This week’s Question of the Week was, “Under what circumstances do truck camper owners unload their truck camper in the field?” This question was suggested by Truck Camper Magazine reader, Skip Matties.
Skip’s question triggered a huge reader response with a wide range of answers. Many folks explain that they unload when they know they’ll be at a formal campsite for more than a few days. Others reveal that they never, ever unload.
And the revelations don’t stop there. One guy actually says he once unloaded for meatloaf. Another says he only unloads when it’s time to upgrade campers. You can’t make this stuff up folks. This is the real deal.
“The only time we take the camper off the truck is when we need to take the truck in for maintenance or if there is an area we want to visit that the camper won’t fit like Custer State Park in South Dakota and Baxter State Park in Maine. We are so used to having everything with us at all times that we feel deprived when we don’t have the camper.” – Larry Routt, 2005 Ford F-350, 2004 Lance 820
“If we stay someplace for more than two days we take the camper off. It only takes ten minutes to unload.” – Jeffrey Baker, 2004 Ford F250, 2000 Lance 820
“We had a two week stay in South Carolina; one hour south of Charleston, and two hours north of Savannah, Georgia. For local errands of three to four miles, which included the grocery store, we used bicycles. We took the camper off to make trips to Charleston and Savannah.” – Patrick Brolley, 2015 Ram 3500, 2016 Cirrus 800
“Anytime we stay multiple nights we take the camper off. The few things that would make us keep the camper on the truck are weather, security of the camper, gear left behind, and the chance we might find a better place to stay while out exploring.” – Eddie Hayden, 2005 Dodge, 2013 Palomino SS-1251
“I have never unloaded in the field. I do not even have the jacks on the camper to save weight, improve visibility, and reduce risk of damage to the jacks. We do a lot of National Forest unimproved roads. There have been a few times I would have liked to have removed the camper, like when I stayed at a relative’s house for several weeks. I am looking forward to others responses to see if I want to change my pattern.” – Bill Peters, 2013 Chevy Silverado 1500, 2013 Four Wheel Camper Hawk
“Great question. We have owned a truck camper for several years and I can say, without exception, that we have never unloaded while in the field. After some thought, the only thing that would change that for us would be a major repair that required unobstructed access to the truck. We even remove the jacks for long trips for weight, wind drag, clearance, obstructions, etc.” – Tom Elliott, 2007 Ram 2500, 1999 Lance 835 Lite
“If we are sightseeing we like to keep the camper with us because it has everything; our clothing, camera, hiking stuff, food, and the bathroom. If we are staying one place for a week or more, and when we are pulling my fishing boat, which is often, then it is nice that I can launch without disturbing my wife in the mornings. We have had to take it off to go some places like across Glacier National Park and on some underdeveloped roads.” – Charles Book, 1999 Ford F350, 2001 Lance 1121
“We unload our camper anytime we go camping to have use of the truck. We carry kayaks on top of the camper, and it is much easier to get them off and on with the camper on the ground. Then we can haul them in the back of the truck to the lake or river.
If we don’t have the boats, we can use the truck to go explore backroads, without the size and weight of the camper. If we are road trippin’ and only stopping at a place for overnight, then we don’t unload it. It only takes ten to fifteen minutes with the electric jacks, which is less time than it takes people with a camp trailer to unhitch and level theirs!” – Philip Davidson, 2015 Chevrolet Silverado 3500, 2001 Lance 1010
“We have always wanted to drop the camper and explore the local areas. However, with our old camper and manual jacks we have found it to be very impractical. So, in short, we have never dropped the camper in a campsite, but that’s about to change.
During the Texas Truck Camper Rally we looked at a new Lance 1172 and toured a new friend’s 1172. We couldn’t believe how roomy and stable it felt off the truck. Now we have many plans formulating about where to go exploring after we figure out how to pay for all these new expensive toys.” – Scott Vallie, 2008 Dodge 2500, 2003 Sun Lite 1055
“When my dad passed away out of state, I was doing a lot of state-to-state travels between Virginia, West Virginia, and Ohio. The camper was a blessing. I was able to drop it there with a 10’ x 7’ x 6’ box trailer I towed. I saved on gas traveling every few weeks to take care of business, and stayed in our camper instead of an empty house. The box trailer served as a portable, dry, lockable garage for collecting various furniture and garage tools, etc., that I was relocating.
The truck handled everything well and I had shore power available as it was winter in Ohio’s snow belt. I learned a lot about cold weather camping, but it was always comfortable. When I was done with these executor duties, the camper and box trailer made the mountainous return trip without a hiccup.
Otherwise, I like to leave the camper on truck. I have a four-foot Torklift SuperHitch extension that I use for trailer towing, and plan to get a receiver mounted bike carrier to use my dual-sport MC for the running/exploring purposes.” – Travis Shull, 2006 Dodge 3500, 2015 CampLite 9.6S
“I unload every time that we go camping. This frees up the truck to launch the boat and run errands. However, when traveling, we do not unload unless we are stopping for more than a couple of nights.” – Tom Wilson, 2015 Chevy 3500, 2015 Adventurer 89RB
“We never unloaded our camper in the field. Our camper is difficult to load and unload as there is very little room for error between the wheel wells. Normally we load the camper in April and it will remain on the truck until the first week in November.
We often attend weekend events, or take short trips without bringing or towing one of our two Jeeps. We provision the camper with necessities so we do not have to move from the campsite on these brief trips. For our annual extend trip to Colorado, we tow our Jeep Wrangler so we may enjoy the many off-road adventures.
We don’t enjoy the challenges of loading or unloading the camper!” – Warne Todd, 2000 Ford F350, 2005 Lance 981
“We never unload in the field, or haven’t in the five years we’ve had the camper. I could see the benefits of it for some, but our camper has manual jacks, one of which is slightly bent. We’ve had the camper shift while on the jacks (over winter, before we got the truck), which was a major pain.
An unload/load cycle takes the better part of an hour for us and causes us (mostly me) a lot of stress. Also, we don’t have an air conditioner in our camper so leaving it behind only saves some fuel for the truck.” – Melissa Malejko, 2002 Chevy Silverado 2500HD, 1981 Okanagan
“Traveling on vacations, we almost always keep the camper on the truck and generally never go on dirt roads. There were a few times, like in the dirt roads of the Bighorn Mountains, that I wished I had left the camper back at the campground. I would have more thoroughly enjoyed the dirt roads.
If we are driving gravel roads, I have to worry about tree branches, potholes, and steep grades. With the camper off the truck, I can enjoy gravel roads better. I also remove the camper on our fishing trips to make it more convenient for boat launching and slippery boat launches.
When we went to Disney, we unhooked so we could sightsee better for about ten days around Los Angeles. I think the camper is safer in a campground rather than a parking lot somewhere.” – Thomas Bender, 2011 Ford F250, 2009 Sun Valley Apache Chief 8.65WS
“In the past, if we were staying in one place for at least five days, we would unload the camper. But we found ourselves wishing we had the camper to eat lunch, relax, grab a cold drink, etc. So now we keep it on the truck 99 percent of the time.” – Dave and Cheryl Barker, 2014 Ram 3500, 2015 Northstar 850SC
“There is no set guideline that we use. We mostly dry camp, so hookups are a non-player. That said, we have never taken the camper off the truck while boondocking. On the east coast, we pull a Jeep Wrangler. On the west coast, we trailer and use our side-by-side.
The main requirement for us to consider to remove the camper is that we must be in a developed campsite. This can be either a forest service campground or a private campground. My wife and I just feel that our camper is safer sitting in that environment verses in the middle of the desert or mountains.
What is never a factor for us is the time or difficulty in removing or putting the camper back on the truck. Generally, if our truck moves, it has the camper on it.” – Rollie Thurston, 2004 Ford F350, 2005 Alpenlite Santa Fe 1100
“We usually unload our camper if we are going to stay in a place for more than a couple days. However, if we are near our children and they have a spare vehicle, or we can fit in with them going places, we will leave our camper on.
