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Open Roads Forum  >  Truck Campers

 > Considering a truck camper - truck advice?

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saenzm

Denver, CO

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Posted: 01/08/18 01:45am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Hello. We are considering buying a truck camper and truck. I'm going to buy a used truck and was wondering if there was a solid favorite among you guys.

I started looking at 1999 - 2002 diesel duallys thinking that could handle anything we throw on the back. Then I started looking at the picture thread and see that a lot of people don't have duallys.

I will need a crew cab since I have kids. And we will likely buy a bigger truck camper with shower/toilet and maybe a slide to create a little more room for our dogs/kids.

Thoughts?

Thanks,
Mark

SideHillSoup

South Eastern British Columbia

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Posted: 01/08/18 04:34am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I just bought my new truck 3 months before I decided to sell the 5th wheel and go with a camper. So right now I have a 1ton short box GMC diesel crew cab, with a Northern Light Camper with no slides and shower toilet.
If I had to do it again I would be this.
- Truck
Same truck but in a long box, I’m a GMC type guy, but there are a lot of larger weight class fords out there I think they go as large as an F-450, I could be wrong on that.
I have a diesel becuase I was pulling a 35th 5th wheel in the mountains I you need the power up here. You also get better mileage in the mountains with a diesel. The diesel will cost more than a gas powered truck to service and repair, but the longevity of the diesel is something else I liked.
- Year of truck
if a diesel, it will make a difference on pollution control devices on the truck. Up here in Canada the DEF ( Diesel Exhaust Fluid) was started to be added to new trucks in 2007 by 2010 it was on all diesel trucks. It’s is relatively cheap ( $11 USA $ per 2 USA Gals) but is a pain to add and it is just one more thing you have to buy for your truck for its life.
- Camper
Same camper but a longer one to fit the 8ft Box
- slides
as I don't like slides period. The years when I had my 5th wheels I had to many issues, and becuase we were going to be doing a lot of off pavement traveling slides were definitely out of the picture. So when I researched for what camper to buy, I stayed completely away from slides.
Becuase you have kids you may want to have a slide just for elbow room inside, however when you add a slide to a camper you add on average 800 to 1000 lbs.
also when your camping, are you inside or outside? My wife and I only are inside only to cook if the weather is bad, sleep and use the bathroom, we are outside 100% of the times besides those three things. So for us, another reason not to get a slide was why would need the extra space and then hardly use it, but pay in fuel economy to have it?
- camper materials
Becuase this camper will be staying with us for ever, I also did research on what makes or what type materials last longer. I also know from buddies with different types of campers, like manufacturers, wall and roof materials etc what to looks for and stay away from. Wasn’t long before I went and stayed with a Fiberglass Camper Northern Lite.
-Getting in the camper
once my wife saw the stairs on the back of the Northern Lite campers she was sold on them, no if and or buts about it. Not kidding, she saw those stairs and was in love. Look at how your going to get in the camper. A lot of older campers don't have the stairs attached to the camper like the newer ones are starting to come with, so that is really important.
- dry rott
My buddy was just over at Christmas who owns a older camper, which he bought new in 2004. Last fall while out hunting he tripped going up the stairs and came down hard on one step and the whole thing broke off the back of the camper, lucky for him he had is hand on the grab handle. He keeps his camper inside his huge shop at home so it is kept inside when not in use. When he took the camper apart to repair he found that the seal around the door had failed at sometime and would allow water in side u dear the metal siding, over the years it rotted away.
Also you will see on a lot of older camper like my first camper a long time ago is where the camper jacks mount brackets are bolted onto the camper corners, will have different size beds on bolts as well as large amounts of different caulking like silicon globed on. If you see this “stay away”, or run away would be better. That usually means the bracket came loose at one time and someone added a bigger bolt to the hole and then gobbled on some kind of caulking. Usually the bracket came loose because water got in behind the bolt head and then followed the bolt into the wood and rotted it.
When you checking the camper before you buy it, push gently on the ceiling, if you hear small cracking or you see small bubbles in the ceiling material, run, it usually means the roof has leaked at one time. Also get a ladder and look on the roof from the outside. If you see a big glob of caulking / silicone what ever, run, that will usually mean they roof leaked In the same spot more that one time, you get the picture.
- Duelly
If you buy a duelly make sure the front jacks on your camper have the swing bracket, so that the jacket will be wider than the fender walls on the box of the duelly truck. I never even thought of that until I ordered my Northern Light Camper and those brackets were an option on the list of things we could get.
Your buying second hand so price will have a lot to do with what you are buying for both rigs. The list above is only what I though about before and since I bought my truck and camper. Everyone will have different options, that’s the beauty about this site lost of different info coming your way.
Good luck.
Soup.


