All About Truck Campers

One lesser known type of RV is the truck camper. These versatile, portable, and underestimated RVs deserve their time in the spotlight too. Have you ever seen a truck camper sitting atop the bed of a truck while driving down the road or at a campground and wanted to know more about them? Harvest Hosts has your back. Get ready we explore everything you wanted to know and more about truck campers. 

Photo credit: nuCamp RV

What are Truck Campers?

A truck camper is a specially-built camper that is either hard-sided or pop-up and mounts into the bed of a truck. Some truck campers specifically fit a short or long bed truck, while other truck campers can fit on either. Truck campers provide unique capabilities in that they can go anywhere that the truck can go. This opens up a tremendous amount of campsite options. Many truck camper owners are huge fans of boondocking, or dry camping, and these campers allow them to find spots that most motorhomes and fifth wheels can only dream of visiting. 

Photo credit: Lance Camper

Pros and Cons

There are pros and cons to hard-sided truck campers versus pop-up truck campers. Hard-sided truck campers have solid walls and, typically, a larger floor plan. These campers are more insulated, feature more storage space, and have slide-outs, which allow for more features, such as a dry bathroom, instead of a wet bath, where the toilet is located inside the shower. Hard-sided truck campers usually have separate black and gray tanks, but not all models allow for that.

Pop-up campers have a roof that raises and lowers the upper third of the camper. It only takes a few minutes to raise and lower the roof, and the roof must be in the lowered position while driving. These campers have a lower clearance, which can take stress off the driver and allow them to go more places. They are also more lightweight, and occasionally have slide-outs. On the other hand, they are smaller than hard-sided campers and do not typically have dry bathrooms. Instead, they require a separate or dry toilet and often do not have black or gray tanks. There are portable gray tanks that can be hooked up to the camper, and these require either manual dumping or hookups at a campground. 

Can these be used at Harvest Hosts locations?

Truck campers can absolutely be used at Harvest Hosts locations. While these are not typical drivable or towable RVs, certain ones can fit the criteria for use at Harvest Hosts locations. Any RV that stays at a Harvest Hosts location needs to be self-contained with an interior restroom. They also need to have holding tanks or a portable toilet that can be disposed of off property at an appropriate location. As long as your truck camper is entirely self-contained, it is suitable for use at a Harvest Hosts location.

Photo credit: Harvest Hosts

Main Features and Advantages

Features

The main benefit of owning a truck camper is that it has the same clearance as a truck, meaning, that your RV can go anywhere your truck can go. Truck camper owners are able to take advantage of some of the most remote, peaceful, and scenic camping locations because no other class of RV can make it there. 

Because a truck can tow additional toys, many truck camper owners are able to easily bring along additional accessories on trips. These can include dirt bikes, four wheelers, golf carts, and more. The capabilities of towing are entirely dependent on the individual truck. Don’t forget to take into account the weight of the camper itself when deciding how much to tow. 

Photo credit: The Manual

Setting Up Camp

A huge benefit of truck campers is the ability to detach the camper from the truck and set up camp. This is necessary to do from time to time to prevent additional wear and tear on your truck. Not to mention, this means you can set up camp and take your truck into town for errands, drive on backroad trails sans camper, or do some sightseeing. Truck campers come equipped with jacks that suspend the camper into the air while it’s on the ground in order to make loading and unloading easier. This also makes entering the camper easier, as well. 

Photo credit: nuCamp RV

The Long Term

Truck campers are immediately cheaper than any other class of RV, making these a viable choice for budget travelers. If you already own a truck, then this type of camper can save you even more money. Storing a truck camper, whether hard-sided or pop-up, is also cheaper and easier than storing other larger classes of RVs. These can easily fit into a garage or existing storage unit during the off-season. 

However, for long term truck camper usage, travelers must consider how much they want to use their personal vehicle while traveling. The additional miles quickly add up to additional maintenance. However, with a preventative maintenance plan in place, costly repairs can be avoided. Maintaining one vehicle plus a camper is one of the cheapest routes for RVers, especially considering that there are no tires or suspension components on the camper to replace or maintain.

Photo credit: Truck Camper Magazine

Floor Plans

Sleeping and Living

For hard-sided truck campers, the newer models can come with one, two or even three slide-outs, providing considerably more space. The addition of slides brings the possibility of having a dinette, a refrigerator, TVs, and even a king or queen bed. The kitchens in campers this size tend to have comparable counter space to some Class C RVs. Some hard-sided campers have awnings as well, which creates additional outdoor living space.

Photo credit: Palomino RV

Bathroom

One of the biggest concerns for RVers potentially purchasing is ensuring that a bathroom is available. Fortunately, most truck campers come equipped with either a wet or dry bath. A dry bath is similar to a bathroom in a house, where the shower is enclosed. A wet bath has the toilet and sink within the contained shower area. This means your toilet and sink will get wet during a shower, which is the intended use. Only the lightest truck camper models don’t come equipped with a bathroom, and, with these, a small  portable toilet can often be used instead. 

