Truck campers are recreational vehicles where the camper is mounted on a carrying vehicle, usually the bed of a pickup truck, with the truck’s tailgate removed.
According to North American Truck Camper Owners Association, a truck camper is ”any habitation mounted in the bed of a pickup truck, be it metal, fiberglass or canvass. This can be anything from a sleeping bag in a Pickup bed shell to a 12 ft camper with A/C, fridge, shower & recliners.”
Truck campers are a very versatile form of RV, capable of going virtually anywhere a pickup truck can go – mounted in the bed of a four wheel drive pickup, it becomes an offroad RV. As well, the camper can be taken off the truck at the campground if you want to use the truck for other purposes. Truck campers are loaded and off-loaded utilizing four corner jacks which enable the camper to be raised, and the truck backed up underneath. The camper is then secured to the vehicle with chains or spring-loaded tie-downs.
A good quality truck camper can cost as much as a much larger RV, with the amenities that one would find in a typical motorhome, such as beds, a bathroom, sink, stove, refrigerator, and shower. All the amenities have to be put into a much smaller package to make efficient use of the limited space and the RV has to be able to tolerate the abuse of rough roads.
Modern designs and materials allow bigger, lighter campers that are better fits for the vehicles they are mounted to. Truck campers are available with as many as four slideouts, which increase the livable area. They are also available in a variety of sizes, with the largest having a box that’s about 12 feet in length, with an overall length of about 18 feet from the front of the cab-over to the back of the camper. Some truck campers incorporate popup camper features, having a low profile during travel and a raised roof with fabric such as canvas for sidewalls when camped.
Adding a truck camper to a pickup truck affects handling and fuel economy. Often appearing top-heavy, a truck camper can add over three feet to the overall height of the combined vehicle. With the added height and weight, the stability and drive characteristics are altered, requiring more driver care, especially in high-wind areas, wet or slippery road conditions, tight curves and rough roads or uneven roads. Road handling can be an issue when a truck camper is mounted on a truck with light suspension.
Parking a truck camper is easier than parking a towed RV, especially when backing up, and larger motorhomes. Driving and living compartments are separate in truck campers, with the living area inaccessible while moving. While many states may allow passengers to ride inside the camper, it is significantly more hazardous than riding in the cab wearing the seat and/or shoulder belt. Truck campers are not built to the same road safety standards that the truck must meet.
It is essential that the truck and truck camper be properly matched, ensuring the load that will be carried is within the design capabilities of the truck.
Truck Camper Manufacturers
(with listings of current models)
Adventure Manufacturing – models: Adventurer, Eagle Cap
Alaskan – for more information see Truck Camper Magazine Buyers Guide
All Terrain Campers – models (floor plans): Bobcat, Cougar, Panther, Shell
Bigfoot – models: 1500 Series; 2500 Series
Chalet RV – model: TS116FB, DS116FB, DS116RB
Four Wheel Campers – models: Eagle, Finch, Fleet, Grandby, Hawk, Raven, Shell
Hallmark Campers – models: Cuchara, EXC, Everest, Guanella, Milner, Ute
Host RV – models: Aspen, Cascade, Chinook, Everest, Mammoth
International VentureCraft Corp (Vancouver, Canada) – 7’6″ Import,7’6″ Mid-Size Dodge Dakota, 8′ Full-Size, 9′ Full-Size, 9’6″ Full-Size Camper with slide-out, 10’6″ Full-Size, 10″6″ Full-Size with the slide-down second bedroom
Lance – models: 825, 850, 855, 855S, 865, 950, 992, 1050, 1052, 1172, 1181, 1191
Livin’ Lite Recreational Vehicles – models: 5.7 Camplite, 6.8 Camplite, 8.5 Camplite, 8.6 Camplite, 10.0 Camplite, 11 Camplite, Quicksilver (soft-side)
Northern Lite – models: Classic, Lite, Special Edition, Sportsman, Ten 2000
Northwood Manufacturing – models: Artic Fox, Wolf Creek
Outfitter Mfg. – models: Apex, Caribou, Caribou Lite, Juno
Palomino – models: Backpack Edition, Real-Lite
Travel Lite – models: 690FD,690W,700 Sport, 700W, 770 Super Lite, 800 Series, 840SBR Series, 890 Series, 890R Series, 960R Series, 1100RX Illusion, 900SBSL Illusion, 1000SLRX Illusion, 610P Series, 770P Series, 875P Series
XPCamper – models: V1, V2