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Pop Up Truck Campers

 

Update 9/13/11: It's been a while since I updated this page though I answer questions about campers all the time for lots of people. Ever since Outfitter put a link to it on their web page (which didn't bother me at all even though they never asked) I get e-mails all the time from people all over the country asking questions.  It's kind of fun, though I have to admit I have grumbled a few times about some of the questions I get. But for the most part it has been nice to talk to so many people with big plans. :-)

 

So... after 8 years it's time to replace the batteries in my Outfitter camper. The dual  6 volt Trojan T-150 batteries lasted a long time and were definitely a great investment. So I contacted Outfitter to see how much replacement batteries would be and they wanted $186.00 per battery and I'd need two. Wow. They also said they now use Interstate Batteries - I could get them a lot cheaper online, like $50 cheaper each. I found a battery that seems to have better specs that I think I will try. It is a US Battery model #US-125. I can get them locally in Denver for $131 each. I'll report back on how they work out.

 

I popped up the camper today for the first time in a while to get it ready for a trip and found that the roof has been leaking. Ugh. I guess I need to fix that. Also, the laminate materiel that the walls are made of seems to be crumbling. There are all sorts of small pock marks where circles of the material have degraded and are popping off. It's also cracking around the exterior corners. I was hoping for a bit more than 8 years - but what are 'ya going to do? It'll be interesting to see what needs fixing before taking this trip - I haven't used the camper in about 6 months. Hopefully not too much more will need repair and the exterior stuff is mostly cosmetic.

 

Disclaimer: The opinions on this page are my own. I have no association implied or otherwise with any of the companies listed in this article and I am simply stating my own opinions and experiences. Your experiences might be completely different and quite probably will be. I do not recommend taking your expensive camper to some of the places below unless you are willing to risk damage. 

 


 

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 look.

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).

 * Relocated 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, Alaska:

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. graham@idledale.com

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 refrigerator. ;-)

Emerald Lake, Montana:

 

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.....

 

 

 

Panorama Point. Unedited photo - this really did happen. :-)

 

 

 

 

Time to go camping!!