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Open Roads Forum  >  Truck Campers

 > Driving With a Pop Up vs Hardside??

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WyoBull

Wyoming

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Posted: 03/24/20 11:58am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Biggest question I think the OP needs to ask is how he will use his truck camper most of the time.

I started out looking at pop ups, in fact I went in after doing some research fully intent on buying the Northstar 850SC. After my wife and I looked at them and then looking at the Northern Lite 8.11 SE, we ended up with the Northern Lite.

Part of that certainly was my wife's influence as to her, there was no comparison between the two. For me, I hunt and fish a lot and wanted something I could not just take off road, but really get off the beaten path where you would not take a hard side.

After having the hard side for what will be the third season coming up, I cannot say I wish I would have gotten a pop up. Our fully self contained Northern Lite is pretty darn hard to beat. However, there are times where I wish I could get just a little further off the beaten path but can't.

If I would have gotten a pop up, my plan was to leave it on the truck full time, year around. With a pop up on the truck at all times, spur of the moment camping or even that day trip to the mountains or lake is all that much easier. That is a downside to a hard side where my truck is my daily driver and so I take it on and off during the camping season and that can be a hassle at times.

Driving with a hard side, even with the winds we get around here at times is not a problem at all. When we first got the camper and picked it up, it took me about the first 15-20 miles after leaving the dealership to settle in and be comfortable.

So, sometimes I am torn as to which way I wish I had it. But in the end, I am just glad to be able to have a truck camper, period.


2017 Ford F350 XLT Premium CCSB 4x4 6.2 gas 3.73 rear end, 4226 lbs payload
2017 Northern Lite QC 8.11 SE
Torklift tie downs, Torklift Fast Guns, Torklift Upper Stableloads, Airlift 5000 Ultimate air bags, Airlift WirelessAIR onboard compressor system


joelc

Cedar Point, NC

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Posted: 03/24/20 01:39pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

What kind of camping do you do. If you have anything with fabric you might not be allowed in National Parks due to some wildlife you would not want to enter your camper.

breeves2245

Northwest Arkansas

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Posted: 03/24/20 05:08pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I have an 850SC on a 2020 Ford F-350 long bed, srw. I'm new to rv'ing so take that in consideration with my comments. I'm 61 and in good shape. After a few trips I can now see how a hard side would be so much more convenient. Yes you can stop and pop up the roof to make a sandwich, but it is a bit of a pain in my opinion. Not a big pain, but enough to make sure I have a sandwich ready in the truck. If I took up yoga for a year, I still could not entertain using the toilet with the top down. I'm 6'0". When the camper is at the house and I'm getting ready to pack for a trip, I need to raise the roof to go in/out. Don't have to for a quick in/out but for me it gets real old, real fast bending down every time in. So I may be shopping for the Laredo SC soon.

Geewizard

E. Washington

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Posted: 03/24/20 06:56pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

joelc wrote:

What kind of camping do you do. If you have anything with fabric you might not be allowed in National Parks due to some wildlife you would not want to enter your camper.


This has NOT been my experience in Denali NP, several Canadian Parks, and Yellowstone NP.


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Grit dog

Black Diamond, WA

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Posted: 03/24/20 08:57pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Only ones I’m aware of is Fishing Bridge campground in Yellowstone and Glacier sometimes has temporary restrictions due to bear activity.


"Yes Sir, Oct 10 1888, Those poor school children froze to death in their tracks. They did not even find them until Spring. Especially hard hit were the ones who had to trek uphill to school both ways, with no shoes." -Bert A.

Fishbreath

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Posted: 03/25/20 12:30pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I have an 850SC on a 2019 GMC long bed SRW. With the camper on the truck, the springs do not even hit the overloads. It handles quite nicely on the road, with little reaction to wind or passing trucks.

With regards to using the toilet with the roof down..... Nope!
The toilet sits on a pedestal for the attached shower stall. The seat is too high to make it usable with the top down.
I have considered taking out the toilet/shower combo because I never use the shower. I would prefer to have just a portable toilet sit lower and then add additional length to the dinette seating.
Bill

mkirsch

Rochester, NY

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Posted: 03/26/20 07:42am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Dagwood_55 wrote:

OP here, thanks for all the good info.

