Four Wheel Camper - A Review

kcowyo

ExPo Original
OutbacKamper said:
Um thats BC (British Columbia) not CA, but thats ok, lots of aussies would say to me "so..what part of the US are you from". We decided to return a little earlier than planned for a bunch of reasons, but mainly because we were tired after doing 45,000km in 9 months. Truck is in transit.
45,000km in 9 months..........:Wow1::Wow1::Wow1:

I remembered it was (Oh) CAnada. I wouldn't accuse anyone of being from California that didn't have to be....:xxrotflma
I didn't recall BC though. What a beautiful province! I'd love to take a trip to BC & Alberta sometime.

So down under, you're a Yank no matter where in North America you're from?

********

.......4 hours till lift off.....
 

18seeds

Explorer
Hello Everybody, Newbie here and this post has completely convinced me to sell my 4x4 van and buy a tacoma with a four wheel camper. Thanks for all the great info. I was thinking of doing helper springs instead of airbags but i think airbags may be a better alternative.
 

flywgn

Explorer
18seeds said:
Hello Everybody, Newbie here and this post has completely convinced me to sell my 4x4 van and buy a tacoma with a four wheel camper...
I think there's help for you. Seems to me there's a chapter of Toyota Owners Anonymous in your area. You might want to contact them before you take the plunge. :jump:
 

kcowyo

ExPo Original
Time to revive this monster - :wavey:

I just returned from Moab and spent 7 days off road with the truck and camper. I'll be putting up a more detailed trip thread up in the Completed Expeditions section, since the Utah trip was definitely expedition-esque. Here, I'll highlight the impressions, both positive and negative of the camper after a week on the trail.

For a point of reference, the first day was spent in Arches NP. The second and third days were spent in the Maze District of Canyonlands NP. Day four was spent on Beef Basin and along the Dark Canyon Wilderness Area, then into the Needles section of Canyonlands NP, including a run over Elephant Hill. On the fifth day, we ran Lockhart Canyon and Hurrah Pass then made a fuel and ice stop in Moab. Day six and seven were spent on the White Rim Trail in the Island in the Sky District of Canyonlands.

I was not solo on this trip. On the first day I met up with cool Darren, of MyColorado.org fame. Later in the week for the White Rim Trail run, we were joined by everyone's favorite snake charmer, Chuck (Urisade69) from New Mexico. Three guys, in three different colored Toyota 4x4's, from three different states meeting up in a fourth state. The only thing missing was maybe a white Toyota, maybe from Arizona or something.....

On the 4WD trail of Arches, I was very cautious and moved slowly through several easy off camber spots and deep ruts. With the tires aired down to 19 PSI, I floated in the sand like I was driving Ms. Daisy. The camper is not really noticeable due to the bulk of its weight being below the truck's bedrails and the center of gravity is dead centered over the rear axle. I would say by the end of the second day I had my speed up and a good idea how the truck was going to react ascending and decending the many steps on the trails. When in the sand, I let all of my Parnelli Jones daydreams come true and thrilled at how well the truck and camper worked together.

Throughout the week, I found myself only concerned with the camper when we came to low overhanging rock outcroppings and trees. After several uneventful passes through off camber spots of varying degrees, the height concern and thoughts of being top heavy proved to be pointless. Other than the occaisional lug while getting the vehicle rolling up an incline, the camper's bulk proved to be a non-issue.

I used the heater the first morning, but that was the only morning I needed it. I made coffee most mornings and cooked a little something for dinner most evenings. The propane held out and never gave me a problem. I'm nervous around propane, so I double and triple checked the valves everytime I cooked something. I also regularly checked the LP bottle and it's mounting system to insure that it wasn't being battered around its little compartment while we were rolling. The system worked great.

I used the auxillary battery sparingly. Instead of the overhead lights I often used my headlamp or moved around in the camper at night by the full moonlight. I had a small portable solar panel to charge the battery, but didn't wind up needing it. About the most I used the battery was the evening Darren and I checked out a bunch of my pics on my laptop. I plugged in to the camper and we spent about an hour looking at pics. The battery did great powering the laptop and my plug-in rechargable camera batteries.

