Truck Camper News

TCM EXCLUSIVE: 2024 Grumpy Bear Arctos Sport

Grumpy Bear reinvents their fiberglass truck camper process and debuts an all-new hard side cabover-less truck camper. Here’s the story behind their new process, and the 2024 Grumpy Bear Arctos Sport. Ramp it up!

Grumpy Bear Arctos Sport Caboverless Camper

In May of 2023, Grumpy Bear Campers debuted with the Koda truck camper; a hard side truck camper based on a SpaceKap fiberglass shell. The Gumpy Bear fit, finish, features, and CNC cut interior design made for an auspicious beginning for the new brand.

Alas, the confines of using another company’s fiberglass shell was, well, confining. Suggestions and requests from customers were not always possible inside the limitations imposed by the SpaceKap. If Grumpy Bear was going to advance their campers, they’d have to break out of the SpaceKap shell.

Eleven months after their Truck Camper Magazine launch, Grumpy Bear has hatched an entirely new vacuum-infused fiberglass process, and an all-new fiberglass truck camper; the Arctos Sport. Originally developed as a proof of concept, the Arctos Sport has evolved into a uniquely designed and manufactured camper for those who don’t want or need a hard side cabover model.

Why Cabover-less? TCM Weighs In.

Caboverless truck campers have never been a significant part of the truck camper market, but they might just represent the ultimate expression of camper utility. And for some fellow truck campers, that’s all they need or want; a place to get out of the elements, and sit and sleep in comfort. Want proof of this claim? Look at how many people camp in truck toppers and caps. Just don’t ask them to stand up.

Another often overlooked argument for caboverless campers is half-ton matching. Not everyone who has a half-ton truck wants a pop-up, or has the payload capacity for a hard side truck camper with a cabover.

Speaking of everyone, everyone and their Uncle Bob knows too many half-ton targeting hard side truck campers push 1,800 pounds when wet and loaded (and then some) putting them beyond most real world half-ton payloads. In contrast, a caboverless truck camper can easily nose under 1,200 pounds and payload match all but the most anemic half-ton pickups. Some caboverless units–including the subject of these electrons–limbo even lower.

And is it so hard to believe that not everyone who has the payload capacity for a cabover model wants a cabover model? After all, that cabover creates wind resistance–a real drag–kicking your fuel mileage in the keister and eating that green stuff in your wallet like rabbits in alfalfa sprouts. Cabovers also raise your center of gravity potentially causing camper sway and amplifying back-and-forth porpoising on cement-divided highways; aka, the dread Ga-Dunk, Ga-Dunk, Ga-Dunk.

Did you hear that? That’s the sound of fellow truck campers saying, “Yeah, I don’t need all that cabover fru-fru. Just give me the function of a hard side cabover-less camper, and I’ll take it from there!” Grumpy Bear hears you and presents the Arctos Sport. And where this model comes from, there’s a hard side cabover model to follow.

To learn more about the new 2024 Grumpy Bear Arctos Sport, we talked to the Founders of Grumpy Bear, BJ Zantopulos and Andrew Rohr.

Grumpy Bear Arctos Camper Floorplan

Grumpy Bear Arctos Sport Specifications

The 2024 Grumpy Bear Arctos Sport is a hard side, non-slide cabover-less truck camper made for short and long bed trucks.  The interior floor length of the 2024 Grumpy Bear Arctos Sport is 72.75” inches, the width is 6’11”, the interior height is 6’0”, and the center of gravity is 41” from the front wall.

The Grumpy Bear Arctos Sport has a porta-potty and can accommodate one Group 24 battery and one 20-pound propane tank

Grumpy Bear Campers is reporting the base weight of the Grumpy Bear Arctos Sport DIY package shell model is 693 pounds. The Arctos Sport standard build is 1,102 pounds dry. The starting price of the 2024 Grumpy Bear Arctos Sport DIY package shell model is $12,000. The standard build is $20,000. Click here to get a free Grumpy Bear brochure.

