Truck Camper PROS and CONS Truck Life vs. Van Life
Truck Camper PROS and CONS Truck Life vs. Van Life
This week I discuss some of the pros and cons of owning a truck camper and compare to my experience living in vans over the past 7 years!
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At the beginning of the pandem, my son took a c30 crew cab, he built a custom frame, and in went a cummins, custom fabbed a utl bed from scratch, and added a smaller camper meant for a tacoma, so he could have more space for tools, equipment and so on. Custom rear bumper, so his TW200 bike or his Zuma scooter could go on there, under utl bed were custom made water tanks he made, with water keeps weight low. He had a partial over cab rack setup that mated to front bumper giving him more storage as he cycled from winter clothes to summer, that trucks now relegated to barely used as hes now building his 2023 Hijet jumbo cab a custom frame, and building the motor, trans, for a turbo kit hes adding to give it a bit more umph, and he also uses a 6.2L swapped LS3 powered 2018 Tacoma crew cab, he made a fold out platform for the utl bed, so he can setup a custom tent up top on it and be off the ground. His next adventure next year will be to go from W to E coast on a bike with my other sons haha. So now hes figuring out suspension design for the side cart hes going to make for his bike, so he can carry supplies, fuel, and his precious guitar hehe.
Great video as always man!
Another thing to consider for the mid to large sized hard campers basically require dual rear wheels if you want to have a good experience driving on the road (staying in the GVWR of the vehicle).
It’s nice if you have someone to split the expense’s with when on the road.
Hello folks,,, pleasure to meet you at Planet Fit in Denham Springs. Have a nice time passing thru I 10 West,,, try out St Francisville, New Roads,,,Hotel Bentley in Alexandria,,,and West,,,get off the interstate and drive from Scott LA,,,,thru Rayne,,,,,they both have cool railroad " depots" to hang out and watch the trains,,,thry actually pass by more than you think. All the best!
Same applies to a trailer vs an all-in-one RV, but one huge benefit to a camper of that style, is that if the truck needs work you can leave it behind. It’s really rather inconvenient to get work done on it while you’re living out of your vehicle.
Very informative video 📹. Thanks for sharing and we will see you on the next one 😀.
Great job pointing out the plus points & cons. You’re definitely speaking from experience. Take care Nate✌️🏄♂️
That face of yours is like the Great Wall of China, it never ends.
I’m still in love with my 2008 Honda Element SC. She’s still my bug out buggy read to hit the road at the drop of a hat.🦌💌❤️🚙
I bought 30 year old truck camper in great shape, remodeled it and added solar for all under $2k. I leave it in the driveway until I want to use it.
For me I think a van would fit my needs better
I have to tow up to 7500 pounds whenever I camp. That and value made me choose truck camper. I have wet bath, micro, AC, fridge and freezer, truck with less than 100K miles plus 24 foot utility trailer. Whole rig is less the 22K. I miss the low profile you have but I often camp in high winds.
Great video, on the build quality issue how big a con is it with your Rogue ? i really like that design but don’t want something that’s going to fall apart.
I think you summed it up at the end: it really depends on your requirements. If you need your vehicle for work, for moving stuff around, for day to day driving, something like this might be better. You can remove the camper as required and use yoru truck as a truck. But if you don’t have that requirement, if you’d like the convenience of getting from the cab to the back and the stealth factor, you’d likely fare better with a van. I’m excited to see how far you can go with this camper!
curious to know which RV you prefer, out of all those you’ve tried?
One thing to keep in mind about truck campers, they don’t usually last as long as any other type of rv. Probably because they are always being flexed and the seams always seem to be split apart and water damage is a result. Slide ins only have 4 points of being secured and are usually not well built from the start. They sit up high and all that weight leveraged will cause structural problems.
Excellent information. Thanks! I hope to buy an RV soon.
Good video Nate! Funny I looked into both the Palamino and the Rogue camper top for my Tundra but decided on the Alu Cab instead! Kind of best of both worlds as I also intended to build out a van. This way I can customize the interior and make it my own! Happy trails maybe see you down the road!
