On Review: Sylvansport GO Camper

In June of 2012, my wife and I were about to embark on an almost two month-long journey across the United States to ride and document mountain bike trails in California. (To catch up on that series, check out the 2012 road trip recap.) I tried to get a camper in to review, but to no avail, so we ended up tent camping and staying in hotels most of the summer. However, during the process of seeking out potential campers I wrote an essay and entered it into the Coolest Camper Ever contest, and then promptly forgot about it.

Fast forward to August 2012, and I received an email from Sylvansport saying, “Congratulations, you’ve won!” Out of over 2,000 essays, my essay was one of three that was chosen as a finalist. As a result, I have the opportunity to borrow the “coolest camper ever,” the Sylvansport GO, and take the trip I had pitched to them. Oh, and I also got a pretty sweet four thousand dollar prize package of outdoor gear to go along with it.

I received the news of my contest win almost a year ago. Right now, it’s July 14th, and we are rolling down Interstate 80 in Nebraska, cruising at 80 miles an hour. We are heading for Ogden, Utah tonight and then our first main destination, Bend, Oregon, tomorrow. And no, I’m not driving and typing… my lovely wife Summer is taking a turn at the wheel.

Over the course of the next month, it’s my job to ride trails and camp in this camper—pretty sweet gig, if you ask me. I’ll be putting the GO Camper through its paces, trying to determine whether or not it is indeed the “coolest camper ever.”

Stay tuned for my verdict on that point in about a month, but for now, check out some of the cool features that the GO boasts:

Sylvansport GO Specs

The essence of the GO is versatility. The amount—and variety—of gear you can haul with this trailer is the primary selling point. Specifically, it’s designed with outdoor enthusiasts in mind.

The design of the trailer was inspired by mountain bike and kayak construction principles. For instance, the style of tubing used to construct the frame is very similar to mountain bike tubing (but thicker). For more information, check out my article on Tripleblaze.com detailing my tour of the Sylvansport factory.

To begin, the “Thule-compatible” factory frame on top of the GO is ready to haul everything from several mountain bikes to kayaks and canoes (and beyond). If you’re mounting a mountain bike to the top, you just need to ensure \ you have the proper adaptors to mount your bike trays.

Photo: sylvansport.com

Don’t want to invest in new trays or adaptors just yet? No worries. The GO can be pulled behind your vehicle with the top all the way down, or with it raised up another few feet.

I’m currently hauling three bikes out to the mountains, have a friend flying out later with a fourth, and am hauling extra gear besides, so I just decided to strap the bikes in the back of the trailer with the top in the upper position. I can easily fit my three bikes in the back plus a massive cooler and tool box, with plenty of room to spare. Side-by-side, I bet I could easily fit 10 bikes in the back of this bad boy without any investment in any racks. I don’t have 10 bikes to test it, though, so that’s just a guess. 🙂

If you’re into motor sports as well, this camper can easily haul a couple of motorcycles or an ATV. The rear step detaches, the top cranks up high, and a pin pulls out of the main shaft allowing the back of the trailer to tilt down so you can load heavy equipment. Once you drive onto the steel-decked trailer (capable of holding up to 800 pounds) and pass the axle, a pneumatic shock slowly lowers the front end. Stick the pin back in, strap down your equipment to the heavy-duty trailer rails, and you’re good to go.

As for the camping part of the camper, the complete tent (all one unit) and sleeping pads all store in the low-profile camper top, and a few of the poles store in the big storage compartment at the front of the camper. Note: that front storage compartment isn’t nearly filled by the poles: this is the perfect place to store additional gear, such as smelly riding gear you don’t want stinking up your car.

Once you’re ready to set up camp, the upper sides of the trailer fold out, and are supported by struts. Stabilizer legs swing down from the bottom of the trailer and crank into place to provide a firm foundation.

Then, just crank the top up all the way, pull a cord on the tent cover, and the bottom hinges down and settles into place as the rear wall. The entire tent folds out as one unit, and in minutes clips into place on the trailer frame.

Inside the tent, there are easily-accessible tiles to use as the base of the beds on each outside overhang.

Next, the interior can be set up in a reported six different configurations, but there are two main configurations to consider. One tile can easily be used as a table in the middle between the two outer beds, or two of the planks can be set across the space to form a massive king-and-a-half bed that is capable of sleeping four really good friends, or a small family of four.

Photo: sylvansport.com

The camper also comes with four sleeping pads for the bed, as well as an optional awning/porch you can hang off the front door.

Setup time, even by yourself, is very minimal. According to Sylvansport, you can get out of the rain in about five minutes (and then add time to setup the interior). Setup time, on average, is easily less than 15 minutes—compared to setting up the big two-room tent that my family used to camp in as a kid, this is easier by far!

Tear down time is even faster. By myself, the very first time I took this camper down, I did it in about 9 minutes. Once I know exactly where everything goes, I bet I can cut several minutes off my time!

Towing

One other important feature is the extremely lightweight design. The camper is designed so it’s easy to pull for first-time towers who may have never pulled a trailer before. With a total weight of 840 pounds and a tongue weight of about 70 pounds, this is probably the lightest camper of its size in existence. Consequently, it can be pulled by any vehicle with a hitch, including passenger cars.

Once at camp, you don’t even really need to back it in if you are uncomfortable: lower the front wheel, take it off the hitch, and push it back into place.

Our rig at a gas station in Nebraska.

Price

As you might imagine, this sweet setup isn’t cheap: MSRP is $8,495. However, there are two things worth noting:

  • Some people spend more than this on a single mountain bike… and own multiple bikes.
  • Classic popup campers start at this price, and go up from here. A quick Google search reveals that most classic popup campers are priced in about the $12,000-$15,000 range, with some more and some less.

Stay tuned for a comparison to a standard popup camper to be published on Tripleblaze.com, and stay tuned for the final review!

Many thanks to Sylvansport for allowing me to take the GO on the road!

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