Grumpy Bear Arctos Camper Front

Grumpy Bear Campers debuted in Truck Camper Magazine last May. What have you been up to since then?

BJ: For the past eight months, our primary focus has been designing an entirely new product to meet the needs of our customers and give us more flexibility in the design and customization process. Specifically, our customers wanted changes to the shell that we weren’t able to do with our SpaceKap-based Koda model. We also wanted better insulation for improved four-season capability. Additionally, we needed better access to the shell itself. Our lead times with SpaceKap could be months. We need to have control in-house to produce the product we want to build.

Grumpy Bear Arctos Camper Dinette Towards Door

Will the Grumpy Bear Koda model remain available?

Andrew: For the reasons already mentioned, we are phasing out the Koda to focus on the new Arctos Sport.

Grumpy Bear Wall On Mold

Above: The underside of the Arctos fiberglass front nose section; note the darker Coosa material

Tell us about your new fiberglass panels and how they’re made.

Andrew: Our fiberglass panels are different than panels that have foam cores and fiberglass bonded to each side. Our panels are vacuum-infused fiberglass on both faces and on all four ends. The panels are one-piece when they’re done.

There are several advantages to this approach. First and foremost, we’re able to make them in-house off a single mold we built. We control the size and overall dimensions of each panel by controlling the size and dimensions of the foam insert, which is reinforced with Coosa. We cut the foam on a CNC router and encapsulate it with fiberglass and Coosa; an incredibly strong and stiff fiberglass composite board. Because we are machining the foam, there are recesses for Coosa mounting points on the inside.

BJ: You can see the Coosa as the black strips in the photograph above. Coosa is an incredibly lightweight, strong, and stiff fiberglass composite board that has great screw retention and won’t rot. We use it in areas where we will mount cabinets and other features inside the shell. In areas where there are openings in the shell (windows, doors, etc.), we also use Coosa.

“Coosa is an incredibly lightweight, strong, and stiff fiberglass composite board that has great screw retention and won’t rot.”

Is the entire truck camper structure made from these fiberglass panels including the roof, walls, and floor?

Andrew: Yes, everything is made from our new vacuum-infused fiberglass panels with the exception of the floor. For walk-on durability, the floor core is a fiberglass panel with only Coosa inside. There is no foam in the floor. There’s also Coosa in the roof to support the air conditioner.

Can you walk on the Arctos Sport’s roof?

Andrew: Yes, you can walk on the roof. However, if someone intends to walk on the roof on a regular basis, we would add more Coosa.

Grumpy Bear Arctos Camper Ramp

Above: Grumpy Bear’s new ramp-shaped fiberglass mold

How is that ramp-shaped moldable to be the mold for all of your panels? It almost looks like a skate ramp.

Andrew: The bulk of the mold is flat. In fact, all of the panels except for the roof are flat. The skate ramp-shaped part of the mold is for the front nose and roof curve. Everything else is done on the flat part of the mold.

How did you come up with that single ramp-shape mold approach?

Andrew: That started with a conversation with our fiberglass supplier. A customer of theirs wanted to do a panel and we helped them with that customer. Once we did that, we realized that we could make panels, walls, and parts. A single mold for every part allows us to construct the size or shape we want with minimal factory space. We can even build flatbeds or bigger and longer parts without dedicated molds and without the cost of developing new molds.

Why vacuum-infused fiberglass rather than more traditional chop gun fiberglass?

Andrew: Our SpaceKap-based Koda model is chop gun fiberglass. I worked in an open mold fiberglass shop and we didn’t want to do that. It’s a mess. And it’s difficult to control thicknesses. Vacuum-infused fiberglass is a better process for our employees and is important to our design.

Once the panels are done, how do you assemble the fiberglass panels into a camper?

Andrew: They are bonded together with a structural adhesive. The adhesive we are using will rip the fiberglass before it comes unbounded. Cars and boats are held together with similar adhesives. It’s a proven technology in the composites industry.

That’s incredible. How did you select the right adhesive?

Andrew: We brought in an adhesives supplier through our fiberglass supplier to find the right one.

How do you keep the parts in position during the curing process?

