Ford F-150 Baja camper could be Winter 2022's ultimate adventure RV
Colorado's Rossmönster is one among the small army of Rocky Mountain camper van converters that make the type of homey lodges-on-wheels that inspire people to sell everything and declare the road their home. Now the company takes a big step off-road into the overland truck market, offering a hard-walled pop-up camper truck that's every bit as warm and comfy as its camper vans. Custom camper van style meets full-size 4x4 truck utility for a four-season adventure camper ready to make winter and summer a lot more fun.
Carefully avoiding insulting its camper vans in the process, Rossmönster explains its decision to add an "Overland" branch and get into truck campers, noting that some customers just want a truck. Despite the popularity of all-wheel-drive vans as rugged camper base vehicles, some drivers still demand the smaller overall footprint, real 4WD with locking differentials, higher ground clearance and all-around better off-road ruggedness a truck offers.
“We know that many people, including ourselves, prefer to adventure in hard-to-reach places where getting there is part of the experience. As such, we wanted to build a vehicle with the same craftsmanship and dedication to design that we’ve been employing in our van builds for years but with a bit more capability to explore," founder and owner Ross Williamson, the Monster Ross behind Rossmönster, explained when announcing the Baja earlier this year.
Williamson and crew reached for a capable platform that also happens to be America's long-standing best-selling vehicle, the Ford F-Series, tearing the 6.5-foot (198-cm) bed off an F-150 and getting to work.
The huge difference between creating a camper van versus a camper truck is that the latter entails building your own cabin from the ground up. From the looks of the Baja, Rossmönster has done a masterful job on its alu-framed composite build, developing one of the more convincing camper designs we've seen of late by combining the height and space benefits of a pop-up roof with the weather security of solid walls. Instead of lifting up to reveal wraparound fabric, the actuated Baja roof reveals only a slightly tapered section of window-covered wall as it rises, maintaining floor-to-ceiling hard-wall coverage for solid four-season protection.
Inside, cozy winter living seems to have been top of mind for the Rossmönster design team, at least on the debut Baja truck that features dark wood throughout to create the feel of a timber-heavy ski lodge or snow-topped log cabin. Warming natural and LED light soak the full length of the camper. Of course, buyers can also go with a simpler motif, like the brighter white-and-slate look shown in other photos.
Speaking of buyer options, Rossmönster offers a two-sleeper and two four-sleeper floor plans, along with the option of going fully custom. The four-sleeper layouts both flank a clear center aisle with all the main equipment and cabinetry. The kitchen dominates both sides, with a passenger-side single-burner induction cooktop built into a large countertop and a driver-side Ruvati multipurpose sink with built-in drying bin/strainer and cutting board top. An under-counter 85-L Isotherm fridge/freezer finishes off the kitchen equipment list.
Depending upon floor plan, a pair of vis-a-vis leather-upholstered benches occupy the sidewall space at the front or rear end of the kitchen blocks. A Lagun table completes the dining area, which converts over into a smaller bed that looks best for children. Parents sleep in the alcove double below the skylight, accessed via a small driver-side staircase in the rear-dinette floor plan.
Without the need for a larger convertible dinette-bed, the two-sleeper floor plan is able to accommodate an indoor shower room. The four-sleeper models rely on an available outdoor shower, and all three versions have a Rixen furnace/hot water system. One item conspicuously missing from both the Baja standard and optional features lists is any kind of a toilet, an amenity that seems quite important for a camper with four-season aspirations. But in the unlikely event Rossmönster doesn't offer one at all, it would be easy enough to carry one's own portable toilet.
To keep its appliances and multi-zone electric lighting system running hundreds of miles off-grid, Rossmönster equips the BaJa with a powerful electrical system built around a 400-Ah lithium battery. A 400-W roof-secured Zamp solar array assists a 120-A alternator charger in keeping the battery running, and a 3,000-W inverter distributes AC power around the camper.
Instead of wasting time and money on custom-embroidered quilted leather seats, carbon fiber dashboard trim or the like, Rossmönster leaves the four-seat truck cab stock beyond carving out the pass-through. It does offer other truck upgrades, though, like the airbag rear suspension, custom front and rear bumpers, and front Warn winch.
The camper exterior can be dressed with an inlaid Baja Designs front LED bar, modular rear storage rack, Fiamma awning and MaxTrax side table. Occupants enter the camper by way of a power-actuated drop-down rear hatch door with integrated steps.
Beyond the Ford F-150 or 250, Rossmönster also builds the Baja on Ram 2500 and Chevy Silverado/GMC Sierra 2500 pickups with 6.5-foot beds (2019+). A complete Baja truck starts at US$175,000, but Rossmönster is careful to point out that the base price can fluctuate based on the truck model and trim the buyer selects, not to mention camper and truck options and upgrades.
Repeated sticker shock hasn't yet numbed us quite enough to call that price "affordable," but compare it to other recent overland truck offerings like the $325K TruckHouse Toyota BCT or $289K 3500 HD-based EarthCruiser Terranova and it starts to look a little more budget-friendly. The price also lands in the general ballpark of popular 4x4 camper vans, slotting not far from the ever-rising $193,272 price of the Winnebago Revel and the $153,748 to $198,746 range of Storyteller's vans.