Choosing the All Terrain Camper after Many Considerations
For several years we camped with a Coleman instant tent. This worked for us and would continue to work for us except we started looking for alternatives that would be more convenient for the type of travel we enjoy doing. Being from the Midwest and being limited to the time we can travel due to working full time jobs and only having so many vacation days a year we tend to cram a lot of driving into short time periods for our travels. This means we need to find a spot to sleep for the night and then wake up and continue.
Popping a tent in the dark after a long days driving isn’t our idea of convenient. Waking up and packing up the tent while wet and dirty is also not ideal. The perfect solution for us would be something super simple to setup and takedown for a quick night’s sleep, no issues of worrying about the weather, easy to put on and take off the truck with one person, and easy to store. We began looking for our perfect solution.
Roof Top Tent?
I had been reading various forums on overland style travel prior to deciding to upgrade from our tent. I knew there were different options available, so I started looking at the various setups and how they were being used.
One of the most popular choices of setup for the overland traveler is the Roof Top Tent. There are many popular brands of these, and they come in different sizes and styles. The benefits of a roof top tent include; not sleeping on the ground, lightweight, easy to setup, and they’re adaptable to almost any vehicle that has a bed rack or a roof rack.
The downsides to a rooftop tent are that they are heavy enough that they can be difficult to put on or take off with just one person, they require a ladder to get in and out, the larger models for 3+ people are quite large when stowed, and it is still just a tent with no extra amenities.
Types of Roof Top Tents
When I started looking there were some different options available and new designs coming out all the time. One of the earlier options was the AT Habitat. This was a very intriguing option to us due to the amount of room that it has when opened. The downside to this is it has an absolute ton of fabric to deal with and the footprint it takes up when opened. It also seemed quite expensive for what it is. After all it is just a large tent that mounts to your truck. There was also not an option to seal up the entrance into the truck bed to keep bugs out at the time we were looking. So, we started looking into the even newer options that were starting to hit the market.
Newer Options Available
These new options starting to hit the market include the Go Fast Camper, The Vagabond Drifter, the AT Summit, and the Camp Ovrlnd. All of these are based on a similar concept. They are all fairly light weight. They all attach to your truck bed like how a topper or a tonneau cover would and they all don’t have a floor. Instead the bed is open, and they sit on top just like a topper that pops open to allow sleeping up top.
I really like the Camp Ovrlnd because it pops straight up and is not a wedge like the other designs. This allows for the most head room and sleeping area. I really liked this option until I gave it some more thought. The drawbacks of this style of camper are that anytime you would want to remove the camper and use the truck bed for hauling, you’d have to individually remove everything you had put in the bed as well. This could be rather inconvenient if you had a fridge and a sleeping system and other things mounted in the bed.
I am also not aware of an easy way to put these on the truck and take them off very easily with one person. Sure, if your truck with camper can fit into your garage you could rig up a pulley system from the roof to hoist it up to the ceiling out of the way, but most options will not fit through a 7’ garage door. With these downsides in mind we kept looking.
Alternative Camper Options
There was one option in the back of our minds that we had not previously considered seriously due to the cost. This was the slide in popup truck camper. After we started looking at these more seriously, we started seeing how they would be almost perfect for us. The benefits of these are they are super easy to setup and take down. All you must do is undo the 6 exterior latches, then climb in and push the top up and it is setup for the night. Takedown is just the same in reverse.
Another huge benefit of this style of camper is that they are easy to take off and put on the truck. They are held on the truck by just four turnbuckles that are easily put on and removed from openings inside the camper. The slide in campers come with jack brackets on the corners that jacks are bolted to and then the camper can be raised up and down to either put on or take off the truck. Everything you have put in or built inside the camper comes in and out with it. This is a big plus for us as it allows the truck to still be used for other tasks if needed.
These campers are also completely sealed from the environment and will not allow dust in through the openings in the truck bed like the other options. There was one large checkbox that these style campers did not check for us. We did not have the ability to fit the truck camper in our 7-foot garage door due to the height over the truck. The other options would not fit either unless we got a roof top tent that was mounted low on the bed. This was an option we decided we could live with and we even went as far as buying a small 4×8’ trailer that we can drop the camper onto and then back it into our shed that has a 7’ garage door when not being used.
Pop Up Truck Camper It Is!
Now that we had decided on a pop-up truck camper, we had to decide on which one. We wanted something lightweight and open due to 2 adults and a child needing to share the space. There were only a few options we thought we needed added to our camper to keep it open. When we started looking into brands, we discovered that there’s only a couple options that offer lightweight and durable popups. These are Four Wheel Campers and All Terrain Campers. These companies are both based out of California.
Four Wheel Campers has several dealers around the United States; All Terrain Campers is only factory direct, but they offer delivery for a fee. Both manufacturers offer fully loaded campers. Some are upwards of $30,000. As an alternative, they also offer what is known as a Shell model. A Shell model camper is basically just that, an empty shell, but you can get some options in them. We discovered that All Terrain Campers is more customizable and easier to work with to get just what we wanted in our Shell model.
Another benefit of going with All Terrain Campers is that they custom size the Bobcat Shell model to fit our Chevy Colorado’s deep bed. This gives us more room inside the camper. Four Wheel Campers does not do this, and they simply set the camper on a platform to raise it up. This is so that they can have a one size fits all model for different trucks that are similar sizes. We had now decided on going with All Terrain Campers. The downside would be we would have to drive halfway across the country to get it, but who doesn’t like a good adventure?
Shell Upgrades in Pop Up Camper
There were a couple things we thought essential at the time of purchase. We absolutely needed a way to sleep 3 people. The Bobcat Shell model comes standard with a large cabover bed that pulls out and is a full queen size bed. That provides sleeping for 2 adults. We would need someway to sleep our son down below. Ultimately, we opted for the convertible couch option that All Terrain Campers offers. We were a little hesitant on this because we did not know if there would be room for people to get in and out of the camper at night. It turns out we are able to squeeze out easily enough with the couch in bed mode.
Another option we wanted and are very glad we got is a heater. All Terrain Campers installs an Atwood propane heater that does a great job of keeping the camper warm.
Cold Weather Pack
We also got the Cold Weather Pack that provides extra insulation which helps in cold temperatures. When you get the heater you also get a deep cycle battery in the camper. The battery is installed under the couch. All Terrain Campers also throws in a 12v port and a couple USB ports.
Powered Roof Fan
We also had a powered roof fan put in above the cabover bed. This has been essential for keeping condensation down at night. It took us a bit to figure it out, but we now run the fan all night every night. This ensures while we are sleeping that water does not build up on the roof and canvas sides.
Another option we got is an awning installed on the side of the camper. We probably could have skipped this option as it really does not get used very often at all. This is due to our style of travel and how we don’t spend much time at the camper, it’s mainly just used for sleeping. That is all the options we had installed; we didn’t want anything else inside the camper to take up room and to keep it light. We are very happy with the options we went with. After using the camper for a time and having it on and off a few times we are still happy with our choice. We don’t think any other option would have been as convenient or as easy as the All Terrain Camper.
Upgrades After Install
Since the install we have added a few other options as well to our setup. We mounted a very convenient Front Opening Fridge as well as a Dual Battery/Solar Setup. As always, I’ve tried to explain the thought process behind these choices and weighed the pros and cons in each article!