Tiny truck bed campers?

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Re: Tiny truck bed campers?

Postby cluttonfred » Sun Oct 17, 2021 3:33 am

Here's a quick and dirty concept for a small slide-in inspired by the Scout Yoho but sized for the 4' 6" long bed of the Maverick. The camper structure itself is all right angles and sharp edges but the section forward of the sleeping area would be a rounded air deflector either made from solid foam or sheet metal or plastic over foam ribs. I even drew a little removable air dam that would clip to the bottom after the camper is in the bed to reduce air pressure under the cantilever sleeping area.

Interior width above the bed rails and overall camper height would be 6' 6", dropping to 6' 3" in both dimensions on the interior (1-1/2" walls, floors, and roof). The sleeping area over the cab accommodates a 75" x 54" full mattress with about 3' clearance above the top of the mattress. Total height above ground is about 9' plus anything that sticks up from the roof like vent/skylights. Interior layout is challenging since you only have a 6' 3" wide x 4' 3" long space to work with above the bed rails and only 4' 3" x 4' 3" inside the bed though the whole truck bed area has 6' 3" headroom.

The two layouts I am playing around with are 1) a love seat on the left running the full length of the space (so 4' 3") with a narrow folding table to eat "TV dinner" style (two people side by side) with the kitchenette opposite, or 2) single seats on either side of bed facing the middle with a folding table between them, and the kitchenette divided between two small units on either side of the door. If I did include a porta-potty or composting toilet it would have to be something that lives under a seat and gets pulled out or the seat lifted up to use occasionally.

Just a concept at this point, but feedback welcome!

Maverick camper ideas.jpg
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Re: Tiny truck bed campers?

Postby RJ Howell » Sun Oct 17, 2021 6:54 am

More a fan of the long bench vs. the opposing seats. I like counter space (cooking/cleaning) in a line vs. it being an aerobic workout... The bench presents good storage of different items and a place to locate a cassette toilet. You may not now, yet down the road have interior water and the long counter gives you opportunity to add a simple jug system (with foot pump).

Take care in how far over the cab you stretch the cabin. It makes that candler tougher to structurally design. I have only 32" over and held by 1.5 x 1.5 steel tube. Mot of these style campers utilize a pull out overhead bed. That way some of the weigh is back into the cabin area. You run solo, no need to pull it out. Run dual, pull it out..

I would also suggest you make space for a small DC chest frig. You again may not want it now, but down the road you probably will. I bought one that is a bit big, yet it allows us more time backcountry. Typically I'm looking for gas 1st..LOL

A few thoughts for ya. Take your time in design phase.
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Re: Tiny truck bed campers?

Postby cluttonfred » Sun Oct 17, 2021 8:36 am

RJ Howell wrote:A few thoughts for ya. Take your time in design phase.


Thanks, RJ. Yes, I had planned to work in a very small 12v cooler, hand- or foot-pumped water tank and grey water storage with a small sink, and a single-burner stove. I hear you on the back and forth between separate counters and will likely go with the single love seat, I figure snuggling up with my wife is more important than sitting across from each other for a candlelit dinner. ;-) I can always get a folding camp chair and sit on the other side of the table from the love seat.

Looking it over again, I think I would go with a shorter table hinged to the front bulkhead to be out of the way when not needed. That would also allow the door to be on the centerline and you would step into a relatively open space, which is something I do like about the opposed dinette for two version.

Hehe, if you don't like that overhang you're really not going to like the 7' wide version that allows an 80" x 60" queen size bed over the cab. That said, for both versions I was thinking of using one or two ordinary roof rack bars on the cab to reduce the strain on the cantilever overhang. I am not so sure that a pull-out bed extension makes much sense in a main "cabin" that is only 4' 6" long.

Cheers,

Matthew

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Tiny truck bed campers?

Postby nsfr1206 » Sun Oct 17, 2021 4:33 pm

Speaking of tacos, and maybe a bit off topic but have you seen the Tacoma truck camper Toyota is wanting to build?

https://www.gearpatrol.com/cars/a379727 ... tacozilla/


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Re: Tiny truck bed campers?

Postby cluttonfred » Mon Oct 18, 2021 6:10 am

Considering the 100,000+ voluntary deposits that Ford received even before the Maverick hit the dealerships, ditto the enthusiastic reception for the Hyundai Santa Cruz, there is going to be a very lucrative market for lightweight micro truck campers to suit this newly revived compact truck category. I think you'll be seeing "Maverickzilla" before too long.

nsfr1206 wrote:Speaking of tacos, and maybe a bit off topic but have you seen the Tacoma truck camper Toyota is wanting to build?

https://www.gearpatrol.com/cars/a379727 ... tacozilla/


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Re: Tiny truck bed campers?

Postby RJ Howell » Mon Oct 18, 2021 6:36 am

" I was thinking of using one or two ordinary roof rack bars on the cab to reduce the strain on the cantilever overhang."

