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All of us have tough even ones in our like about experiencing the van life. Camping in a tent can be great, but now there are so many amazing options to try out. Traditional motorhomes are traditionally single units that contain all of the infrastructures in one piece, including the camper van motor and engine. For those who prefer to detach their motorhome home from their vehicle, a truck camper is a perfect option for you. Truck campers are similar to RVs because they offer many of the same amenities and features; however, they vary from standard RVs because of their core design.
Truck campers are latched onto the bed of a pickup truck, while traditional RVs use a single vehicle design that encompasses both the living quarters and driving compartment. There are many benefits to using a truck camper instead of a regular RV, primarily in the department of fuel economy and ease of use. While there are many advantages to purchasing a truck camper as opposed to a regular RV, there are also downsides that you’ll want to consider when getting into the truck camping experience.
- 1 My Top Picks
- 2 How to shop for A Truck Camper
- 3 Top Truck Camper Recommendations
- 4 Frequently Asked Questions
- 5 Conclusion
My Top Picks
If you don’t want to go all the way to the end, here are our top three recommendations for the best truck campers:
- Northern Lite 8-11EX
- Cirrus 920
- Lance 650
Due to the cab-over design used by many truck campers, they are known to be some of the most fully capable mobile home options available on the RV dealers market. Truck campers are suited to handle virtually any environment or terrain you’re interested in traversing because they use pickup truck beds as their base platform for movement.
One of the things you have to consider when purchasing a new or used truck bed camper is its compatibility with your pickup truck. Since truck campers connect to the bed of your pickup, you’ll need to make sure that the truck camper manufacturers you decide to purchase can latch onto your pickup truck.
Aside from the truck camper’s compatibility with your pickup truck, you’ll also need to take into consideration a few other key elements as well. These things include variables like cost, weight, size, floorplan, functionality, and more.
Truck campers come in various configurations, so each model will vary significantly in terms of the mobility and functionality it offers. Many people choose truck campers over traditional RVs because they are generally easier to maintain, come with better fuel economy, and are a lot less expensive than traditional RVs.
Before you buy a great truck camper or trailer, you need to make sure that you have gotten all of the details right in terms of how compatible it is with your pickup truck and what options you have in terms of actually mounting the truck camper in addition to other things like the features it comes with and the actual design of the camper itself.
One of the main advantages of purchasing a truck camper over a standard RV is that you’re not required to obtain camper insurance as you would be with a traditional RV. With truck bed campers, you don’t even need to obtain registration to operate the vehicle, which is a huge bonus if you’re looking for a hassle-free way to live comfortably while exploring the world.
In this guide, we will give you useful information and tips that will help you determine which are the best truck campers models for you and how to go about purchasing them for use. Make sure you read all of the information included in this guide so that you can avoid purchasing a truck camper that doesn’t offer the critical features you need.
We’ll cover a wide range of topics related to choosing a truck camper and how to maintain it once in your possession. You’ll also find truck camper recommendations and other information you can use to make the right purchase decision.
Let’s begin diving into all of the important information that you need to know about how to choose the right truck camper option, like the best RV dealers and even some important facts about RV camping for your needs, in addition to all of the steps you need to take to properly attach the camper to your pickup truck of choice.
How to shop for A Truck Camper
When you purchase a truck camper, the truck and camper themselves are sold separately, as you may already know. This means that to make the right purchase decision on a truck camper and pickup truck, you need to match both of their specification sheets and compatibility details so that you can ensure both your pickup truck and truck camper will work together seamlessly. There are many ways that you can approach the purchase of a truck bed camper. However, most people prefer to match the truck with camper.
This is done because a majority of the driving will take place in the cab of the pickup truck, so most prospective buyers want to ensure that they’ll have a comfortable drive in addition to a nice place to camp. You can shop for your truck camper before you begin shopping for the actual pickup truck; however, it really all depends on which one you value most.
If you’re more concerned about making sure that you have enough space and room to move freely and enjoy your time while in nature, you may want to consider purchasing the truck camper before purchasing the pickup truck. If you’re more worried about making sure that you’re able to drive your truck camper anywhere without restriction, then you should purchase the pickup truck before the camper.
Let’s look at the different truck options you have to choose from when purchasing a truck camper.
Find the right truck that matches your camper.
Most camper owners prefer ¾ ton & 1-ton pickup trucks due to their high towing capacity and durability.
The larger the towing capacity, the bigger the camper you can attach to your truck but keep in mind the payload will be higher, and the total weight will be much heavier. Your truck’s total weight will significantly impact mobility and maneuverability, so remember that when purchasing a truck for your camper.
