight aluminum pop-top camper is custom-made to order. It can work with any truck and be fully customized to the buyer’s specifications.

OVRLND Pop Top

Throughout the truck bed, the Pop Top offers a standing height of 6 feet 5 inches. Vertical sidewalls also maximize interior space, which is unlike other designs that angle in to conform to the truck cab shape. A queen-size sleeping area offers more width than any of the other campers here.

OVRLND Pop Top

OVRLND is a one-man shop, so don’t expect mass production on the Pop Top. What you can expect is one-on-one attention and a custom build that fits your needs exactly.

OVRLND Pop Top

  • Price: $7,400 for midsize trucks; $7,900 for full-size trucks
  • Available: Direct sales model, deliveries began in March 2018
  • Weight: < 350 pounds
  • Materials: All aluminum tubing and siding, wooden bed platform (honeycomb composite option)
  • Fit: All trucks (custom-made to order)
  • Options: Windows, roof rails, barn doors, jerrycans, benches, tables, lights, storage, taller standing height, full custom builds to customer specs
  • Website: campovrlnd.com
  • Location: Flagstaff, Arizona
  • Company established in December 2017
Edited by Jetty Jumper

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I look at all of these options all the time. I hope to be able to retire in a few years and some type of camper is in my future I think! Maybe a travel trailer, maybe a truck camper, maybe even a van conversion. Not sure yet but it's nice to dream!!!

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Those are pretty slick.  Im sure my fiancee would kill me if I got one for my truck, though.

 

I can still manage to sleep in the back of my truck with a cap on it.  Once this one dies, I'll be looking into something with a more comfortable sleeping situation.

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I think these have a place, and I also thing they leave a lot to be desired, and that a lot of actual owners tire of them rapidly, along with the roof top tents.

 

I started looking at these about two years ago, thinking of getting a tacoma to put one one.  Wildernest was the first to make something like this, as far as I can tell.  The more I looked into it, the more they looked like a poor compromise.  Gotta set it up everytime, sides get wet in rain and need to be stored wet to get on the road, and a host of other issues.  I then started looking at Four Wheel Campers, which are a big step up in what you get and in what you pay.  Those are a nice camper if you absolutely going off road and doing some serious wheeling, which most of us on the east coast don't do.

 

Both of the above are probably OK if you're young, and don't have kids.

 

The more I looked, the more a full size truck camper looked like the ticket.  IN reading, what I also saw people that had had pop up truck campers saying was exactly what I pointed out above.  Wet after rain, cold in the winter, condensation problems, and a general pain in the ass.  Many seemed to have grown tired of them and eventually moved to a hard sided truck camper.

 

So that's what I started looking at.  Truck campers are expensive, but many good used ones can be had cheap and for much less than a pop up truck camper, because there are so many more of them.

 

Last fall, I picked up a nice, large truck camper used for $800.  Put it on a big dually crew cab 4WD 7.3 diesel a month ago, and I have a lot less in the whole package than what a new camper, hard side or pop up would cost.  Bathroom, real bed, kitchen, AC, heat, Fridge.  I just about have everything ready, and we'll be taking it out on a maiden camping trip soon.  The wife and kids are pumped!

 

Brent

 

IMG-5953.JPG

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Yea, for what they are, they seem awful expensive. I also don't see any advantages over a pop up truck camper, which I also dislike. A standard truck camper just seems to be much more user friendly, especially for a beach buggy. 

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11 hours ago, Antarctica said:

I think these have a place, and I also thing they leave a lot to be desired, and that a lot of actual owners tire of them rapidly, along with the roof top tents.

 

I started looking at these about two years ago, thinking of getting a tacoma to put one one.  Wildernest was the first to make something like this, as far as I can tell.  The more I looked into it, the more they looked like a poor compromise.  Gotta set it up everytime, sides get wet in rain and need to be stored wet to get on the road, and a host of other issues.  I then started looking at Four Wheel Campers, which are a big step up in what you get and in what you pay.  Those are a nice camper if you absolutely going off road and doing some serious wheeling, which most of us on the east coast don't do.

 

Both of the above are probably OK if you're young, and don't have kids.

 

The more I looked, the more a full size truck camper looked like the ticket.  IN reading, what I also saw people that had had pop up truck campers saying was exactly what I pointed out above.  Wet after rain, cold in the winter, condensation problems, and a general pain in the ass.  Many seemed to have grown tired of them and eventually moved to a hard sided truck camper.

 

So that's what I started looking at.  Truck campers are expensive, but many good used ones can be had cheap and for much less than a pop up truck camper, because there are so many more of them.

 

Last fall, I picked up a nice, large truck camper used for $800.  Put it on a big dually crew cab 4WD 7.3 diesel a month ago, and I have a lot less in the whole package than what a new camper, hard side or pop up would cost.  Bathroom, real bed, kitchen, AC, heat, Fridge.  I just about have everything ready, and we'll be taking it out on a maiden camping trip soon.  The wife and kids are pumped!

