There are some very touching stories to this is week’s Question of the Week, “Who inspired you to go truck camping?”
“Hi Angela. We were inspired to purchase our Northstar TC650 by my sister and brother-in-law, Joan and Ted Berger. They purchased their Northstar TC650 about twelve years ago so that they could boondock in California’s Mohave Desert.
We owned a Volkswagen Westfalia when our children were growing up and loved the freedom it allowed us when traveling. As it aged, it became less dependable and no longer fit our family. Camping vacations became less practical.
A few years ago, we had to cancel a vacation because of a medical condition my husband suffered. We rescheduled for later in the summer than planned and traveled up the West Coast to the Canadian border in a tent. We loved the freedom of tent camping, but hated getting up off the ground. Thus the idea of a truck camper began to percolate. We liked the size and versatility of the our relative’s TC650.
I researched the Northstar by reading your online magazine. In September of 2011, we found our Northstar TC650 on Craigslist and then went to the Toyota dealer and purchased our Toyota Tundra 4X4. We enjoy every minute we can find to escape in our vacation home and are off for our second Thanksgiving in Death Valley.
Attached are pictures of our Northstar alongside my sister and brother-in-law’s Northstar during our 4,000 mile trip north from Northern California to Bella Coola, British Columbia.” – Carol Wegner
“Hi Angela. My inspiration for truck camping definitely started with my father and continued with my best friend, Bill. My dad was an avid hunter and I started RVing with him and my uncles on their hunting trips when I was eight years old.
When my sister graduated from high school and started attending Virginia Tech, my father decided to get our first truck camper. It was definitely rugged, but it was built strong. We immediately had to go to work sealing it up and replacing rotten wood. Anyone that had a truck camper back in the seventies knows exactly what I’m talking about.
We put that camper in the back of an old blue two tone, two wheel drive Ford F250. I remember when I first got my learner’s permit and he let me drive the truck down Route 81. That was some kind of experience for a sixteen year old.
Move ahead a few years and my best friend Bill and I camped on the mountain in Pocohontas County West Virginia in a pop-up camper. Man, was it cold and wet! I had my old truck camper still and he decided to buy an old camper as well. We kept them in Circleville, West Virginia, and hunted many years out of those old campers. They were dry and warm, even after years of many coats of rubber roof cement. Neither had bathrooms though; we had to use the old concrete out houses.
My best friend Bill has passed away from lung cancer, and Bill’s family and I donated those old campers. I haven’t had the heart to go back to Circleville and hunt those beautiful mountains of Highland County, but I decided to go ahead get myself another truck camper.
I bought a used Arctic Fox truck camper 1080, quite an upgrade from those old campers.. It has a bathroom, furnace, generator, oven, microwave, and television. I miss my buddy Bill; he’d be proud of this new camper.
My son plays football for Ferrum College and the truck camper is the perfect combination to travel to the games. I take the kids to the games the night before; it’s about a four hour drive. We relax, get up the next morning, cook breakfast, and tailgate. We either leave after the game or leave the next morning when we are rested. It was tough getting up Saturday morning driving about four and half hours, watching the game, driving back home right after the game, and then having to be at work Monday morning. The truck camper was the perfect answer to this.
My Dad loves my new camper. He’s 74 now and said he’d go back to the mountains with me. I’ve included some pictures of those old campers and my buddy, Bill. My camper is the one on Bill’s right. That’s the old outhouse we had to use (talk about a cold draft in the winter hunting months). Thanks again for bringing back so many great memories.” – Kenny Tapscott
“Friends and co-workers of my husband Ron’s were already camping on Cape Cod’s Sandy Neck Beach, and invited us to visit and see what it was all about. We went for a day. As soon as we got home, started looking for a truck and camper. Back then, only truck campers with four-wheel drive allowed on the beach. That was 1976.
