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Powering the Future

Designed in Boulder, the World’s First Fully Electric Camper Elevates the Van Life Experience

Article by Linden Butrym

Photography by Courtesy of Campworks

Originally published in Boulder Lifestyle

As the nomadic lifestyle shifts from a quirky social media trend to a very popular, sustainable way of living, brilliant minds like Thomas Hoffmann, Kristian Rene and Zach Finnimore are entering the chat. The trio behind Boulder-based Campworks created the Nomadic System 1, the first-generation electric camper designed with functionality, reliability, longevity and pure innovation in mind. Born from a desire to better connect with and live in nature, the NS-1 makes going off the grid, or living off the grid, easier and more efficient than ever.

“We thought, ‘What if you could really escape for a weekend, a week, a month?” Kristian says. “What if you had the resources to go anywhere and always be connected to the things that make your life possible?”

The NS-1 camper is 95% self-sufficient, a capability that comes from its Fathom electrical system—a complete lithium-ion power management system designed in partnership with Navico Group, a division of the renowned Brunswick Corporation. With 12,000 watt-hours of battery capacity, it’s also able to charge power tools, an electric vehicle and even a washing machine. At all times, the NS-1 can maintain up to an 80-degree difference between exterior and interior temperatures. Exploring the Arctic Circle at -40 degrees? Inside the camper, it will remain a balmy 40 degrees.

At 8’x10’, the NS-1 might appear small, but it packs a punch when it comes to design features. A queen-size bed folds up to convert the space into a workstation and kitchen with custom hardwood cabinetry, storage, 96 inches of countertop and a dual-burner cooktop; a complete HVAC system heats and cools the camper; and each unit features a door with an automated lock that has several thousand pounds of force maintaining the integrity of its closure.

“We designed our own doors because it turns out, there’s only like one type of door on the market for campers,” Kristian says. “And guess what? Those all have the same key. Security is important because you have to think about bears when you’re camping, or if you’re a woman traveling with children.”

Atop the NS-1 is a rack that supports a tent or gear like skis and kayaks. The rear bumper can swing out to hold a grill, a retractable awning provides shade and LED lighting illuminates when you need it. Currently in development is an ADA-compliant chair that swings in and out of the camper. The NS-1 is so durable, you can take it through snow-packed hills, over rocky boulders and across any other type of terrain.

Sustainable luxury is a huge part of the camper’s appeal, with its small footprint, electric power and single body made with recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET) materials. Early customers include a man with a career in oil and gas, who wants to spend time in nature with his grandchildren in a more constructive way and an environmental attorney looking to support a cause that he relates to.

“We really built a product that looks far down the line,” Kristian says. “One of our goals is to do our part in saving the world. That doesn’t happen with creating a product that’s going to end up in a landfill. The only way we're going to learn to reduce is if we don't feel like we're having to make a sacrifice, so our components, application and the options with this unit are the best.”

At $75,000 per camper, the cost does not come cheap; however, it’s indicative of the thoughtful details that went into creating something designed for unparalleled resilience and endurance. A steady stream of orders for the NS-1 have poured in since Campworks unveiled a prototype in early 2020 and are expected to deliver this month or next in sleek shades of space gray, midnight black and alpine white. As the first-generation model prepares for its debut, Kristian recalls a moment from the early stages of development when she knew Campworks had made something special.

“When we first started, we wanted to test our electric system and find out how much power we’re packing,” she says. “We actually made a Thanksgiving dinner in the middle of nowhere for 10 people. We cooked a 25-pound turkey and all of the accouterments. Those are the kinds of memories that are worth making, but it only works if things function the way you expect them to and the way you need them to.”

“What if you had the resources to go anywhere and always be connected to the things that make your life possible?”

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