Boar’s Den RV Test
What camping enthusiast hasn’t had to struggle with pitching a tent at one time or another? Add to that irksome task the threat of an impending storm, or just darkness falling, and you have a recipe for taking the fun out of almost any outdoor excursion.
The folks at Wild Boar have been there, done that. After years of hassling with a pop-up tent, scissor jacks and pull-out beds on various outings, they had an epiphany, and now offer the Boar’s Den. The concept wasn’t quite as startling as the discovery of the light bulb or penicillin, but it did solve a problem.
As the name implies, it’s basically a tent in a briefcase, the camping equivalent of a James Bond gadget (but without the smoke bomb, of course). Instead of containing spy gear, this large fiberglass hard shell case, mounted on the roof of a vehicle, quickly transforms into a penthouse campsite.
The Boar’s Den Simplicity
“Simplicity is the key,” points out Wild Boar’s president, Chris Duncan. “Thirty seconds and it’s up.” He’s not kidding. It took longer to open up a can of beans during dinner prep than it did to get the Boar’s Den open and ready for bedtime.
As you might surmise from the snowcapped mountains looming in the background, a freak storm had rolled through the night before, so we realized firsthand how quickly the weather changes in the deserts of southern Nevada. The speed of assembling this rooftop tent really came in handy, and if you know the prevailing winds in that part of the country, you know how nice it was that the hard shell portion of the Boar’s Den could be positioned as a windbreak.
“We tried making it out of plastic, but found that fiberglass was much more rigid,” explained Duncan. The fiberglass lid can handle some pretty high winds or hail, he adds. A key part of the design is a triangle-shaped tubular brace that flips up to provide a rigid internal structure and extra support for the shell. The Den’s lid is insulated with ¾-inch honeycomb material, lined with carpet as well, and allows for secure mounting of various accessories.
The basic unit sells for $1,895 and a deluxe model goes for as much as $2,495. The option list includes accessories such as 12V power outlets, an audio system, 10-inch LCD TV with DVD player, fold-down table, cup holders, iPod holder and stand, and low-draw LED lights (both interior and exterior, so you don’t have to hold a flashlight in your mouth while trying to set up camp in the dark).
No surprise, then, that there was a long line of interested parties (both seasoned campers and urbanites alike) at the product debut, waiting to climb up the ladder and check out the plush interior. Typical comments overheard at the show that came from my better half included, “Honey I would go camping in this.” After noting all the available amenities, most buyers said they would opt for the fully loaded version.
Adding to these conveniences are some other practical aspects. The tent fabric is ripstop nylon and the seams are factory taped to handle heavy weather. Large windows, vents and mesh furnish plenty of ventilation, and a two-speed fan helps push more air through the tent, as well.
For those campers concerned about varmints crawling into their sleeping bag, the Den’s elevated location obviously keeps them at bay. For access, a telescoping ladder attached to the side of the rooftop tent allows for easy entry and egress. The lofty Den’s interior measures 58-by-84 inches with sitting headroom, so there’s snug sleeping room for two people. The memory foam mattress is stored inside the case and is quite comfortable. For long trips we would prefer a slightly denser foam mattress than the one we tested, but that’s mostly because we favor cushy accommodations.
The Den’s cargo rack on top allows you to open the unit without having to relocate your belongings. It will fit on most aftermarket rooftop rack systems, but Wild Boar offers its own setup (a Fastback Roof Rack, with the cargo basket removed in place of the Den), along with a range of other Jeep accessories. These include the Wild Boar Fastback hardtop (the most popular product in the company line), along with Wild Boar bumpers, winch housings, tow hooks, brush guards, sidesteps, air scoops and lighting systems.
The Boar’s Den Footprint
The Fastback hardtop, installed on the 2012 Jeep JK Sahara model shown here, earned a Chrysler Design of Excellence Award. Besides having a sporty, sloped shape, it’s constructed of extra-thick, reinforced fiberglass and is nearly double that of standard factory tops, Wild Boar claims. The advantage is reduced flex and vibration, and an optional hand-fitted lining further minimizes both sound and vibration for a quieter interior at speed.
Other features of the Fastback are UV-tinted safety glass, rear window wiper, defroster, gas-lift shocks, plus all the mounting hardware. The exterior is coated with a matte-texture, smudge-resistant finish. Painted versions in factory colors are optional. An unfinished model is also available.
To ensure a secure, solid fit, each top is pre-fitted to a Wrangler’s mounting points at the Wild Boar factory, and all components and hardware are preassembled before shipping. As shown in a sequence of photos on the company website, it simply slides into place over your vehicle’s tailgate, no drilling or custom fabrication required. And this unit is designed to be compatible with all brands of body-mounted cargo rack systems.
The Fastback is available in several configurations for ’07 and later models, ranging from a Solid One-Piece Top (JK & JKU) to an open-air T-Top (JKU only), from Single Sunroof (JK & JKU) and double Sunroof Tops (JKU only).
Other Wild Boar upgrades include the company’s Front Bumper and Brushguard, along with a 1200-pound capacity winch, the Wild Boar Rigid Amber 10-inch light bar and SoundOff Rock lights mounted at the corners of the bumper. A cowling scoop for interior airflow and the company’s Brow Grill with attitude also allow better air dynamics.
To make room for taller tires (Toyo 35×12.50-17 Open Country MTs on bead-lock Raceline rims), the fiberglass fenders are raised, allowing for 35-inch rubber at full suspension articulation, but without requiring any modification to the suspension.
What else is on the horizon from Wild Boar? A four-person Boar’s Den is being developed with additional weather protection. And the company is also working on an enclosed ATV trailer with a Boar’s Den on top.