Phoenix Campers debuts a cabover-less pop-up tent truck camper with an innovative flip-open bed and expanding canopy system. Introducing the Phoenix Geo-Den Flip, the most aerodynamic truck camper on Earth.
If there’s one thing we have learned from a decade of covering Phoenix Campers it’s to expect the unexpected. When our phone rings from Commerce City, Colorado, we practically shout, “Stop the press! Robby’s got another one!”
After wowing us last October with the 2018 Phoenix Mini Max, Robby Rowe, Co-Owner and Chief Design Awesomizer at Phoenix Custom Campers, contacted us with something we honestly didn’t even understand at first.
Phoenix Camper’s all-new Geo-Den Flip is a cabover-less design, yet it has a cabover. It’s a pop-up truck camper, and yet there’s no roof that pops-up. And how in the heck is that flip-over bedroom area suspended like that? Magic Robby dust?
It’s not everyday that our first two questions about a new camper are, “What exactly is that?” and, “How does it work?” Robby’s answers are sure to set the pop-up marketplace on its ear. Let there be absolutely no doubt that we are looking at the first nominee for Best Truck Camper Innovation of 2018.
Looking past the flip-open bed and expanding canopy, the real story here is size, weight, aerodynamics, and price. The size and weight of the Geo-Den Flip targets not just half-tons, but also mid-size trucks. Try 700 pounds for the Flip Equipped and a mere 525 pounds for the Flip Shell.
Howdy Tacoma! Hey there Raptor! Waz up Chevy Colorado?
With the Geo-Den Flip, Phoenix has also launched a camper that’s more aerodynamic than any other truck camper on the market. Oh, and did we mention the Flip is Phoenix’s most affordable model? Make sure there’s nothing immediately behind you. You might just flip over the Flip.
To find out exactly what the Phoenix Geo-Den Flip is, and how it works, we talked to Robby and Cari Rowe, Co-Owners of Phoenix Custom Campers.
Phoenix Geo-Den Flip Specifications:
The 2018 Phoenix Geo-Den Flip is a pop-up camper made for any truck. The interior floor length of the 2018 Phoenix Geo-Den Flip is 71″ and the interior height is 84″ when it is popped up. The Phoenix Geo-Den Flip has a 12 gallon fresh tank, optional 6 gallon water heater, no grey tank, and a porta-potti. It can accommodate one Group 24 battery and has one twenty pound propane tank. Phoenix is reporting the base weight of the Geo-Den Flip to be 700 pounds. The base MSRP for the 2018 Phoenix Geo-Den Flip Equipped is $16,595.
TCM: Phoenix Custom Campers debuted the original cabover-less Geo-Den in Truck Camper Magazine back in June of 2011. Before we talk about the new cabover-less Geo-Den Flip, what happened with the original Geo-Den?
Robby: The original Geo-Den flopped, big time. We sold a few, but basically the camper felt too tight inside. I tried to make it way too sparse. People would see the original Geo-Den, say it was nice, and order a regular cabover camper. We can still build the original Geo-Den, but the Flip is much better.
TCM: So what is it about the cabover-less pop-up truck camper concept that you believe in so strongly?
Robby: Our customers keep getting asked to do something lighter. They want a camper that their light duty Nissan Frontier or Ford Ranger can handle without modifications. Others want a camper that will not put their truck over GVWR.
Learning from the original Geo-Den experience, these customers also want a cabover sleeping area in a camper that feels big inside with basic living essentials. The Geo-Den Flip answers all of these needs and wants.
Also, the price is lower on the Geo-Den Flip. You can save several thousand dollars going from a cabover model to the cabover-less Flip. For minimalists who want to save money, save weight, and match a camper to a light duty truck with no mods, the Flip is perfect.
TCM: Is the Phoenix Geo-Den Flip based on the original Geo-Den design, or is it a completely new design?
