Not long ago, Elisabeth Brentano never dreamed that she would find her greatest joy just being in nature and living out of her truck camper. After all, she was barely 30 by the time she began reaping the rewards of her hard-won Hollywood career. It had all the glitz and glam many people want, but few achieve. And then, all it took was one bad breakup and a hot summer in the Southwest for her to discover that her greatest passion is exploring and protecting public lands. That unfamiliar path led her to a whole new way of making a positive impact on the world, and she hasn’t looked back since.
It was the last thing anyone expected from her.
Gifted with a knack for written and visual storytelling, the Hollywood producer was rising on the career path she had envisioned since college. But once she got her foot in the door, “It was like the movie The Devil Wears Prada,” she recalls. “After I asked for a raise, I remember being told, ‘we can find someone to do this job for free.’ It was not a positive environment.” Despite depressingly low pay, and the lack of respect by male colleagues, she forged ahead in the toxic work environment for another year before making the transition to producing digital content for a
top celebrity news website. But when her partner blindsided her with a sudden breakup, that dream life disintegrated. Without warning she was suddenly solo, and says she was unsure of who she was or where she was headed. “I kind of lost my identity. All I did was work and then I was with my boyfriend. Even though I was happy at the time, I didn’t realize how much of myself I had really lost.”
But instead of going deeper into heartache, she rebuilt her life in a totally new way by channeling her workaholic nature into a healthier, clean-living routine. And when an old friend invited her on a Thelma and Louise-style hiking trip into the Utah desert, she opted to push the limits of her comfort zone. Somewhere in Moab, the L.A. woman who had never been camping was instantly smitten by the restorative power of the natural world. “I feel like I discovered some part of myself that I didn’t know existed. This is really fired up a passion deep within me, and I thought, “I should be doing more of this!” Later that summer she and other friends explored other Utah landmarks, like Lake Powell, Dead Horse Point and Zion National Park.
With encouragement from friends and colleagues who recognized her unique storytelling skills before she did, Elisabeth tried her luck at self-employment. She jumped into the world of destination storytelling. Instead of using her talents to share Hollywood gossip, she searched for natural places that begged for greater levels of stewardship. Then she found the tourism agencies that promoted those places, and explained how they could be improve their existing campaigns. Tenacious cold calling along with captivating imagery and narratives led her to clients who are just as passionate about outdoor recreation education as she is. Her ideas took off, and today the state tourism offices in Idaho, Wyoming, Arizona and beyond are educating visitors with her visual and written storytelling skills. The former TV producer’s media prowess is helping big and small town agencies educate and protect public lands more effectively than ever before.
An Unconventional Workspace
In her early days as a travel producer, she traveled in a Jeep, but in 2020 she bought a Ford F-150 and spent a year in a Leer camper shell. The customized interior housed a sleeping platform and gear storage for her photography and newly acquired rock climbing habit. But as her impact on the outdoors community grew, so did her need for more comfortable accommodations. Elisabeth upgraded her expedition vehicle in 2022 when she partnered with Four Wheel Campers as a company ambassador. The company’s Project M truck topper seemed like an ideal setup for her new minimalist lifestyle. But before joining the Four Wheel Campers family, she needed to know that company leaders are just as committed to caring for the planet as she is.
She pitched them on a plan to host outdoor clean-up events by working with non-profit environmental groups, and instantly knew that she had found her community. “When I asked them, ‘so, what are you doing for the environment?’ Instead of asking me, ‘how much is that gonna cost?’ they said, ‘how fast can we do it?’” Their response made it a no-brainer decision to join forces for the benefit of public lands. Soon afterward she said goodbye to traditional housing, and hello to living and working from her customized Project M truck topper.
“Naturally, being able to access remote locations is key to my job, and I couldn’t be happier with my mobile home/office setup. I can be anywhere I need to be within a few days, and I have all the tools I need, so unless I’m flying for a gig, I never have to pack anything.” The topper is geared toward explorers who equally value simplicity and comfort in the backcountry and mounts to the bed rails of nearly every pickup truck make and model. Priced at just $10,995 MSRP, the lightweight pop-up comes straight from the Davis, California factory as a blank slate. Customers buy it with or without factory-installed options like two kinds of bedding, exterior LED lighting, gear tracks, awnings, and cutting-edge solar power station solutions. And unlike other Four Wheel Camper models, the Project M doesn’t force owners to give up their truck tailgate. They can enjoy a go-anywhere camper that can still be used as an everyday vehicle.
Her ready-for-anything rig
“Having a fridge, sink, stove and memory foam bed means I have plenty of creature comforts, and even without sunshine, my power setup keeps me running for about a week.” Her setup includes a Renogy battery and solar panels to power her fridge, lights, fan and small USB devices. She also has a Goal Zero Yeti 1500x Portable Power Station for her sink and larger electronics. For backup power, she carries a smaller Yeti unit, the 400x. “With constant sunshine, I have unlimited power, so the only thing I need to re-up on is water, and since I have small tanks, I am fairly conservative with my usage.”
The combined setup lets her go further into the backcountry than ever before, which has deepened her passion to protect it. “This camper has allowed me to post up in some incredibly wild places over the years. From there, I have not only found a deep connection to the landscapes, but with the communities that protect and preserve our public lands.”
It’s been a year since Elisabeth helped Four Wheel Campers’ kick off the company’s volunteer events program. Today the brand and its enthusiastic customers are enjoying a higher level of environmental responsibility and positive impact. As a company ambassador, she organizes different events to clean up and maintain special places like Lake Tahoe, and the Bueno Aires National Wildlife Refuge in Southern Arizona. Volunteer Four Wheel Camper owners meet up and pitch in labor to tackle tasks like building fences, picking up trash, and making campground improvements. Of course there’s also plenty of great scenery, tasty food, and free beer that turn the hard work into a festive party. Every event is filled with new and old friends swapping stories about camping in their Four Wheel Campers rig.
Less is More with the Four Wheel Camper Project M
With a new career, a passion for protecting public lands, and a minimalist evangelist, Elisabeth has never been happier. “In my opinion, learning to live with less is the first step towards a more sustainable—and thus environmentally-friendly—lifestyle. It prevents you from purchasing things you don’t need, and a small space doesn’t require as much energy, either.” As for her old Hollywood career, the very idea of going back it makes her laugh. “The subject matter used to be who Kim Kardashian was dating. Now it’s responsible creation on Idaho’s hiking trails!” Helping tourism agencies stay one step ahead of visitation impacts is tough, but the flexible nature of her lifestyle and the Project M give her all the tools she needs to help keep special places as inspiring and untouched as possible.