With the proliferation of truck camper manufacturers and the exploding popularity of overlanding, we are living in what has become the renaissance of the truck camper, surpassing even the golden age of the truck camper of the 1960s. From hard-side and pop-up slide-ins to truck toppers, camper shells, and chassis-mounts, today’s consumers have a wide variety of truck campers from which to choose. The choices in truck beds are just as vast with a large number of American and Canadian companies offering specially-made truck beds for truck campers. StableCamper, long known for building the best truck camper stabilization product in the market, has now thrown its hat in the competitive truck bed marketplace. In this exclusive interview, we spoke with Jared Sund, Founder and CEO of StableCamper, to learn more about StableCamper’s truck bed offerings and what the company has planned for the future. Indeed, as you will see our friends at StableCamper have raised the bar in the competitive truck bed market with a faster turnaround and a lower price.
Thanks, Jared, for talking with us. We were impressed with the demo truck bed you showed us at the 2022 Truck Camper Adventure Rally, why did StableCamper decide to branch out in this highly-competitive market?
Jared Sund: Thank you, Mike. The 2020 RAM 5500 StableCamper truck that we debuted at the 2022 Truck Camper Adventure Rally is in our opinion the ultimate truck camper platform. This truck is an eye-catcher, and quite possibly one of the nicest setups on the road. When you combine the elegance that this setup offers and its functionality, it is hands down an amazing rig.
Like many of our products, our truck camper bed kits came from necessity. Over the past 25-plus years, we’ve had a myriad of truck campers: small, bigger, smaller, bigger, and currently much bigger. Like many truck camper owners, we found ourselves in a setup that was overweight, or you might say grossly overweight. We decided we’d had enough and started researching bigger, class 5 trucks!
As you know, pickup trucks are sold either with a standard pickup bed or as a cab chassis (no bed, just the cab, and chassis). Cab chassis trucks are designed to accommodate flatbeds, dump boxes, tow truck bodies, etc. These cab chassis trucks are dimensionally different from standard pickups to accept these different bed types and models. Cab chassis trucks are available from all three major domestic brands (Ford, Ram, and Chevy) in different payloads and trim levels.
What criteria did you establish for your heavy-duty truck beds?
Jared Sund: While we were aware of other truck camper bed manufacturers in the market, we wanted something a bit different than what any other vendors offered. We had a few key criteria we wanted for our new truck.
- Functional and Attractive: Here at StableCamper, we wanted a solution that provided the additional payload we required as well as more storage options. We also wanted something that was as attractive as the new truck we’d just purchased.
- Capability: A solution that would take advantage of the new truck’s capacity we’d just purchased was a must. We needed a bed system that would be equal or greater in hauling and towing to the new truck. We purchased a Class 5 truck to use its capabilities, and a bed system that did any less would not be acceptable. This would need to be true for hauling our camper or using the truck for different purposes.
- Price and Availability: While there are some other very nice truck camper bed solutions available, the prices and timelines to get these products were a bit more than we wanted. When looking at building a product from our design, we wanted to open up the cab chassis market to truck camper owners across all of North America. Why bring the truck to us…, why not bring the products to where you are.
So, with these criteria in mind, we thought differently about the problem. We thought that we could look at adding a truck camper kit to a standard off-the-shelf flatbed. This was the genesis of our venture into flatbed solutions for truck campers.
We love that approach. What kind of relationship do you have with CM? What role do they play in the process of ordering a truck bed?
Jared Sund: Once we decided to build our platform around standard flatbeds, we started researching what was in the flatbed market. While this market is big with lots of vendors and choices, we quickly came to love CM beds. We like the variety of products they build, and we like that they already have a network of dealers and upfitters (people who assemble the trucks, beds, and accessories) across the country. We reached out to Joe Lewis, one of CM’s executives and he liked and supported what we were doing. Joe and his team fielded our questions and helped us get our prototype beds to begin our design process.
Unlike other truck camper bed manufacturers, we are only a manufacturing company and not an upfitter. While we do build some trucks, we only do prototyping and building out the first of our new designs. We rely on the existing CM dealer network for both sales and fitting-out trucks.
In addition to using the existing CM dealer network, some of our existing traditional RV dealers like D&H RV & Marine can and have built out trucks with our system. Also, many of our customers order their trucks and beds, and then order our bed kits directly from us and install our kits themselves.
What are StableCamper/CM truck beds made of? What construction methods do you employ to save on weight?
Jared Sund: Our solutions are available in both steel and aluminum. We have focused our solutions to work with the CM RD (non-skirted standard flatbed), and SK (skirted flatbed with integrated lower boxes) beds. These beds are available in both steel (RD/SK) and aluminum (ALRD/ALSK). We offer our bed kits in both steel and aluminum to match these beds.
While we are weight conscious, we build our solutions to match up nicely to the capabilities of higher payload cab and chassis trucks. We focus our designs to meet the needs for both hauling and towing of these high-capacity trucks. Our top boxes are made of 0.125 inch (1/8-inch) aluminum or 14-gauge steel for durability and long life. While weight is always an issue, we do not reduce material thickness or other design considerations to shave off a few pounds. We build products that you will be happy with for years to come.
What makes the StableCamper truck bed standout from other manufacturers?
Jared Sund: StableCamper products partnered with CM beds brings a new level of accessibility and functionality to truck camper owners looking for higher capacity and capable systems. We do this while offering off-the-shelf solutions to our customers, which are new to this market. We provide standard solutions to meet many different needs. There are different sizes, configurations, and material choices available to meet our customers’ functional and pricing needs.
