Review: Go Fast Campers Platform Truck Camper

One week after picking up our GoFast Camper from Bozeman, Montana, we loaded it completely up to the brim and headed of for a 9-Day road trip around Oregon and Washington. After living out of the GoFast Camper and the truck for 9 days straight, I think I can provide a comprehensive review of the GoFast, or GFC.

What exactly is the GFC Platform Truck Camper? Well, it’s a truck bed shell combined with a roof top tent. What makes the GFC special is a few things, but most notably, the fact that once you pop up the tent, the bed of the tent is the roof of the shell, and it is transformable and removable. That means you can pop out a flooring section to drop down into the bed of the truck, or visa versa, and go from outside, into the bed of the truck, seal yourself in, and then go up into the tent. This is super helpful during winter camping and in bear country. The other major selling point is the weight of the whole system, which is only around 300 lbs. This is the weight of most fiberglass shells on trucks these days, not including another 300 lbs for a roof top tent.

Setup & Teardown

A major selling point of the GFC is how quickly you can setup & teardown camp. Right now, a regular tent will take us about 15 minutes to setup, then throw all our sleeping bags, pads, and pillows inside. With the GFC, all you have to do is unlock the rear latches (5seconds) and push it up (5seconds) until the gas struts take over and extend it fully open. Technically, that’s all it takes. For us, we also use our camping pads for more padding so that’s another 5 minutes to inflate. And as for teardown, it’s just as simple. You can leave all the bedding (sleeping bags, pillows, clothes) in the GFC and just pull it down to close it and lock it, making sure the side of the tent isn’t protruding out of the edges. This takes maybe 1 minute. So as for convenience, this is a great improvement over a regular ground tent, and most roof top tents from what I’ve been told which can take just as long to setup as a normal tent.

Tent

The tent is a 4 season tent with a big mesh & covered window at the rear of the tent and two side mesh & covered windows for ventilation. The rear window is also the door you can use to enter and exit the tent using a ladder. It has a full tent material that zips down to cover the window for winter camping and when it’s raining. The length of the tent is 96″ or 8ft long, which means for most, you have 2 extra feet of room when you’re laying down in the tent. This is plenty of space to put extra blankets, clothes, water bottles, or anything really while you’re sleeping. The width is going to be the width of your truck bed from top rail to top rail. For most, this is plenty of space to sleep two comfortably, even with a dog between or at your feet in the extra space.

Because this is a 4 season tent, the walls are a waterproof, non-breathable material. This’ll be great in the fall and winter when we want to trap heat, but when temps at night stay above 80degrees, it gets pretty hot up there even with all 3 windows open. Of course, for $500 more, we could’ve got two more mesh side doors which would’ve helped, but we thought that was asking too much money. As for the zippers and other construction materials. The zippers work great, the tent material feels very durable, and the seams are very well done using a welding process for joining two pieces of tent material rather than sewing them together.

There is plenty of headroom in this tent. When it is in the tent configuration with the mattress flooring in-tact, I can almost stand fully up (5’10”) to get dressed in the morning. When you move some of the flooring panels so that you’re standing in the bed of the truck with your upper body in the tent, well then you have almost 9′ of headroom.

Something most people don’t think about is how good is the quality of the material and how sturdy it is. What I mean by this is, this tent has almost no rigid pieces on the sides and it is the only thing preventing you from falling 6ft down to the ground. I’ve leaned up against the tent walls and the mesh doors to test how safe they would be, and I’ll tell you now that I leaned really hard up against the sides by accident a few times and felt completely safe. I don’t think I’d trust my normal ground tent material to keep me that safe.

Mattress

This is my first major con against the GFC. The flooring of the tent is made up of two pieces, a 1 inch Plasi-core board for structure that you can sleep on and walk on, with a piece of 2-layer 1 inch foam for comfort. Well, that foam isn’t that comfortable to sleep on. I’d compare it to those accordion-style ThermaRest pads we take backpacking. Sure, it’s better than nothing, but another inch of foam would have gone a long way. Or, take out the foam and give the buyer the option to replace it with an inflatable pad/mattress of our own that could still fit in the GFC when the tent is closed.

