What’s better than one truck and one truck camper? TWO trucks and TWO campers! We revealed the “dynamic duo” at last week’s Truck Camper Adventure Quartzsite Rally. We were asked several times why we decided to add another truck and camper to the Truck Camper Adventure fleet. What drove that decision? The reasons are many as we will outline below.
In order to stay in tune with our expanding audience, adding another truck and camper simply needed to be done. Owning only one truck and camper—a 2013 Ram 3500 and a 2020 BundutecUSA Roadrunner hard-side camper—limits what we can cover and review. Adding a 2003 Ford F250 and a 2022 Four Wheel Pop-Up Camper Grandby greatly expands it. The decision was prompted when we were asked to write an article on the pros and cons of hard-side and pop-up truck campers. We saw the merits of publishing such a piece, but how can we honestly write such a piece when we’ve never owned a pop-up? Sure, we could’ve researched the topic and gotten opinions from others, but as a trusted news source and consultant, real-life experiences owning different types of trucks and campers seems like a better, more honest way to go.
The other benefit of owning another truck and camper, of course, is that it provides more opportunities to evaluate and review more products. The list of truck camper related products waiting for a review was growing excessively long. For instance, we’ve been wanting to review Hellwig’s LP-35 Helper Springs for years. But reviewing one-ton-rated helper springs on a Ram 3500 seemed pointless. Sure, reviewing only the assembly and installation process has merit, but that’s about it. Evaluating how effective these springs would be in keeping a one-ton truck level simply couldn’t be done. On the other hand, testing one-ton-rated helper springs on a diesel-powered, 2003 Ford F250 with an 8,800-pound GVWR made a lot of sense, especially in light of the truck’s limited payload rating.
Similarly, we’ve been wanting to evaluate Buckstop Truckware’s popular TrailReady lineup of front bumpers. Yet, we already had a Buckstop Baja bumper mounted on our Ram 3500. As a matter of fact, we just upgraded the Buckstop Baja from a steel version to a lighter, aluminum one. Swapping out a brand-new $2,600 Buckstop bumper for another $2,600 TrailReady bumper didn’t make a lot of financial sense. So we decided to test it out on our lifted, 2003 Ford F250 instead.
We’ve also been looking forward to evaluating the merits of owning an older “pre-DEF” diesel truck. The International 7.3L Power Stroke is a terrific engine. But is it worth owning an older truck that is 20 years old? Sure, the engine is well-known for its reliability, but what about the rest of the truck? Compared with the high cost of today’s trucks, does it make financial sense to own an older truck when factoring-in things like upgrades and repairs? And what about the 6-inch lift? Is it too high or just right for a long wheel-base truck? Only time will tell.
Of course, owning an aluminum pop-up like a Four Wheel Camper Grandby offers additional opportunities for evaluation and review as well. We like wood-framed campers—we’ve owned two over of the years—including the hard-side camper that we currently own, our Roadrunner. But as previous Airstream owners, we are keenly aware of the pros of aluminum construction. Going one-step further by buying an aluminum pop-up truck camper made a lot of sense because of its low profile and low weight. Having a pop-up also means we will be able to take it on more aggressive, off-road trails, places where we would never take our hard-side.
When we ordered our Four Wheel Camper Grandby, we decided to outfit the camper with a number of products we’ve been wanting to evaluate and review for years. At the top of the list of the Redarc Manager-30, a 30 amp, state-of-the-art battery management system capable of controlling multiple battery charging inputs, including 110 volt shore power, 12 volt solar power via an MPPT solar regulator, and 12 volts from the truck’s alternator. We’re also looking forward to evaluating Overland Solar’s solar panels mounted using the Grandby’s roof rack system. Four Wheel Campers recommends this approach to using solar panels and we are looking forward to seeing how it works long-term.
We look forward to providing more reviews in the near feature, including one of the Four Wheel Camper Grandby itself. Our review will not only address the merits of the camper itself, but our experiences of owning a pop-up truck camper for the first time. For instance, there is no grey water holding tank. We will need to carry a storage container to hold the grey water and dump it when we dump the cassette. Another big thing, of course, is the pop-top feature. Quick stops in a hard-side camper are a breeze. Just get in and out. No so with the pop-up, which will require raising and lowering the top manually each and every time we need to use the camper. We’re also looking forward to providing our experiences camping in a pop-up during the winter. How well will the camper’s “canvas” top retain heat? Only time will tell.
Lastly, we are almost done building out our 2003 Ford F250-Four Wheel Camper Grandby rig. Immediate plans include a custom wrap, power steps, Rancho 9000XL shocks, and Timbrens. Look for a video on the final build soon as well as another video on the Timbren SES installation. The rig will also be on display at the Four Wheel Camper booth at the 2023 Overland Expo West in May.
A thought about your grey water. On our palomino HS6601 I would use the grey water for the flush water for our cassette toilet.