Most of our traveling is road trips, so we rarely stay in one place for too long. Last winter we went down to Gulf Shores, Alabama for a couple weeks. Naturally we took the camper off so that we could have the freedom to come and go at will.” – Allen Brummel, 2008 Dodge Ram 1500, 2016 Northstar 650SC
“I always disconnect the tie-downs and level the camper. I always unload if I stay for more than one night. I like having the truck available to explore.” – Bob Devantery, 2014 GMC 3500, 2012 Lance 1050
“Four years ago we had to make a decision of fixed cell or removable cell on our Toyota Hilux. This was our question. We wanted a removable cell, of course. But then we thought, how many times were we going to put on and remove the cell off the vehicle?
Finally, we decided that we should get a fixed cell on the vehicle. We go everywhere with it on road and off-road. It has been a great success, after traveling more than 120,000 kilometers.
It is not a super cell with space, but it is comfortable and all the necessities for life are on board. I have 120 liters of fresh water, cook and heat with diesel, have hot water for the shower, a refrigerator, Thetford cassette, and solar panels.” – Frederic Amorós, 2011 Toyota Hilux, 2011 PSI-AZALAÏ Fixed Cell from France
“Presently, I am a tent camper fisherman with a boat. I usually stay at state parks with bodies of water. You cannot keep your boat in the water overnight. That means in and out trailering everyday to go fishing.
My wife and I are looking into a Class C camper that can tow a boat. The problem with the Class C is breaking down camp twice a day to fish with the boat. Having a truck camper would solve a lot of these problems. The camper is removed on site and hooked up and the truck would be free to pull the boat to the dock or go adventuring for the day. I have many questions about this theory that experienced truck campers could answer, but I think a truck camper rig is my best option.” – Pat Trunda, no truck yet, no camper yet
“When we stay for more than three or four nights in one area we will remove the camper from the truck so that we can tour the surrounding areas more easily. Two criteria are vital as we are still learning about the camper; level ground for ease of reloading, and interesting sights that we can drive to.” – Greg Ruebusch, 2001 Silverado 2500HD, 2015 Northern Lite 8-11
“We don’t have any problems with unloading and loading our camper. If we are just doing an overnight, it stays on the camper since it is usually en route to a destination or home. If we are on a weekend trip just for relaxing at a state park, we leave the camper on the truck. On a longer trip where we have multiple locations we are going to stay at, we may unload to explore.
We try to get gas and groceries before we stop at a campsite. We make the decision about whether or not to unload before we set up at the campsite. Our biggest obstacle with the on/off is remembering to move the license plate.” – Pam Conner, 2015 Ford F350, 2015 Arctic Fox 1150
“We only unload camper if we have a day outing on a road that is difficult to travel on, or if we have full hookups and we are staying more than three days. We also encountered a golf course in Oregon that would not allow a RVs in their parking lot. We don’t golf, but they have a fantastic restaurant and the best meat loaf .” – Greg Gaser, 2014 Ford F350, 2017 Lance 1172
Editor’s Note: Unloading for meatloaf? Can’t say we’ve heard that one before. That must be some darn good meatloaf!
“We usually unload if we’re spending more than three nights in one place just for the convenience and economy when chasing around the area.” – Mike Herzfeldt, 2011 Silverado 3500, 2016 Host Mammoth
“We unload the camper almost always. The only exception would be when we are traveling, get in late, plan on leaving early in the morning, and want to make a lot of miles on the road.” – PJ Sikorsky, 2011 Ford F250, 2010 Northstar 800C
“This is a simple question, at least for us. If we’re going to be anywhere for more than a night, we unload the camper, jump in the truck, and tour the area. We are free from our heavy payload. We didn’t spend a small fortune on a truck and camper to travel long distances just to sit in collapsible lawn chairs on an outdoor rug!
We do enjoy just sitting sometimes, but for the most part traveling means getting out of your camper, getting out of the campground, and visiting the local area. Meeting new people inside the campground can be, shall we say, interesting, and there’s plenty of time to do just that while we load and unload the camper.
We use our camper, for the most part, as a place to sleep, economically. This is what we do now. In the future, I’m sure things will change. They always do! Happy Trails!” – Dan Daddieco, 2015 Ram 3500, 2015 Eagle Cap 1165
“Easy. If we’re towing the boat, we drop the camper so we can launch and retrieve the boat. If it’s a simple overnight and there is no exploring to do, we do not unload. If it’s a weekend, there is always some exploring to do, so we unload” – Mike Nervik, 2001 Chev 3500, 2004 Eagle Cap 1150
“Our general rule is, if we are somewhere more than one night, off it comes. That gives us the freedom to explore or run errands. Loading or unloading is a twenty minute process, with a few scuff marks to show the practice we’ve had with it. Then there are always exceptions.” – Lou Pomerville, 2008 Silverado K3500HD, 2008 Snowriver 102RK
“We never unload. We tow a Jeep or a trailer with a motorcycle trike. We bought the Lance with a side door so we could tow and access the camper without having to unhook the toad. It is too much work to unload and reload the camper.” – Anne Adams, 2005 Ford F350, 2011 Lance 1191
“Unless I am in a travel mode and this is just an overnight stop and rolling in the morning, I unload. With Rieco-Titan electric jacks and Torklift Fastguns, it’s just too quick and simple not to.
I can go out to eat, visit friends, or see the sights without a truck camper in the bed of my truck. It allows me to drive the residential surface streets with their low hanging limbs. Then, there’s the additional bonus of loading and unloading practice. More often than not I can stab my truck camper on first go and not even make a minor correction.
Here’s a tip on how I learned to do it. Take a length of black electrical tape and attach it center as measured on the lower leading edge of the truck camper. Run the tape vertically up to the window if you have one or up to the beginning of the curve. Now load your truck camper, but do not lower it completely onto the bed of the truck. After loading, pull straight forward until you have cleared the truck camper box. Have a helper mark or place a piece of electrical tape in the back window of the truck centered on the tape you put on the truck camper as viewed from the driver’s seat in your rear view mirror. This now becomes your guide. With a bit of practice you will begin to stab it the first time, every time.” – Don Pryor, 2015 F350, 2008 Arctic Fox 1150
“We just did a trip to Quartzsite, Arizona. We were there for two weeks and unloaded the camper. We also had a small ATV trailer with two ATVs. The Torklift Fastguns buckles do help a lot. Normally we leave the camper on, but we wanted to do a lot of exploring while there.” – Jim Furubotten, 2006 Ford F350, 2014 Northern Lite 10-2 CDSE
“I never unload in the field. We tow a Jeep or motorcycles.” – Tom Andersen, 2006 Ram 3500, 2003 Lance 1121
“Last fall we attended a covered bridge festival in Ashtibula County, Ohio. We left our old truck camper at a nearby campground and toured with just the truck. Some of the eighteen bridges had a 9’ 6” clearance. Then we went to Holmes county and set the truck camper off and ran around the narrow county roads to the Amish shops and bakeries for a couple of days.
