And then there are those RVs that are built purely for adventure. You know the type of RV that can climb up mountains, venture far out into the desert, and camp on a rocky bluff overlooking a rushing river?
Maybe an RV that looks something like this?
This is what you you get when you combine a rugged 4-wheel drive truck camper with a homemade, go-anywhere trailer. Some might call it the ultimate boondocking mobile, others an ingenious combination of mobility and comfort. I would simply call it awesome.
This truck camper plus utility trailer combo belongs to Michele and Mark — a young, adventurous couple who love nothing more than getting out into the wild.
They live in the Colorado Rockies and spend as much time as possible camping and exploring out of their truck camper plus trailer combo. During the summer months, when they’re not busy with their successful photography business, you can find them camped on a dirt road up high in the Colorado mountains.
In the winter, they leave the snowy mountains behind and take off for the southwest where they put their truck camper to the test on rugged terrain in stunning remote locations.
I first met Michele & Mark a few years ago while passing through their hometown. At the time they were contemplating upgrading to a larger RV and living in it full-time. Since this is the lifestyle my husband and I have adopted, we chatted with them about the pros and cons of life on the road, RV size, and the sacrifices they would have to make if they moved to a larger RV.
After a brief experiment with a 30′ travel trailer, they ultimately decided to stick with the truck camper, and eventually added the utility trailer so they could carry more gear.
Since that first meeting I’ve kept up with their adventures through online channels such as their travel blog and Instagram account. One of the things I love about following their journey is how they’ve achieved the perfect balance of a simple, yet comfortable set-up that allows them to remain true to their adventurous nature. When I asked about their camping philosophy, Michele said,
We live our lives based on the mentality that experiences are far more rewarding than material possessions. Our camping is all about exploring and discovering the endless beauty that our country has to offer.
Why a Truck Camper?
The decision to buy a truck camper came easy for Michele and Mark. Large, luxury type RVs simply didn’t fit their style of camping — or their budget. Since they “work to live, don’t live to work, and therefore don’t have deep pockets”, affordability was a key factor for them. They wanted, “a setup that afforded us the opportunity to make the most of our free time, not a fancy rig that meant we would need a second job just to afford it.”
They also wanted something durable and simple to run and maintain.
Durability for us is key because we tend to beat up our rig seeking out the best remote spots.
When they came across a company called Four Wheel Campers, and saw their sturdy truck bed camper shells made for off-road adventures, they were sold.
In June of 2012, Michele and Mark purchased a Four Wheel Camper Hawk Model Shell to sit atop their Ford F250 diesel truck.
Four Wheel Campers
Four Wheel Camper shells come as either a bare bones shell, or outfitted in a variety of configurations with multiple options. Because they wanted items such as a comfy bed, a furnace for all season camping, and a small kitchen, Michele and Mark chose a model that included a basic set-up and added the needed options.
The Four Wheel Camper Hawk Shell comes with some standard features:
- All aluminum flex-frame for off-roading durability
- Pop-top cabover bed that fits a queen size mattress and folds down for low clearance
- Finished wood interior walls and floor
- 2 small wall storage cabinets
- Two overhead dual lamp 12V lights
- Large radius louvered passenger side window
- Safety exit
- Roof vent
- Insulated side walls and roof
- Rugged vinyl side liner
- Aluminum exterior sides and roof
They also chose to have some optional features added for their style of camping:
- Forced air furnace with thermostat
- Side dinette seating with swivel seating
- Screen door
- Front opening window
- 85 watt solar panel
- Auxiliary battery system
- 2nd deep cycle battery
In addition, Mark added a few more features himself. Some of the these upgrades were purely functional, while others, like the Memory Foam mattress pad on their cabover bed, increased the comfort level.
Behind the dinette bench, they added a Dometic Portable Toilet for convenience when boondocking.
And on the other side of the dinette, an ARB 50 qt. Refrigerator that runs completely off solar power.
Speaking of solar power, Mark also added an additional 120 watt portable solar panel that can be moved around to capture the most rays. For storage he built a custom frame under the cabover portion of the truck camper where the panel slides in when not in use.
To keep up with all their power needs he also installed a Morningstar 300 watt Sure Sine Inverter, a 12 V accessory outlet, a Bogart Engineering Trimetric TM2025 Battery Monitor, and replaced all their lights with LED bulbs.
The final important upgrade was the gas strut roof assist lifts for the pop top. Now either of them can easily raise the roof even when it’s fully packed with stuff.
The Utility Trailer
This set-up worked well for them for several years. They — and their two dogs — happily traveled around the west seeking out secluded places off the beaten path. The only issue was that they needed a little bit more space for those extended winter trips; somewhere that they could store some recreational toys, a few tools, and extra resources such as water, wood and propane.
After rejecting high priced off-road utility trailers, they found exactly what they needed: a homemade utility trailer.
This one of a kind trailer was a craigslist find. It was a basic utility bed trailer outfitted with a truck topper for shelter, a front tool box, and side cabinets for extra storage — it was perfect! And with high clearance and large tires, this rugged little trailer was ready to handle any terrain.
The box cabinets on the side of the trailer are used to store items such as extra water, two 20 lb propane bottles, various tools, a portable stove and grill, plus all their cooking utensils.
The middle cabinet doubles as an outdoor kitchen.
Inside the trailer they store fun toys like their inflatable SUPs and mountain bikes.
While parked they can even use the interior of the trailer for extra office space! With the truck topper sides open the space has lots of light and ventilation. It turned out to be the perfect space for catching up on a little work while out on the road.
One Truck Camper + One Utility Trailer = Two Happy Campers
Michele and Mark have found the perfect camping set-up for their lifestyle. With their rugged four wheel drive truck camper combined with a go-anywhere utility trailer, they have comfort, storage space, and best of all a way to go off the beaten path and explore the wild terrain of the Western US. Yes indeed, they are truly Two Happy Campers.
To read more about Michele & Mark’s adventures visit their website.
Photos via: Two Happy Campers
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