Capri half-ton campers
Northstar Campers in 2017
Question Of The Week

Truck Campers Stuff the Wheel Wells

This week’s Question of the Week asked what readers put in their wheel well areas.  Let’s just say it’s a lot more than water jugs, shoes, and umbilical cords.

“We use the space for laundry supplies, canned goods, kindling for campfires, and the beach bag.” – George Elliott, 2007 Ford F250, 2007 Lance 845

“I have two six-volt golf cart batteries in proper boxes.  These feed one deep cycle twelve volt in the small battery box, and gives me 300 amp hours of juice.” – Joe Munn, 2001 Dodge 3500, 1998 9’6″ Bigfoot 2500

“I put a Ute flatbed on my truck with fold up sides.  I store a twenty pound propane tank, two six-volt golf cart batteries, two folding chairs, a Dutch oven, rubber box with miscellaneous tools, a ten pound CO2 tank for filling tires, a tool kit, extra bottled water and soda, a bucket to catch grey water, and miscellaneous treasures we find on our travels like rocks, shells, etc.” – David, 2004 Dodge Ram 3500, 1998 Alaskan 10 foot

“Firewood and dirty laundry.” – Don Udelson, 2004 Chevy Silverado 2500HD, 2005 Sun-Lite 955SD

“Nothing is stored in the wheel well.  You can’t access the area from outside and it’s not easy to reach it from the inside access door either.  I sure could use the extra storage though!” – Maaja, 2012 GMC 2500, 2015 Northstar Liberty

“We had a non-basement Cascade camper for fourteen years.  The wheel well space was used for shoes, boots, and the dirty clothes bag.  Our Lance has a basement.  We miss the access to the wheel well.” – Philip Tron, 2009 Chevy 3500, Lance 1050

“Yes, we use that area, but one must be mindful of small things slipping under the camper when you use the jacks to level your camper.” – Dean Lonning, 1997 Dodge 3500, 2002 Lance 1121

“I keep emergency items like tow straps, jumper cables, air pump, and tools.  I do not need ready access to these items, but I want to carry them.  It is a ridiculous amount of wasted space, and I only have the tie down hatches to access it.” – Bill and Francine Peters, 2013 Chevy Silverado, 2013 Four Wheel Hawk

“On the passenger’s side, I store two metal army ammo boxes, a small gas stove, two gasoline fuel bottles, and a backpackers water filtration system for emergencies.  The driver’s side well area holds a tow chain for emergency use.

By the way, when the camper is in storage, or at a hot dry camping spot, I open the well doors.  I installed a small window screen attached by Velcro and get good cooling ventilation. ” – Jesse Taylor, 2006 GMC 2500 HD, 2005 Lance 815

“The right side houses a custom six gallon gray water tank made from six inch PVC pipe.  The left side houses camping chairs and a wet cell battery. However, we still have some space left for more supplies.” – Jeff Stephenson, 2012 Ram 3500, 2006 Alaskan 10 foot

“I store tools for any emergency repair and, of course, duct tape as well.  I also have a wood saw, hatchet, and shovel.  I’ll take a small propane heater in the winter along with a couple of 16 ounce propane bottles.” – Philip Bolding, 2012 Ford F350, 1994 Lance Squire Lite 150

“We carry jugs of drinking water, leveling blocks, a small outdoor rug, and artificial fireplace logs to make a decent campfire in spite of the crummy wood they sell at so many campgrounds!” – Al and Donna Hubbard, 2004 Silverado 2500 HD, 2000 Starcraft Roadstar pop-up

“In our old non-basement model camper, I found a water tank that held fifteen gallons of water and it fit perfectly in the space in front of the fender well.  I connected a hose and a bilge pump permanently to the tank and could pump fifteen gallons of water over to the main tank in just a few minutes.” – Mike Johnson, 2008 Chevrolet 3500, 2008 Eagle Cap 1160

“Because there is no access to this area with the camper on the truck, we do not store anything here.  Pity.” – Robert Hicks, 2008 Chevy 3500 HD, 2011 Lance 992

“In Travel Lite campers, they do not install wheel well doors, but I do make use of that space when the camper is on the truck.  In that space, I store all the little extras that I need at the campsite.” – Joseph Brown, 2008 Toyota Tundra, 2010 Travel Lite 800SB

“I keep firewood in there, but I have limited access.  I’ve have put wet clothing and towels in there for the trip home.  I can also get fishing poles in on the passenger’s side.” – Gary Pavonr, 1995 Ford F350, 2001 Lance 810

“I store snow chains, half gallon water jugs, a tow chain, and an AC inverter (so you can’t hear the inverter fan).” – Anon, 2001 Chevy 2500HD, 2006 Lance 815

“I carry electric cords, a water hose, and water bottles.” – Ron Tennyson, 2004 Chevy Silverado 2500 HD, 2012 Wolf Creek 850

“Nothing is there right now.  Our S&S makes really good use of dead space with all the cabinet access.  We don’t really have storage problems because we have a front mount receiver.

