This is the first in a series of “In the spotlight” articles that will profile rigs that most of us admire and that we’d all love to own. In this article, Truck Camper Adventure Magazine takes a closer look at a truck and camper combo that we’ve pictured on this site for over a year and one about which we’ve received numerous inquiries.
The folks at Jeep make perhaps the best, most cost-effective 4×4 vehicles on the planet. Among these is the iconic, ever-popular Jeep Wrangler. Capable of traversing all types of terrain, the Wrangler is coveted by novices and experts alike for its durability and off-road capabilities. Indeed, sales for this venerable classic remain strong since the late 1980s. Even today the older CJ models of the 1960s through the 1980s are highly sought after. I think you’ll agree that there are few symbols of American ingenuity more enduring than the Jeep.
As discussed in a previous article, there is a whole market dedicated to modifying and tricking out the Jeep Wrangler. One such modification is the so-called “TJ Brute Kit” that converts your TJ Jeep Wrangler (1997-2006) into one mean, cargo hauling pickup truck. Produced by American Expedition Vehicles (AEV). the kit can be purchased for a reasonable price of $8,995. The kit includes mid frame and rear frame extensions, a 14 gauge truck bed with tailgate, a cab closeout, Brute hard top, body mounts, and fuel and brake lines. AEV claims that the kit is already 90 percent constructed and takes just 60 hours to install if you do the work yourself. The great thing about this kit is that you can take a beat-up or partially wrecked TJ and convert it into a rare Jeep pickup that will be admired wherever you take it.
The TJ Brute by itself is pretty cool, but what really takes it over the top (pun intended) is teaming it with a pop-up truck camper. The folks at Four Wheel Campers (FWC) make what I think is the perfect lightweight, four wheel drive pop-up truck camper. FWC’s are rugged, sport a low profile, and offer a low center of gravity–perfect for getting far off the beaten path. The camper featured here is their so-called Sparrow, which, unfortunately, is no longer being made. Fortunately, FWC was kind enough to provide some information on this discontinued camper. The Sparrow weighs about 650 pounds, features an all-aluminum flex frame, and offers an extended queen size bed. Tank capacities are pretty decent, too, for such a small camper with a 16 gallon fresh water tank and two 10 pound propane tanks. The Sparrow was listed at $12,595.00 without options.
Pictured below are the two together. I think you’ll agree that the two look pretty impressive together. The pair make what is not only one of the best off-road campers on the planet, but also one of the best bug-out RVs you’ll ever find. This rig can go practically anywhere over some of the worst roads and terrain you can imagine. No, the camper doesn’t have a bathroom and won’t accommodate a large family, but it can support two people comfortably and comes with everything you would expect to see in a well-equipped RV, including a queen size bed, two burner cook-top, a refrigerator, and a kitchen sink with hand pump. Not surprising, the TJ Brute requires a set of custom springs to support the extra weight of this camper.
If I was wealthy and didn’t have kids in college, the TJ Brute and FWC Sparrow would definitely be a truck camper rig that would be in my garage. As an off-road and truck camper enthusiast, the two are cool-looking and make for a very compelling pair that would be perfect for weekend getaways here in the desert southwest.