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Open Roads Forum  >  Truck Campers

 > Pushing It Off Road with a 3-4000 lb Hardtop

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Cortttt

Western US

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Posted: 10/26/21 09:03am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I've been boondocking with a 1-ton van with a limited-slip for quite a while and I've pushed it - been stuck many times - and have usually been able to get out.

A truck camper is very different, though. It'll have 4-wheel drive but is considerably heavier and taller vehicle (3-4000 lb camper -Lance, Northern-lite, Cirrus, ?). (That is I think it will be heavier. A recent weight check clocked in our van - loaded to the gills and with 500 W solar on top) at 9300 lbs. - which I couldn't believe. In fact, I wonder if I did something wrong. I will recheck.)

If we could do this every now and then that would be great.

Trails in this category (5) will be long, rough, and remote. High clearance and 4-wheel drive required. More aggressive vehicles favorable. Stock vehicles can make it with careful driving but expect pin-stripping and possible scrapes underneath. Trails are often narrow and rutted, where backing short distances may be required to pass other vehicles. Expect steep hills with drop-offs. Water crossings possible which could make trail impassable after rain

https://azoffroad.net/trail-ratings

Ideas thus far on making the rig off-road capable enough.

Keeping the Camper stable on rocky roads


• Bed mat
• Torklift fastguns - springloaded turnbuckles; don't overtighten turnbuckles
• Rubber bumpers mounted to front of the camper - limit forward movement of the camper -Torklift front bumper kit if the camper does not come with one.
• Bump stops mounted in front of and behind the wheel wells
Use camper guides - metal triangles bolted to the bed to keep the camper from moving side to side, reducing strain on it and the tie-downs

Reducing Sway


Helliweg Sway Bar
Bilstein shocks
Airbags?
(Current springs/coils OK with 3-4000 lb camper?)

Clearance

Mild lift (2") - would it enhance tippiness?


Ditching the air conditioner and adding more solar might save a little weight on top. Partner wants to keep air conditioner - which I think we would rarely use; If we kept it we would have to keep the generator - which I would also like to ditch (as well as the microwave) and get a bit more storage. We'll see how that goes...

Suggestions would be great!

Yosemite Sam1

Under the pines.

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Posted: 10/26/21 12:24pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

You not only pushed it, you are beyond tipping point.

MT BOB

Montana

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Posted: 10/26/21 12:38pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I think you need to do some research. The truck would be easy to build.A 2" lift, add camper=0 lift,and no where near "high clearance".
Roads like that will destroy a truck camper.Really sounds like you should have an expedition vehicle built,like an EarthRoamer.
Otherwise, build your truck,buy a "sturdy" truck camper,as in a Four Wheel camper,pop top,no A/C, gen., etc, weight is not your friend, go as light and slow as possible.

Yosemite Sam1

Under the pines.

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Posted: 10/26/21 12:53pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Like a Unimog.

Cortttt

Western US

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Posted: 10/26/21 01:03pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

My experience consists of driving those roads for the past 6 years in a 2wd one-ton van - certainly not most of the time. This, for instance, is common.

"Stock vehicles can make it with careful driving but expect pin-stripping and possible scrapes underneath. Trails are often narrow and rutted, where backing short distances may be required to pass other vehicles. "

That's pretty much where I go in the desert with, like I said, a 2wd drive van (with a limited slip).

I don't know how a hard top truck camper would hold up, though. (Hence my desire to get it as stable as possible). Judging by some pictures that were presented in the last thread I did - some people are doing it (????)

In one post, for instance, Jefe said his camper of choice was, I think a Lance 850 which clocks in at around 3400 pounds. Whatever I get I will take it slow. The older I get the more conservative I get.

* This post was edited 10/26/21 01:17pm by Cortttt *

Lwiddis

Near DVNP, California

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Posted: 10/26/21 01:27pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Even without my RV I turn around when there could be pin-stripping. Every inch you increase height raises COG...scary for me. Those roads are level now. Run a wheel off an edge and bingo!


Winnebago 2101DS TT & 2020 Chevy Silverado 1500 LTZ Z71, 300 watt solar-Lossigy 200 AMP Lithium battery. TALL flag pole. Prefer boondocking, USFS, COE, BLM, NPS, TVA, state camps. Bicyclist 14 yr. Army -11B40 then 11A - (MOS 1542 & 1560) IOBC & IOAC grad


jimh425

Western MT

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Posted: 10/26/21 01:34pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I’d also consider a two vehicle setup. DRW with large TC for camping. I wouldn’t ditch the AC. You never know when you might need it. Also, some form of generator. The second vehicle would be a flattowed Jeep or Side x Side on a trailer. Note: if you want see country, you can travel much more quickly with a Side x Side or Jeep.


'10 Ford F-450, 6.4, 4.30, 4x4, 14,500 GVWR, '06 Host Rainer 950 Dbl Slide, Torklift Talon tiedowns, Glow Steps, and Fastguns. Bilstein 4600s, Firestone Air Bags, Toyo M655 225/19.5 Gs, Curt front hitch, Energy Suspension bump stops.


Exact Mass

Vista, CA, USA

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Posted: 10/26/21 04:35pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

You are starting what will become an adventure of compromises. What works well on rough back country roads frequently does not work as well on the paved roads you take get there. A bit of chassis lift will help ground clearance but will raise the vehicle COG and impact road handling. Adding a anti-roll/sway bars will help on the road but will hinder when the going gets rough. What are desirable creature comforts for your partner will conflict with weight considerations you have for rough country travel. And what are appropriate compromises for you and your partner may not be the ones suggested by others, no matter how well-meaning they may be.
I would suggest spending some time at https://www.truckcamperadventure.com/. This site is more oriented towards rough country travel than others.


2004 Dodge 2500 CTD
2004 Lance Lite 835
2016 Arctic Fox 22G

cewillis

Tucson, az, usa

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Posted: 10/26/21 04:50pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

As a comparison only (it's your decision) Some parts of my setup:
GMC 2500HD,4x4, extended cab, duramax, about 6800 lb.
Lockers front and back (auto in back, electric in front)
Heavy duty top over load springs
other upgrades
NO AIRBAGS!
Winch front or back
heavy duty, oversize offroad tires
2 mounted spares - never needed even one
Outfitter Apex 8 popup camper, fully loaded about 2800 lbs.
no AC
most of the load right at truck bed ( 4 batteries,44 gals water)
You can see some of my trips on my website, and here
Jefe is a great reference source of info
So is The Grand Whazoo -- Dave Rogers - here


Cal


ajriding

st clair

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Posted: 10/27/21 11:52am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

You will be far better to put a transfer case, new driveshaft, and front axle on your van.
A TC off road is just a lot of mess. No matter what, the TC is still a large chunk of cargo that will move, slide, rattle and sway when you drive over bumps. TCs are also tipsy.

The truck will do 4x4 stuff, but is compromised on more technical terrain due to the weight placement and top heavyness of the rig now.

Plus there is time involved to install and remove the TC.

If you are happy with your van then do the conversion, it will go far more places than a tall TC will ever go if you convert it to 4x4.

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