We do insulate the truck bed openings during the winter and have screens to draw cool air through via the new Fantastic Fan during the summer, since we don’t have air conditioning.” – Sue Jurf and JT More, 2004 Ford F250, 2005 S&S Ponderosa 8.5

“I’ve always used the wheel well storage in all of the truck campers I have owned.  In my previous rig, a Pilgrim 834, I had to make access doors since it didn’t come with them.  It’s a bit of a Chinese puzzle in there with items most often used very near the doors. Items stay mostly dry in heavy rain and there is still some room for random items and fragrant shoes.  I’ve also discovered that I can cool the camper significantly by leaving the doors open when everything else is buttoned up for security.  The chimney effect pulls cooler air from under the shaded camper wings.

On the street side, I keep a pair of 2” x 8” x 3’ leveling ramps, six 2” x 8” leveling blocks (four more in cab), four plywood jack pads, an entry mat, a small roll-up table, three pole dome sunshade, a jug of laundry soap, a pump for the folding kayak, a kayak cart, a Greenland kayak paddle, and rags.

On the curb side I keep 12’ and 25’ fresh water and 6’ and 15’ gray water hoses, a water filler, an outside shower extension with spray nozzle to rinse the kayak, a twenty-five foot extension cord, two stacking plastic shoe boxes with assorted hardware and spares, a five pound propane backup, a folding wash bucket, wash brush and pole, washing supplies, Son of Hibachi with charcoal and lighter, one quart of stove fuel, and one quart of distilled water.” – Larry Bluhm, 2004 Dodge Ram 2500, 2011 Northstar Laredo SC

“We don’t have access because Lance neglected to put doors there, but we toss our recycle cans and bottles in both sides.  Usually campgrounds don’t recycle, but we like to.” – Harvey Melcher, 2002 Chevy 2500, 2012 Lance 1050

“I don’t have the little doors to excess the wheel wells.  The bed of my truck is longer then a short bed, but not an eight foot bed.  I have about six inches between the front of the camper and the bed, so I can reach in and store stuff.  I have a 6’ x 9’ outdoor rug, chairs, wood blocks, small carpet squares, boots, shoes, and many other small items that can be stored up in the wells.  It’s a nice feature.” – Jeff Hagberg, 2002 Ford F250, 2006 Travel Lite 800SBX

“I store spare shoes, the dirty clothes bag, jugs of water, and other canned/bottled drinks in the front areas.  I only have the right rear area available for storage because the left is filled by the bathroom.  That area is small, with a small access hole, and a fairly large open space for things to fall out over the truck’s bumper, so I don’t use that space.” – Ron Williams, 1997 Ford F250, 2003 Lance 1010

“Yes, I store my Amsoil in quarts and other liquids that I would not want to leave in my camper.  If I’m coming north during the cold weather, then I have the Prestone Yellow windshield washer liquid and square plastic leveling blocks.  I may recommend that the Andersen Rocker Wedge levelers are fantastic and I store them in that area.  If there is any room left, then I store my truck cleaners and polishes.” – Bob Robinson, 2002 Chevy 2500, 2010 Travel Lite 960RX

“Our Lance sits on a tilting flat bed.  What would be the wheel well area is used to the fullest.  We use this space to carry coolers, firewood, the generator, water jugs, a gas can, lawn chairs, the RVQ, and much more.

The truck racks keep everything secure during travel.  Not only that but, while on site, the side of the bed that is under the awning is used as an outside counter that stretches the full under edge of the camper.

