Gfc camper platform vs shell +rtt thoughts/opinions?

Joined this forum as I am thinking about getting a gfc instead of a camper shell. I have a short bed Tacoma with a diamondback cover but moving away from the idea of adding an rtt and instead going for the integrated canopy/tent solution. Has anyone regretted going the wedge camper solution or felt the traditional shell or tonneau cover + gfc rtt would have been fine? I see the pros and cons as follows:

Pro:

  • access tent from the bed of the truck
  • Can stand up in camper
  • Better bed fasteners for off-road use (vs fibreglass caps)

Cons

  • Security issues with aluminium (easy to pry open a door) .
  • Changing the truck would potentially mean getting a different solution
  • Expensive (compared to an rtt).

Appreciate anyone’s thoughts as I suppose most people went through a similar decision process.

My use case would be weekend camping primarily, likely 50-100 nights per year.

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I’m moving over to the gfc from a bed rack and cvt mt Shasta. Main reasons for being able to keep all my shit cleaner. My truck is turning more into a dedicated toy so putting it on and taking off is not so big of a deciding factor. I end up out in bad weather aswell so having something that has a non muddy version of a hangout spot was another plus side factor. Really it’s a cost thing. Either way tho you will be much happier with either option over your current set up.

50-100 nights a year? I’d be wanting a place to stand up and change. Seems like you’d love the camper and are just looking for justification on the price. Do it.

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I agree with @Nolgore I went through the same pros and cons while adding the option of a 4WC slide in Hawk Shell, or Project-M, Super Pacific, GFC and AT overland. I already had my bed built out in a canopy (that’s what we call them here in canada) and thought about the RTT. At the end of the day, the Platform won on both cost, convenience, and most importantly looks.

You get what you pay for. The platform not only looks bad ass, but I’m constantly telling people ‘This is the best investment I’ve made since buying a house’

The downside of having to swap vehicles is real…but…why not just keep the rig and fix it with higher end parts as they break. Do body work as required. All of that is is WAY cheaper in the long run than buying new.

Thanks, I live in Canada so should know the lingo by now! Do you spend a significant amount of time with it? Does it motivate the get up and go at a moments notice?

A GFC is far superior to a RTT mounted to a rack or shell.

I had an overland-style rack (self-designed and built by a friend) and CVT Mt. Shasta RTT for four years mounted to a 1st gen Tacoma. The rack stayed on year-round and the RTT went on for summer & fall. I used the RTT 12-30x per year (probably a little less than 100 nights in total).


My old 1st Gen with the overland rack/RTT setup

I originally thought that the GFC was a great design but that I was all set with my rack & RTT setup. The flexibility of removing the tent seemed like a big upside to me compared to running a GFC full time on the bed. I also considered going with a GFC RTT in place of the CVT soft tent, but that didn’t seem like much of an upgrade for the cost. I use my truck as a truck quite a bit, so my basic requirements were to carry: (1) 12’ lumber, (2) Full 4’x8’ sheet goods, (3) A bed full of firewood. The rack allowed for this in spades (but I did have to remove the RTT for lumber & sheet goods).

The primary problem I ran into with the rack was security of tools & gear. Living in a more rural or suburban area made the risks much smaller in the short-term, but doing something like a road trip presented much more difficult problem to solve. The GFC provides far better shelter from prying eyes and the elements, so I changed my mind and put down a deposit on a (then) V1 in Jan 2020.

I finally picked it up in April 2021 and spent almost a month sleeping in it during a road trip around MT, UT, & CO. After returning home to the Northeast I used it for an additional 30+ nights in 2021 (also on track for a similar number in 2022), so your estimated use (50-100 nights) seems in line with mine. It sounds like a lot, but you’d be surprised how quickly they add up over the course of a season. I have not used it in the winter and don’t really have plans to- winter camping isn’t really my jam.


Current 1st Gen Tacoma with the GFC & awning

Pros

Security of Gear/Tools/Stuff
Yes someone could pry open the aluminum sides (or open unlocked tent latches) to gain access, but the same could be said about the rear hatch of a shell (nevermind just breaking the windows). Out of sight & out of mind has proven to be the most effective deterrent for the vast majority of would-be thieves, and the solid aluminum panels on a GFC definitely provide that. It’s also why I think rear windows are a bad idea on a GFC unless someone is really going to use the space for long-term camping & living.

Protection from Weather/Elements
Obviously covering everything in the bed adds significant protection from the outside elements compared to an open bed. A shell would also provide this, however…

Access to the Truck Bed
This one is HUGE and also the primary reason I dislike shells on trucks. Unless you have flip-up side windows (and most shells I’ve seen in the wild don’t), the front 2’ of a truck bed becomes dead space or deep storage when using a shell. I loved my rack because it didn’t cut off access to the front of the bed. Because the GFC is essentially a frame with flappy panel sides, it performs quite similarly to my rack in terms of bed access.

