The first time I ever towed a little trailer with mine it had a lot of sway, after changing the P tired to D rated tires most of that was gone. I have pretty stiff rear springs, you can feel every bump, so tires and spring options can make a difference. The previous owner had it on one of those new Toyotas and even with air bags it sunk the back end pretty far, he was amazed when mine barely sunk at all, so differences in models of 1500's can make a huge difference which may account for some of the variances in answers.
Mine hauls, handles, brakes just fine, you can see the weight has barely sunk it, i've seen trucks leaving lowes and home depot with the rear sagging lower than that from a load of mulch.
I've went up and down some pretty steep WV roads.
Anyone knows this this stretch of I70 just before Cabela drive http://maps.google.com/maps?q=Cabela+Drive&hl=en&ll=40.061913,-80.577765&spn=0.026539,0.055189&sll=40.051928,-80.587292&sspn=0.026543,0.087891&hnear=Cabela+Dr,+Triadelphia,+Ohio,+West+Virginia+26059&t=m&z=14
I'm still passing minivans and subarus who have dropped below the speed limit.
We made the mistake of buying a Plymouth Vorager (dodge minivan) and coming down the route 7 mountain between Terra Alta WV and Kingwood WV would overheat the brakes, I had to stand both feet on the pedal every trip when we finally got into Kingwood and I had to buy new pads and rotors every fall after making a few summer trips, the truck and camper handles it fine. I've had many panic stops with the camper, people see a truck with camper or RV and assume its going to slow them down so rather than wait and get behind it they will pull out right in front (ask any OTR truck driver) so we've had to panic stop to keep from rear ending a couple people who have done that before.
* This post was
edited 03/22/12 06:32pm by an administrator/moderator *
Lots of generalizations here about half tons. Truth is, they are all different. I wouldn't want to haul around much camper weight on an early 2000's half ton, and many current half tons. But plenty of recent half tons are very capable of hauling a small camper.
My truck did require air bags with a 1400-1500lb camper to sit right, but I also have a 2" leveling kit. I already had bilstein shocks and d-rated 35" tires, a 5.4l engine with a few small mods, 4.56 gears etc. Power and braking are no problem whatsoever, even with 35s. The brakes are as big as you can fit inside a 17" wheel. I hauled the camper over 8700ft passes with a 6x10 cargo trailer in tow without brakes, absolutely no problem up or down the mountains. Handling was great with mentioned mods.
Overweight? Yeah, a little. But it would have been within gvwr if I had the same truck with the hd payload package, I have the heaviest f150 setup with the lower payload (softer leaf springs).
I just sold the camper because I have other projects to work on, but fully intend to have a smaller pop-up built eventually that will stay on the truck full time. My truck has several years of hauling a camper shell loaded with tools, and thousands of miles with the camper and trailer and it sure isnt falling apart, and never scared me once.
The new owner of the camper drives a Chevy 1500hd. We loaded the camper on his truck (completely stock) and the back sunk a couple inches, but is nice and level front to back. Now if it has a 5.3 it is probably miserably underpowered but again, there are plenty of good options.
If you want something to fall into the weight category you're looking at, some of the lightest hard side campers might be a travel lite, they have a few models that work great on a good half ton. For pop-ups, there are many options. Four wheel, ATC, Phoenix, etc. It is true that you will need to pack light. If you tend to lug around tons of extra junk a half ton isnt going to work well with any camper.
2006 F150 SuperCrew FX4 - Bilsteins, Hellwig sway bar, Firestone air bags, BFG KM2s, 4.56 gears, F&R lockers, Torklifts w/ Fastguns
2011 Travel Lite 700
a 5.4l engine with a few small mods, 4.56 gears etc. Power and braking are no problem whatsoever, even with 35s. ... Now if it has a 5.3 it is probably miserably underpowered... I just sold the camper...
After reading the responses I had my truck weighed. Bad news, the payload was not even close to what was listed.
Weighed at local transfer station (with driver and 1 passenger, full tank of fuel: 5600
This leaves me a payload of 800 lbs, right? This won't work for me, I can't believe the payload could be so little. I guess I'll be shopping for a 1 ton.
With your current truck an "off-road" popup camper is your best bet. They are made to be light and constructed in a very different manner than conventional truck campers. You will end up with a porta potty and some other limitations but your truck will be able to handle the load.
Not mentioned but the tires are usually the limiting factor and should be checked for their load rating and compare that to the weight on the rear axle of the truck with the camper in the bed.
Items like water heaters, hold tanks, shower and flush toilet, 3-way fridge, and the like are what add the weight but there are alternatives if you check the websites devoted to off road campers and travel.