New Alaskan side entry flatbed 8.5' build!!

dahlberg

New member
Hello!

We wanted to share our Alaskan flatbed camper build with you and give a little bit of info on how we decided on this setup in the hope that this can help someone else. We originally built out a 2016 Sprinter (that we initially loved!) but after having it for a year we realized while we loved having a vehicle that gets us out comfortably, it was not our ideal setup. We didn’t care for the height, the unibody frame, dealing with random rattles, driving in the wind, and how tough it is to get extra seating safely into the build. Our main activities are biking and climbing, and while the huge garage space of our van was awesome for gear, it got old having to swing out the bike rack every time we wanted something. Also, we found driving in our living space pretty annoying; it was loud and it felt like we were constantly chasing new rattles. The unibody frame construction also creaked quite a bit on off-camber terrain. The van taught us a lot about what we wanted and we truly enjoyed the ease of it, it just wasn’t the best fit for us and how we use this vehicle.

So, in thinking of our new build, we knew we wanted: a crew cab truck with a true 4x4, something we could stand up in with a bed ready to go, ample gear storage, and ideally somewhere to sit while inside. We live in Colorado and looked at Hallmark, Phoenix, and Rocky Mountain Four Wheel Campers. All had things we liked (and were all local), but we ended up really liking the quality of the Alaskan builds, the ability to customize everything about them, and the hard-sided pop-up. We would have loved to look at an XP camper or a Bahn, but they were far out of our price range.

Working with Bryan at Alaskan was great, this was their third side entry flatbed and we customized quite a bit. We have the Truma Combi heater/water heater, 30 gal propane tank, 27 gal fresh water tank, Thetford stove, NovaCool 122L fridge, a 170W panel with a Zamp solar system, and two 105Ah house batteries for our 12V system. We also changed all of their usual colors inside to suit our tastes and could not be happier with how the interior turned out!!

Overall, we are really happy with the setup! Alaskan does beautiful work, and having to pop it up is not nearly as annoying as we thought it would be. The hard-sided pop-up is really the best of both worlds! It’s nice having such a comfortable ride in the truck and the ability to drive safely with more people. Driving the truck is much more stable, we are not affected by the wind at all and the days of white-knuckle driving are over. Also having the dinette is surprisingly useful! We didn’t think we would use it so much, but the space in there is so functional with two people and two dogs.

If we were to do this again, we would have tried to figure out how to get the flatbed to be lower so the cabover is closer to the cab. We do have a decent amount of wheel travel but we have to figure out some sort of fairing to fill the gap. We had Alum-Line build our custom flatbed and put in an extra hitch in the frame of the flatbed for our bike rack so we would have more clearance and be able to keep the OEM truck hitch open for a recovery point.

The downsides we have noticed are: the gas mileage with our 3500 Ram 6.4L Hemi V8 (we’re getting 10-11MPG… hoping this improves with a fairing and engine break-in), the large gap between the truck cab and the camper, and having to take out stairs to get into the camper easily. We are also running LT295/70R18 Cooper Discoverer S/T MAXX tires which are probably affecting our gas mileage as well. To us, these downsides are the price to pay for a setup that works really well for what we need.

The side entry flatbed makes so much sense and we are just thrilled with it!!! Hopefully this is helpful for you, let us know if you have any questions!! If you’re interested in seeing more pictures of both the camper and van build (and all of our adventures!!!), we have them posted to our Instagram: www.instagram.com/iggy_the_igloo/1.JPG4.JPG5.jpg6.jpg7.jpgbed.jpg8.jpg3.JPG
 

BlueSkyCamper

New member
Wow, that is super sharp. What is the weight of the camper alone?

I understand your issues with the tall van as a platform. I see the high top Sprinters here in CO and don't quite get how you can manage in the wind, especially in CO (a place I call Winderado).
 

brokenhorn

Member
That's is a very nice rig. If you don't mind answering how much was the Alaskan camper?

We might be looking at something like this in the future.

Sent from my SM-N960U using Tapatalk
 

Romero

New member
Great rig, awesome and I like the lay out. Was Alum- line easy to work with on your flatbed? Is that cover on the back of the truck have the bikes? You said a receiver is above the OEM receiver? Do you mind showing a pic of that rear.

I love our flat bed Alaskan. I am rebuilding another flatbed for a new crew cab truck for more room travelling on the long trips. Selling the super cab.
I know what you mean about the flatbed height and I hope to redesign the next lower and work on getting the fuel behind the cab in between the head rail and cab(kinda like the Norweld brand) so it flows in and maybe the bed could be lower to the frame.

Cheers and welcome to the AK experience
 
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dahlberg

New member
Wow, that is super sharp. What is the weight of the camper alone?

