Hodakaguy's Vagabond Camper/Truck Build

Hodakaguy

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 2, 2014
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641
With our previous Tacoma's and Four Wheel Camper Sold it's time to harness my super squirrel powers and start in on another project.

We just returned from a 1700 mile two day road trip to pick up our new Camper at the Vagabond factory in CA. The guys at Vagabond are a great bunch! We were scheduled to arrive Friday morning but half way down to CA realized we would arrive early enough (about 4pm) that we could snag the camper on Thursday and roll north again to get part way home again. A quick call to Vagabond and they were very accommodating with the change in schedule. Installing the camper went quickly and we were on the road again. 1000 miles the first day, not bad!

My father and I placed the order for the Drifter back when we still had our 3rd gen trucks, The drifter was originally slated for my fathers truck and was going to serve as both a canopy and camper that we could leave on the truck year around. The light weight and low drag of a wedge camper makes it ideal for road trips and off road use. After we sold our 3rd gen trucks we decided to leave the Drifter on order since we planned on eventually finding another used truck. Fast forward a bit and we found a super low mile (9000 miles) 2012 TRD sport that we picked up for my father. It already has a OME 3" lift and Dakar springs installed so it's ready for the Drifter Install.

Now some background on our decision to purchase the drifter. Originally we planned on purchasing the GoFast camper and while camping at last years Northwest Overland Rally we were able to check it out in person along with several other brands. The GFC construction looked really good and finish work was top notch. Canvas material is similar to what we had on our Four Wheel Camper and it’s proven to be super waterproof. We live in the desert and the camper will be outside 365..the sun here tears things up fast. We were both concerned about how well the composite roof will hold up over time to intense sun we see here. We were also not huge fans of light coming in through the composite translucent top, when I sleep I like it dark and the inside of the camper glowing could be a issue. Guess one could always make an internal light cover for the top. We also didn’t care for the short overhang and the need to move bedding every time you want to enter the bed, you also need to mess with bedding if one wants to stand up and get dressed. If you want to open up the whole interior space you need to do something with all the cushions which I see as a pain. The tubular framework of the GFC relies on a large number of seals to keep water and dust out, this seems like it could be problematic over time. The tubular framework also makes it difficult to install decent size side windows and harder to insulate. Overall it was a nice camper but we were glad we could check it out in person before we ordered one, it just wasn't a great fit for us.

After checking out the GFC we walked over to check out the AT and Vagabond units. We both really liked the Vagabond unit a lot, the construction is top notch and we both preferred the solid aluminum structure, this camper is rock solid! We loved the insulated HD one piece aluminum roof (1/8") and solid sides (No seals against tubing), will make dust proofing the camper an easier task. The drifter has similar canvas material to the FWC as well which again we have found to be bullet proof in rain. The tent is roomier than the GFC and the larger side windows are nice. We liked the longer extension over the cab and the ability to have a standing space with the bed deployed, no need to mess with bed panels. We also liked the side windows in the Drifter and they offer several options to choose from, we like the Windoors as they allow easy access to the interior of the camper and give a view through the camper while driving. Without the tubular frame of the GoFast insulating the interior will be far easier. When standing in the camper you can slide the bed all the way forward and have the entire interior area open to stand in, the mattress and supports are all stored in the cab over area leaving the entire bed space open....Nice! This will be great when hiding out in the camper when waiting out weather. The top utilizes hidden lift struts which is a also a nice touch, overall a very well thought out package!

The AT was great as well but higher $$ and the canvas material looked more like treated tent material than a true waterproof material like the vagabond and GFC. The fit and finish of the AT was really good as well. They also had the habitat on display but we both preferred the wedge design over the Habitat.

They all have their advantages and disadvantages, but the Drifter was the best choice for us.

We have plans to install lighting and a Diesel heater. I'm sure plenty more mods will follow lol. I'll post up pics as progress happens.

Here's a few pics of the new Camper
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Our new Drifter waiting to be installed.

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Another Drifter being assembled.

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Camper being installed on the truck.

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Rolled out and ready to hit the road. We immediately hit the road again and headed north a ways, ended up putting in 1000 miles that day.

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On the way home we stopped to take a few pics and play with the camper a bit. I really like the fit of the Drifter on the Taco.

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Top up

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Tracks installed, these will be great for Solar install and carrying the Kayaks.

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Continued Below...
 
Continued from above...

Interior. The side windows open for access to the interior and the side panels are insulated. The bed is slid out in this pic.

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Standing in the camper with the bed deployed

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Bed stored in the cab over portion allowing the entire interior area to be utilized for standing.

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More to come.....

Hodakaguy
 
Congrats on the new rig and setup. My observations about the Drifter align very closely with yours. I had an opportunity to check out their prototype when I visited the Front Runner showroom in Agoura Hills, CA. It had barn doors which I really liked...it’s getting tougher to crawl up and into a tailgate/hatch HA HA! I see that yours came with the sides insulated and paneled, something that I knew would have to be done if I had one.

I’m running a tall topper on my long bed right now but I’m pretty sure I’ll be talking to the folks at Vagabond in the future. I closely followed your previous build and am looking forward to seeing you proceed on this one. Good luck!
 
Congrats on the Drifter!

I lived out of a Drifter for 7-8 months before deciding ultimately the 5 foot bed Tacoma was too small. I LOVED my Drifter, but sold it and the truck for an F150 and a Grandby. I enjoy the space, but the Drifter is definitely better made the FWC.
I think it’s definitely the superior camper option for midsize trucks.
 
