This Interesting New Truck Camper Weighs Less Than I Do

Futuristic and unbelievably light, the Leentu camper makes an entrance into the overlanding game.


A few weeks back I was sitting in my local café/office, staring out the window, when a Toyota Tacoma rumbled past with a strange-looking camper shell bolted to the back. “Leentu” it read on the side. I’d never seen anything quite like it before. It looked like a lightweight fiberglass shell, with strange windows and a pop-up tent, none of which is that revolutionary, I suppose, but there was something decidedly futuristic about it. I did some digging.

Leentu, it turns out, is just getting off the ground. They’ve just begun taking pre-orders for their shells back in March. I recently met with co-founder Scott Surface, a former construction management pro, to check out his prototype and to find out what Leentu’s all about. Surface had just returned from a multi-state trek, part of a long-term durability and usability test. His prototype shell was dirty, stickered, and clearly well-loved.

Leentu is designed to be light. Incredibly so. They’ll offer two constructions: fiberglass or carbon fiber. The fiberglass model will weigh less than 150 pounds. The carbon fiber just 100 pounds. The whole idea is for the camper to be a full-functional adventure-ready shell while maintaining day-to-day usability and handling characteristics. It will fit in most garages. It won’t destroy gas mileage. It won’t feel like there are 1,000 pounds of camper shell weighing down the bed of the truck.

When popped to full height, the Leentu offers well above six feet of standing room from the truck bed to the tent ceiling. The tent is a weatherproof, marine-grade canvas-feeling material. The whole setup is pre-wired for solar power. The rear is a fully hinged, full-height door. Stepping into the prototype’s voluminous interior, all lit-up with afternoon sun beaming through windows (zippered for weather protection) made me weep a little, imagining the cramped confines of the traditional camper shell on my truck back home. Inside, a lofted bed (an 80″ x 48″ included foam mattress is the sleeping surface) sets up easily and converts to a little lounge seating area. LED lighting illuminates and sets the mood.

Surface says the roof will easily hold a couple hundred extra pounds, enough to pitch some surfboards, skis, a slug full of camping gear, you name it. The whole thing looks lightweight, customizable, and user-friendly. Compelling, to say the least.

Of course, because Toyota Tacomas are seemingly the only mid-sized trucks purchased in this country, initially the Leentu will be offered only for 2005 to current model Tacomas with longbeds. Plans are underway to fit out the Chevy Colorado, GMC Canyon, the new Ford Ranger, and the short-bed Taco in the future.

Now then—are you sitting down? The cost for the Leentu starts around $10,000 for the fiberglass model and $14,000 for the carbon fiber version. Leentu is offering heavy discounts for early adopters to get overlanders on the program. But a customizable, off-road-ready popup camper with way over six feet of headroom? That has my attention.

Leentu hopes to ship the first orders in fall 2018.

 

Showing 28 comments
  • Frank Bilek
    Reply

    $10,000 – $14,000? We drive a full-size Ford. The $400 Napier truck bed tent that fits in the 8’bed has also fit the last three Ford pickups we have owned the last 10 years. I am 6’-2” tall; no problem. No leaks in that time and still going strong. Sticking with our Napier.

    • Chris
      Reply

      Hey Frank,

      We realize that the pricing won’t be for everyone and that’s ok. The carbon model is quite literally a full carbon racecar body made by people who make IndyCars. We’ve gone to great lengths to make these extremely lightweight and durable and they (unfortunately) cost what they cost for now. We’ve also moved the majority of our manufacturing in house and relocated to IN from CA as further cost cutting measures. Having said all that, we’re offering deep discounts for the first few units which brings the fiberglass model down just over 8k… directly in line with at least one other obvious offering with what we feel is a far better product.

      • Bob
        Reply

        F150 8 Foot Bed Version should be top priority there. Need to get the price down.

  • Terrance Lowrie
    Reply

    Please let me know when the one for the GMC Colorado becomes available

    • Chris Nikitas
      Reply

      Hey Terrance,

      The Colorado should be available early to mid next year. If you’d like you can sign up for our newsletter at http://www.leentu.com to keep astride of updates.

      Thanks for checking us out!
      Chris

      • Sean Holveck
        Reply

        Hey Chris,

        I see lots more f models coming soon, I’d love to help develop one for the Nissan Frontier, which in my opinion has always been a better truck than a Tacoma, for less price. As well I have been worked my to develop something with inside outside side storage to go with a shell during my overland trips. I am currently planning a trip from the northern most tip of alaska to southern most tip of South America, and would love something rugged but light to optimize gas mileage.

        Thanks

  • Anthony Coluccio
    Reply

    When it is on my truck and in the folded down configuration can I still use it like a shell cover. Like my leer?

