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Tacoma or Tundra for pop up camper

Tacoma Tundra pop up camper

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#21 Gnome

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Posted 05 October 2017 - 04:46 PM

Rando, yes the flatbed models look great but they are simply out of my budget.  I have seen flat beds on the interwebs for $3-5k but they do not have large storage boxes etc.  So my need for storing larger gear doesnt get handled well.  Trust my I kinda drool over the large flat beds with the large boxes and a flatbed model on top.  Looks slick.

 

kmcintyre, I have been thinking about that same thing and do the platform under the bed idea.  The Fleet (designed for a Tacoma) is alos about 5 inches lower than the Hawk (designed for the Tundra).  With the lower overall height of the Fleet being 5 inches lower, I can place the camper on a 12 inch platform and essentially have a raised camper with a height similar to raising a Hawk only 7 inches.  And the Fleet is 100 pounds lighter.

 

lol It still kinds feels like ripping one self off to place a smaller shell in the truck than the manufacturer says is possible.  It is too easy to stick with the sales hype and go for the bigger camper.  Putting this all together it seems the logical choice.

 

To go a step farther for storage I am heavily considering doing something I have not seen anywhere.  If anyone knows this has been done, please point me at links so I can see it.

 

I plan to put a Fleet in a long bed Tundra.  The wheel wells of the Tundra would get in the way but with the 12" platform this becomes a non-issue.  By placing the camper all the way to the front on a platform there will be about 14-ish inches of space left between the back of the camper and the tailgate.  I plan to have custom boxes made to fit that space but extend up higher than the tailgate.  As the boxes extend over the tailgate they will be built to extend out over the tailgate by an additional 6 or 7 inches.  This large area at the top of the box helps with large backpacks etc.

 

The pros to this set up are a smaller lighter camper to help with GVWR, a 12 inch drawer storage area as a basement, storage for gear in the rear boxes (not in my living space!), more narrow camper making for better visibility in mirrors and get to keep the stock tailgate. 

 

Keeping the tailgate helps with a few things.  I still get the convenience of a truck where you can lower the tailgate and sit on it, use it as a table, etc.  I get to keep the stock camera built into the truck.  I like how the stock cameras are all dialed in to tell you where your truck will be with the colored lines as you back up.  The camper essentially gets a small porch area.  Not that this is really needed but I kind of like the idea.  The tailgate also acts as a secondary security lock for the rear boxes since it will close over the box doors.

 

The cons are more wasted space between camper and sides of bed and the feeling you could have had a larger camper (lol).

 

I will need to have custom boxes made which may be the complex portion of the project.

 

Anyone have thoughts on this idea?

Luke


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#22 Gnome

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Posted 05 October 2017 - 04:53 PM

Oh and the more narrow Fleet camper will also help keep things more stable since the load will be pulled into center a bit more.


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#23 klahanie

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Posted 05 October 2017 - 06:18 PM


 " Putting this all together it seems the logical choice.
 

^This. I think you're getting there. It's a process a lot of us have made - and it can be an ongoing affair, lol. As to being "ripped off" and I get the humour there, look at where you're coming from and know there is no perfect set up for all things. It's tough to get it all right in one step. I will say it's great to percolate and research out ideas - you are being thoughtful about this - but after you've pulled the trigger don't look back...

 

OK, I too thought about an under drawer and would have done that if I had gone reg PU truck. (a drawer is a wonderful place to store a full size shovel and other bush tools). You'll have your own particular items to carry which is a factor in choosing the solution that's right for you.

 

Btw you'll love a porch, esp with a step up into the camper's Hobbit Door.

 

I can't quantify the effect on handling of a 12" higher camper. For sure the Tundra's wider track will help. If you've dismissed buying a North Star model that might also help - the FWC seems lower, narrower and lighter (but that might be BS). I expect the raised camper will look "funny" and you'll want to fill in the space under the over cab cab and sides. A horizontal door under the camper wings could provide good access to that elusive space between the camper and the PU box. This could be a big plus as would the ease of working with a plywood base on the FWC. Plus, you may be able to do this work yourself and, if you don't like it could remove it a just buy a cargo trailer already. :P

 

You've already made height comparison to another camper. One could make the argument that hard sides are even taller. Many larger hard sides are now built with basements included. And many of us raise our entire truck with lifts and bigger tires. Again, what will matter is where the weight is placed and where it is not, like overhead cabinets. If you can relocate some items lower that will help (water, LPG, perhaps batteries under deck) but, can you ?

