The Ford Maverick Camper is a Great Beginner Adventure Rig | Daily News Byte

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Adventure, like everything else, is too expensive these days. Tell an overlander you’re interested in getting past where the pavement ends and they’ll send over an itemized list of $70,000 worth of equipment, including recovery gear from Australia, portable refrigeration from Sweden, and a brand new truck on back order from your local Toyota dealer. This is enough to scare any average American. Enter the GFC Maverick, the minimum bet of the new overlanding truck market.

The Ford Maverick starts at $23,690, including destination charges. As any potential Maverick buyer will tell you, however, that base model effectively doesn’t exist in any viable form. Dealer allocations from headquarters are mis-weighted, with a production trim split pushing people toward the more expensive, all-wheel-drive EcoBoost models. Our particular Mav, as configured, is in the low-$30,000s range with EcoBoost power and all-wheel drive. Add the $7700 Go Fast Campers (GFC) Platform Camper and a Dometic powered cooler and we’re out around $40,000.

That’s not cheap. But if you insist on new metal or already have any of the dozen or so GFC-backed pickups, a Platform will give you locking bed storage, a pop-up sleeping area off the ground , a pass-through between your cargo and your sleeping quarters. , and flexible enough for a two-person camping adventure.

Perhaps more importantly, you’re getting something built in America with a more domestic and ethical supply chain. Some legacy parts, such as top latches, still come from suppliers in China, but GFC says it is working to eliminate them in the process. When that’s done, it will have something to be really proud of. In fact, it already does. A visit to GFC’s headquarters and factory in Belgrade, Montana, revealed a team of relaxed, outdoorsy types who spend 35-hour work weeks overseeing sophisticated, custom CNC software and fabrications machine. The company pays entry-level workers about $50K per year, provides Bose noise-cancelling headphones for podcasts or music in droning warehouse-sized buildings, and has expanded distribution to Sacramento, San Diego, Denver, and Orange County, California.

2023 ford maverick camper gofastcampers gfc platform camper

Mack Hogan

Economic productivity is what empowers people in the United States, says GFC co-founder Graeme MacPherson Road and Track. His operation, which employs dozens of Montanans in high-wage jobs building a nationally respected product, is the reason he has access to the governor and state lawmakers. Ultimately, he says, playing the moneymaking game is the best way to drive positive change in areas he cares about, such as conservation, workers’ rights, and public land exploration. Even a hard-hearted cynic has to admit it’s nice to see a company creating good jobs in small markets and treating workers well.

The result speaks to the honest enthusiasm of the GFC team. The Platform Camper is a great camper in the way that the base F-150 is the world’s best multitool. Like other great tools, it doesn’t focus on gimmicky technology or marketing-friendly add-ons, instead prioritizing raw capability. A Rivian may have more camping-oriented features, and a drop-in RV-style camper may provide more comfortable sleeping, but anyone who actually uses their rig will tell you that the flexibility and durability are paramount. So for less money with this setup, you don’t get a curated experience but a pack mule for your adventurous dreams.

2023 ford maverick camper gofastcampers gfc platform camper

Mack Hogan

What you don’t get is any sense of luxury. Whether or not you opt for the $525 tent side doors and enter a ladder or climb into the cargo area, getting into the bed-top-tent is never pretty. The sleeping area was as bare as a ground tent, except for a foam sleeping pad that provided plenty of support for three nights in Yellowstone last October. Waking up, climbing, and getting dressed for the day happened in the cold.

This may scare off some potential newcomers. Should be. The Platform Camper is more like the ultimate rooftop-tent solution than a replacement for a cozy RV. It is designed not for people who want to reveal the inside, but for people who want to experience the exterior plain and simple. Instead of custom fittings and built-in electrical systems, GFC gives you a giant, covered and secure workspace. Filling it is up to you. Under a competent truck, wiring the electrical for the solar, putting in the refrigerator, and installing the drawer system are all within reach of the aspiring handyman.

