A while back we featured our good friend Terrill and his new 2016 Tacoma TRD Off-Road (see that article here). Since then, Terrill has elevated his setup further with the addition of a brand-new 4-Wheel Camper. We had a chance recently to catch up with Terrill and chat about both his decision to buy a slide-in camper, as well as his initial impressions of the camper after living with it for a while.
If you are possibly interested in a slide-in camper setup, read-on. If you like learning about interesting setups from experienced backcountry 4×4 adventurers (isn’t that all of you?), also read on. Anyone else, resume watching cat videos, or whatever.
(Q) Why did you ditch your roof top tent for a camper?
(A) Well, I have a few reasons but the main one is focused on sleeping in Wal-Mart parking lots. Seriously, I’ve been on countless road trips over the years and no matter how many cups of coffee or energy drinks I consume, I still struggle to stay awake. So instead of finding a camping spot to open up my tent, I usually pay for a hotel. Most of my trips take place over the weekend and I typically drive several hours to reach one destination. Having the ability to pull off the road and sleep almost anywhere is a huge plus.
(Q) Why a slide in camper and not a pull behind one?
(A) I did consider a small travel trailer but most of the places I go are impossible to reach with this kind of arrangement. My overall idea of having a camper was one that permitted me to venture to the same areas that my roof top tent allowed. A slide in camper gave me the opportunity to explore narrow and rugged trails with the added benefit of boondocking at Wal-Mart.
(Q) Why a Four Wheel Camper?
(A) When I realized I wanted a slide in camper I knew there was only one company that I could trust. With a reputation that dates back to the early seventies and basic principles that revolve around light weight, durability and simplicity, I felt confident with them. My camper, a shell with a few options, weighs in around 700lbs and seems like it’s built to last a lifetime.
(Q)Most Four Wheel Campers come with amenities but you ordered yours as a shell. Why?
(A) Yeah, most campers come with storage areas, sinks, propane stoves and heaters, but I wanted something that was bare-bones functional. I didn’t really understand the point of having a built in heater during the middle of summer or having a stove inside when I planned on cooking outside. Don’t get me wrong, I still have a small portable heater that I use on winter camping trips, but during the warmer nights I can use the extra space for other items. Same thing with the stove. Most of the cooking is done on a portable grill that I use outside of the camper, but if the need arises and I need to cook up a meal in the camper I can.
(Q) What modifications did you do to your truck before the camper could be installed?
(A) In regards to truck modifications to accept the camper, all I’ve done is add Firestone Ride Rite Air Bags and relocate the rear camera. The bags help level out the truck (reduce squat) and work great to maintain the ride quality. It’s also nice to have the ability to reduce the PSI in the airbags when the camper is off the truck.
(Q) How does your truck handle with the camper on?
(A) Surprisingly, other than the wind noise I barely noticed a change. Since my truck has a 4” lift and 33” tires, I figured I would have a harder time on the highway during windy days, but the truck stays in line with ease. I will say that I spend more time at the pump and my average MPG dropped from 18 down to 15 on highway driving. But the power is still there and if I want to keep up with traffic I can. I’m just limited to how much gas I want to burn so I usually cruise around 65-70mph.
For those of you looking for a flexible slide-in solution, Terrill has laid out quite the blueprint!