There always seems to be an air of excitement around a new release, whether it’s a new truck, a new toy, or a new model of truck camper. This is especially true at the annual Overland Expo West in Flagstaff, AZ where you can find all three. Of the many truck campers at the Expo, the 2016 BunduCamp built by BundutecUSA, was the one that really grabbed the crowd’s attention. BundutecUSA is a new camper company run by a recognizable face and name in the truck camper industry, Rory Willet. Rory retired from Northstar Campers in 2013, but retirement wasn’t for him, at least not yet. Building truck campers is what Rory knows and loves, so it was no surprise to see him and his company’s display at the recent Overland Expo West. BundutecUSA is the American arm of Bundutec, a South African company specializing in overland equipment. Rory’s company provides truck campers and overland tent trailers to an international market including here in the USA. BundutecUSA’s factory is located in Raymond, Iowa.
I recently had the pleasure to not only talk to Rory about the 2016 BunduCamp pop-up truck camper, but to also get a tour of his new 13,000 square foot factory. Originally designed for the Australian market, the BunduCamp is a medium size short-bed or long-bed pop-up made for three-quarter-ton and one-ton pickup trucks. While some of the photos here show the camper mounted on a long-bed “dually,” this 1,675 pound camper fits perfectly well on short-bed SRW trucks. When you consider Rory’s Northstar roots, it’s no surprise that the BunduCamp features a wood frame structure and hung wall construction typical of the Northstar camper catalog. The starting retail price of the BunduCamp is only $15,700, though the camper we saw at the Overland Expo priced out at $23,000 with every option imaginable. How is the company able to produce such a superior product at such a low price? Rory explained that BundutecUSA is a small operation based in a small town. That means there is very little overhead compared to larger manufacturers which means more savings can be passed on to you, the customer.
What are the differences between a BundutecUSA pop-up truck camper and those made by other companies? Rory pointed out that his campers feature an innovative laminated fiberglass roof with sturdy, box-aluminum roof rails. This roof, he explains, is stronger and longer lasting than the rubber roofs found on most campers. BundutecUSA campers also feature smooth .040-inch aluminum side walls, which are lighter and more durable than regular fiberglass side walls. Another more obvious difference is the color, BundutecUSA campers can be purchased in either gray or white. Rory said that gray is actually the preferred color in Australia. Rory also believes that a camper should have three or four USB and 12 volt charge ports not just one (I wish all manufacturers felt this way). Lastly, the cabinetry in Rory’s campers consist of a lighter yet stronger lumber core, rather than Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF) typically used by other companies. This lumber core is then wrapped in an attractive gray vinyl rather than a cheap paper laminate.
Like most of the truck campers featured at the Overland Expo, the BunduCamp was made with the overlander and off-road enthusiast in mind. Along with the aforementioned laminated roof and aluminum side walls, the camper’s glued and screwed wood frame and solid wood cabinetry means that the camper can endure the harshest environments and terrain on the planet. Indeed, BundutecUSA campers can be found not only in the Australian Outback, but also in Africa’s Kalahari and Namib Deserts. With a width of only 7 feet, a floor length of 8.5 feet, a weight of 1,675 pounds, this low profile rig can tackle some of the most challenging off-road trails in North America, including Moab’s White Rim Trail and California’s Mohave 4×4 Road. The tank capacities are pretty impressive for this medium size pop-up, too, and include a 36 gallon fresh water holding tank, a 4 gallon Suburban water heater, a 5 gallon propane tank, a 12 gallon gray water holding tank, and a 5 gallon Thetford cassette toilet.
The floor plan of the BunduCamp truck camper is well laid out and offers plentiful storage. It features a two-burner stove, a kitchen sink, and a pantry on the driver’s side while both the bathroom and refrigerator cabinet are located on the passenger side. Floor space in the camper is maximized by offering split, “café style” seating, reminiscent of those found in many boats. In addition, the cabover provides not only hamper storage on either side of the 56×80-inch size bed, but also an insulated lift up storage area underneath the bed. One aspect that I particularly like about this camper are the optional overhead roof lockers. This feature maximizes storage in a big way and really adds pop to the interior. Unfortunately, the camper’s floor plan isn’t large enough to accommodate a full size wet bath, but the bathroom area does offer a Thetford C-200 swivel cassette toilet and a decent size bathroom sink as an option. The interior height with the pop top extended is a spacious 6 feet 3 inches high.
