The Four Wheel Camper is a lot more developed and refined than it was back in 1972, but the basic concept hasn’t changed at all. The camper must observe three basic principles: light weight, durability, simplicity. Aluminum framing and skin keeps the camper light and durable. Understated cabinetry, made of mahogany plywood, provides lightweight simplicity and a greater feeling of spaciousness in a very compact living space. Decorative design elements are kept to an absolute minimum to reduce weight and increase durability. These three simple, yet complex goals, provide a very small niche in the camper marketplace unlike other brands of truck campers. Whereas larger, more complex truck campers provide amenities and large living spaces, Four Wheel Campers embrace the ability to literally go camping in comfort anywhere your truck can go safely and with relative ease.
The basic idea is a fairly simple, but very strong, cage like aluminum frame fabricated from aluminum tube and extruded channel. Much like an airplane frame, it has the ability to flex, providing greater strength and durability, therefore longer life and the ability to handle the torque experienced on mountain and desert roads, far away from pavement. Optimum off road capability demands the lowest center of gravity. The minimal height over the cab of the truck is essential, and as much weight as possible is on the floor of the camper. That’s why the water tank and propane tanks have migrated to the floor in recent years. Dave Rowe invented a lift mechanism like no other in the market. Instead of a complex lift arm apparatus with difficult linkage and geometry, he devised a simple articulated lift panel at the front and back, spring loaded the piano hinges, and provided a shear wall effect for exceptional stability in high winds. This also provides support for a snow load on the roof.
Truck campers had been around for many years, even going back to the early years of trucks in the 1920s, but Dave Rowe came up with an idea for a super light weight pop up camper. It sure beat hunting in the Rockies with a Volkswagen bus, and it opened the path for a great deal more flexibility where an adventurous kind of person could expand his or her horizons to. The first Four Wheel Camper was built upon an International Scout, not a typical pick up truck, and it was a hard sided camper, not a pop-up camper. Transition to trucks came soon enough, but the company continued to build for Blazers, Broncos, and Scouts for quite some time.
The Seventies and into the Eighties were a heyday for Four Wheel Campers and the RV industry. A major change in ownership occurred, and Jack Billings eventually became the owner of Four Wheel Campers in 1987. A couple of years later, the company moved to Woodland, California, and has been there since. Production bumped along, and then Ben Burnett bought the company in 1996. The basic design stayed the same, production increased, and more and more campers became aware of Four Wheel Campers.
In 2001, Tom and Celeste Hanagan became the new owners, and the Four Wheel Campers started evolving into a more modern and comfortable product. Staying true to the basic concept, system by system the camper improved. All of the remaining particle board was designed out, the electrical system was completely redesigned, and components ranging from foam to fabrics to plumbing fittings were improved. The frame is stronger than ever. Lessons learned from world travelers, and especially Baja California experience taught us where the frame needed improvement. The current FWC leadership, headed by Robert Vogl, follows on this strong legacy of constant innovation. New materials are constantly researched and studied to lighten, strengthen, and improve performance.
Today the work force is the best ever. The future brings more improvement, much of it suggested by owners who use the product on a regular basis, and many who camp away from the mainstream in harsh and punishing conditions.
Four Wheel Campers are built to last. The camper frame and roof are aluminum construction (welded). The camper base is constructed with a high grade plywood that has an applied weather resistant, textured, laminate coating on both sides. This new plywood is excellent quality and the outer laminate layers give the wood maximum protection (compared to a coat of paint). This plywood is sometimes referred to as Skid-Guard material, and is used in the construction of boat docks at lakes, rivers, and in marine environments.
The interior cabinets are now built from a high quality plywood with the exterior finish having a “painted” on wood grain look coating. The new cabinetry we are currently using are more durable, harder, and have less of a tendency to scratch.
The camper walls and roof are insulated with rigid foam insulation.
All appointments inside the Four Wheel Camper, from items like the cushion foam, fabrics, appliances, electrical, plumbing, flooring, are of the best quality. We try and avoid using any of the typical inexpensive “RV” parts & pieces whenever & wherever possible. We always prefer to use upgraded parts & pieces in the construction of your new camper. We pride ourselves in building the lightest weight, lowest profile & most durable pop-up truck campers on the market today. Our customers appreciate our attention to detail too!