If you’re someone who wants to travel the world and will likely only camp in wide-open spaces with very little restriction, then the overall weight of your truck may not matter much to you. However, if you’re someone that Is interested in traversing relatively small locations or parks, you’ll want to consider the weight and size of your truck and camper combination prior to finalizing the purchase.
The decisions you make in regards to the size and towing capacity of your truck will affect the overall experience that you have with your camper; however, it may not be a problem if you’re planning on traveling around the United States or bordering territories, but traversing small towns can still be challenging at times. Off-road & backcountry performance may be challenging the larger and heavier than your truck and camper combo is.
Factors such as ground clearance with a larger truck bed camper setup are also very important; you should research the areas and locations that you’re interested in visiting prior to making any final purchase decision on a camper to ensure that you’re familiar with the terrain so that you can make the right calls as far as the dimensions and capabilities that you’re truck and camper need to have.
When purchasing a truck camper, towing capacity is a major priority that you should consider before purchasing. If you own a large SUV or truck, you can tow virtually any pop up camper that you have in mind due to their standard high towing capacities that make the entire process simple and easy.
The same is not true for truck campers because each model uses a distinctively different design and latch components to create functional operation. If you have previous fabrication experience, you may be able to make minor adjustments to your truck camper’s overall framework to make it more compatible with more pickup options, but this is not recommended unless you’re absolutely confident in your ability.
If you decide to make small fabrication adjustments, you would be able to tow what can fit in your truck bed box, but you would still need to make sure that you’re within the manufacturer’s weight limit. You don’t want to spend $50,000+ on a truck bed camper just to find out that your vehicle can’t haul it or may encounter severe mechanical issues while towing something over the allotted weight limit.
Read our full guide on how to find the best pop up truck camper here.
Other key factors that you need to consider before purchasing a truck are the following:
Diesel or Gas
One of the most controversial topics among truck camper owners and enthusiasts is the debate as to whether gas or diesel is the best fuel option for your camper vehicle. The debate is rather even-sided; however, only one of these fuel options actually provides the fuel economy that most camper owners are looking for.
Aside from the initial costs of purchasing the truck and camper combination, fuel will be one of your biggest ongoing expenses, so figuring out which fuel type to use is very important. Diesel fuel is known to provide more efficient gas mileage and better performance over time when compared to regular gas; however, to get all of those benefits, you’ll need to pay a premium price.
Depending on the frequency at which you plan to use your camper, you may want to consider using diesel as the primary fuel option for consistent use over time. If you only plan to use your camper occasionally, gas might be a better fuel choice in terms of upfront cost and availability.
The type of gas that you’re able to use will also depend on the type of camper that you buy, so if you have a preferred fueling method, keep that in mind when making your final purchase decision.
Pickup trucks come in two main cab style options being crew cab and single cab units. The type of cab style you choose won’t directly impact your overall camper experience. However, it can and may affect several variables related to the overall experience.
These things include towing capacity, maneuverability, functionality, convivence, mobility, and more. Certain pickup truck cab options may come with restrictions that govern how much weight you can haul in addition to things like wheel size.
Larger cabs will also give you more space to store your valuable items and other necessities while out camping, which is something to consider if storage is very important to you. Aside from the addition of more storage space, there really are no clear benefits to choosing a crew cab over a single cab truck unit or vice versa.
Four Wheel Campers or Two Wheel Campers Drive?
The drivetrain you decide to go with will play a major role in how well your truck camper handles while out on the road. It’s really tough for some people to decide between whether or not a four-wheel-drive truck or a two-wheel-drive truck is best for them.
In all honesty, the answer to this question should be a no-brainer for obvious reasons. If you’re someone who occasionally travels to local campgrounds and other areas in your local vicinity, a 2WD truck may be the most cost-efficient and affordable option for you. There are plenty of high-quality 2WD truck options available on the market which provide performance standards near the same level as some of their 4WD competitors.
For those who want serious control, power, and versatility, a 4WD truck may be more your speed due to its unlimited capabilities and convenient, practical features. To explore what’s at the end of a dirt road or set up camp wherever you want, you’ll need a 4WD truck to do so.
2WD truck options simply lack the power and functionality to do the things previously mentioned, so you can gauge which truck drivetrain option is best for you based upon your desired activity level.
Those simply looking for a truck that can haul their camper to local parks and campgrounds go with a 2WD truck option. For those that are more serious about having the ability to traverse really turbulent terrains, you may want to go with a 4WD truck option to attach your camper to.