My main concern or question was more on how the 2 different TC's drive. I understand the popup will hardly be noticable on a 350 SRW. But how does the 350 SRW handle with a med sized hard side TC on it. Will it be fine on most NF roads?? I have no intention on "rock crawling" or "mudding" But do want to get off the pavement and down regular maintained NF gravel roads. And I don't want a white knuckle experience while driving in traffic dow the interstate @ 65 to 70 mph or across mountain passes in CO.


If you're naturally a white-knuckle driver, then you will have a white-knuckle experience. There's no way around it.

Otherwise, these campers would not be as popular as they are if they made driving difficult.


Putting 10-ply tires on half ton trucks since aught-four.

zb39

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Posted: 03/26/20 08:03am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

joelc wrote:

What kind of camping do you do. If you have anything with fabric you might not be allowed in National Parks due to some wildlife you would not want to enter your camper.

I have been to 41 of our 61 National parks and I have never seen anything like this. The closest I can recall is you can't stay at fishing bridge campground with a soft side. You can go in the park etc, no issues, just can't camp there. But there are 12 other campgrounds inside the park you can use. Fishing bridge is inside yellowstone. Also fishing bridge is my least favorite CG,
But they are re doing it so hopefully it is better. It's the only full hook up CG in the park. Not that important to me. YMMV


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Coblue

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Posted: 04/02/20 10:51pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I had a Hallmark Milner (popup) and currently a Northstar Laredo SC on a 2006 Dodge 2500 CTD Shortbed.. About a 300# base weight difference. There is very little difference between the way they feel on the highway. Fuel mileage is only slightly (1mpg?) worse.

Offroad there is a little more rocking with the hard side but that is an acceptable trade off for me in exchange for the convenience, quietness and insulation of the hard side. The only real difference is the added height of the hard side if in low-canopy trees or tight rock walls on the side of the trail. Really not an issue on most FS roads I've been on.

Feel free to pm me if questions.


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hedgehopper

Denver

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Posted: 04/06/20 10:00pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

For ten years we had a Phoenix popup, 1000 lbs dry, on a std cab, longbed Tundra. The combination drove like a dream. You had to look in the mirror to be sure the camper was still there. On occasion, we drove in 60 mph winds, the only problem being our fear that something might blow off. Other than a vent cover, nothing did.

Now we have a Northern Lite 10-2, 2500 lbs dry, on a longbed Dodge diesel dually. Highway restrictions have kept us parked in a Walmart lot during high winds. We are glad to have a dually, and we beefed up the Dodge front end to provide the stability we wanted. It drives fine, but doesn’t compare with the Phoenix and Tundra, especially on unpaved roads.

So why did we switch? Three reasons: (1) We wanted a bathroom, (2) we wanted a fridge with a freezer, and (3) getting on toward ages 70 and 80, we no longer relished raising the popup by muscle power. We could have switched to a heavier (and more costly) popup. But that would have required that we upgrade our truck too. Instead we decided to go all the way to a hardtop and a dually/diesel truck.

The OP wondered about air conditioning, a window unit or a rooftop: The window unit in our Phoenix worked better for us than the rooftop on our NL because it was in our bedroom, which is where we want most of the cool air.

So which is better? The Dodge and NL that we have now suits us fine. We especially like having a readily available bathroom and stopping for lunch without popping a top – and not having to get outside in foul weather to drop and secure the top.

On the other hand, when we were younger, the Phoenix and Tundra suited us fine. Surprisingly, we paid only about a 3 mpg penalty when we switched to the Dodge, but it’s a diesel. And we don’t drive as fast as we used to.

A final word: before buying our present rig, we rented a NL on a new Ford SRW. Consequently, we decided to get a different model NL than what we thought we wanted. And driving the Ford SRW convinced us to get a dually.

* This post was edited 04/11/20 05:23pm by hedgehopper *

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