Since our original 1972 Dodge and 1971 Wolverine, we’ve had six more trucks and six more campers. We’ve been up and down the East Coast numerous times, and into the Canadian Maritimes. We’ve been cross country a few times, with and without kids. We’ve been north, south, east, and west. Sandy Neck is still a favorite! And now that we’re retired, our new winterization plan is load the camper on the truck, and drive south!” – Toni Robertson
“Hi Angela. I have always had itchy feet. It started when I left home as a teenager and traveled by bus and/or catching rides with friends. By the time I was twenty-one I had traveled to the Pacific Northwest, to Florida in the Southeast, to Detroit, Michigan in the Northeast and to southern Mexico.
In order to recover from the super cold winter temperatures of the Northeast, I loaded up my newly purchased VW bug and headed way south into Mexico. I celebrated my 21st birthday in Oaxaca, Oaxaca. That was in 1964. I eventually graduated to a VW van set up for camping, and basically would live in that van for extended periods of time as I explored the back roads of the California Gold Country.
I later settled down with family responsibilities, and only managed limited travel. During my settled period, I managed to travel the Southwest in a Shasta travel trailer. Then I purchased an old Class C that carried my young son and aging mother to the Grand Canyon, (introducing my husband to the wonders of travel), and spent a wonderful holiday with family living in New Mexico.
Empty nest hit like a ton of bricks by the loss of my mother and my son striking out on his own. That was when my husband and I started to full-time in a older Nomad fifth wheel. From that moment on, we were never without a fifth wheel, even when we stopped to work for my son for seven years.
Time started to catch up with us and a brick and mortar home seemed like a good idea. But before we got rid of our Arctic Fox fifth wheel, we made sure we had a good travel rig. We purchased a used Lance 1130, and put it on the new Dodge Ram 3500 dually long bed that my son bought for us so we would be safe.
We immediately started to make plans for an extended trip to Alaska. Taking our time to visit family and friends along the way, and spending more time than planned in British Columbia, it took us two months to get to Alaska. We didn’t get home for another three months. We live in the camper for extended periods of time as we travel to see family and/or friends, but we also camp in our camper when we go out into the New Mexico desert to go rock hounding, sky gazing, target practicing/shooting, or just because.
So, to make a long story short, my need to keep exploring has been my inspiration to go truck camping. For me, it’s a no brainer. The choice of a Lance Camper on a dually truck was inspired by a neighbor we had in a Texas RV ranch, Judy and Jerry Funk. They had a fifth wheel and a truck camper and sang the praises of their set up. We had to agree!” – Maggie Karam
“Who inspired us to switch to a truck camper? Mother Nature! When we added horses to our lives, we also added a horse trailer, which meant the travel trailer could not go on horse camping trips. The first trip out we were headed for beautiful central Oregon which boasts of their 360 days of sunshine a year. My husband and I just planned to put the canopy on the pickup and sleep in the backend. Never once did we think it might rain.
The first night we endured the worst thunderstorm I have ever seen in Oregon. Usually our thunderstorms come and go within a couple of hours. This one poured down rain and the thunder rolled all night long. That storm would later be attributed to starting one of the worst forest fires in recent Oregon history, the B&B Complex Fires.
As soon as we got home, I started shopping for a truck camper. Over the next three or four months, I spent hours online shopping (oh my, they are expensive) and learning from all the forums and eventually found a gently used 2002 Arctic Fox 990. We purchased the camper in November of 2003 and still love it and use it as often as possible. Before that one trip, a truck camper had never entered my mind. But one miserable night in a leaky pickup bed changed all that.” – Rick and Alice Burnett, Oregon
“I purchased a very used fifth wheel enjoyed it for about three years. As I was getting close to retirement, I decided to look around to pick my next camper as the fifth wheel was falling apart in sections. At the time, I was working in a Pennsylvania state park that had 340 campsites. I took about two years to research campers by talking to hundreds of RVers in all kinds of rigs from every corner of the country. I asked three questions; “What do you love about your camper?”, “What do you hate about your camper?” And, “Would you purchase it all over again?”
