The Skinny Guy 6.5 challenges the pop-up and overland marketplaces with a bold tent-camper concept for short bed half-ton trucks. For pure fuel economy, garage-ability, truck compatibility, and go-anywhere capability, the 6.5 sets a new industry paradigm.
The following new camper announcement picks up where the Skinny Guy debut article leaves off. Start there for the backstory on the company and concept, then dive into the all-new Skinny Guy 6.5 here.
As their first production model, the Skinny Guy 6.5 is designed for full-size, short bed half-ton trucks. There are many pop-up truck campers that target this coveted truck category, but none offer the compact-size and extreme aerodynamics of this design. In its closed-for-travel configuration, the Skinny Guy 6.5 has more in common with a fiberglass truck topper than even the smallest and lightest pop-up. It’s stealthy.
In terms of its concept, build, and features, the Skinny Guy emerges as a potentially disruptive challenge to both the traditional pop-up camper industry and the overland camper marketplaces. The most interesting facet is how the founders believe it will appeal to both, but prefer to showcase their product as a truck accessory. What is a Skinny Guy camper and what marketplace and community will it appeal to? The company leadership explains, “Let the customers decide.”
If that doesn’t grab your interest, how about this; the Skinny Guy 6.5 rests not in the truck bed but on the truck rails. It literally hovers above the truck bed allowing for the use of TruckVault or DECKED bed storage-drawer system.
Still not taken? If you step up to a more featured trim level, they add a modular underbelly module with up to 36-gallons of fresh water and a black tank with a flush toilet system. The fresh tanks can even be replenished by the integrated rainwater catchment system. And then there’s the patent-pending jack system.
All of this is great fun, but what about the nitty-gritty? Exactly how is a Skinny Guy 6.5 camper made, and why is it made that way? What materials did they choose? What features did they design? How do all these new systems and design aspects work? And how about wet weights, warranty and price?
For a detailed look into the Skinny Guy 6.5, we talked to Jason Bontrager, CEO and Founder, Donovan Fredrickson, Designer, and Justin Sturgill, Sales Manager for Skinny Guy Campers.
Skinny Guy 6.5 Specifications
The 2022 Skinny Guy 6.5 is a pop-up camper made for full-size short bed trucks. The interior floor-length is 3.42-feet and the interior popped-up height is 83-inches. The Skinny Guy 6.5 has an optional 36-gallon fresh tank, no grey tank, and an optional 20-gallon black tank. There is space for a porta-potty. A Group 31 AGM or Lithium battery is optional. It has a 20-pound propane tank.
Skinny Guy is reporting the base weight to be 615-pounds for the Bare Bones trim and 1,031-pounds for the Kit N Kaboodle trim. The base MSRP for the Skinny Guy 6.5 is $15,625 for the Bare Bones trim and $36,250 for the Kit N Kaboodle trim. All prices USD. Click here to request more information about the Skinny Guy 6.5.
How is a Skinny Guy 6.5 built; materials, framing, and construction process?
Jason: A Skinny Guy camper is made with laser-cut or saw-cut aluminum tubing and sheets that are welded together, powder-coated, assembled with SIKA 252 truck bed body adhesive, and then riveted together.
Donovan: Skinny Guy is a 100-percent wood-free product. The cushions and fabrics are all Sunbrella. We used open cell foam cushions. The tent fabric is synthetic. You’ll really get a marine feel when you step into a Skinny Guy camper. It’s like an aluminum boat with 5054 aluminum and some 3/16-inch stainless. On the ‘good-better-best’ scale, we picked the best materials and components available. I love the level of quality we’ve been able to achieve.
Given how this camper is designed to be used, we want the outer shell to be able to be resistant to tree limbs, hail, and other impacts. Between the materials and construction process, it would basically be impossible to deconstruct a Skinny Guy Camper.
Our production 6.5 model has more aluminum than a 16-foot aluminum boat, It’s layered and CNC-guided, and very precise with laser-cut reference holes. The result is a product that I think you could roll down a mountain. It will last forever.
