October 06, 2023 10 min read
GFC invented the modern wedge camper in 2017, and continues to make the most innovative, highest quality design out there. 6,000 campers into this radical experiment in ethically manufacturing American products that won’t slow you down, we figured it might be worth recapping what makes our campers, and our company so unique.
Not only is the GFC Platform Camper the most affordable camper out there, but it also delivers the highest value. The reasons for that are our direct-to-consumer business model, and the fact that we make virtually all of the 888 parts in every camper right here in Montana.
Let's look at the math. When you buy a camper from other brands that rely on dealers, and generic parts, the price you pay is mostly made up of markups. Let’s say the price tag on a camper at a dealer is $25,000. Around 40 percent of that is pure margin, so you’re putting $10,000 of your money into the dealer’s pockets, and only getting about $15,000 worth of camper. Similar markups will be applied to the off-the-shelf parts used to make that camper, driving the value you receive even lower.
Where it’s common industry practice to purchase even mission critical parts like hinges from large parts catalogs like McMaster-Carr, GFC engineers and produces parts as small as individual nuts in-house. Not only does that create stronger, lighter, more functional solutions, but it further enhances the value you achieve when you buy one of our products.
Generic parts aren’t designed to perform specific jobs. So, even nice ones end up heavier and weaker than their application dictates, while limiting design choices and capabilities.
This is one of the two latches that hold the roof closed. GFC leverages automated CNC machines and processes to put the human value where it matters most: in focusing on manufacturing and assembling excellent products. You won't find parts this nice anywhere else this side of race cars.
That’s why we make stuff ourselves, largely using automated CNC machines and billet aluminum. Doing so frees us to engineer ideal solutions, and create better products in which the ratio of value-to-price is off the charts. And then we sell those products direct to you, without any middlemen.
And there’s other ways in which we maximize your value. By producing such strong, long-lasting components and designing repairability into every part, we’re giving you a camper that should outlive any truck you mount it to. Even if you don’t plan to keep your vehicle for 25 years or more, that means GFCs retain their value in the used market. When it comes time to move onto your next vehicle, you’ll be able to sell your camper for close to what you paid for it. Or, if you lose your truck in a crash, we can help you repair and update your camper so you can swap it onto the replacement.
Sure, we make campers, but at its heart, GFC is an engineering and manufacturing company. What we are best at is designing stuff that works, then producing it in volume. Where most camper companies are really just two guys working out of an industrial lockup, GFC employs over 60 people, all with full-time jobs paying living wages.
Every single camper GFC makes is custom fit to the exact dimensions of your truck’s year, make, model, and trim. With our colors and other options, that means virtually every camper we make is unique. We do not make campers in generic sizes by bed length, as is common industry practice. That is again part of what makes our campers so light and so strong, and part of the value proposition we offer you. But it also means that we do not stock campers—every one is a custom order.
In 6,000 camper installations, we’ve only failed to deliver the right camper to its new owner at the promised day and time twice. And we made things right for both customers.
When you place your order, you select your exact installation day and time, or shipping date if you’re visiting one of our eight nationwide partner shops. And we guarantee that date. You will get your camper when you expect it. And that allows you to plan a visit to our Montana headquarters, or one of those nationwide partner locations, secure in the knowledge that things will go as planned.
It may seem like delivering a multi-thousand dollar camper when we say we will would simply be normal business, but outside of GFC, that is very much not the case. Heck, there’s brands that have tried to copy us who aren't really delivering products at all.
The fact that we’ve made 6,000 campers (and thousands more of our toppers, rooftop tents, and cargo racks) is very much part of the value proposition GFC offers. That’s more than the total production of many brands that have been in business for decades. And, it means that if you need support, or a part, or just want to feel safe spending what’s quite a large sum of money, we’ll be here for you when you need us.
A GFC camper gives you everything you need, and nothing you don't. You then have the opportunity to turn the best possible blank canvas into the right solution for your own, unique needs. Don't pay more for a heavier, weaker, lower quality product just for the privilege of paying margins on catalog components.
You can totally throw a sleeping bag upstairs, wad up a puffy jacket to use as a pillow, and enjoy camping in your GFC without changing a thing. Or you can build it into whatever you need or want it to be.
The entire exterior perimeter of the camper is wrapped in T-track. You can use that to permanently mount light bars, radio antennas, awnings, work lights, ladder hooks, and much more.
The T-track is also whereour Beef Rack crossbars mount, which means you can slide any number of those anywhere along the camper’s roof that works for you. We heard you like T-track, so we added even more T-Track on top of and underneath those Beef Racks, which means you can permanently mount solar panels safely below the crossbar load surface, then carry boards or boats or construction materials above them.
Inside, well nuts in the extruded aluminum frame provide ready made mounting points for stuff like MOLLE panels, and anything you want to attach to those. Upstairs, you’ll find another row of T-track around the perimeter of the ceiling, allowing you to attach coat hooks, bungee nets,hanging organizers, reading lamps, and much more.
And all of that is just the beginning.Visit our forum, with its 10,000+ active users, and you’ll find all manner of custom creativity.Look at GFC builds on social media, and you can see how popular brands have integrated their own products. There’s also a thriving ecosystem of small third party companies making add-ons just for GFCs, including everything fromstorage bags tosteps.
We deliver a robust camper that’s a blank canvas for customization. Rather than charge you more for solutions that may not be exactly right for you, we give you what you need to support your own tinkering. Don’t pay thousands more for a heavier, weaker, lower quality knock-off camper just because they throw in a $25 widget. Adding just the right part, for your unique needs, yourself, is easy.
Complete with an eight-foot vaulted ceiling, a 56x96-inch upstairs sleep area, and total access to your truck bed, the GFC Platform Camper weighs only 275 lbs when sized for a Ford F-150.
