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Topic: Why Are Truck Campers So Expensive??? Less Material Should Be Less Cash, Right???

Posted By: DemianBohemian on 08/26/04 09:43pm

Why are truck campers so expensive compared to travel trailers and fifth-wheels? I mean, you can get a much larger fifth-wheel or travel trailer with multiple slides for less than some of these truck campers with slides - and there are no wheels or axles on truck campers! There is alot less material used on a truck camper - you would think they would be less expensive? Is it because there is less competition? There does seem to be very few truck camper manufacturers when compared to manufacturers of other RV types. Less dealers too.... For instance, there is only one truck camper dealer in the whole Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas area - and they only carry Lance! All those trucks down there dealer, one brand - I don't get it!!! Did they used to be cheaper back in the 70's and 80's? It seems truck campers were more popular and there was more competition a few years ago........ Any explanation for this???
Any insight into why they are so expensive.....especially ones with slides???

Posted By: Raften on 08/26/04 10:12pm

Production volume.

'01 Dodge 3500 CTD, Lance 1121, Air Bags, Rancho 9000, All Wheels Under Power When Needed, A Few Engine Mods For Increased HP

Burning Grease, 800 ft/lbs. of torque from something you throw away.

Posted By: Beddows on 08/26/04 10:20pm

I just went to the Snow River Factory. It's a lot more work to put all that detail in a small package & truck campers have to be built stronger as people tend to take them up rougher roads than other RV types.

Posted By: alaska511 on 08/26/04 10:22pm

It's much easier to design and lay out a "box" (TT) than it is a TC, everything in a modern TC must be layed out perfectly to keep the COG where it should be, and you only have so much space to fit it all in. They squeeze the same amount of "goodies" in today's TCs as a Class C, just less floor space. I agree, they are costly, you pay for the freedom a TC offers and the Manufacturers know they will get it. The TC will go where other RVs won't, you can go much further off the beaten path of our Big RV cousins, and once you get it there, you can leave it behind and go off-roading for instance......Volume of sales is another biggy...
Besides, I can't fit a big RV next to my house [emoticon]

2017 Wildcat Maxx 295
2015 Silverado LTZ Duramax/Allison

Posted By: DemianBohemian on 08/26/04 10:32pm

Alaska, I'm right with you on the benifits of a truck camper....I wouldn't even consider a TT or fifth-wheel.....I just wish they were less expensive....... I guess if there were more cool people like us TC'ers....maybe the price would go down.......


Posted By: NC-Hawk on 08/27/04 04:09am

Back in the late 60's and early 70's, truck campers did cost less than travel trailers, etc. Same for motorcycles vs cars, cars vs SUVs/trucks, boats vs boat motors. Since then, the mfgs have learned that it isn't size that counts, it's what the consumer is willing to pay, for their paricular wants. Now if we could all just get along, organize, and stand our ground. "We're not gonna take it anymore!" (yeah, right.... )
[emoticon] [emoticon]

Posted By: Sorney1 on 08/27/04 04:27am

have you ever priced a small C such as Platinum or other up scale ones. Cost more than a small winny. A road trek 2100 costs 20 thou more than a 24 ft Minnie winnie

Posted By: FF1063 on 08/27/04 05:26am

Demian, I know exactly how you feel. The dealers are charging what we are willing to pay, these TC's are thousands and thousands of $$ over what the dealer pays the factory. And, with little or no local competition, well you know the rest ! But, if you eventually decide to sell it, the resale value remains quite high, especially when compared with a TT or Fiver. I just wish I could find a good lightweight TC for an affordable price, can't get either ! Recently I found an awesome Artic Fox 990, but at 3600 lbs. empty !!!!!!!, it doesn't even belong on my 3500 DRW truck, I can't believe people put them on 2500's.


98' Ram 3500 DRW / 05' Arctic Fox 990

Posted By: fred42 on 08/27/04 06:18am

I think they are more expensive purely to create a sense of exclusivity and superiority for the buyter. That way we will always be welcome at the snobbier RV parks and treated like the royalty that we are.

2007 Tiffin Allegro 28DA

Posted By: CurlyDave on 08/27/04 09:59am

Material costs are only a small part of the total cost of manufacture.

Labor is the largest cost component of almost every low-volume product.

If someone were popping out TCs at the same rate as say Honda Accords, they would invest in a heavily automated production line. They aren't doing this, so there is a lot more labor going into each TC.

In a smaller space, it may take more time to do certain jobs, such as installing a sink or fridge.

The biggest costs for almost anything walk on two legs...

Kathy & Dave - kids: grown and gone - Yellow Labs: Amber & Crystal
2004 SunSeeker 2890 DS - RoadMaster dolly - 2004 Toyota Highlander

Posted By: Dakzuki on 08/27/04 10:26am

I'm with CurlyDave on this. Labor costs. There are just a lot more fabrication operations in a truck camper and a lot more critical fit issues. TCs have the proverbial 10 pounds in a 5 pound bag.

