Nineteen pop-up truck and camper owners prove that it’s possible to assemble a rig for under $50,000 USD / $64,216 CAD. Think pop-up truck campers are out of reach? One rig was just $7,000 USD in total.
If you go back fifteen years, pop-up truck campers were – almost across the board – a more affordable alternative to hard side campers. Not only were the campers themselves less expensive, but the trucks needed to haul a pop-up camper were also less of a direct challenge to one’s wallet.
In some areas of the pop-up truck camper market, that all remains true. However, the evolution and proliferation of the overland concept has pushed pop-up truck campers into price categories hitherto unseen. Again, fifteen years ago it would have been difficult to spend north of $50,000 USD / $64,216 CAD on a pop-up camper. Today, it’s almost routine.
We have seen this trend expand even within the electrons before you. Truck Camper Magazine has featured numerous pop-up rigs that threaten the $100,000 USD / $127,760 CAD threshold – once thought unthinkable. Of course who would have thought trucks could consume that kind of coin in 2022? They can, and they often do. I have a mind to say it’s getting out of control.
What needs to be avoided is the message that pop-up truck camper rigs are only for the rich. That’s never been true and isn’t true today. As you’re about to see, nineteen fellow pop-up truck campers have put together rigs – truck and camper – for under $50,000 USD / $64,216 CAD. It’s possible, even now.
Thank you to everyone who sent in an affordable pop-up truck and camper rig. Your examples prove beyond a doubt that nearly anyone can get into truck camping.
2018 Ford F-150 + Phoenix pop-up = $45,000
“I bought a new 2018 Ford F-150 for $42,000 USD in June 2018.
I bought an older used Phoenix pop-up for $3,000 USD. It took a year-and-a-half of looking on Craigslist every day five times a day to find a deal like that. I bought it in 2019.
The total for my truck and camper was $45,000.
Affordability and fit were important. I also wanted to keep my tailgate on the truck and stay within the 1,764-pound payload of my half-ton.
I bought my camper for hunting and fishing trips and for taking my family to Yosemite. I took a trip to Overland Expo West in Flagstaff and on short trips down the California coast for fishing.
I am following the Applegate-Lassen Trail through the Nevada desert. I do a one-week couple-hundred-mile trip every year picking up where I left off. I go a little further through the desert every time.”
2019 Ram 1500 + 2021 Palomino Rogue EB-2 = $43,250
“I bought a used 2019 Ram 1500 with four-wheel drive for $27,500 USD in June of 2020. I found my truck on TruckTrader.
I bought a new 2021 Palomino Rogue EB-2 for $15,750 from Sunland RV in May 2021.
The total for my truck and camper was $43,250.
Yes, affordability was important because I was forced into early retirement.
We mainly camp and ride Arizona from the southwest desert to the mountains of Flagstaff.”
Wayne A. Petrie
2012 Ford F-250 + 2012 Northstar 850SC = $23,000
“I bought a used 2012 Ford F-250 Super Duty, super cab, four-wheel drive, 6.2L truck for $13,000 USD in March of 2018. I bought the truck and camper together from a used vehicle listing on YouTube. My used 2012 Northstar 850SC cost $11,000 USD.
The total for my truck and camper was $23,000 USD. I have since added about $4,500 in upgrades.
Yes, affordability was important.
We have been to the Cherokee National Forest in Tennessee and taken a few trips to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I also use it weekly for a beach volleyball league I run. With the camper, players can hose off after playing.”
2017 Ford F-250 + 2002 Hallmark Cuchara = $39,500
“I bought a used 2017 Ford F-250 for $34,500 in September of 2020. I found my truck on Cars.com.
I bought a used 2002 Hallmark Cuchara for $5,000 from Craigslist in September of 2020.
The total for my truck and camper was $39,500.
Yes, affordability was important to me.
We’ve all through California coast and Sierras, Utah, Nevada, Colorado, and Oregon.”
Anthony and Inger Bull
2011 Ford F-250 XL + 2020 Northstar 850SC = $33,000
“I bought a used 2011 Ford F-250 XL for $14,000 USD in November of 2019. I found my truck online and bought it from a dealer 60 miles away.
I bought a used 2020 Northstar 850SC subzero for $19,000 USD from a Colorado dealer after an online search in January of 2020.
The total for my truck and camper was $33,000.
