Tiny truck bed campers?

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Tiny truck bed campers?

Postby cluttonfred » Sun Oct 03, 2021 9:24 am

Does anyone have any plans to recommend for DIY tiny truck bed campers in the TNTTT spirit? I've been complaining about the lack of small, inexpensive pickups (like the ones from Ford, Isuzu, Mazda, etc. in the 1980s) for years and now I've got my eye on the new little 2022 Ford Maverick. I'd love to see some examples of small truck campers that could inspire a Maverick Mini-Camper project in the near future. Any ideas? Thanks!
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Re: Tiny truck bed campers?

Postby dbhosttexas » Sun Oct 03, 2021 11:23 am

Not that tiny, but I know truck bed campers have been around ever since small truck beds have...

I am building a foamie wide body camper shell style camper. Using a wedge pop top.

My first truck bed camper shell camper was with a 1989 Toyoto standard bed 4x4, with if I remember an ARE hi top cap. I would simply toss an air mattress in the bed of the truck and have a good go at it. The tailgate functioned as a camp kitchen table.

You can go from as absolutely simple as you want, to as fully decked out as your dreams can take you. Just be sure to keep an eye on weight, and size as the Maverick can't possibly have that much payload capacity. Stick within your limits, and account for every last ounce, including passengers, fuel, food etc...
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Re: Tiny truck bed campers?

Postby Squigie » Sun Oct 03, 2021 11:28 am

The Maverick seems like a fun little trucklet. I am glad to see it come to market. But the FWD drivetrain and tiny 4.5' bed make me hesitant. (Especially with the transmission being used.)

The only vehicles that I can think of with a bed of roughly the same tiny size are the VW Caddy (first gen, and longer bed) and VW Beetle conversion pickups.
Coincidentally, the Caddy is also unibody and FWD.

The biggest problem you'll run into, I think, is the combination of FWD and the tiny bed requiring cantilevering the camper *way* off the rear end of the vehicle. If the camper is heavy, traction and handling may be impacted.

I can't find any DIY designs on these.
But there were commercial offerings.

https://nl.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bestand:Vw_caddy_1_a_sst.jpg

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Re: Tiny truck bed campers?

Postby cluttonfred » Sun Oct 03, 2021 11:50 am

Thank you both for the comments. I realize it would be small but this would be Spartan accommodations for one or two people used to tent camping so not very demanding. Maverick specs aren’t too bad at 1500 lb payload and 2000 lb towing for the base model. I was thinking of something about 6’ 6” wide to allow sleeping crosswise above the cab and limiting the main box in the bed to the length with the tailgate down (about 6’). Of course it would all have to very light but I think it would be doable, perhaps using painted Dacron over a wooden frame for some parts.
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Re: Tiny truck bed campers?

Postby dbhosttexas » Sun Oct 03, 2021 5:08 pm

cluttonfred wrote:Thank you both for the comments. I realize it would be small but this would be Spartan accommodations for one or two people used to tent camping so not very demanding. Maverick specs aren’t too bad at 1500 lb payload and 2000 lb towing for the base model. I was thinking of something about 6’ 6” wide to allow sleeping crosswise above the cab and limiting the main box in the bed to the length with the tailgate down (about 6’). Of course it would all have to very light but I think it would be doable, perhaps using painted Dacron over a wooden frame for some parts.



The wider width you are talking about will require a DIY approach. And is exactly the reason I am doing my own instead of using a factory camper shell on my F150.
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Re: Tiny truck bed campers?

Postby pchast » Sun Oct 03, 2021 8:31 pm

I just went searching the on line data listed.. :thinking:

You do realize that is a scant half ton truck as the total includes the weight of all passengers.
Its not really smaller than the ranger in its specs... The main difference seems to be the unibody
instead of body on frame.
I don't see this as a replacement compact truck at all :(
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Re: Tiny truck bed campers?

Postby cluttonfred » Sun Oct 03, 2021 10:23 pm

Hmmm…not sure where you’re getting your numbers…Ranger is about a foot longer, a foot wider, and a few inches taller than a Maverick. Ranger payload is 1860 lb vs. 1500 lb for the Maverick. That all seems just fine for me and 40 mpg around town (without a camper) and a base price including destination fees under $22k are pretty appealing. The question is going to be can I build a usable truck bed camper that comes in under, say, 600 lb?