Photo credit: Northern Lite

Truck campers are one of the most debated types of RVs. Most RVers either love them or hate them, while others may be indifferent. While these are not for everyone, each class of RV has a variety of pros and cons. Consider touring a truck camper at a local dealership or even renting one before counting them out.

Photo credit: GoNorth Alaska

How do you feel about truck campers? Would you ever own one? Have you traveled in one before? Feel free to share in the comments below!

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  1. Lesley Rameil
    4th May, 2022

    We have a Hallmark pop-up, which I believe is just about the best out there. The Ute model, which we have on our Ram long bed 2500 has a full interior wet bath and also has both gray and black water holding tanks. It has amazing storage, and as others have said, the interior space is small, but worth the loss of space when we want to travel on crazy 4 wheel drive roads. And the full bath and holding tanks make it possible for us to stay with Harvest Hosts. Hallmark is a great company with wonderful support.

  2. CJ Phelps
    11th April, 2022

    This industry was DYING until that nuCamp Cirrus came in and made everyone take note it was time to UP THE GAME. I don’t have one yet, but I’d love to get my hands on one in the next year or so!

  3. William & Brenda Emery
    31st March, 2022

    80 years young and my sweetheart and I have been coast to coast border to border several times in truck campers. Only way to travel as far as we are concerned. 6 weeks or six months never been a problem for us. We have driven a truck camper as far east, west, south(mile 0 Key West) and north(artic ocean Alaska) as you can drive a vechicle. From pop-ups to hardsides, last one a Travel lite to Alaska, nothing beats the convince of a truck camper. Happy truck camping to all and to all a good night.

  4. Dave
    18th March, 2022

    Everyone has pretty much covered the pros and cons. I think the biggest issue is space. Ain’t gonna work well for more than 2 people. And one thing that hasn’t really been mentioned is that if you are like me and don’t camp very often, but like the idea of being able to go on a whim or short notice, these are the best option because it does not take long to set up and it does not take up much space when not being used. Harvest Host is perfect for the spur of the moment stuff and these rigs are perfectly suited for going to a different location each night. Very happy with my Palomino cabover.

  5. Chris
    18th March, 2022

    We have enjoyed using trucks and campers for the past 35 years. The best advantages for us are the ability to have 4 wheel drive and high clearance for rough terrain and the ability to tow other toys. Sometimes we tow a horse trailer, or a boat or a car trailer. Without a trailer we have been able to go anywhere we want without worrying about our size. Disadvantages are space when traveling with others as the size is perfect for two people. We usually packed a tent when kids came along or they chose between a dinette or the back seat of the truck. We are currently enjoying a Northern Lite 2002 model that is still doing great. We recently upgraded to a 2020 truck, a crew cab RAM 3500 diesel dually as we needed an automatic due to leg issues. Be sure you have enough truck for the weight of the camper and your tow.

  6. Cheryl B
    18th March, 2022

    We have an old Lance and now a custom built chassis mounted hard sided camper on a 2004 F350. For us the truck camper rig gets us into areas where others aren’t. We prefer the solitude of being out along a random trail versus being parked 10’ from another camper in a camp ground. The power system supports us for days boondocking. It’s much more economical for both maintenance and the camping expenses…our yearly camp ground fees in 2021 were less than $20 for 6 months on the road. Until we can no longer climb up to bunk, the truck camper is the one for us!

  7. Vic
    17th March, 2022

    How do you secure the camper when you take it off the truck at a campsite?’

  8. Heather
    17th March, 2022

    I -used- to see truck campers as the more viable alternative, but now that they’re priced almost the same as some Class A’s & C’s, I might as well buy a 5th wheel.

  9. Marty Bergstrom
    17th March, 2022

    I’ve been camping most of my life, I grew up camping with my parents, I’ve camped in everything from tents, travel trailers, class c motorhomes, and truck campers, I’ve been doing the truck camper thing, for about 12 years now, My wife and I currently have a 2016, Eagle Cap1165 slide in truck camper, with three slides, we love it! It has plenty of room and storage, and all the amenities of home… So easy to unload and load up.we keep our essential gear in it year-round, as we use it pretty much all year, but mostly in the spring in the summer, as others have mentioned,you can tow something behind a truck camper,l like to fish so we tow our 19ft boat, of course to do all this you need a one ton diesel truck, preferably a dually, I’ve had the suspension in my 2001 Dodge Ram 3500 modified, So it is equivalent to a RAM 5500 to accommodate the weight of my 1165 Eagle Cap and my boat and trailer. So I have to agree, the truck camper is a good way to go, It’s not exactly cheap but I think it’s easier on the pocketbook than owning a separate RV, that has four wheels a motor that requires maintenance, and the added cost storage and insurance.Happy RV ing to all!

    1. Sam Leash
      17th March, 2022

      Sounds like a very cool setup you guys have going on. I love all the modifications you’ve made. And bringing a boat along is a great idea. Thanks for your input, Marty!

  10. Don
    1st March, 2022

    Truck campers are not cheaper than other types of RVs.
    Even when I bought mine in 1995 I could have bought a mini 5th wheel cheaper.
    The most expensive things are the appliances and accessories. Truck campers have both.