The Toyota Tacoma has adapted well to the overland community. Its established reliability, factory selectable locker and rugged good looks have made it one of the most popular overland platforms in the United States. However, like most of our heroes, the Tacoma also has an Achilles Heel: payload capacity. Before you go all keyboard commando on me in the comments section, take a breath. A 1,155* lb payload is a respectable capacity for a “compact truck”. That being said, it’s not enough for the amount of gear that most Tacoma drivers carry on the trail. This leads to bent axles, broken hubs, and other prematurely worn drivetrain components. There are multiple ways to trim up the waistline on your rig, one such place is your sleeping arrangements.
There are a number of companies offering camper systems for the Tacoma, and this list has a new entry: Go Fast Campers (GFC). Formed in 2017, GFC is a collaboration between Hondo Garage and Aerocontinental. Both companies are located in the same complex in Bozeman, Montana making it extremely easy to work closely to produce a lightweight camper solution for a growing number of platforms. The Tacoma was their first choice, but due to popular demand, GFC has expanded its efforts to adapt to larger trucks such as the Ford F150, Dodge Ram, and Toyota Tundra.
With the combination of skill and technology, GFC has created a truck camper that weighs a mere 199 lbs, or about 50 lbs more than a traditional truck cap. This is due to the honeycomb construction of the top and floor panels, with aluminum providing strength at all major stress points. The sides of the sleeping quarters come standard with durable Sunbrella canvas, or optional formed aluminum panels. All components are constructed in-house, many of which are CNCmachined or created by autonomous robots -how cool is that? All components are made in the USA.
With the tent deployed, the peak provides 94” of standing room, more than enough for a quick change of clothes or cooking during a storm. The roof panel is translucent, providing plenty of ambient light during the day. Two side windows provide ample cross ventilation and a large rear flap makes for an open airy feel. To keep flapping under control, the Sunbrella canvas is held taut by carbon fiber battens. Sleeping arrangements are provided by a generous 3” thick mattress called the “Transform-A-Floor”. The mattress breaks down into 3 panels to allow occupants to climb in and out without disturbing their partner. They can also be placed to provide a working platform for laptops or photography equipment, or configured as a bench seat for eating or relaxing during inclement weather. The mattress is 50” wide by 90” long. With the mattress stowed, there is a 50” x 50” standing area.
The Go Fast Camper was designed to not only handle the rigors of off road driving, but to blast down dirt roads at speed. No need to slow down on those corrugated roads. In the unlikely event something should break, the camper is covered by a two year warranty.
We were able to pin down Graeme MacPherson to answer a few of our questions. Follow along for more details on the Go Fast Camper. Note: All photos are of the test unit, and may differ from the production unit.
What materials are used to construct the Go Fast Camper system?
The base structure is a powder-coated steel tube spaceframe, using mitered 1.5” .065 wall DOM tube.
How is the camper attached to the bed of the truck?
It depends on the truck. Quite a few modern trucks have an in-bed mounting track, and we will make bolt on adapter plates to interface to those. On vehicles without those provisions, we CNC-machined topper clamps that are a bit more elegant than what’s commonly used. A fit kit to the vehicle is included in the base price.
What material is used for the soft sides?
The soft sides will be made from a coated automotive convertible fabric so it will be waterproof and UV resistant.
Tell us a little about the aluminum sides that replace the fabric.
The aluminum sides are powdercoated .080 5052 that are stiffened with internal braces. We are using 5000 series aluminum because of its toughness, formability and considerable corrosion resistance. The base option aluminum sides will be openable, and are attached to the frame using a continuous weatherproof hinge. We will have an option of openable hard sides where both side panels lift up on a hinge we designed.
What are the dimensions of the sleeping platform?
The dimensions of the sleeping platform for mid-size trucks is 50” by 90”. It comfortably sleeps two adults, and accommodates people up to about 6’6” with plenty of room. We will be coming out with a full size truck version very soon that will be a bit wider.
How much weight will the sleeping platform support?
