Not to be deterred, I set about designing and building my own. I created a monster, redneck version of a slide in, that met the bunk requirements for a family of 3, and it came in under the weight restrictions of the truck, and was supported by camper jacks for easy removal. There was nothing easy about it.
I used it successfully at the Pisgah Stage Race 2017 and was pretty excited about it.
A couple of weeks later, I loaded the family up and headed 8 miles down the road to Lake Powhatan Campground in the Pisgah National Forest. For some reason, something wierd always seems to happen when I take road trips. This time, we were in the middle of the first heat of spring, and it was hot! It stayed hot all night and without a power source, the inside of the camper was pretty warm. None of us slept well.
I worked on the camper a little more over the course of the year, but we never used it. I was sure that someone could put some time and money into it and make it really cool and functional, so I listed it on Craigslist. I lost money on it, but learned a lot through the building journey.
One lesson learned: I don't want to do that again!
Trailers were almost immediately crossed off the list. I need the hitch to haul bikes or a boat. I also need lightweight and wanted something that mounts on the truck. I have a camper shell that can be used to convert the truck bed to a sleeping space with a simple foam mattress. It seemed like a roof top tent was the way to go.
Some more research, talking to a couple of people and then a demo from Joe at REI and I was almost sold.
I took my search to Facebook to see if any of my friends had experience with one. I got varied responses. Sprinter owners told me to get a sprinter. Others told me to stick with the old tried and true ground tent. Several people told me that I didn't want a roof top tent (RTT). ( most of the time, when naysayers tell me I don't want something, I can be sure I am on the right track!)
With a little more research and a lot of help from REI, I wound up getting an amazing deal on the Tepui Autana w/ annex.
Lightweight and can be set up almost anywhere. The annex, when properly staked out, has enough room for a queen sized bed behind the ladder. Combined with the camper shell, we technically have enough room for 6 people and a dog.
A couple of thoughts:
-One of the cons to this set up is that once set up, you can't drive anywhere. Good point. That is the ONLY issue I have with this tent set up. But,definitely not a deal breaker. At this point, with our schedules, we rarely have time for a multi day trip. I'm looking into a solution for that. Stay Tuned.
-Actual tent takes about 5 minutes to set up or tear down. Annex takes another 10-15. I'm sure it will get faster as we learn. About the same time and effort as a ground tent. But for the stoke level of the family.... this is the way to go.
-I bought a set of leveling blocks from Tractor Supply for easy leveling.
- I also bought a scissor jack from Camping World. I placed this under the rear of the truck and raised it about 1-2 inches. Just enough to take the bounce out of the suspension. (the kid tosses quite a bit in his sleep.) This made the set up firm.
More adventures await. Can't wait to get out and explore some more!