By Tony Barthel
I spend more time than I should trolling various RV forums and seeing what people are saying and buying. A couple of folks recently mentioned buying a Runaway Campers mini-camper. I was curious and decided to take a look.
Runaway Campers, in Summerfield, Florida, is a small family-owned company that started when founder Stephen Shives was modifying a transit bus. After building a finished product using some parts from a donor bus, he took the donor bus to the junkyard to dispose of it, but they wouldn’t have it.
“Too much fiberglass,” they said. So, he took the bus back to his shop and realized a side section might make a great camping trailer base. That first camper actually sold and now, more than 1,000 sales later, the company has grown considerably.
Unlike many RV companies, the products produced by Runaway Campers are very simple and straightforward. You might almost call them a blank canvas for what they offer. Essentially, they’re a box on wheels.
But that’s oversimplifying it. Sort of.
I took a look at their Venturist, or V-Series, offering after spending a bit of time on their website. The V-Series is the same basic idea as their other campers but more suited to the off-road enthusiast.
There are two different models with the V-Series, a 4X8 and a 6X8. The numbers refer to the floor size of the camper.
Your story to tell
Essentially what you get is a blank canvas with an air conditioner. Inside, there is a single power strip into which you plug the AC. That’s it.
What there isn’t is a bed, toilet, sink, or any plumbing whatsoever. Your electrical is a 20-amp extension cord into the side of the camper with which you can run that AC. Bam.
So you might ask yourself how is this much different than the cargo trailer conversions I’ve written about in the past? A lot and not much at the same time.
Runaway Campers trailers have lots of ground clearance
First of all, one of the more interesting aspects of the V-Series trailers is the suspension. Runaway Campers uses a Timbren Axle-Less suspension system which has been set to offer maximum ground clearance with over 20” under the frame of the camper. Since there’s no axle across the middle, there’s less to get hung up on when you’re off-road.
You can also get that axle in a variety of bolt patterns. That means you can get it to match the wheels you might be putting on your tow vehicle. Got a Jeep with 33s on it? No worries, they can match the bolt pattern so you can have the same wheels on the tow vehicle as on the trailer.
In fact, I wish this were a standard in many ways. I mean, if you have the same wheels on your tow vehicle as you do on your trailer, you don’t have to carry a separate spare tire for the trailer and the tow vehicle. Simple. But this is only an ideal situation with a single-axle trailer where there isn’t the tire scrubbing in tight turns.
Get your trailer painted to match your tow vehicle
Runaway Campers also indicated that they can paint the trailer to match your tow vehicle with just about any automotive finish available.
Unlike the company’s regular models, another thing I like about the V-Series is that the fenders were designed to be a step. That means if you get the optional roof racks you can easily access them by standing on the fenders.
Speaking of options, there are also racks for the front, a housing for a propane bottle on the side, Rhino Rack awnings for the side or a batwing awning, baskets, a tongue basket and much more.
In other words, for a simple trailer, it has a lot of options and features.
What about the interior of the Runaway Campers?
Based on the various things I saw on social media including a number of YouTube channels, the appeal of this trailer is the “blank canvas” factor. For example, the 6X8 model is specifically sold as being able to fit a queen-sized bed inside. A number of the owners had bought a tri-fold bed that doubled as a couch.
One of the almost universal truths of RVs, in general, is that the mattress that comes with the RV is basically worthless unless you add a memory foam topper or even replace it entirely right from the start.
It makes a lot of sense not to include things you’re just going to replace anyway and let you choose your own things. The mods I saw for these campers were varied and made them everything from a well-outfitted home base to a simple hard shell tent, for lack of a better description.
I’ve looked at quite a few RVs where people have provided for outdoor showers or toilets with small tents. In fact, you can get a RoadShower system with this, which is just that.
Another thing that I liked about this trailer is that you can opt for a big back door so you can access your gear from the rear or even make that into the doorway to a kitchen or a way to get adventure gear in and out.
There are certainly fancier trailers, but Runaway Campers isn’t here to be that. The company offers a simple, blank canvas – and that’s the appeal to everybody who has bought one of their trailers. Rather than undoing what someone else did so you can start with your own ideas, here you’re simply given the chance to do what you think is ideal.
You’ll notice I didn’t put a chart with today’s review simply because there are few details I haven’t already covered here. One of the things you might be curious about is pricing, which the company is very forthcoming with. The Venture 4×8 model starts at $8,495 and the larger 6×8 starts at $10,495. That includes 17” Method race wheels shod with 33” all-terrain tires and that Timbren axle-less suspension with electric brakes.
The company knows what it’s doing – which might be why they could be described as a Runaway success.
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.
Got an RV we need to look at? Contact us today and let us know in the form below – thank you!