Review of the Hallmark Milner Pop-Up Truck Camper

I purchased my new Hallmark Milner pop-up truck camper in 2009 after many months of research. At that time there were only two pop-up truck campers available with a power lift top, Hallmark was one of them. I wanted a power-top because I planned to carry two ocean kayaks on the roof and the Hallmark roof could lift up to 500 pounds, eliminating the need to remove the kayaks when lifting the top.

The one and only drawback to the power-top is that you have to have 12-volt power available to raise or lower it. Normally this isn’t a problem, and hasn’t been since I’ve had the camper. However, there is no manual way to raise or lower the top in the event of a power loss. Hallmark now offers a new manually operated lift system that works even better and without the need for an electric motor. There are two ways to currently lift or lower a Hallmark top with weight on the roof, either with a hand crank or by using a cordless power drill.

I placed my order for the Milner over the phone and received excellent customer service from Hallmark. I ordered the basic Milner model and added the accessories I wanted on it.  After a few months the camper was finished and I drove to Fort Lupton, Colorado to pick it up. The employees at Hallmark were very professional and had me and my new camper on the road in just a few hours. What surprised me was that I had never placed a deposit for the camper when I ordered it, and I paid with a personal check when I picked it up.

The Hallmark Milner is designed for a short-bed truck. It has a 30-pound horizontal propane cylinder, a 30-gallon fresh water tank and no bathroom, but I have a shovel. The standard battery compartment measures 16 x 13 x 13-inches with a slide-out tray that holds two 6-volt batteries. Two additional batteries are located inside the camper, next to the standard battery compartment, and four batteries are wired together in series-parallel. The Milner comes with a 60×80-inch east-west bed with under bed storage, molded one-piece counter tops, exclusive “big view” double windows, a three-way 3.8-cubic foot refrigerator, and attractive overhead cabinets with Tambour doors. Like all Hallmark campers, the Milner is constructed of a durable yet attractive molded fiberglass composite exterior topped with a low-maintenance, one-piece molded composite roof. In spite of its stout construction, the Milner still only weighs 1,212 pounds dry.

The first truck to carry the camper was a used 2005 Toyota Tundra half-ton, with Firestone air bags and heavy-duty Bilstein shock absorbers. This truck carried the camper fine and held up for about a year. Then the rear wheel bearings started failing due to the excessive weight. Needing a truck with a larger payload rating, I purchased a used 2002 Chevrolet 2500HD and installed the same kind of air bags and shock absorbers. I have had the camper on this truck now for six years with no major problems. Fully loaded with food, fuel, and water—including two kayaks, the front rack, and the rear Stowaway2 storage box—the truck and camper weigh 10,500 pounds.

Modifications

Over the past 10 years, I have made numerous modifications to my Hallmark Milner.