I agree with all your points. It has been a many year debate on the pros and cons of truck campers for me vs camper vans. You’ve covered the pros and cons nicely and I’ll add that the biggest con for me on the truck camper has been weight and high center of gravity. Unless you get a pop top 4 wheel camper like the hawk or fleet, or eagle, I think you absolutely should have at least a 3/4 ton truck. I have an old Edson that weighs 1500 pounds and I’ve carried it around on my half ton which is rated to carry more, but it just felt like my tires, wheel bearings, and frame was stressed to the limit, and I could no longer subject my truck to that. I eventually ended up going with a camper build in my truck box with a cap, (topper), that way the truck doesn’t even feel it, and your fuel economy remains just as good as the truck by itself. Ultimately my first choice would be class b, but I don’t have 200k to buy one.
very helpful, thank you. Happy travels – peace.
Where do you keep getting all the money to buy all these expensive vehicles every time I come on your channel?
Keep in mind that if your truck dies you don’t have to replace everything to upgrade to a better vehicle
We save our extra cash for 11 months and then take off in our SUV for one month hiking anywhere in the USA we want to go to. I have a lithium Ion Battery pack plugged in to change and that powers a small 12 volt fridge. Great to hear all of the pros and cons. We love hitting the road to.
My #1 biggest con with truck campers is safety, not being able to get from the camper to the cab without having to step outside. I can’t tell you how many scary moments I’ve had camping in my van where I was so thankful that I could drive away anytime something didn’t feel right.
On Chevy and GM half ton tucks be sure to check the sticker in the glove box for truck camper use. A short bed will tell you the truck is not recommended for a slide in camper. Other models may have a weight limit for a truck camper that is well below the payload weight in the door. Basically, you need a 2500 truck for a camper. Some campgrounds will not allow you to take the camper off the truck. When it is on your truck, it is covered by your truck insurance. When it is off your truck, it is covered by your home owners insurance. I have a separate policy that covers my camper both on and off the truck.
Good comparison video, Nate. Thank you.
In my opinion……………Vans are way better even though they cost more.
Nate really amazing video quality, not sure if you did anything different but looking great!
I have a 1996 leisure travel class b. I also own a pickup for my personal vehicle. It depends on what camping I want to do. I have a tent I set up in the back of my truck for quick easy camping. If I want it all when camping, then I take the class b.
We started out with a custom built cargo camper, which is basically a box on a truck. 2k for a very nice slide in look. This was on an 80s Ford ranger. A basic weekend camper build, good for starters but not for two people and a cat. It’s a compromise most people could afford at the time, not sure about now. One person could be very comfortable in such a rig. 16 mpg in an OLD Ford fully loaded. We did start with extra cargo springs because it was a work truck before we got it. But our box truck is now boss! We just have to watch out for trees. And keep a supply of extra top running lights. 🙄 I would say the major advantage of a self build is you know your system inside out, what fails, what can be repaired in situ, and then be able to learn your vehicle and it’s dirty tricks and repairs. If you already have a pick up, look around for the custom basic shell camper builders. You can add hydrologic lifters on one. Good vid, and looking forward to more on the desert house!
Nate! I did 6 years in a converted van… Then I went to a small travel trailer, then a bigger travel trailer and was never satisfied with any of them. There were always big trade offs. Once I got into a truck camper, I found bliss! I bought an older Lance camper which are truly very well built and it was in phenomenal shape! My truck is an F250HD with the Legendary 7.3 Power Stroke so I get 15-16 mpg (no faster than 65 mph on flat ground like Florida) with the camper chained on. It’s 4WD so I get to regularly drive onto the beach on Montauk or South Hampton (I’m from Long Island) and stay there for up to a week fishing. Or, I get to explore lonely trails high up in the Catskills or Adirondacks and camp there. The only con is the funky handling – which you eventually get used to! One big thing I learned… never – EVER – buy a gas truck, unless you just don’t travel much. With a class B or C camper, you MUST have either a toad or a pull a trailer with a motorcycle on it. Every time you want to leave camp in one of those you have to pack everything up/disconnect SWE and use the RV for transportation. Truck campers get to leave the camper behind like you mentioned! Truck campers ROCK!!!!!
Truck box campers really started with hunters needing short-term warm accommodation in the cold October months, when small 2WD half-tons were all that were used, and bad roads and trails were the only thing that existed out there. So a tiny propane-heated camper with weight over the rear axle of a short wheel-base road-legal 2WD truck was the only thing you could get around in, barring a horse or farm tractor that won’t get you down the highway very far. Nobody except the government could afford military type stuff.
