Home » This Tiny 190-Pound Pod Turns A Pickup Truck Or Utility Trailer Into A Hard-Sided Camper For Just $2,750

This Tiny 190-Pound Pod Turns A Pickup Truck Or Utility Trailer Into A Hard-Sided Camper For Just $2,750

Tusca Hitchhiker Ts
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Camping is often an expensive hobby, but you don’t have to let it be that way. Instead of buying a new RV you can buy an affordable used one and if you want to go camping on a tight budget, there’s always your car or the humble tent. If tents aren’t for you, there’s a new option that’s more or less one step above. The Tusca HitchHiker Camper is a 190-pound box that turns most pickup trucks or a tiny utility trailer into a basic, hard-sided place to sleep during an adventure for just $2,750.

I’ve been camping for more than two decades, or the vast majority of my life. Over that time, most of that camping has been inside of a usually flimsy travel trailer. But on some adventures, such as the Gambler 500, I end up sleeping on the ground in a tent. Despite years of tent camping, I’ve never really fallen in love with it. Tents rustle in the wind, waking you up. Tents also love to flood, blow away, or fall apart when some drunk stumbles into your spot or slices the fabric to steal your stuff. Tents have their place, but if I can, I like having hard walls around me.

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There is a space in the camping world for units that are more or less just one step up over a tent. I’m talking structures that are basically tents, but with hard walls. That’s the proposition offered by the HitchHiker Camper.

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Not From An RV Company

One thing that makes the HitchHiker Camper different is where it comes from. A unit like this would usually be built by a camper startup, but this one comes from a startup providing equipment to hunters.

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Tusca Innovations was founded in 2019 by college baseball teammates Adam and Josh. After college, Adam went into a career in metal fabrication while Josh became a youth pastor. Eventually, the guys got back together to make outdoor products and in 2022, Tusca Outdoors was opened as the vehicle for their creations.

Since then, Tusca Outdoors has been marketing EPS-based hunting blinds of various sizes. The company also makes a cooler boat out of EPS foam, so you can bring the cold snacks with you to the lake. Tusca markets its hunting blinds as structures that won’t rot and are so well-insulated that you could raise the inside temperature a bit with just a burning candle.

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It wasn’t long before Adam and Josh figured that they could do more with their polyurea-coated EPS foam construction. The men took their families on a yearly hunting trip and began thinking about how to safely sleep themselves and their families. Adam and Josh decided to make a tiny camper that could be used to make a cheap truck topper or turn an inexpensive 5×8 trailer into an instant teardrop trailer.

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Six months later, Tusca Outdoors emerged with the HitchHiker Camper. That was just last week, and it’s now on display at the Great American Outdoor Show in Pennsylvania. Don’t worry, you haven’t missed a new camper show. The Great American Outdoor Show is focused on guns, hunting, and fishing, not really campers.

The HitchHiker Camper

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To make the HitchHiker Camper, Tusca Outdoors essentially took the company’s EPS foam material and polyurea coating from the hunting blinds and formed them into a squaredrop camper shape. You may know that outer coating better for its more common use as a truck bed liner. Tusca says its polyurea coating weighs 100 pounds when applied to hunting blinds, which makes the structure sturdy and durable.

The logic behind the HitchHiker Camper was to make a small, lightweight pod that can sit on the ground, sit on a utility trailer, sit in a truck bed, or sit in a larger trailer to make a toy hauler. Basically, it provides roughly the same usability as a truck cap, but is far more versatile.

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Tusca also says that by using the EPS foam and the polyurea coating, you get a sleeping space that’s good for all seasons. The company believes so much in its materials that it says if you sat in the HitchHiker Camper at 20 degrees Fahrenheit, you can light a candle and after an hour, the inside temperature should be 55 degrees. Granted, some of that has to do with the fact that it’s a tiny space that you can’t even stand up in, but there’s more than enough room in there for a queen bed.

Speaking of the small size, the Tusca HitchHiker Camper measures 7.5 feet by 4.8 feet by 4.4 feet. That makes it small enough to fit in so many truck beds and also small enough to fit on that 5×8 trailer you bought from Harbor Freight long ago.

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Because the HitchHiker Camper is supposed to be a versatile camper, it has different securement points. If you’re just plopping it down in a truck bed or trailer temporarily, you can use the camper’s top guide rails to secure it using two-inch ratchet straps. If you want to mount it permanently somewhere, Tusca plans on offering a mounting kit featuring lag bolts. The one limitation is that if you put it in a pickup truck bed, you’ll have to put the camper on a platform to raise it above the truck’s wheel wells.