Now comes the most important part, purchasing the actual truck. While some camper owners prefer to buy brand new trucks to tow their campers, there are a lot of really good used cars available for purchase on the market that can help you save money while providing many of the same benefits that brand-new trucks offer.
Basic truck models cost an average of $25,000-$35,000, which can make the total cost of your truck and camper really expensive. As long as you check any applicable damage information and accident reports in relation to the used vehicle you’re interested in purchasing, you should have no problem finding a truck that is in perfect working condition and capable of hauling the camper that you’re interested in. there are a lot of great websites and other resources that you can use to located trusted used cars in your area.
New or Used? Which Truck Camper Provides More Value?
Now that you’ve decided on the right truck to haul your camper, it’s time to actually buy the camper. There are several options you have to choose from when it comes to purchasing a truck camper.
New truck campers provide their own set of benefits in the same sense that used campers do. However, it depends on your intended use for the camper, and you may be better going with a used camper instead of purchasing a brand new one.
Before buying a truck camper, you need to consider a few key features, which include the following:
The same way that houses and other living quarters come with different features and amenities, truck campers come with the same features and varying assisted living benefits as traditional houses do. Every camper that you purchase will come with basic features like a bathroom, kitchen, living area, bed, and more.
The quality of these basic necessities will vary with different truck campers, so you’ll want to pay attention to the standard quality finish that comes with different truck camper options. Although it sounds bad to say, the higher thetruck camper’s initial price tag will probably mean that the overall quality of that particular truck camper is higher quality compared to other options out on the market.
One thing to consider is that higher quality materials typically weigh more than traditional cheap materials used in the manufacturing process of certain truck camper features. These heavier and higher quality feature sets will require that your truck is able to keep up with the towing demands of these items. So, you’ll also need to purchase a truck that has a very high towing capacity.
Purchasing a truck camper is a long-term investment for many people, so you want to make sure that you purchase a truck camper that will benefit you for years to come. The truck camper’s main benefits include the fact that you can simply attach your camper to your truck and then proceed to roam as freely as you want.
You don’t have to worry about the length of your travel trailer or any of the other variables you must consider when you purchase a travel trailer instead of a truck camper. To make sure that you get the best value when purchasing a truck camper, you should consider the camper’s overall weight and dimensions to ensure that you’ll be able to maintain applicable speeds and performance while traveling.
The most common problem that many people face when purchasing a used camper is a malfunctioning water system. Traditional truck campers manufactured in the 80s to 90s are commonly known to come with water leaks and damage due to the standard system design at that time.
You should always make sure that your truck camper does not have any water leaks, especially if it’s a pre-owned vehicle, because some owners will try to hide the damage and sell the truck camper anyway, so you should always be careful.
By ensuring that you’re truck camper provides lasting value to your desired camping goals, you’ll be able to purchase a truck camper from the jump that has all of the most important features that you want.
Top Truck Camper Recommendations
Below, you’ll find a list of the latest top-rated campers available on the market, which provide the versatility, performance, and comfort that you deserve. All of the truck camper options listed below come with all of the must-have features mentioned previously in this article.
Make sure you take into consideration your desired use of said truck camper so that you can ensure you’re choosing an option that comes with all of the things you need most.
Northern Lite 8-11EX
The Northern Lite 8-11EX is the perfect short bed camper option for those that want versatility and functionality without sacrificing the features that matter most to them. It is one of the only non-slide dry bath camper options available in the truck camper industry, which sets it apart from many of its competitors.
The Lite 8-11EX comes with features that include a 10’ side awning, 7in power rear awning w/ LED light strip, thermal panel windows, LED lighting, thermal skylight, and a 100-watt solar panel. It uses 3-way fridges, which allow for easy installation and modification under an array of circumstances.
This truck camper by Northern Lite is a Lightweight camper that is made using high-quality components and parts, which add to its durability and functionality. It is compatible with 3/4 ton and larger short bed (6.6′) pick-up trucks, so you have a lot of options to choose from in terms of what primary vehicle you will use to haul your Northern Lite 8-11EX.
The Northern Lite 8-11Ex uses a clamshell design unique to the truck camper’s manufacturers, which also gives the camper more well-rounded protection and capabilities. It comes with a standard high-output furnace that allows you to maintain a comfortable and home-like atmosphere in your camper very easily.
It is a true four-season truck camper that comes loaded with all of the features you would expect and need, in addition to lots more. The 8-11Ex is manufactured in Canada; however, it is available for purchase in United States Markets also.
