On July 9th, 2019, we challenged the truck camper industry to go truck camping in their own products. Here’s what happened, and what it means for the future of truck camper design.
For decades, the truck camper industry would say, “It’s so dead on day three of the National RV Trade Show in Louisville that you can literally go bowling down the aisles.”
After hearing this comment again, and again and witnessing the repeated annual day-three show abandonment for ourselves, we did the only thing that made sense. In 2012, we held a truck camper industry bowling tournament on the third day of the Louisville show.
We bought the highest-rated foam bowling set on Amazon, printed a bowling scorecard, and had the truck camper industry compete for a big prize; a giant mug with some serious hot chocolate fixins. We “spared” no expense.
On the surface it would be easy to dismiss our antics as just that. In reality, we were collecting some fun content for the magazine, entertaining ourselves, and finally doing what everyone had talked about for decades. Bowling on day three at Louisville? Done.
Which brings me to something else we hear again, and again, and again – this time from truck camper owners.
“Did the people who designed this camper actually camp in it?”
“Does the truck camper industry actually use their own products?”
“The companies who make these things need to experience them!”
No matter how you say it, the meaning is the same. Truck camper owners are often dumbfounded by some of the design decisions truck camper designers and manufacturers make. Maybe you’ve said, “Why did they do THAT?” or, “What were they THINKING?”
After hearing this from fellow truck campers for years, and experiencing some of the frustration ourselves, we got a wild idea. A crazy idea. An insanely over-the-top, can’t-possibly-do-it idea.
We could publicly dare the industry to go truck camping.
I’d like to tell you we immediately wrote up the triple-dog dare and published it, but that’s not the case. We sat on it for years fearing it was too bold, too audacious. All the while we heard again and again, “Does the industry actually camp in their own campers?”
Time To Stop Talking About It
On July 9th, 2019, we finally did it. Without warning, we publicly dared the truck camper manufacturers to go truck camping in their own products.
In a published statement, we explained, “To satisfy this dare, industry leaders are to take out one of their own truck campers for a two day, two night truck camping adventure between July 9th (today) and November 9th, 2019.”
Over 700 fellow truck campers signed and supported the dare. As the “signatures” came in, we added their names, towns and states under the article and the list grew, and grew and grew. People from all over the United States, Canada and the world signed our dare and challenge.
On the industry side, nothing happened during those first few days. Not an email response. Not a phone call. Nothing. At first we thought the industry was ignoring our latest challenge, but things were afoot behind the scenes.
7 Manufacturers Accepted and Completed the Dare
In total, seven truck camper manufacturers took the dare and successfully filed a dare report and product evaluation. Here’s the list:
1. Randy Hunter, Engineering Product Development Manager for Lance Campers, officially accepted the dare on July 16th and filed his dare report on October 3rd.
2. Keith Donkin, General Manager for Northern Lite Manufacturing, officially accepted the dare on July 23rd and filed his dare report on October 7th.
3. Allen Miller, Director of Research and Development for nuCamp RV, officially accepted the dare on August 6th and filed his dare report on November 5th.
4. David Epp, CEO of Adventurer Manufacturing, accepted the dare on September 6th and filed his dare report on November 8th.
5. Doug Karr, Northwood Manufacturing’s truck camper expert, simultaneously accepted the dare and filed his dare report on September 13th.
6. Matt and Molly Ward of Hallmark RV officially accepted the dare on August 13th and filed their dare report on September 6th.
7. Jesse Collinsworth, CEO of Rugged Mountain RV, simultaneously accepted the dare and filed his dare report on October 28th.
Thoughts On the Dare Reports
Overall, we are very pleased with the number of industry participants and their reports. We would have preferred to have an industry leader from every truck camper manufacturer take the dare, but seven truck camper manufacturers represents a relatively high percentage of the total number of manufacturers. It’s a good showing.
If there is a concern, it’s that a few industry leaders didn’t fully embrace the opportunity to truly critique their own products. Either they didn’t have enough time to discover things about their products that could be better, or they believed publicly pointing out any product short givings was not in their best interest. Both reasons are understandable, but prevent the deeper insights and improvements this dare was all about.
On the flip side, a number of the dare reports did dig deeper and revealed areas the industry leaders want to improve. We are excited about this direction and want to continue to encourage the industry to keep on truck camping.
As Allen Miller of nuCamp RV stated for his Cirrus 720 dare report, “Only through real life camping experiences can you discover what truly works, and what doesn’t.” We couldn’t have said it any better.
Triple-Dog Dare 2020: Stay Tuned!
Believe it not, we heard from a number of truck camper dealers who were upset that they too were not dared to go truck camping. We were even contacted by readers who thought we should have included the gear manufacturers and/or dealers on our challenge.
While we were not about to change the terms of the original dare, we are going to hold a second industry dare challenge, next year, and open it up to the entire truck camper marketplace; manufacturers, gear companies, and dealers.
For the second dare, we are going to change the requirements a bit. For starters, we want the industry leaders to experience their products more, and offer deeper product evaluations.
After all, this is not an exercise just to get the industry camping in their own products. We want them to experience more of what their customers experience, and then make product improvements accordingly.
That’s the strike down the aisle we’re after.
Now what comes after a Triple-Dog Dare? How can we top ourselves for the next round? We have some ideas.