Pop Up Surf Camper for PNW

Surftransplant

New member
About a year and a half ago I started scheming how I improve my set up for surfing up here in the PNW. I moved from Half Moon Bay to Seattle 3 years ago. I love it up here but the toughest thing for me is access to waves. I go down to Oregon and out onto the Olympic Peninsula a lot. Recently I got into grad school at UW in Seattle and decided if I'm staying for the long haul I need a platform to spend my weekends on the coast.

My '09 Subaru Outback died of natural causes this spring and I pulled the trigger on a new 2019 Tacoma SR 4x4. I would have loved to spend more and get a more performance SPEC Tacoma but that just wasn't in the cards for me financially, so that's the platform I'm starting with.

I have been really inspired by Miniorf's build here: https://www.expeditionportal.com/forum/threads/tacoma-aluminum-pop-up.137366/ and also spent a lot of time researching GFC's campers. I would have loved to buy one of them outright but $6k is a bit steep for me, and the 14 month lead time won't work as I'm taking 6 weeks off this summer to try and get south and spend some time on the coast before starting school.

What I've ended up with is a hybrid simplified GFC concept that has a Steel frame, Aluminum hinging pop-up frame, and uses Plascore Honey Comb Fiberglass panels for all floors, walls, and roof. I have done a pretty detailed Costing and BOM (I do product development for work) that I'm happy to share along with the CAD files I've made in planning the build.

Some reasons I veered away from GFC's style in this concept:
  1. Insulation - the honeycomb panels from Plascore are inherently insulative and cost was comparable to aluminum of not cheaper. I am hoping that making all walls/floors/ceiling out of this material will keep this thing warm in the winter as I'd love to ski and surf out of it. You can check out this material here: https://www.plascore.com/download/datasheets/plascore_panels/Plascore-Thermoplastic-TP-Panels.pdf
  2. Frame - I decided to go with a rectangular tube and bar steel frame. The biggest advantage here is simplicity and welding time. By going with this type of frame I can cut all of the tube and bar myself and get those parts prepped then the plan is to bang out the frame in one day with the welder to minimize cost (his suggestion).
  3. Extruded Pop-up Frame - This is a winner of a concept from GFC because of how it will interface with the plastic hinges keep the frame as light as possible. I'm going with 80/20 15 series extrusions and using their pivot arm assemblies for the hinge.

What I really liked about this approach to a pop up camper is how light weight it could be and how utilitarian it is. I really wanted to function to drive the form on this build.

I've partnered up with a local welder to kick off the frame in the coming weeks, have ordered all of the panels from Plascore (so now I've very committed). I have told just about anyone who asks about my plan (with a lot of stoke). Excited to share it here so that anyone who is interested can learn from it, riff on it in their own designs.

Long Term I'm planning a Solar and Battery set up with LED lighting, and a Propex Heater, but phase one is just get this thing done.

That's probably enough for now, here's some renders I made up of the model. More to come!
 

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beachchefguy

New member
Dude this is awesome. I was literally just looking at a GSC a few minutes ago. They’re awesome but way expensive. What will you have in this one? Also who is doing the canvas?
 

F350joe

Adventurer
Great design. I would like to build something similar but with hard folding walls for the pop up. Save a little money and go with a Buddy heater and a propane water heater. spent a year in school surfing half moon on weekends, I would be so cold that I couldn’t even get the keys in the door. Transferred to San Diego and have never left. I don’t know how you cold water guys do it.
 

Surftransplant

New member
Dude this is awesome. I was literally just looking at a GSC a few minutes ago. They’re awesome but way expensive. What will you have in this one? Also who is doing the canvas?
I am doing the canvas myself out of marine grade vinyl with vinyl keder rope and mesh screens. If you check out the BOM I have the materials in there I’m getting from Seattle fabrics. I was a sailmaker for 3 years and have access to some industrial machines and hotglue so that is my plan.

All in right now is about $3800 I’ll be updating the total in the BOM as it changes.

GFCs are so rad, definitely have a ton of respect for them. Thanks for the support dude!
 

