This was a project that I’d been kicking around in my head for a few years now, I always loved my filppac but the flippacs had issues that overtime will eventually eat it alive and it will fall apart. It was a great design that wasn’t executed well and then the AT Habitat came out….I initially thought yes this is the answer! I did have my reasons why I didn’t like that it flipped backwards and one was it literally doubled the footprint of your truck but it fixed all the other problems of a flippac, it had a new tent that didn’t require a rainfly and was 100% waterproof and wasn’t fiberglass with a steel structure so it wouldn’t rust. That’s when I started kicking around the idea of making my own camper but it wasn’t the right time. A lot of people are asking why ditch the GFC and that’s a good question I had absolutely zero reason to get rid of it because I loved it, it’s a great camper I just wanted to build something I wanted something custom and that’s really it.
It ended up coming together after having the chance to buy a Habitat top from AT, they sold me one under the condition they weren’t gonna help or warranty it once I cut it apart which is totally understandable. So now I had the tent and top I needed but that left a lower structure so I looked around at different options and found a lower that just about fit the dimensions but they weren’t really in the business of selling parts. That said they sold me an incomplete lower without knowing what I was doing they just kind of thought I was crazy haha. So now I had most of the parts and it was time to get building, I have a good friend here in Santa Barbara with a huge machine shop and he was willing to help so we got to work.
This was as I picked up the top from AT in Prescott, AZ.
The AT top wasn’t cheap so it was a little nerve-racking to think about taking a jigsaw to the brand new topper but after measuring and measuring we went for it. I didn’t bother taking many photos of the actual build so it’s gonna be more text than anything. The habitat floor is made of a thick composite panel with aluminum and carpet so we cut the floor out to get it ready to test fit the top to the lower.
From here it was just a matter of laying them on top of each other and figuring out how we were gonna mate them, the habitat top has rivnuts all along the side where bolts through the lower would attach them so that was the first thing to do. But the lower needed some extra aluminum framing to be welded in to allow for more bolts to go through, we wanted this thing to be bulletproof so we left a lip around the edge of the interior to allow for more mounting options through the lower.
But we couldn’t leave an open edge like that so we cut some 90 degree aluminum to cover the edge but also have something for the extra bolts to go through (the stock AT ones are behind that aluminum frame you see above and they bolt directly into the rivnuts that are embedded in the top).
That was a very condensed version of what it took to get this thing together, a lot more work went into it and I just didn’t spend the time documenting I should have. There was still a lot of things to work out, normally the habitat uses gas struts to help assist opening and closing it which we couldn’t do because they’d block the rear doors from opening. So currently we use a the habitat support rod to open it and it’s not super easy with one person but that’s due to a couple of things that will be remedied soon with a new mount on the lid at the back edge but it is gonna require some re-enforcing of the lid. The plan is to add quick disconnects for the gas struts so we can use them as normal and just pop them off once it’s open but the lid needs to be supported somehow so we used quick disconnect balls on mounted directly to my front bumper.
That’s kind of it as far as the build maybe one day I’ll do a more detailed write up but I will for sure be updating this post here as I make improvements and start to build out the inside! My initial impressions are this, it’s the ultimate camper FOR ME, not everyone has the same wants or needs but this sets up in under a minute, has a totally waterproof tent without a rainfly and has more room that you could ever want or need while being a new and current camper. Thank you to everyone who helped you know who you are!