The Mouser Gets a Backpack

Well here’s a thread to chronicle the evolution of our 2015 Tacoma TRD Sport, known affectionately as the Grey Mouser or Mouser for short. Added last fall was a shiny new V2 GFC Platform Camper…

But before we get to that a preamble of sorts.

We had a good camping set up but…

We had been running this combo of Leer heavy duty contractors cap, Autohome Maggiolina Extreme RTT, homebuilt drawers and 20 gallon powered water tank. It worked really well together and the Maggie is top notch in build quality, comfort and warmth. But it was heavy. It didn’t fit in the garage or leanto so we had to move the tent before and after every trip. The cap and tent alone pushed 500#. With drawers and full water tank easily over 700#. You could feel the weight and in inclement weather there wasn’t many options for staying dry and warm other than laying down in the tent. We decided we needed something more flexible and a lot lighter. Than we bought another Tacoma to use as an everyday truck freeing the Mouser up to be a full time mini-RV. Meet Tanner, the hipster step brother to the Mouser.

And so, like how an old school backpacker turns towards the new, shiny ultralight gear to decrease the burdensome stuff we thought we’d take a similar approach to equipping the truck. So the Mouser got an ultralight backpack…

Ordered on February 8, 2021 it would be an 8 month wait until we had the camper installed. Our dealings with GFC were right to the letter of their procurement procedures, communication was punctual and with the creation of their Leaderboards we could monitor the progress of our build throughout all its phases. When the time came we left on a road trip towards Belgrade, Montana from our corner of the Pennsylvania woods a few days prior to October 16, 2021 when we got the V2 installed at the GFC shop.
We arrived early for our install appointment by a couple of hours and the boys got us right in…the crew was great, friendly bunch and we ended up chewing the fat for a couple of hours after the install.

And while the winter months have been about all consuming work duties and hunting seasons, now that Spring has almost sprung the GFC is getting some attention to mold it to our style of exploring.


The Truck details are as follows…

2015 Tacoma DCSB TRD Sport. Bought originally as my wife’s outdoor truck it became mine after my modded 1st gen Tundra, Fafhrd hit the 300,000+ mark. To us the truck is not the adventure but instead a mule with a transfer case to take us out on the various outdoor pursuits we chase. Hiking, whitewater, chasing critters, spelunking and finding sweet places to hang a hammock for the night.


Drivetrain Stock. 4.0 V6, 5-speed automatic, 3.73 gears, LS.

Suspension: Bilstien 5100s front set at 2.5”; OME Dakar Heavy Springs with Bilstien 5100s at the rear; Firestone Air Lift bags with Daystar cradles

Tires/Wheels: Factory Toyota split 5 spoke Tundra rims: 255/80/17 Cooper ST Max

Exterior Upgrades:

^GFC V2 Platform Camper

^SOS Off-road Concepts Aluminum Streamline Front Bumper

^ComeUp 9s Winch

^White Knuckle Off-road Rock Sliders

^ Yakima Jaylow kayak mounts

^Wilco Off-road Hitch Mount Tire Carrier

Interior Upgrades:
^ARB 50 Fridge.
^OCD Console Organizer and Storage Tray.
^Husky Weatherbeater Floor Liners.
^Covercraft Ballistic/Waterproof seat covers front and rear.
^Hooke rear cab roof molle panel with molle bags.
^HaggisGear 40% rear seat delete Fridge Tray.

Truck Bed Upgrades:
^HaggisGear 20 gal powered water system.
^HaggisGear Truck Bed Drawer Organizer.

Adventures to Date:

Pre - GFC

*Little Juniata River run: 4/15/2016
*Ohiopyle State Park: 5/25/2016
*Upper Peninsula of Michigan: 8/6/2016
*Pine Creek Gorge; Pa Wilds: 7/28/2017
*Canadian Maritimes: Nova Scotia/New Brunswick 8/6/2017
*Pennsylvania Wilds: Loyalsock State Forest, Worlds End & *Rickettes Glen State Parks 7/20/2018
*Hocking Hills State Park & Serpent Mound 8/5/2018
*New York: Rock City State Park
*Allegheny Nation Forest 5/10/2019
*Pocono Mountains/Hickory Run SP 8/10/2019
*West Virginia Backcountry 9/1/2019
*Hickory Creek Wilderness; ANF 1/2020
*Moshannon State Forest 3/8/2020
*Allegheny National Forest 5/2020
*Pennsylvania Wilds; Quehanna Wild Area 5/2020
*Pennsylvania Wilds; Five Forest Tour 6/2020
*South Dakota Wander; 9/2020
*Kentucky Red River Gorge; 5/2021
*Allegheny National Forest Wander, 6/2021
*Walkins Glen State Park; 9/2021
*Theodore Roosevelt National Park; 10/2021

Post- GFC

*Montana, Idaho, Wyoming Wander; 10/2021


Can we see this water system?

