May all your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view……where something strange and more beautiful and more full of wonder than your deepest dreams waits for you.
Stephen Shives, owner of the Runaway Campers factory in Ocala, Florida, built his first camper in his backyard, on a whim in August 2012, mainly because he had some scraps left over from other projects.
“I finished it, put it up for sale on the Internet, and sold it within 36 hours,” Shives told ocala.com.
The campers measure 4-feet-by-8-feet and weigh about 600 pounds. They come primarily with a thin band of blue or red on a white background. Some units have a camouflage pattern, which appeals to hunters. Prices start at $2,395.
Each unit has an electric power strip so people can plug in coffee makers or other small appliances. A small air conditioner is optional.
Some buyers have purchased a small generator to power appliances when dry camping.
One couple even bought a unit so that when they visit friends or family or stop at a hotel, they can leave their cats safe and secure in the camper.
“I’ve had people who go to dog shows get one as a comfortable, safe place for the dog between showings,” Shives told ocala.com.
Young mothers have said they would use them when taking babies or small children to the beach.
Shives’ wife, Deidre, furnished her camper with a red comforter on the bed, red-checkered curtains in the small screened windows, a red storage box out front, and a tiny refrigerator.
When the idea for the business came up, Shives vowed to devote one year to it. Shives, his father-in-law, and a handful of staffers work long hours constructing about 10 trailers a week.
Now, he has to figure out where to take the business next.
Shives has a wall-sized map of the United States in his office where he tracks the location of each new purchaser.
More than 150 units have been sold to people in at least 33 states and one in Canada, many of whom traveled to Ocala to pick up their new camper.
Shives, who arrives at work as early as 5 a.m. said when he received an email from Australia, he “just kind of brushed it off.”
However, a follow-up telephone call came a day or so later; a man in Australia had seen the campers on the Internet. Once all his questions were answered, he ordered nine campers.
Shives and co-workers packed the campers into a mammoth shipping container that later was loaded on a ship sailing from Savannah, Georgia.
Originally from Baltimore, Shives, 47, has lived in Ocala since 1972.
Shives is the author of The Venturist, Finding Success When One Thing Leads to Another, published in 2009 by LINK Publications.
He has launched a dozen companies since leaving high school and starting work. Shives also has traveled in recent years as a missionary, and it is possible the mini-campers might eventually be shipped to areas hit by natural disasters such as earthquakes.
In a fun holiday twist, several of the units were strung into a “train” as an entry in the Ocala-Marion County Christmas parade.
Marvin Shives, Stephen Shives’ brother and the owner of Marion Detail, has several units on display at his shop.
He said women have told him they like the campers’ small size and maneuverability and that couples have measured them inside to see if they both could fit.
At the nearby Magnolia Bakery, owner Linda Castello said she had been so busy that she has not had time to think much about the little campers lined up across the street, but glanced over and took a long look.
“How cute. They are just adorable,” she said.
“Now I’ll have to go check them out.”
Started in 2012 by Stephen Shives and Father-in-Law, Robert Lane, Runaway Trailers is a debt-free, family run business, “where our main focus is not products and profits; but people.”
Auto manufacturing giant Mercedes-Benz introduced the new high-roof Sprinter van at the Caravan Salon in Düsseldorf, Germany, August 31 to September 8.
The number one base vehicle for luxury camper vans continues to build on its lead—and is now found as a camper van platform from Europe to North America to China.
Mercedes-Benz currently delivers around 4000 camper vans a year to numerous leading fitters and body manufacturers in North America, who transform them into attractive Class B camper vans or Class C motorhomes (partially integrated/alcove vehicles).
The fully functional cut-away model of the new Mercedes-Benz Sprinter is fully converted into a camper van. The right-hand side of the vehicle is completely open from the middle of the front passenger door to the rear axle, revealing a living area with front seats turned around and a spacious side-facing bench seat—which can be pulled out to form a double bed—a kitchen to the left of the opening and a bathroom with integrated wardrobe fitted in transverse position in the rear.
