When I was a kid, camping always meant one thing.
A tent and sleeping bag. OK, that's two things, but
who's counting? If it couldn't be cooked on an open
fire, or fit in a backpack, it wasn't "camping
Even after I started driving, my needs were simple.
Instead of the backpack, my gear often went into the
back of my little Toyota pickup, but it was still
largely the same... tent, sleeping bag, and one
handy addition - an ice chest. (There's nothing like
camping with ice cold beverages on hand.)
Since I wasn't hauling my gear on my back anymore,
the packing list slowly grew. I added a lantern and
cook stove. A couple of tarps were handy for
covering the area in foul weather. A portable table
and some chairs added comfort. A solar shower was a
welcome addition for washing off the grime at the
end of a long day. It wasn't long before I'd fill
the bed of the little truck for a weekend away.
FourWheel Campers Grandby model
It's not the Ritz or Hilton, but a
cabover is a big step up from a shell.
The features of the FourWheel Campers
Grandby provide convenience and comfort.
A few years later, I'd moved up to a full-size truck
with an eight-foot bed and a shell. By tossing an
air mattress in, I did away with the need for a tent
and essentially had my first "RV". This worked well
for quite some time, and I camped out of that rig
all over the country... from the Florida Keys to the
Sierra. But the older and more spoiled I got, the
less satisfied I became. I got tired of having to
pack and unpack my "kitchen", and of having to roll
everything up when the weather got tough. The truck
shell was cozy, but it got really close after a
while, especially with more than one person or a wet
About this time, I first discovered the
Four-Wheel Campers. I'd looked at some of the
more common cab-overs, such as the Lance and SixPac,
and while they offered a lot of great amenities, I
didn't like the idea of the added weight and the
top-heavy balance. I drive a lot in the hills,
especially hog hunting, and the thought of hauling
one of those monstrosities along some of the trails
was more than daunting.
Unlike other cab-over campers, the Four-Wheel models
feature a pop-up top, so it stows away while driving
and can be quickly deployed in camp. The campers are
lightweight as well, and designed to be used on the
back of a 4WD vehicle. In the fall of 2004, after
three years of hemming and hawing, I finally broke
down and dropped $11K for an almost fully loaded
"Grandby" model to go on the back of my 3/4 ton
The Grandby is made for full-size, long-bed trucks.
At under 800 lbs, loaded, my Dodge barely notices
the load (although there is a noticeable wind-drag
on the highway). The version I bought includes a
two-burner stove, 16000 BTU furnace with a fan,
water heater, outside shower, and few other nice
amenities. The one thing that is not included is a
bathroom. A portable pottie is available, but I've
never liked dealing with those things. A shovel and
fold out toilet seat has always been good enough for
me. This has, however, turned out to be a point of
contention on family outings...especially when it's
They basically build each unit to the buyer's
specifications, so it took about two months to
receive my camper. As such, I got the rig a little
too late to use during big game season, but I did
have several opportunities to set up in the "sweat
line" at the duck refuges, as well as a couple of
runs up to my favorite quail hunting area.
This was luxury living, compared to the way I'd done
it in the past. There's a lot to be said about
rolling out of the rack and getting dressed in a
warm living area, throwing on a pot of coffee and
cooking breakfast without having to fold out a table
and camp stove. After the hunt, it's lovely to come
back into the camper, pour a favorite beverage and
read a good book under real, electric lights.
When the sweat line started moving, it only took a
couple of minutes to "break camp", by dropping the
top and fastening it down. I could go from heated
comfort on the couch to driving down the road in
less than 10 minutes. The break-down is actually
faster than I'd expected it to be... a pleasant
I also had the opportunity to do a family outing,
with the three of us spending a weekend on the
coast. The nice thing about the cabover as opposed
to a camping trailer, is that I can haul the horses
along, so I hooked up the trailer and brought the
animals on our trip. This is another case where the
light weight of the FourWheel Camper shows its
Hook up the horses, and go!
A cabover allows you to pull a trailer
as well. This is great for those who
haul horses, boats, or equipment but
still need a good place to sleep.
With three people aboard, the camper does get a
little tight. It is, after all, self-contained in
the 4'x8' bed of a pickup truck. With two people
sitting on the couch, it's a little tricky to
prepare a meal in the galley. And once the main bed
is set up (a slide-out queen bed) and the couch is
folded out into a double bed, walking room is at a
bit of a premium. But it's still more spacious than
a tent! Besides, you usually don't want to spend all
your camping time inside anyway.
I have found that the furnace was worth the extra
money, although the heat tends to escape pretty
quickly through the vinyl sides of the pop-up. An
"arctic pac" insulation package is available as an
option, but I chose not to purchase it with my
camper. I usually sleep under an elk skin blanket,
but if it were really cold a decent sleeping bag or
quilt would probably keep you plenty warm. As it is,
with the elk skin I was pretty comfy even when the
temps were down into the high 20s. If I were
spending more time in really cold climates, I think
the arctic pac would be worthwhile.
While moving around in the galley and living area,
the furnace is more than sufficient to keep you
comfortable. In fact, it can get too warm. Even
though the system is thermostatically controlled, it
pumps out some serious heat while it's running.
Another option I selected was the auxiliary battery.
So far, even after a weekend of use with the heater,
lights, and a portable DVD player, I barely made a
dent in the battery power. My Dodge is a diesel and
already has an auxiliary battery installed, so with
three fully charged batteries, I doubt I'll ever run
out of power. "Shore power" can be connected though,
if you are in a place that provides an outlet.
I also added-on the water heater and outdoor shower.
I've always used a solar shower before, and I really
like being able to wash up during a long weekend
afield. The water heater works as advertised,
although it's a little tough to get the pilot lit.
It takes a while for the water to heat up, since
it's heating an entire reservoir. For a little less
money, you can always buy one of the
Zodi inline hot water shower systems. I haven't
been out in warm weather yet, but I do look forward
to having a nice hot shower at the end of a long day
chasing A-zone blacktails!
When I picked up this camper, I considered that it
would be nice to be able to pop it on or off of the
truck whenever I wanted to. After removing it and
replacing it a couple of times, I've found that it's
not quite as simple as that. I've gotten a little
better at it, but it's still a bit of a pain to get
it properly aligned and buckled down. Fortunately,
it's light enough that I can leave it on the truck
most of the time without a real negative impact on
my fuel efficiency or driveability.
Overall, I give the FourWheel Campers Grandby a
major thumbs-up, and my strong recommendation to
anyone who might be considering a cabover camper.
Get away from it all
The low profile of the FourWheel Camper
allows you to hit the backcountry
without losing performance and
If you want to get into the back country where other campers can't go, step up to a Four Wheel Camper. We are a factory authorized dealer. 2018 Go-Anywhere.us email@example.com (262) 370-4255