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Open Roads Forum  >  Truck Campers

 > Need advice on my first camper truck

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Grit dog

Black Diamond, WA

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Posted: 03/15/21 11:34am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

That’s way too many questions for one post.
Presume you’re hunting for suggestions to beef up a truck as an “overlander” type rig. Super cool!

Short answer, pick virtually any 3/4 or 1 ton srw truck in the best condition from the range in which your budget allows.
Short list of trucks NOT to buy based on your use or well known issues ( as you don’t seem like a gear head that may find value in “bulletproofed” issue vehicles).
Ram 2500 with coil springs 2014 or newer. Fine truck, not a great TC truck due to rear suspension design.
6.0 and 6.4 Ford diesels

Gas or diesel, any HD from the last 20 years or so will do what you intend to do with ease from a drivetrain standpoint. All will run at Montana speed limits with a camper in the bed. Especially a little Alaskan TC.

The rest of the specific accessories questions, I’d say get the truck and then plan out your mods. Most all will be “wants” not “needs” with a HD pickup.

Have fun with your project!


2016 Ram 2500, MotorOps.ca EFIlive tuned, 5” turbo back, 6" lift on 37s
2017 Heartland Torque T29

Grit dog

Black Diamond, WA

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Posted: 03/15/21 11:44am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Note, this is a highly debated topic, but if you’re buying used (or new I suppose) you will find 3/4 ton trucks out number 1 ton trucks by a huge margin.
Add in your want for a regular cab truck and the pickins are fairly slim in the used market compared to crew cabs or even extended cabs.
So if you find the “right” truck and it’s a 3/4 ton, know that generally the only meaningful difference is the spring capacity of the rear suspension. In other words, 3/4 tons are basically re-branded 1 tons with a lower gvw rating imposed, generally for tax, operating or license purposes, not capability. There are “options” if you get into the newer models specifically with 1 tons offering different drivetrain components or power levels but none that matter for just plopping a TC on the truck. (Except for the Ram w coils thing).

IMO do not turn down the “ right” 3/4 ton just due to rear springs.

By the same token, I would absolutely consider expanding your search to short bed ext cabs or crew cabs if the CCs aren’t too long for your perceived needs off roading.
You will have far more options to choose from and more dry/secure/useable storage with any bonus cab type truck.
On the flip side, reg cab used trucks are a financial bargain with the same general capability due to their lack of popularity.

Dr.Science

Olympia, WA

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Posted: 03/15/21 12:47pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Thanks for the ideas. I don't think a DRW rig would do too well on the jeep trails - haven't seen them out there too much. Alaskans have a reputation for being heavy, but it's not really deserved. I compared half a dozen 6.5-foot-bed popup campers and the total weight variation for similarly equipped rigs was from 1318 (Four Wheel) to 1675 (Northstar) pounds, wet weight. That's only a 20% difference from lightest to heaviest. The Alaskan is 1570 lbs. Since then I've refocused on an 8-ft rig but the proportional differences are the same, with the weights all about 400 lbs heavier.

mellow

Salisbury, MD

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Posted: 03/15/21 01:29pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

One sweet alaskan setup: https://protech.net/flatbeds/camper-rv/

3500 with an alaskan 8.5 with a modular bed, looks like your type of setup.


2002 F-350 7.3 Lariat 4x4 DRW ZF6
2008 Lance 1191 - 220w of solar - Bring on the sun!

mellow

Salisbury, MD

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Posted: 03/16/21 09:26am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

This just popped up, article on F350 with an alaskan on it going to well duh... Alaska [emoticon]

https://www.truckcampermagazine.com/expe........tions/canada/3-driving-routes-to-alaska/

Dr.Science

Olympia, WA

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Posted: 03/16/21 09:51am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Looks like a fun trip. I did most of that route in 2011 by motorcycle. Dawson is a great town. Would like to spend a couple of weeks there.

Bert the Welder

Van. Island

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Posted: 03/17/21 01:26am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

mellow wrote:

This just popped up, article on F350 with an alaskan on it going to well duh... Alaska [emoticon]

https://www.truckcampermagazine.com/expe........tions/canada/3-driving-routes-to-alaska/


Nice rig.
Bad time for that article.


"> 1998 GMC 2500, 10.5 Okanagan, My better/smarter half, George and Finnegan(APBT), all I need.


bwlyon

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Posted: 03/18/21 03:51am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

If you are looking for anything north of 3500lbs of cargo capacity, you need a 3500 SRW gas powered truck at a minimum, which will get you right at 4000lbs.

mr_andyj

Georgia

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Posted: 03/18/21 10:18am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Get gas not diesel. Back in the day diesels were a very good option, diesel was cheap and no DEF, but now diesel can be way more than gas, and the DEF laws make your cost per mile decrease. Manufacturers have to tune the engine to comply so mpg's are not as good, the DEF cycles burn a lot of extra diesel and really lower mpg's when it is cycling (burning out the exhaust), and diesels can cost more to maintain, so the benefits have narrowed quite a bit over gas. Gas engines are easy, start in the cold, are lighter etc... Not as fun driving gas as diesel when loaded down as the diesel just has so much power, mostly thanks to the turbo, but gas will get it done.
You wont have a huge air drag on the Alaskan camper since it folds down.

8 foot camper needs an 8 foot bed, if I understand what u meant by 8 foot. dont put an 8 foot camper in a 6 foot bed.
Don't over-think the motor size. A 3/4 ton truck will have the motor plenty for what you need, esp since your TC will fold down.

Regular cab, do they exist, lo? Get a king cab at least as you will appreciate the extra storage room when camping.

3/4 ton SRW will be fine but likely you will need to beef up the rear suspension with air bags or an extra leaf or something, otherwise the rear will be sagging. More modern trucks will have airbags already and do all this automatically.

Agree, no DRW off road.

Cooling will most likely be adequate, again that Alaskan folds is huge. My full size TC did not fold and I never got above 195 degrees even climbing steep mtns in the desert, but it was a turbo diesel which had a lot of air going through, if that matters...
Gas might run hotter, still I would not fear this.

As for off-roading, with a TC this is no Jeep anymore. That TC will be rockin-n-rollin back there as the tie-downs are not meant to hold it like it is bolted in. Some wiggle is always there.
Tow a Razor or motorcycle, park at the trailhead and ride the of-road vehicle to get your off-road kicks, it will be cheaper in the long run than trashing your truck.

restlessways

Limbo

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Posted: 03/20/21 06:23pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

As for off-roading, with a TC this is no Jeep anymore. That TC will be rockin-n-rollin back there as the tie-downs are not meant to hold it like it is bolted in.

I had an 8' Alaskan for a few years. They actually have 4 holes in the floor to bolt it to the bed of the truck. And Alaskans are very light insofar as truck campers go. I still kick myself for selling it. It was an early 70s model and the thing was mint inside, no leaks. They're hard to find at all now, especially in that good of shape. And the prices.....good lord....

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