Robby: It’s a new floor plan. The most obvious difference between the original Geo-Den and the Flip is the flip-over bed and tall roof, but the rest of the camper is new as well.
The original Geo-Den had couches on both sides and a mini kitchen in front. The Flip has ten times more cabinetry and storage than the original Geo-Den and the kitchen is always set-up and ready to use. The Flip is a much better design; more spacious, more functional, and a lot more comfortable.
Above: The inspiration for the flip-over bed came from the 1920s
TCM: The pop-up portion of the Flip is something we haven’t quite seen before. Where did that concept come from?
Robby: The flip-over cabover was inspired by pictures I came across of 1920’s vehicles with flip-out bed areas. The idea has been out there forever. European and Australian campers have flip-over beds and rooftop tents employ a similar approach.
With the Flip, I am adopting this tried and true design concept to create a lighter weight, lower profile, and extremely comfortable Phoenix Custom Camper. We are really excited about the Geo Den Flip.
Above: The flip-over roof mechanism of the Geo-Den Flip
TCM: How does the flip-over roof work? It looks like it might be hard to open and close.
Robby: That’s the coolest thing about it. It’s almost as easy to use as our regular pop-up campers.
On the back of camper you undo two latches (see above).
There is a quick connect with a rod. You push the rod up and over and the roof flips-open (see above and below).
The only mechanical thing is a hinge. The struts and bows are integrated into the liner and pop-up structure. The roof automatically folds open and supports itself.
Anybody can open and close the Flip. It’s a one person deal and can be done in 30-seconds.
Above: Robby demonstrates how the Geo-Den Flip opens. That’s snow folks!
TCM: Looking at the photos, it’s hard to see how the cabover could support the weight of one or two adults. What’s holding it up?
Robby: There are two very strong 1,000-pound capacity nylon straps that run from the back wall up and over the bows to the front of the cabover. These straps are attached to the bows and support the weight of the cabover.
Even without the liner you would flip the tent cabover over and the nylon straps pull the bows where they belong. With the straps secured into the main structure of the camper, the cabover is self-supportive.
Above: The nylon straps are secured with footman loops
TCM: That’s incredible. How are the nylon straps anchored to the structure?
Robby: The nylon straps are secured with steel screws called footman loops. There are two footman loops in the front and two in the back to support the weight in the cabover. The nylon straps run in parallel the entire length of the Flip.
Above: The lower couch makes into a bed for another sleeping area
TCM: Can you use the Geo-Den Flip with the top down?
Robby: In a pinch, you could theoretically sleep in the camper with the top down. You could pull down the lower couch bed and sleep on it. The heater would function and you can get into the cabinetry with the roof down.
With the top down, it’s a pretty tight with the tenting material, bows, and mattress all pushing into the living space. The tenting material stays pretty much stuck against the ceiling, but there is some thickness to it. It’s a fully insulated liner, so it’s a bit thicker because of that.
Above: The flip-opened cabover inside the Geo-Den Flip
TCM: Is the Flip roof made from the same vinyl that you use for your other pop-ups?
Robby: The Flip roof has the same inner and outer nylon fabrics as our cabover campers. The insulation between these two layers is the same material we used a few years ago. We wanted to use our current insulation layer, but it’s too thick for this design. It’s still a very good insulator. Our triple-layer insulated liners are known to keep the heat in.
Above: Free standing cable jacks to lift and lower the camper
TCM: Is the Phoenix Flip demountable?
Robby: Yes, the Flip is demountable. We’re doing the same connection to the vehicle that we use with all of our pop-up campers; heavy duty ratchet straps and D-rings.
Above: Heavy-Duty Ratchet Straps and D-rings hold the camper in your truck
You undo the straps to lift the camper out of the truck. It uses free standing cable jacks for lift. That way we don’t have to have hardware on the outside body of the Flip. It has a sleeker look. If someone asks for mounted jacks we can do that as an option.
