It’s no secret that we are fans of the new Scout Olympic truck camper by Adventure Manufacturing. We were able to see one in person recently at Tom’s Camperland in Avondale and we were very impressed. What makes this half-ton truck camper different from other half-ton campers is its lightweight construction. The frameless, exoskelton design, coupled with Scout’s spartan interior, results in a hard-side that weighs only 1,133 pounds, a remarkable achievement for a hard-side. The removable add-ons are another thing that makes the Scout special and unique in the industry—all of the appliances, including the lithium power system, are removable. This approach to lightweight construction is smart because it opens up a whole new market for half-ton pickup trucks and 3/4-ton trucks with lower payload ratings.
Last summer, Mike and Dani Mortell were able to get one of the first Scout Olympics. Dani, who works in education, and Mike, who holds a degree in mechanical engineering, are now enjoying all of the benefits that truck camping provides. In this interview, the couple provides their thoughts on this brand-new truck camper and new way of life.
TCA: Thanks, guys, for talking with us. Can you tell us why you chose a Scout Olympic rather than, say, a pop-up?
Dani and Mike: Prior to getting the Scout, we were camping in the back of our 2014 GMC Sierra 1500 with a topper and drawer system built in the back—and we were loving it. A few months into working from home after COVID-19 hit, we decided to get a dog and knew we would need more space. Upgrading to a truck camper allowed for the additional space and an easier working from the camper set-up, so we could take longer trips even while working.
Initially, we were looking at getting a Four Wheel Camper, but didn’t think we could stand to wait the 6-8 month lead times. We started looking elsewhere, and that’s when we stumbled across Scout. We appreciated Scout’s minimalistic design and how lightweight and simple their campers were. The more we considered the Scout Olympic and spoke with the folks at Scout, the more interested we became, so we decided to take the plunge and go for it!
TCA: Do you live full-time in it?
Dani and Mike: No, not yet, but we would like to take some longer trips in it this year while Mike is still working from home. So far, the longest we’ve spent in it consecutively was seven nights.
TCA: Which Scout options did you choose when you bought it?
Dani and Mike: A Dickinson Newport fireplace, a Roost rooftop tent, a gear locker storage drawer, a Dometic two-burner stove top, Rotopax 2-gallon water tanks, 75L Dometic CFX3 refrigerator, and removable camper jacks.
TCA: What mods, if any, have you made to your Scout Olympic? Or is it all stock?
Dani and Mike: We’ve been taking our time with making any modifications, as we wanted to spend time in it first to figure out what changes might make the most sense for us. We recently designed and built a drawer system to replace the OEM storage cubbies underneath the dinette. The OEM cubbies provide a decent amount of storage space, but the spaces are long and narrow, making it difficult to reach and use the space in the back. By adding the drawers, we’re able to use the space much more effectively—it also makes a great spot for the kitty litter now that we’re beginning to bring our cat, Walker, on the road with us. Check out our Drawer Installation video on YouTube for more details!
TCA: Love your color choice for the drawers. What features do you like best about the Scout Olympic?
Dani and Mike: The Dickinson Newport fireplace has been amazing. We have done quite a bit of winter camping in Colorado this year and the fireplace keeps us nice and warm even on single digit nights. It also adds a nice, cozy vibe to the camper when it’s lit, which is great for the gram.
TCA: Can you tell us about your truck?
Dani and Mike: We upgraded to a 2020 Ram 2500 Laramie back in August, which has the Cummin 6.7L turbo diesel. We sent it to American Expedition Vehicles (AEV) in Michigan to have their Prospector package installed, which included a 3-inch lift, size-37 all-terrain tires, new front/rear bumpers for larger entry/exit angles, a 16.5t winch, and additional upgrades.
Mike recently removed the 40 percent backseat and installed a custom-built storage system where we can store a Pelican case, two Front Runner Wolf Pack cases, tripods, and other miscellaneous gear.
TCA: With this setup are you over or under your truck’s GVWR?
Dani and Mike: We are roughly 500 pounds over our GVWR when we’re fully loaded.
TCA: What kind of mileage are you getting with your Scout Olympic?
Dani and Mike: We get roughly 14-16 mpg when we’re driving in the mountains. On a flat highway, we can get closer to 20 mpg.
TCA: You’ve been to a lot of cool places in your rig? How do you find them? Word of mouth? Google Earth? Instagram?
Dani and Mike: We use a combination of tools to identify campsites and places to visit. Instagram and YouTube helps us identify general locations that we want to travel to, but then we use freecampsites.net, forest service maps, or Google earth to identify where we can dispersed camp. We’ve found that the harder we work to locate a lesser known campsite, the more rewarding those spots usually are.
TCA: What size wheels and tires does your truck have and what inflation values do you typically run? Do you ever air down?
Dani and Mike: Our wheels are 17-inch and our tires are size-37’s. So far, we’ve only aired down a couple of times. We find going down to 25 psi provides a pretty comfortable ride on the washboard roads.
TCA: Do you have any favorite places or trails where you like to explore? What was the most difficult and challenging?
Dani and Mike: One of our favorite trails we’ve done recently was the Cathedral Valley Trail in Utah. We drove the entire 60 mile loop through incredible landscapes and one river crossing. At some points, it seemed like we were on a different planet—we felt so lucky to take in the breathtaking and varied views while traversing the land. Our dog, Granger, wasn’t as big of a fan of the long bumpy ride though—she tends to get a little carsick.
We haven’t done anything that we would consider too challenging at this point, but perhaps that’s a testament to our rig.
TCA: Have you done any off-roading in your Scout Olympic? If, yes, tell us about a few.
Dani and Mike: We recently spent a week traveling around Utah. Most of our campsites were pretty far off the beaten path, like Alstrom Point. The Scout handles great while off-roading, there is definitely some additional sway to the truck with the Scout sitting in the back, but not nearly as much as we were expecting. The ratchet strap tie-down system works great—we always check the tie downs every couple of days or after going off road and they typically just need slightly re-tightened.
TCA: Tell us about some of your favorite places you’ve visited so far?
Dani and Mike: Since we’ve only had the Scout Olympic for a few months, we haven’t explored that many places in it yet. We love getting into the Colorado mountains for weekend trips and had an incredible time traveling throughout southern Utah last fall. The Valley of the Gods, the area around Capitol Reef National Park, and areas overlooking Lake Powell were some of the highlights of that Utah trip.
We’re looking forward to exploring a lot more in the Scout this year, with hopes to visit Sedona, Montana, the Pacific Northwest, and more. We’re sure we’ll add at least a few more “favorites” to our list after these trips.
TCA: Do you have a website and/or social media channels?
TCA: Do you have any other interests or hobbies?
Dani and Mike: Photography and videography are two passions we both share, so we particularly enjoy documenting our travels this way. Mike flies the drone, Dani edits the videos, and we both embarrass ourselves on camera from time-to-time.
TCA: Anything else you’d like to tell us about your setup?
Dani and Mike: Since buying our Ram 2500 and Scout, we’ve decided we want to attempt to drive the entire Pan-American Highway at some point in the next few years. Since Ultra-Low Sulfur Diesel isn’t readily available south of Mexico, we’re considering selling our truck to purchase a used Ram 3500 Hemi to accommodate that trip. Do we feel silly considering this so soon after getting our Ram 2500? Yes, you could say that. But at the time we bought it, we weren’t considering the possibility of hitting the road for a year on an international road trip and didn’t realize the implications of buying a diesel.
We also think switching to a flatbed with the Ram 3500 would increase our payload and give us space to install custom storage boxes under the ledges of the Scout. We imagine could probably use a little extra storage for our future Pan-American Highway trip.