A big, "Wow, I can't believe it!" started to settle in at the end of the week, when I noticed the cab of my truck had a fine layer of red dust everywhere. However, the camper had none, other than what I tracked in on my boots. But the counters, bedding, windows, all surfaces had no sign that it had just done hundreds of off road miles in Utah. This was not the case last fall on my trip to Utah, with a camper shell on the back of the truck. Everything from coolers, tow straps and bedrolls was covered then but not now. I still can't believe it and I'm dreading the hours of detail work getting the cab clean.

The bed slept fairly comfortable. I slept kitty-wampus (you may not get that if you're not from the right part of the US) and still could occaisionally feel some poking on my hip when I slept on my side. The cushions have plenty of give to them still, but I'm a poor sleeper. There were a few warm nights that I slept all night with the windows open and I loved the feeling of a screened breeze, while I slept on top of my sleeping bag. The big downer to this bed set up is that you cannot make coffee while still in bed. The bed must be slid back to its closed position to access the stovetop. This was only annoying the first days until I started getting a morning routine down. You know, it's all about routine till the coffee kicks in. I soon realized that I don't have to pack my bedroll just to close the bed. I soon had a routine where I was boiling water for coffee while putting away the bedroll and transfering gear back into the cab for the day. I would like to work on a different cushion solution in the future though, maybe a memory foam like Vince has.

The ice box fridge was the only real bummer. This is not a powered fridge, but like a cooler, throw in a block of ice and other items to be kept cool. It has a drain hose to allow water from the melting ice to drain outside of the truck. This drain hose reaches my drivers side rear brake light area and as Chuck so keenly observed, it often looked as if my truck were taking a leak while going down the trail. The ice box will be better used for dry storage with some other option for keeping drinks and food cold. It just didn't keep anything cold and a block of ice lasted barely a day. Also when it initially cooled, there was so much condensation built up inside, that it would drain out the front of the ice box onto the camper floor. A better solution than ice blocks that melt and need to drain would be frozen plastic water jugs. Also the door is divided into sections that should hold cans of pop or some condiments, but nothing fit and the restraining bars, across the inside of the door, fell out several times on the trail, even though it wasn't holding anything at the time. A stand up fridge is just not efficient, compared to a chest style cooler or fridge. A solution will have to be put into place before another multi-day off road trip.

How about we break for the evening with a few pics? -
 

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blaze one

Adventurer
I am glad this thread is going again :wavey: , it is like a good book I can't put down .
So are you thinking about a Engle Fridge inplace of the ice box?
 

Darren

Adventurer


I thought this one may have found its way up in the previous installment, but since not, here's another picture of the camper under the stars and moonlight. I apologize for my truck sneaking in the frame.

I thought the camper did very well for K.C. last week. I'm still trying to figure out how no dust got in! It handled some fairly decent trail action rather nicely. This particular model is a perfect fit for the T100 and seems to be as compact as you can get for this truck, which is a huge plus if it is to see trail time (it obviously will for K.C.). The ice box is a bit of a downer, but this seems fairly minor in the grand scheme of everything else it has going for it. Pretty cool little unit. I only wished it had rained on us for a half-day so I could've spent more time in it!
 

Ursidae69

Expedition Leader
It was great to see the Four Wheel Camper in action. I can't believe there wasn't any dust inside the camper. It must be sealed up really well. I'll post a few pics of your cool camper. Thanks for letting me tag along on WRT. :D
 

VikingVince

Explorer
So I've learned a new word reading this thread:exclaim: Click below for the etymology of cattywampus and scroll down till you find the word:

www.english.uga.edu/dawgspeak/etymolhelp.html

KC...sounds like you might need some new foam mattresses. Foam definitely "wears out" after a number of years. At least mine did...my 3" mattress felt fine when I first got my used Flippac but after a while I was feeling my hipbones also. If 4" foam will fit in your bed space, that's the way to go, IMO.

