My Favorite Pop-Up Slide-In Truck Camper Design

slide in pop up truck camperOf all the RV/camper designs, my favorite is the Pop-Up Slide-In Truck Camper.

Here’s why I like ’em:

  • Off-Road Capability — By putting a slide-in camper on an off-road truck, you can access more remote areas than you ever could with a traditional small-wheeled vehicle.
  • Fuel Efficiency – The low profile saves gas by virtue of its reduced frontal area, which is the largest contributor to wind resistance.

Off-road readiness is important to me, because my main motivation for the nomadic lifestyle — beyond my monastic drive to “live simply” — is digging for fossils, gold, and gemstones. i.e. I’m a rockhound. I drive a Tacoma Prerunner, and I want to be able to get to those remote sites, “drop anchor” and spend a few days or weeks exploring the territory and digging.

And though I don’t spend that many days driving, the distance between sites is significant enough that I do find myself on fast country roads and freeways where wind resistance becomes a serious factor.

Phoenix Camper PULSE

Phoenix Camper’s PULSE Self Contained

So the pop-top design is a really clever way to not only keep the frontal area down for the drive, but also keep the center of gravity low for off-road stability. For my purposes, the combination is tough to beat.

I’ve figured out that there are quite a few companies who will custom-build these pop-up slide-in campers. The aluminum frame campers are pretty impressive.

But the really big variable in my opinion is the interior design. Some companies do a much better job at efficiently fitting the essentials into that little space. The most impressive I’ve seen is Phoenix Camper’s PULSE design that incorporates both a toilet and shower into a 6’x5′ floor plan. They do it by combining them into one unit, as a sit-down shower.

Here’s a quote from an interview with the designer:

I had a Tacoma customer who wanted a fully self contained camper. He only had a six-foot bed, did not want the camper to go beyond the tail lights of the truck, but he did want hot water, shower, cassette toilet, kitchen cabinets, and all of the other amenities that people often want including a refrigerator, jacks, converter, stove, and two separate beds. He wanted a camper where three adults could sleep and still have a restroom.

The video below shows off one of those designs. I love looking at them for ideas for when I build my own DIY truck camper.

Update: I still love this design, but it’s is no longer my absolute favorite truck camper, now that I’ve seen the Wedgetail out of Australia. 

About the author:

“Boondocking vagabond” Mobile Rik is converting his Toyota Tacoma into a DIY Truck Camper stripped of unnecessary “modern conveniences” and outfitted with sustainable hacks for desert camping, including electricity-free refrigeration, waste composting, and ample sun-powered cookery and computing. Stay tuned for the full article!

One thought on “My Favorite Pop-Up Slide-In Truck Camper Design

  1. Note that I have no affiliation with Phoenix Campers, but of all the customer camper builders who make this style of slide-in pop-top truck camper (the ones with the bird names like Raven, Hawk, etc.) I’ve been most impressed with their designs.

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