    • Chris Nikitas
      Reply

      Hi Anthony,

      You sure can! Scott and I both were working as contractors when we started developing this for our 9-5 trucks.

      Thanks!
      Chris

  • Cecil Uptigrove
    Reply

    My ford 4 door f150 4×4 has a 5 and half foot of bed or 66 inches..do you offer one for that type of truck..ANF brochures on this camper yet li so mail me one or when you e mail me back send to Cecil Uptigrove 7998 Andorra road, Collinston La 71229. Thanks

    • Chris Nikitas
      Reply

      Hey Cecil,

      We don’t offer a model for your truck yet but we’ve had a lot of interest for the bigger trucks. The sheer number of the F150s on the road makes them a major contender for the next round of models. If you’d like updates you can sign up for our newsletter at http://www.leentu.com

      Thanks for looking!
      Chris

  • Jim Martin
    Reply

    Would love to have one to fit my Jeep 02 Wrangler TJ. Maybe we can come up I designed to fit my jeep that would be awesome I have something in mind.

  • Robert Prior
    Reply

    I want one for my 2006 Chevy Colorado.

  • Carson
    Reply

    Justin – Any idea on how easy it is to install and uninstall? I’m assuming that when it’s folded down, there’s no room for anything in the bed.

    • Chris Nikitas
      Reply

      Carson,

      Great question. The bed stays wide open as it would with any typical truck cap. The door operates with the top closed and can also be removed completely in seconds. The camper itself is secured with 4 bolts and a couple clips and can be removed or installed by two people with zero mechanical knowledge who can lift 50-75 lbs (depending on the model) in a matter of minutes.

      Thanks!
      Chris

  • G. R. Brown
    Reply

    Too bad it’s out of my price range! I would love to have one for my Timmy 2005 baby.

    • Chris Nikitas
      Reply

      We hear you, unfortunately with the process we use to arrive at such a lightweight product the cost is what it is. We understand that it will make a ton of sense for some people and not for others. Having said that, we’re offering huge discounts right now. Check out http://www.leentu.com for more.

      Thanks for looking!
      Chris

  • Joshua Haynes
    Reply

    Nissan Titan XD need one

  • Danny Lee Spear
    Reply

    There are alot of Nissan Frontier owners that may take offense to that Toyota comment. I guess I can make due with my bed tent camper

    • Chris Nikitas
      Reply

      Hah!

      Well don’t let that deter you! We will almost definitely be offering a frontier model over the next year. One of my best friends drives one, they’re great trucks.

      Thanks
      Chris

  • The Woodsman
    Reply

    This is a really sweet concept. Needs to find a way to slash the price by at least half though, and it will sell like bacon.
    Maybe off-shore the molded components…

  • Pete
    Reply

    Lightweight, functional, and pretty stealth, but price point is way too high. I’m eyeing the Four Wheel Pop-up campers some day.

  • BY
    Reply

    It’s such a consistent heart-breaker to encounter one amazing looking camper kit after another that’s priced so far out of the typical vagabond/rambler’s price range. At $10,000-15,000, you’re spending substantially more than you could to fully deck-out a camper van into a much more versatile and livable unit. It would be nice to see more affordable options highlighted on a regular basis.

  • The Woodsman
    Reply

    I like the concept, but…for comparison; this winter I picked up a 1-year old fiberglass camper shell for $1000. I built out the sleeping and storage areas for less than $100. It’s arguably warmer, quieter, safer, stealthier (tinted glass for camping where, a-hem, it’s frowned upon), drier, more aerodynamic, and takes less time to remove/install. I can’t stand up inside, but I don’t miss that especially at 1/10 the cost.

  • tim
    Reply

    I see in the photos that there is a substantial overhang off the back of the camper top.. What keeps a strong wind from blowing that thing off the camper?? Can a kayak rack be fitted to the top of the camper??

  • Angela
    Reply

    That setup is pretty sweet! We recently went through the whole what-to-buy-next scenario for our travel vehicle. We tweaked our Santa Fe a few years back, but the car was on its last legs and we wanted something else. In the summer of ’16, we borrowed a pop up trailer from my husband’s parents but decided we didn’t like towing something. In the end, we made a decision to buy a Pacifica minivan. Mainly, for some of the reasons you point out above like good gas mileage, able to use as our ‘regular’ vehicle, and still fits in the garage. The joke is we have no children but somehow I ended up with a minivan anyway! We added a little kitchen in the back with a fridge and some other nice features. It’s not a full-time travel car, but we did take it on a 50-day Route 66 trip and it was great! Do you have any more info on the solar setup? We are utilizing one panel along with a battery that runs off the engine, but we need to work in something a little more powerful. That’s our summer goal to fix before heading out again this fall! Thanks.

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