We both took engineering in college but Dad better fits the bill of the inventor / tinkerer profile while my career has focused more on the business side of technology. We both have a life long love of the great outdoors. We both are very excited to be combining our talents on a business that ties us to outdoor adventure.
This summer Mom & Dad travelled the country gathering feedback on our prototype and field testing it. We all agreed that if the business never moved forward we would be very happy to have such a cool toy as the prototype Cave camper. After months of toiling over specs and diagrams and going through dozens of iterations it's incredibly satisfying to see how well our concepts played out in the physical world. And there were surprises ... good surprises.
We knew roughly how lightweight we could make it but we couldn't predict how it would feel on the truck. It's like it's not even there. Admittedly, both of us have done quick double takes while driving Dad's Chevy Silverado 1500 to make sure our camper really was still on the back of the truck!
We knew that traditional truck campers felt cramped and that we could create something different with a simple space that focused on what we see as the main functions of a truck camper: sit, sleep, and store stuff. We were surprised at just how spacious it felt when we finally got in there. A true test was when we invited others in and found that four people could spend several hours very comfortably drinking wine and chatting inside (burp).
The last big surprise for me was around the whole atmospheric control topic. We knew the experience would be better than traditional truck campers. "It's like we're in a truck sized cooler, " we would say. What that ended up meaning is that body heat was enough to keep the camper plenty warm even in a 45 degree night near Jackson Hole. Also, we completely re-thought how to actively heat or cool the space. I really didn't understand why traditional truck campers use such a giant unit to heat or cool such a small space. It's overkill, noisy, takes more power than is necessary, and shakes the camper when you're trying to sleep. We found a rugged, 2500 BTU, A/C / heat pump that was light enough to sit on a foldable table outside the camper. It easily runs off our handheld 1kW generator. It attaches to the camper with two hoses: one removes air (and humidity) and one blows heat or A/C. We were all smiles when inside all we could hear was the subtle breeze of the air flow.
I've been told that it would have been smarter to copy a popular floor plan and iterate on that. Well, conformity just isn't part of the genetic make-up of our family. We've incorporated the feedback from a summer of talking with customers and RV dealers into a production ready design. In December we start shipping v1.0 of the Cave truck camper. We think it really stands out in the market with a weight of only 750 lbs, incredibly durable construction, and an easy to clean interior. There's no bathroom or kitchen so it's not a fit for most retired couples that want to bring their home with them to the RV park. Outdoor enthusiasts, hunters, fishermen, overland folks, oil & gas industry workers, those of you in the rodeo circuit ... we think you might like it. :)
- Dylan Peterson, Co-Founder