Expandable pickup camper canopy spreads its wings to sleep the family
Nearly every pickup camping topper we've covered has been designed to expand upward for more interior space and sleeping capacity. Vancouver startup Far Out Camping Company has flipped that idea on its side, designing an aluminum topper that expands out to the sides of the truck, essentially becoming a truck-top folding tent camper. The design frees the pickup bed for hauling toys, tools and gear on the ride, then sprouts wings to double the typical sleeping capacity from two to four.
Far Out certainly isn't the first party to think of pulling a foldaway tent camper design off the trailer frame and into the pickup bed. While not a dominant design, we have seen pickup campers with this configuration that are more than 50 years old. Box Tent and Duracozy are two older names that come to mind, and Base 4x4 more recently incorporated something similar into a larger expedition truck camper build. What Far Out has done differently is adapt this style of fold-out side tent to a pickup topper shell, rather than a full-bodied camper.
Not only does Far Out's tack make its camping canopy lighter and more affordable than the typical fully enclosed camper, it saves more space for the toys that Far Out envisions carrying to camp. Instead of mere camping, the Far Out canopy excels at creating a base camp for launching dirt biking, surfing, mountain biking and multi-sport adventures. The pickup bed remains free to carry the necessary gear and toys, albeit now under the lock and concealment of an aluminum-bodied canopy.
Far Out shows its topper both with and without a small above-cab alcove good for storing additional cargo, as well as with externally mounted accessories like traction boards and RotoPax fuel canisters. It says the roof can hold up to 600 lb (272 kg).
Far Out's design offers the same benefits as virtually any topper on the road, but the real genius comes to light at camp. The two sidewalls unlock and unlatch, dropping down gently with help from integrated struts to create the two bed platforms. Campers enter the truck bed via the tailgate and lift-up topper hatch and then set up the two sleeper tents with the integrated poles.
Each tent area features windows on all three sides complete with mosquito screens and privacy shades. The tents themselves are made from rugged, weatherproof, mildew-resistant fabric, and each one is furnished with a 2-in (5-cm) double mattress, creating sleeping space for a total of four people. Most camping toppers are limited to two sleeping berths inside the pop-up roof area, so four standard berths sets the Far Out shell apart from the competition and provides method to the madness of the flip-out design.
Another advantage of the design is that the beds make for natural benches during the day, something the average camping topper does not include. Add in the available foldaway table or simply use an outdoor camping table on the pickup bed, and you have a sheltered dining lounge. Integrated LED lighting keeps things illuminated after dark.
At US$18,600 to start, the Far Out canopy is well more expensive than other camping toppers. It's also heavier at 675 lb (306 kg), but the two extra berths might be enough to make up for that extra price and weight for those looking for a simple, streamlined four-person pickup camping solution that's still lighter and more affordable than most full-blown pickup campers. It's designed for use with full-size trucks. Options include roof rails, diesel/LPG heating, a bed extension with mattress, interior storage, and a fold-down dining table.
Source: Far Out Camping