Road Trip

Talus Expedition Gear's CampPack Camper is an RV in a box

The Telus CampPack Camper was tested, and passed with flying colors.

Photo courtesy of AutoNXT

For those who appreciate adventuring off the beaten path, a pickup truck can be a great mode of travel. Current models offer comfortable, roomy interiors combined with impressive off-road capability. But getting away for more than a day hike requires roughing it on the ground or scaling back the adventure by hauling an RV.

Talus Expedition Gear of Boise, Idaho, has devised an ingenious solution. This small outfitter takes RV amenities — such as electrical power, running water and sleeping off the ground — and incorporates them into — and above — the bed of a pickup truck.

Here's a quick overview of the CampPack Camper, a unique camping solution.

RV lite

Telus CampPack Camper

Photo courtesy of AutoNXT

Adopting the concept that getting away from civilization doesn't mean leaving all creature comforts behind, Talus Expedition Gear created a modular RV-lite package that installs in the bed of a compact or full-size pickup. Unlike conventional truck campers, the Talus VenturePack Camper and CampPack Camper packages fit flush with the top of the pickup bed and allow the tailgate to be closed, preserving the truck's ability to venture off the beaten path unhindered.

Solid construction

Telus CampPack Camper

Photo courtesy of AutoNXT

Each Talus camper features solid aluminum construction fastened with aircraft-grade rivets and TIG welding. Weighing around 500 pounds (700 pounds with tent), the Talus camper gets attached to the truck bed via tiedowns at the front and bolts in existing holes near the tailgate — on most trucks no alteration is necessary. The camper designs fit in both compact and full-size pickup trucks with short or long beds. Using all available space, larger trucks get more storage; however, the kitchen module remains primarily unchanged no matter the truck size.

The ultimate kitchen drawer

Telus CampPack Camper

Photo courtesy of AutoNXT

The Talus camper gives a whole new meaning to kitchen drawer — in this case the drawer is the kitchen. Sliding out (like a drawer) from the back of the truck, the kitchen unit features a refrigerator, propane stove, electrical connections, storage — even the kitchen sink. The drawer is easily unlatched and pulled into position for use.

Good old H2O

Telus CampPack Camper

The Talus contains a 16-gallon tank that provides water via a 1-gallon-per-minute electric pump. The camper unit also has a pressurized external hose connection — a great feature for cleaning muddy boots or filling a water jug. The higher-end VenturePack also includes a pump-style portable water filtration system that uses a silver-impregnated ceramic filter capable of filtering at 0.5 microns with better than 99.9% efficiency at 0.2 microns. This means water can be drawn from any source to further extend a camping trip. The pump easily stows in the main storage area.

Plugged in

Telus CampPack Camper

Photo courtesy of AutoNXT

The basic CampPack Camper gets a 100aH battery that powers the water pump, a night-sky compliant light under the drawer, a standard 120-volt outlet, a 12-volt auto auxiliary power outlet and two USB ports. The up-level VenturePack upgrades with a larger 200aH battery and a 2,000-watt power inverter that can run power tools or kitchen accessories such as a coffeemaker or blender.

According to Talus, with careful use the larger battery can last up to a week while powering the refrigerator, light and water pump. Obviously, powering other items will diminish the time off grid.

With a 30-amp rapid battery charger built in, charging the Talus's battery is as easy as plugging an extension cord into an outlet. Even the larger battery recharges to full power in seven hours when plugged into a standard 110-volt outlet. For those who would rather not return to civilization for a charge, there is another solution — solar power.

Solar charger

Telus CampPack Camper

The Talus VenturePack comes with a portable solar panel — the Bugout Solar Charger sourced from Overland Solar. The 120-watt solar charger takes considerably longer to charge the battery to full power — about 20 hours. The charger can be set on the ground, on the hood of a truck or on the truck's roof, and left there for the duration of the camping trip, constantly keeping the battery charged. Given the solar panel's flexible construction and long cord, camp can be set up in the shade while the charger stays in direct sunlight. When not in use, the charger folds up for easy storage.

Tailgate as a kitchen

Telus CampPack Camper

Although cooking over an open fire seems like an iconic camping experience, it's often outlawed or dangerous, so it's easier and safer to cook dinner on a stove. The Talus has a propane stove with 5,900 BTU and 3,700 BTU burners. The unit has storage space for two standard one-pound propane bottles — an available universal propane adaptor hooks up to a larger propane tank. When not in use, the stove's cover can be closed to provide additional counter space.

Top rack system

Telus CampPack Camper

Photo courtesy of AutoNXT

The Talus Camper box features integrated rails that can be used to mount a rack for carrying equipment and accessories such as bicycles, kayaks or an additional storage box for extended adventures. But the best use for the rails is a rooftop tent, and Talus takes care of that as well.

Kitchen use

Telus CampPack Camper

When in use, the kitchen drawer only takes up a portion of the truck's tailgate, so the remaining horizontal surface provides a convenient workspace. Also handy are storage drawers at the end of the kitchen module — a great place for storing dry goods as well as utensils. Trucks with shorter beds get two drawers; trucks with longer trucks have space for four drawers.

Storage drawer

Telus CampPack Camper

Photo courtesy of AutoNXT

Next to the kitchen drawer sits a longer one for gear storage. The all-weather space provides up to 17 cubic feet of real estate for clothes, food and other supplies. Dividers are available for easier organization. Whereas the kitchen module remains primarily the same size, the main drawer size depends on truck size — a short-bed compact pickup will get about 6 cubic feet, while space gets maximized in a full-size pickup with a larger bed.