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WNYBob

Tonawanda, NY

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Posted: 01/08/18 05:24am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

You don't mention why you want a TC over another type of RV.
That should be you first consideration. TC's are quite cramped!
Try to think of bed time, who and where at what time.
Just a thought.

donn0128

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Posted: 01/08/18 06:10am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Ford is not the only one making 450/4500 and bigger trucks. Ram also has a 4500 and 5500 series trucks that will handle the bigger heavier campers. One thing to remember, the older you go, the lower the ratings go. And prices will still be right up there. My 07 Ram dually still shows around 35K trade in value.


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joerg68

St. Ingbert, Germany

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Posted: 01/08/18 08:12am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

The truck's payload capacity and the weight of the travellers, camper and gear must match.

The payload is found on the door sticker. Believe these numbers. There are ways to exceed these numbers, some are safe, many are not. Older trucks tend to have less payload than newer ones. Duallies have more payload as they have 2x the number of wheels in the rear to distribute weight. For SRW trucks, the rear axle load rating is usually limited by the load capacity of the tires.

The "dry" weight of the camper is stated by the manufacturer and it is usually very much understated and does not represent the actual weight when ready for travel. You usually need to add the weights of any non-standard equipment (such as A/C, camper jacks, etc.), battery, water, LPG, gear, ... Some mfgs are worse than others, but you need to be very careful when calculating the weights. You might take a look at the buyer's guide in truck camper magazine (truckcampermagazine.com) for more insights.

If you have neither truck nor camper, it is wise to find a camper you like first, and then look for a matching truck. And having extra payload capacity is never a bad thing.


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mkirsch

Rochester, NY

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Posted: 01/08/18 08:38am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

The solid favorite is the truck that is in good shape at a reasonable price when you're talking that old.


Putting 10-ply tires on half ton trucks since 2017.

Grit dog

Black Diamond, WA

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Posted: 01/08/18 09:05am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

^Alot of truth to that statement.
Next consideration is primary use of the truck and balancing primary and secondary use with need. IE if you’re daily parking in a parking garage and hauling the camper 4x a year maybe a dually is not the right overall best machine.

Other than that it’s capability and what you’re comfortable with. Do you want oodles of factor of safety or are you ok with using the truck to its maximum abilities.

My opinions differ from some here, but srw HD pickup from early 2000s up to around 4500lbs loaded. Bigger then that I’d be looking dually for sure. Know that the bigger the camper, the more modifications needed to the truck, in general.

In particular though, length of camper, center of gravity and how the truck is equipped all factor in. Not a 1 size fits all answer.


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mkirsch

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Posted: 01/08/18 09:14am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Yes, but if you decide against a dually, you need to be willing to COMPROMISE. That's something RVers seem to have a hard time doing. They want their F150 and their 11-1/2' 6000lb 3-slide truck camper, and why can't they have it?

Less capable truck means a smaller, lighter, less-fancy camper. You may have to squeeze in a little tighter. You may have to do without the extra storage compartment.

ppine

Northern Nevada

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Posted: 01/08/18 10:07am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I bought a one ton Ford SRW to haul a camper, and found it to be top heavy. In the wind it is like going to sea. On mountain roads it does not feel safe to me.

A lot people have gone to air bags to firm up the suspension. DRW are best for larger campers, but I never wanted to drive one of those things in town.

I think you are asking a lot to have your whole family in a truck camper. They are best for a couple or a single person. You might be better off with a TT.

Don't go too big with your camper or you might regret it. Find a friend with one and drive it around before you take the plunge.

My wife put it this way "A camper is too much trouble to put on for a short weekend trip, and too small for a long trip." We sold ours and bought a trailer.

saenzm

Denver, CO

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Posted: 01/08/18 10:28am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Thanks for all the great info. Our main reason for considering the TC is because we would like the ability to take some back mountain roads to remote locations. We feel the TT is probably the best for our space needs; however, we feel it would be a pain to pull in the mountains or winter. We are concerned about being cramped though. Good info here and lots to consider. Thank you thank you thank you.

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