FWC; major design changes, issues, and value?

#1
I've been shopping for an FWC (likely Granby). Seems they are the 'in' camper right now, and used ones demand a premium compared to other brands.
Some research says one flaw with FWC's is their insulation. Significant thermal bridges causing condensation (in an environment that encourages that). This isn't a huge concern of mine, but it is a bit worrisome.

So, a few questions;
-What makes FWC campers so sought after?
-What one (or two) changes would make it perfect?
-What one (or two) things should I watch for in a used one (other than obvious)?
-Over their history, what major changes have occurred that would cause one to pick a particular year(s) of build (I'm not talking options, I mean like changes in underlying materials used, or frame design, major upgrade of base components, etc)

Thanks!
 
#2
For me, a few of the main benefits of the 4WC are its lightweight-ness relative to a full size tradtional camper of the same size, along with low overhead, and what seems like more quality construction that will live up to offroad and forestry road type travel. Our Hawk has absolutely everything we require for multiple week excursions at a fraction of the weight and size of your traditional camper. I have a 2014 Tundra, and it really doesn't make too much of a difference in feel and handling and capabilities offroad with the camper on.
I like the heritage of the Four Wheel Camper brand, and believe it must count for something.
I'm not sure what major items I might change if given the chance. We ordered ours new and put a lot of thought and research into how we spec'd it out. We use all the options we ordered it with, on a regular basis.
That's about all I got. Happy hunting.
 

sg1

Adventurer
#3
FWC is a great camper for California, Nevada etc. It is not designed for wet and cool climates. Its design is dated, 1970s vintage. It really depends on how and where you use it. If you want a solid camper for off road use in dry conditions, go for it FWD or All Terrain. If you want a camper for off road use in cool and wet conditions take Overlandex, Earthcruiser, Alaskan, Hallmark or XP Camper. If you stay on good roads and commercial campgrounds take whatever offers a good deal.
 
#6
My biggest hang up with FWC is that they seem to be getting by on a design from 25 years ago yet still charging modern day prices. Even though they are still very reputable I feel like they've benefitted from a lack of competition in the segment of lightweight pop up truck campers built for off road. With new, smaller manufacturers using innovative design and materials I think/ hope there will be better options in the near future. It's not that it wouldn't suit my needs, but I wouldn't want to pay for 1980 technology at 2018 prices in a car or truck anymore than I would a camper. The latest offering from Overland Expedition using all composites as opposed to wood seems like a huge step in the right direction.
 
#7
If you are seriously looking at Four Wheel Campers, I think you would be best off talking to actual owners of the product to get the best advice.
You will be getting real world opinion from owners actually using the product (instead of opinions from people that "think" they know what is best for you).
Our customers will tell it like it is.
WanderTheWest, and the Four Wheel Campers FaceBook Owners Group would be your best bet.
We have around 1500 owners on FaceBook talking about what they like, don't like, and their FWC experiences.
No disrespect to the others here on the forum. There is lots of GREAT advice and experience this forum too !
Expedition Portal is my favorite place to come for information.
 
#8
If you are seriously looking at Four Wheel Campers, I think you would be best off talking to actual owners of the product to get the best advice.
You will be getting real world opinion from owners actually using the product (instead of opinions from people that "think" they know what is best for you).
Our customers will tell it like it is.
WanderTheWest, and the Four Wheel Campers FaceBook Owners Group would be your best bet.
We have around 1500 owners on FaceBook talking about what they like, don't like, and their FWC experiences.
No disrespect to the others here on the forum. There is lots of GREAT advice and experience this forum too !
Expedition Portal is my favorite place to come for information.

And no disrespect toward you or owners of FWC, but frankly owners don't always present an objective view point. Owners have a vested financial interest and generally promote the genius of their decision typically overlooking short comings. This goes for everything by the way, not just truck campers.

And no disrespect to you as a representative of FWC, but your design has not changed appreciably in the last 25 years. You don't have to own one to see that. I mean there's no great mystery here, it's a pop-up truck camper. What you see is what you get.

I appreciate that you exist because for the longest time it has been the only option. I am actually a fan of FWC. I just think there's a bit of a "if it ain't broke don't fix it mentality".

Both my uncle and my neighbor have FWC's actually, they both love them. Problem is, there's 13 years difference between the two, but you'd never know it to look at them on the outside or to sit in them. Just saying. Imagine that same design philosophy in other products we all buy. Would it be attractive or acceptable if the car you bought looked the same, had the same features, and shared the same design as the identical vehicle from 13 years ago?? For most, I doubt it. This exact philosophy does prevail however IF there's no direct competition and to that point FWC has enjoyed brand success.
 