2023 ford maverick camper gofastcampers gfc platform camper

Mack Hogan

The Maverick seems up to the task. The crew cab gives you a second lockable rear seat storage location, and our loaded model’s bed has plenty of cargo tie-downs and even in-bed electrical power. With up to 1500 pounds of payload, it also has more than enough hauling capacity for a two-year expedition. Even a Tacoma isn’t rated to haul that much stuff.

Flying along 80-mph Montana highways and the winding roads of Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park, the 2.0-liter EcoBoost Maverick seemed unfazed by the weight of the camper, powered cooler, power system, seats, equipment cooking, tools, and clothes we packed for our four day trip. Even when climbing fast, the unibody-truck-that-can inspire no serious complaints, but I’d be wary of trying a four-person adventure in a Maverick hybrid carrying so much gear. Weight is a constant burden.

2023 ford maverick camper gofastcampers gfc platform camper

Mack Hogan

So is Ford’s delicate, low-slung bodywork. Even with all-terrain Toyo Open Country tires and all-wheel drive, the Maverick feels no more adventurous than a Subaru Outback. Its big bottom and low ride height make serious trail work nearly impossible, though I’m sure the aftermarket will soon come up with aggressive suspension setups that are more accessible.

With that capability, the GFC Platform is hard to beat. Even in the short-bed Maverick, we have plenty of room for anything we want in the backcountry. And if you fit it to a proper off-road rig like a Chevy Colorado ZR2 or a Tacoma with an upgraded suspension, you’ll be an awning and drawer system away from a truck capable of weeks off-the- grid excursion. A longer truck with organized cargo will also provide more standing room in the bed, which solves our biggest gripe with the setup as it sits: Changing the Maverick proved to be a consistently annoying task.

That illustrates the broader uniqueness of the Maverick–Platform Camper combination. As an entry-level adventure vehicle, the stock Maverick is hard to beat. It offers seating for four, payload for whatever you need, all-wheel drive, solid aftermarket support, and a flexible cargo area. What it doesn’t offer is a covered way to sleep in or on top of it, which is where the Platform comes in.

2023 ford maverick camper gofastcampers gfc platform camper

Mack Hogan

The problem is, the Platform is built for a different customer. Beginning adventurers are more likely to seek expert-designed solutions for common problems; they want to cut a check and resolve their discomfort. A custom Sprinter, with built-in electrical and running water, is everyone’s dream. Platform Camper can’t provide that.

Instead, it provides a toolbox that experienced pathfinders can fill with whatever they need. One employee rides in a custom Ford Ranger, with externally mounted propane storage, drop-out table, awning, Dometic fridge setup, all his recovery gear, hunting equipment, and more, with plenty of room left to stand and work. inside the camper shell. He removed his rear seat, built the back half of the cabin for his dogs, and wandered from Bozeman to Baja without preparation.

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With an unlimited budget, that’s the dream. A Platform Camper on top of the right truck is an unlimited access card to America’s unparalleled public lands. To get there, however, you have to rely on your own planning and ingenuity. There is no one-check solution here. Instead, you’ll get a chance to learn what an adventure rig really needs.

That won’t appeal to everyone. Even among those who find it appealing, most can’t afford a rig prepared with the care of a super-Ranger in the GFC parking lot. What a Maverick with Platform Camper offers is a taste, a minimum viable product of a company built for larger aspirations. Buy one and you can roam the country in reasonable comfort. A three-day fully off-road trip won’t require any other purchases beyond a quality cooler (budget about $500 for one), a couple of sleeping bags, and a second vehicle or a satellite messenger.

Being comfortable on the trail and relaxing in the campsite, however, will require a larger investment. The real adventure will require adding pieces of gear over time, from recovery gear to emergency tool kits and spare parts. It’s a scary, hard-to-access world. If you don’t want to cut yourself off from discovering what it’s really like, the Platform Camper is an easy way to give yourself almost limitless options. But if you’re going to drop $7700 on a truck-mounted accessory, we recommend that anyone looking for a serious long-term adventure rig start with a better truck. Luckily, GFC offers Platform Campers or tents for almost every model we recommend.

2023 ford maverick camper gofastcampers gfc platform camper

Mack Hogan

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