In terms of features? Well, you’re not getting many. The HitchHiker Camper has a locking entry door, two windows with screens, integrated vents, and a port to run an extension cord through.

Cheap And Useful

Tusca says the new camper starts at $2,750 and deliveries begin in April. For this month only, those using promo code “Launch” at the Tusca site will get $500 off the first units that get delivered this spring.

Even without the promo code, it’s already either about the same price or cheaper than some popular higher-end truck caps. Sadly, Tusca doesn’t even estimate how long a camper built out of EPS foam and super thick truck bed liner will last, but I do like the concept.

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I also like that since it weighs just 190 pounds, you and a friend could lift it around, too. Technically, that weight does put it within the dynamic load limits of the roof racks of some SUVs, but I’m not sure I’d want to find out how wobbly it would make a Subaru Forester.

While the Tusca HitchHiker is barren compared to most of the campers I write about, I love the possibilities being offered here. If you’ve been sleeping in a tent, this is an immediate step up. At the same time, if you’re someone looking to build your own squaredrop trailer or truck bed camper, this can be your blank canvas.

(Images: Tusca Outdoors)

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Taargus Taargus
Taargus Taargus
11 days ago

Hmmmmm. This would actually make quite a bit of sense for me.

We’re a family of 4, and the van can sleep 2 quite easily. This thing would be able to handle some bags and other assorted camping stuff so we’re not too cramped where we’re headed. Unload, set up camp, 2 can sleep in the box, 2 can sleep in the van. Hell, this is something I could actually store.

Eslader
Eslader
11 days ago

OK, we need to talk about the definition of a camper.

Truck toppers or utility trailers that say “camper” on the window sticker are not automatically campers.

This is a box with a window. It doesn’t even come with a mattress, much less any of the other things that make a camper a camper. If you’re going to go that bare bones, go to REI and get a tent. It’s way cheaper and you can stand up in it.

Last edited 11 days ago by Eslader
Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
12 days ago

“if you sat in the HitchHiker Camper at 20 degrees Fahrenheit, you can light a candle and after an hour, the inside temperature should be 55 degrees”

This is actually less impressive than it sounds. I did the math recently, a 5x5x8 cube made of R10 2″ thick pink foam would require only like 55W of heating to keep the inside at 70°F when it’s 30°F outside. A sleeping person puts out at least 70W of heat, or at least 100W for an awake person. So it wouldn’t warm up too quickly, but in equilibrium, you shouldn’t need a heater of any kind to keep a foam teardrop warm inside.

Jj
Jj
11 days ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

How does this work on the other side for cooling?

Could you leave a bag of ice in a 5 gallon bucket in the corner to cool it, or would this thing overheat you to a soupy mess on a hot night?

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
11 days ago
Reply to  Jj

Outstanding question. I don’t know. Insulation is really good for staying cool, but not if the person inside is a heater.

Jj
Jj
11 days ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

It looks like duck season is usually in the fall / winter depending on the state. Since this company usually builds duck blinds, they’re meant for cooler weather use. Between the sun and an awake human’s 100w heat output (no way I could sleep in an oven), I’d probably resort to sleeping on top of this.

Utherjorge
Utherjorge
12 days ago

We should have a feature here about going even cheaper. I got a $300 used shell for my $900 used Ranger and can camp in that and tow my $1000 used pop up.

Not only are these deals out there all over, you have no guilt to completely redesign things to be even more how you want them

Joe Leahy
Joe Leahy
12 days ago

i am excited to finally see something of this nature being sold. we need more people building cheaper campers. I think there is a major price gouge in legacy camper manufacturing. I am basically looking for a hard sided tent that can be propped up off the ground, maybe be able to run a fan, or plug into 120v and run a tiny A/C heat pump type deal. Kudos to this group, and i am also contemplating building a pink foam teardrop

Utherjorge
Utherjorge
12 days ago
Reply to  Joe Leahy

Attach a diesel heater to, but all else a big yes

Joe Leahy
Joe Leahy
11 days ago
Reply to  Utherjorge

the chinese diesel heater cult. darn it i am in.