Image

pchast wrote:I just went searching the on line data listed.. :thinking:

You do realize that is a scant half ton truck as the total includes the weight of all passengers.
Its not really smaller than the ranger in its specs... The main difference seems to be the unibody
instead of body on frame.
I don't see this as a replacement compact truck at all :(
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Re: Tiny truck bed campers?

Postby dbhosttexas » Mon Oct 04, 2021 7:32 am

cluttonfred wrote:Hmmm…not sure where you’re getting your numbers…Ranger is about a foot longer, a foot wider, and a few inches taller than a Maverick. Ranger payload is 1860 lb vs. 1500 lb for the Maverick. That all seems just fine for me and 40 mpg around town (without a camper) and a base price including destination fees under $22k are pretty appealing. The question is going to be can I build a usable truck bed camper that comes in under, say, 600 lb?

Image

pchast wrote:I just went searching the on line data listed.. :thinking:

You do realize that is a scant half ton truck as the total includes the weight of all passengers.
Its not really smaller than the ranger in its specs... The main difference seems to be the unibody
instead of body on frame.
I don't see this as a replacement compact truck at all :(


Your issues are going to be payload, and space. You will need to do a LOT of custom design work to make it work with the curves of the Maverick cab to bed meeting point.

Foam board XPS insulation, which is the base product used for foamie construction is quite light. Combined with canvas, and gripper, plus paint you will still come in WELL under 600 lbs. The listed weights from retailers are honestly WAY off, but still quite light. I would be surprised if when properly designed, a "foamie" camper shell comes in at any weight over 100lbs.

Go to the foamies section of this forum, and search for truck camper, there is a guy that built one for a first generation Tacoma that he is able to pick up and carry around like a canoe.
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Re: Tiny truck bed campers?

Postby RJ Howell » Mon Oct 04, 2021 12:14 pm

Check this guy out! I just found him and always looking for people like minded building like this. I see some other ways I'd go at it on design, yet each to their own needs!
I really like the angle lift top (which is so much easier to build then what I did. I'd go a bit further over the cab and deeper on that part of the cabin to create 'upstairs sleeping and hold a thicker mattress up there. Does it have to be on a flatbed? Nope! I didn't, but my rig is dedicated to camping (I have another truck).

I think this should get you started with "It can be done" and being done. When yo see what I did, remember it's on a 1/2 ton frame and my cabin is only 70lbs heavier than what the old bed was!

My Build: http://tnttt.com/viewtopic.php?f=55&t=72408


The guy to checkout!




Build it!
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Re: Tiny truck bed campers?

Postby gudmund » Mon Oct 04, 2021 6:43 pm

one "BIG" problem with the last response saying to 'build it' showing a picture of a small PU with it's bed removed = the bed of this new Ford Maverick is "NOT" removeable = it is being built like the first version of the Honda Ridgeline PU was introduced with a few years back = both have a "Unibody' construction, the bed is not a separate bed like on a real PU (or like the second generation Honda Ridgeline being built with now days, it has a separate bed now) Ford did this one time before, when in the early sixty's they tied the box to the cab on a 'light duty' basic F-100 version which ended up not working out very well after being over-loaded a few times too many...... -- I put this 'all' in the 'H/F' frame category of opinions -- I say start out with a good 'strong' (more than what you will ever need base/frame) being once you get it built - you 'will' ""always"" end up with 'more' than you ever planned on or for........little trucks are smaller versions of big trucks - example = using a Chev Colorado/Ford Ranger/Toyota Tacoma - all 3 are rated for way over what 'we' teardropper's would ever be needing for towing a teardrop but 'later' down the road, anyone of them could always move up to towing a larger trailer (all 3 of them are in the tow load range of 6800 to 7500lbs capacity) This new Maverick is a 'car' based vehicle being made to do 'LIGHT DUTY' jobs which is why it comes with such a "small' cargo carrying box............. just my opinion - take care ...................
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Re: Tiny truck bed campers?

