The 2021 Truck Camper Adventure Boondocking in the Desert Rally in Quartzsite, Arizona enjoyed a record showing in what was probably the largest truck camper rally ever held. Consisting of 173 attendees and 107 campers of all makes and models, the big outdoor event was held 11-14 February at the Roadrunner Wash BLM Area 6 miles south of Quartzsite. The event consisted of workshops and classes, a sponsored raffle with over $6,000 in prizes, campfire socials, and a truck camper open house on Sunday. No admission was charged for the big outdoor event.
“This was our first time at a truck camper rally and our first time traveling with our truck camper,” said Russ and Amy Taylor who attended the rally from Michigan in their Four Wheel Camper Hawk. “This rally was extremely informative and we met a lot of great people who quickly became our travel buddies. It was an awesome first exposure to the truck camper culture. We will be back next year! Classes were very educational and TCA did a fabulous job organizing and providing an awesome atmosphere.”
The four-day-long rally drew 107 truck campers of all makes and models, including a good mix of hard-side campers and pop-ups. As expected, industry heavyweight, Lance Campers, topped out the list with a total of 20 truck campers with a tie for second place going to Four Wheel Campers and Northwood Manufacturing (Arctic Fox and Wolf Creek) with 10 campers apiece. Third place went to NuCamp with a total of nine Cirrus campers in attendance.
As for the other makes at the TCA rally, eight campers were made by Host Campers, eight by Northstar, six by Northern Lite, six by Nimbl Vehicles, four by Bundutec, four by Alaskan, three by Adventurer Manufacturing (Eagle Cap and Adventurer), three by Hallmark RV, three by Alpenlite, two by Palomino, and two by Outfitter RV. Other makes with single entries included Kimbo, Northland, Sunlite, Fleetwood, Dolphin, Kingstar, Hiatus, and Weekender. In a pleasant change from last year, four DIY campers and their owners were also on display.
Among the campers represented at TCA’s 2nd annual rally were two brand-new truck camper models shown by company representatives: the Kingstar Camino 88, shown by Kingstar owner, Marcus Niemela, and the Nimbl Vehicle Evolution, shown by Nimbl Vehicle owner, Jon Turner. Also on display was Les Weingarten’s Northern Lite 10-2 sporting a brand-new SherpTek flatbed and a Buckstop winch bumper with a spare tire mount.
Campers at the rally were separated into two groups: one group for solar powered rigs, the other for those needing to run a generator.
With plenty of space, the Roadrunner Wash BLM Area is a perfect location to hold a rally. The spacious area allows attendees to park close or far from the main gathering area. Because of this, the photos shown don’t accurately convey the number of campers at the rally. Several smaller groups of campers and singles camped away from the main group to maintain social distancing. Moreover, some attendees arrived later and some had to leave early. Many shuttled their rigs to and from Quartzsite during the show to take on supplies, make repairs, and dump tanks.
The 2021 Boondocking in the Desert Rally included a number of activities. Due to COVID-19, neither the potluck dinner nor the dessert social were held this year, but numerous classes and workshops were still held. Topics included two workshops on tire repair and winching by Bob Wohlers of Discover Off-Roading, battery charging and DIY camper construction by Steve Hericks, solar power and boondocking by Mello Mike, solar cooking by Nancy Brinkman, Omnia Stovetop cooking by Karen Smith, an introduction to the Nimbl Vehicle Evolution by Jon Turner, Basic Knitting by Andrea Caruolo, Basic First Aid by Kevin MacAfee, Gas vs Diesel by Jeff Reynolds, and Off-Road Basics by John Reynolds. Campfire socials were also held each night to help “break the ice” each with a specific theme, including favorite truck camper mods, adventure stories, and best boondocking tips.
The weather during the rally was nearly perfect with temperatures in the upper 60s and low to mid 70s though heavy wind gusts did wreak havoc with some afternoon and evening activities on the 12th and 13th.
Product demonstrations were also offered by two sponsors: StableCamper, which unveiled its brand-new flatbed utility box, and CamperCradle, which demonstrated how its new truck camper loading system works. More will be revealed about the both products soon here on Truck Camper Adventure.