We use the wheel well openings as pass throughs for food, beverages, etc.  When we get a new truck we will definitely get another flatbed because we have come to truly appreciate the extra storage and convenience.” – Rose and Scott Rice, 2003 Dodge Ram, 1997 Lance Squire 8000

“I store tire chains, an air compressor, two tool bags, six shoe bags, a bag of bungee tie downs, awning stakes and tie-downs, and a rope line.” – Jim Comperchio, 2013 Ram 3500, 2015 Northstar 850SC

“My Lance 920 has three access doors.  The driver’s side provides access to the electrical connection twixt the truck and camper.  I also store a thirty amp extension cable, a couple of folding camp chairs, and an old rug that I can unroll for a back porch mat when necessary.

The passenger’s side front accepts a propane lantern and several portable propane tanks.  The passenger’s rear, which I often access leaning in through the camper’s back door, holds my tool box as well as a duffle bag full of straps and other tethers.” – Mark Obert, 1999 Ford F250, 1999 Lance 920

“We don’t have access to the wheel well areas since our camper is a basement model.  We cap both ends of our fresh water hose and feed it into the void between the inner fender and outer wall of the Lance.  We affixed a clip to one hose end that we attach to a hole that we drilled in the drip rail on the front of the Lance.  We do the same on the other side with the gray water hose, except we don’t bother to cap the ends.  This is a great home for these usually messy hoses. 

Between the fender and the bed, behind the fender well, and behind the tire, we have installed a length of four inch sewer pipe with a cap on one end.  This is where the extension to the sewer hose lives.

On the right rear inner fender panel, just behind the tire, we have mounted a metal eyeglass case with a spring loaded lid.  We drilled this out to cover the air bag fill valves.  This allows us to keep the air valves clean, and close to the house batteries where we clip on our twelve volt compressor.  Great magazine.  Keep it up.  We devour every issue.” – Robert Johnson, 2008 Ford F350, 2007 Lance 851

“Our Host camper doesn’t have access doors to the wheel well areas, but those spaces are still used.  I set one Group 27 twelve volt battery in front of each wheel well in a battery box for protection.  The batteries are connected with each other via a set of heavy cables and then the camper is carefully loaded on the truck.  The loading tolerances are close but very doable.  Then the wheel well batteries are connected to the camper’s main battery system via a heavy duty twelve volt plug.  The batteries are charged along with the main batteries during travel, on shore power, or when running the generator.

The four battery system significantly increases our ability to boondock for longer periods and provides greater flexibility for power use.  When we unload the camper in a campsite to use the truck minus the camper, the batteries are removed and reconnected to the camper.  The system works great and makes terrific use of a space that would otherwise be lost.” – Dave Riddle, 1997 Dodge 2500, 2006 Host Tahoe

“My Arctic Fox has no wheel well access, which is good because less cold air gets in, but bad because I used to store my dirty clothing there and miscellaneous items.  I now use Access Truck Bed Storage Pockets.  They are L-shaped and I use them to store chains, wood blocks, extra tie downs, rope and anything else I may want to use when I off-load the camper.  They are great for keeping things from sliding all over the pick-up bed.  The pockets also help with centering the camper in the bed of the truck.  I am considering buying another pair to put on the front of the wheel wells as well.” – Steven Cilenti, 1999 Ford F350, 2012 Arctic Fox 990

“I store all my two by six leveling blocks for under the tires in front of the wheel-wells and nothing in the rear.” – Jeffrey Allen, 2000 Ford F-350, 2001 Bigfoot 2500 10.6

“I’m fairly new to the truck camper world and only store mountain fresh Alaskan air.  I have a Wolf Creek 850 with access doors into the front two wells.  I thought about carrying my tools and hydraulic jack in the wheel wells because they are pretty durable and wouldn’t be damaged by the weather . I like the gallon water jug idea too!” – Allen Jedlicki, 2012 GMC Sierra 2500HD, 2014 Wolf Creek 850

“Yes, we do have wheel well storage.  On our last trip to the Pacific Northwest we stored our tall rubber muck boots for exploring tide pools.  I put them in a long narrow duffle bag with a cord tied to each end.  That way I could pull them into the area ahead of the wheel well and pull the other end cord to pull them out when needed.  We also haul anything that may have an odor in that area.

I miss the four access doors that my first camper had.  It made it very easy to access the area fore and aft of the wheel wells.  This should standard on all slide-in truck campers.” – Mike and Nancy Pohl, 1999 Ford F150, 1985 American Pilgrim 8.5 hard side

“I have found blue open bin-like storage containers roughly twelve inches long that are just wide enough to fit in the space, and just tall enough that I can slip them through the access door to the space.  I use a multiple number of these.

