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Rooftop tents, converted school buses, tricked out Sprinter Vans—innovation in the #VanLife space is ever-alive, and ever-evolving. But in a world where the most luxe rigs and most demanding DIY projects stand in spotlight's center, there's still a lot to be said of a simpler car camping solution. Truck topper, we're looking at you.
There’s a lot you can do with a good ol’ construction cap, but true comfort—like headroom and some floor space—calls for some serious creativity. What's more, lots of truck campers are heavy, and some are precipitously tall and large. Some transforming toppers have canopies that pop up, while other builds have wallpaper that reminds you of your great aunt’s living room. The pros and cons are endless, which makes choosing one a complex and often frustrating exercise.
Luke Bushek, an engineer who earned his chops while manufacturing LED billboards, decided the truck topper question was one he wanted to solve, so he founded Radica, an off-road adventure company.
Bushek wanted something the market didn’t offer: a topper with headspace and floorspace (but no fabric canopy) and something rugged that wouldn’t sacrifice the off-road and cargo capabilities of his Toyota Tundra. When his search failed him, Bushek started tinkering, and after three months, a unique truck topper called the MoonLander, well, landed.
A hardy looking land submarine partially inspired by Tesla’s still-unreleased Cybertruck, the MoonLander is a rugged, roomy, customizable truck topper designed for work and play. Its boxy, geometric, compact design jumps out at you. Bushek's prototype got so much attention on a test trip out to Yellowstone that he decided to advertise built-to-order MoonLanders on Craigslist—his first ad received three orders in 24 hours. A one-man operation at the time, Luke shut the ad down to get his bearings. Now, having moved to a spacious (and more official) warehouse in the Platt Park neighborhood of Denver, his small operation of two (plus a part-time welder) cranks out a fresh MoonLander roughly every two weeks.
The 205-pound, all-aluminum shell's most striking feature is sides that extend nine inches past the truck bed rails. The novel design means you can sleep horizontally, which is a game changer for maximizing space. The exact dimensions of the camper vary based on the truck it's built for, but as an example, the MoonLander mounted to Bushek’s first-generation Toyota Tundra boasts seven feet of horizontal sleeping space and 36 inches of headroom off the truck rails. The sides never extend past its front mirrors either—a standard that applies to all MoonLander builds—keeping the whole thing nimble and off-road ready.
“MoonLander is a super flexible platform to utilize your truck to the fullest, both when you're on the trail camping and when you're working with your truck. It’s not gonna limit you,” said Bushek.
And the MoonLander’s otherworldly aesthetic is a party to its functionality. Even with additions like a Maxxair fan, a 175-watt solar panel, a propane mount, a porthole, and a Moonbubble window (which adds four inches of head space!) the topper is pretty bare-bones.
The construction looks like this: 3M VHB acrylic tape holds aluminum siding to a one-inch aluminum frame that serves as a sturdy exoskeleton. That's it. Because of the tape, the whole unit flexes with the truck as you off-road. Plus, no rivets on the exterior and two layers of marine-grade sealant means there's less of a chance for water intrusion over time. The unit mounts directly onto your bed rails with C clamps, and it's designed to be installed more or less permanently. The space and usability that the topper affords, however, are huge.
Want a modular setup that camps during the weekend and hauls lumber come Monday? The MoonLander is it. The full-size mattress and bed frame in the front is light and easy to remove. Plus, that lack of bells and whistles on the inside means you can hose the whole unit down after tossing a dirt bike or other dirty gear inside. Want a mobile modern cabin on wheels? Use the one-inch interior framing as your guide and insulate away.
At a price tag of $5,700 for a six-foot bed, this spaceship on wheels is dang affordable too. Yet it's like buying a van frame—and a stylish one at that—for the back of your truck. But the best thing is that your truck keeps running like a truck, off-road capabilities and all.
You can check out the MoonLander on the Radica website. If you're interested in picking one up yourself, be aware that orders have a six-month lead time.