The cut-away model is fitted with furniture featuring a hard-wearing HPL coating in high-gloss white, grey laminate flooring, and seats featuring white genuine automobile leather from Mercedes-Benz. This combination lends the interior the elegant character of a yacht, according to a company news release.
Side walls and ceiling are covered in Alcantara, with LED lighting throughout. On the outside, the Sprinter sports the new tenorite grey metallic paint finish.
Alongside the cut-away model, the new Sprinter was on display as a chassis with cab and the unique low frame with independent wheel suspension for vans with driven rear axle.
Its Plexiglass cover symbolizes a camper van body while at the same time revealing the Sprinter’s technical details in the area of chassis and drive system.
The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter continues to enjoy increasing popularity among fitters in the luxury camper van segment. The company is now supporting these fitters with a new standard camper van package.
Features include the front passenger airbag and a folding handbrake lever. The latter prevents collisions between swivel seats and the lever when the handbrake is engaged. Along with other details, the package also includes the parametrisable special module (PSM module), which serves as the interface between the body’s technical features and the Sprinter’s electronics.
The innovation leader is now raising the benchmark yet again, with five new safety systems, engines complying with the future Euro VI emission standards, exceptionally low fuel consumption down to 37 mpg (6.3 l/100 km), and a striking appearance.
The Sprinter has a long tradition of pioneering new driver assistance systems, such as the ESP (Electronic Stability Program).
The new Sprinter premieres Crosswind Assist which virtually eliminates the effects of gusts acting on the vehicle, within the bounds of the laws of physics. The required extent of countersteering when exposed to gusts of wind is reduced, thereby markedly reducing the strain on the driver. An indicator lamp informs the driver when the assistant intervenes.
The proximity warning system is another first in this class. The radar-based system provides a visual warning when the Sprinter is too close to the vehicle ahead, followed by an acoustic alarm in the event of an acute danger of collision. When the driver steps on the brakes, Adaptive Brake Assist ensures that sufficient deceleration is applied to avoid an accident—emergency braking tailored precisely to the given requirements.
Blind Spot Assist warns the driver of other vehicles in the so-called blind spot when changing lanes. This system operates on the basis of four short-range sensors in the area of the B-pillars and the rear pillars.
When these sensors detect a vehicle in the blind spot, a red warning signal appears in the exterior mirror on the relevant side. If the driver nevertheless activates the indicator on this side, an acoustic warning will sound and the red warning signal will begin to flash.
Lane Keeping Assist goes into action when the Sprinter threatens to pass over a marking line without an indicator having been activated or any change to the position of the accelerator or brake pedal. This assistant is based on a camera system and provides the driver with an acoustic warning in such situations.
A camera also provides the basis for Highbeam Assist—another first in the Sprinter class. Highbeam Assist switches between high and dipped beam according to the given traffic situation. The camera responds to oncoming traffic or vehicles ahead by dipping the headlamps. When the road is clear again, the assistant switches back to high beam automatically.
These additional new assistance systems are available now in conjunction with the closed versions of the new Sprinter. The chassis variants will follow next year.
The Sprinter Caravan was not the only vehicle Mercedes-Benz displayed at Europe’s leading trade show for recreational vehicles. The cut-away van was joined by the compact Mercedes-Benz Viano Marco Polo, Viano Fun, and other camper van platforms on Actros and Zetros trucks.
Elkhart, Indiana-based Midwest Automotive Designs introduces its line of customer designed and built Mercedes-Benz Sprinter-based Class B motorhomes.
Midwest Automotive Designs is a Mercedes Benz premier approved upfitter of Sprinter vans. Its offerings include the Weekender and Daycruiser floor plans featuring hand rubbed wood finishes, high quality seating, and electronic options. The company also produces a variety of interior colors.
Purchasing a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter RV from Midwest is purchasing factory direct.
The Sprinter RV Camper Van built on the fuel efficient Mercedes-Benz Sprinter chassis is ideal for those looking to travel and sleep in style. With a sleeper sofa, refrigerator, marine toilet, microwave, and wardrobe closet, this Sprinter Camper may be what you have been looking for.