Here ya go. Nothing special here just a homebuilt system we’ve been utilizing since 2009. It consists of a 20 gal potable RV water tank, a Shurflo 2.8 gpm pump and associated plumping. It gets its power from a 12v ATV lead that plugs into a Bluesea outlet that lives in the passenger side bed cubby. The enclosure is just ply and has been reworked numerous times so it ain’t pretty but it works darn well. Pump was moved to the top of the enclosure to allow to fit with the tool boxes of the old cap. We use it for washing dishes and other household chores as well as feeding a Triton instant water heater for showering. 20 gals will last us a full week so often we just fill it up half way for those long weekend trips.

Here’s the tank in the old contractor cap set up,

…and now situated in the GFC.

We will still use it as it is while we get the GFC out some more and figure out the best way to utilize the new space. It might get replaced by a smaller horizontal tank in the future but we’ll wait and see how everything works


So we had the tank from the last set up and a set of home brewed drawers as well. Originally I wasn’t planning on utilizing either in the V2, but we threw them in the Mouser just for winter storage. Basically making room in the garage for winter stuff.

But it worked pretty good in there and the Wife liked that she could now get into the top without the need of a step stool. Major drawback though is that you can’t access anything from inside the bed when buttoned up. We’ll use it as it is for now and make changes if we find it a pain to deal with.

The drawer system was made from pine and ply for the sides and bottom. Top is poplar and the drawers are elm with maple dividers. Drawers slide on plastic sliders. All cast offs from my work (I’m a lumber guy) and with the bought hardware I have about $90 in them.


Oops, sort of forgot about this thread. Well might as well carry on.

So as winter progressed and camping season became hunting season followed by holiday season the GFC took a back seat. But while idle, we started to accumulate the GFC starter pack…you know the basics. Some plugs for the mounting holes in the bottom purlins, a set of Gzilla awning spring pole mounts and the JE Designs rain gutters…

The latter two being especially handy to have. That all sorted it was decided to just use the camper as it was, for go more add ons to figure out what worked, what needed improved and what needed to go. The whole “Use, Evaluate and Improve” mantra. And as the winter’s snows melted and the Forest roads became passable again we headed out into our local Pennsylvania haunts to put the camper to use.


Our first outing since picking up the V2 was into the Allegheny National Forest near Mayburg. We were going to hike a couple sections of the North Country Trail and use the Mouser as our base camp. We rolled up along Tionesta Crick as we passed through the ANF…

We hiked 12 miles that day and found a nice campsite for the evening. We were utilizing the drawer and water tank system from our old set up on this trip.

We found that while drawer system was convenient it made climbing into the tent portion a bother. Not to mention accessing anything from the drawers involved climbing out of the truck and opening up the tailgate. Extra weight and bother, time to ditch the drawers.

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Over the next couple of months I’d been thinking on how to mount up some load bars on top the V2 for hauling boats. Either our whitewater’yaks or one of our touring canoes. That is without spending the too much money. So I did what I usually do, look around in the garage and imagineer something.

Well I had two pieces of extrusions that were the bases for the tent rack for Fafhrd, our old Tundra. Pretty beefy units too. And I had a couple of ARB awning mounts I used on the load bars of our old set up to mount the Eezi Awn awning. A test fit showed that the combo would work very well on the GFC. So I ordered 4 of the ARB brackets, found them for $18.00 apiece, and some of the Gzilla Tnuts for the GFC extrusion slots.

I choose to mount the brackets so the rounded, smooth face of the bars face forward to help reduce some wind noise. The reinforcement gussets can act as strapping points. Blue Locktite was used on the mounting hardware bolting the brackets to the rails.

Pretty happy with how these turned out. I can mount or unmount the rails in under 10 minutes. I’m leaving the rails long so two canoes or yaks can sit side by side as with the height cradles it will be too damn tall to throw a boat up. They’ll lay flat on the rails with probably some roller saddles.


Cool to see your kit evolve. Hope to see more, for more ideas for mine


Back at this…

So as we used the GFC more we decided to mix up our load out and see what gear we were really using and what was just sitting in the truck bed. The drawer system and the large water tank were taken out and we switched to gear boxes and a 5 gallon jerry can. We started to find that having as much floor space as possible made ingress/egress much simpler and also made utilizing the topper much more user friendly. So we found out that floor space is the best space in a GFC. Photos here are from a long weekend hiking and wandering in north central Pennsylvania south of the Quehanna Wilderness Area in Moshannon State Forest.

GFC’s are rare here and someone is always coming over to look at it. This weekend this guy showed up in camp to check out the camper…


Floor space is where its at! I decided the same long ago!


As we used the camper more, our load out got more condensed. We borrowed from ultralight backpacking and replaced most bulky items with lighter, more storable options. On downside is that we were missing the powered water option from the tank. To add to that I wanted to add some electrons to the back, but didn’t want to use any floor space in doing so. So I bought an Underland Offroad and mounted an electrical service and water pump housing up and out of the way. Enclosures are an old pistol box for the electrical panel and an Apache 2800 case for the water.

Water pump connects to either our Front Runner Jerry can with the bottom spout (for weekend trips) or our 20 gal tank enclosure for extended travels. A compact house and nozzle store nicely in the water housing.