As you may have noticed, RVs come in many different forms. There are fifth wheels, travel trailers, Class A motorhomes, and toy haulers, just to name a few. One option that may not sound entirely familiar is that of a truck camper. While they represent one of the most convenient and popular alternatives to big motorhomes, not everyone in the RV world understands what they are or how they function.
However, if you appreciate lightweight traveling, great functionality, and superb maneuverability, then a truck camper is an option worth considering. Continue reading to learn more about them and get started on your bucket list adventures.
What Is a Truck Camper?
A truck camper is an RV that is designed to fit inside the bed of a truck. Unlike standard motorhomes, campers operate with minimal weight and provide extra living space. Most options include home-style conveniences and amenities, including a kitchen, bed, dining space, and bathroom. Plus, the average option weighs a mere 2,684 pounds (1,217 kilograms).
Since campers can slide into place in the back of a truck, they offer a convenient form of exploring for those who travel lightly and don’t need the extra space provided by a large motorhome. Coupled with the rock-solid platform provided by its rig, these campers are simple to maneuver, require little maintenance, and offer off-road capabilities that typical standard RVs can’t match.
Since a camper is designed to fit into the bed of your truck, you can park your vehicle in almost any parking spot. This means no more limiting yourself to campgrounds with wide-open spaces for RVs. Because campers are considered the smallest class of motorhomes in the RV community, 42 states classify them as cargo instead of RVs.
With regard to weight, a camper can weigh anywhere between 1,0000 and 5,000 pounds. Keep in mind that you should never install a camper that exceeds the payload capacity of your vehicle. Not only will this reduce your truck’s lifespan, but you’ll be putting yourself in a dangerous position. Before purchasing a camper, figure out the exact payload of your truck, along with the length of your truck’s bed.
Now let’s take a look at the types of truck campers: slide-in and pop-up options.
What Is a Slide-In Pickup Camper?
A slide-in camper slides and locks into the bed of a pickup truck as you drive down the road. If you’ve ever turned your attention to a trucker with a recreational home on its back, chances are you spotted a slide-in pickup camper. While exterior storage is limited due to their compact units, slide-in trailers offer plenty of space for home-style amenities.
You have plenty of room for a stove, refrigerator, dine-in area, and bathroom facilities. You might be wondering how exactly slide-ins operate. The good news is that you can easily mount and unmount when setting up camp. The metal jacks on each corner of the vehicle are designed to lift the RV and secure the camper onto the truck bed via tie-downs and turnbuckles devices.
What Is a Pop-Up Truck Camper?
Pop-up campers are similar to slide-ins in visual appearance and layout features. The difference is that pop-up trucks have roofs designed to drop onto the main body of your truck. Because of this, they are less susceptible to swaying or unwanted movement while traveling, which makes them a convenient option for travelers who travel off-road.
Another difference between the two is how they are dismounted. With pop-up campers, all you do is raise the pop-up roof and place it back into place before leaving your campsite. Pop-ups have soft canvas walls, which means they weigh less than slide-in campers. However, they don’t provide much protection against extreme weather.
Is a Truck Camper Economically Feasible?
Not surprisingly, costs reign over all other factors involved in motorhome purchases. Investing in a truck bed camper can save you money in the long run. Here are some of the reasons:
- Low maintenance: Aside from periodic oil changes, engine tune-ups, and tire changes for your truck, you won’t have to spend a fortune to keep your camper well-maintained. Eventually, you’ll have to spend some money to keep your camper in top condition. However, that amount will be minimal compared to the costs associated with RV maintenance.
- No registration fees: Remember earlier when we said 42 states classify campers as cargo? Well, this means campers don’t have to pay registration fees for their cargo.
- Fuel economy: In today’s economic landscape, gas prices play a substantial role in our finances. Generally speaking, travelers with a camper receive better fuel economy than those with a large RV. This is because truck campers receive, on average, better mpg (miles-per-gallon) than standard motorhomes.
With all that said, unless you have a heavy-duty truck, purchasing a camper may not be the best financial decision. Not only will you have to pay a fortune on monthly payments, but you’ll also have to spend money on upgrading your truck.
10 Signs You Should Purchase a Truck Camper
Campers offer an alternative way of embracing a camping lifestyle. Are they worth it, though? Read on to discover whether or not a truck camper is right for you.
1. Do you enjoy off-road adventurers?
There’s something so fascinating about having the freedom to travel into remote areas, away from large crowds and local areas. If you enjoy off-road adventures, then a camper is your one-stop solution for connecting with remote destinations.
2. Do you enjoy boondocking?
RV boondocking is an alternative form of camping where you don’t have access to amenities such as water, sewer, or electric hookups. If you find yourself constantly camping in off-grid locations, consider purchasing a camper. Give yourself the freedom to explore as you wish with no camping restrictions.
3. Do you relish the beach?
Sometimes, all you need is the presence of scenic waves crashing onto shorelines. However, not all beach areas allow RV camping. With a camper, you’re less likely to experience overnight parking restrictions.
4. Can you survive with minimal gear?
Outdoor adventurers should reflect your desire to connect with nature. This means the less stuff you bring, the better the camping experience. While campers are designed with built-in amenities, they’re more suited for travelers who can enjoy the outdoors with minimal gear.
5. Is storage a concern for you?
Unless you plan on living in your truck full-time, you’ll have to store it somewhere. Fortunately, these bad boys require far less storage space than a standard motorhome. If you hate the hassle of finding and paying for a storage facility, then a camper is right for you.
6. Do you value security?
One advantage of opting for a truck bed camper is the extra layer of security provided. While there are ways to protect your belongings in an RV, you can rest knowing that your gear and rig remain with you at all times.
7. Do you enjoy easy driving?
Driving long distances is a hassle. Driving an RV for the first time is a whole other hassle in and of itself. You have to account for traffic, lane selection, and the distance between you and other drivers. Not to mention it takes time to get the hang of driving an RV. With a camper, it’ll feel like driving a regular pickup truck.
8. Are you seeking a community of like-minded individuals?
In the RV community, no one is a stranger. We interact, share stories, and consult with each other to make our camping experiences enjoyable. The same experiences can be found with truck campers. You may be surprised at the level of generosity and friendliness you receive as a first-time camper.
9. You are not ready to invest in a large RV
It goes without saying that standard RVs are expensive. The average cost of a new Class A motorhome can range anywhere between $50,000 and $200,000. Obviously, prices fluctuate due to several factors. However, if you own a heavy-duty truck and are looking to embrace RVing, then maybe it's time to consider investing in a slide-in camper.
10. You are a spontaneous adventurer
Perhaps the best reason to invest in a truck camper is knowing you have the opportunity to embark on last-minute adventurers. Maybe there’s a hiking trail you recently thought of? Maybe you’ve decided to change your plans and check out a scenic waterfall instead. With a camper, you can whip up a spontaneous trip without concerning yourself with the logistics of your adventurers.
In an RV, you have to consider the routes you’re taking, what campgrounds you’ll be staying at, and whether or not your destinations are RV-friendly.
Find a Truck Camper With Cruise America
Whether you’re looking to purchase a small motorhome or want to avoid the hassles of maintaining a large RV, truck campers offer an alternate camping style.
If you need help selecting your first camper, Cruise America can get you started. We offer camper rentals equipped with power brakes, LED lighting, and air conditioners.
Contact us today to get started on your adventure!