Soft Touch Automotive Color Keyed Walls
Complete Insulation Package
Complete Privacy Shade Package
30Amp 110v Shore Line Power Hookup
Heated Dr and Pass Seats
Custom Dash and Door Wood Treatments
Folding Rear Sofa Beds/Dinette
Convection Microwave oven
Under Sofa Storage
In-Dash GPS Navigation
Reverse and side cameras
Power Roof Vent w/Remote
Electronics Package including 2 TV Monitors, DVD Player, AM / FM – CD – IPod – Touch Screen – USB
16,000 BTU Furnace
13,500 BTU Roof Top AC (shore-line)
2.5 KW LPG Generator
13,500 BTU Roof Top AC
2-Burner Cook Top
The Midwest Sprinter RV Camper Van model is designed for both RV use for short trips by the practical traveler and for those wanting a more maneuverable Sprinter Camper for camping and travel, boasting all of the necessary amenities hand crafted for the finest quality.
Midwest offers a high level of quality and customer service, as each Camper Van is crafted and assembled one at time; it’s not an assembly line of questionable quality. As a customer you are very involved in the design and build process, as you can design the interior layout of your Sprinter Camper to best fit your needs.
Midwest Automotive Designs, Corp. offers a 3 year/36,000 miles warranty covering all Sprinter Van Conversion parts and labor for personal Sprinter Conversion Vans and a 1 year/unlimited mileage warranty for all Sprinter limousine and commercial use Sprinter Conversion Vans.
Midwest Automotive Designs will display its Class B motorhome models at the Elkhart County RV Open House, at the northwest corner of County Road 6 and CR 13 in Elkhart, one mile west of the RV/MH Hall of Fame, September 17 to 19.
Automotive Designs, Corp.
Midwest Automotive Designs is a Mercedes Benz premier approved upfitter of Sprinter vans.
Its offerings include the Weekender and Daycruiser floor plans featuring hand rubbed wood finishes, high quality seating, and electronic options.
The market for campers is growing fast in China, as more people realize that owning their own recreational vehicle means all the pleasures of enjoying whatever new surroundings you want.
The numbers of people doing just that are rising, Shi Qiangqiang, marketing manager of Star Coach China, a leading supplier of vehicles, recently told China Daily.
He has customers from China and the United States with the majority of buyers spending an average of 1.78 million yuan ($286,000) on a vehicle.
“We have been operating in China for 10 years, but we saw the biggest growth in 2011, when we made profits of 800 million yuan,” Qiangqiang said, adding that some wealthy Chinese are now more likely to spend their hard-earned cash on a camper, than a sports car or SUV.
“With a camper you have so many more interesting options. You can customize the vehicle in whatever way you want, continued Qiangqiang.
“You can hit the road when you like—there is no more relaxing a form of travel.”
Wang Jidong, the general manager of Beijing Camper RV Co, has been selling campers for 11 years, and he too says he’s never seen sales growth like today.
Jidong is a camper enthusiast himself, adding there is no better way to connect with the countryside than packing up and heading out of town.
Once you try traveling in one, he says, you will be hooked.
The proud owner of a domestically produced Naveco camper, the 35-year-old Jidong is also a lover of the great outdoors. He says his camper has become even more important to him, since his first daughter arrived just over a year ago.
“Children easily get bored and tired and so can adults after sitting in the same position for too long. But in a camper, you can sit on a sofa, drink freshly brewed coffee, go to the restroom, and change diapers. You can even take a shower,” added Jidong.
“Traveling by camper is fun, no matter the distance.”
Jidong says most of the camper-owners he knows are 35 to 50-year-old, successful people who come from all walks of life.
According to Jidong, 80 percent of campers are used by families for household outings.
“The camper industry went through explosive growth in 2011, and there’s no reason to doubt that pace of growth will continue over the next two or three years,” he says.