The Cirrus 920 is the latest model of the Cirrus 820, which was released a few years back. Since then, nuCamp has decided to up their design and manufacturing process by packing the Cirrus 920 full of innovative and very useful features that all truck camper enthusiasts will enjoy.
If you’re familiar with the Cirrus 820 line of truck campers, you will be very excited to hear that the Cirrus 920 has made nothing but improvements on the previous model, which truck campers are sure to love and appreciate.
nuCamp, which is the company that manufactures the Cirrus 920, is known for producing high-luxury truck campers, and their latest model surely does not disappoint. The Cirrus 920 comes packed with an array of unique features, including a well-designed floor plan that is one of the most spacious options available in the market sector.
The Cirrus 920 also features a non-slide and hard side in truck camper design that makes it perfect for pickup trucks with long beds. It even comes with an integrated hydronic heating system that allows you to remain warm in extremely cold weather.
The Cirrus 920 also comes with a wet bath feature that adds full functionality and luxury comfort designed to make you feel right at home regardless of where your adventures take you. It has a cab over bed design that makes it easy to install on your truck in addition to booth dinette features in the kitchen, which gives you a solid place to enjoy hot meals while camping. Furthermore, it has a generator compartment, which makes it easy for you to charge all of your electronic devices and accessories.
The Cirrus 920 also features LED lighting, which increases your visibility in the most treacherous of conditions. It even comes with stargazer window install features, which makes enjoying your surroundings very easy.
Continue reading our comprehensive Cirrus 920 Review and Buying Guide.
The Lance 650 is one of the most fully featured truck camper options available for purchase on the market. It comes standard with ducted heating, a towel rod, a marine toilet with a foot pedal, a hinged bath door, and more, all integrated into the design of the bathroom.
The Lance 650 is perfect for looking for a practical and rugged truck camper that allows them to freely explore the world. It also excels in the fact that it’s one of the most affordable options out on the market without sacrificing performance or capability. Don’t worry about the space of this truck.
This truck camper features a very generous floor plan that definitely separates it from other truck campers out on the market and it’s a very robust and fully functional truck camper option that comes loaded with everything you would want and need.
The Lance 650 also comes with a memory foam mattress that is built-in so you can enjoy the comfort of a relaxing sleep without any issues. It is one of the most lightweight truck campers out on the market, which also makes it a very sought-after truck camper option.
It comes with a tankless water heater that has a water pump with an in-line filter to ensure the purity and quality of water that you consume. The Lance 650 also features a key hanger that comes with a wall clock for easy time management and general upkeep and it has LED tail lights, license plate, and running lights so that you always maintain pristine visibility.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can truck campers be used off the truck?
Yes! The Best Truck Campers, are stable enough to keep them off the truck, and still, be safe. You can even make use of the sleeping area in the pickup camper. Just keep in mind, that keeping them in contact with the ground, can decrease the pop up camper lifetime.
Can you live full time in a truck camper?
Choosing your truck camping experience as something permanent is possible, but it comes with some details you need to keep in mind. There can be a lot of paperwork in between and, a pop up camper can be a little bit more narrow than RV camping trucks. They usually come with a small sleeping area, and a nor very long bed. Also, some do not come with a dry or wet bath.
Do truck campers have showers?
It is easy to find a trailer with a bathroom. They usually come in larger sizes than most of RV Camping trailers. The wet bath is usually a small area with a toilet, sink and shower combine.
Use all of the information and tips included in this guide so that you can make the right purchase decision when it comes to the perfect truck camper for your needs and intended use. All of the tips included in this guide can help you choose between a wide array of truck campers that are out on the market to cut through all of the ones that don’t provide the features you need to get to the ones that do.
You have so many factors to consider before purchasing a truck camper, which is why it’s best to do some thorough research about the type of camper you’re interested in and any design features that you need to look out for before making a final decision on which one Is right for you.
By ensuring that you have everything lined up and in order prior to purchasing your truck camper, you can avoid issues like a malfunctioning camper or hidden issues that may lead to the need for repairs later on down the line.
It’s always best to shop for your truck camper in person, although you can use the internet to find out important information like where a local dealer is near you and how to go about financing your purchase.
There are plenty of truck campers available for sale, both old and new, so you have no shortage of options to choose from. Consider the places you plan to take your truck camper to make sure that it can handle the various terrains you’ll subject it to.
As long as you follow all of these instructions, you should have no problem purchasing the right truck camper that has all of the features you need the first time around. Start exploring the world without sacrificing comfort or functionality, and consider purchasing a truck camper to use while you’re out in nature or any other environment.