Ram 2500 Overland Build :: Super Pacific Switchback X1 Truck Camper
Of all the additions I have added to my Ram 2500 overland build, the Super Pacific Switchback X1 truck camper has been the most significant in terms of size and infrastructure. It provides a variety of solutions for vehicle-based travel, all in one neat, well-designed package. But why go with a truck camper when there are so many solutions for adventure travel?
Even while living in a 25-foot Airstream International (for much of 2021), my partner Amanda, and I, were running short on storage. To clarify, we had enough room for the essentials of life but were finding it tough to haul around all of the extra gear that we like to have on hand for recreation: backpacking equipment, climbing gear, paragliders, fishing rods. Unfortunately, none of this stuff is safe riding around indefinitely in the back of an open pickup truck. And the prospect of constantly moving things back and forth between the trailer and the bed of the truck on travel days was something we desperately wanted to avoid.
Exploring trails near Snoqualmie Pass with the Super Pacific Switchback X1.
A tonneau cover was one option, but I had my doubts regarding versatility and durability. There was also the limitation of cargo needing to be shorter than the sides of the truck bed. A fiberglass truck bed topper was the next most likely choice, but I was also concerned with the longevity of fiberglass.
The more I looked at my options, the more I hesitated. Given that the overall footprint and weight of a wedge-style truck camper were not significantly more than a conventional topper, I considered the additional versatility a truck camper would provide. Having a rooftop tent up top meant that I could leave our travel trailer behind and still have a place to sleep with the addition of the secure storage space I needed. When considering these added benefits, a truck camper felt like the obvious choice.
Near Sisters, Oregon, USA.
Features of the Super Pacific Switchback X1
There are a handful of very high-quality wedge-style truck campers on the market right now, but for my needs, Super Pacific’s Switchback X1 offered some smart improvements on the standard designs, all in an aesthetically pleasing finished product. Here are a few of the things that stood out to me the most:
- Built Like an Airplane: The Switchback X1’s fuselage is constructed just like an airplane, using laser-cut aluminum panels and solid rivets. Two major advantages of constructing a camper this way are that rivets do not loosen over time like screws or bolts can. And by using rivets and aluminum panels, the overall weight of the camper is kept to a minimum, approximately 370 pounds for the 6.4-foot bed of the Ram 2500 fitment. These two factors—resistance to constant vibrations and a weight under 400 pounds—are both highly desirable qualities when it comes to vehicle-based adventure travel.
- CNC-Machined Hardware: Instead of repurposing existing hardware, the team at Super Pacific designed custom hinges for the camper doors and corner brackets for the tent platform of the X1. These CNC-routed components are made from billet aluminum, providing a very high strength-to-weight ratio in a simple design that needs little, if no maintenance.
- Electrical-ready: The aluminum fuselage of the X1 camper has the added benefit of wire chases throughout the majority of the camper structure. This means that routing wiring for auxiliary light and electrical systems, like house power or a refrigerator, can be accomplished very easily. Additionally, all four corner structural members of the camper have modular aluminum panels that accommodate auxiliary 12-volt, USB outlets, or electrical switches. There’s also a rear high-center-located LED third brake light on the camper for added visibility on the road.
- Corner Lashing Points: Eight corner lashing points (one in each corner of the camper) provide solid attachments for cam-buckle and ratchet straps. This makes securing cargo in the truck bed easy and provides additional functionality for organizing equipment in camp.
- M6 Threaded Bosses: The camper’s interior has upper and lower rows of evenly spaced M6 threaded bosses. This allows owners to get creative with system and accessory integration inside the camper. There are also some Super Pacific accessories, like laser-cut MOLLE panels, that utilize these attachment points.
- Single Door Latches: Single latches for each door operate dual locking mechanisms for secure closure. All three doors are keyed the same and, once locked, can be easily opened and closed from within the camper without a key.
- Accessories: The Super Pacific team has a rich background in design, and the camper is their canvas. Some accessories that are already available include bolt-in MOLLE panels and sewn cargo bags that integrate with the camper’s door panels.
Staying organized with Super Pacific’s MOLLE panel system.
Putting the Switchback X1 To Use
Since day one, I began enjoying the convenience of secure storage in the bed of the truck, and it’s my most appreciated feature of having the Super Pacific Switchback X1 so far. Not a day goes by in which I don’t generally have something stored in the back of the truck, whether it’s recovery gear, paragliding equipment, or a 12-volt refrigerator.
Perhaps more importantly, though, having the camper installed on the truck has helped me get more excited about taking shorter, impromptu outings. And this reality has been even more apparent since moving out of the Airstream and into a conventional house. Prior to having the Switchback, I was reluctant to do much car camping away, given the hassle of needing to pack a tent and all the other equipment needed for a couple of nights on the trail. But now that the majority of our camping setup can live in the truck, and because our (rooftop) tent sets up in just a few minutes with minimal effort, I am much more willing to head out the door.
There is also a huge savings of effort with the Switchback compared to trailering. It has fewer amenities but allows us to cover more ground, tackle more technical obstacles, and change our travel plans last minute. When you consider these benefits combined with the ability to pick from many more campsite options (versus what was available to us in a 25-foot trailer), the switch from a trailer to a truck camper has been an easy one.
Is There Room For Improvement?
Even the best products have room for improvement, and what kind of an editor would I be if I wasn’t honest about every facet of my experience, both the good and the not so good?
While the wedge-style rooftop tent of the X1 offers some significant advantages in both simplicity and setup speed, it also has a limitation: foot room. Because of the constriction where the roof and floor connect at the front hinge, you won’t be able to utilize the entirety of the tent’s footprint. I’ve found that this isn’t a deal-breaker for my shorter-than-average height because I can shift the mattress forward once I’ve put the modular floor panels in place if I want to fully stretch out. But for someone who is taller, this might present some limitations.
Another observation I’ve made is that I occasionally need to adjust the door closure hardware to ensure that the three doors can close completely and securely. Considering the vibrations generated during off-highway travel, I can’t say this is a big surprise. My assessment is that some Loctite could provide a simple fix. Either way, an updated mechanism with less maintenance would be a welcomed upgrade in a future version of the Switchback.
A Final Word on the Switchback X1
Overall, I’ve been very happy with the addition of the Super Pacific Switchback X1 truck camper to our Ram 2500. It has fulfilled my primary need for secure storage as well as provided the infrastructure that I desired for minimalist vehicle-based adventures. Given that Super Pacific is still a relatively young company, I’m excited to see what kind of improvements they identify and the additional accessories they dream up for their flagship camper.
Be aware that the Switchback is a far cry from a full-featured travel trailer, and it’s definitely not the camper for everyone. However, for those of us who measure our successes in the backcountry in vertical feet, the number of trout on our stringers, or miles of single-track conquered, I suspect that the Switchback will do everything you need and more.