I mentioned it earlier, but we chose to use our inflatable ThermaRest camping pads in addition to the mattress in order to get a good nights sleep over our 9 day road trip. Sure, the mattress is still better than the ground or a hard surface, and would be fine to sleep on for a night or two, but it’s a huge downside when you wake up sore just from sleeping on that hard mattress.

Truck Bed Access

This was a major bonus for me that I didn’t think I would love as much as I did. My old truck setup was a ragtop shell with no side access to the truck bed, only from the back. Well, the GFC panels open up on both sides and the rear. Even with the side support beams, I can still reach into the side of the bed from the outside to grab pretty much whatever I need and pull it out of the side. This is very beneficial when you have camping boxes or gear all the way at the front of the truck bed, so you don’t have to jump in and crouch your way to grab them.

Throughout our trip, we had our clothes on a little shelf at the front of the bed that we could easily access from the side of the truck. That way, it wouldn’t interfere with the items near the tailgate that we had to constantly access like the food box, cooler, water jug, or biking gear. I get it, this is a very specific example, but when you camp as often as we are able to, we need to keep things organized, especially on a trip like this where we are ending up in a new town almost every night to camp.

Locks

This was the absolute worst part of the GFC on the trip. There are 2 lockable latches, per panel on the GFC, one on either end, for a total of 6 lockable latches. Well these locks, shown below, are a nifty little design, except for the entire process of locking and unlocking them. The key needs to be caressed into place or otherwise it won’t fit. Too high on the entry, nope, two low on the opening, nope, it needs to be just right. Then, because the key entry piece is also the button to unlock the latch, sometimes when you go to lock it you press the key in, and it unlocks the latch. Then because these latches are placed sideways on the rear door, the key needs to flip in order for the key to fit into the lock.

You might think I’m giving the GFC a hard time, and I am, but for almost $7,000, this should be a flawless product from end to end. Normally, I will almost never lock my truck bed because we camp in the middle of nowhere, but this trip we were in and out of small and major cities every day, so we were constantly locking and unlocking these latches and I vehemently hated it every time. This is the only part on the GFC they badly need to redesign.

Weight

This is another major selling point of the GFC. As installed, the GFC, with the rooftop tent and the shell, weighs under 300lbs. This is the weight of most fiberglass shells alone, not including another 200-300lbs rooftop tent. This means the GFC by itself will not require you to upgrade your suspension to accomodate its extra weight. Of course, with the GFC comes a more elaborate lifestyle because now you can go further for longer, so you might tend to bring more gear along like we do. Of course, 300lbs is not something one person can quickly move on and off, but since it only weighs 300lbs, it is intended to stay on your truck all the time like a fiberglass shell.

Roof Storage

The GFC has a roof storage capacity of 500lbs when closed when using a roof top crossbar. Even better, the roof storage capacity when open is still 75lbs. So if you have bikes mounted up there or a kayak, you can still keep it up there when you open the tent, that’s how strong those two gas struts are. The roof is nearly 8ft long, so it has the space to mount 3 cross bars evenly distributed across the top for all your needs. Whether its a set of fly fishing holders, bikes, surfboards, kayaks, you name it. If you can strap it down, it’ll fit on top of the GFC.

The crossbar mounts themselves attach to the side extrusions really easily using a set of Track T-Nuts so you can slide the crossbar into any position along the length of the roof before securing it down. I went with the criss bar rack mounts, rather than the beef rack cross bar because I already had a bunch of the Yakima Round bars from before, so it only made sense (and it’s cheaper).

