Outdoors

Streamlined pickup camper features lightweight composite design

Streamlined pickup camper feat...
Testing out the Leentu prototype on the beach
Testing out the Leentu prototype on the beach
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Leentu shows its latest prototype at Overland Expo West 2017
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Leentu shows its latest prototype at Overland Expo West 2017
Leentu shows its latest prototype at Overland Expo West 2017
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Leentu shows its latest prototype at Overland Expo West 2017
Leentu shows its latest prototype at Overland Expo West 2017
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Leentu shows its latest prototype at Overland Expo West 2017
Inside, the Leentu has a cabover bed and up to 7 feet of headroom
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Inside, the Leentu has a cabover bed and up to 7 feet of headroom
Testing out the Leentu prototype on the beach
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Testing out the Leentu prototype on the beach
Leentu aims to keep its pop-up camper around 100 lb
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Leentu aims to keep its pop-up camper around 100 lb
A starry night in the Leentu pickup camper
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A starry night in the Leentu pickup camper
The Leentu compacts flat and low-profile for better aerodynamics and snag-proofing
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The Leentu compacts flat and low-profile for better aerodynamics and snag-proofing
The Leentu is still a work in progress
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The Leentu is still a work in progress

The massive, earth-wandering big rigs of Overland Expo West are always a sight to see, but sometimes what makes the most impact are the lighter, sleeker designs of the show. One such design that grabbed our eye this year, the Leentu pickup truck camper is billed as the world's lightest, most aerodynamic pop-up camper shell. In a world of unabashedly huge vehicles and tiny gas mileage numbers, this light, simple pop-up composite camper stood out like a sore thumb.

As with roof-top tents and trailers, new pick-up camper designs have been rolling steadily through recent Overland Expo shows, where we've seen models like the EarthCruiser GZL and Tacoma Habitat. The Leentu is still a prototype, but plans call for it to be the sleekest, slipperiest and lightest of them all.

Maybe it was because of that prototype status, maybe because we expect overlanders to go big and burly, not necessarily sleek and light, but the Leentu was the oddest-looking creation to catch our attention at this year's Overland Expo West in Arizona. It's like an ultralight backpacking tent in a world of heavy-duty safari tents. When deployed for camping, the pop-up rises high above the vehicle, looking part roof-top tent, part cabover camper and part vehicular hot air balloon.

Leentu shows its latest prototype at Overland Expo West 2017
Leentu shows its latest prototype at Overland Expo West 2017

The low-profile hard-shell body slides into a mid-size pickup bed, providing a sleek, aerodynamic form during driving. The low roof and body shape are designed to help avoid issues with plummeting mpgs or bumping into branches, rocks or garage door frames.

At camp, the pop-up quickly deploys into a soft-sided tent-top with a built-in 42 x 80-in (107 x 203-cm) mattress made from 2-in (5-cm) high-density foam. The high-rising roof provides about 7 feet (2.1 m) of headroom from the pickup bed floor.

In addition to giving it an aero-enhanced profile, Leentu is aiming to make its pop-up lightweight – around 100 lb (220 kg) worth of lightweight, a goal that puts it at less than a third of the 340-lb (154-kg) Tacoma Habitat, a design that's similar in style and function, albeit a bit roomier, with a larger 87 x 48-in (221 x 122-cm) mattress and up to 7.7 feet (234 cm) of headroom. Leentu uses a Nomex honeycomb composite shell to achieve weight savings.

Beyond that, the Leentu is a very simple and basic camper. It's designed to manually pop up and compact down within seconds. A built-in light electrical system powers the LED lighting, ventilation fan and charging ports and is fed by a 60W solar panel integrated into the roof.

A starry night in the Leentu pickup camper
A starry night in the Leentu pickup camper

The Leentu is still a work in progress, and the first model is being developed around the Toyota Tacoma with 6-foot bed. Assuming that one gains some steam, Leentu will add additional pickup models and bed lengths to its options list down the road. Pricing hasn't been set yet, but the company estimated a price around US$12,000 when we spoke to a rep at Overland Expo.

Source: Leentu

4 comments
VincentBrennan
I was really impressed until I realized they are talking about a $12,000 TENT!! I am a minimalistic kind of guy and like a truck pop up camper. The old Alaskans were really something but $12,000 for a glorified tent is ludicrous. I have spend hundreds of nights in tents that cost under $300. Hundreds of nights in vans. Many many nights in the back of a Toyota truck with a small bed cap type camper. All this thing does, in essence, is save 30 minutes (if that) pitching a tent. No thanks.
SaysMe
How about designing a aerodynamic pickup truck? Say, a mid-engine design and less brick shape front???
Scott@leentu
Thanks for the coverage CC, we're continuing to work out the kinks and details, but getting closer to a launch in the coming weeks! Vincent-- as an avid outdoorsman/dirtbag who frequently ping-pongs from the surf to the bike trails to backcountry overnights, I certainly hear you about the sticker shock. Unfortunately, the truth of the matter is light & durable composites aren't cheap, so we realize the product won't be attainable for everyone. That said, we are hoping to get production to a point where we can price the fiberglass unit under the $10k mark (full carbon version probably not), but time will have to tell once we've dialed in our supply chain and are up and running. Plus I can tell you from experience, my dog and ol' lady really enjoy the comfort, headroom and flexibility of having a hard top camper to hunker down in at the end of a long day when the elements outside are less than forgiving.
CampingMama
Such a great idea and I can't wait to try it! (If it's that light I bet I could even be useful moving it and setting it up with my husband!)