2011 Itasca Navion 24J
2000 Chev Tracker Toad

Posted By: CobbCamp on 08/27/04 10:47am

I had always wondered the same thing... so much smaller, yet so much more expensive. The replies here have been great.

'01 Ford F-250 SuperCab LB V-10
Yamaha EF2800i
...To be born in Freedom is an accident; to live in Freedom is a constant struggle; but to die in Freedom is a sacred obligation.

Posted By: fishalert on 08/29/04 08:55pm

Has anyone tried building their own truck camper. I was looking at the following webb site who sell plans along with building instructions and locations and manufactures of building supplies. They have different plans available. Please check out their webb site and let me know what you think.

Posted By: PhilipG on 08/29/04 09:03pm

I have two computers. One is a Dell that sits on the floor. Big box. paid 350 bucks for it on ebay. the other is Sony that weighs 2.5 lb. They are near identical in specs. The Sony cost1400 bucks. worth every cent to me as I can carry it on a bike ride. PG

1997 F250 HD/PSD 19.5" Rickson wheels and Michelin XZE tires. Air bags add a leaf, Rancho shocks. Lance 2003 1030
2007 Vespa GTSie 250

Posted By: DemianBohemian on 08/29/04 08:10am

But wouldn't the bigger slide outs on travel trailers need to be built even stonger to support so much more weight? Also, the whole weight of a travel trailer is resting on it's axle or axles and must be designed accordingly. Truck campers, on the other hand, have the luxury of resting on the truck bed with their whole weight evenly distributed throughout the whole underside of the camper. The truck does all the work of distributing the weight to the axles.....

I think they are overpriced big time!!!!


"The best things in life are free or almost free.....except for trucks and campers."

Posted By: WarrenS on 08/29/04 08:34am

A TT, 5er, or MH has a heavy ladder frame to support the wieght from end to end. A TC has to integrate the strength to support the cabover. Also, as others have said, working in the extremely tight spaces takes more time and TCs are built much stronger than other RVs.

IMHO, TCs are not that much more expensive than other RVs if you compare similar amenities. Yes, other RVs give more space, but if you consider the features rather than the overall space, you'll see that there's not that much difference.

Happy Trails,
- Warren
Wife, 8 year old boy, 6 year old girl
01 Lance 961 (9'6 with slide out). TorkLift Frame Moutned tie downs, FastGuns, SuperHitch
05 Chevy DRW,LB,CC,4x4,8.1L gas, Alison
78 Toyota FJ40 w/'97 350 Chevy & auto. trans.
87 Honda TRX250R

Posted By: sirwilliam on 08/28/04 01:28am

Well this is a question that has been asked many times with no definative answer......................Steve...

2012 Greystone Metallic, Chevy K3500HD LTZ, 11600 GVWR, 24500 GCVWR, X-cab, LB, LML Duramax 6.6ltr/M-74 Allison 1000, 3:73 Eaton G-80 "Locker" 11.5" Differential, 2009 Citation Classic 26RLS5W......

Posted By: Aktravler on 08/28/04 01:34am


Well this is a question that has been asked many times with no definative answer......................Steve...


Surfing on Aircard

Mine-'02 Ram 3500, CTD DRW
S&S Avalanche 11DBS-Torklift TD's,SH & FG's

His-'03 F350 PSD SRW & Raptor 3612DS TH
Air Hitch -Edge Juice w/Attitude
Gas & Gumption!!!
26' Alweld, 200hp jet & prop

Posted By: Capt. Caper on 08/28/04 04:04am

I agree a good part can be the construction. Every joint is glued where wood contacts wood for strength. Also the paneling is glued to studing at places for added strength.
I can walk on my roof and sit there with a chair and watch a race. Also live in it off the truck.

I wouldn't doubt that other types are just stapled together. No glueing and studing spaced out further apart etc. Like some of the moblie homes in Fla.

Posted By: sirwilliam on 08/28/04 11:55am

I agree with the stapling part as mentioned above. Checkout an Arctic Fox 5'er by pushing gently on the interior walls and then do the same to a truck camper. The 5'ers walls give where the TC doesn't.....................Steve...

Posted By: Don87401 on 08/28/04 03:26pm

Try and attach four corner jacks to a TT and see if you can lift it with using the metal frame. The TT will fall a part. TC are built much better and ALOT stronger. That type or constructions does cost a bit more. The rest is Supply and demand of a free economy.

Don and Sarah
"08 F 450 King Ranch 4X4
2003 A990S Arctic Fox
Stablelift, superhitch to tow toys.
Jeeps (1957 CJ6, 1983 CJ8, 2006 LJ Rubicon (wifes) or the other 2006 LJ Rubicon (mine)) on a trailer.