Another major difference with our product is that it is available across North America. There’s no need to bring your truck and camper to us on the west coast, our products are available across the US and Canada. We are the only truck camper bed solution that you can purchase your whole flatbed truck solution from one dealer. As an example, Dave Smith Motors out of Kellogg, Idaho (one, if not the largest RAM dealer) has already supplied a couple of RAM cab chassis 5500 trucks to our customers completed and ready to haul a camper with our StableCamper/CM bed systems. That’s the truck, bed, our system, and built all under a single price and dealer. This is just one of the ways we’re helping to unlock the availability of cab chassis trucks to the truck camping community.
What features do your truck beds offer? How are your beds mounted to the truck?
Jared Sund: Our StableCamper/CM bed systems come loaded with features. The beds come standard with a 30,000-pound gooseneck well, 18,500-pound rear tow receivers, a headache rack, and full led lighting, all the features you would expect to accompany your new cab chassis truck. Our long top boxes are 101 inches long, with long single-door access. These boxes give you so much storage space and can handle long items such as skis or fishing gear. The added storage space is great for camping, or just using the truck as an everyday driver.
Beds can be mounted in a myriad of ways. Typically, beds are strapped and bolted to the frame of the truck. That said, spring-loaded mounting systems exist and can be used if needed by the end customer. Cab Chassis trucks, unlike standard pickup bed trucks have a flat frame rail to accommodate many different needs for both beds and mounting requirements.
Do your beds employ a special tie-down mechanism to eliminate outriggers?
Jared Sund: Our tie-down system incorporates two basic components. Our engineered Backstop is mounted in the front of the bed and provides a solid and secure base for the camper to rest against. To secure the camper to the truck, we designed mounts that make use of the stake pockets on the bed. With our Stake Pocket Mounts, standard camper turnbuckles like Torklift FastGuns are used to fasten the camper to the bed.
What size trucks are you targeting with your truck bed kits?
Jared Sund: Our focus has been to help open the cab chassis market for truck camper owners. This includes class 3, 4, 5, and 6 cab chassis trucks in both 60-inch and 84-inch cab-to-axle (CA) lengths.
How much does a typical StableCamper truck bed weigh?
Jared Sund: Our complete kit weights vary depending on size and style, however, they generally range from about 1,000 pounds to 2,000 pounds.
What features/options can you accommodate with your beds? Do you offer larger fuel and water tanks, air compressors, and spare tire carriers?
Jared Sund: Like all flatbed solutions, our system is a canvas to create as needed for our customers. Unlike a standard truck bed, the added capacity and storage options for our trucks make them ideal for adding all kinds of additional options. Options could include flexible storage solutions, mounted rack systems for skis or fishing poles, compressors, additional tools, lighting systems, liquid or compressed fuel, and water tanks, just to say a few. You can truly let your imagination run wild as our kit provides the canvas for your project.
How much can one expect to spend on say a basic StableCamper truck bed with side storage boxes and underbed storage?
Jared Sund: Our goal is to provide a system starting at around $10,000 to get your cab and chassis truck ready to comfortably haul your camper. In today’s market, prices are always moving and yet we can still provide a basic solution for around that $10,000 mark. That price point would provide a steel flatbed and our accompanying StableCamper Bed Kit.
We love the price. Can your kits accommodate all makes of F550/5500 F450/4500 trucks such as those made by GM/Chevy, Ram, and Ford? Can you build a bed for say a Unimog?
Jared Sund: One of the benefits of partnering with CM beds is that they already build beds to meet all major truck brands. In addition to being able to fit all major truck manufacturers out of the gate, we build three different style boxes to accommodate most major truck camper manufacturers.
As for Unimog, I don’t know much about those trucks. However, if you want to build a new Chevy medium-duty or International CV Series truck, or a new Ford F600, then we have you covered!
What has been the largest truck camper build that you’ve been involved with?
Jared Sund: Largest, that’s an interesting metric. Our builds today have been about 95 percent class 5 trucks (F550/5500 Fords and Rams). While there are bigger trucks out there, these are getting pretty large in the truck camper space. Super single F550s, International CV, and 84-inch CA trucks are all in process as we write this article. For us, “large” is our normal.
What kind of volume are you seeing with this exploding marketplace? How many truck beds are you installing in a year?
Jared Sund: We moved into full production in the late fall/early winter of 2021, and to date, we’ve already completed 60 truck builds. This is just a start, and there are many more on the way.
Our system has certainly unlocked the larger truck market to the truck camper community. In the short time since we’ve introduced this product line, we believe that we have quickly become the largest truck camper flatbed company. We have the capacity to fill just about any need by the market, however, we expect about 5 to 10 a month moving forward.
Are there any plans to build truck beds for the overlanding market?
Jared Sund: Plans? We’re already in production. We’ve partnered with EOG (Elevation Off Grid) which builds out some of the most capable trucks on the planet. We are in the process of outfitting a new EOG F550 with the Liquid Spring system right now. This is going to be an amazing rig!
In addition to the products we have already brought to market, we are busy designing new products to meet customer needs. Some of these will be focused on the overland market. You’ll have to stay tuned to see and hear more about upcoming products.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about your truck beds or other products that you may have on the drawing board?
Jared Sund: There are two new offerings we are working to release right now. The first is our new BackPack box for 84-inch CA trucks. This new box provides huge amounts of pass-through storage and will work with both the standard RD flatbed and the skirted SK beds. We are working on our first two trucks right now and should have both of these trucks completed by the rally in February! More to come on these new boxes very soon.
We are also about to release a new box design specifically to accommodate Northern Light campers. Northern Lite campers are unique in their design, and we have created a new top box system to fit their specific needs. These boxes will be available as this article is published.
If you’d like to know more about what we’re doing in this space along with our other products, check out our website at StableCamper.com, reach out to us to discuss your dream rig, and watch us on Facebook and Instagram. Oh, be sure to come to see us at the 2023 TCA Rally in Quartzsite!