Truck Camper Adventure’s inaugural “Boondocking in the Desert” truck camper rally, held February 7-9 in Quartzsite, Arizona, was by all accounts a big success. A total of 98 people from 21 states, the Netherlands, and Canada attended the big, three-day rally, which consisted of activities and classes with a two-day, overland road trip on the 4×4 Bradshaw Trail held immediately thereafter.
The free rally was held at the Roadrunner Wash BLM area 6 miles south of town.
“The rally was fantastic,” said Thom Price, Coloradoan and owner of an Outfitter Apex 8.5. “The camaraderie was beautiful, like-minded people getting together and having a great time. It was just so great. Every single person I talked to said the exact same thing. Everyone is already looking forward to next year’s rally.
The rally drew 55 campers of all makes, including a good mix of hard-side campers and pop-ups. Lance Campers topped out the list with a total of 14 truck campers with a tie for second place going to Northstar and Northwood Manufacturing (Arctic Fox) with nine campers apiece. As for the other makes, three campers were made by Host Campers, three by Hallmark RV, two campers by Alaskan, two by Northern Lite, two by Alpenlite, one by Bundutec, one Eagle Cap by ALP, one Palomino, one camper by Outfitter Manufacturing, one by Bigfoot, one by Camplite, one by Citation, one by Coachman, one by S&S, one camper by Six Pack, and one camper shell by Trader.
People traveled from all points on the compass to attend the rally. A total of 14 truck campers were registered in California, 11 in Arizona, four in Alaska, four campers in Colorado, two in Nevada, two in Oregon, two in Texas, two campers in South Dakota, one in Washington state, one in Iowa, one in Massachusetts, one in Arkansas, one in Missouri, one camper in Tennessee, one in Pennsylvania, one in New York, one camper in Louisiana, one in Florida, one in Michigan, one in Rhode Island, and one camper in Minnesota. One camper was registered in Ontario, Canada.
A popular RV rally point in January, some trepidation was involved with holding the rally in Quartzsite. In order to avoid any conflicts with other rallies and with the thousands who attend the annual Quartzsite Big Tent show in late January, the date for the Truck Camper Adventure rally was pushed out to February 7. Meeting later worked well because a good percentage of the crowds in and around Quartzsite had already dispersed to other locations, leaving the Roadrunner Wash BLM area virtually empty. As for the location, we couldn’t have been more pleased. The place where we met could’ve handled 200 campers easily.
The TCA Boondocking in the Desert Rally included a number of activities. The itinerary included dessert and potluck dinners, a chili cookoff, a large raffle, campfire socials, and an open house to tour campers. Plenty of leisure time was left in the schedule to relax and socialize. The schedule of events included several classes as well. Topics included product demonstrations by StableCamper owners, Jared and Candice Sund, classes on boondocking and the benefits of lithium batteries by Mello Mike, a class on the Omnia Stovetop Oven by Karen Smith, a class on Truck Camper Off-Roading by Jeff Reynolds, a class on touring Baja Mexico by Jim Helmer, and a roundtable discussion on truck camper modification favorites.
The roundtable on truck camper modifications was particularly interesting. Mod favorites included lithium batteries, roof top solar panels, an AC/DC compressor refrigerator, a solar suitcase, a slide-out pantry, an on-demand water heater, a new Serta mattress, Timbrens, a Buckstop Winch Bumper, underseat storage, a fresh water holding tank access port, a porta pottie, a wireless thermostat for the refrigerator, adjustable wood shelving, a Victron Bluetooth battery monitor, an underseat subwoofer for music, and a Truma Combi Water Heater Furnace.
Without a doubt, the truck camper open house was one of the highlights of the rally. Taking a page from the Airstream community, the truck camper open house allows attendees to view and inspect other makes and models of truck campers like an RV show. Attendees not only were inspired on how to mod-out 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 by what they had seen at the open house.
The first TCA raffle did not disappoint with a number of high-quality products being donated by rally sponsors. The raffled prizes included a set of Torklift FastGuns, a Hellwig Big Wig Sway Bar, a Weboost Drive X RV Cell Booster System, two lithium battery packs from Expion360, two Omnia Stovetop Ovens, a Froli Modular Sleep System, a Scrubba Wash Bag, and several StableCamper truck camper storage products. Lance, BundutecUSA, and Truck Camper Adventure pitched in with a load of swag as well. Donations received from the 2020 raffle will help fund future rallies.
Feedback was solicited in an effort to improve future rallies. Suggestions included classes on water filtration, self protection, gun safety, and first aid. Others suggested getting a raffle tumbler, renting a large tent or canopy to keep attendees out of the sun, renting a temporary dumpster, designing and selling a TCA Rally Sticker, keeping dogs leashed, and adding the city and states to attendee name tags. One attendee suggested that a horn be sounded to alert everyone that a class was about to start. Another attendee suggested that a class be held on sizing and wiring up a truck camper solar power system. Several expressed a desire to pass around a contact list so everyone could stay in contact with each other. One thing we will definitely do next year is award prizes for the best-looking truck camper rigs.
As for the variety of campers that turned out, Truck Camper Adventure was very pleased. With a few exceptions, we had a good representation from all the major truck camper companies. Everyone enjoyed seeing new models as well as older ones. One thing we’d like to see is more classic truck campers. We did have three classics—an old Six Pack D650, a 1999 S&S 9.5, and a rare Coachman Ranger 115RB, but more would’ve been better. We’d especially love to see some old Alaskans and Avions at future TCA rallies. We were disappointed that no NuCamp Cirrus, Four Wheel Camper, or ALP Adventurer owners had signed up. Maybe next year.
Overall, Truck Camper Adventure is pleased with how the event turned out. Everyone who we spoke with told us they had a great time and were already looking forward to next year’s rally. The positive feedback made all of the time and effort in planning a rally of this size worth it. Future Truck Camper Adventure rallies promise to be even better. Even though we’d like to see the rally grow, we don’t want to see it grow too much. Several others who attended agreed.
“I’d love to see this rally grow. I went to one, the NW Overland Rally, that rally had 600 people. That was a lot. The classes were all really great classes and there so many you couldn’t make all the classes that you wanted. So being too big you have to be careful with that, but 100 people would work. Maybe a longer one, maybe more than a weekend would be great,” Thom Price said.
Kirk Harris, Nevadian and owner of an Arctic Fox 811, agreed. “I think adding an additional day or two and a couple more talks and/or activities would be great for next year, maybe try to bring in some product representatives. I’m definitely looking forward to next years event and meeting up with other truck camper folks.”
“Mello Mike and his wife, Karen, deserve special kudos for their hard work in planning and getting this event off the ground,” said Jeff Reynolds, instructor and owner of a Northstar Laredo and one of many Californians who attended the rally. “There were really no glitches, which is truly hard to believe for an event that has no entry fee. This was a great event with something for everyone and I look forward to next year with an even larger attendance. Oh no, did I just say that?”