Andrew: It goes back to the construction of our panels. In addition to using the Coosa for reinforcement, we also use pieces in the panels with precise screw locations machined into them. We then attach small fixtures at these locations; the panels align to similar locations in the other panels.

Grumpy Bear Arctos Camper Seams

Why don’t we see trim molding at the corners of the Arctos Sport?

Andrew: The adhesive is watertight and structural, like fiberglass. We put the panels together with the adhesive and rout the corners clean.

BJ: Then we paint the corners with a bed liner material. We have a corner section of our panels assembled with adhesive that Andrew has jumped on and it hasn’t come apart. The strength of the panels and bond is incredible.

Some of the photos show the Arctos Sport with jacks and others show the jacks removed. Are the jacks field removable?

BJ: As an option, we are offering Zero Declination removable jack brackets with the Rieco-Titan jacks. If you take the motorized Rieco-Titan jacks off, you remove about 80 pounds from the unit. Removing the jacks also improves the width and departure angle of a rig. You can remove them if you’re going on a trip with no intention of demounting the camper from the truck.

Grumpy Bear Arctos Camper Side

Or store them in your truck. What kind of windows did you select for the Arctos Sport?

BJ: We wanted to start with the windows that we are experienced in installing; double-pane glass windows. They give the camper a nice clean look and have dark tinting for privacy. If a customer wants Arctic Tern or acrylic windows, we can do that.

Is every camper custom-built to order?

BJ: Yes, our campers are custom-ordered and built for each customer. We intend to produce stock models that customers can view and reference. If a customer wants their camper to be a little wider or longer, we can do that, too. The first Arctos Sport is a 6’5 foot short bed model, but we can go up to an 8 foot model.

Grumpy Bear Arctos Sport Logo

Will every Arctos be called the Arctos Sport?

BJ: The upcoming cabover models will be just Arctos. The Sport is for the cabover-less model.

Grumpy Bear Arctos Camper Back

The Arctos Sport in the photography has an air conditioner on the roof. Why not go with a side or rear wall-mounted unit with fewer BTUs and less power draw?

BJ: The roof top unit is a large air conditioner for the Arctos Sport. We went with a rooftop unit as a test to see if the roof would hold a rooftop air conditioner. It handles the unit beautifully. We would have used a side-mounted air conditioner, but we didn’t want to lose the storage. If a customer wants a side-mounted air conditioner, we can do that.

Grumpy Bear Arctos Camper Power Tower

Talk to us about the electrical system in the Arctos Sport. What does it have?

BJ: We’re using the WFCO 30-amp converter. The Arctos Sport also has a 30 amp shore power cord, and a 7-way umbilical cord to power the marker lights. We have a few other outlets in the unit; a 120 volt for the cooler, and the power tower with 110 volt outlets, USB ports, and USB-C ports. Inside a cubby in the bed space is another 110-volt plug and a USB port as well.

Grumpy Bear Arctos Camper Storage

Of course, the Arctos has 12-volt lighting inside and out, and a 20-pound propane tank for the Suburban heater. There’s a connection to hook up a grill to the propane tank for outdoor cooking.

Can the Arctos Sport get a solar panel?

BJ: Yes, there’s space for a panel on the roof, but it’s tight.

Andrew: An air conditioner and solar panel will fit, or a roof rack and air conditioner. There may not be room for a fan, air conditioner, and solar. We can talk customers through what will work.

Grumpy Bear Arctos Camper Passenger

Are there holding tanks in the Arctos Sport?

BJ: We made decisions for the Sport model based on customer feedback. For customers in the small camper space, water is not something they are generally looking for. In the standard model, there is no water or holding tanks. If you’re interested in a fresh water tank, we can add it. It would remove some storage and the tank sizes are limited, but we can accommodate a fresh tank and a grey tank.

How about a heating system?

BJ: There’s a propane 16,000 BTU Suburban heater in there.

Wow. That would heat a smaller camper quickly.

