So you’re thinking about buying a truck camper....what a great idea!
It doesn’t really matter if this is your first truck camper, your first RV or if you are a seasoned veteran in the truck camper world – there are some unique things to consider if you are buying a truck camper. It also doesn’t even matter if you have a truck or not – because if that is on the buying list too this guide will ensure the truck you purchase will get you into the camper you want!
So here is Camp-Out RV’s official guide to buying a truck camper
1) Know your payload
The carrying capacity on a truck can vary quite a bit, and just because you drive an F-150 or Ram 1500 does not mean you can carry any truck camper. This is VERY important to know, and is the first question we will always ask as it can significantly restrict what your options are.
Unsure what your truck can carry? There’s a sticker on the door that will tell you what your truck is rated for (here is a sample picture of what one looks like). This sticker can also sometimes be found in your glove box.
In the picture above, the carrying capacity is 1801lbs. It is important to note that this would be for the weight of your truck camper, ALL passengers, any cargo and fuel on the truck as well.
2) Know Your Box Size
Once you know your payload, the next thing that will help narrow down your options are your box size. The nice thing about truck campers are a lot of brands will have floor plans to accommodate different box sizes. The box size is important because each camper will have a different centre of gravity, and sitting on the proper box size will ensure the camper is balanced properly while traveling. You will typically have the most available options with a 6’6” or 8’ box, but there are floor plans available for a short box as well. This picture below from the 2018 Palomino Backpack Edition Truck Camper brochure is a great graphic at breaking down what layouts fit what box sizes.
Once you know the payload and size of your truck bed, at the very least you know what campers will and will not work on your truck. Now the fun can begin in actually choosing features and layouts you want in a camper.
3) What Type of Camping Will you Be Doing
a) Truck campers are appealing for a whole bunch of reasons, one of which is their ability to go off roading into the bush. If you plan on taking your camper off the beaten path, are there any height restrictions that could impact your camper? A soft side is a great way to reduce the travelling height of a camper so you can get into those hard to find places.
b) Camping seasons are also a definite consideration. Do you plan on camping in cold temperatures? Not all campers are rated four seasons, so if you are thinking about some winter camping and plan to use running water you may need to consider a four season rated camper.
4) Choosing Your Layout Options
Even though truck campers can be smaller than some of their RV type counterparts, there are still many different floor plans and layout decisions that need to be made. Here are some of the key things to consider that can vary by camper.
Soft side vs. hard side
Soft sides are lighter and have much better airflow. It is a great option to reduce the overall weight and also are much more compact meaning less wind resistance while driving and better fuel economy. A soft side is not ideal for colder weather as the insulation is much less and will also have less storage available than a hardside.
North/South vs. East/West bed
This is a consideration for any trailer, and for the same reasons if there will be more than 1 person sleeping in the bed.
Wet Bath vs. Dry Bath vs. Toilet only vs. No Bath
Some people cannot imagine a trailer without a toilet while others would much rather the extra storage space because they will have access to other washroom facilities (which does include the great outdoors!) This would also be true for showering, some people prefer inside their trailer while others are indifferent.This one all comes down to preference. For those of you who are new to a wet bath – it is a washroom where the sink, toilet and shower are all contained within shower walls (see below)
whereas a dry bath will have the toilet beside a shower stall (so it doesn’t get wet).
Slide Out Option
There are truck campers that have slide-out floorplans. This can open up space quite a bit, but the slide will definitely increase the overall weight.
5) Did we Mention Know Your Payload
Yes we have already covered this point, but it is so important we want to mention it again. A lot of truck camper hopefuls come to us having no idea what their truck can carry. This is such an important number to know – it’s like shopping for a trailer not k nowing how much you can tow.
Most common payload myth:
….”It’s okay I can add airbags to carry more”
It is true that you can add things like airbags to trucks to improve the suspension. BUT your carrying capacity will NEVER change no matter what you add to your vehicle. That number is set by the MTO and won’t change.
If you are interested in truck campers, Truck Camper Magazine is a great read to see what the lifestyle is all about.
A Lot of the staff at Camp-Out RV are truck camper enthusiasts as well and are happy to talk about personal experiences to see what kind of camper makes sense for you!