By Tony Barthel
I’ve talked about overlanding in the past on here, which is essentially hard-core off-grid camping. Finding that magical spot in a faraway place that will make all your friends jealous when you show it to them on Facebook… once you’ve gotten back.
There are a number of rigs being built that touch on this. There is also a community of manufacturers with four-wheel-drive pickup campers and four-wheel-drive vans that are capable in some ways. But we talked to Nico Monforte from TruckHouse in Sparks, Nevada, who, along with co-founder Matt Linder, is truly upping the game.
Great bones in the TruckHouse BCT
Starting with a Toyota Tacoma TRD 4X4 pickup, the team at TruckHouse then goes through that vehicle and significantly improves its ability off-road. The changes include using an Expedition Long-Travel suspension, upgrading the brakes, replacing the rear axle with a specifically fabricated unit for this application, changing the front and rear bumpers to allow for better clearance, and even putting a snorkel into the intake system so you can ford some deeper waters.
Of course, wheels and tires are upped significantly. In addition, there are recovery ladders and high-performance driving lights. Even the gearing for the drive system is reconfigured to improve torque. The chassis, too, is reinforced to accommodate the camper on the back.
That camper of the TruckHouse BCT is quite an interesting piece itself. It completely replaces the bed of the truck. It is constructed of vacuum-infused material that started out in the aerospace industry, migrated to boating, and now can be found here.
There are carbon fiber reinforced components, dual-pane European-style windows, a power step and even an awning.
According to Nico, “[O]ur composite construction is substantially stronger and lighter than traditional fiberglass.”
While the initial prototype of the TruckHouse BCT is still being finalized, the company already has orders in hand for these unique vehicles.
Layout of the TruckHouse BCT
Stepping into the back (thanks to the power-operated step) of the BCT, you are faced with the wet bath in front of you. That bath features a cassette toilet. To your right, over the cab, is a full queen bed. There are dual-pane windows keeping the interior light and airy.
On the left is the galley with a two-burner stove. There’s a U-shaped dinette in the back that converts to a 73” X 43” bed. Across from the stove is a drawer-style 12-volt refrigerator, pantry and storage.
While this truck is designed to find adventure in the great outdoors, that doesn’t mean the indoors has less merit. The company is borrowing their flooring from the boating world with marine-grade flooring. There is an optional heated flooring system if cold weather is in your future.
Bringing the civilization
There is also an optional 12-volt air conditioning system. This whole rig is designed to perform well even if society’s infrastructure is many miles away. The standard heating system is a glycol-style heater, which is very efficient.
Power comes through lithium batteries with either a standard lithium and solar system with 600 watts of solar performance charging 500-amp hours of lithium batteries, or a more potent system of increased battery and solar capacity. There is also a variety of options of pickup cab type and degrees of capability for both the chassis and the engine.
For example, you can go with the standard Toyota V6 or opt for a more capable adaptation that utilizes a supercharger to provide 370 horsepower and 330 ft-lbs of torque. Combine that with the re-geared final drive axle ratio of 5:29 in the Stage II and Stage III upgraded versions and you have quite a bit of power to the pavement. Well, not pavement, but whatever surface you’re crawling.
To be honest, this is not a camper for everybody. It’s pricey and very specifically designed to go places other campers couldn’t. The fact that TruckHouse chose the Tacoma is smart. I just spent two weeks in Death Valley. There were places where even my full-sized truck just was a bit too large to get to. Considering how many of these adventure vehicles have been based on full-sized vans or pickups, this smaller size makes a lot of sense.
Furthermore, there is a huge infrastructure for the Toyota Tacoma as a result of selling these things for decades all over the world. The fact that TruckHouse built a camper to fit it using innovative build materials and then outfitted it to go off-road is smart.
If this is the camper for you, it’s certainly a great way to become king of the hill.
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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