Access to Truck Bed from Tent
This benefit became very clear the first time I got dressed standing in my GFC with a couple panels removed. It became even more abundantly clear the first time I packed up the truck during a downpour and was able to get dressed, make coffee, & put everything away before going out to pack up the tent.

Ease of Setup
I thought ground tents were easy to set up. Then I thought my CVT RTT was easy to set up. Now I’m spoiled with the GFC- <10 seconds to bed. The ease of setup also leads to a higher use rate (for me, anyways). I frequently encounter the question, “Do I leave and drive home or stay at my friend’s house and have a couple more beers?” Always nice to have the option to stay longer and avoid driving home.
The higher use rate also means the cost/use has approached that of the rack/RTT combination much more quickly than I anticipated. Just with a few rough calculations and estimates, I’ve come out with a “cost/night” number for the GFC after 2 years that’s close to the number for the rack/RTT setup after four. I’m not going to type that all out here, but suffice to say that I’d still be happy with the GFC even with a longer cost/night equalization.

Truck Footprint Remains Unchanged
A softshell RTT folds out in a direction and takes up an adjacent space. A GFC or hardshell RTT pops up and does not increase the vehicle’s footprint. Arguably not a huge deal, but in practice it ends up making parking site selection easier for the latter rig in many places. The space underneath a softshell RTT is nice, but rendered moot by the ability to go between the truck bed and GFC tent (and/or the addition of an awning).

Weight
I have a very small truck. Granted it does have significantly more torque with the diesel engine swap compared to the factory gas motor, but weight still matters. I think I’d be hard-pressed to find a similarly-featured setup in such a light package.

Cons

Cost
Somewhat offset by the aforementioned quick cost/use equalization compared to rack/RTT setup, but $7000-8000 is still a significant commitment for most people, myself included.

Semi-Permanence of Installation
The GFC is definitely not intended to be donned & doffed like a shell, RTT, or rack.

Arranging Installation
You’ve got to drive to Belgrade or pay an arm/leg/left nut to have it delivered & installed in your area. I don’t think shipping costs are overcharged- just that the cost of freight is what it is.

There are probably plenty of other downsides that others can bring up; I can’t think of them now.

Good luck with the decision process.

Totally I’ve had it just under a year and have spent close to 100 days in it. I didn’t notice you were a fellow Canuck :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

I will add that I’ve spent over 20 days in it winter camping for ski touring. It’s a game changer to have that space to put ski boots on, dry gear, and hang on the short days.

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Have you needed to do anything to deal with condensation, or do you just open the doors to vent and have a warm sleeping bag?

Super comprehensive. Thanks. Like the cost/use thought process!

I haven’t had a problem with it. But being used to sleeping in the snow in the winter I think I have thick skin when it comes to condensation. It’s a tent at the end of the day.

That being said, running the diesel heater keeps it extremely dry. Often I don’t run it all night in the winter because I have a -40 bag, so as long as my gear is dry at bedtime I shut it off and turn it back on an hour before getting up. I do pack a towel and just wipe the roof down in the mornings. That way I don’t get wet moving my gear around.

I think the one thing is to remember the designed use of those style camper. It is built to be hucked, lightweight, and durable (to a certain extent, it’s still a young company). So if your expectation is no water, dust and insulation this isn’t the right choice.

Also consider how you’re going to build it out. For me, I still use the rig for a truck. Lumber runs, dump runs, etc. I couldn’t get away with some of the elaborate builds you’ll find on here with toilettes, showers, water tanks, sinks and fridges. If I end up in a world that that’s required then a 4wc hawk slide in or platform is the way to go. Ran into a guy with my dream rig a week ago. Power Ram flat bed with a Hawk flatbed camper.

But until Ram makes a proper EV in a 3/4 ton, I’ll keep rocking my rig.

Thanks, I’m definitely looking at more of a minimalist set up. Maybe one drawer system that can double as a bench or sleeping platform. I’m debating whether a fridge would go in the bed or in the cab. It’s a 5’ bed so the cab is likely a better place. The only other item I could see as useful for a semi-permanent set up is a smallish pressurized water tank.

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Another vote for the GFC camper VS shell+RTT. Being able to stand up inside is a big positive and makes the whole setup more versatile. The sides opening up has been the surprise favorite feature so far. I love how easy it is to get to stuff in the bed now, plus Cabana Mode!

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Having gone from a 4runner with the GFC rtt to a ranger with the GFC camper I can 100% say having the full camper is life changing.
Ease of access, and access options being able to get in through the bed of the truck is great, as well as being able to set up the floor panels as a desk or work area and stand in the truck bed to use.
If you camp in cold, having a heater in the bed of the truck and leaving a floor panel out is pretty much the best to get up to make coffee on a cold morning.

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