 

Brent

 

IMG-5953.JPG

I could have written this post. HaHa. Went thru all the same scenarios

and came to the same conclusions as you. Difference being you pulled

the trigger. Will always regret not getting a similar setup while my kids

were young. Congrats ! Enjoy ! Hope u will post some pics of your trips.

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Comparing a DRW PU with a big camper is apples and oranges to the rigs in the article.It is good to have options,some want a small house,some want a rig that they can run the dunes in,or run in the desert.

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5 hours ago, Jetty Jumper said:

Comparing a DRW PU with a big camper is apples and oranges to the rigs in the article.It is good to have options,some want a small house,some want a rig that they can run the dunes in,or run in the desert.

Yes and no.  As I said previously, they have their place (more serious wheeling, never  more than one or two people).  Comparison is more like big apples to little apples, especially in the context of a forum "Beach Buggies".  They certainly cost a lot less than a new camper, and may be the only option for smaller trucks, it just seems that people that have them grow tired of them quickly.  I saw a Jeep for sale the other day with a Roof Top Tent on it (granted, not exactly the same).

 

If one of these will do it for you - go for it!

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11 hours ago, yosco said:

I could have written this post. HaHa. Went thru all the same scenarios

and came to the same conclusions as you. Difference being you pulled

the trigger. Will always regret not getting a similar setup while my kids

were young. Congrats ! Enjoy ! Hope u will post some pics of your trips.

My kids are 2.5 and 3.5, so I'm hoping we get a lot of miles out of this rig, especially at Assateague.

 

I'm also hoping to use it as my "Elk Buggy".  I've long wanted to take a shot at some elk hunting, but the cost and the way I wanted to do it (unguided) was prohibitive.  I'm hoping I can shoot across the country with this thing, crash at a walmart or boondock as necessary, then use it as a 'mobile base camp' in the mountains.  If there are no elk in a given area, pack up and move a bit.  The idea was to keep the per trip cost down and be able to go year over year, slowly learning an area over the years, and teaching my kids along the way.  The ability to use it to fish and hang out on the beach at Assateague was the clincher...

 

Hope to have it on the sand in a few weeks.  Now I just need to learn how to surf fish... ;-)

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Neat, practical and almost affordable but not for me. I prefer Holiday Inn with heat, A/C, TV, no mosquitoes, a clean crapper, nice shower and prolly' contaminated bedding, it ain't perfect. I just never enjoyed sleeping out, probably have slept in a tent maybe 30 nights in my life, I believe it rained at least 28 of them.

 

Later on, my Mom and Dad had a 5th wheel followed by a 35 ft. motorhome, again, nice, but not for me. Too much work, like owning another home except it depreciates. The last motorhome they bought was in 2001, paid around $100K (about average), when running it got 6-7MPG, towed a Honda CRV on long trips. Sold it in 2014 with 87K miles on it and it was always well maintained, they got $7500 and were lucky to get that. For $100K and all that expense of fuel and sites (3 memberships totalling around $25K) for that kind of scratch I can stay a lot of places living well. 

 

And most women folk don't like nights outside, its against their craziness that we don't understand.

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12 hours ago, Antarctica said:

Yes and no.  As I said previously, they have their place (more serious wheeling, never  more than one or two people).  Comparison is more like big apples to little apples, especially in the context of a forum "Beach Buggies".  They certainly cost a lot less than a new camper, and may be the only option for smaller trucks, it just seems that people that have them grow tired of them quickly.  I saw a Jeep for sale the other day with a Roof Top Tent on it (granted, not exactly the same).

 

If one of these will do it for you - go for it!

I think this type of camper is going to make a big dent in RTT sales.The quality of the rigs posted are head shoulders above a wildernest or flipac.

I agree, one or two people,more serious off-roading.I suspect your rig won't be able to get to the beach or the forest service roads I go on. DRW's aren't known for traction,they get stuck on job sites where SRW's don't have any difficulty,it's too big(wide/tall/long),heavy,with a high COG for really soft sand,dunes or narrow seldom maintained FS roads.

Every platform is a compromise,you want space and comfort,some are willing to give some of that up for the ability to get away from the herd in designated campsites.I used to have a big camper,we hated being stuck next to the next guy,his ill mannered kids,and listening to his music ect.

Good luck on your hunt.

 

 

 

 

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If camping is allowed, a canvas tent works well. You can set up camp and drive away if need or desire arises. In the cold a cylinder stove can be used to keep warm. Only down side is some beaches don't let you set up a tent camp and stay overnight. The way around that is to have a  truck camper and put the fishing gear out at night while you sleep in. The regulations dictate what you need to stay overnight on a beach. Everything has a trade off.

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