Above: The low profile stove and sink in the Flip Equipped
TCM: How did you go about designing the floor plan for such a compact space?
Robby: For starters, we needed to keep the cabinetry compact to accommodate the folding roof. We also needed a low-profile stove and sink.
We focused on keeping weight down, so the camper needed to be simple. There’s a 12-gallon water tank, water pump, 20-pound propane tank, and a furnace near the floor. I kept the weight low and made sure to include good storage.
Above: There are plugins for a cooler or portable 12-volt compressor refrigerator
I also wanted a less expensive camper. There is no built-in refrigerator, but I designed a space with plugins for a cooler or portable 12-volt compressor refrigerator. That simplified the required cabinets and kept the weight low and forward.
Above: The porta-potti storage is also the step up to the bed area
There is front storage area for a porta-potti that doubles as a step up to the bedroom.
On the passenger’s side there’s a simple couch. The floor is open and there is as much seating as possible. That was my thought process on the interior design.
Above: The Geo-Den Flip has a seating area with a table and sofa
TCM: Are the materials and manufacturing approach of the Flip the same as other Phoenix Custom Campers?
Robby: Yes, we build the Flip essentially the same as our other campers. The body is a double-welded aluminum tubular frame with foam core insulation in the walls Then the walls and floor are laminated. The Flip has the same structure as all Phoenix Custom Campers.
TCM: Are there any custom design possibilities for the new Flip, or is it a fixed model?
Robby: We are offering two Flip models, each is a fixed model; what you see is what you get. The first is the Flip Shell. The Flip Shell comes with a dinette window, door, curtains, and a mattress. That’s it.
The second model is the Flip Equipped. The Flip Equipped is the fully-featured model you see in the pictures. The only option for the Flip Equipped that is not shown is the optional water heater.
Above: A Frigidaire wall-mounted air conditioner is optional
TCM: An air conditioner? That must be a wall mount.
Robby: Yes, there’s room for an air conditioner on the right rear wall next to the back door. We use a Frigidaire model. It will run on a 2000-watt Honda EU2000i.
TCM: Can the customer customize the interior materials and finishes on the Flip Shell and Flip Equipped?
Robby: Yes, you can still choose your counter tops, cushions, and cabinetry materials.
Above: You can access the truck from the camper
TCM: Earlier you mentioned storage. What kind of storage is available in the Flip?
Robby: From four trap doors you can access the wheel well space from inside the camper. That’s a lot of storage that most truck campers no longer utilize.
Above: Under the couch is an open storage area
Under the couch there’s a wide open space, except for the battery. It’s a 10-inch by 18-inch by 65-inch space. In a camper this size, that’s massive.
There is some storage space around the porta-potti. There is also lift-up access above the potti to put stuff in. Anywhere there was a storage opportunity, we made it happen.
Above: The main cabinet storage area
In main cabinet there’s another wide open space, plus cubbies. That space is 18-inches long by 25-inches wide by 20-inches deep. In lower portion there is a narrow open space. There are good storage spaces throughout the Flip.
TCM: Does the water heater option take up any interior storage?
Robby: Yes, the optional 6-gallon water heater takes up some internal cabinetry.
Above: A Deka Group 24 AGM deep cycle battery is standard
TCM: What are the battery and propane capacities of the Flip?
Robby: The Flip Equipped model comes standard with a Deka Group 24 AGM deep cycle battery that offers about 85 amp hours.
There’s hardly anything that uses power in the Flip, so 85 amp hours will go a long way. The furnace only uses propane, so the battery is only used for the the water pump and a possibly a plug-in 12-volt compressor refrigerator.
Above: The Pro-Com furnace does not require 12-volt power
TCM: What furnace are you using that doesn’t need 12-volt power?
Robby: We are using a Pro-Com LP Ice House Safety Heater.
Above: Battery powered LED lights hang on the ceiling bows
TCM: What about lights? Doesn’t the battery system power the lights?