One thing that really stands out about the BunduCamp—and all BundutecUSA campers in general—are the numerous refinements and upgrades that come standard. You won’t find any cheap, wood-grain laminates in a BundutecUSA camper, instead what you’ll find are modern looking cabinets with slate gray vinyl overlays and stainless steel airline quality latches. Indeed, the two-tone gray cabinetry and stainless steel accents used throughout give the camper a modern, “Euro” feel. In addition to the upgraded cabinetry, the BunduCamp offers a 56×80-inch memory foam mattress, a Dometic CR-110 12 volt compressor refrigerator, an Rieco-Titan electric roof lift system, complete LED lighting, and a MaxxFan power vent with thermostat and in/out power controls. Another feature worth mentioning are the extra fine window screens found in all windows that are capable of keeping out annoying “no see-ums.” Hard-core overlanders and boondocking enthusiasts will really appreciate this feature and it’s one I wish I had in my camper.
For those who like to boondock and camp off-the-grid, you’ll like what the BunduCamp truck camper has to offer. The camper comes pre-wired for solar. If you’d rather have the factory install a solar power system for you, however, then two lightweight options are offered: a 100 watt flexible solar panel for the roof or a 160 watt portable solar suitcase, some customers have even opted for both. While some may balk at the smallish propane compartment that can hold only a 5 gallon propane tank, this limitation isn’t really an issue since the Dometic CR-110 runs on 12 volt power and the energy saving Truma water heater and furnace combo really saves on propane. As mentioned, the camper comes with a 36 gallon fresh water holding tank and a 4 gallon water heater. When you total the two, the camper provides an impressive 40 gallons of fresh water. Very few pop-up campers have the capability of hauling more water than the BunduCamp. It’s true that the standard battery box holds only one group-27 battery, but an optional dual battery box can be ordered from the factory. For those serious about boondocking and overlanding, this is a must-have option.
And speaking of options, BundutecUSA offers several options that are unique and just plain cool. Perhaps the best of these is Bundutec’s so-called BunduHalf Wing wrap around awning. This innovative awning, which consists of three hinged, manually deployed aluminum arms, provides shade for two sides of the camper not just one. Simply put, there isn’t another RV awning in the market quite like the BunduHalf Wing. It’s a game changer. Another option worth checking out is the aforementioned Truma water heater furnace. A German design, this combination unit not only saves on storage space, but also uses very little propane during operation. I also recommend going with a set of Dometic Seitz thermal pane windows. These acrylic German-made windows have built-in roller shades and screens and offer a host of benefits not found in the traditional RV window. Another neat, little option that caught my eye is BundutecUSA’s exterior aluminum storage box. This lightweight storage box, which mounts on the back of the camper, features a cutting board surface on the lid and two shelves for storing items. If you like to cook outdoors, and who doesn’t, this is the perfect item to make your cookouts even better.
The BunduCamp is a high quality truck camper, a serious overland expedition rig for the serious overlander. Indeed, when you consider all that the BunduCamp pop-up truck camper offers—lots of storage, a Truma Combi water heater furnace, a Dometic 12 volt compressor refrigerator as well as two batteries, plentiful amounts of water, and a robust solar power system—it’s hard not to be impressed. While it’s true that the BunduCamp lacks an indoor shower, it does offer an outdoor one in order to free up indoor space. If you’re interested in purchasing this well equipped camper, you’ll need to deal direct with the factory. Rory is building a network of dealerships as we speak, but he’s not quite there yet. But dealing directly with the factory isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Dealing direct means that you cut out the middle man. This makes the BunduCamp even more of a bargain, though you might have to travel a ways to get it.
In closing, I have to say that I’m impressed with the BundutecUSA product and Rory’s vision for how a company should be run. When I asked Rory what he wanted the public to know about the BunduCamp, he said that he wants prospective buyers to have a say in how the camper is built—modifications and tweaks are not only possible, they’re practically encouraged. “I want my campers to stand out,” he explained. “I want my campers to be that unit that people’s head kinda turns when it goes by. Just that different kind of look.” When I asked Rory about how he wants his company to be perceived in the industry, he revealed that he doesn’t want to be mainstream like Lance, though he explained that Lance is a fine company that produces a great product. Rory wants his operation to be smaller and more custom, “us truck camper people—I mean this in a loving way—I think are a just little different, we like to be out on that hill by ourselves instead of down in the group with 20 other people. That’s the way I want to be.”