Our F-250 XL is the most basic of basic models. It has no electric windows, mirrors, or locks, but it has four-wheel drive and works great as a camper hauler.
We knew we wanted a pop-up camper to be more aerodynamic and less top-heavy. And they were less expensive. We found a barely used Northstar 850SC and we couldn’t be happier! Moving up from a tent, the indoor shower, toilet, furnace, and even air conditioner (that we have never used), are all game changers.
We go into the backcountry of Colorado, sometimes in deep snow, and boondock for a few days at a time before moving on to the next site. We can get where most lower clearance vehicles and pull-behinds can’t go.”
2013 Ford F-150 STX and 2021 Palomino SS-550 = $31,000
“I bought a used 2013 Ford F-150 STX 5.0 V8 for $16,000 in April 2021. I found my truck on Craigslist.
I bought a new 2021 Palomino SS-550 for $15,000 from Northern RV in May 2021.
The total for my truck and camper was $31,000.
Yes, affordability was important.
I have camped in Ozark and Ouachita National Forests, Canadian Provincial Parks, the White Mountains, and the Green Mountains. We chose a truck camper for its ease of use. Just get in and go!”
2000 Chevy Silverado 1500 + 2007 Starcraft Starblazer = $16,500
“I bought a used 2000 Chevy Silverado 1500 for $10,000 in March 2022. I found my truck on Craigslist.
I bought a used 2007 Starcraft Starblazer for $6,500 in June 2022. I also got it from Craigslist.
The total for my truck and camper was $16,500.
I wanted a GMT800 platform four-wheel drive truck with an LM7 for reliability and the ease of finding parts. For the camper, I was looking at affordability. I wanted a pop-up short bed camper, ideally a Four Wheel Camper. A few of my friends have Four Wheel Campers and they’re awesome. The Starcraft was in excellent condition, with a bit bigger interior than a Four Wheel Camper, and within our budget.
We bought the camper to more easily get our 10-month-old daughter out camping. In the two-months we’ve had the camper, we’ve done a few 1,000-plus mile trips. Starting from our home in southwest Washington, we’ve gone to Priest Lake, Idaho, the high desert in southeast Oregon, and some fishing trips to the Deschutes River.
We specifically wanted a short box camper so I could put my dirt bike behind the camper on a hitch hauler. In the next few months, we’re planning to take the camper out to some of my favorite spots in Gifford Pinchot National Forest, which is very close to where we live.”
2014 Ford F-150 FX4 + 2015 Palomino SS-800 = $32,000
“I bought a used 2014 F-150 FX4 for $29,000 USD in 2017. I found my truck on a car lot down the street.
I bought a used 2015 Palomino SS-800 from a friend of a friend, Red, who used it four times. It cost $3,000 USD in April 2021.
The total for my truck and camper was $32,000 USD.
I wanted something small to fit in my garage. I jack it up close to the roof so that I can put my wife’s Mini Cooper under it.
When I go to Utah for my paragliding training, I can stay in the truck camper on the training hill instead of a hotel. Recently, I’ve been using it more for work when I travel out of state to Montana. Of course, it snows on me the whole time dropping down to 15-degrees at night. All is good though. I made some friends who work the front desk at a hotel in Big Sky and they let me go in and use the hot tub.
The camper does stay comfortable in cold weather. I have traveled throughout Utah, Idaho, Montana, South Dakota, Wyoming, and Colorado. I am hoping to go travel Highway 1 up the West Coast soon.”
2003 Ford F-250 + 2015 Palomino SS-1251 = $29,500
“I bought a used 2003 Ford F-250 for $15,000 USD in February of 2022. I found my truck Facebook Marketplace.
I bought a used 2015 Palomino SS-1251 for $14,500 USD from Facebook Marketplace in April of 2022.
The total for my truck and camper was $29,500, plus $3,000 in upgrades.
I’d prefer a cab, but don’t have $60,000 or a year to make one.
My summer road trip was from Texas to New Hampshire to Wisconsin, Montana, Calgary, Alberta to Washington, and back to Texas.”
2016 Ford F-150 + 2021 Palomino Rogue EB1 = $35,000
“I bought a used 2016 F-150 two-wheel drive, eight-foot bed for $13,500 plus $1,500 taxes and auto transport in October of 2021. I found my truck on Cars.com.
