Gallery: PREFAB FRIDAY: Quickup Camper


Since prefab is often implicitly about mobility, spatial efficiency and design innovation, Prefab Friday seemed an apt day to feature the Quickup Camper. The lightweight, carbonfiber and foam shell pops open into a mobile dwelling in thirty seconds, and closes down to a compact enough size to fit into a garage. Best of all, unlike so many other campers, it doesn’t cut your miles-per-gallon down to nothing. But to truly appreciate the beauty of the Quickup, you have to understand the sheer brilliance of the man behind the machine…

Jay Baldwin is a pioneer, a visionary and a central figure in such legendary early experiments as geodesic dome design, renewable energy, and sustainable transportation. He was also the Soft Tech, Tools and Nomadics editor (hence the interest in free-roaming habitation) for The Whole Earth Catalog. A student and colleague of Bucky Fuller, he is now the “resident expert” at the Buckminster Fuller Institute.

But credentials aside, Jay Baldwin is simply an inspiring presence. I had the pleasure of seeing him speak last week on the Sustainability panel at the Dwell on Design, where he offered the capstone to a sequence of presentations that encouraged radical, whole-systems thinking. Baldwin ended with a “lesson on synergy,” which boiled down to a geometric ode to the triangle.

You’ll notice that a triangle is the central form in the fully-opened Quickup; that’s because it’s the most stable, efficient shape with which to build a shelter. Dwell attendees got to see the camper up close, with on-the-spot answers from the designer himself. It didn’t have the luxe aura of the two Airstreams and Breckenridge Trailer that stood beside it, but it had an integrity that clearly emerges from decades spent studying the world’s innate design science. Plus, who wouldn’t want to be a nomad in a truck with a Bucky-like structure stuck to the top?

+ Quickup Camper
+ Buckminster Fuller Institute


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  1. Hank Roberts December 13, 2007 at 6:59 pm

    Hey, JB, still looking in here?

    I’d sure like to see this as a trailer.

  2. Obbop December 1, 2007 at 4:52 pm

    “# Ryan Says:
    September 27th, 2006 at 2:50 pm

    Excuse me, obbop, but “unemployed working poor”? I think you’ve got a bit of a double negative there.”

    Actually, no.

    “Working poor” is a socio-economic classification. One can be a part of the group and between jobs. It would be akin to decaring someone is an unemployed member of the upper-middle class.

    I also worry about someone seeing the term “working poor” and defining that term as a negative.

    You will find many working poor performing the jobs required for our society to function on a daily basis.

    Let the agricultural workers stop working for 6 months, let the truck drivers shut down, and the grocery store shelves will be empty in a couple weeks.

  3. Don Dawson February 23, 2007 at 7:50 pm

    Looks like how my trailor works. Very good. I’m sure that there are people out there that would just love this camper, especially considering the price of fuel. Suggest you contact the same manufacturer at:

    Chalet RV. Inc
    124 – 41st Av. SE
    Albany, Oregon

    Phone 541 – 791 – 4610; FAX 541 – 791 – 4618; internet

    I’ll take my finder’s fee in cash, please :>}

    Let me know how you make out with this company. If not successful, I can come up with manufaturers in this country.

    Yours truly,

    Don Dawson

  4. Rusty January 1, 2007 at 3:27 pm

    Nice innovative design, I really like it! I have a photo of a similar concept from the early 1960’s that was in Mechanix Illustrated or Popular Science. It was an Australian trailered version that “opened like a jackknife.” Looks a lot like this concept. It would be nice if this was offered to home builders like the old Mechanix Illustrated ideas used to be.


  5. Archimedes November 14, 2006 at 1:43 pm

    Hi Jay,

    Admired your design. Was looking myself in building a shell on a pickup and dropped the project for the instability problems you solved in a great way. I got your point about weatherproofing for rain, but what about winterizing? As for lodging tanks subfloor, what is the impact on under axes- clearance (off-road use).

    From what I see on the site it is not clear to me how you arrange for night accomodation.

    Personally when I dropped the pickup approach I went for a modified van, dropping stand-up room after an analysis of our needs . I am not a gymnast, but a writer and a photographer so have more need for deskspace.than a “trapeze”.. and wanted kingsize sleeping accomodation. We designed and fitted very flexible furniture allowing triple use of the availlable floorspace, so having ample office space, kitchen and dining area, and the king size bed within the constraints of the van. Although fully content with the actual product… in my book smaller is better. If winterizing can be solved and off-road capabilities can be maintained your approach makes me dreaming of starting the project over again.