Above: An installed Skinny Guy mounting bracket
Does a Skinny Guy 6.5 rest entirely on the bed rails of the truck, or does it also rest on the truck bed?
Donovan: There’s no information available from the truck manufacturers about truck rail capacities. So we created a very robust mounting bracket that goes inside the truck bed that provides the mounting location points for our tie-down system and supports the camper and rails in four locations.
Above: A loaded Skinny Guy 6.5 attached to mounting brackets inside the bed
The bracket sits tight against the bed wall so it doesn’t interfere with the use of the truck bed space.
Jason: We did not want to be in the business of replacing truck beds. Our bracket transitions the weight of the camper down to the base of the truck bed.
How does a Skinny Guy 6.5 camper tie-down into a truck?
Donovan: The same mounting bracket also includes the camper tie-down system. The mounting bracket and tie-downs also make sure the camper goes to the same location every time you load it.
The integrated front tie-downs are actually a blind system; they can be operated without seeing them. Essentially it’s a 7,000-pound winch cable that runs through the front body of the camper that connects to the front two attachment points and the brackets themselves.
In the back, we use boat buckles that attach to the rear bracket. In practice, it’s a really easy system to use.
The mounting bracket and tie-down system come with every Skinny Guy camper. They’re an integral part of the camper and how it’s mounted and loaded into a truck.
Above: Note how the loaded Skinny Guy 6.5 (top) hovers above the truck bed below
So underneath a mounted Skinny Guy 6.5 camper is an open space inside the truck bed?
Donovan: On our Bare Bones and Skin and Bones trim levels, that space is completely open (pictured above). If you go to our top two trim levels, we add an underbelly module that contains our holding tanks.
The underbelly module is 8-inches deep on our larger models, and 6.75 or 6-inches deep on our smaller models, Even with the underbed belly module, the camper hovers over a TruckVault or DECKED bed storage-drawer systems.
Above: The Skinny Guy marine mat integrates the interior shower drain (center bottom of photo)
Does the Skinny Guy 6.5 have its own floor, or does it use the floor of the truck?
Donovan: All Skinny Guy campers have their own floor. That floor sits at the rail height of the truck. All models above the Bare Bones trim level get a snap-in marine mat material (pictured above) on the powder-coated aluminum floor.
Jason: The Bare Bones model is set up for customers who want to outfit the camper themselves. They can purchase the marine mat separately, or get a rubber flooring or carpet cut to size.
Above: The Skinny Guy jack system is removable and portable
Tell us about your patent-pending jack system for the Skinny Guy 6.5.
Donovan: We didn’t want jacks on the side of the camper, or elephant ear attachment points. We also didn’t want owners to need to bolt and unbolt the jacks to load or unload the camper.
Our solution was to create a jack interface using three receiver tubes on the side of the camper; almost like Class-2 receiver hitches. The jacks have a bracket that’s proprietary to us that interfaces with these receiver tubes to lift the camper and give you clearance to load and unload.
Above: One of three jack interfaces that accept receiver tubes to de-mount the camper
You simply slide in the jacks with the brackets and jack the camper up or down. Then, you store the jacks. The clearance created by this approach is enough for off-road tires and even a wide dually truck.
Above: A Skinny Guy 6.5 in Raw Aluminum
That’s a neat system. Skinny Guy campers come in Raw Aluminum, Arctic White powder Coat, Gunmetal powder coat, and Black powder coat. Why do the Arctic White and Gunmetal powder coat finishes cost more?
Donovan: That’s a pass-through cost from our powder coater supplier. They have to tear down and set-up to do the different colors, so that adds a lot of labor cost. I prefer the black powder coat color since it goes well with so many trucks. Most of our orders have been for the black powder coat.
The powder coat also avoids any potential for electro-galvanization between the aluminum panels and stainless steel rivets. The powder coat creates a barrier that prevents that issue. Unless you’re going with a wrap, we strongly recommend the powder coat.
