We had a
Phoenix pop up truck camper
for a few years. While we enjoyed where it allowed us to go (and we went lots of
places in it!!), it was plagued with problems. The design, and the execution of
the design, left much to be desired. Pretty much everywhere you looked there
were issues with either how it was designed or how it was built. I would not
recommend buying a Phoenix camper.
What we really
wanted was a Hallmark camper. I had spent
many a night by the campfire kicking myself for buying a Phoenix camper instead
of a Hallmark. The Hallmark design, and the way they are built are far superior
to Phoenix campers. My buddy bought a used Hallmark for half of what I paid for
the Phoenix. The Hallmark is the one on the silver truck in the picture below. I
was jealous. That camper was so much nicer than the Phoenix (on the blue truck
in the picture) - it wasn't even funny. I wanted a Hallmark. More
importantly, Alora wanted a Hallmark. ;-)
One thing that
bothered me about Hallmark was that they have a wooden frame. I really wanted an
aluminum frame on my camper. One day I was talking to a guy at work about
campers and he mentioned that he had seen a new camper that had the basic design
of a Hallmark with some very nice improvements, including an aluminum frame. The
company name was Outfitter. So I dropped by their factory one day to take a
In the spring
of 2003 we replaced the Phoenix camper with an Outfitter Apex camper. This
camper is designed by the same guy who did camper design for Hallmark - he and
his son decided to start their own camper company taking the Hallmark design and
adding some significant improvements. The design of the camper
is outstanding. The limited space afforded a truck bed camper of this nature is
utilized better than any other camper of it's type I have seen. There are design
advancements that no other manufacturer that I have found can even come close
to. The most important design improvement is the "basement". The camper has all
water storage located under the floor. In order to do that the hard sides of the
camper are about 7 inches taller than most pop up truck campers. This allows for
a number of really nice improvements; first and foremost is the door. The door
is much taller than any other camper of this type and the top of my head really
appreciates the difference (anyone who has owned a pop up camper knows what I am
talking about). It also allows for a shower that you can stand up in, which is
really nice, and a LOT more storage under the bed and elsewhere. There is
nothing in the design of this camper I would change, not a thing, and it's
pretty rare for me to run into a product I can say that about. The design
improvements that Outfitter has made over the basic Hallmark design hooked me
instantly, and I shelled out the cash for the camper pretty willingly.
We had a few little
quality control problems with the camper when we first started using it, but the
Outfitter people were really good about fixing them. It's been a long time since
we've had a problem, the bugs seem to be worked out.
Last fall we spent 3
weeks in the camper on a trip that took us to Alaska. The camper logged over
5200 miles by road and 800 miles by boat. The camper performed flawlessly. We
experienced no problems whatsoever.
We have made some
modifications to the camper. This list is not here to point out any real
limitations of the design - trust me, there is no better stock pickup truck
camper on the market. But after spending quite a bit of time in the camper we
have made the following modifications:
* Added 20 gallons
of extra water storage inside and upgraded the water pump. The old water pump is
now mounted in an outside storage area and can be used to pump water into the
main water tank - handy if no pressurized water is available.
* Added a 1400 watt
inverter to power a coffee maker.
* A Yakima rocket
box was mounted to the roof. There are a number of things that we store in here
that I wouldn't normally want in the truck or camper - like a small honda
generator (just in case) and a small extra propane bottle with the correct
attachments to fit the camper's system (this is something we have used a number
of times, highly recommended).
the gray and black water pull valves so they can be used with the camper door
open. This was a bit of a pet peeve with me - newer Apex models have electric
gate valves which I really wish I had!
* Replaced the
stock stereo with a Jensen that has IPOD input and weather radio. I also
replaced the stock speakers (which required pumping foam into the opening to
stop annoying rattles), and added a powered subwoofer.
* Added a
light under the bed. The storage area under the bed is so large that it can be
difficult to see in to.
* Removed the
stock foam rubber "bed" and replaced it with an Air bed. This was a huge
improvement. I put indoor/outdoor carpet down over the wood and hinges that
the bed sits on top of to prevent punctures.
The Salmon Glacier,
We are very happy
with this camper and I wholeheartedly recommend them to anyone that's looking
for a popup camper for their truck. e-mail me if you have any questions about
this camper that you'd like answered by a relatively long time user.
Let me say a few
things about the company itself. These guys stand behind their product and truly
support their customers. I have made quite a few trips to their factory since
purchasing my camper for some repairs, for some advice, and for some parts to
help in modifications that I have made. They have always been extremely helpful
and responsive. Recently I needed a part for my camper - not necessarily a cheap
one. I called and asked them if they could send me two of them (I wanted a
spare). They not only sent them, but they sent them at no charge. I don't
know if that is standard procedure for Outfitter - but I can say that I have
driven away from their factory probably half a dozen times with various parts,
and they have never charged me for any of them. Hmmm. I think I need a new
Outfitter on the
Flint Trail In Utah:
Perched at the Maze
Overlook. If you know where this is count yourself lucky. 45 miles of dirt road
followed by 30+ miles of Jeep trail (Including the flint trail) get you here. I
wonder how many people try to get a camper down here.....
Unedited photo - this really did happen. :-)
Time to go