Two Extremes: Tarp to Truck Camper

Backpacking is a favorite way to travel, and I enjoy the challenge of reducing the pack weight. At the other extreme (for me) is traveling in my Four Wheel Truck Camper. I definitely eat better with the benefit of Becca’s meal planning. I keep wondering if there’s a way for her to cater our backpacking trips!

In this post, I’ll give a quick tour of the truck camper. It’s a Raven Shell model which means it doesn’t have any of the internal options that more expensive and heavy models include. The Raven fits this short bed truck. I was tempted to get a Hawk model but it would hang over the rear by six inches. We like the shell because it gives us more space and we can add what we need when we need it.

Four Wheel Truck Camper Raven Shell

A favorite feature of the truck camper is that you camp wherever you can park. It takes about two minutes to raise the top, and you’re set.

A sleeping pad comes with the camper, and we’ve found it to be comfortable. Rather than bedding, we use a two-person sleeping bag that stays in place on the mattress when we lower the top for driving. The Little Giant steps are added to make it easy to climb into the sleeping compartment. The steps also double as a nice chair.

The empty shell gives you bench areas for sitting or using as tables. We’ve thought of adding a table but the cover of the 12-volt battery compartment on the back corner makes a nice table. There are charging ports there and the solar panels we already owned plug into a jack on the outside of the camper. We’ve used the built in LED lights and the fan without draining the battery over a couple of days.

View from the sleeping pad

With a roof vent, fan, and lots of screened windows, the camper works well in all but the hottest months in the Ozarks. When summer comes, it’s time to go to higher elevations out west anyway.

Options: A canopy adds living space that is protected from rain and sun. One person can set it up and take it down, but it’s easier with two.

You can order the truck camper with a built-in stovetop, but I opted to use a separate inexpensive Coleman stove for outside cooking. Definitely the right decision for us!

Another option was on-board heat. I opted for a portable propane indoor heater (Mr. Heater). On extremely cold mornings, I can fire it up for a few minutes, and the space warms up quickly.

Last, but not least, is the Thetford Porta Potti. We place it inside overnight to avoid midnight walks to the campground toilets. It has a fresh water pump for the bowl and empties into a storage tank that is easy to empty at dump stations or pit toilets.

Popup top down and ready to drive

To tarp or truck camp? It depends on how you want to travel. When traveling distance by foot, the tarp is my preferred shelter. The truck camper is a great option for us, especially with family. The goal is getting outside and seeing the beauty of nature. However you travel and whatever shelter use, get out there and enjoy!

Becca at the Bennett Springs flow in Missouri