Want to buy truck campers for beginners? Here the top rated tips how to choose the best truck camper.
Truck campers are a popular option among RVers with their multi-purpose and multi-season use. Here’s how to choose the best truck camper for your RV lifestyle
hat’s more practical than simply backing up your ¾- or one-ton vehicle to a truck camper, securing it on the bed, then heading of to a destination?
Not too much – especially when it comes to planning and enjoying a long-distant road trip.
Shopping for a new or used truck camper is an insightful experience, although choosing the best one for your needs takes a little research.
Understanding all of the features and benefits will ensure you get the most out of your outdoor activities and provide better, more enjoyable, and safer times on the road.
Why Choose One?
One benefit of choosing a truck camper is the cost savings. In many cases, yearly maintenance is limited to the vehicle (eliminating the need to maintain trailer tires, hitch components, or even the chassis over time), while seasonal storage fees can be of-set by simply storing the truck camper in a garage or under another type of home shelter.
Some other cost savings benefits include monthly insurance fees – as insurance providers can add coverage to your existing truck policy (depending on the provider).
And since your preference of gas or diesel is already established with your choice of vehicle. There’s no need to upgrade to an RV diesel option, which of course, significantly reduces further costs.
“The cost of ownership is far less than a travel trailer or motorized RV,” says Gary Conley, National Sales Manager for Lance Campers.
“Add in the ability to go where other RVs can’t access. The excellent towing capabilities for a boat, kayaks or snowmobiles.
In addition to a better resale value (depending on the model), then it all makes sense to opt for a truck camper.”
Whether you choose a short- or long-bed truck camper, your truck’s payload capacity must properly accommodate the weight of the unit. You can choose from varying levels of luxury and numerous interior designs. Hard side truck campers are one of the more popular styles available.
Type of Truck Required
Whether you choose a short- or long-bed truck camper, it’s vital that your truck’s payload capacity can accommodate the weight of the unit.
His not only determines the type of truck camper you should choose, but makes for safe travels, optimal handling, and can prevent damage to your vehicle’s suspension.
Most vary in dry weight from approximately 680 kg (1,500 lb) for a short bed model to a little more than 1,814 kg (4,000 lb) for a long bed, depending on the style, materials, construction, and size.
Given these weights, three-quarter or one-ton trucks are the preferred choices due to their heftier payload capacity, which in turn provides a broader choice of truck campers and the opportunity to upgrade to a larger unit in the future.
It’s also important to account for the gear you’ll bring with you as this needs to be included in your total payload requirement.
Nonetheless, there are various truck campers on the market such as pop-up and soft-sided units that can accommodate smaller trucks that have lower payload capacities.
“He last thing you want to do after buying a truck camper is to buy a new truck to actually use it,” says Conley.
“For safety and security reasons, a ¾-ton or a one-ton truck offers the most versatility, and it’s always best to have more payload capacity to avoid any serious handling issues.”
With many styles of truck campers on the market, be sure to browse all of the options. Ease of access in a truck camper is another important aspect to consider.
Hard Side VS. Pop-Up Truck Campers
You’ll undoubtedly come across hard-side and pop-up truck campers. Although both share the same function, they differ greatly in design, weight, space, construction and most of all, cost.
For example, the roof of a pop-up truck camper extends when in use, and then simply retracts for travel. Although not as robust as hard-side truck campers, they do offer some benefits.
For instance, they cost less, can accommodate lighter trucks, and reduce wind resistance at highway speeds, thus offering better fuel economy.
They can make an ideal choice for first-timers looking for more comfort at a campground or are ideal for avid outdoors men.
It’s worth noting that pop-up models are available in sot-sided and hard-sided designs as well. While the later has better insulation and is more durable, they are heavier with a higher centre of gravity.
Whereas sot-sided pop-up truck campers incorporate waterproof vinyl fabrics as sidewalls, they weigh less and offer better wind-resistance yet they have reduced insulation (for warmth) and are not as robust in rough conditions or foul weather.
Hard side-style truck campers, such as those offered by Lance, are perhaps the most popular style, and come with a wealth of appointments – comparable to larger trailers and motorized RVs.
“The opportunities with a truck camper are pretty much endless.”
With so many great features including electrical, freshwater/waste tanks, unique storage solutions, and more. They are practically a compact home on the bed of your truck.
One key highlight is the insulation that’s commonly layered between the exterior fibre-glass and interior walls.
Many manufacturers – such as Lance – even incorporate insulation in exterior storage compartments, near waste tanks and other areas.
This not only retains heat or cool air from an A/C but allows seamless comfort and convenience during all four seasons.
A range of floor plans, slide outs, wet/dry bath, interior furniture, convertible dinettes, and cab-over queen-size beds are other common appointments. While steeper in price, they are hard to beat in the truck camper space.
Aluminum Vs. Fiberglass Exteriors
Manufacturing processes vary greatly from one company to the next, yet there are essentially just a few types of structures to build truck campers.
One is a solid wood-frame structure enclosed with aluminum sheets (thickness will vary), while the other is an aluminum frame structure (often with some wood inserts for added structural integrity) that’s finished with a laminated, fibreglass exterior.
The later, while much more expensive, has a stronger bond for better driving experiences and durability; is much easier to maintain and clean of debris; and is more durable and functional in harsh conditions and weather.
One benefit found in the Lance series is the interlocking components within the construction throughout the camper.
In the event of damage, the area can simply be replaced with factory components (similar to that of replacing a fender of a vehicle).
Additionally, fibreglass units have higher resale value, provide better sound insulation, and retain more heat for four-season use.
While considered to be more prone to denting from extreme weather or sudden mishaps, aluminum truck campers are less expensive, and lighter in weight, making them more appealing to first-time RVers.
Even though it’s possible to extend your season in an aluminum truck camper, it’s best to inquire about the level of insulation and capabilities of withstanding cooler temperatures with your local dealer.
Whether you choose fibreglass or aluminum, understand that both can be susceptible to water damage (as wood-framed units can potentially rot and fibreglass can potentially delaminate) so be sure to also inquire about sealing methods and susceptible areas of water intrusion.
“It’s important to ask about the specific use of materials in any of the construction processes,” says Conley. “You should inquire how components are cut and trimmed as when two pieces are joined, there’s a chance of torquing if it’s not done properly, which causes pressure and can move components over time.”
As space, comfort and the type of utilities all come down to personal preference, it’s wise to take a close look at some of the finer details to ensure you’ll be happy down the road.
Designs such as ease of access through the entry door, overall head room, living space, even the quality of the counters, cabinets and finishing, all provide more comfort.
While much time is commonly spent outdoors, when foul weather prevails, some questions to ask yourself include: is the dinette comfortable?
Do the galley appliances meet your needs? Is the head spacious and practical for its size? All these factors play an important part to ensure you’ll be content with your purchase.
“It’s hard to ind an RV in the same size with as many features as a truck camper,” says Conley. “Plus, with all the benefits and the ability to visit a variety of destinations, the opportunities with a truck camper are pretty much endless.”