    Kind regards


  6. Jay Baldwin October 27, 2006 at 7:50 pm

    Well folks, as the Quickupcamper’s designer, I appreciate your responses, but I must clear up a few things: First: it does get good mileage, more than double that of a conventional pickup camper with simiilar amenities, espedcially at high (70 mph) cruising speeds.. But tnat’s not the only advantgage. My wife and I questioned many Rv owners of all sorts and found that the biggest complaint is instability in side winds and gusts from big trucks. I designed the Quickup to be absolutely stable in every way, every trick I know. The freshwater, graywater and propane tanks and batteries are below the floor (without decreasing ground clearance) giving a low center of gravity. Moreover the weight is concentrated at the ends of the vehicle, like a huge dumbell, providing what engineers call a “high polar moment of intertia” that resists deflection by wind or road contour. The weight is also about 50/50 front to rear and side to side for steady handling and good traction. The aerodynamic shape is also curved to reduce wind lift and rear end sway. Keeps the bnack window clean, too. Having the tanks underneath leaves the interior free for storage of food and belongings. There are 14 roomy drawers plus a big bin for rubber boats etc. The interior design leaves a large arera of the floor clear for carrying stuff such as foildsing bikes, snow and surfboards and skis indoors whilke on the road. As for hinges: yeah there are a lot of them, b ut they are sealed both by EPDM rubber that resists solar degradation, and downhill”shingled” shielding. It all works very nicely. Bottom line: The patented Quickup is the only RV with stand-up headroom, a huge bunk (also with lots of headroom for “gymnastics”) agile handling, impeccable stability, a good ride, and superior (20 mpg) fuel mileage. We’re offering a “finder’s fee’ for anyone who connects us with the approp[riate maker/distributor. So far, the industry remains stuck in the 1950’s and isn’t interested. Hang in there, you’ll bne able to buy one yet! Jay Baldwin

  7. Jay Baldwin October 7, 2006 at 1:06 am

    I just got done losing a hlaf-hour’s work answering some questions about the Q. and your site kicked it out with no way to correct or save it because my address was in “error”. This is no way to run a site that invites dialog. If your answerers want to know more about the quickup, they can reach me at the above email adress. JB

  8. Don September 29, 2006 at 3:53 pm

    Sure looks good to tow my boat with. Not much storage inside for consumables, but an extended cab PU would solve some of that. Definitely a KISS design. Nitch market, yes, but I would bet it’s big enough to explore profitably.

  9. Ryan September 27, 2006 at 2:50 pm

    Excuse me, obbop, but “unemployed working poor”? I think you’ve got a bit of a double negative there.

  10. Brian H. September 25, 2006 at 6:05 pm

    it only has 4 hinges, by observation of photogs;
    notice the slope & overlap of the two halves, up top,
    to shed water.

    it’s a perfect design for what it is;
    secondary accomodation on the road
    that won’t drag your milage to Hell, and
    perhaps it’s not so difficlut to remove
    for general utility’s sake.

    –it takes some to jitterbug!

  11. Gabe September 25, 2006 at 3:46 pm

    I disagree with Eio Hoi. Living in NYC for school, but coming from Pennsylvania, I would love to have something like this for my truck for a quick and comfortable weekend out of the city. Since I cannot store camping gear in my apartment, nor can I park an RV in the street, this would be a good solution. Since my truck can tow a trailer, I could rent one for when I move out of here and still have the camper to boot. Yes, I would lose the everyday convenience factor of the pickup bed, but I hardly use it anymore since traffic is so bad and gas is so expensive here. A small camper that I can drive anywhere that is comfortable and easy to use; it seems like a good thing to me and I bet there are a lot of other people out there who do not maximize their truck often enough to miss the versatility of the truck bed.

  12. Eio Hoi September 25, 2006 at 12:47 am

    John got a point. really. gas mileage difference seems to be the only difference to either a hard shell or pop up box camper.

    looking at the design, sink etc, it seems this camper does not easily remove or may be permament to the truck box, so whats the gain? loss of space, amenities are all found in larger campers, with no leaks (as an accomplished camper I can tell you there is to many hinges on that for a rain storm.)

    – it may store in the truck box, but that completly defeats the general purpose a truck is purchased for. For sheer ease of use, weight, gas mileage and portability – put a tent in your truck box.

    nice design, but that’s all.

  13. mod*mom September 24, 2006 at 4:54 am

    nice post + pictures!
    i loved that camper + my toddler did too.
    she wouldn’t get out of there.
    she liked the little kitchen area the best.
    i loved all the windows + the height for standing.
    what a warm + interesting man to meet.
    he said his wife is hawaiian + when they fish she cleans the fish on the foldout counter cover.
    anyway, he also said this is his personal prototype + he’s looking to mass produce it.
    he’ll pay a “finders fee” to whomever can hook him up with a manufacturer.
    i’m going to link your post to my blog

  14. Andreas Paulsen September 23, 2006 at 2:40 pm

    Liked it. Maybe someone can do a prefab house the same way. It arrives in a box (container), is pulled out and “pop” its open, and the cantainer becomes part of the structure.

  15. thomas bloch September 23, 2006 at 3:02 am

    I am interested in the quickup camper, availability, cost and any options / choices etc.

    Also please visit our website for the possibility of your graphic / marketing needs for this great product



  16. John September 23, 2006 at 12:19 am

    Unless this is cheaper than a regular model which doesn’t fold down, there is nothing special about a camper on a pickup truck. Sorry.

    Kudos to people who make things themselves though.

  17. obbop September 22, 2006 at 9:37 pm

    With the upcoming economic crisis expect a horde of America’s working poor to be living in these things.

    Of course, the elite classes’ enforcement arm, the police, will be constantly forcing the disenfranchised to “move along.”

    At least the millions of unemployed working poor will be mobile so as to descend upon the elite’s hideouts and commence the revolution.

  18. charles norman September 22, 2006 at 6:02 pm

    wonderful design. when will it be offered for sale? and for how much?

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