Skinny Guy Campers continues its impressive model expansion with the 5.5 for full-size short bed half-ton trucks. The Bristol, Indiana team also announces lower pricing across the board, updated model trims, and à la carte options. And get this. The 5.5 has more floor space than the 6.5. Wait, what?
For the past three years truck camper manufacturers and gear companies have experienced a nearly relentless cascade of material shortages and price increases. In turn, they’ve been forced to increase their camper and product prices on the rest of us, often more than once.
This is why it was so refreshing to hear that Skinny Guy has actually had their material prices come back down enough to adjust their camper prices. This is a trend we hope to see in the rest of the industry as the pandemic economy and the fervor it created cools. Amen.
In another exciting development, Skinny Guy has reevaluated their trim levels and found opportunities to further reduce the final unit price and add value. This is another admirable trend I hope to see proliferate throughout the truck camper marketplace. With their newly updated and enhanced Skin ’N Bones trim level, Skinny Guy is leading the value charge.
Of course, none of that is the star of today’s story. That designation belongs to the new Skinny Guy 5.5 featuring a new floor plan for full-size 5.5-foot short bed trucks. As if it wasn’t impressive enough that Skinny Guy made a 6.5 foot model with heat, light, water, power, and an optional flush toilet, now they’ve found a way to put all that in a 5.5-foot model as well. And somehow, the 5.5 has more floor space than the 6.5. Is this beanpole alchemy? Skinny Guy sorcery? There’s only one way to find out.
For the details, we talked to Jason Bontrager, CEO and co-Founder, and Justin Sturgill, Sales Manager for Skinny Guy Campers. Pull up a seat, Slim. There’s a lot to digest.
Skinny Guy Model 5.5 Specifications
The 2023 Skinny Guy 5.5 is a pop-up camper made for full-size short bed half-ton trucks. The interior floor length is 45.5 inches by 36 inches and the interior popped-up height is 82.5-inches. The Skinny Guy 5.5 has an optional 30-gallon fresh tank, no grey tank, and an optional 9-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 725 pounds for the Skin ’N Bones trim and 990 pounds for the Kit ’N Kaboodle trim. The base MSRP for the Skinny Guy 5.5 is $15,500 for the Skin ’N Bones trim and $29,500 for the Kit ’N Kaboodle trim. All prices USD. Click here to request more information about the Skinny Guy 5.5.
Skinny Guy Campers debuted in Truck Camper Magazine last August. Since then Skinny Guy has been to multiple overland events and received tons of consumer feedback. Have you made any changes from those experiences?
Jason: The biggest change we’ve made is our prices. Commodity prices have come down from where they were during the pandemic, which is exciting. That has impacted our Skinny Guy prices in a very good way. We want our campers to be within reach. That’s why we brought our prices down with the lower commodity costs.
Justin: To further reduce our prices, we reevaluated our trim levels. We now have three trim levels instead of four. The Skin ’N Bones trim level is now our base model and includes battery prep, interior LED lights, USB charging ports, 12-volt power port, a camper jack system, porta-potty, and a MOLLE rack on the rear wall. The Skin ’N Bones is now $15,500. That’s a $3,250 decrease.
The Skinny Fat starts with the Skin ’N Bones and adds a NOCO AC plug and battery charger, portable 12-volt refrigerator, propane system, Truma Combi heater, cooktop, and sink kitchen module, fresh water system (including plumbing, water pump, and Bullfinch shower point) and the underbelly module with fresh water tanks. The Skinny Fat is now $24,500. That’s a $4,250 decrease.
The Kit ’N Kaboodle has everything from the Skin ’N Bones and Skinny Fat trim levels and adds a RedArc Battery Manager 30, heated holding tanks, an exterior solar panel, and a 1,000-watt inverter with an interior GFCI receptacle. The Kit ’N Kaboodle is now $29,500. That’s a $6,750 decrease.
That’s an impressive set of price reductions. Do the three trims include everything they did before?
Justin: From the feedback we have received at the Overland Expo events, we made some previously standard features optional. Overland enthusiasts often enjoy building out their campers. The build out process can be a big deal in that community. For this reason, some features are now à la carte. This further brought our prices down and made our campers more in line with what our customers want.
For example, customers who don’t want or need the kitchen module, or already have their own 12-volt refrigerator, can start with the Skin ’N Bones trim level and choose the features and options they’re looking for. The new trim levels are both more flexible and affordable.
What happened to the Bare Bones trim level?