“The Truck Camper Adventure Rally was amazing,” said full-timers, Scott Gregson and Sasha Bezer, who attended the rally in their Cirrus 920. “We didn’t know what to expect since it was our first rally. The atmosphere was relaxed, friendly and educational! We met and talked to more truck camper owners in a few days than we have in the last two years! We have new friends, new skills and a renewed sense of community with our campers. The event has been a highlight of our travels and we will be sure to return next year!”
The second TCA raffle did not disappoint with a number of high-quality products being donated by sponsors of the event. The raffled prizes included two 100 amp hour lithium batteries by Expion360, a set of Torklift FastGuns, a Weboost Drive X RV Cell Booster System, a set of Rebel SumoSprings by Supersprings, two StableCamper $500 gift certificates, a Tire Pressure Monitoring System by Truck Systems Technologies, a CamperCradle gift certificate, a laser-engraved RV table by SmithCreek Mill, two Omnia Stovetop Ovens, a Froli Modular Sleep System, a Scrubba Wash Bag. BattleBorn Batteries, GoSun, FoodSaver, Truck Systems Technolgies, and Truck Camper Adventure pitched in with a load of prizes and swag as well. In total, raffled prizes exceeded $6,000.
Proceeds from the donation-only raffle will go to improving future rallies. For example, feather flags will be purchased to help guide attendees to the rally location, which was a bit difficult to find for some since the BLM area had no campground host. Next year the plan is to provide ditty bags with handouts, swag, and stickers as well.
All attendees at the 2021 Truck Camper Adventure Rally received a badge and a rally sticker. Truck Camper Adventure T-shirts and a new bumper sticker were also sold at the rally.
Without a doubt, the truck camper open house was one of the highlights of the rally. The truck camper open house allowed attendees to view and inspect other makes and models of truck campers like an RV show. Attendees not only were inspired on how to modify their own campers, but were also able to see the floorplans and the construction methods used by other truck camper manufacturers. A few attendees even said it was time to buy a new camper based upon what they saw at the truck camper open house.
Unfortunately, the El Camino Del Diablo overland caravan scheduled immediately after the rally had to be cancelled. The special use permit, requested for 20 campers, was denied by the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge the day before the rally due to the size of the group and COVID. Smaller groups, consisting of no more than six campers, would be allowed on the refuge at any one time and that each group be spaced every 24 hours. With this limitation and several participants being limited by time, the decision was made to split into two groups with four exploring the El Camino Del Diablo and nine exploring the Bradshaw Trail simultaneously.
Due to the increasing popularity and size of the TCA rally in Quartzsite, an important decision was made with regard to future rallies. In the future, Overland caravans will no longer be a part of the main rally. Instead, future caravans will be held separately as either as stand-alone trip in either the Spring or Fall.
Feedback was solicited in an effort to improve future rallies. Suggestions included classes on water filtration, self protection and gun safety, full-timing in a truck camper, photography, a GVWR and payload rating seminar, and roof maintenance.
As for the variety of campers that turned out for the second annual rally, we were very pleased. With a few exceptions, the rally had a good representation from all the major truck camper companies. Last year we had zero Four Wheel Campers and Cirrus campers, this year we had 10 and nine campers, respectively. Everyone enjoyed seeing the brand-new models as well as some of older ones. One thing we’d like to see is more classic truck campers. We did have three classics—a 1974 Alaskan 10, a 1970s Dolphin Camper, and an unidentified make from the 1970’s, but more would’ve been better. We’re still waiting for an old Avion to show.
“One would never know that the slide-in truck camper segment of the RV industry was last in popularity after participating in The Truck Camper Adventure rally,” said Marcus Niemela, owner of Kingstar Campers. “TCA put on a one-two punch of daily seminars of all things truck campers by folks ‘in the know’ as well as a raffle with prizes that would almost build a camper! Most of all, it was a fun-filled, family event from all walks of life! We are already looking forward to the rally in 2022!”