We store the four wood blocks used to set the camper on when it is off the truck.  Also, an extension cord, a fifty foot compact roll-up water hose, canned goods, and extra shoes.  Still to be tried is storing a small gas or electric chain saw, extra diesel fuel additive, night crawlers when we go fishing in Canada, extra soft drinks/beer, dirty clothes, and laundry detergent bottles.” – Firman Schiebout, 2004 Ford F350, 2013 Northstar 9.5 Igloo U

“My camper wheel wells are used to carry shoes, water, hook-up cables, gloves, miscellaneous other small items, and an electric chainsaw.

The chainsaw was put there before our last excursion.  It, along with the generator, came in handy and helped a lot of people out after a monsoon storm.  It helped keep the fires going at the primitive camping areas we frequent and we’ve made a lot of friends in the process.  For a single purpose tool, I’d say it’s worth its weight.” – Ian Fleming, 1995 Ford F350, 1998 Lance 945

“Lance does not make access to that area with the 850.  I did not see this when I bought it.  That was a big mistake.  I would not have made the deal.” – Bill Close, 2014 Ram 3500, 2012 Lance 850

Editor’s Note: The Lance 850 is a basement model truck camper.  Basement models do not allow traditional inside door access to the truck bed but they do offer more holding tank capacity, interior floor space, and better four-season capability compared to non-basement camper models.

“I store my gold mining equipment, rubber boots, crossbar lug wrench, extra soda, tarps and other odds and ends.” – Scott Notar, 2001 Ford F250, 1997 Northern Lite 10’

“We use the storage wells for water and drink storage.” – Tom and Joyce Wilson, 2011 Ford F250, 2003 Lance 815

“For two years we had a Lance without the basement and it was great for storage.  I went to Arizona in the winter for three months and everywhere we went people wanted to give us fruit.  I’m a fruit lover and ate two to three grapefruits a day while we were down there.  The wheel wells were filled with fruit along with stuff you didn’t need very often, like muddy or old tennis shoes, leveling blocks, etc.

Now we have an Arctic Fox with a basement and have lost that storage, which is sad.  So, I put in two six-volt batteries in the left front wheel well before I slide the camper in and wire them in series then parallel them to the two existing batteries for more power.

The existing batteries are just above that location so it was easy to drill a hole and run the wires to them.  It works great.  The six-volt batteries are taller and heavier so I have the weight down low.  They are so tall that I had to take them out of the battery boxes and set them in the well using a three-eighths inch piece of plywood over the top with a piece of foam over it.  The camper pushed it down so tight that the foam was one-sixteenth of an inch thick when I unloaded the camper after three months of travel.

We do mostly boondocking and staying on streets in front of family and friends houses, so the extra power is great.  In three months we only spent $71 to camp, mostly in National Park campgrounds and they are half price for us.  Getting this wheel well storage back is something the camper manufacturers should be trying to solve.” – Frank Niehus, 2007 Ford F350, 2007 Arctic Fox 1150

“I carry an HD electrical cord for the generator, tarps, tools, and charcoal for the grill.” – Randy Kenowski, 2003 GMC 2500 HD, 2001 S&S SC950

“On my recent trip to Canada and Alaska I carried three two gallon diesel fuel cans, a small charcoal grill, charcoal and lighter fluid, a jug of engine oil, a garden hose, broom, and firewood.  All items were accessible from the inside of the camper.” – Paul Schwenzfeier, 2011 Ford F350, 1998 Palomino B1200

“I have hoses, electric cords, and cokes, but the best thing is a six gallon slim gas can.  I converted it with a value and a hose fitting in the bottom.  My sink drains into it so that I can have a holding tank until I get sewer.” – Kenneth Wright, 2005 Dodge 2500, 2011 Travel Lite 890

“I have leveling blocks, an outdoor carpet, and a drain hose on the left side.  The right side holds firewood, and axe, and shovel. My wheel well camper doors are screened for cool air inside.” – Greg Sellers, 2002 Ford F250, 1999 SunLite popup

“A large chemical fire extinguisher.” – Bob Taylor, 2011 Ford, 1998 Fleetwood Angler

“I jam them full with two wheel barrels full of short log firewood.  It takes awhile to put them in and take them out, but it’s ‘wheel well’ worth it.  Ha ha!” – Anthony Reynoso, 2006, Dodge Ram 2500, 1995 Lance Squire 8.5


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