Posted By: bablen5 on 09/01/04 10:59am

why is BMW more expensive then a Yugo? They are the same size. Why is Travel Supreme so much more expensive then Gulf Stream. They can be the same size. There are truck campers for 5K and truck campers for 30K. That applies to cars,boats,houses and everything in life. Smaller doesn't mean cheaper.

Posted By: INSAYN on 09/01/04 11:31am

I look at it this way:

I figure it works on the "Bikini Theory". The smaller the bikini the higher the price. If a person really wants to look good in less, they will have to pay more for it up front for both the bikini and accessories. Do you think ALL tiny bikini wearers are el'natural? In some setups, it takes a set of airbags to keep the bikini top at the right height, and not swaying back and forth uncontrollably. So that would be even more $$$ of front.


1997 F350 CrewCab PSD 4x4, auto.
2005 SnowRiver 8'10", Loaded + EU2000i.
2005 8.5'x16' Interstate West Cargo trailer, Line-X'ed
2005 16' Fish-Rite Rogue welded aluminum boat, 2005 40HP Yamaha 2-stroke O/B.

Posted By: MasterBoondocker on 09/01/04 12:00pm

because they CAN get the kind of $$$$ that they charge for them !!! ......out in the fair and free market.

Labor costs?.......come on guyz -- do you think that the workers that do the major grunt-work on these TC's are getting paid lots-o-dollars ?

NO way.

Posted By: Charsweb33 on 09/01/04 09:29pm

I agree with you, however you might want to try building your own camper. A neighbor of mine did just that, and the results were very good. He even built the box part so that he had to lift the camper high enough to clear the wheel wells. While this was a certain nuisance, the extra room inside the camper was extemely nice. It sure is noticeable to have a few extra feet of floor space in the confines of a camper. His camper was 9.5-ft long. He did not say what the materials cost, but he was happy with the results. There are a few places on the internet where you can get plans to make your own and a number of years ago, Mechanics Illustrated had plans in one of their issues.

1992. Silverado 2500HD Ext. cab long box 454CI with owner installed Banks Power Pack 4L80E AT. 1997 Sunnybrook 5th Wheel, 27-foot with slide.I used to have a 1971 C20 Chevy and 1972 11.5 Saturn PU Camper.

Posted By: DemianBohemian on 09/04/04 12:50pm

I am intrigued with the idea of building your own camper, but I don't think I have the know how and experience to do it right.....maybe if I had some good plans. (Are there good plans for dual slide outs?) Also, I wouldn't have the savings benifit of buying the materials in bulk, like truck camper manufacturers do. I think that one of the main reasons why truck campers are so expensive is the lack of competition. They have such a small part of the RV market, when compared to other RV types, combined with very few manufacturers competing with the major manufacturer (Lance), turning them into kind of a boutique niche which allows specialty pricing.....

Posted By: DevinPhilips on 09/04/04 01:38pm

Yep, campers are very expensive for what your getting.

Way back last century when I was in college, I worked for Fleetwood for a year building campers and mobile homes. All workers are paid just a few cents over minimum wage and there is a huge turnover in employees.

Working conditions are pretty awful and the push is on to produce campers as fast as possible...

That's why you see sloppy workmanship... it was all done too fast by people who weren't trained, underpaid and most likely won't be there tomorrow.

I've seen wood used to build campers that wouldn't even support its own weight... it would just fall apart when you picked it up.

What I would like to see, would be a nice 11 1/2 foot fiberglass camper shell offered by a well known company.

It would have rigid aluminum frame work, because I've seen what happens with staples, glue, screws stripping out of inferior wood products and on and on.

I would equip it myself with the features that I want and not have to settle for what's on the dealer's lot.

Posted By: DemianBohemian on 09/07/04 07:09pm


Working conditions are pretty awful and the push is on to produce campers as fast as possible...

That's why you see sloppy workmanship... it was all done too fast by people who weren't trained, underpaid and most likely won't be there tomorrow.

I have heard these issues about quality control before, and it's usually about big mass produced company campers like Lance etc.. I think it's a good idea to visit the factory where the camper is pruduced when shopping - talk to the owner/owners and workers and get a feel for how much pride the owners and employees have in their campers. I would think a smaller company with an accessable owner would be more attentive to detail, quality control, and customer satisfaction - as opposed to some big huge company where no one gives a ______........IMHO

Posted By: DemianBohemian on 09/20/04 07:19pm

Quote: might want to try building your own camper.

Here is a website where you can buy plans to build your own camper......

Posted By: DemianBohemian on 09/11/04 09:03pm

Quote: might want to try building your own camper.

This guy built his own........very light too......

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