Rural Missouri - October 2021 - 25

Jeff Baker shows off some of the outdoor company's offerings. Along with custom builds that require a wait, HYK Outdoors builds spec campers
that can be purchased and pulled away by those who spot the lineup alongside Interstate 70 west of Kingdom City.
The couple took the camper to Colorado to see how
it worked. " We threw a sleeping bag in there and it was
wonderful, " Jeff says. " I woke up feeling great. It made
camping fun again for us. It made us really want to go do
it more often. "
In the mountains they did their best to expose the
camper's faults. " We really tried to tear it up, " Jeff admits.
" We tried to break it. And we didn't. We came back to Missouri
and we thought, this thing actually works. We've got
a good idea here. "
The rest, as they say, is history. Instead of making one
camper and selling the CNC machine, Jeff launched HYK
Outdoors (the name is pronounced as hike), a company
devoted to getting more people outside. Starting in his
Columbia garage, Jeff made more of the teardrop-shaped
campers. He came up with two designs, a retro-inspired,
road model called the Ridgerunner and a beefed-up Trailrunner
version for off-road enthusiasts.
From its launch in December 2018, to the
purchase of a new location just off Interstate
70 at Kingdom City that is served by Callaway
Electric Cooperative, the Baker's HYK Outdoors
has grown by leaps and bounds. This past January
Marc Gragg and his son, Caleb, joined the
company, letting Jeff focus more on the marketing
of the unique campers. " Marc is a cabinet
guy, " Jeff relates. " From the very beginning he
saw it as a cabinet on wheels. His goal was, 'How
do you build a really fi ne piece of furniture and put
it on a trailer?' "
That's a good analogy. An HYK camper is crafted from
13-ply Baltic birch plywood. It's covered with 2 inches of
insulation, sheathed with an aluminum skin and bolted to
a sturdy frame. The rear deck lifts to expose a kitchen galley
with lots of storage and shelves for a propane stove. An
on-board battery powers lights, a fan that draws in cool air
and other amenities.
Of course there is a soft and thick mattress inside.
From there the options are seemingly endless. Most
buyers opt for a roof rack and awnings that add to its
creature comforts. Another option is a six-sided screen
tent that attaches to the awnings, providing extra living
space for family time. A receiver hitch accepts bike racks
and kayaks or canoes can go on the roof. HYK will add the
kitchen sink if you want one.
The off-road model comes with a heavy-duty frame,
larger tires and wheels and a tongue that lets the trailer
and tow vehicle articulate for when the road ends. It has
more ground clearance, although Jeff points out that the
road model features more clearance than most cars.
The biggest advantage to an HYK camper, Jeff says, is
that you probably already own the tow vehicle. " You are
not going out spending $100,000 buying a truck and a
camper, " he says. " My wife has a RAV4. We can pull an
on-road trailer with it all day. If you have a 1/2-ton truck,
great. But you don't need a 3/4-ton or 1-ton truck. "
Their simple design helps outdoor adventurers hit
the road quickly. If you decide to go camping at noon,
you can leave work at 5 p.m. and be on the road 15
minutes later, Jeff says.
Kingdom
City
Where bigger RVs come with TVs, microwaves
and living rooms that keep you inside, an HYK
camper has just enough comforts to encourage
enjoying the great outdoors. " It's a lifestyle, "
Jeff says. " Be active. Eat here, sleep here and
then go do activities. "
A road model camper starts at $11,000, with common
options increasing the cost to an average of $12,500, Jeff
says. The off-road model starts at $13,500 and typically
runs $15,000, well equipped.
Halfway through 2021, HYK Outdoors had already sold
25 campers, well on the way to its goal of 40. Besides making
custom campers, Marc and Caleb are working to keep
a small inventory on hand for those who want to drive
OCTOBER 2021 | RURALMISSOURI.COOP 25
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Rural Missouri - October 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - October 2021

Contents
Rural Missouri - October 2021 - Cover1
Rural Missouri - October 2021 - Cover2
Rural Missouri - October 2021 - Contents
Rural Missouri - October 2021 - 4
Rural Missouri - October 2021 - 5
Rural Missouri - October 2021 - 6
Rural Missouri - October 2021 - 7
Rural Missouri - October 2021 - 8
Rural Missouri - October 2021 - 9
Rural Missouri - October 2021 - 10
Rural Missouri - October 2021 - 11
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Rural Missouri - October 2021 - Cover3
Rural Missouri - October 2021 - Cover4
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