Normally, we travel to a different spot each night and leave the truck camper on the truck. We also own a fifth wheel that we take to rallies when we spend five days at the same place.” – Charlie Wade, 2016 Dodge 3500, 2016 Northern Lite 10-2 EX CDSE
“I never unload the camper in the field. I am always at or near the GVWR for the Tacoma, so I never carry the 98 pound set of jacks. Even if I had the jacks, it’s too much work to take the camper off and on. It’s much easier to just lower the top and drive away. I rarely use hookups and we don’t have a lot of gear to unpack and repack. It takes about five minutes for me to be ready to go.” – Gary Scott, 2015 Toyota Tacoma, 2014 Four Wheel Camper Eagle
“We unload anytime we are going to be in an area more than a day to two. This decision is based on what we intend to do in the area, what we think the parking or driving conditions might be in that area, and how level the campsite is. We have been in a few situations where unloading just to get the camper level was essential. You can only carry so many leveling blocks. Also, the apparent campground security comes in to play. If we don’t feel comfortable leaving the camper in an area, then we don’t unload.” – Steve Gomez, 2014 Ford F350, 2015 Host Mammoth
“Although we have Torklift Fastguns and remote jacks, we have not unloaded the camper. We rarely spend more than two nights at a campground. So far, we have used the camper over 100 nights a year, and about 45,000 miles.” – Tom Scholtens, 2010 Chevy Silverado 2500HD, 2013 Bigfoot 25C10.4
“We don’t. We leave the jacks at home. It may be stupid, but that’s my husband’s choice. We’ll take the camper off when the truck dies, I guess. We don’t stay most places more than two days, usually just overnight. When we do stay longer, we’re with family and they provide run around vehicles for our extended stays.” – Cheryl Nelson, 2004 Chevy 3500, 1989/90 Shadow Cruiser 9.5
“We have a truck camper so that we can tow a boat, hunting rig, trailer, etc. When we go fishing for a weekend, I unload because I do not back the truck down the ramp to put the boat in the water with the camper on the truck. I don’t trust the emergency break alone. Also, if we want take a quick trip to town (quilt shopping, more bait, food, etc,) we do not have to make everything road ready.
Having the Happijac electric jacks with the swing-out brackets for the dually makes it easy to unload and load (30 minutes for either). It also makes it easier to get in and out of the camper. The folding steps with the Snowriver makes for a stable entry for us and our dogs.” – Rod Fosback, 1999 Ford F350, 2008 Snowriver 108DS
“Usually we unload the camper as we tow a boat with the truck. We don’t like breaking camp every time we want to launch the boat. Also, it is easier to park the truck without the camper on it. When we get out west this year we won’t be taking the boat, so we may leave it on.” – Ross Vlieger, 2015 GMC 3500, 2015 Lance 992
“With the pop-top there is no need to unload the camper. With a three-quarter ton four wheel drive mega cab Longhorn Ram diesel, you don’t even notice the extra 1,200 pounds.” – Mike Ashworth, 2011 Ram, 1989 Jayco (remodeled)
“It’s a lot like packing; it all depends on the trip. Usually, if we will be doing any boat launching, sight seeing, and have full hookups, the camper comes off. We rarely travel without a boat, but it has happened a few times.
We spent a couple of days at the coast without boat and hookups, and left it on. We’ve stayed in our kid’s front yard, again without the boat, with electricity only, and left it on. We took a five day fishing trip around the Cascade Lakes where we found a quiet, no hook-up campsite. We left the camper on the truck. Driving between base camp and our chosen fishing lake of the day helped keep the camper batteries charged.” – Diane Larsen, 2012 Ford F350, 2007 S&S Montana Ponderosa 8.5
“If we stay for more than one night, we almost always take the camper off the truck to explore the area, put in and take out the boat, etc. If we are staying in a campground for a couple of days or more, we typically setup the awning room and store some items like a cooler, lawn chairs, and hitch extension under the side of the truck camper.
Additionally, we prefer the camper be as close to ground level as possible making it easier for our family and our dog to access. Otherwise I have to setup the aluminum scissor steps and put the jacks down for stability when we leave it on the truck.” – Chris Folta, 2012 Dodge Ram 3500, 2012 Eagle Cap 995
“We don’t unload our camper. If we really have to go somewhere, we unhook. It doesn’t take us very long to unhook. We are thinking about unloading the camper in the future if we stay somewhere longer than three days, but we haven’t been able to do that yet. We’ll have to wait until we retire for those longer trips!” – Carol Sudweeks, 2014 Chevy Silverado 1500, 2006 Lance 815
“My camping trips are planned ahead of time so I know in advance if I am unloading or not. On one of our annual trips we unload for four days at one campground to use the truck for going to town and shopping. At the next campground, we unload for ten days to use the truck for launching boats and fishing.
For other trips it depends on if we can beach the boat near enough to recharge batteries. If so, the camper stays on. Otherwise we unload the camper to make trailering the boat easier.” – Henry Nelsen, 2007 Toyota Tundra, 2012 Northstar Liberty
“Although it only takes about 20 to 25 minutes by myself, having hydraulic jacks as opposed to electric always causes my wife concern and she nicely lets me know it. Consequently I almost never unload, even though it would be nice to have the truck for occasional excursions.
We would need to be some place where running out of supplies and intending to stay longer would overcome her concern, but even then we’d most likely just leave a couple of chairs and a cheap tent and go to town with the camper on. Maybe some day when I add solar to keep the battery up and get electric jacks, it will ease her mind and we can unload once in a while.” – David Pracht, 2015 GMC Sierra K3500, 1987 Lance LC900
“I was in Big Bend National Park and took it off because of rock and roll. I went into the back county and it was really rough.” – David Garrelts, 2000 Ford F250, 2005 Lance 845
“I never have unloaded any of my campers in the field. Because of the poor jacks that were on my old Lance 880, it was always a harry experience just taking it off on my concrete floor shop.
My new 1050S has remained on my truck for two years since I bought it. But a month ago I had to unload it to get some transmission work done, and what an easy sweet setup. It was no problem with these new electric jacks. Easy sleazy. So maybe I will take it off someday as long as it’s very level and hard ground, but probably not.
If I’m going away for awhile I tow my Wrangler or take the Harley, so I don’t ever really need my truck for exploring.” – Scott Barker, 1999 Dodge 3500, 2015 Lance 1050S
“I never off load. I can’t really tell if the camper is off or on. It’s nice to have everything with me all the time.” – Bill Harrington, 2004 Ford F350, 1997 Sportsman
“Generally, I do not unload. First, because my traveling consists of slow exploring travel days on backroads, moving on frequently. I only stay longer in one place to either visit with friends, in which case we use their cars, or because I am not feeling great and want to rest. So, I don’t want to mess with unloading.
However, when I am out mainly to utilize bike trails in one area, then I do unload. I remove my trike carrier from the truck, unload the camper (slow process for me as I don’t have electric jacks), and then replace the trike carrier. This way each day I can head out to another bike trailhead and explore, returning each night to my camper. I cycle with my dog so am not concerned about leaving the camper.
I live in Ontario which has many bike trail networks, so camping in one carefully chosen location allows me to access to many trails within a 30 to 40 minute drive from where I am camping. When I am traveling I always have my trike along, but often drive past trail heads that I would love to ride. However, if there is no nearby campground, I most often miss out on that trail. By unloading when my trip’s purpose is to ride, I can cycle longer into the day not worried about reloading the trike and then setting out tired to try to find a camping spot.
If I had electric jacks I might remove the camper more often. But I travel alone and it’s much more complicated to reload without a spotter. Generally, it’s not worth it to me. I don’t find it inconvenient to break camp. I also usually use my trike to shop and run errands, so I don’t need to break camp.” – Michele McLeod, 2013 Ford 150, 2000 Travel Hawk 9.5
“If we wish to explore an area of rough terrain, perhaps to go four-wheeling, we take it off. Otherwise it tends to stay on the truck regardless of length of stay. We seldom stay in one place longer than four or five days.” – Arn Chamberlain, 2004 Palomino Maverick 8801
“We purchased the truck and camper last year and, so far, I’ve not had the courage to remove the camper from the truck. We tow a Jeep for use in traveling to sightsee or shop. I know I must take the camper off the truck at some point. Taking it off is not the problem. Putting it back on is causing the concern!” – Steve Wright, 2015 Ram 3500, 2015 Lance 1172
Editor: Take a day and go to an open and level parking lot and practice taking the camper on and off until you feel more comfortable with the process. Fully expect to get frustrated at first. After a few times of loading and unloading, it gets faster and easier. Soon the concern will give way to confidence.
“It depends upon the campsite and what I’m doing. Normally, it stays on. I’m by myself and it’s a PITA to load/unload by getting the alignment setup correctly. Also, it’s unloading the side bins each time.
