Retired Air Force major creates tent trailer to help veterans, families and himself find peace

I saw it as I drove by, immediately pulled over and turned around.

A pop-up tent trailer my husband would die for. With one of those roof-top bunks my daughter would play in for hours! The perfect mix of serious functionality and family-friendly fun.

It's the American Warrior Wagon, designed by recently-retired Air Force Major Jim Carlsen. He stands next to his creation, along the side of Gun Club Road, sweating in the summer heat.

"The idea is that you're only limited by your vehicle. True freedom," Carlsen tells me.

Carlsen's experience and passion are evident in every detail of the Warrior Wagon.

"I built one for the family," he says. "To go off the beaten path get away from everybody."

After 23 years in the military, Carlsen says he had trouble adjusting to life as a civilian.

"Afghanistan is not a kind place. I came back with issues," Carlsen says. "You're like 'I don't know how to go to Applebees and relax.' You're hyper-vigilant."

"This was my escape," he says.

Model 1101 is equipped with the military 24-volt system, as well as an after-market 12-volt system, and a Yeti cooler.

"You can go anywhere. You're not limited to campgrounds with electrical hookups and water hookups," Carlsen tells me.

It also comes with a camp toilet Carlsen calls an "ammo can."

"As in the true sense - it used to hold bullets," he says matter-of-factly.

Carlsen hopes the repurposed military gear will help veterans and families find peace in the wilderness.

"I think of it as a family recreation wagon," Carlsen says. "It's so light you can pull it with a minivan."

Model 1101 weighs about 2,000 pounds and fits in a standard garage spot when collapsed, according to Carlsen.

Keeping it affordable for families was also important to Carlsen. Model 1101 is priced at $3,900.

"My closest competitor is Jeep and their product starts at about $12,000," Carlsen says.

I ask how much he's invested.

"I'm about $70,000 in," Carlsen responds. "I don't have any investors."

He doesn't have a marketing department either. He doesn't even have a website. Or a Twitter account. Not even a Facebook page.

Setting up the tent trailer on the side of the road with a homemade "For Sale" sign was Carlsen's first sales attempt, and it seemed to be working. Three other people stopped to check it out while we talked.

Carlsen has three Modell 1101s available, as well as several older models, at his property in Kiowa.

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