Very cool and great to hear your observations.
Did you get a chance to camp in high wind conditions when you had your FWC? I'm interested in hearing how the wedgie/wedgefalia styles do in high winds.

Did you delete your previous build threads? I haven't been on WTW as much since selling my Finch.

And yes how's the progress on the airplane?
 
It's great to see you and your Dad working on another project.
I can't wait to see what you decide to do with it.

We saw a similar unit made by Alu-Cab when we were in Africa and were pleasantly surprised at the strength and lightness of the camper.

Good luck!
 
Mighty Dodge Ram said:
Congrats on the new rig and setup. My observations about the Drifter align very closely with yours. I had an opportunity to check out their prototype when I visited the Front Runner showroom in Agoura Hills, CA. It had barn doors which I really liked...it’s getting tougher to crawl up and into a tailgate/hatch HA HA! I see that yours came with the sides insulated and paneled, something that I knew would have to be done if I had one.

I’m running a tall topper on my long bed right now but I’m pretty sure I’ll be talking to the folks at Vagabond in the future. I closely followed your previous build and am looking forward to seeing you proceed on this one. Good luck!
Thanks, we are looking forward to setting up the Drifter and making it our own. We will be adding a retractable step like the one we had on our 3rd gen trucks, makes getting up onto the tail gate very easy. The insulated side panels are an option you can order, we knew we would want that option :)

Hodakaguy
 
craig333 said:
So how's the new plane working out?
Well we moved right after we sold the trucks and the new place doesn't have a large shop...the "plane" money will be going into building a shop. I MUST have a shop :)

Hodakaguy
 
Danneskjold said:
Congrats on the Drifter!

I lived out of a Drifter for 7-8 months before deciding ultimately the 5 foot bed Tacoma was too small. I LOVED my Drifter, but sold it and the truck for an F150 and a Grandby. I enjoy the space, but the Drifter is definitely better made the FWC.
I think it’s definitely the superior camper option for midsize trucks.
Yeah it's smaller for sure than a FWC, which is one of it's strong points depending on how it's going to be used. It would defiantly be tight to live in! I agree the construction of the Drifter is rock solid!

Hodakaguy
 
ETAV8R said:
Very cool and great to hear your observations.
Did you get a chance to camp in high wind conditions when you had your FWC? I'm interested in hearing how the wedgie/wedgefalia styles do in high winds.

Did you delete your previous build threads? I haven't been on WTW as much since selling my Finch.

And yes how's the progress on the airplane?
We camped in high winds several times with the FWC without any issues, I never had the "oil canning" that some complain about with the FWC. I fully expect the drifter to handle high winds just as good or if not better depending on how your parked. My previous build thread is still up, here's a link: CLICK HERE

Like mentioned above the "plane money" is being utilized for building a new shop :)

Hodakaguy
 
smlobx said:
It's great to see you and your Dad working on another project.
I can't wait to see what you decide to do with it.

We saw a similar unit made by Alu-Cab when we were in Africa and were pleasantly surprised at the strength and lightness of the camper.

Good luck!
Thanks, we are looking forward to working on it. The strength, lightness and flexibility were a huge draw for us when picking this camper, you trade a bit of interior room for these advantages but it's worth it for us :)

Hodakaguy
 
The new rig looks great, we have a FWC Fleet, and mostly love it, the inability to easily carry kayaks is turning out to be a real downer for us. Can the roof of the drifter handle a fews boats?
We don't have the furnace in our Fleet, very interested to see how you install the diesel heater? Are you going the Ebay version or something higher end?
 
Josh41 said:
The new rig looks great, we have a FWC Fleet, and mostly love it, the inability to easily carry kayaks is turning out to be a real downer for us. Can the roof of the drifter handle a fews boats?
We don't have the furnace in our Fleet, very interested to see how you install the diesel heater? Are you going the Ebay version or something higher end?
The roof on the drifter is a LOT stronger than the FWC roof. I've seen guys get up and walk/stand on the Drifter roof, don't want to try that with a FWC! Vagabond rates the roof capacity at 500lbs on the drifter, it's also easier to reach the roof than the FWC so loading kayaks etc should be easier. I plan on carrying our two sea kayaks on top of ours.

I picked up a new take out Espar diesel heater a while back. I'm still tossing around ideas for mounting the heater, I'll post up what I come up with :)

Hodakaguy.
 
Snagged a 3D pen for Christmas, yesterday decided to try it out by making a PLA plastic Drifter for my Matchbox Taco :). Kinda crude since it was all free hand and no effort was made to smooth the surfaces out but this pen is pretty cool!

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Hodakaguy
 
Nice day today, took a break from working on the shop and went for a cruise on the Lambretta :). Hopefully the existing shop will be ready soon and work on the Drifter can start :)

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Hodakaguy
 
Not a lot of progress on the truck lately since I've been concentrating on getting the shop set up after the move. We did manage to install the new suspension on my 1st gen this weekend. The original suspension was completely shot...it had the limpest springs this side of a screen door! I ordered up an Old Man Emu setup with Dakar springs....these should do the trick.

Installing the new suspenders... Ignore the pickle fork, it wasn't used (I hate these things).

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Assembling the new springs and struts. This is the best spring compressor I've ever used, takes the danger out of playing with springs :)

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Good time to clean and re-grease the manual hubs.

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Rear Dakar springs & shocks installed, extended brake lines installed and brakes bleed with fresh syn fluids. Truck drives & handles soooo much nicer with the new suspenders. Now to get it aligned.

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Hope to get some work done on the camper soon.

Hodakaguy
 
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