“I had to go alone and I had to be self-contained, a kind of casual turtle carrying his house on his back…. I wanted a little house built like the cabin of a small boat.” – John Steinbeck, Travels With Charley
This excerpt is a cornerstone in the philosophy of Fort Collins, Colorado based Casual Turtle Campers. Its founder, Peter Pavlowich, was on a trip in Colorado in 2010 when he noticed a bevvy of truck campers that lacked any kind of style. Over the next few years, he put his Wood Construction and Design degree from the University of Idaho to good use and two years ago built his first prototype truck camper. After it received positive reviews, Peter formed Casual Turtle Campers LLC in the summer of 2013.
As word of the Casual Turtle truck campers got out, Peter learned of interest in a similar style, but in a trailer. “I began to hear from enough people asking about small towable units in the same style as my slide-in truck camper designs. Then in the spring of 2014, I decided to put together my first Terrapin design. It wasn’t long before I had orders for two more, and then in the fall I decided to build an even smaller, simpler trailer model – the Hatchling. Trailers are a little bit easier to sell it seems, and they can be marketed to a wider audience”, Peter tells us.
The Terrapin boasts a rear entry door with a front dinette that converts into a 75″ x 54″ memory foam bed. Total length of the Terrapin is 12′ (8’2″ cabin), 6’9″ wide, and 5’11″ interior height, while checking in at 1360 lbs. It’s the height of that interior that Peter takes pride in. “Probably the most unique feature of my campers is probably the domed roof design. I achieved this by playing around enough in the design stage trying to come up with something strong, unique, and compelling. Like I say, it’s probably the coolest feature of my designs, but it’s also the trickiest part of the build by far.”
The Terrapin is stoutly built as well. Although just 1360 lbs, it sits on a 3500 lbs axle and 15″ wheels with a frame that’s professionally sprayed with Reflex truck bed liner undercoating. The cabin itself is built to withstand chilly Colorado weather with a fully insulated floor, walls, and roof.
The Hatchling is rather Spartan when it comes to accommodations, and that’s the goal for it. “I thought I’d introduce this model initially as a bare bones shell – though I’d be happy to finish it out to someone’s desires. It’d also make a great platform for someone looking to build out the interior themselves.”
The Hatchling checks in at 840 lbs with a 3500 lbs axle and 2,000 lbs leaf springs with 13″ wheels. The overall length is 12’2″, and the interior dimensions are 92.5″ x 56.25″ and 56″ interior headroom. The roof is a fully-adhered ivory colored TPO roofing membrane. The bottom side is constructed of a PVC membrane.
When it comes to materials and construction, Peter’s extensive woodworking education comes into play. “I use tongue and groove Western red cedar for the exterior of my campers. Not only is it beautiful and lightweight, but it’s extremely resistant to decay, insects, and moisture. I use PVC and TPO roofing membranes that are fully adhered to an OSB roof deck and secured about the edges with a custom aluminum termination bar. I build my own fixed windows and I use simple aluminum sliders for opening ones. Unlike a lot of camper designs, I like to include as many opening windows as practical in my designs.”
With Casual Turtle Campers being less than two years old, it’s safe to say the company is in its infant stage. However, Peter has his eyes on the future. “At this point it’s just me working out of my very small shop in Fort Collins. I love dreaming about the shop of the future with all of its extra room, decent tools, a hired hand or two…but until I have that kind of demand, it’ll be me cranking away alone. Depending on the model and level of finish, five to eight campers keeps me pretty busy in a year. Units with finished/furnished interiors take a while, but shell versions come together pretty quick.“
“My goal for Casual Turtle Campers has always been to make a living building unique, quality products. If it remains a one-man, 5-8 units per year operation – that’ll be just fine. However, if I have the opportunity to expand to a bigger shop, and bring on a few hired hands – that’ll be great, too. It’s a really cool product that I enjoy designing and building – and if I can continue to find buyers, I’ll be the happiest camper builder around.”
To learn more about Casual Turtle Campers and contact Peter about building one for you, visit their website at http://casualturtlecampers.com.