Justin: It’s still available at some of our dealers and will remain a special order for customers that want a basic Skinny Guy camper shell. During our trim level and pricing evaluation, we combined the Bare Bones and Skin ’N Bones into one and kept the Bare Bones price.
The most remarkable aspect of the Skinny Guy concept is how the truck topper-sized unit is a self-contained camper with heat, light, water, and power. And, starting with the Skin ’N Bones trim is available with the PrimoLoo flush toilet. Does the new Skinny Guy 5.5 also offer these features?
Justin: Not only does the Skinny Guy offer all of those features, but it also has more floor space than the 6.5.
Above: Kitchen is pulled forward on locking drawer guides with full access to hookups
And how did you do that?
Justin: Very carefully (laughs). For the 5.5, our engineering team designed an additional front shelf that folds out. When the roof opens, the shelf goes over the cab of the truck. In the Kit ’N Kaboodle trim, the shelf flips out to contain the kitchen module and the refrigerator. The front shelf opens up the space and results in more floor space than the 6.5. It feels gigantic because of that.
Above: Kitchen is folded up and slid back in stowed position
Jason: The shelf design is similar to our 5.0 model designed for the Toyota Tacoma and other mid-sized trucks. The 6.0 and smaller will have that same shelf over the cab. We may add this design to a future version of the 6.5, but before we do that we need to finish developing our full camper line-up.
Were there any other changes to make with the 5.5?
Justin: Yes. In the 6.5, the toilet sits along the rear wall. However, with the shorter 5.5, the bed needed to extend further into the main living area for sleeping. That blocked where the toilet was located and prevented its use when the bed was extended. To fix this situation, we moved the toilet to the passenger’s side along the front wall of the camper. Now you can use the toilet when the bed is in sleep mode. That same design approach also works well in the 5.0.
Jason: We also changed the base frame structure and how the basement is mounted. Finally, we streamlined our tank sizes so we don’t need more than two tank sizes across all of our models. That not only contains material cost and production time but also minimizes variability and improves the quality of the product.
And keeps your part’s manager happy.
Jason: Yes. Running a camper company is like conducting an orchestra. Everyone plays their part and you’ve got to make sure everyone is happy and able to do their job correctly.
Above: Telescoping center bow
Did you need to adapt the pop-up mechanism for model 5.5?
Justin: Yes, we did. And I think the way we did is quite interesting. There’s a relatively short distance for the roof bows to fold into the camper. This meant that the camper roof did not give us enough height when upright in camp mode. Our challenge was how to get more roof/ceiling height so people could stand up straight inside the camper.
Above: The center bow with a laser cut slot for the telescoping mechanism
Engineering and Product Development came up with a center bow that telescopes. By telescoping up and down, the bow can be short enough for travel position, and tall enough so adults can stand inside the camper in camp position. It telescopes to add about 8-inches of additional height.
That’s a clever solution. For the Kit ’N Kaboodle trim on the 5.5, what size are the holding tanks?
Justin: We use two 18-gallon tanks in the 6.5 for a total of 36 gallons of fresh water. In the 5.5 we have one 18-gallon tank and one 12-gallon tank for a total of 30 gallons of fresh water. We are using either the 18-gallon and/or the 12-gallon tanks across our entire product line.
Fresh tank capacities at 30 and 36 gallons are absolutely huge for a camper this size. Are the dual tanks connected or separate?
Justin: From the fill port, the plumbing has a Y to disperse water between the two tanks. Then we connect the two tanks with a small equalizing hose. If one tank fills faster than another, they equalize each other. We’ve tested the system and it works really well.
Are there any changes to the propane and/or battery accommodations for the Skinny Guy Model 5.5?
Justin: The 20-pound propane and single Group 31 battery capacity is the same as the 6.5, and (in the Kit ’N Kaboodle trim) you still get a Xantrex inverter, the Redarc Manager 30, and a 190-watt solar panel.
The black water tank is 9 gallons, which is going to be our black tank size across the board.
What trucks are you targeting for the Skinny Guy Model 5.5?
Justin: Full-size half-ton pickups with 5.5-foot beds are perfect for the Skinny Guy Model 5.5. That includes the Ram 1500, Chevy 1500, Ford F-150, and Toyota Tundra. We get a lot of requests for the Tundra, especially with the release of the new body style. The Crew Max Tundra is a 5.5 bed. That configuration is becoming very popular.
Do you feel that you’ll be able to adapt Skinny Guy campers as more truck makes, models, and bed dimensions emerge from the automakers?
