Building a Great Overland Expedition Truck Camper Rig (Part II)

Truck Camper Adventure Presents Our Favorite Rigs

This is Part II of a two-part article. Part I, which outlines the specifics of building a great truck camper rig, can be found by clicking here.

IV. Overland Expedition Truck Camper Rig Favorites

At this point, you may feel a bit overwhelmed with all of the information we’ve presented. Everything from storage capacities, GVWRs, amp hours, and center of gravity to DC loads, BTUs, wheel ratings, and tank capacities need to be considered when building-out your rig. And this is just the scratching the surface. To illustrate the concepts that we’ve taught, we present eight rigs already built-out. Both regular slide-in and flatbed slide-in truck campers are presented. You’ll also notice that the campers are mounted on 3/4-ton and one-ton trucks. We did this on purpose, as this ensures you’ll have a rig that is safe even when fully loaded and completely fueled up. Accordingly, there are no payload cheaters or unsafe rigs here—each rig is well below the GVWR and payload rating of each truck. The price point of these rigs also falls within the range of what we consider reasonable. As such, you won’t find any $450,000 EarthRoamers in this list. So without further adieu, here are eight great overland expedition truck camper rigs, presented in no particular order or ranking.

Lance 825 Flatbed Rig

A top seller at Lance, the Lance 825 provides all of the essentials needed to camp comfortably without the burden of hauling scale-tipping slide-outs. The dry weight of this aluminum-framed, short-bed truck camper is a svelte 1,832 pounds, making it ideal for most 3/4-ton trucks, even when fully loaded. The floor plan of the Lance 825 features a north-south queen size bed, a full-size dinette, a well-equipped kitchenette, a large wardrobe, and a small wet-bath with a shower. Standard features include a Dometic three-way 3-cubic foot refrigerator with stainless steel refrigerator panels, a two-burner stainless steel cook-top, an Atwood 18,000 BTU propane fired furnace, an Atwood 6-gallon water heater, and a sleek-looking, molded TPO nose cap. The tank capacities of the Lance 825 are fairly large with 36 gallons of fresh water (including the water heater), a 13-gallon grey water tank, a 14-gallon black tank, and a 5-gallon propane tank. The camper comes with only one group-27 battery box, but the compartment is large enough to be modified to fit two larger group-31 batteries if desired. The MSRP for the Lance 825 is only $23,838. The camper is shown here mounted on a 2016 Ram 3500 4×4 quad cab pickup chassis outfitted with Falken size 37 mud-terrain tires, an AEV 4-inch lift, an AEV Raised Air Intake, a Highway Products custom flatbed with nine storage boxes and a size-37 spare tire mount amidships, and an AEV front bumper.

Four Wheel Camper Flatbed Hawk Pop-Up

Based out of Woodland, California, Four Wheel Campers builds one of the best, most durable pop-up campers in the industry. Shown here is rig consisting of a Four Wheel Camper Flatbed Hawk and a 2008 Ram 2500 built by AT Overland in Prescott, Arizona. With its narrow girth and angled rear kick back, the Flatbed Hawk is completely at home in the extreme off-road environment. The camper is only 59 inches high with the pop-up down, weighs a paltry 1,325 pounds dry, and only 2,100 pounds fully loaded. Highlights include an east-west 72×78-inch bed, a small kitchenette, an Isotherm 1.7 cubic foot three-way refrigerator, and a large dinette in the rear. Popular options include a Wrappon Green 12 volt portable toilet, a dual battery box, an indoor shower, an Isotherm 65, 85, or 130 liter DC compressor refrigerator, several exterior color choices, and an excellent 320 watt solar power option to extend your time off-grid. The only real negative with the Flatbed Hawk is the small size of the fresh water holding tank—it’s only 20 gallons—but this capacity can easily be expanded by installing another fresh water tank in the flatbed. Pricing for the Flatbed Hawk starts at a very affordable $25,995. The Ram 2500 shown here is outfitted with an AT Overland aluminum service tray with a spare tire carrier mounted amidships, an ARB front bumper, a 42 gallon auxiliary diesel fuel tank, an Icon 6-inch lift, and Continental size 37 mud-terrain tires.