  • First, I removed the jacks from the camper, since I keep it on the truck full time.
  • Removed the carpet from the inside and replaced it with a high grade, tightly woven material called; artificial putting green surface. It feels great on your feet, sand and dirt falls through it, and you can easily pull it out, hose it off, let it dry, and throw it back in.
  • I manufactured a new square tube aluminum bumper which could also carry a Honda EU2000i Generator and a 5-gallon NATO fuel can. I attached it to where the jacks were originally mounted using 2-inch aluminum angle iron. In addition, I manufactured and installed two additional stop/tail/turn signal lights to the bottom of the bumper since the generator and Jerry can partially blocks the trucks rear lights.
  • The weather in San Francisco can be very wet causing mold in confined spaces. I had problems with mold forming under the mattress so I called Hallmark.  They replaced my mattress cover for free and suggested a solution to the mold problem.  I purchased a material called MyperVent which is a white spun polymer woven into a larger, open, 3/4-inch thick mesh that creates a small space for air to circulate under the mattress.  I also installed a solar powered air vent in the roof to help move air through the camper when it is closed up, and I use Damp-Rid as needed, problem solved.
  • Installed two vent covers over the two Fantastic Vents on the roof to prevent them from blowing closed while driving and to keep rain out when they are open.
  • Mounted a High-Lift jack under the right side of the overhang of the camper.
  • Mounted two Aluminess tool carriers. One large axe/shovel combo rack onto the camper roof ladder, and a smaller shovel/rake rack on the right front roof overhang.
  • Installed a Yakima/Thule combination roof rack to carry two kayaks.
  • Installed two Tred brand mounts on the right side of the camper just below the two large windows to hold two Maxtrax recovery boards.
  • I was having periodic over heating problems with the Dometic three-way powered refrigerator freezer that came with the camper. It worked well on 110 volt shore power, sucked up amps when connected to 12 volt power, and tended to overheat in hot climates when powered by propane. I found a solution on a YouTube video from another RV enthusiast with the same problem. I ordered and installed two large, ultra-quiet 8-inch, 12-volt computer fans to the inside of the top outer vent cover of the fridge and wired them to an on/off toggle switch inside the camper. They are also controlled by a thermostat attached to the cooling coils of the fridge. They work great by pulling air in through the bottom vent, across the refrigerator’s cooling coils and out through the top vent. You can actually feel the heat with your hand as it exits through the top vent.  The fridge stays nice and cool now when on propane power, even in Baja.
  • Mounted a 7-gallon solar Road Shower vertically to the left rear angle iron support for the aluminum bumper. Works great as a shower and provides an additional 7 gallons of fresh water when full.
  • Installed a Windwalker HD wind generator by Free Spirit Energy. I manufactured and attached a custom-made mount to the roof rack channel of the Road Shower. I carry the electrical conduit pipe which holds the generator on the roof rack. The generator extends two feet above the roof when the top is popped-up and provides a trickle charge to the house batteries, works great in Baja California Sur.
  • Installed two stainless steel swivel D-rings at each of the four top corners of the camper, just below the pop-top on each side. I use these mounts for my portable sun shade, which works well, even when its windy.
  • Installed an additional 12-volt, dual USB, and 110-volt outlets on the lower rear wall in the dinette area.
  • Replaced the propane heater manual thermostat with a digital thermostat, which is easier to operate, more accurate, and works great.
  • Installed four 100-watt Renogy solar panels on the roof in conjunction with a 40 Amp Rover MPPT charge controller.
  • Upgraded the two high-maintenance lead-acid house batteries with two Lifeline AGM zero maintenance batteries.
  • Removed the water heater. I was no longer using it, so I removed it, capped off the propane and water supply lines, and replaced the outer metal door with a fiberglass door similar to the one used on the battery compartment.
  • Installed two additional Lifeline AGM batteries in about half the space that was previously utilized by the hot water heater. I also gained additional storage space and I have plenty of power now for my needs.
  • I spend three months of the year in Baja California, fishing, diving, hiking, and just having fun camped out on remote isolated beaches for two weeks at a time. This requires additional refrigeration and ice making capabilities.  I removed the rear seat cushions from the dinette and installed a Dometic CFX3 75 dual-zone 12-volt/110 powered fridge freezer in the seating area.  It uses very few amps to power and is very efficient.  With its two separate compartments/zones I can have the option to have two additional freezers/refrigerators, or one of each. When I leave Baja and return to the States, they are both full of frozen seafood, (fish, scallops, shrimp, etc.).

The Verdict

For 10 years, I have traveled all over the western United States and Baja California. Being retired Navy, I spend more than six months of the year traveling and living solo in my camper, and sometimes my wife joins me when she is not working in her jewelry store in San Francisco. Most of my travels involve scuba or free diving, and hunting for wild choice edible mushrooms. Every year I travel many 4×4 backroads in California, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and the Colorado Rocky Mountains in search of delicious wild edible mushrooms. This requires me to travel off-road most of the time to get closer to where the mushrooms are fruiting in remote forests. I have been on some really rough roads, and sometimes no roads at all, and my Hallmark Camper has never had an issue.

For the past five years, I have been traveling to southern Baja California between January and April and driving on some of the roughest roads in Mexico. My Hallmark Camper has been a reliable home away from home and has held together beyond my expectations. My camper is starting to age now due to normal wear and tear and lots of use. I am currently researching options for my next truck camper. With the information on Truck Camper Adventure, I know I will make the right decision. I am leaning towards a new Alaskan or a new Hallmark Camper since they both offer a pop-top lift system that allows additional weight on the roof.

Overall, I would give my Hallmark Milner pop-up camper an excellent rating for construction and reliability.

2020 Hallmark Milner Specifications

Base Price: $27,900.00
Base Weight: 1,212 pounds

Capacities
Fresh: 30 gallons
Water Heater: 3 gallons
Grey: Optional 12 gallons
Black: Optional 5.3 gallons
Propane: One 30-pound
Batteries: Space for two batteries

Dimensions
Floor Length: 80 inches
Overall Length: 140 inches
Interior height popped-up: 80 inches
Interior height popped-down: 60 inches
Exterior height popped-up: 84 inches
Ext. height popped-down: 64 inches
Width: 83 inches
Center of Gravity: 31 inches

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About Curt Haney 1 Article
Curt is a California native, author, and a past president of the Mycological Society of San Francisco. He is an avid motorcyclist and truck camper enthusiast. He enjoys scuba and free diving, music, travel, hiking, fishing, and hunting for delicious choice edible mushrooms. Curt retired from the U.S. Navy in 1995 as a CWO2 after 22 years, and the U.S. Postal Service as a philatelic clerk after 15 years. He recently returned from a three-month truck camper adventure in Baja California. He lives with his wife Carol and their cat GG in San Francisco, California.