According to Beijing Recreational Vehicle Center, camper numbers in China reached 10,000 at the end of last year, compared to 6.5 million in Europe, 9.6 million in the United States, and 80,000 in Japan, reports China Daily.
Also, there are many more campsites in those markets.
In the 2009 document, Opinions of the State Council on Accelerating the Development of Tourism Industry, campers were listed as among the country’s more potentially popular leisure items of the future, as the population continues to increase their personal spending.
In the Outline of National Tourism and Leisure (2013-2020), published in February this year, the General Office of the State Council underlined that construction of campsites would receive government support.
At the end of 2012, the local governments of Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Anhui, and Shanghai signed a Yangtze River Delta region camper travel outline, which detailed five ideal routes for camper travel, with two more now being planned.
The outline also highlighted that a network of 250 camper service stations will be established by the end of 2020 in the regions, by which time there will be 400 to 500 campsites.
“At present, there are more camper users in the northern part of China than in the south,” said Jidong.
“In the north, due to weather conditions, people have fewer chances to enjoy the outdoors,” he said, adding that the Yangtze Delta region is particularly enjoyed by camper owners from all over the country.
Sun Jiandong, a 30-year old graduate in tourism administration who has been working in the outdoor sports industry for about seven years, has also witnessed the growth in the camper industry, especially in the Yangtze River Delta region.
He says there are still too few campsites in China and most have poor facilities.
“But I am sure the industry will catch up with other international markets soon. The overseas camper industry has a history of more than 100 years. We cannot seek growth overnight. We have to do it step by step,” he said.
As well as more dedicated campsites, Jiandong says some of the country roads that users like to travel on are very poor.
The Dutch-built Tonke Camper is a more stylish version of mobile home than those found in the average campground or RV Park.
It features a wooden home set atop a Mercedes Sprinter platform and can be used like an RV or removed off its vehicular underpinnings and planted on firm ground, reports Gizmag.
When he hauled a gypsy cart through northern France back in 2005, Tonke founder Maarten van Soest used a 4×4 as tow.
While he had a memorable trip, he realized quickly that a rickety vintage trailer really needed to be atop a modern truck for properly navigating roadways.
“When we got home two major things happened in our life: my wife gave birth to our first child, Tonke, and I made the first Tonke Camper,” van Soest explains on Tonke’s website (SEE link below).
“It had the combination of some of the good things in life: a safe and modern truck, a sailing-yacht style interior, and roughly the exterior aesthetics of the gypsy carts. I sold this truck to a well known comedian here in Holland and began to build a second camper.”
And as they say the rest is history.
Unlike most modern recreational vehicles, Tonke Campers use a distinctive wooden shell that indeed gives them a look of the horse-drawn carts of generations past.
Van Soest’s father built wooden boats and toys, and Maarten grew up with an appreciation for wood craftmanship, which he has applied to his Tonke trailers. The interior and exterior blend different types of wood styles into a rustic and classic look.
Each Tonke camper in the Fieldsleeper and Explorer series is planted behind a Mercedes cab packing a 130-hp 2.2-liter CDI turbodiesel engine.
Tonke also mentions that buyers can select other vehicle bases.
Out on the road, owners can drive and sleep in the Tonke camper like an RV or remove the camper from the vehicle base in about 10 minutes.
In addition to using it for open-road overnighting, Tonke mentions purposing it for a guest home or building annex.
Tonke describes the Fieldsleeper 1 as a “storage space wonder.” Longer than the Explorer series, the Fieldsleeper 1 includes a vertical garage for hauling up to three bikes. It sleeps three with a built-in bed and a living area that converts into a second bed. It includes a kitchen with two-burner stove, stainless steel sink and refrigerator, as well as a bathroom with toilet and shower. It has a 4 kW heating system, 140-liter frost-free fresh water tank, 10-liter hot water tank and 83-liter waste water tank.
Tonke offers a number of different Fieldsleeper and Explorer models, along with van campers for those that want something smaller and more maneuverable.
Each model is built by hand upon order.