To make a long story short, I believe that it was a Canadian couple who told me that they would not have it any other way. They loved the mobility and compact design of their truck camper. Truck campers had also kept them together all these years. I figured that if they could enjoy life in a truck camper, I could also. They told me that they were 84 years young. That was about five years ago. I really hope to bump into them on the road sometime.” – Jesse Taylor
“When my wife and I were getting ready to retire eight years ago, we knew we wanted to travel the country. We had tent camped and backpacked for years, but knew tent camping and backpacking wouldn’t work for the extended amount of time we wanted to be out. We knew a Class A motorhome was too big, so we started looking at everything from Class Cs to conversion vans and Class Bs. When my wife suggested looking at a truck camper, my first vision was of a small pickup truck with a cap over the bed of the truck. We went to an RV show and saw a Lance truck camper for the first time and thought that was pretty close to what we were looking for.
Since we didn’t own a truck, I didn’t want to spend the money for a truck and a camper and then discover that lifestyle wasn’t for us. I called Lance and asked if they knew of anywhere we could rent a Lance Camper so we could try it out. They replied that the only place they knew for sure was in Anchorage, Alaska.
I came home and said, “Guess what? We’re going to Alaska!”. We flew to Alaska at the end of April 2004, which isn’t the best time to go camping up there. Despite the cold and occasional rain and snow, we fell in love with truck camping. We rented an eight and half footer which was smaller than what we thought we would need. After living in it a week, we discovered that we didn’t need anything larger so we were able to downsize and get a smaller camper and a single-wheel truck instead of a dually.
That drop-of-the-hat trip saved us thousands of dollars. In the eight years since then, we have happily camped all over North America and have put almost 100,000 miles on the camper. I can’t wait to get back on the road again.” – Larry and Barbara Routt
“Hi Angela. Who inspired me to purchase my first truck camper is a rather long and involved story, but I’ll shorten it as best I can. I must give credit to the @#$%& that fell asleep behind the wheel of his car, smashed into the back of my fifth wheel trailer, and totaled it. I had been on the road solo and full-time exactly one year and one week. “He didn’t see me,” was his defense. I answered, “How did you not see me? I’m pulling a house.”
That accident did three things for me. 1. It hurt me rather badly and I had to sleep on a friend’s couch until I recovered, which was months. 2. It totaled my trailer but not my truck. 3. It gave me an ending for my book titled, “Kiss This Florida, I’m Outta Here”.
I decided at that minute that I was never going to let anyone sneak up on me again. I purchased my first truck camper, a ten foot Elkhorn, and lived in it for nine years solo and full-time. Although I am no longer full-time, I have a nine and a half foot Adventurer and will be heading out to my winter getaway of Yuma, Arizona in less then a week. YEAH!” – Joei at joeicarlton.com
“My parents didn’t camp, didn’t really travel, or have much desire to. I traveled to the library on my bike and read books about camping. I still remember the thrill of buying my own backpacking tent in college.
Fast forward a few years and more than a few nights in that tent. We were coming home from a failed job in southeast Alaska and got rained on every single day in that well-worn tent. The next summer, we built a wooden topper for our Ford Courier pickup truck. Then we had a VW Vanagon. Having kids got us into a tent trailer, and finally a series of truck campers. Lots and lots of memories.” – Bonnie
“I have memories of traveling in a friend’s truck camper back in the 1970s. My husband and I have been campers for years moving from a tent to a pop-up and finally to our 2005 Lance 1030. Our inspiration was to have the freedom, flexibility, and ability to go anywhere we choose including off road.
Our Lance truck camper has allowed us to live our dream. The camper is so easy to load and unload and, as a totally self-contained unit, we stop wherever/whenever we choose.
As Florida residents, we are somewhat of an oddity traveling in our truck camper. However, we continue to see heads turn and receive positive comments about our good looking rig. We love our truck camper!” – Tracy Nickel
“Hi all truck campers! Well, way back when in 1969 I was a small boy, I lived in Charleston, South Carolina. The neighbor had a son that I was friends with. They had a truck camper and invited me a couple of times to camp with them. I had a ball camping and riding in the cabover. Remember this was 1969.