Top track system

Telus CampPack Camper

Photo courtesy of AutoNXT

The Talus Camper box features integrated rails that can be used to mount a rack for carrying equipment and accessories such as bicycles, kayaks or an additional storage box for extended adventures. But the best use for the rails is a rooftop tent, and Talus takes care of that as well.

The tent

Telus CampPack Camper

Photo courtesy of AutoNXT

Talus Expedition Gear partners with 23ZERO to offer a selection of tents that can be mounted on top of the camper box. Tents range in size from the 56-inch-wide Breezeway that can sleep two comfortably to the 87-inch Walkabout that has space for up to five. These 4-season tents have a 3-inch-thick foam cotton-top mattress with a waterproof base and a built-in rain fly. The 23ZERO tents also feature Light Suppression Technology — with all windows and door closed, practically no light infiltrates the tent, so there's no need to wake up at the crack of dawn.

Out of the way

Telus CampPack Camper

Photo courtesy of AutoNXT

With the Talus tent folded it takes up little space, and its low mounting position keeps it behind the cab of the truck, thus reducing wind resistance while driving. That being said, Talus does offer a high-mount configuration for the tent — for those who need additional storage beneath.

Easy setup and take down

Telus CampPack Camper

Photo courtesy of AutoNXT

One of the most desirable aspects of the Talus camper is its quick setup time. Unstrapping and unfolding the tent takes about five minutes, and kitchen setup takes about 30 seconds. This rapid setup is especially appealing after a long day of trekking overland. Everything packs up easily as well, meaning daily adventures begin more quickly. And heading off on an adventure may mean discovering a new location for camping that night. With the Talus, there's no need to go back for the gear — it's always in the truck.

How much does the Talus CampPack Camper cost?

The Talus CampPack Camper starts at $11,900, while the top-line VenturePack starts at $13,750. The 23ZERO tent options start at $1,369.

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Off-road performance truck

Shelby American announces new Ford F-150 Raptor

Shelby just announced the new truck, which has a starting price of more than $124,000.

Shelby American

The third-generation Ford F-150 Raptor is a true off-road menace, with a strong turbocharged V6, beefy tires and shocks, and a luxury-level interior. Most people would consider the truck overkill for all but the hardest-core off-road enthusiasts, but the wizards at Shelby American have other ideas. As it has done with Ford vehicles for years, Shelby gave the new Raptor a performance makeover, and the finished product is quite impressive.

Shelby F-150 Raptor There's no mistaking a Shelby-tuned Raptor. Shelby American

The F-150 Raptor is already a capable beast, but Shelby turns things up a few notches. Performance upgrades include a performance intake and high-flow filter, an aluminum intercooler, a tune that pushes power to more than 525 ponies and 610 pound-feet of torque, a Shelby exhaust, and a BDS lift kit. The Shelby Raptor rides on 18-inch wheels with 37-inch BFG KM3 Mud Terrain tires.

If you’re thinking Shelby slaps a few go-fast parts on the Raptor and calls it good, think again. The truck’s interior features embroidered custom leather upholstery and exclusive floor mats. A unique serial number plate is mounted in the dash. Shelby also fits billet racing pedals, carbon fiber accents, and deep tinted windows.

Outside, the Raptor gest several touches to let everyone know it’s not a standard Ford. A special Shelby hood with intake and extraction vents is standard, along with power side steps with rock sliders. A bevy of Shelby logos and badging grace the truck’s body, and both bumpers have been replaced with steel units to accommodate light bars and additional tow points.

Shelby F-150 Raptor Shelby fits performance parts and gives the truck a tune.Shelby American

If you’re hoping to be one of the insane few to own a Shelby Raptor, get your wallet ready. The truck’s base price starts at $124,820, which includes the MSRP of the truck itself. That said, it’s unclear how extreme demand and supply chain issues will impact Shelby’s ability to get new trucks to modify.

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Electric vehicles

NHTSA looking into Tesla's in-car video games

Some owners have discovered that their car's video games work when the car is moving.

Tesla

Tesla's vehicles are among the most advanced and forward-thinking products of any kind, but serious innovation doesn't come with tradeoffs. The automaker has been in the news recently because of issues with how its advanced cruise control systems function, and now, Autoblog reports that the NHTSA is asking questions about Tesla giving drivers the ability to play video games and browse the internet while driving.

Tesla Arcade hands-on: the Model 3 is your video game console youtu.be

The feature is intended to be used while the car is parked, such as while charging, so the discovery that people can use them while driving is a serious one. Vince Patton, the person who filed the complaint with the NHTSA, tested his car and found that he could play Solitaire and a fairly involved action game while it was in motion. Internet browsing was also possible, meaning the driver could take their attention completely off the road ahead for extended periods of time.

Tesla Model 3 Tesla's screens offer advanced functions that many others do not. Tesla

Tesla was already under investigation over crashes involving its Autopilot feature. Several collisions have occurred between Teslas and emergency vehicles stopped on the side of the road. Following the initiation of that investigation, the NHTSA raised other questions with the automaker over a buggy software update that was pushed out, retracted, fixed, and reissued outside of the normal recall process. Despite their names, it's important to clarify that neither the Autopilot nor Full Self-Driving features are capable of driving the cars without driver awareness and input.

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