Also...You will love your camper mucho mucho mas if you replace the ice box with an offroad fridge...no doubt you realize that...but I just wanted to reiterate that after years of using ice and all the associated hassles, the fridge is like a blessing from the gods!!

Sure sounds like it came through the first trial with flying colors:exclaim: :exclaim:
 

Ursidae69

Expedition Leader
kcowyo said:
The ice box fridge was the only real bummer. This is not a powered fridge, but like a cooler, throw in a block of ice and other items to be kept cool. It has a drain hose to allow water from the melting ice to drain outside of the truck. This drain hose reaches my drivers side rear brake light area and as Chuck so keenly observed, it often looked as if my truck were taking a leak while going down the trail.
Here is a picture of KC shaking the lilly on his 4W Camper. :shakin: :)
 

Jonathan Hanson

Supporting Sponsor
Nice going again, KC!

I vote for an Engel. We had the three-way refrigerator in our Four Wheel and it was a poor performer in anything but mild weather. In fact block ice probably would have worked better (if shorter) in plus-90-degree temperatures.

We lived on a wildlife refuge for most of the time we had our camper, five miles down a dirt road, and I remember too that it stayed very clean inside. Good sealing.

One caveat about the air bags, which we loved: On ours the little claw that hooks over the spring's U-bolt walked off its perch once and let the bottom of the bag work out of alignment, which led to a failure and replacement. I recommend checking the mounts before and during trips. This only happened on the Tacoma, and just once, never on the '92 toyota pickup. But worth watching.

Great stories, KC.
 

kcowyo

ExPo Original
Ursidae69 said:
Here is a picture of KC shaking the lilly on his 4W Camper. :shakin: :)
You were supposed to tell them that was the on board shower with a built in back bumper washer!

You're fired............:ar15:


Just for that, here's our resident wildlife biologist make friends with the local wildlife. And he paid good money to learn how to do this!! Wonder what will last longer, the student loans or the scars of learning your craft?


...oh, and I'm no wildlife biologist, but I swear that damn lizard is smiling as he's chomping on Chuck....
 

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kcowyo

ExPo Original
BKCowGod said:
Yah, I'm getting a definite Steinbeck, Travels with Charley vibe here. You gonna name your Toy Rocinante?

and we demand updates!:mad:
I just wanted to reply to this real quick. I've read a few Steinbeck novels but not this one. The name Rocinante was driving me nuts so I went to the library and checked out the book and took it with me to Utah. Now I know where the name comes from and I've almost finished a great read.

I was always partial to Charles Kuralt books, being a fellow Tarheel native, but thanks for the tip on Travels with Charley! :beer:
 

kcowyo

ExPo Original
Thanks for the tip on the Airbags Jonathan!

I watched them pretty closely and you were 100% right about the turnbuckles too. I checked them twice a day and almost everytime, 1 to 3 of them would be loosened up. However, you know what a great concern the mounting sytem was to me so I am really pleased with how it performed. I'll take a look at some suggestions for keeping them tightened down better.

After 7 days of not so easy travelling at varied speeds, on varied terrain the camper came through with flying colors. The fridge was the only issue so I'm thinking about using it for dry storage and I'm considering a different type of cooling unit to keep in the cab of the truck.

I'm hesitant to say portable fridge because I really want to focus on front and rear end protection with recovery points for now. An old school cooler in the cab, behind tinted windows and with the A/C on may have to suffice. Although Darren made a valid and tempting argument for the fridge/freezer set up when he mentioned the possibility of ice cream on the trail.

And thanks Darren for taking and posting that great nighttime photo!! :jumping:
 

atavuss

Adventurer
how did you guys manage to catch the collared lizard?! from what I have read/heard they are very wary and will not even allow you to get close at all to them. FWIW I used to have collared lizards as pets, they were captive bred by a Dr. in the San Diego area. the male in his breeding colors is a very impressive animal!
 
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