But why is that important to you? The work a truck is designed to perform isn’t looking flashy on Instagram or making cool vroom vroom sounds, it’s moving weight. The more weight you bolt onto it, the more you reduce its ability to perform its job. You’ll notice additional weight at the gas pump, in the throttle and brake pedals, and off-road. The lighter you can keep your truck, the better it will perform in any and every circumstance.
Additional weight creates compound issues that can really impact your bottom line, and risk your life. Add too much weight, and you’ll need to spend thousands modifying the suspension, final drive gearing, and maybe even the cooling system to cope. You’ll also risk breaking driveline components off-road, make your vehicle harder to recover in the more likely event it gets stuck, and add to the risk of a rollover. Weight increases braking distances and reduces the performance of crumple zones.
That’s to say: weight matters. And GFC adds the smallest amount possible. Leaving as much leftover for important cargo like your family, dogs, and outdoors gear.
Yes, this is a real photograph.
The dynamic roof load on the Platform Camper is 500 pounds, when fitted with four Beef Rack crossbars. (Please don’t exceed your vehicle’s GVWR, which you’ll find on a sticker in the driver side door jamb.) But aside from the ability to bring a heck of a lot of lumber back from Home Depot, that number can feel pretty esoteric. What’s it mean for you?
Check out this video of a 2nd gen Tundra driving over some bumps on a test course. No matter what you drive, this is a good indication of the kind of forces your vehicle, and anything in or on it will experience driving down a bumpy dirt road. Even if you aren’t shredding the gnar down in Baja or across the Rubicon Trail, just driving your vehicle on a Forest Service road can expose a camper to tons of vibration, twisting, and impact energy.
Completely unique for the camper space, the frame on your GFC is made from billet aluminum joints that capture these extreme forces, then distributes them in straight lines through repairable, bolted connections with large diameter, hollow aluminum extrusions. The triangulated space frame this forms spreads those forces evenly, avoiding point loading that could damage components on your camper or truck. This frame is so strong that it will actually stiffen your bed, reducing its tendency to twerk like the example Tundra above.
What's that mean for you? Well, for one thing,your GFC isn’t going to fall out of the back of your truck while wheeling. It will also reduce the amount of movement your bed, and anything in or on it, or in or on the camper, experiences. When you crack open that beer in camp, there’s less of a chance it’ll foam over, broken eggs won’t spill all over the rest of your groceries. The odds of you, your camper, and your stuff arriving home unscathed are much higher with a GFC.
Vertical pop-top campers don't create as much headroom, turning the sleeping area into more of a shelf for horizontal humans than a space you'll want to hang out in. This GFC is sized for a short-bed, mid-size truck, yet still provides more than enough room for two people to get comfortable in. If you drive something like an F-150 or larger, you'll get even more room.
There’s not a whole lotta space inside a truck bed. And the more moving parts you add to anything, the heavier, weaker, and more failure prone it becomes. Using only a single pivot—which runs the entire width of the camper—allows us to add a very tall vaulted ceiling over a truck bed, while retaining strength and durability, along with excellent weather resistance.
With eight feet or more of headroom at its peak (depending on the exact depth of your truck’s bed walls), the wedge delivers enough room for even very tall people to stand up inside, even while raising their arms over their head to change clothes.
And this standing height space continues forward for all or most of your truck bed’s length (again depending on exact dimensions). This remains true even if you're standing on top of a drawer system.
The wedge shape also sheds high winds and snow loads, while the hard roof is impervious to most hail or windblown tree limbs or debris. You can open the tent on a GFC with up to 75 pounds of weight on the roof.
Contrast that with a vertical pop top camper, and you’ll find the wedge delivers much more standing room, enough height to comfortably sit up in bed (or use sex positions beyond merely missionary), quieter sleep in wind, more stability, more strength, and fewer potential points of failure. It also eliminates the potential for wind to accidentally deploy the tent while driving.
Not every night outdoors is going to be this perfect. We get that, and have designed the camper to work in those conditions, too.
Three reconfigurable panels in the tent floor allow you to instantly reconfigure the camper for different uses, while facilitating access to the sleeping area from the truck bed.
Remove all the panels to create a standing-height hangout area, or room to change clothes. Leave the long rectangle in lengthwise to create a bunk bed. Put both square panels at the rear end to create individual hatches through which a couple can independently climb in or out, without disturbing your partner’s sleep. The entire sleeping area, including the removable panels, is covered in a comfortable, three-inch thick, triple-density foam mattress.
Unlike some of our lower quality, more expensive imitators, which leave space open to the truck bed at the rear of the sleeping area, GFC allows its users to completely close off the upstairs space. This offers numerous advantages. The cab-over portion of the camper can be kept as short as possible; a stronger, lighter, quieter solution that retains compatibility with some cab roof racks. The sealed sleeping area remains bug free, even while the bed-access panels and truck tailgate are open. Because dust finds its way into truck beds through the gaps automakers leave to facilitate drainage, leaving all the panels in place while driving will keep dust out of your bedding. And the rear of the tent body is able to provide a comfortable, stable headboard, so you can lean against it while sitting up in bed to read, and won’t drop your pillow into your truck bed in the middle of the night. And, GFC still offers an 8-foot long sleeping area—large enough to comfortably accommodate anyone, with enough additional room in the narrow end of the wedge for a dog to sleep, and to throw clothing or push unnecessary bedding.
And sleeping inside an elevated space offers one final advantage—panoramic views. When you wake up way out in the middle of nowhere, you’ll be treated to sweeping views of the beach, mountains, desert, or forest. And you’ll have that view all to yourself because a GoFastCamper will never slow you down, or limit the places you can camp.