Casual Turtle Campers


by Peter Pavlowich

I came up with the idea for Casual Turtle Campers in the summer of 2010. On a road trip to Colorado, I noticed an abundance of truck campers, but a profound lack of variety or style. As a Wood Construction and Design graduate from the University of Idaho, I knew I could design and build a simple and attractive alternative to the big, heavy, white boxes I seemed to see everywhere. Over the next few years, I brought together ideas and drew up plans for what would eventually become the design for Casual Turtle Campers. This was, to date, my best chance of achieving a lifelong goal of being self-employed.

I knew that I wanted them to be decidedly small and simple. As a fan of Deek Diedricksen, Lloyd Kahn, Michelle Wilson, as well as the small living movement in general, I knew there were people out there that felt the same way. I also wanted them to be unique; simple wooden campers had certainly been done, even arched roofs aren’t that rare, but I had never seen a camper with a domed roof – that is to say arched in both axes. The dome makes for a strong, very practical roof that also enhances the aesthetics of the camper. It is simultaneously perhaps the most compelling and difficult element of my campers. And being lightweight (910 lbs as pictured), Casual Turtle Campers can be built for use with almost any pickup truck.

building the camper

At 6’2″, I can’t stand up straight inside my campers. I can, however, sit and enjoy a Fort Collins craft beer with great ease. And that’s really the idea: a comfortable place to get out of the rain, grab a bite to eat, read a book, write, sleep at night, etc. And in the morning, grab a cup, decide where-to and what-for, and take off without having to tear down, collapse a pop-up roof, or hitch up a trailer. The idea of simplicity is meant not only to describe the product, but also the use of it. Casual Turtle Campers are also quite customizable – and I love to think about alternate uses; mobile office, writing shack, small studio space, etc.

interior and door

My wife, Lindsey and I are originally from Duluth, Minnesota. We now enjoy living in Fort Collins, Colorado with our dog, Moxie. We feel like we’re in a great spot for Casual Turtle Campers to be a success – that is, to create a lasting product for customers who become friends, and to enjoy doing it. We’d be grateful to anyone who wants to check out for more photos and information. And please feel free to get in touch, whether its praise or criticism, or just to say hi. Thanks a lot. Visit our website here:

interior through door

bed stowed

bed extended

Northern Black Hills National Forest

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Kevin Coy - June 19, 2013 Reply

beautiful.I have been kicking this idea around in my head for years as well.Great looking unit.Well done.

JCinCT - June 19, 2013 Reply

Looks fabulous… did a very nice job on this with good design.

Brandon - June 19, 2013 Reply

Love it! Bookmarking to keep my eye on other designs. Like the colour and the solid wood build!

Brad - June 19, 2013 Reply

The truck camper looks great. And, since you both are from Duluth, even better. Good Nordic folk 🙂

Kurt - June 19, 2013 Reply

Very nice.

Ria - June 19, 2013 Reply

Really nice…too small for my blood and bones but very nice. I wish you lots of luck in your endeavor.

Walt Barrett - June 20, 2013 Reply

Great design and workmanship!

Bob H - June 20, 2013 Reply

Fantastic exterior. I think you have a good prototype but needs work on the inside. Looks more like a truck cap, not a real camper.

    Bryan - June 20, 2013 Reply

    Somewhere between a camper and a tent. Much closer to a camper.

    I have thought about building something along these lines for years. My thoughts were never as nice as this reality.

tinyhousetom - June 20, 2013 Reply

Looks well crafted and well finished.

On a half ton truck you’ve only 90 lbs of payload left if they weigh 910.

Will have to keep watching to see if they slim down a bit.

KAY - June 21, 2013 Reply

Beautiful job. Well thought out and constructed.
Good luck with your goals. I’ll bet you succeed.

Sandy - June 22, 2013 Reply

Love this!! so unique and the craftsmanship is great. One thing I would like to see is some small windows near the bed, or vents. 😉

gene landrum - June 23, 2013 Reply

In a ‘throw away’ society, I’ve often ask: Conversions of ‘Cab Over’ Large and medium manufactured campers are often ‘tossed’ away when they get a few ‘years’ not miles on them! These units can be had for ‘pennies’ on the dollars, free in many cases!

Whew! Maybe to long explanation; Idea(s): Take these units, strip them of their exterior, replace skeletons with updated materials, materials that are light weight,Fire Proof, etc. then inside make the needed changes to create a ‘tiny home/house’ (Redneck Construction, if you wish!)

If the on the Pickup Cab-over Camper is in great shape but too difficult to load and unload, make a replicate of the Pickup bed of light weight material but add wheels and a ‘goose neck’ 5th Wheel concept or a regular ‘tow along’ hitch!

In order to keep the old campers out of the ‘Garbage’ Stream! “Recycle, Reuse, Save Raw Materials, Save Money, Save the Planet, one Conversion at a time!” If I’m wrong, please prove me wrong and if anyone is doing these procedures let me let me know and I’m willing to under write the Company! Any Takers? Especially in the areas of Oregon, Idaho, Utah! Yes, including Northern Ca! A start up company with disable veterans!

Dr. Gene~Landrum, PhQ. Quantum Theory of Everything! Start up Companies Enabler!

    Bob H - June 24, 2013 Reply

    I think the Good ole Boy’s have been doing this type of recycling for years

Newton - June 23, 2013 Reply

Very nice looking work. So… If you get a flat tire you can just climb inside and have a Fat Tire:). Good plan!

michelle, hornby island caravans - June 23, 2013 Reply

Lovely! I really like the wood on the exterior, it’s so nice to see natural materials being used- so much more beautiful than the usual white plastic things you see driving around. Love the curves also! Nice work Peter, I wish you tons of luck with this but I don’t think you’ll need it!

Peter Pavlowich - June 25, 2013 Reply

Hey thanks to everyone for the kind words – and for the suggestions/criticisms. It’s a real honor to be put up on this blog – and to hear from all of you.

Rick - June 28, 2013 Reply

I have tried to contact peter to get a closer look at his campers but the mail address at comes back there another way to contact?

Joe - July 4, 2013 Reply

I built a truck camper using 2×4 framing. It turned out well and I sleep in it every night now. I covered the exterior with metal siding like you would see on a shop building or metal barn. Your wood siding looks amazing. If I thought I could make it look that good I may have tried wood myself.

Stavorous Thidopolous - July 22, 2013 Reply

I like the camper very much. Great design. I have started one of my own and having a problem with the design canter-leaving the platform over the cab of the truck. Any suggestions? Thank you


Shawn - April 5, 2015 Reply

Very nice. I’ve built and used a few of these myself. It’s a juggling act to build considering weight, cost and needs. You’ve seemed to accomplished it.

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