Andrew: I took the Arctos Sport out a couple of weeks ago in 18-degree weather. When I first entered the camper, it was 30 degrees inside. When I turned the heater on, the unit was a toasty 78 degrees in minutes.

Grumpy Bear Arctos Camper Dometic 12 Volt

The photos show a Dometic 12-volt cooler-style refrigerator. Is that the only refrigerator option?

BJ: We can build-in a small refrigerator if that’s what the customer wants. We envisioned Arctos owners going boating, fishing, four-wheeling, and off-roading. For these kinds of truck camping adventures, a portable 12-volt refrigerator is perfect.

Grumpy Bear Arctos Camper Dinette To Bed

Tell us about the main bed and the optional Disc-O-Bed bunk bed.

BJ: The regular bed is 53 by 74 inches; basically a full bed for two full-grown adults.

Grumpy Bear Arctos Camper Disco Bunk

If you have kids, you can deploy the optional Disco-O-Bed for extra sleeping space. There’s still plenty of room to get in both beds, and the Disc-O-Bed holds up to 300 pounds.

Grumpy Bear Arctos Camper Foot Locker Storage

Where’s the storage in the Arctos Sport?

BJ: There’s a large footlocker. A camping table and chairs can fit there. That’s the largest storage area. There are cubbies throughout the unit, overhead, and over the bed. There’s also a ceiling-height drawer with netting on the driver’s side. The netting makes it easy to see what’s in the drawer.

Grumpy Bear Arctos Camper Porta Potty

Where is the Dometic porta-potty stored?

There’s a little cabinet next to the power tower that’s intended for the porta-potty. It fits there perfectly, and the step-up in the camper is the perfect place to use it.

What trucks are you targeting for the Arctos Sport?

BJ: The Arctos Sport in the photos is designed for full-size, half-ton, short bed or extra short bed trucks. It’s narrow enough for a Tacoma or Ranger, but it would look a little wide on the truck.

Can you make a narrower Arctos Sport for mid-size trucks like the Toyota Tacoma?

Andrew: We can easily make the Arctos Sport a better fit for the Tacoma. We would first work with the customer on what they need in the interior. If you have a mid-size truck, contact us, and we can talk you through what’s possible.

Grumpy Bear Arctos Camper People In Dinette

What niche and opportunity is the Grumpy Bear Arctos Sport after in the marketplace?

BJ: The market focus of the Arctos Sport is people who want a small camper, and overlanders. It’s also for people who are towing with a full-size truck and need a place to sleep. Tenters who want to get off the ground and want some extra amenities are good candidates. Some full-size half-ton trucks don’t have a huge payload capacity. The Arctos Sport can work for those customers. For example, people with older half-tons who want the capability to camp without upgrading their truck could get the Arctos Sport.

Or it could be for someone who long hauls for work and needs a place to sleep on the road. I was recently talking to a customer looking into the prototype. He has a cabin in Maine and needs a place to sleep on his thirteen-hour drive route. He doesn’t want to go to hotels that are $200 a night.

Andrew: I see it for hunters and fishermen and people who want something simple for the weekend.

Tell us about the batteries in the Arctos Sport and where the batteries are.

BJ: The battery box is located below the power tower. The electrical system is designed around lithium batteries. You can order the Arctos Sport with an optional lithium battery, or an AGM.

Could a customer opt for a portable lithium power station, like a Goal Zero?

BJ: Yes, that’s something we could accommodate. However, that would consume vertical space, so we decided on the battery box. Our goal was to maximize storage in the Arctos Sport.

Grumpy Bear Arctos Camper Tailgate Down

Tell us about the entry step system for the Grumpy Bear Arctos Sport.

Andrew: There’s no step system standard. If you remove the tailgate, you can easily climb in from the truck bumper. Of course, a Torklift GlowStep system or a set of Little Giant steps will also work.

Can you shut the tailgate with the Arctos Sport?

BJ: Not on the unit in the pictures, but we can build the camper to accommodate that. If a customer specifies the ability to close the tailgate, they can use the step system in their tailgate. As a side note, the door on the Arctos is a standard RV door. It’s a good size for a small camper.