 

The kicker of course is that these storage mods all add weight as will their contents. Too bad Toyota never built that rumoured 1 ton...

 

Good luck with your decision.


Edited by klahanie, 05 October 2017 - 06:29 PM.

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#24 Mickey Bitsko

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Posted 05 October 2017 - 07:30 PM

^^^ true, more storage more stuff more weight.
This is the most common challenge to all of us,be it truck camper or camp trailer.
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#25 Gnome

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Posted 05 October 2017 - 08:01 PM

Klahanie, yeah the ripped off comments are with humor intended.  

 

I was looking at some of the hard side campers people place on the Tundra and wow they are tall and heavy compared to what I intend to do.  It does give hope with concern to the platform concept for a pop-up.  Good point on lifted suspension etc which will effect COG as well.

 

I really like some features of the Northstars but the weight does bother me.  At first I decided they were what I most definitely wanted but after I started realizing how all the varied weight adds up I started looking more at FWC.  A few hundred pounds seemed like no big deal until I dug deeper.  I am still a bit open and trying to work it out but am leaning very heavily at the FWC.

 

I have seen a few pics with the extra space over the cab used with storage or a simple roof basket and thought they did not look too bad.  If I use the smaller model (Fleet), I should have a space less than a foot.  I am guessing about 9 to 10 inches?  I think I would be ok with the look of that space if used properly.  I still need to figure out how I want it used though.

 

Good points by you and Mickey B., more storage = more weight since you will fill it.  Give me a big pack when we are out exploring canyons and I will find a way to get more in it.  Point noted.

 

I like the idea of getting heavy things lower and will likely need to explore that after putting things together.  Since I am looking to a non-standard setup, I doubt thee are ready made solutions out there.

 

I also like making access to that unused space.  By doors under the wings do you mean in the rear of the camper at the bottom sides?  Not a bad idea.  It would not make it accessible to every nook and cranny but may provided a way to store longer items.

 

Luke


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#26 klahanie

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Posted 06 October 2017 - 02:40 AM

I meant access from the sides - under the "wings" of the camper. But I better back pedal a bit. The truck box might be too high for access to be practical. Guess it depends on your, um, height (noticed your screen name, ahem).

 

And while I'm pedaling, I don't mean to disparage North Star campers in any way. I had simply taken a quick look at their site and saw some wt numbers that could cause you some heart ache. In fairness I didn't know the models you were considering and the wt concern has more to do with available payload than with the camper. What to expect for actual delivered camper wt is yet another item for research...


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#27 Gnome

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Posted 06 October 2017 - 05:44 AM

Lol the name is not due to my stature.  I run a canyoneering website offering beta on canyons called www.BluuGnome.com.  Some of my friends call me Gnome (my girlfriend got that started and it caught on).    Yeah from the sides the truck box will still be too high to access that space unfortunately.  Maybe I can figure a way to get to it once on the truck or maybe not.

 

Now that I am more dialed in on a direction I am looking at the Northstar 600ss and the Four Wheel Camper Fleet.  They are both made for the smaller trucks like the Tacoma and weigh less than the models made for the Tundra I will be using.  I like the more narrow idea for stability.  I also like that they are made for a smaller truck so they have less of a rise to the sleeper overhang.  This means when I place my camper on a 12" pedistal there is less space over the truck cab.  It all seems like a win as far as size goes.

 

I decieded to look at all the options for each of these two units and figure out what I would order for each and compare cost and weight with that build.  Surprisingly the Northstar 600sss is only 125 pounds heavier after adding the options I would want.  Yes I am counting weight but when considering how few campers there are that will fit my need, 125 pounds seems doable.  The base weight of the Northstar is higher but they have a few more items already included in the base package that I would have to add to the FWC.  So if you go with a base weight yes the Northstar looks heavy.  But depending on what options you would add to each, you may be surprised to find the weight is not that different.  Just depends on what you choose for options I guess.