Robby: The Flip Shell and Equipped models come with portable battery-powered LED lights that hang on the ceiling bows.
We could have designed built-in lights, but the portable solutions are truly excellent and offer much more flexibility for position and use.
Above: Portable LED lights come standard on the Geo-Den Flip
The Flip Equipped also comes with a battery operated fan. Again the quality and versatility of the portable battery operated fan was the better solution.
TCM: The original Geo-Den targeted mid-size and full-size trucks; Ford Rangers, Toyota Tacomas, and half-tons. What trucks are you focusing on for the Flip?
Robby: The same group of trucks. We have also lost sales for people who have Ford Raptors and other high-performance trucks and don’t want a typical cabover truck camper profile. They don’t want to lose performance. With the Geo-Den Flip, they’ll get the camper they want, without the cabover look or performance compromises.
Cari: Performance truck owners don’t want to add air bags or leafs. With the Flip, they can keep their truck stock.
TCM: Can you order a Phoenix Geo-Den Flip for short bed and long bed trucks?
Robby: We don’t anticipate long bed customers being interested in the Flip. They would probably be more interested in more traditional cabover camper. A long bed customer could install the Flip forward on their truck and have toy storage on the rear bed area.
TCM: What’s the floor length of the Geo-Den Flip?
TCM: How do folks get in and out of the Phoenix Geo-Den Flip?
Robby: Being the length that it is, your truck step-bumper is the perfect thing, or a plastic step on the ground. A Rubber Maid two-step stationary step is what we recommend.
Cari: Compared to scissor steps, Rubber Maid steps cost less, weigh less, and are less likely to get dragged behind your rig, or stolen. We will install scissor steps, but we recommend the Rubber Maid steps for most customers.
Above: The certified scale weight of the Geo-Den Flip Equipped
TCM: What does the Flip Shell and Flip Equipped weigh?
Robby: The Flip Equipped is 700 pounds. That includes everything but an air conditioner or water heater. The Flip Shell weighs approximately 525 pounds.
TCM: Where is the center of gravity on the Geo-Den Flip?
Robby: The Flip Equipped center of gravity is 33-inches from the front wall. The Flip Shell center of gravity should be about the same.
TCM: What is the MSRP for the Geo-Den Flip Equipped and Flip Shell?
Robby: The Flip Equipped is $16,595. The Flip Shell is $13,200.
TCM: What kind of warranty does the Geo-Den Flip come with?
Robby: The Phoenix Custom Camper warranty is one year bumper-to-bumper warranty, and five years on the aluminum frame structure. Individual appliances come with their own manufacturers warranty.
TCM: Where can someone see the Phoenix Geo-Den Flip?
Robby: We have one here, right now. Truck Camper Magazine readers can make an appointment to see a Flip at Phoenix Custom Campers in Commerce City, Colorado. We don’t plan to attend shows this year so we can stay focused on delivering campers to our customers.
TCM: Is there anything else about the Phoenix Geo-Den Flip you want folks to know?
Robby: The basic idea for the Geo-Den Flip was to create a more accessible Phoenix Custom Camper. The Flip also affects the truck performance a lot less than traditional cabover truck campers. There’s a lot of space inside, great equipment on the Flip Equipped, and all at a lighter weight than anything comparable.
Cari: For customers who need a camper sooner than later, the Flip takes less time to build and deliver. We know some customers have been scared away by our long lead times. The Flip is going to help us with that.
Robby: Another benefit of the Geo-Den Flip is that it is very low profile when folded in the road ready position. In fact it was only about 83-inches tall in total mounted on the off-road ready Tacoma (supplied by our friends at Mountain Stated Toyota). So, in many cases, the Geo-Den Flip can be stored in a garage while on your truck. That’s a big deal for some customers.
We are really excited and hope that people will really flip for the new Geo-Den Flip! We’re busy and happy, but can stand to be busier, so please call us.