The sleeping platform will support a 600 lb load.
How thick is the mattress material?
The Mattress is 3” thick, and is high quality foam so you won’t sink through. In our minds, mattresses are not a place to save money.
Do you need a ladder to enter the camper?
For the Platform system, ingress and egress happens through the bed of the truck. We also plan to sell the upper portion as a standalone RTT, and that will include a ladder.
How much standing room is there with the bed stowed?
100” from the inside peak of the tent to the bottom of the bed. Plenty of overhead clearance to stand even with something like a Goose Gear drawer module or standard bed platform, even if you are 6’ 4” tall.
How does the Go Fast Camper differ from other systems such as the AT Habitat or Flippac?
The biggest difference is that it’s a lot more compact than either of those systems. One of our main design goals was to have it almost be a surprise to people when you pop it up. When closed the tent portion is only 6” tall and can serve double duty as a contractor rack. So if you need to haul a load of steel or 2x4s with it you can do that.
And because our pop top doesn’t flip 180 degrees, you can leave lighter loads like bicycles or surfboards on the rack while you sleep, a feature that is invaluable in places like Baja or when stopping for a quick overnight at a rest area.
The other major difference that’s a bit harder to describe is that we approached the design of the GFC Platform with more of a motorsports mindset than an RV mindset. Because our core competency is CNC machining, you’ll find lots of machined components. Every design choice centered on enhancing weight reduction and durability. And for us durability means that everything but the mattress foam can be washed down with a hose, can be rebuilt, or is easily replaceable down the line.
What trucks will it currently fit? Will you be expanding to other platforms in the future?
We currently support the following vehicles…
Toyota Tacoma 1995-Current, all beds except step sides.
Colorado/Canyon 2015-Current, all models.
00-06 Tundra (all models except stepsides)
2009-Present f-150 (raptor included) 5.5′ and 6.5′ beds.
2007-Present tundra, all but 8′ bed.
Our modular design enables us to quickly tool up to support new vehicles, and our current rule is that we need 5 orders for a specific bed size to support a new vehicle. We have a form at the bottom of our FAQ page, which you can view here, where you can submit vehicle requests.
Additionally, we will be releasing the tent portion as a standalone RTT as well as an ‘XL’ version of our platform system to fit full size trucks with a wider sleeping area.
Is the camper insulated?
The roof of the camper utilizes a honeycomb composite panel that is intrinsically insulative, and considerations to thermal efficiency have been made throughout the rest of the build. We plan to have a cold weather insulation kit that will be released for winter 2018/19.
How is the module sealed from dust and water?
The roof panel is captured by our custom aluminum extrusion that seals against water in much the same way as windows on a house do. This means it doesn’t rely on glues or sealants. So if a tree falls on your truck and pokes a hole in the panel you can install a new one in an hour or so. Additionally, we designed the upper portion to act as a drip rail to divert water away from the canopy, and for anything that does make it down below there is an uninterrupted bulb seal which the panels press against. The fabric version of the lower seals in the same way as any fabric wrapped canopy.
Can the exterior be painted?
The exterior will have three stock powder-coat color options, white, gray, and black.
Beyond that, we will have provisions for custom paint as an option. We have had enough requests from folks that it made sense to offer the service, as we would rather ship a complete product than a project.
How much weight can the canopy support on top?
When using the Platform as a rack (not opening and closing the tent portion), 600 pounds can be loaded on the roof. We don’t recommend hitting jumps, pitching it hard into corners or other heavy offroad use with those kinds of loads however.
When in use as a traditional camper and actuating the roof, it will carry 100 pounds. Should be enough for most folks with kayaks, bikes, skis etc.
Will there be accessories available in the future?
Absolutely. In the near future we will offer cross bar mounts, lighting, ventilation, awning mounts, and a few other bits and bobs. Beyond that, we are designing insulation kits, heating systems and storage systems.
Will there be solar options?
Yes, we will have provisions for solar systems.
Is there a warranty?