There are no RV swooshes or graphics and very minimal Skinny Guy badging on the exterior. Is that intentional?
Jason: Swooshes are stupid. Again, we wanted the Skinny Guy to be a truck accessory and relatively incognito. I pulled up to a friend’s house recently and they asked how things were going with the new camper business. I said, “Want to see one? It’s right there.” They didn’t even realize the camper was on my truck. That’s the whole point.
Donovan: We chose stainless steel Skinny Guy badging in three locations. It’s subtle. If you want to go loud, get the aluminum exterior and put a vinyl wrap on it.
The Skinny Guy 6.5 tent system is described as self-deploying. How does the tent system deploy?
Donovan: Jason and I wanted the set-up time for a Skinny Guy – from pulling up to your campsite to camping – to be less than five minutes. It had to be easy to open and use. We did not want it to be like setting up a pop-up camper, which is quite time-consuming.
We accomplished that with a unique design that’s contained within our patent. There’s a cable per side, a slide pulley, and three bows. Simply by opening the 180-degree lid of the camper, the tent system is 90-percent deployed. There’s no bag of poles or extra support. You just have to button the door area to the side of the camper. That’s why we call it a self-deploying tent. Then it all collapses down inside when you close the camper. It’s as simple as possible.
Above: Watch the above video for a demonstration of how the Skinny Guy tent system works
Jason: Justin made a video that explains it well. Watch the video and you’ll understand how fast and easy the roof deployment is.
How much weight can the lid support?
Donovan: We tested it to 1,200 pounds statically. Dynamically we are rating it at 600-pounds.
Jason: Our camper is designed to be used on the truck. We don’t recommend using the Skinny Guy off the truck.
What is the tent material made of?
Donovan: It’s an extremely robust synthetic material called Aqualon. Aqualon is the best material for water-proof quality and translucency.
Above: A Skinny Guy 6.5 Bare Bones
When you’re inside the camper, it feels surprisingly huge. There’s more floor space than much of the competition and, with seven feet of interior height in the middle, a generous amount of ceiling height.
Is the Aqualon tent insulated?
Donovan: It’s not insulated, but we don’t have room for more than one layer of material. Of course, we have a 14,000 BTU Truma Combi Eco furnace that will keep the camper at room temperature.
Jason: We were invited to participate in an upcoming television show called, Divergent Pathways. It will debut on Amazon Prime as a three-part series late this summer. Everyone else on the show used ground or roof-top tents and we were in our heated Skinny Guy campers. The temperatures dipped down into the teens. We were warm in our Skinny Guy Campers.
Above: The dinette bench made into a second bed
How many adults can fit into the L-shape dinette of a Skinny Guy 6.5?
Donovan: The 6.5 is the only model we can call a three sleeper. The North-South of the dinette bench can be used by pulling the refrigerator and setting it on the floor and moving the cushions into a bed configuration. My son sleeps there all the time. Someone up to 5’4” can easily sleep there. It’s a narrow bed, but it works.
The Skinny Guy 6.5 offers a hot and cold Bullfinch shower port. Is this an interior or exterior shower?
Donovan: That is still in final development. There is a floor drain on the inside of the camper. And right next to the toilet cabinet there’s a hot-cold Bullfinch shower point. We’re still developing a shower container and enclosure. The final answer has yet to be dialed in.
Above: The inside shower drain in a Skinny Guy 6.5
Jason: I have showered in the 6.5. There’s no curtain, but the water does go into the drain. It works, but we need a full curtain solution.
The optional built-in sink offers hot and cold fresh water. What size is the fresh water tank, and where is that tank located on the Skinny Guy 6.5?
Donovan: The 6.5 has two 18-gallon tanks for a total of 36-gallons of fresh water. The smallest 4.5 has something closer to 14-gallons.
Jason: That may end up changing as we maximize what’s possible on the smaller units. We might also need smaller tanks in the 6.5 so we can fit the same tanks in the 6.5 and the 5.5 for production. We will maximize them as much as possible.
