This is a review of the Bundutec Odyssey flatbed truck camper. This flatbed camper build was the culmination of a long journey that started with backpacking and progressed through car camping, first in a Honda Element with an ECamper, various pickup truck beds and a Four Wheel Camper (FWC) mounted to a Toyota Tacoma. We loved and traveled in that Tacoma/FWC for several years, but as we got older, we really wanted something that we could be comfortable in bad weather and was carried on a bigger truck to carry passengers camping. One of us also wanted an inside toilet.
After a lot of research, we knew that a flatbed camper would give us the additional room and flexibility to travel off-road and camp in remote areas. We looked at a number of flatbed layouts and knew what we wanted—pop up roof, side entry, big windows, comfortable seating for two, lots of storage, external mounting tie downs, a cassette toilet and the ability to keep using our National Luna 12 volt compressor fridge (we’ve owned this particular unit for years and it’s always performed flawlessly). We didn’t want grey or black water tanks and wanted a fresh water tank that held 20 or so gallons. We also wanted to supply our own solar panels and satellite radio and some degree of control over the finishes.
We get away from Minnesota every winter and on our way home in 2018, we decided to visit several camper dealers to see what was available. We looked at Four Wheel Campers at several dealers, but were unable to actually see one of their flatbed models in person. We also visited Phoenix campers in Denver and while we really liked their builds, but their delivery time and pricing didn’t accommodate what we were looking for. Our last stop was at BundutecUSA in Raymond, Iowa where we met with Rory Willett, the owner, and Jenn Crooks, the office manager. I had researched them before our visit but their website does not do justice to the wealth of knowledge they both have about truck campers.
We presented the list of what we wanted and Rory and Jenn said they could easily accommodate our wish list. They also suggested some upgrades including Dometic Seitz insulated windows with integrated screens, a glass top sink and stove as well as the Truma Combi water heater and furnace. They were willing to install our supplied solar panels and satellite radio and we had the option to pick out the flooring we wanted as well as have a say in the size of the dinette, placement of appliances, battery size, etc. We admit that buying a wood-framed camper gave us pause initially, but after seeing the attention to detail Rory and his team put into every build, we were comfortable with that approach. Given that other manufacturers offer minimal customization options or add significant additional cost, Bundutec felt like the right fit, so we made a deposit and got on their schedule.
After selling the Tacoma in three hours and the FWC in three weeks, we acquired a low mileage, 2015 Ram 3500 6.4L gasser 4×4 and had Alum-Line in Cresco, Iowa build us an aluminum flatbed. The flatbed has storage compartments fore and aft of the wheels and we had them add a drawer, which runs the length of the bed. The drawer is perfect for storing all the gear you don’t want stored in the camper—tools, recovery gear, etc. It does raise the flatbed camper 4 to 5 inches, but the extra height was well worth the additional storage it gives us. In anticipation of the weight of the camper, I had the leaf springs re-arched and added an additional leaf on either side. We also installed an Aluminess front bumper that carries a Warn 16.5ti, 16,000-pound winch with synthetic line. All we had to do now was wait!
We took delivery of the camper at the Bundutec factory on October 1, 2018 and the actual install only took a few hours. While Rory and his team installed the camper and finished up some last minute details, Jenn walked us through the various components including the Thetford cassette toilet, the Seitz windows, water and electrical systems, solar panels, etc. Bundutec provides a well thought out binder of user information that includes all the instruction manuals for the various components as well as the basics on camper usage—how to connect to electric and water, winterizing and de-winterizing procedures, battery maintenance, etc. The camper was weighed during the install (2,100 pounds dry) and it fit onto the flatbed perfectly. We wanted external mounting points so Rory figured out how to attach the camper tying the jack plates directly to the flatbed using Torklift FastGuns.
On the exterior, there are large, deep storage compartments on either side as well as easily access to the dual AGM batteries, a standard 20-pound propane tank, a Thetford cassette toilet, a 25-gallon fresh water holding tank, a Truma Combi, and controls for the outdoor shower and fresh water fill. We installed a EnSuite QuickPitch shower enclosure on the driver’s side that allows us to utilize the detachable outdoor shower and hot/cold water controls. We don’t have a grey water tank so we use a garden hose that drains into a collapsible jug. A Bundutec batwing awning that covers the side entry and the rear of the camper is mounted over the entry door. We supplied Bundutec with two 170 watt solar panels from AM Solar in Oregon as well as a satellite radio and speakers for installation. With all lighting being LED, the panels provide plenty of power to run everything we need including the fridge for extended off road trips.
Because we typically travel and camp in remote areas alone, we needed to devise a way to carry recovery gear, additional water and fuel as well as at least two bicycles. To accommodate the large rear dinette, the back wall of the camper extends a foot or so past the flatbed and maintains a decent departure angle but eliminates the ability to use a hitch-mounted bicycle rack. We never travel with the camper jacks mounted so we built an aluminum frame that extends across the rear of the camper bolted to the jack brackets. It easily holds four MaxTrax, and two each Rotopax water and fuel canisters. Two bicycles can be carried on a modified Yakima hitch-mount and they sit high enough to be completely hidden behind the camper’s slipstream. In close to 30,000 miles of on- and some challenging off-road travel, the rack has never failed, the components are easily accessed, and the whole thing can be removed quickly.