I understand your issues with the tall van as a platform. I see the high top Sprinters here in CO and don't quite get how you can manage in the wind, especially in CO (a place I call Winderado).
Thank you so much!! The sticker from Alaskan says the camper weighs 1988 wet, we haven't had time to go weigh it with bikes and gear but will update when we do. Driving in the wind was a huge factor in switching to a truck camper!
 

dahlberg

New member
That's is a very nice rig. If you don't mind answering how much was the Alaskan camper?

We might be looking at something like this in the future.

Sent from my SM-N960U using Tapatalk
The flatbed upgrade was $1600 more than a slide-in from Alaskan. It wasn't cheap, but all of the flatbeds we found were pretty expensive.
 
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brokenhorn

Member
The flatbed upgrade was $1600 more than a slide-in from Alaskan. All in for the camper we paid right around $40000... gulp. That's a lot, but was cheaper than Hallmark and flatbeds just aren't cheap!
Yeah we were looking at 4wheel camper flatbeds. but decided on an older 4wheel camper grandby slide in to dip our toes into overlanding before we spend big $$.

It's nice to see a different flatbed option other than 4WC.

Sent from my SM-N960U using Tapatalk
 

dahlberg

New member
Great rig and I like the lay out. Where and/or who built your flatbed? What is on the back of the truck and how is it attached?

I love our flat bed Alaskan. I am rebuilding another flatbed with a crew cab truck for more room travelling on the long trips. Selling the super cab.
I know what you mean about the flatbed height and I hope to redesign the next lower and work on getting the fuel behind the cab in between the head rail and cab(kinda like the Norweld brand) so it flows in and maybe the bed could be lower to the frame.

Cheers and welcome to the AK experience
Hello, your rig was such an inspiration when we designed ours!! Thank you for posting so much content!!

We had Alum-Line out in Iowa help design and build the flatbed, then got it powdercoated locally. We wanted the boxes for storage and to maintain the departure angle. On the back we just have our bikes into the hitch of the flatbed and with a cover on them. Norwald flatbeds are really nice! They were just expensive, but looks really high quality. Thanks again for posting so many photos, it was so helpful to us!
 

dahlberg

New member
Yeah we were looking at 4wheel camper flatbeds. but decided on an older 4wheel camper grandby slide in to dip our toes into overlanding before we spend big $$.

It's nice to see a different flatbed option other than 4WC.

Sent from my SM-N960U using Tapatalk
Yeah, good call to test it out, these aren't cheap! If you can see an Alaskan in person, I really recommend it. That's what changed things for us, their build quality is excellent and it was just more 'home-y' than everything else we saw. I also did not care for the fabric of the pop-up, I've heard it's not an issue but really like the sound deadening of the hard sided pop-up. Good luck!!
 

dahlberg

New member
Hello, your rig was such an inspiration when we designed ours!! Thank you for posting so much content!!

We had Alum-Line out in Iowa help design and build the flatbed, then got it powdercoated locally. We wanted the boxes for storage and to maintain the departure angle. On the back we just have our bikes into the hitch of the flatbed and with a cover on them. Norwald flatbeds are really nice! They were just expensive, but looks really high quality. Thanks again for posting so many photos, it was so helpful to us!
Sorry forgot to add a photo of the hitch setup. Here is is before we got the camper. And yes, AlumLine was great, but it was about 10 weeks to design, build and ship it out.Screenshot_20181011-104149.png
 

Romero

New member
Thanks for the pics of the the hitch. Glad the info helped in your design. Your set up is awesome! good to know about the 10 weeks out. I am working with Bryan to figure a good way to add an awning over the doorway. Maybe something like the Alucab awning on a bracket but not so high on the roof. We are planning a 4 month trip way up north and I am sure it will rain a bit. Thanks, your inbed receiver has given me ideas for an easier way of mounting another tool box to hold the expanding steps which are wider than the under body boxes can handle. They need a home when traveling. We too take our mountain bikes and I like the higher set up... maybe less mud and road splash to deal with. I imagine the cover stays on better than mounting bikes in a front receiver hitch and blocking the radiator.
 

dahlberg

New member
Oh wow a 4 month trip sounds awesome. A lot of van builds used the fiamma awning, which looks pretty slick. We just keep our stairs in the doorway, they are a bit awkward to get out at that height. Maybe a storage box in the tuck hitch and then bikes above it in an in bed hitch? Would be a neat setup!
 

Climber Rob

Observer
Very nice setup. Have you set the camper up during a storm yet? That has been one of my biggest concerns about an Alaskan... that and the seemingly significant potential for leaks around the front while driving during a rainstorm.
 
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