Donovan: The capacity in the black tank is just over 20-gallons for the 6.5. This is all enclosed in the underbelly module.
Above: The underbelly attached to a de-mounted Skinny Guy 6.5
How does the underbelly module attach to the Skinny Guy 6.5?
Donovan: It bolts on with ten bolts. It’s user-removable with quick connections. We designed it for serviceability. The underbelly module contains the water pump, the macerator, three holding tanks with electric tank heaters, and the required plumbing and wiring.
Above: The pump, macerator, tanks and electric heaters in a Skinny Guy 6.5 underbelly
Having the underbelly module easy to remove and work on is important. You do need to remove the camper to access the underbelly module, but it’s easy to remove and service.
We’re using braided poly for the plumbing with stainless pinch clamps. And the entire plumbing system is built out-of-body to ensure the highest quality. We can test all the systems before installing it into the camper.
Above: The Rainwater Catchment System is integrated into the tent design
The Skinny Guy 6.5 offers an integrated “Rainwater Catchment System” or RCS. This is described as a patent-pending design that collects rainwater that’s shed off the tent area above the bed. Does this actually work?
Donovan: Yes. Imagine a four-sided gutter that runs around the bed platform. If you want to collect water from the tent, you can simply run a hose from the gutter to the fresh water fill. This system also collects the rain to one point instead of having a drip line.
While it’s raining, you can sit under the extended bed portion and enjoy a dry area. That’s another unique benefit of our design. You can also access the propane at the tailgate area and use a cooker. For the most part that’s where I cook when I’m using a Skinny Guy. It’s a built-in hang out spot.
Above: The Redarc, Truma and Xantrex monitors on the Kit N Kaboodle package
Does the Skinny Guy 6.5 come with batteries or propane tanks?
Donovan: We’re not shipping the Skinny Guy 6.5 with batteries. The batteries need to be sealed – either lithium or an AGM – because the battery is located inside the camper. Specifically, the battery is located adjacent to the Truma Combi Eco in the next compartment forward. That same compartment has the Redarc battery manager and the 1,000-watt inverter (both are available in the Kit N Kaboodle). We consolidated all the electronics into that single compartment.
The propane is in the back passenger’s side of the camper behind a door. It’s a horizontal 20-pound, 5-gallon tank.
What does a Skinny Guy 6.5 weigh?
Donovan: The camper is 1,031 pounds dry for the 6.5 with the Kit N Kaboodle trim and PremoLoo option. We’re actually 615-pounds on our Bare Bones trim. We don’t have a full range of specs on every model and all trims because we’re still gathering that information.
Above: The Skinny Guy 6.5 with the Kit N Kaboodle package
How does someone actually order a Skinny Guy 6.5?
Justin: They go to our website, SkinnyGuyCampers.com, spec out their camper on our order form, and submit their order. We will reach out to them right away and let them know that we have received the order. If it’s a model or trim level that’s not currently available, we will work with them on timing and expectations. We were originally requesting a $500 deposit, but that’s no longer required.
What is the warranty for Skinny Guy Campers?
Justin: On all the components inside the camper we have a one-year warranty. A lot of those components have their own warranty that’s better. The structural warranty including the tent is also one year.
If a Skinny Guy owner has a warranty claim, where can they go for service?
Justin: With the warranty program, they can go anywhere to have the work done, and then it’s charged to our warranty department. It doesn’t have to be one of our dealers, but it needs to be someone that’s authorized to do the work.
Donovan: We intend to meet or exceed every warranty expectation. We want to provide a good post-delivery experience.
Is there anything else about Skinny Guy Campers – the company or the Skinny Guy 6.5 model – that you want people to know?
Jason: We’re in it for the long haul. We’re not in it to start up and sell to a bigger company.
Donovan: The Skinny Guy 6.5 is a fully self-contained and fully-featured truck camper in the package of a topper. There’s a lot this camper can do.
For more information on Skinny Guy, visit their website at SkinnyGuyCampers.com. Click here to request a free Skinny Guy 6.5 brochure.