Step-by-step instructions to properly match a truck and camper including calculations for camper weight, truck payload, center of gravity, and overall fit compatibility. If you only read one article in Truck Camper Magazine, make it this one. Don’t miss the new Fast Match system!
It’s Important To Properly Match Your Truck Camper Rig
Properly matched truck and camper combinations will stop, steer, accelerate, handle and perform as the truck and camper manufacturers designed them to. These driving dynamics become acutely important when the next knucklehead on a smartphone cuts you off.
Properly matched truck and camper combinations also exhibit the least amount of wear and tear on brakes, tires, and suspension components avoiding costly repairs and maintenance often caused by overloading. Truck fleet ownership surveys consistently reveal overloading as the number one reason for unscheduled truck repair and maintenance.
If personal safety and driving performance are important to you, and you want to avoid unscheduled maintenance and repair costs, a properly matched truck and camper is the way to go.
Three Paths To A Proper Match: Truck First, Camper First, and Fast Match
There are three paths to a proper truck and camper match; Truck First, Camper First, and Fast Match. The Truck First path assumes you already have a pickup truck and are looking to match it to a truck camper.
The Camper First path assumes you have a truck camper and are looking to match it a truck. Both paths are important to familiarize yourself with to fully understand what’s involved with a proper truck and camper match.
The Fast Match path is what we recommend for anyone who doesn’t already have a truck. Due to its simplicity, speed, and certainty for success, we used the Fast Match path for our current truck camper rig.
No Truck or Camper Yet? Start Here.
If you do not have a truck or camper yet, it is not possible to proceed with a proper match. Attempting to match a truck and camper prior to having a truck or camper presents too many variables.
If you don’t yet have a truck or camper, we strongly recommend choosing your truck camper first. Once you have selected a truck camper, you can proceed with the Camper First path or Fast Match path to find the right truck.
Choosing your camper first also gives you the most flexibility to select the truck camper you want, and presents the least compromise for your final rig.
Begin your truck camper selection process by reading, “The Best Truck Camper” followed by, “Picking the Perfect Truck Camper”. Once you have read these two articles and made the directed decisions, proceed to the, “Camper Chooser” and then our Buyers Guide. Before you know it, you’ll be back here and ready to match your dream truck camper to the right truck.
Path 1: Truck First
Use the Truck First path if you already own a truck and want to match it to a camper. If you do not have physical access to your truck, do not proceed with the Truck First path. Access to your truck is required.
Important: Never use the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or payload information published on a truck manufacturer’s website or brochure. This information is rarely accurate and often misleading. Only use the GVWR and payload information physically posted on your truck.
Here are the steps for the Truck First path:
1. Weigh your truck at a CAT Scale or other certified weight scale.
Immediately before entering a certified weight scale, fill your truck’s fuel tank. If you will be removing the tailgate when loading a truck camper, remove the tailgate before entering the scale, or subtract the tailgate weight from the certified scale weight. Be sure to note anything else that is being weighed with the truck including yourself, passengers, and any cargo in the cab or bed.
2. Calculate your truck’s payload capacity.
Subtract the resulting certified scale weight (as shown on the CAT Scale ticket) from the exact GVWR posted on your truck. The GVWR information for your truck is located on a sticker on the driver’s side door. If necessary, make sure to add back the weight of the tailgate, yourself, other passengers, and truck cargo.
3. Measure your truck’s furthest center of gravity point.
Measure the distance from the front wall of the truck bed to the center of the rear axle. Start your measurement on the front wall of the truck’s bed at the furthest point a truck camper could be located when mounted on your truck. The resulting number should be measured in inches. Your camper’s center of gravity should be forward of this point.
4. Measure your truck’s exterior dimensions for camper fit compatibility.
Not all truck and camper combinations are fit compatible. Truck campers are built to fit the trucks available at the date of manufacture. New truck designs sometimes don’t fit older campers, or even current campers.
Always measure and verify that your truck will be fit compatible with your intended camper before purchasing and loading the camper. The important exterior truck dimensions are bed length, bed width, rail height, cab height, and the tailgate opening. Truck bumpers can also cause fit compatibility issues.