If I need the truck to go somewhere and I’m camping for a period of time, I’ll off-load. I spent more than three months at the “Q” – Quartzsite, Arizona – and figured every seven days I needed to do a dump and fill. I left it on the truck and just drove over most of the time. When I had the ACE Buggy, I’d use that for local trips which allowed me to keep the camper and truck loaded.
So, I keep it loaded unless there’s a reason or need to unload. I just have to watch that first step in the morning.” – Frank Poole, 2016 Ram 5500HD, 2016 Arctic Fox 990
“Whether we drop or not depends on the situation at the time. When we travel, we try to see all we can. If reasonable transportation is available, we take that route and keep the camper loaded. If not, we drop the camper and go for it.
We also like to take tour buses whenever available, which we have found to be the best way to see more. If we are in a spot we want to stay at and not roam around, then naturally we keep the camper loaded. But in all cases, we lower the jacks enough to help stabilize the camper so it doesn’t rock and roll when we’re inside.” – Eddie Henry, 2014 Ram 2500, 2014 Northstar 850SC
“We have visited many locations which are not conducive to driving or parking a dually, long-bed, crew cab truck. For these reasons we do not unload when traveling. Rather we tow a two door Jeep for local travel.” – Tony Coyne, 2105 Silverado 3500, 2016 Arctic Fox 1140
“With the Torklift International Fastgun turnbuckles, laser backup aid in loading, and Rieco-Titan remote-control jacks, it is easy to unload and reload quickly. I unload the Arctic Fox if I stay for two nights or more to see the sites or participate in an event.
Since I normally release the turnbuckles and level the camper with the remote electric jacks when I stop at night, it is then easy to off-load the camper from the truck and reload. I do not normally unload the camper if I am at a rally because usually all events are done at the campgrounds.
I also do not off-load the camper unless I am at a federal, state, commercial, or private campground for fear it might be vandalized or worse, go missing.” – Cliff Cizan, 2010 Ram 3500, 2013 Arctic Fox 1150
“Typically, we unload when staying more than one night to allow us to move around easier. When staying just for an overnight, we tend to leave it on the truck.” – Steve Fisher, 2014 GMC 3500, 2014 Chalet DS116
“I unload the Lance only when necessary. I traveled to the northeast United States and Canadian Maritimes for three months last summer. I unloaded the Lance four times. One time I had to unload so I could wash a very dirty truck. I had to unload when visiting Niagara Falls because of parking issues. Two times I needed the truck to carry my kayak to the launch area because it was too far from the campsite.
I always disconnect the turnbuckles and extend the supports to level the Lance. Usually, after leveling, the Lance is still resting on the truck bed and very stable.
This year I will be celebrating my 70th birthday taking four plus months to visit Alaska traveling through Alberta, British Columbia and Yukon Territory to get there and back.
I will trailer a CanAm Spyder and my kayak. My longest stops will be five days. Most will be two to three days. Therefore, unless absolutely necessary, I will not unload the Lance.
Skip does highlight one main reason to unload, which is exploring the local area. I am fortunate that I can explore using the Spyder. Weather would be a deciding factor for me, specifically heavy rain. But, then again, if the rain is too heavy, who wants to explore anyway? I am looking forward to the other responses.” – Jim Salyerds, 2011 Ford F350, 2015 Lance 1050S
“When traveling and only spending one or two nights at a location, I keep the camper on the truck. When I am staying in one location for a week or two, I take the camper off and use the truck to sightsee. I especially do this when I am in a location that lends itself to off-road travel, such as Death Valley National Park. I love to explore the back country. The only real time consuming thing is changing tire pressure on the truck from haul to travel mode.” – Neal Williams, 1996 Ford F350, 2000 Bigfoot 2500
“When I was a kid and the family was travel trailer camping near June Lake in the Sierra Nevadas, I recall a truck camper leaving his site for a day’s adventure. He left some camp chairs and other accouterments, but that didn’t stop another gentleman from pulling in and begin to set up camp. Upon the return of the site’s rightful owner there was a bit of a kerfuffle. I distinctly recall my dad saying, “That’s why I like the trailer.” I was then, as I am now, enamored with the idea of a camper in the box of a pickup and wasn’t swayed.
Our family of three humans and one canine took an extensive trip along the California coast and points north several years ago. While camping in Richmond, British Columbia and visiting friends in nearby Vancouver, I detached the camper. I reasoned that the congested city traffic would be too much to bear. On another trip, while visiting family on the shores of Lake Tahoe and staying at a commercial site, I detached for similar reasons.
My experience was that that while the truck felt more nimble, its wheelbase didn’t shrink and it’s suspension felt stiffer. A lot of our stuff was either left behind or inconveniently moved into the cab. When the dog couldn’t accompany us, he was left in the truck, briefly, with obviously less room to roam.
I have since come to the conclusion that the convenience of a truck camper, while camping, is not that it can be dismounted on site, but that it’s no different than driving my truck and camper when I want to go on an errand or to see the local sights. Of course, a site occupied sign might be recommended.” – Mark Obert, 1999 Ford F250SD, 1999 Lance 920
“I never unload the camper. It is on the truck full time. The only reason I would ever unload was for service or to sell it.” – Neal Haymore, 1990 Ford F250, 1997 Four Wheel Camper Grandby
“We have not made our first trip out yet, but we did decide early on in our planning that we would keep the camper loaded at all times. As a result of that choice, we will be towing our 2015 Jeep Cherokee behind us everywhere we go. This allows us to base camp the truck and camper and to use the Jeep to do all the sightseeing and errands.
Additionally, the Jeep will be used as a storage trailer to haul what won’t fit easily in the truck and camper and to keep us under our GVWR. I will be retiring on June 1st so we will see how the planning works out.” – Jon Hancock, 2015 Ram 3500, 2016 Northern Lite 10-2EX CDSE
“We are full-timers going on year two of traveling and living in our truck camper. We unload the camper pretty much any time that we are staying in one place for more than two nights. If we are near a town, we usually want the truck to run errands and shop. If we are in a more remote area, we generally want to go exploring the back roads which is easier to do without the camper on board. The more often you load and unload the camper, the better you get at it. With me lining him up initially, my husband can usually back the truck under the camper on the first try.
Grocery shopping with the camper on the truck can be a bit problematic. We can’t access the interior of our camper without opening the slides, and you’re not supposed to do that unless the camper is level. It’s not always easy finding a level spot in a supermarket parking lot in order to open up and load the groceries.
It takes only a few minutes to unload the camper, and about fifteen minutes to load it back on the truck. We can stow all the inside stuff, retract the slides and jacks, unhook the electric and water, load the camper on the truck, and dump the holding tanks in about 45 minutes. One of the reasons we bought a truck camper is for the flexibility it provides in freeing up the truck for daily use.” – Joanne Hall, 2014 Chevy Silverado 3500HD, 2014 Lance 1172
“It depends. If we are going to be at a site for more than a couple of days, and if the places that we want to see and visit might be more easily accessible without the camper attached, then we drop it. However, if we’re only going to be at a campground for a couple of days, and there is no problem having the camper where we want to visit, then we would just as soon leave it on.
I must admit, now that we are more experienced loading and unloading the camper, and it has gone from a twenty cuss-word to now rarely a one cuss-word experience. I do not hesitate off-loading it.” – Randy Bundschu, 2012 Chevy Silverado 3500, 2010 Lance 855
“When we are on the road, stopping for just one night, intending to wake up and head out, we do not off load the camper. If we are going to be around for a few days and have hookups, we off-load it. The camper becomes a home that we return to after a day of sightseeing, fishing, hiking, or whatever.
Some forest service campgrounds are great for us because they have dump stations. We can drop the camper for three to four days, put it back on, dump, return to the campsite and drop it again, or move to another campground. We are seniors, so we have free admission to National Parks, and we pay half price to camp at the parks and Forest Service campgrounds.