Outside of that starting envelope, campers don’t make much sense. Bigger means way heavier, which together with oversized dimensions are a killer to mobility and capability on bad, tight roads and trails, and mileage. At best, you’d want an uncomfortably small camper on a torquey smallish 4WD half-ton, with a 6.5 foot box and single cab. Pretty much a specialty vehicle. Certainly not a shorty camper in a taxi-cab truck (compromising camper floor space already in short supply), or worse yet some monstrosity cantilevered 5 feet over the rear gate of a one-ton dually.
Otherwise a small towing trailer is way better. Those can be pulled through some pretty nasty conditions if built solidly enough (been there done that), until things get so bad you’d really be better off in a jeep or the above tiny camper. Very few people get so far off the beaten path that a realistic camper-on-truck vehicle is actually needed. So a 4WD super-cab with good tires & chains, and fiberglas topper over a 6.5 ft box to keep gear in, pulling a small trailer with good road clearance will be low enough and narrow enough to get through most roads. Everything will be within the height and width of the cab, producing little additional air resistance. Lots of room inside, easy access too. And you can drop a trailer easier than sliding off a camper and always have all that carry space in the box. Even build a half-dozen different trailers for different needs, each which can be hooked up at the drop of a hat.
A steel-shell (i.e. van) has the main advantage of that steel body. But your whole life is welded to it, no flexibility. Trailers can/should be self-built to be solid, with the correct dimensions and functionality of each, and have all the advantages of that mass-produced steel shell but few of the disadvantages. I was on my 3rd trailer build, until I figured I’d do a house instead. Still have a nice tent that fits perfectly in my truck box though, and a winter sleeping bag if I’m so inclined.
Used single wheel u haul cube van
Hi Nate What’s going on man I’ve been an Rv’er and a 5th wheeler and a Truck camper And I’ve gotta tell you I think its like you said it depends on who you are and what you want I like a Bathroom and a kitchen and a full place to rest I’ve done the with out and Its Ok you can make due But I’m a person that likes complete comfort
The number one problem with popup campers is wind.
I like the idea of a truck camper because you can take the camper off and still use it as a truck to haul an atv or something in the bed. I hauled plywood in my van, but wouldn’t put an ATV in back. I did use a trailer to haul our ATV though so next best thing…
Also, if you only need a camper sometimes, you only have to get one license plate having a truck bed camper (vs having a camper and truck).
Campervan rules if you’re living in it full time and traveling though. If you stay in one place for awhile a camper could work though!
I really like your Pop – up….
There’s pros & cons to most things….
I considered purchasing one before I settled on a van . But after spending so much time inside my van this winter due to bad weather, I’d make a different decision. Hide sight is 20/20 👍🏼
Truck camping with a hard shell really solves a lot of the wind/weather issues. I disagree truck campers hold value very well. May not every make you money but they don’t have motors so they don’t wear out. Not having to pay taxes or plates (some states) and the best is having your truck to tow a boat or motorcycle. Truck camping is best of a simplistic approach with the ability to break it down and still be just a truck.
What’s funny is that I’ve been shopping for a larger rv and come to the opposite conclusion. I started out wanting a truck and 5th wheel and have found I can buy an older high-end class A like a mid to late 90s holiday rambler endeavor for what a decent older 1 ton would cost. The way the market is a big class a is generally the cheapest used motorized rv you can buy.
Why not a trailer?
I’ll take the van.
I’m 77 years old. Along with the ingress and egress situation I ended up selling my slide in. With the soft sided roof, I was concerned about bears. Yellowstone would not let me camp in bear area campgrounds. I was all ready to trade it for a hard sided until I saw the overall 12’ height.
All great points. Right on. I like my truck camper because I appreciate the space. But if I were to go on a long trip, I would take a van or SUV for gas economy.
One extra point I should make, is that as a viewer, it is a bit boring watching truck camper videos. It is great the people are more comfortable, but truck campers, even renovated ones, are not aesthetically pleasing. I prefer watching tenting vids. Or how to camp and keep a van tidy at the same time. Seeing beauty and a challenge is more fun to watch.
I would say shop around and see what suits you best I bought my glass B campervan for $6300 and I had no clue how good of a deal I was getting until I started looking online and found out it was worth 30k in fair condition but the one I bought was in fantastic condition I am very very happy with my rig
I hope the truck camper serves your needs for a long time to come.