Just when we think we’ve considered every pop-up and hard side truck camper design possibility, along comes a concept out of the Netherlands that challenges everything. Truck camper design got Haak’d.
Whenever Angela and I face a particularly complex challenge or opportunity, I clear the dinette (or the nearest large table), pull out a large blank sheet of paper and pen, and start deconstructing the situation.
The visual presence of a blank canvas is often enough to trigger different ways to think about whatever is in front of us. Never underestimate the power of the blank page.
From there we start the cathartic process of writing every piece of the puzzle we can think of. When the entire challenge/opportunity/situation is written down, things start to magically jump out.
Previously unseen connections leap off the page. New ideas and even entire solutions appear. Sometimes you have to walk away from the paper and return to it a few times, but darned if this ‘white paper process’ doesn’t almost always spark significant progress.
If it weren’t for this ‘process’, there would be no Truck Camper Magazine. More importantly, the magazine would never have survived the Great Recession, or any of the other insane things that have happened over the past 13.5 years. How did we start this magazine and survive this long? The ‘white paper process’, and a lot of hard work.
Netherland Team Haaks Camper Design
Every once in a while we come across something that looks like it has about 100 white paper processes behind it. As if a smart and talented team purposefully set out to think differently and change the game.
When I came across the Haaks Opperland, I immediately said, “Oh, Wow!” The Haaks managed to create nothing less than a completely fresh take on the demountable truck camper concept. That’s a true second floor folks. Haak’d indeed!
Examining the floor plan and specifications we find all the required elements for a self-contained truck camper. There’s a wet bath with cassette toilet, sink and shower, a kitchen with sink, induction cooktop and refrigerator, a clever dinette and a – upstairs – a 71×79-inch full-size bed. Haak claims the Opperland offers 100-square feet of living space.
As for specifications, the Opperland has a 45-liters (11.8-gallons) of fresh and grey capacity, 360-Ah lithium battery bank, roof solar panel system, a Vitron inverter and a Truma water heater. These specifications are alternatively anemic and overkill by domestic truck camper standards, but it’s interesting to see how they specified their unique design.
Speaking of unique, note that the rear wall is actually a hatch. It opens, almost like a toy hauler ready to inhale a quad or two. I absolutely love this idea, until I start thinking about bugs, campfire smoke, surprise weather conditions, and, “Hey that guy’s dog just ran into our camper!”
I mean talk about being open to new things. With your Haak hatch ajar you never know what might enter your life. Bear with me. No really, there’s a bear with me!
Like every truly-legit and duly de-mountable truck camper, the Opperland “stands” on four corner jacks. But where are these jacks? Removed? Nope. Retracted? Yup. For travel, the jacks almost entirely disappear into the wood exterior during travel.
Look closely at the 3D-rendering above and the front jacks retract into the sides of the interior dinette. And the rear jacks somehow extend out of the rear wall. Very slick.
This jack vanishing trick has long been an aesthetic goal of many camper manufacturers. For wind-cheating and sharper looks, having the jacks completely integrated into the main unit is another design win for the Haak.
The above time-lapse video shows how the Haak can be leveled on site. The make, model, and general origin of the hydraulic jacks are not mentioned.
For everyone who has complained about cabover entry in a truck camper, look at the eight (count them) steps. Not only is the staircase at a very acute angle, but it ascends at least 8 to 10-feet.
All I can think is how precarious it could be getting into bed at night and getting down in the morning. And don’t you dare roll over in your sleep! Sleep scantily and you might be less than decent during a very steep descent.
The interior decor and material choices are distinctly modern and residential. When de-mounted and set-up there’s very little about the Haaks that says “RV”. If anything it looks like a modern tiny home.
The shape and sheer size of the double-glazed windows are stunning. Where nearly our entire domestic RV industry seems stuck with rectangular RV windows, Haak offers a sharply angled departure. Imagine all the possibilities if camper windows could be any shape or size? Here’s a vision.
The dinette also appears to essentially be a two-top with just enough sitting area and table space for two. This allows for more floor space inside the unit. And how many folks do we typically find in a truck camper? Two!
The exterior of the Haaks Opperland is described as Accoya brand shiplap siding. Again, this is distinctly a modern and residential aesthetic and design choice.
It’s also a purposefully green decision. Haaks is focused on sustainable materials and construction and shies away from the popular all-composite approach that’s so prevalent on this side of the pond. Anyone who has had to cope with wood rot probably has mixed feelings on that approach, but they are ready to counter.
Haak claims the Accoya wood siding is “modified” and guarantees it to be rot-free for 25-years. Accoya, as it turns out, is a brand of wood that describes itself as, “…a revolution in modified dimensionally stable wood, delivering remarkable levels of performance.” Made in Arnhem in the Netherlands and exported all over the world, Accoya wood products go through a proprietary acetylation process.
In a nutshell, acetylation is effectively pickling natural wood. Like pickles, Acetylation is non-toxic, and prevents the wood from absorbing water. As the Accoya website states, “Keep wood dry and well maintained and (wood) is one of the greatest materials of all time.” According to Accoya, acetylation takes care of the potential water intrusion, and they’re the only company in the world pursuing this process.
That’s worth a wine toast, don’t you think?
Could This Concept Haak It Here?
Taking a step back, I have never seen the Haaks Opperland in person (or been to the Netherlands for that matter) and have some questions about its practicality as a truck camper.
I already alluded to the precarious staircase, but it’s also not entirely clear if you can pull over and get in and out of the unit. Do you need to raise the second floor’s roof to access and use the bathroom? It might be possible, but I can’t be certain.
Otherwise, the Opperland would be exclusively a stop, drop, and pop-up product. That approach probably wouldn’t win significant market share in the United States and Canada. We like to be able to pull off, make lunch, use the facilities, relax a moment, and then get back on the road.
And none of that takes into account the $115,000 USD price of the Opperland and partnering Fiat Ducato flatbed truck, and the Haak’s non-availability outside Europe.
The domestic viability of this product isn’t the point. After all, it’s no secret that forward-thinking design doesn’t always translate to market success. In fact, the history of creativity in business is littered with brilliant financial failures. My favorite example is the Tucker 48.
Caveats aside, the Haaks Opperland is a rich treasure trove of fresh thinking on the truck camper concept. As domestic manufacturers churn out endless variations on tried and true floor plans – a practice I ironically approve when wearing my review hat – here’s an exciting opportunity to open up the design box possibilities and play – daring pen to wide open white paper.
That moment, my friends, is what this is really about.