I bought a new 2021 Palomino Rogue-EB1 for $13,500 plus $700 in taxes from Scotts RV in February 2021.
The total for my truck and camper was $35,000 with all improvements.
Affordability was the initial way I got into it. I purchased a cheap truck for $3,000 here in Maine to try out the truck camper option. I decided a new camper was actually a good bargain compared to the lack of options on the used market.
I also liked something that was backed by a warranty, which was good as we have had some issues. Also, compared to the cost of outfitting a van, this was not bad and everything was mostly already done.
We decided we liked truck camping and purchased a newer truck that would pass inspection since the old one would not. In searching for a newer truck we chose the least sexy model possible, the two-wheel drive work truck with an extended bed. The original $3,000 truck was a similar model and we like it.
This choice also meant we weren’t competing against high school kids/young guns looking to hop it up or transport their families. This meant we got a relative deal compared to others in this hot market. It had 170,000 miles on it, but was from the south and had not a bit of rust on it. In Maine, trucks don’t get to their full potential lifespan because of rust.
We like it; crank windows, no cruise control, but a durable interior and a V8. We don’t use it for day-to-day use so we could get something that doesn’t have four doors and that many creature comforts. Some people think two-wheel drive in Maine is a non-starter, but we put snow tires on it and have been impressed with how good it is in snowstorms. With all that weight over the drive wheels, it gets fine traction.
We do not off-road with it. The most we tackle are dirt roads, which the truck does fine with. We also like the two-wheel drive as it has the highest payload at 2,300-pounds, which s well over our camper of 1,400 pounds, plus us, plus gear. The eight-foot bed gives us a porch with our shorter camper and allows us to close the tailgate and store things down the side.
I’ve worked out of it a bunch, but we also use it for ski trips and vacations. During Covid, it was a great way to visit friends. Now it doesn’t get used as much during peak summer but in the fall and winter, it will see an uptick in trips. We have left it home and chosen a tent once or twice due to high gas prices.
For trips that have been a lot of driving, our car gets 35-plus miles-per-gallon versus our truck at 11 miles-per-gallon. We like having a truck for the few times a year we need it, and really like the ability to swap out the truck. The pictures are from a ski trip to the Gaspé in Canada.
Do I lust after a Cirrus and a 2500HD? Sure, but this truck and camper combo lets us do almost everything with a few added benefits. The Thule rack on top is great and we do like the back porch.”
2018 Ram 2500 + 2004 Northstar TC800 = $32,700
“I bought a used 2018 Ram 2500 for $30,000 in September of 2019. I found my truck in a Cars.com advertisement.
I bought a used 2004 Northstar TC800 for $2,700 from Craigslist in March of 2018.
The total for my truck and camper was $32,700.
Cost and options were important. My truck is a long bed 4×4 with 5,000-miles. The camper is a light 8-foot model with a shower.
Truck campers are my favorite kind of RV. I have had one since April of 1973. I have traveled to 46 states over the years and been as high as 14,100-feet with a camper. The Eureka camper on the left (pictured above) is my 2017 setup that was right at $50,000.”
2016 Ram 3500 + 2015 Northstar TC800 = $47,000
“I bought a used 2016 Ram 3500 6.7 Cummins diesel truck for $36,000 in August of 2019. I found it on AutoTrader.
I bought a used 2015 Northstar TC800 for $11,000 from an individual on Craigslist in July of 2021.
The total for my truck and camper was $47,000.
Affordability was important, but the biggest driver was load and tow capacity.
I just completed a two-week Jeeping trip to Moab, Utah, and Ouray, Colorado with my 18-year-old son and 78-year-old father.”
2020 Toyota Tacoma + Go Fast Camper = $49,000
“I bought a new 2020 Toyota Tacoma DCLB for $40,700 in June 2020.
I bought a new Go Fast camper for $8,000 from Go Fast Campers in Belgrade, Montana in April 2022.
The total for my truck and camper was $49,000.
I wanted this combination so that I don’t have to tow a bunch of crap around. I go camping, mountain biking, pack rafting and backcountry ski touring.”
Just Missed The Cut
For our call for affordable truck campers, we requested that all submitted trucks and submitted campers needed to be purchased after August of 2017. We also stated that all rig combinations could not be over $50,000 USD / $64,216 CAD. Well, not everyone who entered made those cuts, but they still wanted to share their affordable rigs. Here are even more affordable truck camper rigs for inspiration.