Alaskan 8.5 Hard-Top Pop-Up

The Alaskan 8.5 Cabover is a superb example of a great all-season, overland expedition pop-up. Unlike the traditional pop-up, which has canvas sides, the patented pop-top on an Alaskan camper features a “solid wall” design with a hydraulic mechanism that raises and lowers the entire top of the camper. Inside this well-insulated, long-bed camper you’ll find a gorgeous leather dinette, a wood-paneled ceiling, and attractive maple cabinets. You’ll also find a generous amount of overhead storage and counter top space inside—more than many hard-side models. Standard features in this 1,805-pound camper include a large, 2.5 cubic foot 3-way refrigerator, a 5 gallon propane tank, and a 27 gallon fresh water tank. One group-24 battery comes standard, but as many as two can be added as an option. Popular options include a Thetford C-200 swivel cassette toilet, a Zamp 160 watt solar power system, a 4-gallon water heater, a Suburban 20,000 BTU furnace, and LED lighting. When you buy an Alaskan camper, you’re getting a well-built camper that’s made to last. A good number of Alaskan campers built-in the 1960s are still on the road today. Can also be ordered in a flatbed configuration with a side entry. The Alaskan 8.5-foot Cabover model goes for $30,069. The camper is shown mounted on a 2017 GMC 3500 4×4 outfitted with a Protech flatbed with side storage boxes.

Bundutec Odyssey Flatbed Pop-Up

Interested in a semi-custom, flatbed camper for more interior space and storage? Well, Rory Willet at Bundutec builds perhaps the coolest looking flatbed pop-up campers in the industry. Featuring a side-entry and a 12-inch, 45 degree rear kick back, the Odyssey is a brand new design built originally for the Australian market. The 6-foot 9 inch floorplan features a compressor refrigerator in front, a north-south queen-size bed with lift up under-bed storage, a face-to-face dinette in the rear, a kitchenette on the driver’s side, and a Thetford cassette toilet on the passenger side. Standard features of this rugged, wood-framed camper include a 27-gallon fresh water tank, an exterior shower, an exterior slide-out storage tray in the rear, a Dometic 3-cubic foot compressor refrigerator, a stainless steel sink, and window and door screens fine enough to keep out annoying “no-see-ums.” Bundutec offers a host of options, including a Zamp 320 watt solar power system, a dual battery box, and the Truma Combi, the revolutionary water heater furnace that not only saves on weight and space, but is also whisper quiet when in operation. The Odyssey lists for $24,680, a bargain when you consider all that you get for the money. The Odyssey is shown here mounted on a 2015 Ram 3500 4×4 quad cab chassis with a custom, alum-line flatbed tray.

EarthCruiser EXD Expedition Pop-Up

Based out of Bend, Oregon, EarthCruiser offers a complete line of high-end expedition rigs and pop-up campers for the overland market. The EXD is EarthCruiser’s newest offering. The rig can be built as either a chassis-mount or as a flatbed. The owner supplies the truck chassis. Constructed of a surprisingly strong composite fiberglass, the EXD weighs only 2,500 pounds dry and is only 6 feet 7.5 inches wide. The 10-foot floorplan features a massive U-shape dinette with underbed storage that doubles as the master bed, a large kitchen, 6 feet 8 inches of interior head room, and a huge wetbath with an entryway, walk-through shower. Standard features include a 48-gallon fresh water holding tank, a 12 gallon grey water holding tank, a Thetford cassette toilet, electrically operated entry stairs and roof, a 180 amp hour lithium battery system, an Isotherm 4.2 cubic foot compressor refrigerator, an induction cooktop, and a diesel operated Webasto furnace and water heater. Also features kinetic mounting and a pass through for 2017 and domestic pickup trucks. Options are numerous and include solar power system of various sizes, a 360 amp hour lithium battery bank, a “batwing-style” awning, a water purification system, a composting toilet, and a 12 volt DC high-output air conditioner. Built for long-bed full-size trucks. The price for the EXD is expected to top $110,000. The EarthCruiser EXD is shown here mounted on a 2017 Ford F-350 3500 4×4 quad cab chassis with Toyo size-35 tires and an ECB bumper imported from Australia.

XP Camper V1 Flatbed Pop-Up

The V1 is XP Camper’s first design and it has stood the test of time as one of the most popular overland expedition rigs ever built. This seamless monocoque, flatbed pop-up was designed with the one-ton truck in mind. The great thing about this particular pop-up, is that the top is made of a hard shell composite, which provides optimum strength and insulation in winter, only the front wrap is made of canvas. An electric lift quickly and easily raises the top of the camper to provide 6 feet 6 inches of headroom. The floorplan of the V1 is pretty spacious as well with a queen size bed with underbed storage, a large kitchen, a large wet bath with cassette toilet, and a nice size dinette. The V1 is perfect for long-term expeditions and travel as evidenced by its massive 75-gallon fresh water tank and large, 27-gallon grey water tank. Like most of high-end overland expedition rigs, the V1 offers a Webasto hydronic dual diesel furnace and water heater, a 5-gallon Thetford cassette toilet, a massive battery bay capable of storing four 6 volt AGM golf cart batteries, and a high-tech command center with a 520 watt solar power system. The cost of the V1 installed is $120,925, including XP Campers’ custom flatbed tray. The XP V1 is shown here mounted on a 2005 Ram 3500 4×4 quad cab chassis with a Buckstop front bumper.