We have been to a number of private RV parks where they do not allow us to off-load the camper. We try to avoid those particular parks because we want the option. The key is to remain flexible. Of course, we are retired, so our perception of time, and the use of it, is much different than it was when we had the responsibility of our jobs.” – John Tully, 2014 Ram, 2015 Lance 855S
“I unload for short and long stays, depending if I need the truck or have full hookups. It is easier to unload than my previous smaller camper. It helps me remember all I have to do, including the trucks air bags, adjustable shocks, and diesel programmer. I use wobble stoppers modified a little by me. As you say, it is nice to have the camper with you when you can. Last year I had to load it in a gale and rain in Rhode Island. That wasn’t fun.” – Chip Collin, 2002 Ford F350, 2014 Chalet DS116RB
“I unload if I really, really want to explore a road/trail where the 11-foot tall, 25-foot long, 8.5-foot wide total package would be a problem. Even my pickup is too big for Glacier Park’s Highway to the Sun (no dually, 21-foot length limit), but I’ve taken a naked pickup through Yellowstone and up a trail to a campground that contained an 11-percent grade in Alaska. The tree branches along that one were too low for the camper’s roof air conditioner.” – Philip Tron, 2009 Chevy 3500, 2012 Lance 1050
“We also prefer to leave our camper on the truck. The exception is if we plan or need to go some place were walking or using our bicycles is impractical. We are planning to upgrade to Fastgun turnbuckles to go with our Torklift frame mounted tie-down kit. Since we already have Atwood electric four corner jacks, loading and unloading isn’t difficult.” – Tom Dipaolo, 2000 Toyota Tacoma, 2000 Phoenix Wigwam
“We travel with a 155cc Yamaha SMax Scooter on our front hitch which allows us to quickly get out and about on almost any speed road, even up to 70 miles per hour. Although having the scooter allows both my wife and I to go explore without unhooking our truck camper, there are still times we would choose to unhook. This is where we want to go sightseeing that requires us to travel on a very busy highway.
We encountered this in Houston, Texas when wanting to go see the famous Houston Rodeo, which required going on some major highways. Having the scooter has definitely saved us from unhooking, and has added a new level of fun to our daily adventures!” – Charles Coushaine, 2001 Ford F350, 2012 Chalet DS116RB
“Great question. I’ll be interested in others’ answers. Our general rule of thumb is leave it on the truck for a one-night stay, and to take it off for two or more nights. Our usual camping experience is staying either in National Forest campgrounds or boondocking. We are very rarely in full-hookup campgrounds.
Wherever we are, our usual activities are hiking or biking, which in most cases involve driving to a trailhead. While I’m not a big fan of unloading and reloading the camper on the truck process because it’s usually about a 30 minute chore, I much prefer it to having to batten everything inside down before driving away with it on the truck. It also makes it very clear that this is our campsite when the camper is there around the clock.
Our first big trip was two years ago from our home in Colorado to the East Coast, visiting family in New York, heading up into Quebec, and then down through New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and ferrying over to Newfoundland. Since time was of the essence our above rule of thumb worked very well.
We also enjoy fall camping in Utah in Moab, Canyonlands, San Rafael Swell where the access to the campsite may be a bit rough. It’s less nerve-wracking getting to and from it without the big camper on the back.” – Bob Quigley, 2013 Chevy Silverado 3500HD, 2013 Eagle Cap 1160
“We haven’t dropped the camper in our first eighteen months of owning the rig. It’s probably since we haven’t found a need to. We take it everywhere; shopping, dining, points of Interest, etc.
It only takes a few minutes to unhook and we leave the sewer hose to indicate the space is taken. The water and electrical take just a couple of minutes each; longer on really cold days.
I was tempted to take it off once in order to go over the Logan Pass in Glacier National Park, which only had a 10-foot clearance. There is very little gap in the bed between the camper and tailgate opening and I am not practiced at reloading it. It could easily take a lot longer to unlock, unload and stow the Fastguns, dismount and remount. I’d guess 20 to 25 minutes each both on and off. It never seemed worth the time and effort. We have no use for the truck unloaded at home.” – Joe Sesto, 2015 Silverado 3500, 2015 Bigfoor C2500 10.6E
“The main reason is to launch our 22-foot boat I tow around. It is not always fun to back in at some ramps with the camper on the back. If I will stay at one location for more than two days, it is definitely coming off.” – Ron Perkins, 2015 GMC 2500 HD, 2010 Travel lite 800SB
“A lot of our camping is centered around fishing. We tow a boat. When we arrive at the campground, we drop the boat and trailer off then unload the camper at our site. The truck is then free to launch and load boat as required.
A lot of places we fish you can’t leave the boat in the water overnight, so having the truck free is important. With electric jacks and Fastgun turnbuckles, it’s pretty fast. I will admit that we did struggle a bit the first year as backing up a long box, quad cab under a 10-foot camper took some practice, and a few blue words! If we are traveling and only stopping for the night or visiting friends and relatives, we don’t off-load.” – Roger and Diane Geisinger, 2013 Chevy 3500, 2013 Northern Lite 10-2
“We take it off only when a truck tail light needs replacing.” – Larry Bluhm, 2004 Ram 2500, 2011 Northstar Laredo SC
“I usually am at drag races or quad riding at a dry lake bed, so unloading is unnecessary. I did unload at a beachside campground once so we could do some shopping and eating nearby.” – Ron Williams, 1997 Ford F250, 2003 Lance 1010
“We typically unload the camper if we are staying more than one night. Longer stays mean we are exploring the area or fishing with the boat. Overnight stays while we are traveling do not warrant dropping the camper.” – Michael Rodriguez, 2011 GMC Sierra 3500, 2011 Arctic Fox 1140
“In the summer of 2015, we traveled from Vermont to Alaska, and then from the west coast back to Vermont. It was two months and 12,000 miles. We never took the camper off.” – Marcy Jones, 2015 GMC 3500, 2015 Northstar 9.5 Igloo U
“You left out the third alternative, partial disconnect. Several times in the mountains we have been unable to find level ground and had to unbuckle the camper to level it, but not take it off the truck.
One time in Victoria, the only spot the campground owner had left was terribly sloped. We backed in, and he came up with a whole bunch of large wood blocks and we slipped out from under and explored the city. Getting back under the camper was a nightmare.
We do not take the camper off the truck just for the fun of it or to show off. Sometimes in the mountains of Montana it comes off to explore in places where an “as big as they come” camper is impractical or impossible to take. We are committed to leaving it on where possible. We take a large pruning saw with us and will climb up on the camper and saw off big limbs which would have damaged the camper. In other cases in the mountains, there are rock cliffs with rock protrusions up above. We do not take a rock saw for that. We remove the camper.
We don’t just use the camper for mountain biking, cross-country skiing and hiking, but we also do the tourist thing in cities in the United States and Canada. Some of those times the camper is just too restricting. We set up a home base and go from there, camperless. Again, we do not take it off unless we have a good reason to. Like you, being able to buy in grocery stores and put things in the refrigerator is so compelling.
When we vacation in the car, we eat in the car more often than we eat in cafes. So eating home cooked meals in our own portable home is what we think is living high.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I admit that we also have a large fifth wheel. We cannot imagine spending the winter in Arizona in a truck camper. We can imaging spending months traveling with a truck camper and in fact are planning such a trip right now.” – Michael Turner, 2007 Dodge 3500, 1988 Lance
“We are new to truck camping. In Denmark and elsewhere in Europe, truck camping is almost non-existent. We made our first travel this winter to California and Arizona. The first time we unloaded, it took the whole afternoon to load the camper again. Since then it has been easier each time.
I like photographing, and my wife does not. So it’s very convenient for her to stay in the camper when I drive around with my camera. Another reason to unload the camper is that the truck is much more handy on narrow and bumpy roads without the camper.
