Camper Mod Contest Entries

An Ultimate Armored Overland Camper

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Ultimate Armored Overland Camper

Kevin Williams, Phoenix, Arizona
Ultimate Armored Overland Camper
1994 Dodge Ram 2500
2018 Four Wheel Camper Grandby

After decades of camping, Jeeping, and exploring trails, I wanted a comfortable rig that was almost as capable as a Jeep. I want to get to amazing campsites that very few rigs can access and get as far away from humanity as I can. I want both worlds; a rock-crawling 4×4, and a comfortable bedroom that’s available when I’m done watching the sunset and have sipped down my glass of whiskey.

Armored Four Wheel Camper On The Beach

After many years of looking, I found what I was looking for.  It is the holy grail of diesel-powered trucks; a P-pump 12-valve Cummins with a standard cab Dodge Ram wrapped around it.

Armored Overland Camper Truck Ram 2500

I immediately went searching for a low-profile contractor/utility bed, and a Four Wheel Grandby pop-up camper. I was able to find a Grandby after some effort.

Once the Grandby was placed on the contractor/utility bed, I didn’t like the cabover portion sticking out so far forward over the cab. That’s when I put my brain in low gear and thought through all the possibilities.

The factory camper door was very short for my 6’4″ height, and I kept bumping my head, so that was a requirement.

I ultimately decided to slide the Grandby rearward by 20 inches.  That allowed me to lower and widen the rearmost section.

Armored Overland Camper New Wood

Doing so created the height I needed to increase the rear door 5-inches taller than stock and created a lower mud room for removing my boots.  It also created more inside storage at the floor level both left and right of the camper door, so I can later install both a toilet and closet.

Armored Overland Camper Floor Back To Front

Next, I drew up plans for a nose cone to take up the 20″ of newly created space between the back of the cab and the front window of the camper.  That creates even more storage and improves airflow.  It also reduces scrubbing so many bug guts off the wall behind the cab.  Those are all useful endeavors.

Armored Overland Camper Front Bottom Piece

Armored Overland Camper From Bottom

Then, I replaced the thin aluminum skin with 1/8-inch aluminum plate and pop-riveted to the frame for additional structural integrity. This keeps the tree branches I often rub up against from penetrating the skin.

Armored Overland Camper Back Wall

Armored Overland Camper Back Wall And Side Wall

Many months were invested in this portion of the mod. I had to TIG weld the reconfigured rear of the Grandby’s existing frame, cut the diamond plate wall panels to the new shape, and pre-drill the holes.  Then, I pop-rivetted the panels using Polywall as a thermal break between the outer panels and the aluminum frame, which keeps the heat from the sun transferring into the frame.  That was an excellent suggestion from my friend Steve the MIT Engineer who built his truck camper from scratch.

Armored Overland Camper Insulation

Armored Overland Camper Back Wall And Door

Once all the panels were installed and the new custom-sized door was hung, I began cutting the corner caps out of 3-inch by 3-inch aluminum angle. That tied all the panels together and made an unbelievably strong monocoque structure. It is strong enough to resist large tree branches without bending the camper frame or penetrating the outer skin.

Armored Overland Camper Driver Side

I installed two 20-pound barbecue-size propane containers in one of the utility bed toolboxes.

Ultimate Overland Camper

I carry a propane-powered fire pit with me which keeps me from having to scavenge and cut wood for a fire. It also saves water by not having to douse a real fire out each night. Those propane tanks serve as fuel for my camp stove and my portable barbecue as well, and are easily swapped out at an exchange.

Armored Overland Camper Camping

I removed the center console in the cab and replaced it with a Norcold 12v compressor refrigerator to keep my drinks and lunch cold while I’m on the road.  Another larger Norcold refrigerator was installed in the camper for extra cold storage for longer off-grid camping. It’s all powered by 210ah of LiFePo4 lithium batteries and recharged either by two 245-watt solar panels on the roof or my Victron DC/DC charger when the alternator is turning.

I installed two memory foam mattresses; one in the cabover section, which I fitted with sheets and a down duvet for a real feel of home.  The one is on the combination couch/lower bunk which I built to be used when I have guests riding along or when popping the top up is a liability when I’m stealth urban camping or in a high wind situation.

Armored Overland Camper Front Wall Bench

Armored Overland Camper Front Wall Bed

I’m unbelievably happy with this mod because it suits my needs perfectly. I can explore tight 4×4 backroads or wander through Baja to find great campsites.

Armored FWC With Four Wheel Friend Camping

I have a comfortable place to climb inside to sleep and keep out of the weather. There’s more than enough storage for all my gear and it’s as reliable as the venerable 12-valve Cummins power plant, which is giving me thirteen to fourteen miles per gallon with 35-inch tires and a four-inch lift. I’d call that a win!

Ultimate Overland Camper

It took me hundreds of hours to complete this modification and I have $30,000+ into the build so far, not including my labor.  It’s been totally worth it to me!

Disclaimer: The modifications above are submitted by Truck Camper Magazine readers. It is your responsibility to make sure that any do-it-yourself modification project you undertake is safe, effective, and legal for your situation.

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If you’d like to enter a modification you’ve done on your truck camper, click here. You can enter as many mods as you want, at any time.  Good luck mod makers!


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