Performance & Handling

You’d think with a big shell with a top heavy tent, the truck might behave a little differently. After the 2,300 mile road trip to Washington, I can assure you that the truck handles nearly the same as it does stock with a loaded bed for a camping weekend. The camper shell really only affected the efficiency by 1-2 mpg at above 65mph, but around 75mph and above the mpg’s really take a hit and drop to 15mpg.

The issue we had on our trip is loading the truck up for a full road trip which included 2 mountain bikes, river gear, fishing gear, camp boxes, cooler, water, and clothes. Which means that added weight, in addition to the GFC, we were loading up the leaf springs maybe a little too much. The photo below shows the gap between the downstops and the frame when we were at camp and the bikes were swung out on the Swing-Arm to the one side. Of course, when we’re driving, we get a few more inches back in the suspension since things even out. But even with all of this, the truck handled well in the turns and getting up to speed. Even on the dirt roads near Bend, OR, the truck bounced around on the trails with no problem.

Price

This is an extremely niche product, and thus warrants a very niche price. And by niche price, I mean expensive. The current price for the Standard size is $6,950. At the time of my purchase it was around $6,500. Add $400 for a front & rear window, another $525 if you want side doors, and $399 if you’d like a shell color other than black or white. In comparison, a truck shell (new) will run you around $2,000 and most rooftop tents will also run around $1,500-$2,000. So the GFC cost $3,000 more than a similar setup.

I had always wanted the GFC since I saw it the year before, but didn’t want to wait a year to get it (talked about below). So we looked and looked, and almost settled on getting a used slide-in camper for the Tacoma for around $3,000. But then I realized I’d quickly exceed the truck’s payload and that I’d need to spend thousands of dollars to upgrade the suspension to accommodate the payload. And realistically, carrying around a new shell, rooftop tent, bike rack, swing arm, and a bike or two all the time, I’d be around 800lbs of payload which I would probably need to upgrade the suspension anyway. So the cost all seem to be equivalent. Of course, I now realize I’m going to upgrade the leaf springs anyway, so I guess it was all null & void in the end.

Is it expensive, yes. Is this option for everyone, absolutely not. This fit a niche market of people, and we were one of them. We’d been saving up for something like this for almost two years, so it worked out for us.

Wait Time

This was arguably the worst part of the entire experience. I put my order in for a GoFast Camper in September of 2020. I didn’t pick the GFC up until the first week of June 2021. Yup, that was a 10 month wait list to get my very own GFC. In that time, they changed over from a V1 to a V2 configuration which I definitely benefited from, so that was a plus.

Installation

This by far one of the best experiences I’ve had purchasing a product and getting it installed. Of course, if you don’t live in the West or within driving distance of Bozeman, it might not work for you. Bozeman is within 6hrs of Salt Lake City, so we scheduled to pick our GFC up at the facility in Bozeman on a Saturday afternoon. We pulled in for our time slot and greeted by two installers. All we had to do was empty the truck bed and they did everything. They backed the truck up, lowered the GoFast Camper onto, and got it all situated. Meanwhile, we just hung out in the assembly area where we could drink a beer and relax. After they were all set, they walked us through everything on the camper: from setup to teardown. They guys were great and it was just enjoyable to be finally getting the GFC on the truck after all that time!

The other option for receiving your GFC is to get the white-glove service, which takes another 4-8 weeks for the GFC team to deliver your camper. This costs around another $1,200, so for most, the local-pickup is the way to go. Plus you get a trip to Bozeman out of it.

Summary

Overall, the GFC is awesome, and I love it through all the annoyances. Is the GFC for everyone, absolutely not. For most, sleeping in the back of your truck bed with a regular shell and a wooden platform is enough. Or for the other half, a tent is perfectly fine. The GoFast Camper solved a niche problem we have where we get to camp late almost every Friday night and this would make setting up camping really easy. And we tend to bounce from campsite to campsite on the weekend, so having the ability to setup and teardown easily and quickly, the GFC solves that problem. We can’t wait for all the adventures this will go on with us!

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