#9
I agree with Stan. I think with RV’s of any kind it is the best information to get it from the people who really use them and know their good points and faults. Most of the 4WC owners I know regularly give honest assessments and make improvements that fit for them on the camper- if you go to WTW it is the most threads on the site. FWC does have direct competition from a number of other campers, even from one who makes a very similar camper, ATC. So it is not the lack of competition that makes them at the top of this market. I do think that updating some things like electronics, like having a quality battery monitor, better output plugins, upgraded thermostat, upgraded wiring to the truck, etc. is something that 4WC should listen to their customers about and make some changes. But upgrading the design - I am not so sure about. The 4WC design is simple and really durable with little to go wrong. The thermal capacity of any pop up and especially one with a aluminum frame that is in direct contact with outside and inside covers really sucks in comparison to something like the Alaskan, but I don’t winter camp in my Fleet any more so don’t worry about that much. I have a lot of years and miles on my camper (and I bought it used) with only one broken component and that was a plastic Fantastic Fan cover that they replaced for free. And I attend yearly rallies of other owners with the same experience. If you think about it this is a camper. It isn’t a phone or computer that needs to be upgraded to give you more functionality. It is just about having a warm, comfortable place to sleep, eat, have some light in the dark, maybe charge those electronics and refrigerate your food without things falling apart when you treat it really poorly on those roads and offload which doesn’t really require always upgrading to the newest model like other things. If you have a good design that lasts over the years like Airstream, ATC, 4WC or Alaskan they will cost more now than they did in 1995 because it costs way more to make them even with similar designs. As someone who has had almost every kind of RV and has put in a lot of on road miles and a fair number of off road miles I am just impressed with how much this camper has held up and would sure buy another one or an ATC if I needed to, although I think this camper might outlast me. Of course another benefit that you just don’t see in the RV world is that I regularly see 4WC that are 7 years old like mine for the same price I paid for the Fleet a number of years ago and I sure never saw that with anything else but my VW Syncro. I know people are thinking that design needs to change with the times, but I have to say my axe is getting by on the it's design from more than a few hundreds of years ago and still works fine. The real issue for me is whether the design can improve, still hold up, and cost the same as it does now.
 
#10
-Over their history, what major changes have occurred that would cause one to pick a particular year(s) of build (I'm not talking options, I mean like changes in underlying materials used, or frame design, major upgrade of base components, etc)
In the 2010-2012 time period, they went to a one-piece roof skin, tremendously reducing the chance of roof leaks; a door with rounded corners at the top which is a sturdier design--holds up better under hard usage; composite lift panels, so no more plywood to wear out in 20 years; and a smooth aluminum siding as opposed to a pebble-grain finish (smooth looks more modern IMHO). In 2014 or 15 they went to a better marine-grade base structure with a composite coating on the plywood so it will last longer. Appliances have been upgraded pretty much continuously, so the newer camper, the better in that regard.
 
#12
If you are seriously looking at Four Wheel Campers, I think you would be best off talking to actual owners of the product to get the best advice.
You will be getting real world opinion from owners actually using the product (instead of opinions from people that "think" they know what is best for you).
Our customers will tell it like it is.
WanderTheWest, and the Four Wheel Campers FaceBook Owners Group would be your best bet.
We have around 1500 owners on FaceBook talking about what they like, don't like, and their FWC experiences.
No disrespect to the others here on the forum. There is lots of GREAT advice and experience this forum too !
Expedition Portal is my favorite place to come for information.
Thanks, and I agree, talking to actual owners is always the best. And I have. I also have WTW bookmarked, and well used. :)
 

Buliwyf

Viking with a Hammer
#13
Absolutely badarse. But I wish they had a more modern look, paint scheme. (I like Camplights gray/black) And for $30,000, I wish they were hard side pop ups like the alaskan campers.

I'm in a very wet moldy place.
 
#15
True they look much the same as they always have. Doesn't bother me. I appreciate they are upgrading the campers in more meaninful ways. Check it out.

https://www.truckcampermagazine.com/news/tcm-exclusive-2018-four-wheel-camper-announcements/

Meh...when you're starving, crumbs will seem like a banquet.

Well that's what makes America great. If upgraded propane and plumbing lines seem like a leap forward for you well then there you go, FWC has what you're looking for. Battery and solar upgrades people have been doing on their own for a long time now.

For me, just like we're not all using bag phones or placing calls from phone booths, driving in cars without air bags or anti-lock brakes I think you can benefit from innovation and technology without losing reliability. Simple changes using things current widely used technology are available.

FWC could carve out a space for and still sell you an ARB fridge or similar. This would serve the purpose of using an more energy efficient platform that you could use in other vehicles or even just outside your camper. Plus it would be easier to replace if it ever took a dump. Same with the stove, there's no reason why a 2 burner propane stove shouldn't be able to disconnect from it's fixed location so that it could be used outside the camper. Otherwise, you have to carry a second stove just to cook outside? Those 2 ideas are freebies right there. Doesn't cost them anything, yet offers more flexibility to the customer.

If you look at what folks are doing with adventure vans in terms of thought out design and and innovation they're literally light years ahead but decades behind in terms of actually being in business. So how does that happen? It's not money, because FWC's are not cheap, none of these thing products are. And the basic design hasn't changed in decades so it's not engineering or design costs.

Like I said in earlier post, this isn't rocket science, they're not splitting the atom up there in Sacramento FWC and you don't have to reinvent the wheel. Go to Expedition West and you see innovation, creative solutions, infused with available technology around every corner at every booth. When you walk by the FWC display, you see a display that could've been there 15 years ago. Oh I forgot, they make one in red now.
 
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