We have only unloaded on campsites without hookups. That means we have to load it again after a couple of days in order to fill and empty the tanks.” – Niels Clemmensen, Ford F350, 2014 Northern Lite 9-6 Q Classic SE
“We unload when we don’t have a spot to leave our 20-foot Bass boat in the water while camping. I usually start fishing at sun up while my wife is still sleeping. She would not appreciate being hauled down to the boat ramp at that hour in the morning. Fortunately, most of the places we stay at have courtesy docks or a nice sandy bank to park the boat so we do not remove the camper very often.” – Mike Peebler, 2009 GMC 3500 HD, 2005 Lance 1181
“I only unload in the field for stays longer then three days and when black tank capacity is not an issue. As an example, forest service campsites with restrooms or RV campgrounds in area we need truck to explore. I intend to take it quail hunting next season and will unload I order to use the truck.” – Gordon Thompson, Chevy Silverado 3500 HD, 1998 Lance Squire Lite 195
“Whenever I upgrade to a newer camper I unload the camper. I virtually never drop the camper. But then, I rarely stay in the same spot two nights in a row.” – Michael Siedlecki, 2013 Ram 3500, 2006 Lance 1191
“In all the years – stretching back to 2002 – of owning truck campers, we have never unloaded it when we are away from home. We do not tend to stay in any campground for more than two nights. During the day we like having our own bathroom and kitchen with us.
This might be due to owning a travel trailer after our first truck camper. If you think going to town or some attraction isn’t convenient with a truck camper in the bed, imagine driving around pulling a 26-foot travel trailer. Having an RV that makes our truck just three feet longer is a pleasure in comparison.
I can have us disconnected in under ten minutes without rushing while Cathy takes care of the inside and retracts the slide-out.” – John and Cathy Strasser, 2012 Chevy 2500HD, 2013 Eagle Cap 850
“We do a lot of long weekends and just leave the camper loaded. If we go for a week or more, we unload because we often do some local sightseeing and don’t want to go to the trouble of unhooking the water, electric, and sewer. Also, off the truck, the camper sits lower to the ground so that first step is not such a doozie!” – Jean Landau-Vogt, 2015 Ford F350, Northstar 12STC
“If the campground allows dismounting and we are there for two or more days, we will unload so we have transportation to investigate the local area. A lot depends on our campsite as to the location to unload and why we are there. If our travel plans are to relax and we have time, we will visit the area further. We’ve got to enjoy traveling and investigating.” – Eric and Jacki Devolin, 2007 GMC Sierra, 2006 Adventurer 106DBS
“We unload when we are going to be there a few days or for hauling the boat to other boat ramps fishing. If we stay only for a night or two, the camper stays on the truck.” – Danny Bonds, 2015 Ford F350, 2012 Lance 1181
“We never unload our camper in the field. It stays on the truck from early March to early November when we unload it for the winter.” – Laurel Wilson, 2013 Ford F-350, 2000 Four Wheel Camper
“We typically unload the camper from the truck if we are going to stay in one spot for three nights or more. It’s easier for us to get in and out of the unloaded camper since it is a basement model which makes the floor higher off the ground. We also have two dogs and getting them in and out of the camper is easier when the camper is unloaded, making it closer to the ground.
We don’t feel that it’s worth taking the camper off the truck just for a single night or two. We plan to go to Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island for several weeks this summer and don’t plan to take the camper off the truck since we will not stay in any one spot more than two nights at a time.” – Mike and Paula Bostic, 1999 Ford F350, Chalet S95R Ascent
“At first, we always left the camper on the truck. After some experience with it, we take it off anytime we have a multi-day stay where we have other places to visit. It comes down to what is the least trouble, and with practice that seems to be unloading the camper.” – Robert Mayton, 2014 Ford F450, 2015 Lance 1172
“One of the reasons we purchased the truck camper was the ease of being at the campsite one minute and wanting to take off to sight see, shop or visit people the next minute. It only takes one minute to wind up the electrical cord and pull the slide in if we want to leave the campsite. Our normal camping ritual is a new site every night, so that was what the draw was to purchase the truck camper after dragging a travel trailer for the last fifteen years.
It is so nice not to unload every night, get up the next morning, load it again to drag it to a new place every day. It’s always with us, ready to go. Since you have it with you, you just put away the groceries or whatever you have purchased right away. Plus the dog (or cat) gets to nap in their comfy bed wherever we are. It is all about their comfort isn’t it?
Since this concept is new to us (truck camping) I suppose if we stay anywhere for more than a couple of days we will entertain the drop and go technique since the Torklift system allows us to dock in a matter of minutes.” – Rickey and Willie Werner, 2012 Ram 3500, 2005 Lance 981 (new to us)
“I unload if I need to wash the truck and camper. I also unload if I am going to be a local tourist for more than two or three days. Otherwise I like to keep the camper on the truck so that I have everything with me.” – John Addu, 2015 Dodge Ram 2500, 2016 Lance 650
“We unload on long trips most of the time. We base camp in national parks and take a day trips from base camp. If you go to Acadia National Park you have to watch height restrictions going into Bar Harbor. We put our bikes, our backpacks, and whatever we may need in the bed of the truck and go. If we just go for a long weekend and, most of the time, we don’t unload.
It is no problem to unload. Practice, practice, practice. A lot of people are amazed. They stop and watch. Some will even shake their heads with disbelief. Sometimes I will say, “Watch, when I push this button it’s gonna fly”. We have owned campers from a pop up to a 40-foot Eagle coach, but the last six years we have been truck campers and I don’t see that changing. So loaded or unloaded, it’s all good.” – Kevin Brenner, 2003 Chevy 3500, 2010 Lance 1181
“I tend to leave my camper on the truck for short camping trips as it is a time consuming exercise to remove due to the fact I have manual jacks. I would love to retro-fit to electric, but it’s too cost prohibitive. I am often camping by myself, so not having help comes into the picture. When I do have help and the camping site is fairly level, I will unload, especially if I am going to be in the same site for several days.” – William Steger, 2005 GMC 2500HD, 1995 Kodiak SC83
“It depends on what I will be doing. If I am in for a no stress weekend camping, it stays on and I stay put. If I am going to be camped for a few days and I want to explore or if I think parking will be an issue, off it will go. I also like having all my gear with me at times and being able to pull over at a scenic place for lunch, a quick nap, or to go fishing. I have no fear of taking the camper off or putting it back on. I have a few tricks to help with the process and do it by myself all the time. I think that’s what stops most folks from taking the camper off.” – Frank Paglianite, 2013 Ford F350, 2012 Lance 992
“Normally leave it on if we don’t take our ski boat. I will take it off to to launch the boat. I’m not too keen on launching the boat with camper on.” – Bob Presto, 2008 Silverado 3500, 2008 Lance 1191
“We travel to Alaska every year and take a two week trip from Florida. We have never taken the camper off until we get to camp on the Kenai. Then, it’s off for up to four months. During the winter we take several week long trips. If we are going to stay three to four days in the same place we off-load the camper for ease of touring.” – Bill and Shellia Sargent, 2012 Ram 3500, 2009 Lance 971
“We have never unloaded the camper at a campsite. We have power jacks and Torklift wobble stoppers so we can load, unload, and secure the camper fairly easily. I usually load the camper at the first of the season and unload it when we have completed our season. We keep a fiberglass tonneau cover on the truck when the truck camper is not loaded. I have a winch operated lift in the garage that allows the cover to be loaded and unloaded by one person.
Probably the main reason that the camper stays on the truck all summer is that the jacks on our camper clear the dually fenders on our F350 by 0.5 inch on each side. Since the truck is four-wheel drive, the camper has to be raised to the highest level the jacks are capable of to clear the truck bed. Loading and unloading on level cement is easy as long as I keep a close eye on the fenders. On un-level ground, loading and unloading is a scary prospect. Our RV port is bolted to a level cement slab. It is predictable place to load and unload.
