We wanted to share our Alaskan flatbed camper build with you and give a little bit of info on how we decided on this setup in the hope that this can help someone else. We originally built out a 2016 Sprinter (that we initially loved!) but after having it for a year we realized while we loved having a vehicle that gets us out comfortably, it was not our ideal setup. We didn’t care for the height, the unibody frame, dealing with random rattles, driving in the wind, and how tough it is to get extra seating safely into the build. Our main activities are biking and climbing, and while the huge garage space of our van was awesome for gear, it got old having to swing out the bike rack every time we wanted something. Also, we found driving in our living space pretty annoying; it was loud and it felt like we were constantly chasing new rattles. The unibody frame construction also creaked quite a bit on off-camber terrain. The van taught us a lot about what we wanted and we truly enjoyed the ease of it, it just wasn’t the best fit for us and how we use this vehicle.
So, in thinking of our new build, we knew we wanted: a crew cab truck with a true 4x4, something we could stand up in with a bed ready to go, ample gear storage, and ideally somewhere to sit while inside. We live in Colorado and looked at Hallmark, Phoenix, and Rocky Mountain Four Wheel Campers. All had things we liked (and were all local), but we ended up really liking the quality of the Alaskan builds, the ability to customize everything about them, and the hard-sided pop-up. We would have loved to look at an XP camper or a Bahn, but they were far out of our price range.
Working with Bryan at Alaskan was great, this was their third side entry flatbed and we customized quite a bit. We have the Truma Combi heater/water heater, 30 gal propane tank, 27 gal fresh water tank, Thetford stove, NovaCool 122L fridge, a 170W panel with a Zamp solar system, and two 105Ah house batteries for our 12V system. We also changed all of their usual colors inside to suit our tastes and could not be happier with how the interior turned out!!
Overall, we are really happy with the setup! Alaskan does beautiful work, and having to pop it up is not nearly as annoying as we thought it would be. The hard-sided pop-up is really the best of both worlds! It’s nice having such a comfortable ride in the truck and the ability to drive safely with more people. Driving the truck is much more stable, we are not affected by the wind at all and the days of white-knuckle driving are over. Also having the dinette is surprisingly useful! We didn’t think we would use it so much, but the space in there is so functional with two people and two dogs.
If we were to do this again, we would have tried to figure out how to get the flatbed to be lower so the cabover is closer to the cab. We do have a decent amount of wheel travel but we have to figure out some sort of fairing to fill the gap. We had Alum-Line build our custom flatbed and put in an extra hitch in the frame of the flatbed for our bike rack so we would have more clearance and be able to keep the OEM truck hitch open for a recovery point.
The downsides we have noticed are: the gas mileage with our 3500 Ram 6.4L Hemi V8 (we’re getting 10-11MPG… hoping this improves with a fairing and engine break-in), the large gap between the truck cab and the camper, and having to take out stairs to get into the camper easily. We are also running LT295/70R18 Cooper Discoverer S/T MAXX tires which are probably affecting our gas mileage as well. To us, these downsides are the price to pay for a setup that works really well for what we need.
The side entry flatbed makes so much sense and we are just thrilled with it!!! Hopefully this is helpful for you, let us know if you have any questions!! If you’re interested in seeing more pictures of both the camper and van build (and all of our adventures!!!), we have them posted to our Instagram: www.instagram.com/iggy_the_igloo/
Edited by Dahlberg, 11 October 2018 - 03:21 PM.