Surftransplant

New member
Great design. I would like to build something similar but with hard folding walls for the pop up. Save a little money and go with a Buddy heater and a propane water heater. spent a year in school surfing half moon on weekends, I would be so cold that I couldn’t even get the keys in the door. Transferred to San Diego and have never left. I don’t know how you cold water guys do it.
Thanks bud! Hard folding walls would be rad, especially in bad weather. In terms of weight and cost sticking with vinyl made sense for me on this build but I’m all about weatherproofing, if you can make hard walls work do it! Looking forward to trying my hand at some vinyl welding.

Haha that’s rad you were in HMB. I loved surfing there. I have a similar story about keys but I couldn’t start my car haha. It’s even colder up here but sad to say the surf isn’t quite as good. San Diego is prime, hoping to make it down there in this thing before I start school.
 

F350joe

Adventurer
Thanks bud! Hard folding walls would be rad, especially in bad weather. In terms of weight and cost sticking with vinyl made sense for me on this build but I’m all about weatherproofing, if you can make hard walls work do it! Looking forward to trying my hand at some vinyl welding.

Haha that’s rad you were in HMB. I loved surfing there. I have a similar story about keys but I couldn’t start my car haha. It’s even colder up here but sad to say the surf isn’t quite as good. San Diego is prime, hoping to make it down there in this thing before I start school.
Message me if you are looking for someone to surf with when you are in town. Would love to check out the build.
 

The Artisan

Adventurer
Great design. I would like to build something similar but with hard folding walls for the pop up. Save a little money and go with a Buddy heater and a propane water heater. spent a year in school surfing half moon on weekends, I would be so cold that I couldn’t even get the keys in the door. Transferred to San Diego and have never left. I don’t know how you cold water guys do it.
I have a patent pending hardside poptopper coming out if you do not want to make your own. Photoshop of design on a 4 runner
Kevin523070
 

SDDiver5

Expedition Leader
I assume you searched for used FWC in your areas? What about Callen campers or any of those types? Why did you decide to custom?
Whats your estimated total weight?
 

Surftransplant

New member
I assume you searched for used FWC in your areas? What about Callen campers or any of those types? Why did you decide to custom?
Whats your estimated total weight?
I did do a little hunting, one of the challenges is that the Bed Rail profile of the Gen 3 Tacoma's is different so most campers made for Gen 2 Tacoma's don't fit and there aren't many used one's available yet.

Given that it's already a mid size truck I didn't want to give up more space by doing a slide in camper.

Callen Campers look great but I was a bit concerned about overloading the truck given it just has the stock SR 4 Cylinder.

Total Weight is looking like 330 lbs right now.

Building my own is also just a project that I got really excited about. I enjoy the process of planning and designing. Right now it looks like it should come in around $4k too which I feel like is pretty good considering a Nice new ARE or Snug Top is almost $3k without nearly as much space or the features I really want like insulation.
 
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SDDiver5

Expedition Leader
I did do a little hunting, one of the challenges is that the Bed Rail profile of the Gen 3 Tacoma's is different so most campers made for Gen 2 Tacoma's don't fit and there aren't many used one's available yet.

Given that it's already a mid size truck I didn't want to give up more space by doing a slide in camper.

Callen Campers look great but I was a bit concerned about overloading the truck given it just has the stock SR 4 Cylinder.

Total Weight is looking like 330 lbs right now.

Building my own is also just a project that I got really excited about. I enjoy the process of planning and designing. Right now it looks like it should come in around $4k too which I feel like is pretty good considering a Nice new ARE or Snug Top is almost $3k without nearly as much space or the features I really want light insulation.
All are valid reasons and 330 pounds is legit! Best of luck I look forward to seeing your build.
 

shirk

Member
The use of the 80/20 for the top portion is a good idea. How long do you figure you can cantilever it out over the cab? Personally on any of these designs I'd personally like to see the portion over the cab as long as possible. With two kids and two adults we'll be squeezing four of us something like this.
 
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