I'd put a bit more thought/research into that especially with the base vehicle you are using. Most ran systems are ~200 lbs max so once you figure cabin weight, you're weight, then force applied as bouncing down a dirt road... Then there's is the roof strong enough or if gutter rail supported.. I'd do a bit of research before thinking any further along that path.

We all know someone that has carried way over rated weight. I do as well! He carried close to 900lbs on the roof on his run to Alaska. Understand though, he mounted from factory rails, that he re-supported from inside and it was uver a 7ft span (in length). This is on an over-built Surburan. So ya, it can be done...just not on a stockie..

The 'rule of thumb' to Cantilever is no more than 1/3 of the total length of the beam without additional support. Real calculations can be made from this: https://skyciv.com/docs/tutorials/beam-tutorials/cantilever-beam/

Going wider than the base vehicle adds to wind drag and wind capture between the overhang and the cab. The wider you go the more you add, take care in this approach especially and you don't have a pop-top. That a large sail on a lightweight truck... you may end up picking the days you can drive it due to wind.. Along the coastline I have to with mine and I'm low profile!

Good to see you progressing! Hope some of this helps.
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Re: Tiny truck bed campers?

Postby cluttonfred » Wed Oct 20, 2021 8:07 am

I am not fond of the idea of a fabric-sided pop-up camper because of the noise of the fabric in any kind of wind, been there and done that tent camping for many years.

Here's a quick sketch of a rigid pop-up camper with the top in three pieces...a 12" high bottom fixed to the main body, a 15" middle, and an 18" top cap. The top would be all plywood except the roof, which would be a sandwich of light plywood and foam, though I could also see using the fixed bottom to form wood-and-foam beams to support the cantilever sleeping area. With 2" overlap between the sections and a 1-/12 total thickness to the roof, interior height over the floor in the sleeping area would be 39-1/2 inches. Total height above the cab would be under 24" when nested and closed so about 7' 9" including the height of the Maverick.

Maverick camper ideas.jpg
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If you wanted more height, adding 3" to each section would make the interior height a generous 48-1/2" over the floor in the sleeping area when raised and the the exterior height when closed would still be 8' even. Challenges I see are 1) the raising mechanism though if kept light it could just be manually raised from the inside with pins to lock it up or down, 2) sealing between the section when raised (less of an issue when lowered given the setup like a boat hatch), and 3) making that middle piece rigid enough since it's just an unsupported frame.

Feedback welcome!

PS--The more I think about it the more the unsupported middle frame seems like a pitfall. A 24" high box top over a 23-1/2" high frame with 2" overlap when raised and 1-1/2" roof thickness would give a sleeping area interior height of 44" and still drop down to 24" when closed to keep the overall height to about 8'.

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Re: Tiny truck bed campers?

Postby RJ Howell » Thu Oct 21, 2021 6:25 am

I've found that through all sorts of weather and extensive travel... it's not the wind against the fabric sides that bothers.. it's the rain on the roof! Not the light pat of rain drops, those downpours!!

There are several folding side designs out there. From complex angles for it all to raise together to simpler designs of two opposing side lifting the roof and the other two fold in afterwards. I have looked at the later a few times. The Alaskan uses a combo of slip over side (3) and a fold up in the front. This eliminates the guides required to raise equally on the loft (over the cab) section. The trend on the angle lift is gaining mainly due to the simplicity of it. The angle lift could also be hard-sided with folding end and two lift panels on the sides.

Before moving forward with lift design, I suggest you spend some time engineering the loft's support.. That's a point importance. I believe that will direct your design of size and lift.

Just MHO
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Re: Tiny truck bed campers?

Postby popper » Thu Oct 21, 2021 10:56 am

I wonder how much a dual roof system would help with rain noise. Somebody here mentioned wanting to try such in pmf for sun heat. Thought it was an interesting idea. I guess you could also do a dual roof with an awning but seems that would be vulnerable to *wind*.

https://trailmanor.com/

There is this commercial travel trailer "trailmanor" which uses four pivoting struts for rise. I quite liked that idea but it has lots of moving parts. I was thinking of simplifying that kind of pivoting idea by just doing a single pivot point at a time. Simplify by eliminating the struts and if its light enough it wouldn't need to be sprung. I think a simplified pivoting system could work well on a truck bed camper.
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Re: Tiny truck bed campers?

Postby Tom&Shelly » Thu Oct 21, 2021 11:15 am

popper wrote:I wonder how much a dual roof system would help with rain noise. Somebody here mentioned wanting to try such in pmf for sun heat. Thought it was an interesting idea. I guess you could also do a dual roof with an awning but seems that would be vulnerable to rain.

https://trailmanor.com/

There is this commercial travel trailer "trailmanor" which uses four pivoting struts for rise. I quite liked that idea but it has lots of moving parts. I was thinking of simplifying that kind of pivoting idea by just doing a single pivot point at a time. Simplify by eliminating the struts and if its light enough it wouldn't need to be sprung. I think a simplified pivoting system could work well on a truck bed camper.