Every component in the Platform has a two year manufacturers warranty, and beyond that we designed everything to be repairable and replaceable. So if a tree falls on your truck or something, we will help you get the parts you need to fix it.
Is this camper made in the USA?
Yes. We are fortunate to live in Bozeman, and even though it’s a small mountain town, it’s inexplicably filled with skilled product designers who have worked with a lot of international companies. Access to that kind of talent, coupled with our automated manufacturing facility makes it possible for us to keep design and production local.
And it’s also a great place to start an adventure if you come up to get your camper in person.
When will they be available for purchase?
We plan to be shipping by May. Sending a production prototype down to Baja at the end of the month.
Test Truck Build Out
Owner: Wiley Davis
Wheels: Method 105 Beadlocks
Tires: Yokohama Geolander MT G003 (255/75/17)
Front Suspension: ARB BP-51 Coilovers
Rear Suspension: Deaver u402 Stage 1 Leaf Pack
*Weight ref: 2017 Toyota Tacoma Limited 4WD Double Cab
Last week one of the largest outdoor shows in North America got underway, the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market. There were some major changes this year, the largest of which was a shift in venue from Salt Lake City to Denver Colorado, but there was also plenty that stayed the same. Everywhere you looked people were smiling, companies were showing off their latest gear, and there was a general buzz of excitement. To quote one of the attendees “the stoke was strong”, and I’d have to agree. Of course, OR is about more than stoke. It’s about the gear which enable us to pursue our passions, from skiing and snowboarding, to camping and ice-climbing. Trying to take it all in was a little bit difficult, but we managed to collect a few of the things that caught our eye during the event, and we’ve assembled them below for you to enjoy. We hope you find them as interesting as we did!
New National Geographic Maps
Nat-Geo has been producing epic maps for quite some time, but lately they’ve been delving into the gnitty-gritty details we need for our adventures. This year they were showcasing a few new additions including staff curated hiking trails and river maps with detailed information on the flow patterns, rafting routes, and fishing conditions. We picked up a few of these new maps, and look forward to trying them out soon.
My first experience with a Primus stove was cooking lunch in the freezing temperatures of the arctic circle. Since then I’ve not only fallen in love with their utility, but their looks and design. At this show the Swedish company had two new items of note, the Kuchoma grill and CampFire table.
The grill is designed to deliver a true barbecue experience in a compact and portable package. It features fold out legs, a stainless braided gas line, a spacious closing lid for grilling meats and veggies or even toasting rolls, and a dishwasher safe nonstick grill grate and drip tray. The grill can run on multiple sizes of gas canisters, and can even be paired with an adapted to use refillable cylinders.
The CampFire table is a sleek and elegant design that sets up and breaks down with ease, and packs away into a compact bag. Its framework is made from a 7075 aluminum alloy with a reinforced polycotton fabric top. The top is machine washable when it gets dirty, and is identical to the machine washable fabric used on the matching stools. Pricing is not yet available for either product, but both are scheduled for release very soon on the Primus website, so keep your eyes peeled.
Okay, so this was definitely one of the most interesting vehicles of the show. It’s a one of a kind restoration for Tin Cup, and the attention to detail in phenomenal. We’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.
Luci Pro Series: Outdoor 2.0
We’ve been using Luci lamps for years now with great success, but the originals had some issues. For starters they were difficult to hang, because their loop couldn’t be disconnected. They were also strictly solar powered, so if you had several days of rain, you might find yourself out of light. Thankfully, both of these issues have been solved with the Luci Outdoor 2.0 Pro series, and several other improvements have been made.
This new light features a 2-way usb port which can charge the light when conditions are poor, or charge your phone when you’ve had plenty of light. A highly efficient solar panel has been paired with a larger battery, so the lamp can charge fully in just a few hours, while providing you with 50 hours of camp lighting! It also features a battery level indicator, four lighting modes, a waterproof IP67 rating, and dual straps, one of which is adjustable to solve the hanging issue. The light is backed with a one year warranty, and becomes available the first of February. If you purchase before then, Luci will automatically donate a Give Luci EMRG light to one of their NGO partners.