Usually we camp one or two nights and move on, such as on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It is easier to disconnect the utilities and reconnect them when we return. The one trip we take where we camp at one spot for up to a week is at Windcreek State Park on Lake Martin in Alabama. It’s a family reunion of sorts and we can use my sister’s truck if we need to drive into town for any reason. She pulls a gooseneck horse trailer with living quarters and disconnects at the campsite.
Otherwise we do everything by boat. We launch our 22 Mach I sport cuddy and keep it tied to the shore at the campsite. If we need supplies, we stop at the marina store. Since we fuel the boat daily every morning, it is logical to pick up ice and supplies while paying for boat fuel. If we want to go to a restaurant, we have several great choices accessible by boat.
We often take the camper to car shows, although they are typically held at hotels and we don’t sleep in the camper. We do use the camper for the refrigerator, generator, and to have a toilet handy, so it stays close to the show area. Again, we don’t typically unload it because we drive the show car when we need to leave the hotel parking lot. I expect that there are many different uses for a truck camper, and we probably don’t use ours in a typical manner.” – Charles Spray, 2002 Ford 350, 2001 Lance 1010
“I have electric jacks as well as the quick disconnect turnbuckles. Even though I find it quite easy to load and unload myself, I somewhat rarely do it. I guess I would generally have to be staying somewhere for about a week before I would bother to unload. I’ve gotten so used to packing up my stuff and disconnecting that I find it easy to do that rather than leave the camper behind.
It also makes a bit of difference if I have my scooter with me. I have a Yamaha scooter that I carry on a rack on a front trailer hitch. If I have the scooter with me, I have very little need to unload and take the truck anywhere anyway.
One other thought is that I can’t tell you how many times I’ve left camp to go into town or take a drive somewhere and decided to keep going and not go back to last night’s campground. I feel as long as I have my turtle shell along, I’m more free to change plans and find somewhere else to lay my head that next night. Keep in mind that I’m not a planner.
Being a truck camper, I’ve always found that whatever campground I want to stay in can find a spot for me. And it’s also so easy to boondock. So I have never made a single reservation over many, many years of camping. If I know where I have to be on such and such a date in the future, I may as well be living in a penitentiary. For these reasons, I generally like to keep my options open to keep going even if I’m just running to the store for some milk!” – David MacArthur, 2008 Ford F350, 2010 Lance 992
“Because my primary use of the truck camper is for fishing local reservoirs for several days at a time, it was necessary to unload and load on every trip. That way I can launch the boat every day without disconnecting and reconnecting hookups every day.
This quickly became I royal PITA and I designed a better system. I mounted the truck camper on a gooseneck trailer and now only have one unload per trip – just like a fiver. I didn’t just go with a fiver because it’s next to impossible to find a quality fiver as short as my truck camper on the gooseneck. My Lance provides all the quality and comfort I require on my fishing adventures and fits very nicely on the 20 foot gooseneck I had built locally to carry it. And I never have to unload/load it on the truck.” – Robert Hicks, 2010 Chevrolet 2500HD, 2011 Lance 992
“Yes, even with my custom set-up I can still unload my camper, just not as quickly. No matter though, we do not take our camper off the truck except for an emergency situation. The truck camper allows us to park darn near anywhere and take it darn near anywhere, so that is what we do.
It is always great to have our kitchen with us if we get hungry and do not want to spend money at a restaurant. It is especially great to have our bathroom with us. Sometimes, while exploring something that we drove to and parked at, our son my not be interested. So he can always go in the camper, lock the door and play a game or read. That’s another great reason to have our camper with us instead of unloading.
We have a great fondness of breweries. If our tasting becomes a bit too much then the camper is there to sleep it off.
Leaving the camper on all the time is what we do. It is just another reason why we like the small footprint of this class of RV.” – Rich Bain, 1999 Chevy 3500 flatbed, 2010 Adventurer 810ws
“I’ve never thought to take it off when I’m traveling. I like being able to stop to use the bathroom or take a nap when I want. But I store the camper in my garage and it sits on cinder blocks and 3/4″ plywood for support. I have this fear of my foot going through the floor some day if I just use the jacks. You guys are braver than me!” – Jack Pavie, 1995 Ford F350, 1987 Real Lite 950
“I full-time in my camper. My camper stays on truck except for extended stays where I want to adventure without camper. For instance, driving through Yosemite or Grand Canyon, or when I know I need to use the truck every day.
The exception to this rule is spending four days at Morro Bay and keeping camper on truck driving from state park to the beach each day so I could eat and use facilities and have my dog with me to run on the beach.” – Mike Cianci, 2004 Ford F350, 2010 Eagle Cap 850
“I only unloaded my camper once last year camping. It was only because I had to go to a nearby town for some truck parts. After you get a setup procedure down it doesn’t take very long. Security is a issue if you are boondocking, so I do not unload.” – Charlie Young, 2013 Chevy 2500HD, 2012 Riverside 865
“Our camper stays on the truck. If we are staying in one spot for more than a day or two, and have a lot of running-around to do, we rent a roller skate from Hertz. Last time out, the savings in gas was half the rental cost, and the convenience was priceless. It’s not a solution all the time, but it’s easy on the equipment and my patience!” – Alan Hubbard, 2004 Silverado 2500HD, 1993 Sunline 951
“I’m more concerned about hooking it back up. I haven’t done it yet. Nervous.” – Bill Lewis, 2016 GMC, 2015 Arctic Fox
“I almost always unload if we are camping more than two days. The only exception is when we are sure we won’t be driving anywhere while camping. Using the camper off the truck is so much easier to access compartments and get in and out of. I have loaded and unloaded so many times over, I can almost do it blindfolded. A lot of other campers and RVers comment on how easy it looks and how quickly I unload, level up, and get camp set up.” – Mike Borrego, 2005, Dodge Ram 3500, 2008 Host Yellowstone
“I unload when I need to take boat in and out of water each day.” – Kenneth Wright, 2005 Dodge 2500D, Travel Lite 890
“If we are at a rally, we will unload in order to roam around and take in the sites. City parking garages do not work well if you remain loaded. If we are only staying over night with full hookups, or at a goat grower seminar at an agricultural university for a few days, we will stay loaded. If we are staying one night in a business parking lot we do not even put down the jacks. We just start the generator, put out the slide, eat, watch television, stop the generator, and snuggle down to sleep.” – Jerry Bonneau, 1995 Ford F350SD, 2002 Lance 1061
“When we’re en route to a destination, and only going to be spending the night, my wife and I usually keep the camper on the truck. If we are going to be spending a day or more we will usually unload the camper. It is usually much easier to park our big dually when running errands or visiting an attraction than it is with the camper. Also, since my wife is only 4’8″ tall, it is much easier and safer for her to enter and exit the camper when it is on the ground, even though we have a two-step stool!” – Jim Cornell, 2015 Ford F-350, 2014 Adventurer 116DS
“With our old setup we unloaded quite frequently if we were going to be somewhere for more than a couple of days. It was easy with a short bed truck and camper without wings. It is not as easy with our current setup, which is a long bed truck and camper with wings. In fact we have only taken it off twice, both times at two different campsites at Joshua Tree National Park. The first was to drive on rough roads. The second time was so that we could go to the Road to California Quilt Show where it was $7 to park just the truck and $25 for an RV.
We have discovered how much we like having the camper waiting at a trail head when we return from a hike. It’s nice to have food and bathroom waiting for us.