Prices range from €61,570 ($80,400.) for an Explorer I camper with floor but no vehicle, to €103,291 ($134,118.) for a Fieldsleeper 2 with the Mercedes Sprinter.
The most interesting part about a hand-built wooden camper is seeing the craftmanship inside and out.
Tonke Campers products include Tonke Van Series (1-4), Explorer Series (1-2), Fieldsleeper Series (1-2), and Tonke Specials (Drop Sides, Cargo Unit, Yacht Style, Fifth Wheeler, and Eco Style)
Trailmaster Inc. announces the addition of a camper equipped with a queen size bed to its Aspen line.
The Aspen Sentry also features 22 cubic feet of independent cargo space under the mattress.
Weighing just over 300 pounds with only 24 pounds of tongue weight, the camper can be towed by compact cars and large motorcycles, according to a company news release.
Cargo may be stored and accessed in two ways—while on the road, the top of the camper can be lifted, exposing the entire cargo bay, or after camp set-up, simply lift the concealed cargo door under the mattress.
Set up can be accomplished in one minute.
The Aspen Sentry sports 12-inch wheels on a 41-inch wheelbase and provides superb handling at highway speeds.
Brakes are offered as an option.
When ‘closed’, the camper body only measures 47 inches by 60 inches.
Current price from the manufacturer: $3950
The Aspen is also available in two other models, the Classic ($4150) and Ambassador ($4150).
I see travel as the one of the most important ways of expanding human beings’ understanding of each other. Through travel we discover humility, love, friendship, passion and ourselves.
Larry Drake of Loveland, Colorado got into the camper business because he grew tired of pitching tents.
“I just don’t do tent camping anymore,” he said. “I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool to have a camper on my utility trailer?’”
But Drake couldn’t find a camper that would suit his Chevy HHR, a station wagon with a towing capacity of just 1,000 pounds.
So, six months after he retired from building acrobatic sport planes, Drake began designing a modular camper that sells for $5,000 to $8,000, depending on size, according to the Northern Colorado Business Report.
Drake, the CEO of Teal, moved to Loveland 15 years ago. He once owned a flight school in Napa Valley, California, and has done daring feats in air shows, though he sold his plane to finance his latest venture.
The campers are 8.5 feet long, 6 feet wide, and just over 6 feet tall. They fit on several sizes of utility trailers as well as a pickup bed and weigh 450 to 500 pounds, hence its name, the Teal Tail Feather Camper.
The company believes its camper’s lighter weight will appeal to the masses of Northern Coloradans who drive SUVs and light-duty pickups with limited towing capacity.
“Not everybody’s got a crew-cab, three-quarter ton pickup,” said Aron Kriss, Teal International’s production manager. “It just opens the door for a lot more people.”
So might the idea that the camper can be put together by one person in 60 minutes by piecing together panels made of polyethylene plastic filled with insulation. Only a Phillips screwdriver is purportedly needed for the job.
A safety strap around the perimeter secures the camper, which Drake says has kept out rain and snow during his tests. The camper has tie-down rings around the inside and outside of the camper.
“It’s been through harsh winters, it’s been through 100-plus-degree weather,” he said.
Although Spartan in design, a few of the creature comforts of a camper can be found in Drake’s camper.
Inside, the camper features a sink with a drain and a bottle to pump water to the faucet. The cabinets look more like a duffel bag—they open with zippers—though they have shelves and panels to support storage of belongings.
Because it’s so light compared to a conventional camper, drivers save on fuel and can maneuver their vehicles on Colorado’s rougher backcountry roads, Drake told the Northern Colorado Business Report.
Also, the camper has plastic windows and doors that lock, so equipment like bicycles and motorcycles can be stored inside. In the rear of the camper are benches that can be converted to a table and a bed. Two halogen lights are embedded in the ceiling.
When taken apart, the camper’s parts occupy a space of 4 feet by 5 feet.
All of this is why Drake can say there’s no other camper on the market quite like his.
