By Tony Barthel
As I think more and more about electric trucks, one of the things that I consider is the problem of aerodynamics. The smaller the front of an RV of any kind is, the more easily it will glide through the wind. At the extreme for this would be comparing a Class A motorhome and a pop-up tent trailer. One is just going to produce less aerodynamic drag. So, with this in mind, I looked at Overland Explorer Vehicles CAMP-X pop-up truck camper.
I’m more and more intrigued by truck campers lately. The CAMP-X truck camper would seem to be a good match whether you’re using a four-wheel-drive pickup to explore hidden places or camping with the family.
OEV – Overland Explorer Vehicles
Overland Explorer Vehicles (OEV) is a company in Alberta, Canada. It specializes in vehicles and truck campers that are well adapted to the overlanding enthusiast. It’s for folks who like to find those trails and places that are way off the grid and require more than your garden-variety Prius or even pickup to get there.
In addition to the CAMP-X truck camper, OEV also makes some interesting Class C motorhomes. We’ll definitely take a look at those very soon.
Aren’t pop-ups cold?
You might think, as I did, that the idea of a pop-up camper and cold climate is incongruous. Isn’t the fabric of a pop-up the antithesis to good insulation? Apparently not, depending on how you do it.
In this case, OEV has a three-layer fabric section. The outer layer is a marine-grade fabric that is well-suited to withstand the sunlight and harshness of being outside. The next layer is an insulating layer which is sometimes made of 3M Thinsulate or a comparable product. Finally, the inner layer is a Sunbrella marine fabric.
So that the top doesn’t get pinched when the roof is lowered, the company has installed a series of loops to which you hook bungee cords before lowering the roof. This pulls the fabric inward keeping it out of the roof as it lowers.
There are also windows in the CAMP-X truck camper which are three layers with the outer layer being the transparent window material, then a heavy-duty screen and, finally, the Sunbrella interior fabric.
Being in Canada, the company had an opportunity to test their campers on a day where it was -15° C (5° F) with a wind chill factor of -26° C (-14.8° F). The company popped up the top of the camper and then installed a new propane bottle. They then cranked up the thermostat and let the whole thing run for four hours. After this, they weighed the propane bottle again.
To their surprise, the heating system only went through half a pound of propane. Extrapolating this to the typical 20-pound propane bottle means that the heater could operate for 160 hours on one of the two propane bottles… if my math is correct.
The company is also using dual-pane windows of the swing-up variety. This is another plus in the insulation department.
Other things in the CAMP-X truck camper
The CAMP-X is essentially a lightweight slide-in truck camper made from a composite material with powder-coated extruded reinforcements. There are a number of racks and attachment points for things like an outdoor shower tent and a roof rack for solar panels or adventure gear. There are also racks that are adjustable inside and out. So this camper can accommodate a variety of creative pieces and components.
The interior is relatively straightforward. It does not feature a restroom. However, there’s a Truma tankless water heater. In addition, the camper has provisions to put a shower tent on the outside where there’s provision for a showerhead, as well.
The company uses a Derringer Torklift tie-down system, which it states does not need periodic adjustments. This is unlike the typical turnbuckles that would be used to attach a camper to a pickup truck.
The tour of the CAMP-X truck camper
There is no overhead floor plan for this unit. No worries, though – we’ve got you covered.
As you enter at the rear, there is a two-person dinette on the camp side of this rig with a Lagun table between the fixed seats. Under the seat facing the back door of the camper is a cabinet. This could be used for an optional portable toilet if you want one. The floor of the dinette is raised about 8 inches, which the company says is where you can put shoes or, really, whatever you choose. But it’s good that they thought of shoe storage.
The first thing you see on the left, or road side, as you step into the camper next to the kitchen are the controls for the Truma Vario heating system. This is a component of the Truma on-demand water heater. That’s also where all the controls are for the camper.
Above that is the galley with a two-burner propane stove. Next to that is the kitchen sink.
At the front of the camper is a 12-volt Dometic compressor fridge. Powering that is a standard 100 amp-hour AGM battery system with a REDARC Manager30 system. This keeps tabs on charge and battery systems. Of course, you can outfit this camper with various solar power systems like a 180-watt solar panel on the roof. You can also upgrade the standard battery to a 170 amp-hour AGM battery. Or you could go with a 125 amp-hour lithium battery instead.
The bed in this is exactly where you’d expect it – over the cab. The company offers either a standard size bed or you can opt for an extension that turns it into a king-sized bed.
It’s simple to measure the fresh water level in the CAMP-X
One of the more unusual things I’ve seen is how you measure the tank level in the 20-gallon fresh water tank. Essentially, there’s a window at the front of the camper where you can see the translucent plastic tank. There’s even a light so you can literally see how much water is in there. It’s a simple, effective and fail-safe solution. Plus, the tank being in the body of the camper means it’s less likely to freeze if you’re winter camping.
If you’re not familiar with the term “Easter eggs,” it refers to a hidden message or image. It’s something that’s hidden by a company or an artist. Like Easter eggs… but not.
In this case, it’s the company logo. You’ll find it cut into all sorts of surfaces – from the rack supports to anchors and more. I think it’s nifty that they take pride in their logo, and they also clearly state that they made these parts in-house by affixing their logo on them. That even extends to the vent panel for the propane tanks.
This is not unlike the review I wrote on Wednesday of the Off Grid Trailers Expedition 2.0 in that the interior has a very industrial feel. However, this has a dramatically larger interior than that small trailer. And, as with that trailer, if you want to make this one more inviting perhaps sticking some temporary wallpaper from spoonflower.com on the walls would make all the difference in the world.
Truck campers give you a lot of options. You’ll want to be sure your truck is capable of this, of course, but a truck camper means you still can tow a trailer with your pickup truck. I see a lot of fishermen in my area with pickup campers and bass boats. These also offer you the opportunity to simply drop the camper off wherever you’re camping and take the pickup truck on adventures, as well. However, there are campgrounds that prohibit your dropping off truck campers.
Now, the lack of a bathroom (other than an optional porta-potty and an outdoor shower) might detract some campers from choosing this option. I totally understand that. These aren’t inexpensive and, while they are well thought through, those simple amenities being absent might make enough of a difference to some shoppers that they keep searching for other options.
But that’s the good thing about the RV industry. The only wrong answer is “wish-camping” – where you sit at home and wish you were camping.
These RV reviews are written based on information provided by the manufacturers along with our writer’s own research. We receive no money or other financial benefits from these reviews. They are intended only as a brief overview of the vehicle, not a comprehensive critique, which would require a thorough inspection and/or test drive.
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Maybe my next RV. Does it have Air Conditioning ?
Sure. All windows open at whatever the prevailing winds are doing. 😉