13 Comments

  1. I have the 2019 Hallmark Milner and have been very happy for many of the reasons you’ve listed. I did get some “upgrade” components like a lewmar skylight and Truma Combi heater hot water heater with a lithium battery which has allowed 3 or 4 nights of offgrid usaged. I also have a B2B charger so given my travel style I opted to not install solar with the thought I could easily add portable panels but so far they just haven’t been needed as I can replenish the battery in 3 or 4 hours of driving. I do like all of the ventilation and light from the windows in the soft sides and think the insulation is top notch. It’s nice they have a few floor plans for different use cases. Here’s a description of mine: https://www.surfandsnowcountryimages.com/Photo-Essays/Outdoor-Gear/Hallmark-Milner-fldr/Hallmark-Milner-page Since this write up, I have added another a 12V Truck Fridge and another lithium battery so I can still go 3 or 4 nights without charging which is just perfect. I do have the hypervent under the mattress as well. I use my external propane tanks for outdoor cooking, though two is definitely overkill.

  2. Alaskan campers while nice are also subject to intrusion of mosquitoes at the intersection of the two sections. Confirmed by speaking to Alaskan Campers.

    • Thanks for the info, I’m sure there would be some way to fix that issue. I also have a battery powered bug zapper in my camper that works well.

  3. Years ago I camped solo in Baja CA but stopped because I was afraid of increased violence reported south of the border. I’m wondering if Curt has had any incidences with crime in Baja and if he’d have any tips for a woman solo camping in Baja. I would LOVE to start camping in Baja again! Thx, lori

    • Hi Lori, I have been spending three months of the year in Baja for the last five years with no issues. I actually feel safer in Baja then I do at home in San Francisco. I also see quite a few single women that travel to Baja in small and big camper rigs. You have the option to camp on isolated beaches or in well organized camp grounds where you can meet other single ladies and gentlemen doing the same thing. I belong to a travel club, “Vagabundos Del Mar” where I also get my Mexican insurance for my rig. They have a travel buddies forum you can join and hook up with each other to travel together. They also lead caravan groups to Baja for those who are scared of traveling alone. Hope to see you in Baja in the future.

  4. Very impressive rig. I to would like to know more about your swing out hitch tool box. I bought the Caribou Lite from Outfitter Mfg. on CO. I selected most all the EXTRAS. I love the unit. I’m very happy with my purchase. You might look over the different models they have. Thanks Henry

    • Hi Henry, The box on the back of my camper is a Stowaway2 made in Oregon. Just search that and it will pop up. They have two sizes, I have the smaller one. You can get it with a solid hitch or with a frame that swings away. I had to beef up the frame on mine for off road use.

  5. Sounds like Curt is an avid truck camper and outdoor enthusiast. He has customized his rig as much as any I’ve seen and in very unique and creative ways.
    I always love running numbers and always skeptical of advertised dry weights.I don’t know if Curt’s truck is a gas or diesel engine but the curb weight range for that year model is 5,126 to 6,023 lbs. As far as I can tell, it’s not a diesel nor a crew cab so I’m going to arbitrarily place a weight of 5,600 lbs. Adding the advertised dry weight of 1,212 lbs totals 6,812 lbs. If his gross weight is 10,500 lbs than that means he’s carrying almost 3,700 lbs of gear. That just seems like a lot to me …. granted there might be 300 lbs of batteries but I have to question the advertised dry camper weight ?

    • Hi Neil, I never did a dry weight of my rig, only wet. When fully loaded with Firewood, my bike, 4 five gallon containers of water on the front bumper rack, the storage box on the rear fully loaded, two kayaks on top, eight box’s of gear on the back seat, 30 gallons of water in the camper tank, and all the gear stored in the camper it’s weight is 10,500 pounds. Plus there is the road shower with 7 gallons of water, the 4 lifeline batteries, and the two fridge freezers full. Yes, I know I am overloaded, but it has held up fine for several years now with no issues. I am looking at a 2003 Ford 350, 7.3 diesel aluminum flatbed right now as a replacement vehicle.

  6. I’d love to know what that swing out bumper storage box is!? Great rig and story! Go Navy!

    J
    SCPO Retired

    • Hi Chief, The box on the back of my truck is a Stowaway2 made in Oregon. Comes in two sizes, I have the smaller one. This is my second unit, I destroyed the first one in Baja going off road on really rough roads. The frame is not designed for off road use. First I had the larger box and now I have the smaller one on the same type of frame which swings away for access to my back door on the camper. When I bought the new one I welded more support on the frame and re welded all the spot welds and placed angle iron supports over them. It is holding up fine now with two trips to Baja and no issues. Thule also makes a similar unit to the Stowaway2. Later Shipmate.

    • Hi, The Milner camper is to big for a Chevy S-10, Look for something smaller or get a bigger truck.

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