 

The Northstar happens to end up being a little more than $2K cheaper.  I love the creature comforts and the look better.  Sounds like an all around win except .......

 

One minor point bugging me is the wood frame of the Northstar.  I have read a bit on the aluminum vs wood idea.  Seems there are pro's and con's to both.  It would seem it really isn't all that big of a deal but there is that little voice in my head the says metal is stronger than wood and strong is good.  Realistically you only need "strong enough" not as "as strong as possible".

 

The major issue is mounting.  With the FWC Fleet the mounting can be done to the bed of the truck and is easily modified to fit the bed.  Although it would involve cutting, bolting, welding or some combination of.  So the FWC can be made to work.

 

The Northstar 600SS only has mounting points on the outside where chains run down the side of the truck.  While I do not particularly care for that look I am willing to accept it if the camper is more of what I want.  Problem is the Tundra is too wide for the camper so the chains would need to pass through the truck bed sides or go around it some how.  I talked with a dealer and he had zero ideas to make that work.  I got the impression though that he was not motivated to help very much if I were outside the normal set up everyone wants.  So I am on my own for now.  Best thought I have is to make curved shape steel pieces that would sit in the middle of the chains that run down the side of the bed.  The metal would hook to the fixture on the camper, curve around the bed down to where it would meet the theoretical straight line of a straight chain and on that other end a chain would be attach to it then to the mount at the bottom.  The tension would still be in a straight line even though the metal add on curved around the top corner of the bed.  To illustrate better think of the letter C, now attach a wire to each side of the opening and pull them apart.  The tension would be in a straight line but the C would allow that portion of the tension line to go around something.  Hope this makes sense.

 

Anyone have ideas on how I might be  able to make this work?  If I can make the Northstar mount I think I will go with that.  Another plus with that is the mounting is always exposed so I can check it out from time to time and I do not need to try to work around the mounting in the platform I will have like I would with the FWC.

 

Has anyone put a Northstart camper made for a smaller truck on a larger truck?  If so any links to how they mounted it?

 

Luke


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#28 CougarCouple

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Posted 06 October 2017 - 04:18 PM

Hi Gnome
Glad someone asked about your username I am always curious about them. I have been reading this thread and I keep thinking you are trying to get a setup that suits your needs. I think we all have in one way or another. If you are doing a lot of unimproved roads my opinion is the aluminum frame would be a better choice.
Trying to figure out how to make something have all this storage that it was never intended for will be difficult. I suspect if you succeed your weight will surprise you. Altering how campers mount while possible not sure how fesable. Better option might be to get correct camper for truck, put your gear in plastic tubs inside. Just remove at camp good to go. Lots easier cost effective and form there seem what you want to do. I know our list has changed from when we started.
Russ

Edit: sp

Edited by CougarCouple, 07 October 2017 - 03:32 AM.

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F250 extended cab, Cougar from ATC. You guys rock thank you!

#29 klahanie

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Posted 08 October 2017 - 01:56 AM

Luke, just whistling here again, I wonder if the jack mounts are strong enough to use for tie downs ? North Star might tell you. Sometimes owners add "dually brackets" or "swing out dually brackets" to extend out/make proud the jack position.


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#30 Lone Star Adventurer

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Posted 12 October 2017 - 02:29 AM

Hopfuly I can help shed some light on the question. We have a FWC Swift on a Tacoma flat bed. I had the all aluminum bed custom built for about 3.5k. We went this route for the extra storage since the swift dose not have much at all. The added area on the sides has been nice to use as a table and worked out very well. We still have not gotten the whole thing weighed in but the build sheet for the camper said it was 1,300 dry. We got the camper this May and So far we have put about 8k miles in 16 states on and off road in this configuration with well over 30 nights. So far we absolutely love it! We get any where from 9 to 15mpg depending on wind and elevation. My wife can get better as I tend to be heavy footed.
Here is a link to a short article we are working on.
https://www.lonestar...-home-on-wheels
gallery_8065_1175_71332.jpg

Edited by Lone Star Adventurer, 12 October 2017 - 02:32 AM.

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