Eagle creek embraced the overland lifestyle this year with an off-road teardrop trailer that they plan to tow around the country. We have to say that it is sporting one of the coolest graphics packages we’ve ever seen, and will certainly draw attention. It drew ours, and reeled us in to look at their new backpacks, as well as a series of adventure luggage we can’t reveal just year. Look for more on these new releases in the coming months.
Few brands carry the heritage and quality of Filson, but they’re not exactly known for progressive equipment design. Their classic, and lets face it, beautiful clothing and bags get the job done the old fashioned way, and theres a romantic aspect we love about that. Yet waxed canvas isn’t appropriate for all occasions, and that’s where the new Filson dry bags come in. The adventurous pieces of luggage are waterproof with velcro sealed roll tops and heavy-duty buckles. They’re lightweight, durable, and manage to combine the timeless look the brand is known for with a modern twist.
We hope to take a closer look at these bags upon their upcoming release, but for now, keep an eye on the Filson website here.
Haytercomm Tacoma and Patriot Camper
This combination greeted us the moment we walked into the event, and it was a welcome site. It’s loaded with some of the latest and greatest gear from the off-road and outdoor brands represented by Hayter Communications, and we couldn’t help but think about where we’d take this truck and trailer first. In addition to the Dobinsons lift kit, Evo Corse wheels, and dual Rhino Racks you see on the Tacoma, it was also sporting a Warn winch behind their new Semi-Hidden winch front bumper.
The Patriot Camper was rocking its usual assortment of gear, but with one major exception… the awning. If you look closely, you’ll notice it’s an entirely new and unreleased model, a Rhino Rack 270 Batwing. We’re still awaiting the full details, but expect an independent article on its release soon.
To learn more about the Rhino Rack, Warn’s new Tacoma bumper, Patriot Campers, or any of these other products or manufacturers, check out their websites below.
It’s not exactly a secret, but we love dogs. In fact, every employee at our company owns a dog, so we tend to get excited when we see products that will make camping with them easier, and Ruffwear had three. The first is their new camp tether, a system that allows your dog to have some freedom around the camp, without the opportunity to make a dash for that deer or your neighbors steak dinner. It starts with an adjustable length of rope which you tie to two trees or solid objects. You then attach your dog’s leash to the rotating and sliding carabiner on the rope, which allows them to run back and forth freely. The kit comes with the rope, storage bag, and all necessary hardware.
Another great product is their new trail running system. Both the leash and harness lengths have been optimized to give you and your dog the necessary room to run without getting tangled, and the harnesses loop strap allows for greater side to side movement for the dog. The harness includes zipper pockets for food, bags, and your personal items, and a water bottle holder on the back can help ensure you stay hydrated. Of course, keeping your dog hydrated is just as important, which is why the dog harness can be equipped with water bladders and comes with a collapsable bowl.
Finally, Ruffwear was showcasing the new lightweight harness systems, which give provide all the control and support you want for your pet, without all the weight and bulk.
There are some things that just never seem like a good idea, but are way too awesome to argue with. This Ural is one of those things. It is loaded down with almost as much gear as character, and passersby can’t help but smile.
Adventure Medical Kits
Let’s be honest for a moment. Far too many off-road enthusiasts head out into the back country without a medical kit, and even more are untrained in how to use them. Adventure Medical kits hopes to fix that. When the situation arises, their kits can give you the supplies, and if necessary the knowledge needed to administer aid. Each kit comes organized into easy to understand sections for different types of wounds, and includes a detailed guide to field medicine. It even includes tips on when to worry and why. The combination can help just about anyone in an emergency.
Several types of kits and sizes are available, and are organized by number of people and length of trip. There are even packages for your dog, or both you and your dog. Those come with a separate book on animal first aid. Prices are affordable, with the four person seven day kit, our recommendation for most people, priced at just $59.
