In truth, there’s something out there for every adventurer and every budget. Hower Built is targeting the overlander who is looking for a touch of home while going where few others have gone before.
Call it the glamping side of overlanding and you wouldn’t be entirely wrong. In fact, that’s what the team at Hower Built calls the newly introduced Base Camp (hat tip to New Atlas for the story) over on social media. It’s not the kind of glamping where you get to stay in a fancy tent or cabin with all the creature comforts (and then some), but it’s also definitely a bit more than what you get with a regular rig.
Or, at the very least, that’s what Hower Built is trying to say. The Oregon-based startup offers a series of conversions and rigs, “indoor spaces for wild places,” as their motto says. This pickup topper has been in the works for years, with a second prototype shown at Overland Expo West 2019, according to the media outlet.
The production version, now available for pre-order, is an improvement over that one, and can be as basic or as complete a solution as you need it to be. It’s for the wild adventurer who doesn’t want to cut the fun short and who favors practicality. It’s an electric lift pickup topper that is comparatively lighter than similar products, holds more weight when open than them, and is spacious and fits any truck base, including upcoming e-trucks.
Made with an aluminum frame and composite panels on top (and a laminate interior), it’s been trail tested extensively – and you can see that for yourself by checking out the official Instagram channel of the company. The IG embed at the bottom of the page is a video that offers a good look inside the camper, whereas photos in the gallery show the exterior.
When closed, the topper is only 8 inches (20 cm) tall, which allows easy access where other campers might not fit. When open, it offers more than 6.5 feet (198 cm) of headspace, with the possibility to still use the space in the pickup bed and a thick foam mattress for a night’s comfy sleep. Just as importantly, the topper holds 300 pounds (136 kg) when open, “or about 66.7 round point shovels,” as the maker points out. This means you can open it up and crawl inside for the night without having to unload any of the gear you mounted up top.
Made of waterproof fabric that’s also UV-resistant and breathable, the topper has side windows and is pre-wired for solar. It can be offered with insulated lining for colder weather, and includes two reading lights forward and two more lights in the rear, as well as one 12-volt outlet and two USB ports. Extending the top is done with a scissor lift system powered by a 100-Ah lithium battery; you can’t deploy it manually. Hower says e-truck models will get power for the lift straight from the truck’s battery.
Weighing in at 400 pounds / 181.5 kg (“or about 864 hamburgers,” because Hower loves keeping it real with relatable examples), the Base Camp works even with midsize trucks without placing too much strain on suspension. It is, in short, a most practical solution for adventurers who place a certain emphasis on comfort when they’re out on the trails.
The Base Camp starts at $13,000 with a $1,000 deposit. The basic package is the one presented above, but you can upgrade it to make it even more functional. The company offers add-ons like complete kitchen build-outs and solar panels.
And now for the bad news: Base Camp units will only be ready for deliveries in the spring of 2022. Which means that, this summer, you get to stick to what you already have – but you’ll probably be dreaming about this rig and future adventures with it.