Utherjorge
Utherjorge
10 days ago
Reply to  Joe Leahy

So, in the last several weeks, one of the groups I belong to went out and did an overnight camp. I had some kid things going out, and I did not stay. Come to find out that due to some operator error issues, every single heater died in the middle of the night. And it was uber cold.

There is a learning curve with them, but I do know others in my group that use them and swear by them…once they got the bugs out of them.

Marcus
Marcus
13 days ago

I like this – but from a design pov I wonder if a rotomolded clamshell is a better option? Crack it open for a breeze, crank it shut to stay warm.

I know PVC can degrade, and perhaps this company coats their foam in a similar way to retain high r-value.

And yeah – needs a solar setup and some kind of fan.

CSRoad
CSRoad
13 days ago

Maybe it’s the window, but it reminded me of this:
https://www.revzilla.com/common-tread/ctxp-motorcycle-rv-road-trip

SDW
SDW
13 days ago

$27,000 is a ripoff for 7 pieces of plywood and a few 2x4s.
And who needs the trailer when it will fit in the bed of the truck?
You might as well just buy a pickup topper for thousands less.
Either way, you still have to lie down to take off, or put on your pants,
or go outside to go to the bathroom.

Miss_jay
Miss_jay
13 days ago
Reply to  SDW

I thought you’d made a typo, until I saw you post the same incorrect price in nearly every comment.

This thing costs $2,750, not $27,000.

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
12 days ago
Reply to  SDW

It’s $2800, and not made of plywood. It might be a little on the steep side for a pink foam teardrop, but not by much.

Utherjorge
Utherjorge
12 days ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

GO GET HIM RB

ToeMotor
ToeMotor
12 days ago
Reply to  SDW

You didnt even read the article did ya?

Ron888
Ron888
13 days ago

Now this is something different! I’m tentatively enthusiastic.
Great insulation and a utilitarian exterior sound fantastic.Is the inner coating the same as outside?I’m curious how the construction method holds up.In theory it sounds tough. Is it structurally strong enough to carry stuff on top?
Of course the price is stupid for what it costs to make, but we expect that of campers.It’s written in the constitution or sumthin,right?

SDW
SDW
13 days ago
Reply to  Ron888

who needs the trailer when it will fit in the bed of the truck?
You might as well just buy a pickup topper for thousands less.
Either way, you still have to lie down to take off, or put on your pants,
or go outside to go to the bathroom. I mean $27,000 for that, give me a break.
Just buy a pickup topper for thousands less.

Genewich
Genewich
12 days ago
Reply to  SDW

You’re off by 10x, it’s 2700. You can’t get a topper for thousands less, and not everyone has or wants a truck. You could you’re this with almost anything.

ToeMotor
ToeMotor
12 days ago
Reply to  SDW

Youre 1st reply, I thought maybe you fat fingered the price…..
But its clear you didnt read the article…..lol

Utherjorge
Utherjorge
12 days ago
Reply to  SDW

You really posted a lot of dumb stuff. I know…decimal points are hard

EPGCivic
EPGCivic
13 days ago

Looks like some place I could rent out in my back yard when the shit hits the fan this year. But seriously, I’m interested. Could you pull this behind a civic? It seems extremely light unless I’m missing something.

Drive By Commenter
Drive By Commenter
13 days ago
Reply to  EPGCivic

Aerodynamics have a lot more impact than weight when talking smaller tow vehicles. This isn’t terrible with a sloped roof. The square front will definitely impact it since those stick outside the car’s footprint. As always, make sure the payload rating of the car isn’t exceeded. Figure 10% of the trailer’s tongue weight.

So you technically could if keeping things light and not expecting to blast down the interstate at 80 mph.

SDW
SDW
13 days ago

If your worry about that you can’t afford it. BTW, it’s against the law to tow anything in any state at 80 mph:)

Drive By Commenter
Drive By Commenter
13 days ago
Reply to  SDW

Doesn’t stop some folks in their heavy duty pickups towing a giant camper. Likely on 65 mph rated China bombs.

Size is everything regarding a camper. Like, some folks don’t have enough physical space to store a large camper or don’t want to daily a pickup. Or want an easy setup/teardown that a smaller camper provides.

I have a 15 foot long Aliner. That thing tows very well, is easy to set up, is spacious enough inside, keeps cool/warm and can be towed by our compact CUV. I’ve got the space for something larger and purposely chose a smaller and more expensive camper for its size and construction.

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
12 days ago
Reply to  SDW

Except the state I live in, where you can go the full 80mph with any trailer under 10k lbs.