Outfitter Apex 8 Pop-Up

Made for short-bed, 3/4-ton pickup trucks, the Outfitter Apex 8 is a popular choice with off-road enthusiasts looking to get far off the beaten path. The construction of this 1,415-pound camper features an insulated, one piece composite fiberglass body and comes with an electric roof lift with a manual over-ride. One feature of the Apex 8 that we really like is its spacious, 80-inch cabover with a pull out drawer. This drawer can be used either for storage or as a bed for children. The choice is yours. The Apex 8 also has a fully enclosed, heated basement housing a large 44 gallon fresh water tank, a 16 gallon gray water tank, and a 16 gallon black water tank. The bathroom is fairly large for a pop-up, too. In addition to a marine grade porcelain toilet, the bathroom also has a full-size shower and a sink. The battery box in the Apex can hold only one battery, but in the ones we’ve seen another battery box can be added quite easily. The floor length of this well-equipped pop-up is a spacious 8 feet and the camper is only 7.2 feet wide. The best options include a NovaKool 7.5 cubic foot compressor refrigerator, an Onan 2500 onboard generator, a Yakima Roof Rack, an 80-inch cabover hide-a-bed, a 95 watt solar power system, and a 2,000 watt pure sine wave inverter. Base price is $33,690. Shown here is an Apex 8 mounted on a standard 2002 Ram 2500 4×4 crew cab pickup truck.

Northstar Laredo SC

The truck camper we own, the Northstar Laredo SC is one of the best hard-side non-slide truck campers in the industry. With a dry weight of 2,090 pounds, a floor length of 8.5 feet, and a width of 7 feet, the camper is a perfect match for all one-ton and many 3/4-ton trucks. The Laredo’s floorplan features a U-shaped dinette forward, a large and spacious kitchen, a small bathroom, a massive wardrobe, and a north-south queen size bed. Standouts include the Lagun swing away table, a three-way 3.7-cubic foot refrigerator, four Dometic Seitz thermal pane windows, a 26-inch wide entry door, and a 5-gallon Thetford cassette toilet, a feature we love here at Truck Camper Adventure. Rex Willet, the owner of Northstar Campers, calls the Laredo the “best boondocking camper on the planet.” Hyperbole? Sure, but the Laredo does have excellent tank capacities with a big 39-gallon fresh water tank, a 14-gallon gray water tank, and a compartment large enough to house two 5-gallon propane tanks. Available for both short-bed and long-bed trucks and constructed entirely of wood, the only real negative with the Northstar Laredo is its dated oak interior—a facelift is badly needed in all Northstar campers. The MSRP for the base model is only $24,485. Shown here is a Northstar Laredo SC mounted on a standard 2013 Ram 3500 4×4 quad cab pickup truck with a Buckstop front bumper.

Note: This is a major update to an article published in August 2015 under the same name.

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About Mello Mike 454 Articles
Mello Mike is an Arizona native, author, and the founder of Truck Camper Adventure. He's been RV'ing since 2002, is a Jeep and truck camper enthusiast, and has restored several Airstream travel trailers. He currently drives a 2013 Ram 3500 4x4 pickup truck with a 2016 Northstar Laredo solar powered truck camper mounted on top. He enjoys football, music, hiking, travel, photography, and fishing. He retired from the U.S. Navy in 2004 as a CWO3 after 24 years, worked in project management until 2017, and now runs this website full-time. He also does some consulting and RV inspections on the side.

2 Comments

  1. If you can afford new an F350 chassis cab is your answer. The frame extends only 60” behind the cab.
    You do have to put a custom bed on but you did say “optimal”, right? An XL or XLT trim F350 can be had
    for below $50K with a gas engine.

  2. I am still in research mode. After reading many blogs, forums, and articles, I am planning on looking for a F350 short bed, extended cab gas powered truck. Only problem, they don’t exist. If they are the optimal expedition truck, why don’t they exist new or used? Truck camper yet to be determined, waiting to see what the new Cirrus short bed will look like.

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