I took a lot of inspiration from the generous exchange of ideas WTW users shared when customizing my own camper ... and this is my flavor of FWC Hawk Shell optimized for winter ski adventures. Works fine the rest of the year as well, though kayak racks are a bit of a problem we've had to work around.
Several years ago I had purchased a busted 93 Jayco pop-up for $600 with the dream of having the ability to take ski trips to places I would never consider paying for lodging as well as a comfortable base camp for backcountry ski destinations. Even with the limitations of the behemoth old camper on my 2002 Tundra it worked out great and whetted my appetite for a nicer, lighter and safer camper a few seasons later.
Our Jayco helped us figure out we really wanted in a camper: A place for 2 adults to lay around, relax and eat food after a long day of ski touring or riding lifts in the winter. Bonus points for laying around, relaxing and eating after summer adventures as well.
We purchased a new 2016 shell model for 2 reasons: It was quite a bit cheaper and we could customize it to fit our winter needs. In reality, I asked FWC to strip away more than they would agree to and they insisted on a few things I could have done without. We were able to get an inverter, battery system, propane furnace, recessed stove ... and that was about it. We did get the arctic pack. No water system (to freeze up), no fixed fridge, no 2nd fan over the bed (to rain condensation down on my head). It was a good start.
We decided on modular storage via rubbermaid boxes and duffel bags, a Dometic "cooler" fridge, a single bench "couch" and an additional "leather comfy chair" seat just inside the door to the right. Lots of hooks over the door for hanging snowy gear that needs to dry and contact strip type velcro to attach a laptop for entertainment on long winter nights. Cooking equipment is in the rubbermaid just to the right of the stove w/ a cutting board on top. Under the couch, we have a cooler fridge (added 12-Volt plug for power), another rubbermaid for food, 4 x 1-gallon jugs of water (depending on trip, sometimes add 5-gallon blue water container), a TV tray (dinner table) and whatever else needs a place to live at the moment. Everything slides out and back easily. The trucks extended cab is used for things that we don't need on hand in the back. Pee bottle lives outside one of the turnbuckle flaps. We put recycling outside the other turnbuckle flap and have a small plastic trashcan that shares the battery compartment. 2 layers of matching rubberized home depot utility carpets insulate the floor. I added a wooden handle to the door (helps to grab with gloves, reaching from inside or to lean on when stepping out). I remove the screen door during winter.
WARMTH: We added reflectix just about everywhere possible. I remember reading WTW and seeing debates over R-factors, insulation materials, etc. For the cost and ease of use, I chose reflectix. We used 2 inch foam insulation and / reflectix to cover all the main windows and velcro + reflectix for removable door window and vent fan insulation. I lined the lower "floor level" walls under the couch with reflectix. We spray-glued flannel fabric to two lengths of reflectix to insulate the middle "lounge level" for comfort and a cozy style - We remove half of this during the summer to allow for window access. On the upper "bedroom level" we also insert reflectix all the way around between the arctic pack and the plastic tent fabric to create more insulation. It takes about 5 minutes to put up each time, 2 minutes to remove. Worth every penny spent and time used IMHO. Wouldn't go without it. I fashioned a reflectix layer to go around the outside as well (It was really sweet and fit so perfect) but when tested was deemed too precarious in high winds so we stopped using it. With this setup we are toasty warm and comfortable with the propane furnace (usually sleep with it set to 45 at night). We're REALLY comfortable when we can score a plug-in to shore power and run our tiny electric space heater ... which we often can at the ski area we frequent (or poach that shite with an extension cord anywhere feasible). I'll be playing with a plug-in dehumidifier this winter. It hasn't been an issue but depending on conditions over the course of a weekend (or longer) we usually keep a kitchen rag handy to wipe wet spots on the ceiling and walls (metal interfaces that freeze overnight / the tacks in the ceiling). I always take steps to dry everything out when we get back from a trip in prep for the next.
RACKS: We didn't want any roof racks on top that might gather snow / ice. In retrospect, I'm glad because clearing snow / ice buildup can be a problem sometimes even with only a roof vent to deal with. In order to carry skis we had a metal shop make us some custom racks that bolt onto $50 wal-mart fender tie-downs on both sides of the truck. This allows us to strap a ski bag on each side. We can easily carry 4 sets of alpine skis, 2 sets of cross-country skis, all the poles, skins, etc ... in the bags. I use kayak straps to attach each bag. It works pretty well. In the warmer seasons, we are also able to carry 2 whitewater kayaks or SUPs (1 on each side) with paddles strapped underneath the camper overhang (above the fenders). It's not perfect, it's a pretty damn wide load with kayaks (especially when crossing the skinny ass metal bridge between Hood River and White Salmon ... nightmare), and it blocks a bit of rear-view visibility ... but it's what we found works best right now. Why not put the kayaks on the back with some type of rack? That is where the mountain bikes go ... and we have to be able to get in and out of the camper without loading / unloading. It's working so far.
IN RETROSPECT: I would have had FWC put in a 2nd battery. I would have had them actually wire for solar ... not the pretend "wire for solar" they do when you don't buy solar panels from them. I later bought a panel / controller all-in-one and it works fine after some futzing. Someone did an absolute junk show install of the exterior shore power plug (it wasn't the factory ... think it was the salesman) and it's way loosey goosey but I had to have it. The inverter / battery / furnace config I got should be standard ... and maybe it is now ... but at the time it was treated as a special request and I got what I got.
Edited by biggb, 22 November 2019 - 09:38 AM.