Utherjorge
Utherjorge
12 days ago
Reply to  SDW

Holy cow your posts keep getting worse

Jj
Jj
11 days ago
Reply to  SDW

I was once pulled over in OH towing a 20′ boat at what they claimed was 90mph. I will neither confirm nor deny their claim, but I did pay the ticket.

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
12 days ago

Regarding top speed, yes aerodynamics matters a lot. Regarding towing capacity, transmission temps, braking distance, and stability(all of the things that are relevant to safety), weight is what’s most important.

I wouldn’t hesitate to pull a 190lb box sitting on a 600lb harbor freight trailer behind a Civic.

Drive By Commenter
Drive By Commenter
12 days ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

Aero does impact transmission temperature at highway speeds. More unlocked torque converter operation overcoming air resistance means more heat generation. Any headwinds make that worse.

Agreed about having no issues towing this rig behind a newer Civic. Leave following distance and camp on!

SDW
SDW
13 days ago
Reply to  EPGCivic

Yeah, or you could get rid of the trailer, and strap it to the roof of your Civic. Or you could just build a plywood box, strap that to the roof, and save the $27,000.

Joe Leahy
Joe Leahy
12 days ago
Reply to  SDW

have you read the article or any of the comments mentioning that you are off by a factor of 10. its $2,700.

ToeMotor
ToeMotor
12 days ago
Reply to  SDW

Now Im here to just mock you……lol

Andreas8088
Andreas8088
13 days ago

I actually have a trailer that would fit this pretty perfectly, it’s a old utility trailer with steel sides, but this would slide right in.
My concern would be the structure, specifically the roof. I’d like to put solar and a fan in the roof, but not sure it would support that.

Something to look into…….

SDW
SDW
13 days ago
Reply to  Andreas8088

No it wouldn’t support solar, because you’d also need batteries for the solar, You know, you could also just build a plywood box and slide in the back of the pickup and have basically the same thing:) for a lot less than $27,000.

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
12 days ago
Reply to  SDW

You have repeatedly commented on a lot of different posts using a price with one too many zeros.

Andreas8088
Andreas8088
12 days ago
Reply to  SDW

I… fail to see how needing batteries would mean the roof couldn’t support solar panels. That just doesn’t make any sense. Also, it’s $2750, not $27000. So, pretty cheap relatively speaking.

ToeMotor
ToeMotor
12 days ago
Reply to  SDW

Mocking you…..

Utherjorge
Utherjorge
12 days ago
Reply to  SDW

SDW SAY MATH HARD

Ariel E Jones
Ariel E Jones
13 days ago

The rental market is tight. I see opportunities here.

Curtis Loew
Curtis Loew
13 days ago

I like it. I just wonder about durability. What is holding it together? If there is no internal structure is this thing going to hold up to banging around on a trailer towed all over country without cracking?

SDW
SDW
13 days ago
Reply to  Curtis Loew

Being an RV’er for the last 15 years, I can tell you No with the way the roads are today thanks to 18-wheelers, it wouldn’t last.

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
12 days ago
Reply to  SDW

Plenty of people build pink foam campers, and they generally hold up.

You think 18 wheelers are the reason roads are worse lately?

Utherjorge
Utherjorge
12 days ago
Reply to  SDW

But with math as good as yours who could fault your logic

Drive By Commenter
Drive By Commenter
13 days ago
Reply to  Curtis Loew

It’s skinned with some kind of coating. Foam gets amazingly strong when it has some kind of skin. My RC airplanes can attest to that! There’s a skin on them from the molding process and they’re tough enough to consistently pull wing-flexing turns without breaking. If still unsure, pack along a 2 oz. tube of FoamTac. That stuff is amazing at bonding foam.

OverlandingSprinter
OverlandingSprinter
13 days ago

Great idea. How about this: Make the door wider and then put a truck bed cargo slide under the bed? You’d have to stand outside to get your stuff, so not such a good idea.

Hmm. Maybe put the truck bed cargo slide on the the Harbor Freight trailer and then put the Tusca on top of that. Yeah, that’s a better idea.

I’d install a MaxxFan in the roof for more ventilation, and a solar panel on the slanted part of the roof to charge a small 50 AH LiFePO4 battery for lighting and the MaxxFan.

SDW
SDW
13 days ago

Or, better still, just put a trucker’s osolating fan in it and run a cable from your car batter to a jack on the back of your vehicle. Then put in battery-operated LED lights in it and save the money.

