Ursa Minor J30 Pop Up Camper
Coffe Table Photography book out now!
999 Days Around Africa: The Road Chose Me
From the very beginning I didn’t want a roof rack on my Jeep. If I have more storage space up top, it’s only a matter of time before I load it up with tons of heavy stuff. Heavy stuff on the roof of a 4×4 is a big no no, so best to avoid the temptation altogether rather than trying to resist it. No roof rack means no roof top tent for above ground sleeping – the staple of 4×4 Overlanding.
I’m not sleeping in a ground tent for two years around Africa, and although I can sleep on my storage boxes, that’s really only a backup option for when I don’t want anyone to know I’m asleep inside the Jeep. This begs the question of the main sleeping arrangements.
Enter Ursa Minor Vehicles.
John and the crew (The Undertaker* and Tombstone*) in San Diego make a replacement hard top for the Jeep JK Unlimited (4 door) which is a pop up camper. They call this amazing feat the “J30″. The stock Jeep hard or soft top is taken off, and the new top takes it’s place. Normally the camper bolts directly onto a stock Jeep with absolutely zero modifications required, and has access hatches above the rear seat for climbing up into the sleeping section.
Of course I can’t leave well enough alone and so John and the guys customized mine
Years ago when I dreamed of this Jeep, my dream was to “cut out” the sleeping section and hatches, and move the stock Jeep roll bar out of the way. Doing so meant I would be able to stand up and walk around in the entire rear section of the Jeep. Based on my photos and hand waving, a very large opening was cut into my J30, which allows walking all the way up to the roll bar directly behind the drivers seat.
The top and modifications have turned out a hundred times better than my wildest dreams. To say that John and the crew are perfectionists would be selling them short. No detail is too small for their attention, every aspect of the camper, it’s installation and use has been thoroughly considered and designed. It’s obvious these guys love what they do, and they use what they build.
With the large opening cut out, John set to work designing roll up wooden planks that are moved into place for sleeping “up stairs”. In a stroke of brilliance John made the planks so that if I choose I can install only a half width bed. The planks are held together with webbing so they can’t jumble about, and lock into multiple selectable positions with spring loaded pins. John also made mattress sections so they can be easily moved and re-purposed from sitting cushions down below to sleeping pads for “up stairs”.
I’ve spent six nights upstairs so far, and each night I’m so happy to be “up stairs” in my little house, I can’t stop smiling and my brain won’t let me fall asleep for an hour while I think of the adventure ahead of me. To say this thing is awesome is not even close to the truth.
I had a great time hanging out with the Ursa Minor guys in San Diego for a few days while they modified my top, and grinned from ear to ear when John shook my hand, wished me luck and said “Welcome to your new home”.
A have a couple more additions to my off-grid home to show you before I head to Easter Jeep Safari in Moab next week.
*NOTE: Names used are those requested by the Ursa Minor guys, who are as awesome as their names suggest.