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Newbie Corner

The Best Truck Camper

Next Questions: Price and Weight

Before making a recommendation, most manufacturer representatives and truck camper dealers will ask, “What is your target price range?”  Ideally, they will also ask, “What is your target wet and loaded weight?” or, “What is the payload capacity of your target truck?”  Most do.

Don’t worry if you don’t have this information ready.  You may not have a truck yet, or you may want to keep your price and weight options open as you learn if a non-slide, single-slide, or multi-slide is right.  Making price and weight decisions ahead of time can be helpful, but it can also be too limiting.

For the sake of this exercise, let’s add price and weight information to Fred’s, Ted’s, and Jane’s “best camper” questions:

Fred: “Who makes the best pop-up truck camper for a short-bed truck, with soft-side pop-up walls, and a wet bath?  I need to stay under $20,000 and keep the weight under 2,200 pounds wet and loaded for a 2008 Chevy Silverado 2500.”

Ted: “Who makes the best hard side truck camper, for long bed trucks, with three-slides, and a dry bath?  I’m hoping to stay under $50,000, and keep the weight under 6,000 pounds wet and loaded for planned 2015 Ford F350 dually purchase.”

Jane: “Who makes the best pop-up truck camper, for a short bed truck, with hard pop-up walls, and a wet bath?  I need to stay under $20,000 and keep the weight under 1,900 pounds wet and loaded for a 2014 Ford F150 EcoBoost I’m looking to buy.”

If you take the time to create your own “best camper” question – like the three examples above – and send it to your local truck camper dealer(s), you should get some very specific and helpful responses.  Try it.

Pet Peeve Alert: Did I Mention My Bass Boat?

A major pet peeve of ours is when someone asks the infamous “best camper” question, and leaves out a very important lifestyle variable, or two.

Once again, let’s go back to Fred at the RV show.  Fred asks us the infamous, “best camper” question, and we follow-up by asking him the right questions – as listed above.

With this prompting, Fred answers, “I’m looking for a pop-up truck camper for a short-bed truck, with soft-side pop-up walls, and a wet bath.  I need to stay under $20,000 and keep the weight under 2,200 pounds wet and loaded for a 2008 Chevy Silverado 2500.”

With Fred’s feedback, I begin making specific make and model suggestions and pointing Fred in the right direction.  Two minutes later, Fred adds a couple of important lifestyle details.

“Did I mention that I want to take my truck camper ice fishing in Michigan every winter, and tow my 22-foot bass boat to Texas every summer?”

This happens all the time.  In fact, it happens so often that most industry veterans have learned to ask, “What do you plan to do with your camper?” before making specific camper suggestions.

Fred’s lifestyle information dramatically changes the possible camper recommendations.  For example, if Fred wants to camp in temperatures below zero (ice fishing in Michigan) he would likely do better with a cassette toilet that he can dump after the standard RV dump sites have been closed for the winter.  Otherwise, we may not be able to dump his black tank until Spring.

If Fred wants to tow a bass boat, he may also need to consider a lighter weight camper, or a heavier duty truck, to safely tow his boat.  As you can see, both of these lifestyle details dramatically change the “best camper” for Fred.

Throw Your Dealer A Bone

Folks usually decide on a truck camper because there’s a specific lifestyle they want to pursue.

According to our 2015 reader survey, nearly 76% of truck camper owners tow something including boats, ATVs, utility trailers, Jeeps, motorcycles, and horses.  Furthermore, truck camper owners often enjoy taking their rigs off-road to places other RV types wouldn’t dare, boondocking off-the-grid for extended periods, and in weather conditions that would send most motorhomes and towables running for hook-ups.

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