Composite Alaskan Camper/4WC Swift Mashup

Ark

Member
Hi all

I own a 2004 doublecab Tacoma and live in Alaska. I really like 4 wheel camper's "Swift" slide in camper but longer term camping in the cold and rain in Alaska makes me nervous about excessive condensation I have heard people dealing with in the soft-sided popup campers.

I really like the idea of building a composite "euro-style" pop up camper that is light enough for my truck to handle but utilizing the Alaskan Camper cabover/hard wall design to help with the insulation issues. Basically similar to "Sönke's Expedition Camper" but with a low-profile Alaskan Camper hard sided cabover design. I am hoping that if I replace the truck bed, I can gain a little bit of extra payload to play with. Obviously the lifting mechanism (probably hydraulics) and extra structure will add some weight but I know that AEV estimates their Outpost II weighs 750 lbs. Hopefully this design could come in at 1100? I think I would prefer to build it similarly to the Outpost using a frame and total composites panels.

Thoughts? I am curious why more manufacturers don't go down this hard-sided route. The Alaskan campers seem like a very solid design though I wish there was an ultra-light 4WC Swift style version for 5 ft Tacomas.
 

Darwin

Explorer
If I had to guess I would say you will end up being way over 1100 lbs. I guess if you traveled without water or much of anything really you might hit close to that with just the basic shell, although I think you would still be over 1100 lbs.

Toyotas just don't make good vehicles for what you are trying to do, that's my opinion anyways. Great for weekends or holidays with a pop up tent like structure but not much beyond that.
 

Ark

Member
I'm not looking for a 3/4 ton, 10,000 lb earth cruiser. A pop up tent sounds great but those just have issues in wet or cold weather. I would like hard sides and better insulation to deal with the weather but not much more.

Basically I'm just asking how difficult you guys think it would be to DIY something similar to the fold up hard walls on the cabover portion of the Alaskan campers. An actual Alaskan camper is too heavy and big for my truck but I like their hardsided pop up design concept.

Something like these two are what I hope to end up with. But on a Tacoma!
https://expeditionportal.com/forum/threads/sönkes-hard-side-popup-camper.20822/
http://www.truckcamperadventure.com/2018/06/in-the-spotlight-the-aev-jeep-wrangler-outpost-ii/
 

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CoyoteThistle

Adventurer
I did a composite hard side slide up for a 5 foot bed. (see sig for the build thread). I'm well under 1,000lb dry (with lots of bells and whistles built in) so I think you can do it if you use composites.
I didn't do a cabover but I did play with the idea a lot during my design phase. I don't think that part is super tricky to build but it does add complexity versus a box like Sonke or the AEV. See also S2DM's "Adrift" rig (build thread in this forum) for a different take on the hard-side cabover than what Alaskan uses.
I found composite panels really easy to work with and with their price coming down lately, I think it is the best way to build a camper where weight and durability are a concern.
 

JMadigan

New member

Ark

Member
CoyoteThistle, your slide-in looks great! How well do those honeycomb panels insulate?

The Adrift rig is really close to what I'm going for, just scaled down to 4WC Swift size. I do like their cabover setup though. That is a really slick roof setup


I found a video of another rig that is similar. There are a lot of moving parts to go wrong but they definitely camp up with a pretty ingenious use of a very small space

 

Ark

Member
Alaskan made a "mini" camper for another Tacoma owner and it was featured in Truck Camper Magazine: https://www.truckcampermagazine.com/off-road/adventures/guy-tokunaga-living-large-in-an-alaskan-mini/

It looks like they removed a lot of features to get it to fit in the smaller bed, but I'm sure you could fit whatever you need if you went the composite route. And if you can keep the top half of the shell light I bet the hydraulics could be replaced with a guide-track and some elbow grease.

Good call on that Alaskan Mini camper. I wish they would have stuck with their cab-over design but good to see they were thinking about the smaller market as well.
 

CoyoteThistle

Adventurer
The panels insulate okay. I would go as thick as you can if keeping the cold/hot out is important. Foam core composite panels generally have slightly better insulation per inch but tend to weigh just a bit more.

I primarily notice cold coming in at the "seal" between the slide-up and the main wall. Have a good plan for all your seals.

Thanks for that video - hadn't seen that one. Amazingly clever rig.
 

CPDOG

New member
  • hello ARK,
  • we have an 8' non cabover in our army truck great design and very practical.
  • I recommend you look at their website as they started building a 6' 5" model for smaller trucks and has the hard side you were looking for...…...just an idea for starters for you...……...good luck....I have posted some pic of our Alaskan on here …..it is under 1965 Alaskan in our army truck crazy dog....food for thought.
  • good luck in you search. lastly we visited their shop here in Washington and the also build custom camper too. they are very friendly and will provide any guidance too. we went there and they actually gave us a shop tour and had our 65 Alaskan there and allowed us to take pics and speak withier builder on out overhaul(we completely gutted and built the entire interior from scratch).

  • ALASKAN Campers
  • 801 NW Kerron St.
    PO Box 766
    Winlock, WA 98596
  • 360.748.6494
 

Ark

Member
CPDOG, thanks for the feedback! I agree, I really like Alaskan Camper's 6.5 ft model. Unfortunately it's just a little bit too heavy. I take my truck camping in some pretty tough offroad situations so for me, the best compromise is a Tacoma/Colorado/Ranger/Frontier (new Wrangler?!) pickup truck. That means really small and a 1,100 to 1,400 lb payload. That 6.5ft Alaskan is 1,390 dry and 1,550 wet. But, I live in Alaska and also camp in the cold. I love Alaskan Camper's insulated design and since I live in Alaska that's really the only pop-up camper that will work for extended periods in the extreme cold (after reading about the condensation issues in "A Hawk In the Arctic"). It's just too heavy for a mid-sized truck.

I am considering breaking down and building my own rig like CoyoteThistle did but honestly, I just want an Alaskan Camper that's the same size and weight as the FWC Swift or the Earthcruiser GZL 300. I know their design is inherently heavier than a canvas pop up but I do think it's possible to build a 1,000lb Alaskan style camper that's still well insulated by using composites. That's the dream anyway!
 

CPDOG

New member
hell again ARK!

that's cool!
as for the condensation issue, the easy fix is when you bring it home …..simply fully raise it open all lockers and your done this allows the areas normally closed off between the 2 halves and sealed with the upper and lower seals to openly breath and release the moisture where it does the most damage on these Alaskans……..the damage to ours was rot in-between the 2 halves...……...we had to remove both halves and completely restore them both. it has been 3 years now and this practice has yielded great results...no mildew/mold or rot! and like you up there we too have the incessant moisture here too...….
good luck and please post pics for us to see!
 
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