We have had to find service on the road and have always been able to find a dealer that can do work with the camper on the truck.” – Don and Sue Graf, 2008 Ford F350, 2013 Arctic Fox 865
“We don’t demount the camper unless we need to get out and about without it. Generally we leave it on the truck and just level the truck.” – Mary Cyr, 2010 Ford F250, 2013 Northstar Liberty
“I do not unload in the field as my jacks are a detachable three jack set. I do not trust going into the bed area unless it is on the truck. I recently had to change trucks as the Chevrolet truck transmission went out on me on my way home from Charlotte, North Carolina where I was working on Highway 24. My wife brought the jack stands and the Dodge truck to swap out trucks until we could get the other truck back on the road.” – Mark Burrell, multiple trucks, unknown 70s camper
“Last summer we visited and camped in Newfoundland and Labrador for two weeks. If we were in one campground for two or more nights, we unloaded the camper. We used the empty truck enough, especially in Gros Morne National Park, that the fuel savings on the overall trip was significant. It’s probably a bigger issue in Canada than the United States. I really enjoy your magazine. Keep up the good work.” – Jamie Rea, 2012 Ford F350, 2012 Lance 855s
“I unload anytime we’ll be more than one night. It’s easier to get in and out when it’s lowered. It’s more of a setup campsite as well. The more you roll out the easier it is. It takes less than ten minutes with our camper, so it’s very easy.” – D. Boggs, 2015 GMC 3500, 2015 Adventurer 116DS
“90-percent of the time I off-load my camper at the campsite. I like having my truck available to go sightseeing or visiting. When I tow my boat, I often keep the boat at the campsite. It’s easier to launch the boat with the camper off-loaded. It takes me ten minutes to put the camper on the ground and twenty minutes to load it back on the truck.
I have had one experience in the last eight years where the campground wouldn’t allow me to off-load the camper. The only time I don’t off load the camper is if I’m going to stay for a short period of time or if I’m not planning to do the things mentioned above.” – Dennis De Ville, 2008 Ford F350, 2008 Lance 1191
“It depends on several factors. If we are at a location more than a few days, or if the camper may not fit in a small downtown location because a parking garage is the only option. It could also be a location would be hard to maneuver like off-roading. If we are camping at a lake for several days, the camper is generally on the ground.” – Russell Berquam, 2014 Ford F350, 2015 Arctic Fox 1140
“I don’t unload my truck because it is licensed as an RV. So, the DMV says it can’t be used with out the camper. I tow a Suzuki Samurai to run around.” – Kevin Hasch, 2013 Dodge 5500, Lance 1172
“From the time I leave my home until the time I return home, anywhere from a weekend to two or three months, I never unload my truck camper. As a matter of fact, I remove the jacks in all but the weekend excursions to save weight and make the rig look better. The whole reason for having a truck camper is so you can stop and/or park anywhere an automobile can. If you need the bathroom, food, or just take a break, the camper is there for you.” – Dennis Stitt, 2005 Ram 1500, Travel Lite 840SBRX
“I never unload. We like having the camper with us everywhere we go. This way we can always have lunch, dinner, or if you need restroom; there’s nothing better then your own bathroom. Parking can get tricky in some big cities, but I always use Google maps street view which is the best driving tool. You can look to see what you are going to get into before you get there.
Having the camper at the kids’ sporting events is also good. I can’t tell you how many times parents have asked for something that we had in the camper. How about when the weather changes unexpectedly you can change or get a jacket? Having your second home within walking distance from wherever you are visiting is very comforting in so many ways.” – Jim McNamara, 2005 GMC 3500, 1994 Lance Squire
“We rarely camp in one spot for more than a couple of days and even when we do, we usually keep the camper on so that we have it for food and supplies when we go around through the day.
For example, we camped at Mesa Verde a few years ago and having the camper meant that we could go all around the park without worrying about where we would eat or relax between hikes.
One instance when we do take the camper off is if we want to go through some challenging terrain that won’t allow for the height or the loss of maneuverability inherit with a mounted camper. For example, we took a steep gravel trail down the Black Canyon of the Gunnison and followed the posted advice to remove the camper before we went down. Clearance wasn’t much of an issue, but the brakes would have had a major workout and side-to-side clearance was tight.” – Steve Merrill, 2009 Chevy Silverado 3500, 2007 Lance 992
“This is a great question, and it’s something my wife and I have discussed many times. As it is a hassle to unload and load our large heavy camper I have always made excuses not to, unless there is an emergency.
Now that we have some miles under our belts with this rig, we are finding that our lifestyle enjoys having our home with us where ever we explore. My wife is happy to prepare meals, having a washroom with us is always a bonus, and even having a change of clothes nearby. So, with that being said, we do not unload our rig and chose to travel around with it. It does cause extra effort in regards to parking, but the extra walking to our destination because of distant parking is never an issue for us. We are hikers and enjoy being active. If we can’t get our rig into a safe situation, we move on.” – Wes Hargreaves, 2016 Ford F450, 2006 Snowbird 108DS
“We’ve just returned from a three month trip during which we traveled 8746 miles. The only time we unloaded the camper was for a well-deserved oil change at a Walmart in Florida. We need to stay long enough in one place where there are sufficient things to see and do to bother with unloading. We’ve also found that we appreciate having all our stuff like our refrigerator and toilet when we go shopping or travel locally.” – Pierre Mongeau, 2013 Chevy Silverado 2500 HD, 2014 Lance 855
“If I am going to stay in an area for a week or more and need my own transportation, off it comes. It’s about a 45 minute job because I take my time to set up the camp trailer screw jacks and 2×6 boards (carried cross bed in front of camper and jacks in a bag in front of wheel wells) to support floor as recommended buy Arctic Fox, especially if the tanks in the floor are being used.
Also, I always block all jacks with boards to keep them from sinking into the ground. Reloading takes longer, lining up in bed of truck. I use four large 4×6 blocks of wood in each corner of the bed plus a rubber mat to keep the camper from shifting in bed. I had camper shift sideways once and break a turnbuckle after hitting deep ruts where heavy farm trucks were crossing the highway going from field to field. The camper shifted so much I could not see from the right mirror. Another adventure in RVing!” – Bill Hansen, 2013 Ram 3500, 2007 Arctic Fox
“I unload for unexpected emergencies only. It’s nice to have everything with you if your plans change.” – Don Arnold, 2014 Chevrolet, 2007 Northstar TC650
“If we stay more than two days we unload unless it is a bike friendly area were we can explore without the truck, like Key West. We travel full-time from October through April so we have the loading process down. With Fastguns and a stripe on the camper and in the truck bed we can load in about a half hour.” – Phil McEachen, 2000 Ford F350, 1998 Bigfoot 30C1011
“The only time we unloaded our camper was when we were in the Black Hills. We found out there were tunnels that would have limited our travels with the camper on so we left it at our campsite for two days. Try that with a motorhome!
We rarely ever hook up more than power and water so leaving the campsite is not a problem. When we take day trips we always enjoy having everything with us from the kitchen to the bathroom. You’ve just gotta love truck campers.” – Dave Miller, 2015 F350, 2003 Bigfoot 10.6E
“I didn’t purchase the legs for the camper, so mine has never been off. I don’t know about other types of campers, but mine isn’t made to be used unless it’s on the truck, or have some kind of support underneath it. I suppose I’ll have to wait for my next purchase down the road where I can tow a vehicle, or use the camper while it’s off the truck.” – Richard Riggs, 2003 Toyota Tundra, 2011 Four Wheel Camper Kestrel
“Any time I’m in a campground for a week or more I unload. When I visit my daughter for the weekend, I always unload” – Richard R, 2007 GMC 2500, 2013 Wolf Creek 850
“It really all depends on the purpose of the trip. We spent four months and 15,000 miles going to Alaska and back and never took the camper off the truck. If we pull our boat to a campsite for a weeks stay, then we off load the camper to put the boat in and out of the water each day.
Some campsites are not suitable to leave the boat in the water all week or over night. Sometimes we go to the grandkids sports games for championships. We will camp nearby and off load the camper so we don’t have to go into the city with the camper. The kids might play games for two days, at different times of the day. It just makes it easier to move around town and park on crowded arena parking lots.
If I know I am going to unload I am more particular about the campsite. It needs to be pretty level so I don’t create a problem for myself when I load it back onto the truck.” – Larry Wiethop, 2007 Ford F250, 2005 Lance 920