We access the camper interior utilizing a set of folding Torklift GlowStep Stow N’ Go Steps secured to a bracket using easily removable pins. When traveling, the steps are folded up and laid just inside the camper door. The kitchen area includes the glass-top two-burner stove and a deep sink that includes a faucet with integrated sprayer as well as a plastic tub with a cutting board and utensil rack that store in the sink for travel. There is lots of storage above and below and all cabinets utilize locking hardware. Lighting is provided by an LED strip light with adjustable brightness levels. The fridge is hidden behind two doors and slides out on a platform for easy access when needed. This “hidden” fridge and the lack of grey and black water tanks gives us more than enough storage space.
The north-south queen size bed has a foam mattress that might be more comfortable than the one we have at home. On either side of the bed are deep storage hampers that run almost the full length and the driver’s side has integrated USB and 12 volt charging ports. A reversible MaxxFan provides ventilation and LED lighting allows both of us to read comfortably. Facing forward, the large window can be completely unzipped as an emergency exit if needed. Under the bed is a massive amount of storage, which runs its full length. Items that are not often needed are stored towards the front including a collapsible ladder used for deploying the awning. Access to the bed is via a collapsible two-step ladder that can be folded flat and stored behind the toilet when traveling.
Our favorite part of the camper is the rear dinette next to a large window that provides a ton of light and ventilation. The table is mounted on a Swedish Lagun mount that allows it to swivel for easy entry and exit and the table top can convert the dinette to a bed for our granddaughter. We found the original table to be a little big for us to use so we purchased an additional Lagun mount and made a smaller table to use when it’s just the two of us. We installed a small light and a dual USB port for charging devices, all of which run off the camper’s dual batteries. Overhead is a second reversible MaxxFan that not only provides ventilation but when in exhaust mode, is critical for pulling the top’s fabric in when lowering the roof. There are mesh panels behind and under both seats as well as over the toilet that are great for storing lightweight frequently used items.
Our camper was the first to utilize a green/grey rip-stop fabric (now standard on most Bundutec campers) and the color is dark enough to block most ambient light. All four sides have windows with fixed screening (except for the front emergency exit) that can be opened all or part way to allow lots of light and air to flow through. With all of the windows open, it feels like a big tree house when you are laying on the bed. We’ve camped down to about 20 degrees and even with the soft sides, the Truma Combi is incredibly quiet and keeps the inside nice and toasty. The roof raises and lowers utilizing four Reico Titan powered lifts and when lowered, is secured using latches on the sides and rear.
Since October 2018, we have spent nearly 70 nights in the camper and have traveled over 30,000 miles from Big Bend and the Gulf Coast in Texas to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons, Grand Staircase and the San Rafael Swell in Utah, the Cascades and Columbia River in Washington state and Joshua Tree and the Mojave Desert in California. Along the way, we have had very few issues with the camper, the flatbed or the truck. The biggest issue we have had was with the slides originally installed for the fridge platform. They were rated for 100 pounds and after mounting a 70-pound fridge and a lot of miles on rough roads, they failed within a few weeks. We rebuilt the platform with 250-pound rated slides and have had no issues since. Given the height of the camper, deploying the awning definitely requires two people and a ladder, but we’ve gotten used to it and the shade it provides is absolutely worth the effort.
After a lot of nights and miles on our Bundutec Odyssey, there isn’t much we would change. The fit and finish of the camper is outstanding and the truck has carried the camper with no issues at all. We’ve weighed the truck and camper several times and fully loaded with two passengers, it’s just below the stated payload capacity. Any issues that we’ve reported to Bundutec have been corrected quickly. In fact, we just took the camper back to Bundutec for the first time since October and Rory and his team fixed a few minor items all under warranty.
Bundutec’s willingness to build the camper we wanted at a price we could afford along with their outstanding customer service made this whole experience exceptional from day one. Rory and Jenn really know the truck camper business and enjoy sharing that expertise with their customers whether first timers or seasoned veterans. We would definitely recommend them to anyone wanting a high quality camper at a competitive price.
Thanks for posting up the author tag. Kevin MacAfee it is, and a very thorough review. I wonder how the kite awning works in high winds? Do the fabric sides have suspended insulating blankets that hang along the sides for really cold weather? Does MacAfee do a winterization? What about mpg with a gasser pulling all that weight? Although this one’s not for me, I love the outside the box concept of getting just what you think you need.
As with any awning, high winds can be an issue. What’s not seen in the pictures above are the ropes I’ve added to the awning arms that run down to the flatbed. With those secured, it keeps the wind from pushing up the awning. We typically do not deploy that awning if the wind is strong or gusting.
The fabric sides do not have any insulating layers. We’ve camped into the 20’s and with the Truma furnace and warm quilts, we don’t see the need for any.
Sorry, I forgot to answer additional questions.
Winterization is done as we live in Minnesota. It’s pretty straight forward.
MPG – it’s obviously dependent on wind, terrain, etc. but I typically get in the 10-12 mpg range. Not great but it’s a 10,000 pound rig so it’s to be expected.
This is off the above topic but here goes. I am building a Flatbed camper at Bundutec and was looking for information on mounting the camper to the bed. It looks like you used Fast guns. I thought you had done a bolt on.
Mike, a fascinating concept article, but who, who wrote it? Inquiring minds want to know. At first, I thought you had jumped ship and gone this way, but no, you don’t live in Minnesota. I’ve become a Bundutec fan of late and am happy to see their flexibility. That has something to do with the initials, R. Willett (Rex or Rory). It is of interest that long time campers as they approach the last movement of their own symphony want, need, and can afford their fast narrowing comfort zone.