Jason: Yes, we will adapt. We just spent two-and-a-half years measuring trucks including the last three generations of each make and model. That was actually easier than adapting to the new trucks that are coming out. If a new 6.5-foot truck comes out, we will make the minor adjustments needed so our Skinny Guy 6.5 camper fits it. We want our campers to fit old and new trucks.
Our forthcoming model 4.5 is going to be for the Rivian R1T, but it will also work on a Honda Ridgeline and Ford Maverick. The Maverick has a unique curve that goes from the rear wall of the cab to the bed, and the 4.5 will likely have adapter plates to allow the camper to fit. Overall, we will adapt to new trucks.
“Our forthcoming model 4.5 is going to be for the Rivian R1T, but it will also work on a Honda Ridgeline and Ford Maverick.”
Justin: The process and development have come a long way. Before it took months to design and prototype a new model. Now, a new model goes from engineering and R&D and into production in a couple of months. The team has refined the design process and adapted as needed.
Is there a standard side entry ladder system that you recommend?
Justin: Every Skinny Guy camper comes with a side entry ladder system. We are using a ladder now that seems to be working well. We’ve had a couple of people ask for accordion steps. Donovan has messed with them on his personal rig, but the ladder system works well.
How much does the Skinny Guy Model 5.5 weigh?
Justin: The weight of the Skin ‘N Bones trim is 725 pounds. The highest trim level with everything including the Primoloo is 990 pounds.
What is the center of gravity on the Skinny Guy Model 5.5?
Justin: We will be marking the center of gravity on the vertical face of the camper. It will be determined on the production line and marked on each camper where it’s located. That’s something we perform now.
Jason: Two years ago I was running a 5.0 prototype with Tacoma and the rig was porpoising. I knew from that experience that we had to get the weight forward. On the 5.5, moving the toilet from the rear to the side wall and the electrical components to the front wall moved the center of gravity to where we needed it to be.
What is the MSRP for the Skinny Guy Model 5.5? Skin ’N Bones, Skinny Fat, Kit ’N Kaboodle?
Justin: The base MSRP of the Skin ’N Bones is $15,500, the Skinny Fat is $24,500 and the Kit ’N Kaboodle is $29,500. Each one has a lot of à la carte options that you can put in. Even the Kit ’N Kaboodle has some à la carte options. On our website, we have information about each camper and what’s included on each trim level.
What is the warranty for the Skinny Guy Model 5.5?
Justin: The structure and tent have a one year warranty, and then each component has its own warranty.
“The new trim levels and the à la carte option approach gives our customers a lot more flexibility at lower price points.”
When will the Skinny Guy Model 5.5 be available?
Justin: You can order it now. Production models are on the line right now. The new trim levels and the à la carte option approach gives our customers a lot more flexibility at lower price points.
Skinny Guy teased the 5.0 GLR for the Jeep Gladiator back in December. When will that model be officially available?
Justin: The 5.0 GLR Gladiator is scheduled for production this spring. If you’re interested in a 5.0 GLR, contact us and we can get your order into our production queue now.
Where can someone see the new Skinny Guy Camper models?
Justin: The 6.5, 5.5, and 5.0 GLR Jeep Gladiator will be on display at the Southeast Overland Expo in Starke, Florida from March 3 – 5, 2023. We plan on showing units at the other Overland Expos as well.
When will the Skinny Guy Model 8.0 be available?
Justin: It’s available now. Technically, it’s the 6.5 with a storage box in the front. The 8.0 box follows the same profile as the 6.5. The same is also true for the 6.0, which adds a box to the front of the 5.5 to make the 6.0. Both models are available to order now. There is a six to eight week wait on those models for the box build.
When do you see the Skinny Guy Model 4.5 becoming available?
Justin: Engineering will be diving deep into that model sometime in March. The prototype will probably be done in the fall. That camper is being developed for the Rivian R1T pickup truck, Honda Ridgeline, and Ford Maverick so the development process will be much more involved.
Is there any other news to share from Skinny Guy?
Justin: We have been talking with a lot of truck camper enthusiasts and the one thing they ask over and over again is whether a Skinny Guy camper is demountable or not. Of course, it is demountable and can be loaded or unloaded in 10 to 15 minutes, depending on how fast you go. To showcase how a Skinny Guy is loaded and unloaded, we made a short video (see below).
Another interesting fact is that the Kit ’N Kaboodle is our number one seller. People are attracted to the more basic models, but most seem to lean toward the fully loaded trim level.