I've often lulled myself to sleep listening to hard rains on the tear roof (and before that the tent) by thinking about how much more fun it was to be in there, and dry, than out in it!

Seriously, how far do you wish to remove yourself from the environment when camping? But, to each their own.

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Re: Tiny truck bed campers?

Postby popper » Thu Oct 21, 2021 11:39 am

I think I would agree with your take but I've actually never camped in the rain. The point was raised in the post before mine. In any case different strokes, I can totally see somebody sensitive to noise wanting a dual roof.
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Re: Tiny truck bed campers?

Postby Tom&Shelly » Thu Oct 21, 2021 12:37 pm

popper wrote:I think I would agree with your take but I've actually never camped in the rain. The point was raised in the post before mine. In any case different strokes, I can totally see somebody sensitive to noise wanting a dual roof.


Fair 'nough! I see your point.

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Re: Tiny truck bed campers?

Postby RJ Howell » Fri Oct 22, 2021 5:41 am

"Seriously, how far do you wish to remove yourself from the environment when camping? But, to each their own."

Having been caught 4 times in Tropical storms while traveling, I find I'm not 'lulled' to sleep as they pound on the roof. For that matter the same for at home as I wonder what damage is being done..

The point made was it hasn't been the wind against the fabric noise that has bothered me, but the heavy rain noise on the roof. Not the pitter/patter of a thunder shower.
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Re: Tiny truck bed campers?

Postby working on it » Fri Oct 22, 2021 7:49 am

Tom&Shelly wrote:...I've often lulled myself to sleep listening to hard rains on the tear roof (and before that the tent) by thinking about how much more fun it was to be in there, and dry, than out in it!....



popper wrote:...I've actually never camped in the rain....


RJ Howell wrote:...Having been caught 4 times in Tropical storms while traveling, I find I'm not 'lulled' to sleep as they pound on the roof. For that matter the same for at home as I wonder what damage is being done..

The point made was it hasn't been the wind against the fabric noise that has bothered me, but the heavy rain noise on the roof. Not the pitter/patter of a thunder shower.


* I haven't been camping when there hadn't been some sort of weather event, ever; seems like I'm some sort of rainmaker. Even in the Boy Scouts, there was rain, high winds, or even sleet & snow (extremely rare in N.Texas in Spring or Fall, when we mostly camped), but I surely can't remember any totally dry outings. Even car-camping while attempting to hunt, later-on, there was always some inclement weather to deal with.

* So, after building the 4x8 trailer, I bought a canopy to help cover the trailer, as a second layer between me and the weather, to try to shield the flat roof (to prevent pooling water around bolt-holes up there, though I always re-seal before each season, and park the trailer at a slight angle to promote run-off), and to enable a dry(er) entry into the trailer, with the canopy overhanging the doorway. As an extra bonus, it reduces heat inside the trailer, by intercepting direct sun during the day (it seems to T-storm at night, following a hot day, on the majority of camping days).

* I use sidewalls attached to the canopy to further shield the trailer/entrance from wherever the rain or wind is expected; on my last campout, I was on a point on a lakeshore, where the wind was extremely strong during the day, and the massive T-storms one night were so severe that I felt the trailer move rearward on the pad (even though weighing over 2500 lbs with me inside). I'm glad I had one wheel chained to the spring, and had three stabilizers on the ground (next time, the truck will be attached, too). I had my canopy tethered to a tree, the trailer, and heavy coolers, so it was shifted, but still over the trailer, the next morning. No, the rain never lulls me to sleep while camping, nor do the tornado warnings on my radios, either (I camp in N.Texas and S.Oklahoma).

* My canopy remains intact after 9 years of use, and I always carry a spare. If I had built a truck camper, I would still use a canopy/tarp as a secondary roof over it (I had previously camped in a bare camper shell, using a tarp overhead, once or twice, since the heavy rain noise was extreme). For under a $100 (mine were each $50), using a canopy as a secondary roof will surely be beneficial in one way or another.
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Re: Tiny truck bed campers?

Postby cluttonfred » Fri Oct 22, 2021 9:24 am

While I appreciate the more general conversation, I would really love to have to some more feedback on the various small truck camper layouts I have proposed. A few specific questions:

  • How much vertical height is necessary (and how much would be nice to have) above a full or queen bunk?
  • Pros/cons to the single loveseat vs. two-person dinette arrangement? Any alternative ideas?
  • Any feedback on the hard pop up concepts, other examples, alternatives?
  • Ideas on how best to raise and support such a rigid pop-top, manual or electric?
  • Thoughts on a camper that projects beyond the truck bed with tailgate down or removed vs a short one inside the bed with tailgate up?

Thanks and regards,

Matthew
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