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Old-School Camping Extravaganza! - Vintage Vault

Classic Jeep Campers

Verne SimonsWriterEric RickmanPhotographer

It’s no secret that Jeeping and camping go hand in hand. Heck, we have even shown you a couple of other Vintage Vaults with images of camping setups from the past (Part 1: March 2014; Part 2: April 2014). From primitive camping to fully decked-out expedition vehicles, Jeeps have been doing it all for years and years. Check out these vintage images we’ve dug out of Source Interlink Media’s vast archives for your (and our) viewing pleasure.

Fully Equipped
In this photograph from Motor Life magazine shot in 1959 by Marvin Patchen, we see a pretty sweet setup in the form of a 1950s Willys truck with some sort of slide-in camper and a johnboat that is towing a trailer. The truck is decked out with some non-directional tires, what appear to be some early Warn locking hubs, at least one 5-gallon jerrycan, and a few other bits of equipment and camping gear tucked along the bed sides.

Check out the tool box on top of the rear fender, and is that a gas tank for the boat behind the rear fender? The owner of this Jeep sure wanted to be well-equipped for both the journey and the destination. Let’s hope they opted for one of the larger displacement engines available in a Willys truck and not a F-head. It sure would be nice to find this set-up in a barn, ready for a more modern drivetrain swap and a vintage trailer refresh!

Sunset or Sunrise?
We seem to have fewer pictures showing real old-fashioned primitive Jeep camping. We’re talking about tossing a tarp on the ground and rolling out your bed. Not everyone in this picture is doing that, but there are a few. If you’ve never slept under the stars without a tent, you’ve got to. Just try to go to bed early because you’re getting up when the sun rises. We love the CJ-5s, M38A1s, and even the dark flattie in this image by Patchen, also from the de Anza trail ride.

Slide-ins
Remember when Jeep built pickups? Well, really in this case Willys built Jeep pickups, but the end result is the same: a Jeep truck with a bed. Campers and Jeepers are still using slide-in campers, and while you may think that the idea is only 10, 20, maybe 40 years old, you’d be wrong. It’s older than that. Here is a Willys truck with slide-in camper again shot by Marvin Patchen in 1959 for Motor Life magazine. This camper is clearly a pretty high-end slide-in for the era, and it fits well on the Willys with a cab-over area. Again, we see some locking hubs that may be some Cutlass Power-Lock hubs. Patchen not only took these photos of this Willys with a slide-in he also took the rig on a little wheeling trip for Motor Life magazine.

More Slide-ins
In the two shots above by Patchen, we see a slightly different slide-in in a Willys pickup. This one lacks a cab-over area, but we can see the name: “Dreamer,” from Pomona, California.

Slide-in FC
Our last slide-in camper is not in a Willys pickup but rather found in the back of an FC-170. This photo, also taken by Patchen was taken for coverage of the de Anza trail ride from near Hemet, California, to Borrego Springs, California, for Motor Life in 1959.

SUV Craze!
If you didn’t know any better, you might think America’s love for SUVs was something of the relatively recent past. Well, while the fad might be recent, SUVs and using them on- and off-road is nothing new. We here at Jp magazine love car camping -- it’s fun, and you can bring lots of food, beverages, fishing rods, dogs, hot dogs, friends and more. Above we see a pretty well-equipped family with their Willys wagon, trailer, and tent all set up for camping next to a rocky hill. The wagon is carrying some extra fuel and clearly has a big CB antenna so the owner can keep in touch. Marven Patchen also took this photo in 1959 for Motor Life on the de Anza trail ride.

In the photo above we see another wagon from the de Anza trail ride by Patchen. This Willys is sporting a set of non-directional tires with another NDT as a spare peaking out of the back. On the tailgate, we can also see a box of groceries, a nesting camp cooking kit, a 5-gallon jerrycan, and more.

Eats in the Dirt
Can you smell the bacon? The camp cook is always popular on Jeep runs and for good reason: He’s everyone’s friend when the hash is on the griddle. Here we see a Jeeper cooking up some eggs and bacon on a good old Coleman stove. Heck, we have the same type of Coleman stove in our camping box. The fold-out camp table holds not only the stove, but a loaf of “thin sliced” bread, salt and pepper, paper plates, and just in case, a tire iron. Eric Rickman shot this image in 1957 for Hot Rod magazine. In the picture above that Rickman also shot for Hot Rod in 1957, we see a Jeeping family breaking bread. Mom’s working on the camp stove while dad checks on the boys. They have a very well set-up camp trailer, and check out that Schlitz cooler on the right. Do want!