The appeal of truck campers for off-highway travel is hard to deny. They are positioned at the intersection of capability and comfort. Truck campers are homes on wheels that can get to the majority of places you’d like to camp. They provide a retreat from the elements, surpassing the protection of conventional ground or rooftop tents, with much more insulation and comfort. Truck campers also have minimal camp setup. Once you arrive at your final destination, all you need to do is level your vehicle, and you are good to go.
Here’s a fun fact: in my continued search to find and share unique truck campers, I’ve found that many builders have experience in the world of boat manufacturing. This week’s featured company, Bahn Camper Works, stays true to that trend. Founder, Ryan Bahn, got his start with composites when he designed his own whitewater slalom canoe to compete in the Junior World Championships at the age of 14. He also accumulated lots of experience traveling in and living out of the back of pickup trucks in his pursuit of adventure.
Ryan competed through his teenage years, and when he wasn’t racing, he was restoring old Land Cruisers. With his base of knowledge in automotive restoration and composite materials, it comes as no surprise to learn that Ryan went on to pursue a degree in mechanical engineering and eventually worked as an engineer in the unmanned aircraft industry.
“Built like a racing yacht, our camper shells are extremely strong, lightweight, seamless, and weigh only 700 pounds.”
Eventually, Ryan’s family’s needs presented him with his next big engineering challenge: to design a seamless, lightweight truck camper for adventures on and off the pavement. To keep a long story short, Bahn Camper Works was born, and now Ryan makes his living building custom slide-in and flatbed composite truck campers for the discerning traveler.
Bahn Camper Works: Seamless Composite Truck Campers
A Bahn Camper starts with its seamless composite shell which weighs about 700 pounds. If you are one of the clever DIY types (or an upfitter looking for a solid platform to customize), the shell can be purchased as a stand-alone product for approximately $35,000. The shells can be customized to fit short, medium, and long pickup beds as well as flatbed trays. But for those of us who don’t have the time or skills to tackle a camper build, Ryan offers that service as well.
Complete campers vary in price, depending on the scope of the project. They have been completed for as little as $115,000, but some have exceeded $500,000. Ryan says that the median price is generally around $350,000, with build timelines ranging from 4to 10 months.
Each camper is approached as a custom project. With input from the client, Ryan tailors the floor plan to their individual needs.
“I build custom campers that don’t lock my clients into any standard floor plan,” he says. “I’m excited to design for every need my customer has.”
When asked in an interview by Truck Camper Adventure what makes Bahn truck campers different, Ryan had this to say:
“To be perfectly honest, everything. There is not another company in the camper world building the shell the way we do, not even Earth Roamer. We also offer complete customization of the camper, including length, width, window and door location, and window and door type. The interior is a blank canvas and can have any layout as well as any aesthetic theme the client wants. In addition, we offer vehicle customization and build for all trucks that meet the required payload capacity.” (full transcript of that interview here).
Aside from the limitations of GVWR (which Bahn never exceeds), the design and layout of a camper can be as complex or simple as you want. Here are just a few of the systems that are often incorporated into builds:
- Diesel or induction cooktops
- Diesel heat/hot water
- 1000- to 3000-watt pure sine wave inverter
- Up to 100-gallon freshwater tank
- Custom hardwood veneered cabinets
- Full-length roof racks
The Bahn Camper Works website points out that options are endless.
“Dual-pane acrylic windows are used for better insulation, and cabinetry is made with a proprietary core that allows us to reduce weight by 65 percent.”
Regardless of which features you decide to incorporate into your custom build, the process kicks off with a month-long design phase. During this time, the camper design is perfected using Solid Works 3D modeling software. Once the design is finalized, the build can begin.
Unfortunately, Bahn Camper Works is not currently taking orders for new campers. However, you can reach out to them via this contact form if you have questions about their campers or the possibility of contracting them for a future build. In the meantime, check out this beauty reel and dream about hitting the road in a custom truck camper.
Learn more about Bahn Camper Works on their website.
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