OverlandingSprinter
OverlandingSprinter
12 days ago
Reply to  SDW

But, but, that’s not complicated!

On a slightly more serious note, I’m loath to run anything off the chassis battery when camping. Certainly a fan isn’t going to draw much. But I’ve camped enough times with kids to learn they are, bless their hearts, agents of chaos. I’d rather have a dead house battery than a dead chassis battery.

Abdominal Snoman
Abdominal Snoman
14 days ago

A friend of mine bought a “slide in”? style camper meant for a pickup with an 8′ bed, and mounted it to a cheap utility trailer. He’s about $900 all in (bought both used on craigslist), the total weight is ~1500 lb or less so he can tow it with virtually any car, set it up in a nice level spot, and now he has full use of his car/truck again.

TheHairyNug
TheHairyNug
13 days ago

You can take a slide in out pretty easily. I don’t know why anyone would want to trailer one. The entire point of them is to not have a trailer

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
12 days ago

A slide in + the trailer is 1500lb? That’s the slightest slide in in the world.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
14 days ago

This is really cool, it’s more space than the typical camper shell cap, and you get a more finished space instead of the exposed bed, plus the option of just putting it on a trailer.

I’m considering ditching my camper this year since it just sits too much, but something like this might be a good replacement. It’s enough for the sort of camping I do, and I would get a lot of use out of a utility trailer, based on the number of times I’ve rented one from U Haul. And I can just shove the camper part into a shed for storage

Crank Shaft
Crank Shaft
14 days ago

Shit, who needs a trailer? I want to just drop a few of these around my backyard.

SDW
SDW
13 days ago
Reply to  Crank Shaft

Well just go out and buy some plywood and 2x4s do it yourself:)

Crank Shaft
Crank Shaft
13 days ago
Reply to  SDW

Water and laziness are impediments.

Spikedlemon
Spikedlemon
14 days ago

small, yes, but still bulky enough to be awkward to store

TheHairyNug
TheHairyNug
14 days ago

That’s friggin’ tiny, but maybe you could make it work with the space underneath as seen in the bed photo. The last thing I’d want to do is place one in the bed of a truck and then have no space for the gear that I’d be wanting with me in the first place

Scootershapedmotorcycle
Scootershapedmotorcycle
14 days ago

Is it light enough? You could just lift it out of your truck bed and put it on the ground? That kind of instant camping seems ridiculous but I’ve been through enough storms that the easy to set up tent is not good enough. Plus a real mattress seems kind of appealing compared to the crap I sleep on.

Adam Atwell
Adam Atwell
13 days ago

Put a few pallets on the ground (conveniently carried in your truck bed) and that is probably more than enough of a base.

SDW
SDW
13 days ago

Why do you need to take it out of the truck bed?

Man With A Reliable Jeep
Man With A Reliable Jeep
14 days ago

This is the kind of stuff we need more of.

Rad Barchetta
Rad Barchetta
14 days ago

I think my Miata’s tire trailer weighed more than that fully loaded. You could throw the tires in the camper and have a place to sleep overnight at the track!

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
14 days ago

I like the old camper shell. They used to have opening side windows, a locking handle door on the back, still fit behind the cab and just throw an air mattress in the back. Easier, better, cheaper and fits in a pickup bed. Not sure the modern cost.

SDW
SDW
13 days ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

Finally, someone with some common sense! I mean $27,000, give me a break!

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
13 days ago
Reply to  SDW

Especially for a box with windows that only fits a mattress. Although it was only $2,750.

Last edited 13 days ago by Mr Sarcastic
Dave Plank
Dave Plank
12 days ago
Reply to  SDW

You have now been incorrect about the price more times than the ACTUAL price was even mentioned in the article.

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
12 days ago
Reply to  Dave Plank

I don’t know if he’s a troll, or has the worst dyslexia ever?

The Kyle
The Kyle
12 days ago
Reply to  SDW

Wait, do you think this thing costs $27,000? They way you’ve been spamming the comments sure makes it sound like you do.

Pat Rich
Pat Rich
14 days ago

I love it! But I would love to know what kind of structure they are using to hold it all together. I think this would make a great start to a homebrew overland trailer. build a box frame with water and some amenities, put a RTT on top and you have room for the whole family and you would probably be under 1000 lbs fully loaded, which would make for towing off-road a breeze.

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