Enjoying the Outdoor Life? It May Be the Right Time to Consider Buying a Truck Camper

4WheelOnline
6 min readMar 26, 2023

There are many ways to enjoy the great outdoors with a pickup truck. Aside from off-road driving, you may experience driving in landscapes with RVs, which come in many forms, such as travel trailers, Class A motorhomes, fifth wheels, toy haulers, and more.

But there’s another option that allows truck owners to enjoy the outdoor life without hauling huge RVs — and that can be achieved using a truck camper. It is an ideal setup for pickup trucks for those who appreciate functionality, superb maneuverability, and most importantly, lightweight traveling. Learn more about truck campers to get started on your bucket list adventures.

Photo by Joel Holland on Unsplash

Types of campers

Truck campers are an alternative to large motorhomes and other RVs. Unlike standard motorhomes that add substantial weight to the vehicle, campers are designed to fit inside the truck’s bed and operate with only minimal weight.

When choosing a truck camper, you can base it on your needs and preferences.

Slide in

Since they’re lightweight, campers can slide and lock them into place in the rear part of the truck. It offers plenty of space for home-style amenities while providing a convenient way of exploring that doesn’t need the extra space provided by a large motorhome.

If you plan to use your truck as a mobile home, slide-in campers allow you to put a stove, small fridge, dine-in area, and even a bathroom facility. Easily mount and unmount the camper when setting up camp. Do it by using metal jacks on each corner of the vehicle. The jacks are designed to lift and secure the camper onto the truck bed with turnbuckle devices and tie-downs.

Pop-up

Pop-up campers have almost the same layout features and visual appearance as slide-ins. The difference is that the pop-up type has a roof designed to drop onto the main body of the truck. It is less susceptible to swaying or unwanted movement while traveling, making it a convenient option for those who enjoy off-roading. It has walls made of soft canvas, which means they weigh less than slide-in campers.

How the pop-up camper is dismounted is different from the slide-in. All you need to do is raise the pop-up roof and place it right back into place before leaving the campsite. Since it is made of canvas material, it does not provide much protection against strong winds and extreme weather.

Reasons why it’s great to have a truck camper

Choosing a camper for your pickup truck gives you these benefits:

  • Versatility: A camper provides a rock-solid platform not only for pickup trucks, but also for Jeeps, fishing boats, and utility trailers. It is an impressive accessory for vehicle owners who enjoy four-wheeling, camping, fishing, and other activities. Even though a small class-B or -C motorhome comes close, they are not as versatile as a truck camper rig. You can unload the camper from your pickup. This allows you to not only use the truck as a daily driver but also allows you to use your truck for various recreational activities.
  • Better maneuverability: You don’t have to limit yourself to the wide-open spaces of campgrounds meant for RVs. Most camper brands design their products to fit into the bed of the pickup truck, allowing drivers to park their vehicles in almost any parking spot.
  • Trail-approved: If the vehicle used for off-road is larger and heavier, it may complicate (or worse, completely inhibit) the chance to enjoy local trails and parks. A good example is the tunnel restrictions at Zion National Park. They have limitations that only allow vehicles with a length of 21 ft.
  • Low maintenance: With no towing or running gear, the truck camper is the most affordable RV to maintain. Travel trailer or fifth wheel needs time and effort and care. Other costs are required for maintenance, such as tires, bearings, and brakes. So, they can hurt your wallet. With a camper, only do the necessary truck maintenance as you typically would, such as periodic servicing, engine tune-ups, and replacement of truck tires. The camper may also need some upkeep, but you’ll enjoy more time with it than working on it.
  • Hassle-free storage: Not all truck owners have big spaces in their homes to park an RV. Because of its compact size, a truck camper will be much easier to store than the massive Class-A motorhome or fifth wheel. Additionally, storing an RV on your property may have an issue with HOA regulations or other limitations. Unlike RVs that take up a bunch of space in your garage or yard, storing a camper in your garage will be easier.
  • Fuel efficiency: The prices of fuel play a substantial role in our finances, so every mile count, especially in today’s economic landscape. Truck owners with a camper receive better fuel economy than those that drive a large RV. On average, the truck will get better mpg (miles-per-gallon) than standard and larger motorhomes. Pop-up truck campers with low-profile designs provide more savings because they are not too heavy compared to hauling travel trailers.
  • Lesser fees: Campers are considered the smallest class of motorhomes in the RV community. Out of all the states in America, 42 have classified them as cargo instead of RVs. So, you won’t have to pay license and registration fees as you would with other RVs. Getting insurance for a camper is cheaper compared to a full-size motorhome. If the camper has been mounted on your truck, you may avail of a certain level of coverage. But do not go over the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR), as this could void the coverage in case of an accident.

Important reminder before adding a camper or trailer

When you’re planning to add a truck camper, it may be essential to check the stock rims and see if it’s good to use with a truck camper. Problems may arise if the wheel was overloaded, so it’s important to understand the load ratings.

Upgrading the wheels and tires is typically an overlooked opportunity to improve driving safety. The higher the capacity of wheels and tires, the bigger the difference it can provide when it comes to handling. You may look for ION wheels or similar aftermarket wheel brands that can handle the capacity of the truck with a camper.

Not checking the integrity of the stock rims or putting the wrong aftermarket wheels may put your truck in harm’s way. It is risky when you’re driving on a highway that’s overloaded. It is crucial to match the payload of the truck and camper properly.

Putting more weight over the intended load rating can affect the wheels installed on the rear axle of your truck. Aside from the wheels, tires are also integral to the safety of the vehicle. That’s why checking the condition of these truck parts is crucial before going on an adventure.

Bringing along the things you will need can make the recreational activity worthwhile. However, overloading may result in a catastrophic failure that will damage the truck and camper, as well as put you and your passengers’ lives at risk.

Choosing a camper

Campers are designed to require little maintenance and provide off-road capabilities that typical RVs can’t match. Some trails are narrow for an RV to get into, making it harder for the vehicle to turn around when needed. Since most off-roading trails require 4WD capability and high ground clearance, it will be more challenging if you’re hauling an RV trailer.

Despite smaller, truck campers have a huge advantage over bigger RV types. They provide extra living space and let you go places that most RVs cannot go. They are also designed to require little maintenance and provide off-road capabilities that typical RVs can’t match.

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