Over the years, I’ve owned a travel trailer, a small motorhome, a Class B, and a big Winnebago. Then the wife and I decided to give up RVs and buy a time share. We still have it, but, in 2011, I bought a small Palomino pop-up truck camper. It was nice in nice condition, but I’m 6’6″ tall and I was just too long to fit in the cabover.
So I looked for something with a bigger bed and air conditioning. I found a real nice Travel Lite 800 SBX. It was in South Carolina near Greenville. I packed it up on the back of my truck and brought it home. I have used it several times this year and plan to use it this week. I hope to retire in a few years and travel.” – Jeff
“I also followed Teresa and Sterling’s adventures on where-rv.now.com and corresponded with them. It was amazing. We were already into truck camping, or their blog certainly would have been an inspiration. Just think, you serve as an inspiration to future truck campers now!” – Carl G.
“It was not a person who inspired me to begin truck camping. Two incidents conspired to hook me in. I was a tent camper and sneered at those who needed to bring their home with them. Then my mother and camping partner retired and decided she no longer wanted to travel in the heat of summer. She jumped in her Jimmy at a whim and took off with her tent and dog whenever the mood struck. So I headed out on my own the following summer.
It was the first time that I had a scary situation of being lied to and stalked at a desolate campsite. When another guy came and tried to warn me, “My friend is really weird. You know, my friend is weird”. I took the hint, packed up my gear, found a family camping in another area, and slept in my locked car that night.
At about the same time, I was looking for a truck to pull a horse trailer. My neighbor had a ten year old Ford with less than 20,000 miles on it. But he would not sell the truck without the camper. I bought the pair for a very good price and my mom joined me for our first April week in the camper.
Okay, there were some problems. We reached Georgia (from New York state) and a brake caliper rusted closed and I went through Atlanta suburbs spewing smoke from a burning brake pad. We had trouble at first coaxing the heater to work on our first snowy night in Pennsylvania.
Regardless of those minor mishaps, we were hooked. I could now travel alone with more safety, having a door I could lock. We had more freedom to explore out of the way places we couldn’t go with a car and tent. It’s now been eighteen years that I’ve traveled like a turtle with my summer home on my back!” – Barbara Linsley
“Hi Angela! When I was in college, my dad had remarried and purchased a truck camper to camp with his wife and new young step-kids. A few times when I was on college break, I was able to go along and had a blast. It was back in the olden days, when we were allowed to ride in the camper while the rig was moving. I remember laying in the bed over the cab and watching the world go by out of the front camper window as dad drove. There was a boot between the camper and the truck, so we could pass drinks back and forth and my little siblings would climb from camper to truck and back again.
Years later, my husband and I had four kids with a myriad activities in opposite directions with no time to camp. When we became empty nesters, we got a dachshund and soon discovered what a hassle it is to do the restaurant/motel thing with a dog.
We went to an RV show to look at a Class B Sprinter vans and there was no way my husband was going to fit in those little beds. He is 6’4″! Besides, I like to cook and the kitchens were itty bitty. We were disappointed as knew we did not want a larger motorhome or a huge rig and were just shuffling past all the big stuff.
As we came upon the truck campers, I asked my husband if I could look at the new campers for nostalgic reasons. He waited outside, and only ventured in after my, “ooooh’s and ahhhhs” got his curiosity up.
It had a slide-out! He had headroom to spare. We both laid down on the bed and had plenty of room for the dog to sleep with us. There was a refrigerator, freezer, stove, oven, and microwave. There was a shower that even my husband could use.
We bought a truck camper right then and there at the RV show. We didn’t even have a truck! Since then, we have been in some pretty amazing places. Thanks, dad!” – Sharon and Dallas Day and Max the dog, Washington