Drake plans to have at least 25 units in his inventory this year, and more, he hopes, in the future. The plastic parts are molded in the Denver area, and, for the moment, the assembly takes place in Drake’s Loveland garage.
Ryan Speir, former COO of the Rocky Mountain Innosphere in Fort Collins, has invested in the company and taken on the role of chief operating officer.
Speir said he was drawn by the design’s versatility. Teal International also sells 8-foot-by-8-foot shelters, reports the Northern Colorado Business Report.
Those aren’t designed to fit on a utility trailer, but Speir wants to sell them to people like victims of Hurricane Sandy, who still lack shelter months after the storm struck the Northeast.
Or, they could be used as an ice-fishing shelter as well as towed by a snowmobile or ATV during skiing or hunting trips. They could also be used to convert a pontoon boat into a houseboat.
“There’s just all kinds of ways it can be used,” Drake said. “It just started out as a camper.”
Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course, of action and follow it to an end requires … courage.
Wakarusa, Indiana-based Livin’ Lite Recreational Vehicles LLC, introduced an altogether restyled interior cabinetry look in its line of ultra-light campers at the recent National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Kentucky.
“As Livin Lite continues to evolve our unique all-aluminum and composite built product line-up to better fit in with mainstream buyers, we listened to both our dealers and customers about what we can do better,” Scott Tuttle, president of Livin’ Lite said in a news release.
“What we heard was we needed to soften up our interiors even more, and possibly eliminate some of the shiny, aluminum edges and trim on the cabinetry and walls.
“Well, we did just that with our new optional black powder coated trim package, which is available in our traditional maple cabinetry or our new rich, cherry cabinetry.
“While we will still build a number of units with the bright aluminum trim, especially in our toy hauler lines, this new powder coated look really helps our unique wood-free products attain a true residential look.”
The new interior packages are available in the Livin’ Lite’s popular Camplite travel trailers and truck campers, and will also be featured in an ultra lightweight fifth wheel that Livin’ Lite plans to launch in 2013.
Livin’ Lite was the only manufacturer to garner an overall rating of “10” – the highest possible rating – in the highly competitive category.
There were also “above average” and “economy” categories.
Livin’ Lite Recreational Vehicles LLC
Livin’ Lite Recreational Vehicles manufactures modern-looking lightweight all-aluminum camping trailers, travel trailers, truck campers, and utility trailers under three brands: Quicksilver automotive tent camper line, Camplite enclosed travel trailer line, and the VRV camping/cargo trailer line.
Because the campers are so lightweight, they can be towed by even the smallest cars. Livin’ Lite’s Quicksilver camper was named Roaming Times’ Green RV of the year in 2008 for its energy-saving lightness, long-life all-aluminum construction, and completely formaldehyde-free construction.
Livin’ Lite was identified as one of the 500 fastest growing companies in the U.S. in the September 2010 issue of Inc. magazine.
The Rolling Stones are one of the most famous and influential rock bands in music history, with a huge worldwide fan base.
Some clearly love the band more than others.
With the band having recently made a live return to mark their 50th anniversary, one eager camper found the perfect way to show their devotion to the band—by decorating their caravan with a Rolling Stones design, reports Caravan Times.
The Stones-mad caravan-enthusiast decided that their teardrop trailer would look better if they followed Mick Jagger’s advice and “paint it black”.
What’s more, the 1968 Chevrolet Corvette C3 that tows the made-over caravan also received the same treatment, being painted completely black and receiving murals dedicated to the Stones.
The designs show the band’s faces in caricature feature some of their famous album art and include an impressively designed Keith Richards playing his guitar while musical notation flows down one side of the car.
The Corvette was modified to include side-pipes, racing wheels, and a blower on top—modifications that sadly never made it to the caravan, opines Caravan Times.
The caravan was first spotted in America by Corvette, but was recently seen in London.
It’s clearly an impressive piece of art from a true fan eager to show the band their devotion.
I dream of southern skies.
Tee offs in Tijuana.
Juleps in Jacksonville.
My reality is a daily commute that begins each day at six a.m.