Talus off-road camper trailer loses the wheels, rides in a pickup bed
A little bit mini pickup camper, a little bit wheel-less off-road camping trailer, a whole lot pickup-specific camper-in-a-box, the new VenturePack from Idaho's Talus Expedition Gear presents an interesting alternative to existing off-grid camping options. The VenturePack box fits squarely inside a midsize or full-size pickup truck bed, bringing the kitchen, power system, water storage and general cargo carrying capability. The aluminum box is built to survive anything the truck below it can, bringing some of the familiarity and convenience of home to base camps as remote as the driver is willing to go.
The immaculate shimmer of a silent alpine lake utterly devoid of boats and humans, the crest-top view of horizon wholly unmarred by man's hand, the surprise diversion of a lightly treaded side trail off a carefully routed hike ... these are a few of the small, unspoken pleasures found in the deep wilderness. And they're the enrichments the soul misses most when that wilderness suddenly goes absent.
We can't say for sure that it was those specific things that brothers Dan and Will Sunderland missed most when they both managed to break their right talus bones in 2018 — with an entirely different set of "wheres, whens and hows" — but we do know it was the ensuing soulful wanting, the slow crescendo of impatience turned frustration, that led to the creation of the Talus camper box concept and the company selling it.
Upon first reading it, we thought the "Talus" name referred to the steep rock gardens the camper box was built to leave in its rear view. We were half right. Reaching those talus fields after the unfortunate double-talus break was the end game of the camper design, the idea being that a rugged truck-top camper would allow Brothers Sunderland to reach the types of remote destinations they previously relied on working ankles to reach.
From the brothers' harshly coincidental backstory emerged a simple concept: a pickup camper box packed with everything but the roof over one's head, a solution nearly as turnkey as a complete pickup camper but with some of the flexibility and cargo-hauling utility of a roof tent-topped camper pickup.
The VenturePack works like an all-in-one truck-bed backpack of sorts, dropping into the pickup bed with serious camping essentials stored in two locking slide-outs, each capable of holding 350 lb (159 kg). The drawer system is built from powder-coated aluminum panels fused together with TIG welds and aircraft-grade rivets. By keeping the 540+ lbs (245+ kgs) of camper kit tucked below the pickup bed walls, Talus ensures that the vehicle's center of gravity remains low while concentrating more weight over the rear axle for better handling on slick terrain.
The VenturePack's right drawer is dedicated to the backcountry kitchen, featuring a flush-lid Dometic dual-burner stove/sink unit, 29-L Dometic drawer fridge and space to work. The sink is fed by an electric pump hooked to the 60.5-L water tank, while the stove relies on two 16-oz propane bottles stored neatly under the counter. The build also includes a propane adapter for use with larger tanks. An external hose connection lets campers tap into the water supply to spray down dirty gear, dogs and humans, and a silver-impregnated ceramic water filtration system pulls out contaminants down to 0.2 microns (99.9 percent efficiency) to keep water safe for drinking.
The other major component packed into the VenturePack is the dedicated electrical system complete with 200-Ah battery, 2,000-W sine inverter, 12-A battery charger and standard 120-W folding solar panel. Campers can plug in via a 120-V outlet, 12-V outlet and dual USB ports.
Talus closes things out with plenty of cargo space for other gear, tools and accessories. The large gear drawer on the left packs between 170 and 480 L of space, while two to four kitchen drawers add space for cooking tools and essentials. Drawer layout and sizing varies depending upon the length of the truck bed. Tracks on top of the VenturePack serve to mount gear and racks so users can continue to use their pickup to carry a roof-top tent, bikes, kayaks and other popular large gear.
As mentioned, the roof over campers' heads doesn't come as part of the standard VenturePack, but Talus says the design is compatible with the majority of roof-top tents out there. It sells several 23Zero models, starting at $1,099. Owners can also just throw a basic pickup cap over the truck bed and sleep directly on top of the VenturePack as a simple, hard-sided shelter solution.
Talus showed a prototype at Colorado's Off-Grid Expo last fall and had plans to go on a greater expo tour this year before getting COVIDed. So instead of a grand premiere on the grounds of Overland Expo West, the ideal show for such a product launch, it participated in the virtual show and moved ahead with a series of smaller independent meet-ups.
The VenturePack is available for order now and starts at US$13,750. Talus lists lead times at four to six weeks but notes they may be subject to delays owing to the ongoing COVID-19 uncertainty. The compatible trucks list is a who's who of America's most popular pickups, including the Ford F-150/250, Chevy Silverado/2500, Ram 1500/2500, Toyota Tacoma and Ford Ranger. The VenturePack also works with the Jeep Gladiator, good news for those looking to pursue a full-blown Rubicon-grade buildout.
Weights vary with model and bed size, but Talus tells us that the dry weight of the smallest VenturePack (midsize truck/short bed) is 540 lb (245 kg), rising to roughly 750 lb (340 kg) with the addition of a roof-top tent and full water tank. Full-size models start around 600 lb (272 kg) dry. Talus also offers the $11,900 CampPack with the same layout but a few scaled-back specs.
Source: Talus Expedition Gear