A large amount of time and energy went into the design and construction of the body of my Safari Vehicles camper. David Lam at Safari Vehicles estimates that over 80% of the construction time of my camper was devoted to the body. The are many challenges in designing and constructing a strong, lightweight, insulated camper that can withstand the rigors of expedition travel. The problem was further compounded since the camper was being designed for a short-bed truck with a bed that is only 6 1/2 feet long.
Safari Vehicles and I worked closely together with the overall shape of my camper. David and I designed an over-cab camper to maximize space utilization. By using a quad cab Dodge Ram, Safari Vehicles was able to design a camper with a 77 inch by 50 inch bed over the cab. This gives me sleeping space for 2 people without having to set up a bed every time I want to sleep. The over-cab bunk is also a great space for temporary storage of items when living in the camper.
David suggested a "step" in the roof and angled top corners to improve the appearance of the camper by making it look less tall. I came up with the angled front panels to improve both wind drag and appearance.
I'm very happy with the final shape of my camper and believe that the design looks good while being very functional.
Truck frames flex, especially on rough twisty terrain, so the camper either had to flex with the truck or be isolated from the frame. We designed a three point mounting system that allows the frame to flex while the camper remains rigid. The two front points of the camper are mounted solid to the frame with rubber mounts to isolate vibrations. The rear mount is on a pivot, which allows the truck frame to twist while the camper remains rigid. This system completely isolates torque forces on the camper.
Honeycomb Composite Body
Safari Vehicles chose extruded polypropylene honeycomb panels for the body since it is strong, light weight, a good insulator and the finished body is easy to work with. Fiberglass mat and resins were used with the honeycomb to form a strong composite panel. The panels were attached with structural adhesive and rivets to an aluminum pan and frame to complete the structure.
It is easy to attach cabinets, and other items to the shell using wood screws or nut-serts. The shell is also easy to repair using a standard fiberglass repair kit if it gets damaged.
The shell design and materials proved to be excellent choices.
Window, Doors and Hatches
The dual pane acrylic windows provide good insulation and the acrylic panels are stronger and lighter than glass. They have integrated sun shades and bug screens. They open outward with a top hinge which lets me take unobstructed photos from my camper windows while the opened window provides rain protection for my camera and lens.
The locking cam door has a lock that engages at three different points on the door jam. The door is skinned with aluminum and has too small windows installed in the door. The lower window allows me to use my interior rear view mirror while driving or parking to see to the rear of my truck.
A low profile sailboat hatch provides access to the camper roof where I have room to stand my camera tripod. This will be useful for wildlife and high perspective camera shots. It is also nice for star gazing from the bunk and as an emergency escape hatch. The hatch has a sun shade/bug screen attached over it to keep out light or bugs when required.
LED marker lights are used on the outside of the camper. The LED lights are bright but draw a miniscule amount of power, and the LEDs will last much longer than conventional bulbs.
Under Camper Storage Boxes
Safari Vehicles mounted aluminum storage boxes underneath the camper. The boxes were built to my specified dimensions and they were shipped within 5 days of my order. To my pleasant surprise, the boxes are weatherproof and have kept the contents completely dry even in hard rains and high pressure car washes.