by Lazelle Jones - Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Ursa Minor, located in the San Diego metro area, offers a unique product for the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, the four-door version of the legendary design. For about $6,000, the go-anywhere Wrangler can now be outfitted with a pop-up camper that can instantly provide a good night’s rest for two adults. Since 2007, Jeep has put nearly 400,000 four-door Wranglers on the road around the world. Couple this with the fact that Jeep will continue to build the four-door unit for several more years, and the reasoning behind Ursa Minor’s decision to design its pop-up camper for this vehicle makes a good deal of sense.
The J30 Camper replaces the factory soft top or hard top on the four-door Wrangler Unlimited. It’s compact yet spacious when popped up and put into service, but the change is nearly unnoticeable when it is stowed for travel. Clearance issues are minimal. When the roof is closed and ready for travel, the vehicle height is increased only about 6 inches over the factory Wrangler top.
The J30 top is among a number of innovative designs from Ursa Minor Vehicles, which has a solid record of building composite products ranging from oceangoing craft like kayaks and the ECamper, the company’s pop-up camper for the Honda Element that was launched half a dozen years ago. Ursa Minor heard and responded to rumblings from outdoor sports enthusiasts that the ECamper would be a perfect fit if mounted on a true 4WD off-road vehicle like a Jeep that could really reach those outback places where primitive camping is enjoyed.
Suffice it to say the Wrangler Unlimited and the J30 are a good fit. With the rear seat on the Wrangler folded flat, the cargo area yields space sufficient for the cartage of gear. To gain even more storage space, you can unbolt and remove the rear seats. And because the exterior height is increased by only 6 inches, even with the optional roof racks, you can still fit your Jeep in many parking garages. As noted, should you want to remove the pop-up top and reinstall the factory hard top or soft top, it’s a straightforward matter of disconnecting one plug, unbolting and removing the J30.
To open the top, unlatch two locks on the front corners of the roof. Pull the overhead lanyard from inside the cargo area to disconnect two latches on the rear roof corners of the roof. Then raise the roof by pushing up through the access way. The tent fabric sections of the roof assembly are constructed of Sunbrella canvas, which is breathable as well as fade- and water-resistant. Zippered screened panels allow campers to tailor the amount of ventilation wanted. The screened panels can also be unzipped for total open ventilation and visibility.
The sleeping quarters measure 4 feet wide by 7 feet long; the foot area is 18 inches high, the shoulder area 32 inches high. The interior features two panels that when removed provide access to the sleeping quarters above. With the top popped up, there is 6 feet 6 inches of standing room, which means that changing clothes is doable without exiting the Jeep. The 2-inch-thick foam mattress is dressed with water-resistant, breathable Sunbrella fabric that can be removed and washed when needed.
The interior is equipped with low-current LED lights and adjustable-arm reading lights. Twelve-volt DC and USB power outlets are options. The base suggested retail price is $5,750, similar in cost to purchasing a hard top, rack and roof-top tent. Since the J30 is a complete replacement, many owners can sell their OEM hard top to reduce the total investment.
Construction of the pop-up top shell is drawn from marine experience. A custom-designed mold is first sprayed with a layer of white marine gel-coat. Layers of fiberglass are positioned, the mold covered and a vacuum is drawn. Resin is injected into the mold to create a light, corrosion-resistant shell.
Like many small manufacturers, Ursa Minor has a variety of popular options, and the company can quote custom requests. For example, the J30 top can be painted to match the OEM Jeep exteriors using a three-stage automotive paint (base coat, color coat and clear-coat top dressing). The top comes fully carpet-lined, with solid rear walls, but you can also elect to have OEM windows installed, or an awning mounted. The DC aftermarket components are hardwired directly to the chassis battery so they can be used with the ignition off. Ursa Minor also offers Thule or Yakima roof racks that accommodate a cargo box.
Ursa Minor Vehicles offers several solutions to put the J30 Camper within reach. Those willing to visit San Diego can make a reservation in advance with a deposit and drive a four-door Wrangler to San Diego for installation in an afternoon. Alternatively, the company can crate and ship a completed pop-top direct to consumers for self-installation. In fact, orders can be placed from anywhere (currently Europe and Australia are hot on this product). In addition to some basic standard hand tools, you’ll need a couple of friends to help hoist the pop-up into place. To attach the J30 fiberglass top to the Jeep, only the existing factory holes are used, making it a straightforward installation or removal. The J30 Camper does not violate the integrity of any of the Jeep OEM factory metal, and will not compromise the Jeep warranty. Jeep dealers often are willing to install the J30 Camper, and you can ask about financing one with a new vehicle purchase. Ursa Minor Vehicles will work directly with the dealer to arrange payment and shipment.
Ursa Minor J30 Camper
Type: aftermarket pop-up camper for Jeep Wrangler Unlimited
Construction: white marine gel-coat/fiberglass, resin-injected; automotive three-stage paint; carbon-fiber reinforcements; marine-grade Sunbrella canvas; 2"-foam mattress
Interior Dimensions: sleeping area 87x51"; standing room 78"
Exterior Dimensions: +6" over OEM hard top; Rubicon w/J30 77" (stock tires/suspension)
Electronics: 2 20" flexible-arm LED reading lights; LED dome light; optional 12v outlet, dual USB outlet
Weight: 265 lbs.
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