2015 Toyota Tundra SR5 + 2018 Four Wheel Camper Grandby = $55,000 USD / $71,000 CAD
“I bought a new 2015 Toyota Tundra SR5 regular cab, long box for $34,000 CAD (approximately $26,500 USD) in May of 2015.
I bought a new 2018 Four Wheel Camper Grandby for $29,000 USD (approximately $37,000 CAD) from the Four Wheel Camper factory in September of 2018.
The total for my truck and camper was approximately $55,000 USD / $71,000 CAD.
It is a bit confusing because it was a mix of currencies, and it’s slightly old and slightly expensive, but it’s my type of rig. I wanted a regular cab half-ton with high payload and a new and simple pop-up camper. To go even lighter and less expensive, the Four Wheel Camper shell or Project M is available.
I have toured the southwest US going to lots of state and provincial parks. My camper is a base camp for hiking and mountain biking.”
1992 Dodge Ram + 2000 Starcraft pop-up = $23,000
“I bought a new 1992 Dodge 2500 Cummins diesel for $23,000 30-years ago in December of 1992. In August of 2020, a friend who sells scrap metal gave me a free 2000 Starcraft pop-up camper. He called me and said, “It’s free if you take it away”.
The total for my truck and camper was $23,000.
Yes, affordability was important. I spent a few hundred dollars fixing up the camper. I use my camper for hunting and fishing.”
1997 Dodge Ram 2500 + 1998 Sun-Lite Sportsman = $7,000
“I bought a used 1997 Dodge 2500 Cummins for $3,500 USD in October of 2016. I inherited it from my father-in-law and just needed to pay for repairs.
I bought a used 1998 Sun-Lite Sportsman for $3,500 USD from Craigslist. I drove to Wyoming in December of 2019 to pick it up.
The total for my truck and camper was $7,000 USD. I have spent another $3,000 on repairs.
I had been looking for two-years for an affordable camper for the truck. Even the used top stuff is expensive. Mine was well taken care of by the previous two owners.
I use my truck and camper within the state for fishing, hunting, and exploring while camping in it. I’m happy with my choice most days.”
2017 Chevy Silverado 1500 + 1995 Four Wheel Camper Blazer = $30,000
“I bought a used 2017 Chevy Silverado 1500 for $28,000 US in February of 2019. I found my truck on Craigslist.
I bought a used 1995 Four Wheel Camper Blazer model, which is rare. It cost $6,000 US including the old diesel Blazer from Craigslist in June of 2016.
The total for my truck and camper was $30,000 USD.
Absolutely, affordability was important. I pulled the camper off an old noisy diesel Blazer and put it on my newer truck. The Blazer Four Wheel Camper is like a shell with a pop-top. With a queen bed, removable table and chairs, stove, solar and Engel fridge, hidden sink with foot-pumped water, Propex heater, and porta-potti, we go for months with reasonable comfort.
With four-wheel drive and a super lightweight camper, we go almost anywhere. We are river rafters so we have been to every state in the west, rafting our beautiful rivers. We’ve also traveled to Baja a bunch.
We sometimes think we want to upgrade, but the pluses of our current rig are greater than the pluses of a new fancy camper when you factor in the cost, weight, and hassle of switching.”
2011 Ram 1500 + 2010 Northstar TC650 = $30,000
“I bought a new 2011 Ram 1500 for $20,000 in March of 2011. I found my truck.
I bought a used 2010 Northstar TC650 for $9,995 from Craigslist in December of 2015.
The total for my truck and camper was just under $30,000.
Yes, I was on a budget and this was my first rig. I wanted to make sure it was right for me. I have absolutely no regrets.
Tent camping was getting a bit rough and cold for the girlfriend, so it was time to try the truck camper life. We have camped in the mountains, desert, beach, lakes, driveways, and parking lots. Boondocking is the favorite.”
2005 Chevy Silverado + 2002 FWC Grandby = $30,000
“Our entire rig, a 2005 Chevy Silverado and 2002 FWC Grandby cost $30,000 in total. It fits in our garage with a 7.5 ft garage door.
That $30,000 was ten years ago and today, you would probably need $40,000 to have the same buying power as $30,000 in 2012.
We are still happy with it and we still use our rig!”