Bivak camper turns a pickup truck into a capable expedition vehicle

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BundutecUSA debuts the Bivak at Overland Expo 2016(Credit: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)

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BundutecUSA already offers a solid line of slide-in pickup truck campers for trucks of all kinds. Its latest model, the Bivak, launches as its simplest and most affordable. Built for the off-road market, the compact camper shell organizes your expedition gear, gives you an optional place to sleep and makes the unpredictable backcountry just a little more manageable. The highly customizable Bivak is the camper for 4x4 pickup drivers looking for "something more than a topper but less than the conventional truck camper."

BundutecUSA is an interesting cross-Atlantic business specializing in truck campers, trailers and other vehicular camping equipment. After discovering the Bundutec product line in South Africa, where "bundu" means remote wild lands, BundutecUSA president Rory Willett brought the name and products to the US. The Iowa-based company imports South African originals like the BunduAwn electric awning and BunduTop pop-top roof tent and manufactures truck bed campers in the US.

Part of BundatecUSA's "lightweight expedition rig" line, which also includes the Trekken trailer, the Bivak offers adventurers something much simpler, more customizable and cheaper than other Bundutec slide-in truck campers. Those campers feature more traditional cab-over, pop-top designs, include standard amenities like mattresses and kitchen equipment, and start at US$12,500. The Bivak, on the other hand, is much slimmer and more basic, getting you out there for as little as $3,495.

The 500-lb (227-kg) Bivak is a basic wood-framed, aluminum-skinned box sized closely around the pickup bed it slides into. The side walls are angled to eliminate the need for tow mirrors, and the design relies on the front cargo loops of the truck bed to secure it into place, eliminating the need for truck camper tie downs. The Bivak sticks out just slightly past the truck bumper and is quite compact when compared to other truck slide-ins.

A big reason the Bivak is so compact is because it isn't a proper camper, at least not out of the box. The interior is designed for cargo and equipment storage, not for sleeping or living.

The base Bivak includes a 17-gal (64-l) fresh water tank, 12-volt water pump, LED lighting, and prebuilt electrical layout with deep cycle battery box and 12 V and USB power points throughout. Throw a gear rack on top of that and you have a kayaking/mountain biking/adventure gear hauler that will hydrate you and offer plenty of internal cargo storage for gear, tools and other carry. Toss a tent, propane stove and other camping gear inside and you have a super-light, simple camper for multi-day adventures.

For those that want a fuller set of overnight amenities, BundutecUSA's options list transforms the Bivak into a full-fledged camper. The $3,250, aluminum-boxed electric BundaTop roof tent adds 50 x 78 inches (127 x 198 cm) of foam mattress for spending the night. The $1,270 pullout galley adds 12-volt refrigeration and a cutting board, and a $50 single-burner butane stove makes it a more complete kitchen. Other options include the BunduAwn electric awning, a VersaTrack system mounted to the interior door panel for setting up shelves, baskets, gear holders and more, and solar panels.

BundutecUSA has a full price list on its website for those interested in the cost of specific items. The model we looked over at Overland Expo was listed at just under $10,130 and included the BunduTop roof tent, slide-out galley with Dometic refrigerator, single-burner stove, BunduAwn awning, VersaTrack system with various baskets and holders, and a few other options.

In addition to its compact, super-customizable nature, what really struck us about the Bivak was its thoughtful, organized design. On the show model, the main cargo door in back had the VersaTrack system on the inside, complementing the slide-out kitchen with things like a spice rack, worktop and paper towel holder (which they moved inside earlier because of wind). The sliding mounts on that system make it easy to organize and reorganize accessories as needed.

On the passenger side, there was a neatly organized cupboard with cups and dishes and a second door to the interior. The driver side had more bare wall space, which a rep explained was designed to allow the owner to mount shovels and other tools. Overall, it seemed to make excellent use of its limited space.

The initial Bivak model was designed for the Nissan Frontier, but BundutecUSA says that it can build the slide-in for any pickup truck on the market. It debuted at Overland Expo and is manufactured in the US.

Source: BundatecUSA

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