Postby cluttonfred » Mon Oct 04, 2021 11:35 pm

I am surprised to hear folks recommend essentially "bigger is better" in a forum for Teardrops n Tiny Travel Trailers. The appeal of a small, light teardrop trailer for me is that it can be so much more economical than a larger trailer including the size and efficiency of the tow vehicle. The Maverick's 1500 lb load capacity and 2000 lb towing capacity in even the base model seem very workable to me if you keep those limits in mind. I took the suggestion of the flatbed trailer conversion video as inspiration only. I have also found a number of videos on foamie and traditional designs that gave me some ideas, including pop tops though I would prefer a simpler fixed design if I can make it work. I could also see a mostly fixed design with a pop top only to provide headroom over a small standing area.
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Re: Tiny truck bed campers?

Postby RJ Howell » Tue Oct 05, 2021 7:10 am

Glad to see you understood the purpose of the post, some folks just don't..

Uni-body just means being even more creative and how far you wish to go. I followed another that built up from an older Bronco and went 'over' the body. If you have the creativity, there's alway a way.

Ha, I met a dude who did a setup out of a Prius.. Don't tell me it can't be done.. I've met far to many that can do it!
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Re: Tiny truck bed campers?

Postby Squigie » Tue Oct 05, 2021 9:06 am

The Maverick is wider than I expected. 72.6" body width and 84" to the mirrors. That helps.

You absolutely could get it done for less than 600 lb.
Heck, I think you could come in at notably less even with a steel tubing frame.

The 108"x63" TD 'cabin' design that I've been changing, modifying, and refining for the last 2 years comes in at about 620 lb with a sandwiched 1.25"x0.75" .120 wall rectangular tube steel frame, and slightly heavier with sandwiched 3/4" plywood. With steel, the monocoque "stressed box" aspect is no longer a thing. But with my space, tools, and climate, it is easier to get done. (I can weld outside in the winter, but glue-ups are rarely possible - even in the garage. And this TD has to be built outside. ...Mostly over the winter.)
The frame and suspension add a notable amount of weight. But you don't need those for a camper.


gudmund wrote:(...) This new Maverick is a 'car' based vehicle being made to do 'LIGHT DUTY' jobs which is why it comes with such a "small' cargo carrying box............. just my opinion - take care ...................

People tow with cars, minivans, small SUVs, "crossovers", wagons, unibody 'pickups', and other "light duty" vehicles all the time.
What's your specific beef with the Maverick?

Edit: Out of curiosity, I pulled up the dimensions of my 2004 Ford Ranger. Though it does have a 6 foot bed and is body-on-frame, it is smaller than the Maverick in several dimensions, has a lower payload rating, and doesn't have much more power.
"Ranger good! Maverick bad!" :thinking:
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Re: Tiny truck bed campers?

Postby gudmund » Tue Oct 05, 2021 10:12 am

just my "opinion" and what I said - has now been stated here........ personally I would rather have 'more' than what is ever needed for a bit of 'overkill' in the long run....and as I also said with the 'H/F' frame comment - we see it all of the time = "I'll do 'this and that' to beef up "that or this"... Question: How much 'time and $$$' is spent in the long run trying to make one into a 'real' frame when in fact = it will never be.....(and Yes - my opinion of them probably is swayed after seeing a north bound PU towing what was left of the tongue of one, with the rest of it - the trailer - sitting mangled among the cars it collided with in the south bound lanes on I-5 just south of Bellingham, Wa. a few years back) I personally drive as a daily driver a Suzuki Swift (have had 7 GeoMetro/SuzukiSwift's since 1987 driving them just short of a mill-miles 'combined') - would I ever try to tow a teardrop with one? = NO Like I said = just my opinion .................

(and yes a 04 Ranger also has a 'full frame' under it like real full sized PU have = so YES I am a fan of real "frames" when it comes to towing trailers ...................To each their own = do whatever your heart desires + go for it!!!! - am just stating "my" opinion on this subject being it was asked............ :thinking: (kind of = Point-counter Point)
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Re: Tiny truck bed campers?

Postby popper » Tue Oct 05, 2021 11:19 am

This is a pretty cool lightweight slide-in example linked below in a Tacoma.. and there are plenty more examples with vids. Gotta love the age of yt. This one is really neat though, under 500 pounds and decent enough space and slide out. I especially like the not smooth finish.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MAGhUolw-i0

I'm with dbhost.. a foam build like this is just the ticket for applications where you need to keep weight down. If you make it big its going to be light. If you make it small its going to be even lighter.
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