We love an inexpensive but useful product, and that’s exactly what we found at SOL, Survive Outdoors Longer. Our personal favorite was the all season blanket, an emergency blanket with a durable reverse side and reinforced grommets. It can be used as a tarp, a wood haulers, a shelter from a storm, or of course as an emergency blanket. I see myself using one primarily while laying under the vehicle doing inspections to prevent myself from rolling in the dirt.
In true winter fashion, Rhino-Rack showed up with an icy blue Tacoma sporting matching Maxtraxx, a fatbike, skis, and so much more. The Pioneer Truck Bed Tower was looking stellar, and we were impressed by the simplicity of how it attaches to the truck’s factory bed rails.
Amidst the slew of gear at Big Agnes were two new sleeping pads, the Axl Air, and Axl Air Primaloft insulated. Both are designed to be lightweight, low profile options with single-port two way valves systems for easy setup and breakdown. Official pricing has not been posted, but we hear that the uninsulated will be around $140, while the insulated will be closer to $180.
When it comes to building vehicles, there’s always a delicate balance of form vs function, but the best builders can figure out how to put function first, and still have it look beautiful. It seems like VanDoIt has nailed that concept, and managed to make it affordable at the same time. We took a moment to check out their Ford Transit at the show, and their attention to detail was incredible. They start with all marine grade materials and equipment, and construct a solid base from which to build. Heavy duty aluminum rails with built in slides are used for the frame work, making the entire interior modular, and allowing customers to install whatever products and tie-downs they want.
Next they upgrade the electronics with three deep-cycle batteries, a solar charging system and inverter, electrical management panels and an array of waterproof switches and wiring. Wherever they could upgrade a wire or connection they did, and wherever they could simplify the system they would. Their entire goal was to maximize utility while minimizing complexity.
The walls were upgraded with layers of insulation and an air gap in order to help the van retain warmth or coolness in various seasons, and the air ducting was run through the ceiling and floor, giving the van heated or cooled floors when temperatures are excessive in either direction. The ceiling was also equipped with a full “internal roof-rack”, which is essentially a modular tie-down system to hang skis, netting clothing, or anything else you can think of out of the way.
The seats are custom leather, and a custom head unit was developed in conjunction with Kenwood specifically for their application. In the back of the van things get really cool though. The bed raises and lowers to accommodate anything from gear bags to motorcycles, and the lower level is a slide out garage with space for a full tool kit, water system, air compressor, and so much more. When traveling with friends, the bottom layer converts to a bed, adding another double bed into the mix.
Four-wheel drive options are available thanks to a partnership with Quigley, and the interior can be equipped with removable kitchens, toilets, and cabinetry. Best of all, the entire van can be purchased for prices ranging from $48,000 to $78,000. A steal in the conversion van world.
Black Diamond decided to freeze most of their show gear in blocks of Ice. We have to admit, it was a pretty awesome idea.
United By Blue Mugs and Citronella Candle
If you haven’t heard of United By Blue, they’re a rather trendy outdoor company with a serious mission behind them. For every product sold, their team removes a pound of trash from the world’s oceans and waterways. Thus far they’ve done 207 clean ups in 27 states while removing 1,051,079 pounds of trash. Way to go guys!
We’re on the road a lot, and we like to stay organized on the go. We also like attractive gear, so Topo Designs is sort of a natural fit for us. When we stopped by their booth at the show, we spotted this travel bag which seems to be a perfect combination of tasteful design with utilitarian roots. It comes with internal mesh and zipper pockets, several padded dividers, and can be fit with their lightweight but durable packing cubes.
Born and raised in Dallas, Texas, Chris didn’t receive a real taste of the outdoors until moving to Prescott, Arizona, in 2009. While working on his business degree, he learned to fly and spent his weekends exploring the Arizona desert and high country. It was there that he fell in love with backcountry travel and four-wheel drive vehicles, eventually leading him to Overland Journal and Expedition Portal. After several years of honing his skills in writing, photography, and off-road driving, Chris now works for the company full time as Expedition Portal's Managing Editor.