What are the options for the 2024 Grumpy Bear Arctos Sport?

BJ: We list the optional features on our website. The list includes Rieco-Titan electric jacks, quick-release brackets, a Dometic 12-volt cooler, a lithium battery, propane, an air conditioner, laminated Coosa cabinets that weigh less than the standard plywood, a wireless backup camera, and the Disc-O-Bed bunk. If you want to change the exterior gel coat color and/or the cushion colors, those can also be optioned.

The wired backup camera can be tied into your factory truck backup system. Once the tailgate is removed and the tailgate backup camera is unplugged, the wired camera we install connects to that plug and brings your factory system back online.

Grumpy Bear Arctos fiberglass panels

What does the 2024 Grumpy Bear Arctos Sport weigh with standard build features?

BJ: There are actually two levels of Arctos Sport available; a DIY package shell model, and the standard build shown the pictures. The DIY package shell model includes the camper shell, entry door, manual Rieco-Titan jacks, ratchet tie-down straps, and dual-pane glass windows. You can build the camper out from there. The weight of the DIY package shell model is 693 pounds.

The Arctos Sport standard build adds the bed, Maxxair fan, Suburban furnace, cabinetry, Adzel composite wall board, table shades, and the electrical system. The weight of the Arctos Sport with the standard build is 1,102 pounds dry. From there, you can add options.

How much weight does the Coosa cabinetry option save?

Andrew: A Coosa build reduces the camper weight by a little less than 200 pounds.

That’s incredible. Where is the center of gravity on the 2024 Grumpy Bear Arctos Sport?

Andrew: It’s 41 inches from the front wall.

What is the MSRP for the 2024 Grumpy Bear Arctos Sport; DIY package shell model, and standard build?

BJ: The DIY package shell model is $12,000. The standard build is $20,000.

What is the warranty for the 2024 Grumpy Bear Arctos Sport?

BJ: There is a one-year warranty that covers the whole unit. We prefer people come back to us to get any work done but, if you have an issue, we will work with you to solve any problems.

When will the 2024 Grumpy Bear Arctos Sport be available?

BJ: You can order it now. Lead times are three to four months from order to delivery. Glass, resin, and Coosa availability could impact lead times. We will discuss delivery dates when a customer orders a camper.

Grumpy Bear Arctos Camper Dinette

What’s the process for ordering an Arctos Sport?

BJ: The process is the same as ordering the Koda. A down payment of $1,000 starts the customization process. After the deposit, we talk with you about your needs for your camper. Once the design and needed parts are finalized, we ask for 50 percent down. After that, we order the components and start the build process. Once that’s complete, you pick it up here at the factory and the rest of the balance is due.

The overwhelming majority of truck camper owners prefer cabover truck campers. When can we expect to see a cabover version of the Arctos?

Andrew: While we recognize the Arctos Sport isn’t for everyone, we think there is a segment of the market that a small, simple, well-made camper fits. In regards to the cabover version, we’re aiming for late summer. It will have the same approach with a DIY package shell model and a standard build with customization.

“In regards to the cabover version, we’re aiming for late summer. It will have the same approach with a DIY package shell model and a standard build with customization.”

Is there anything about the 2024 Grumpy Bear Arctos Sport that you would like to add?

BJ: The most important feature of the Arctos Sport is that it’s full fiberglass. The vacuum-infused fiberglass process is completely sealed. We have effectively removed water and mold problems from the camper equation. If you have your Arctos built with the Coosa cabinets, water and mold are truly a concern of the past. You don’t need to worry about leaks or that anything will delaminate.

Believe it or not, the Arctos is more spacious than our Koda, even though there’s no cabover space. It’s wider and has more room for seating, dining, and sleeping than the Koda. I think customers are going to be very surprised at how spacious the Arctos feels inside. If you’re looking for a compact and highly functional camper that’s built to last for generations, you’re going to love our new Arctos series.

For more information on Grumpy Bear Campers, visit their website at grumpybearcampers.com. Click here to get a free Grumpy Bear brochure.

 

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