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TCM EXCLUSIVE: 2017 Palomino SS-500

Palomino pushes the lightweight envelope with an all-new pop-up, non-bath truck camper specifically designed for compact trucks.

Palomino SS-500

When it comes to the collective attitude of the pop-up truck camper marketplace, the consumers say, “Hey industry, lighten up the campers already.”  It’s not that the pop-up folks don’t appreciate a little luxury, but keeping the weight down is generally their number one priority.  Weight, weight, or forget it.

Making things even more challenging for the truck camper design teams, the pop-up consumers also want as little truck as possible.  For many, compact trucks like the all-new for 2016 Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon, the all-new for 2017 Honda Ridgeline, the ever-popular and recently redesigned Toyota Tacoma, and the Nissan Frontier are all they want.

Adding fuel to this compact truck fire are the rumored return of the Ford Ranger in 2018 and a Jeep Wrangler-based pickup also due that year.  Other companies are toying with entering or re-entering the compact truck market include Ram, Hyundai, and even Mercedes-Benz.  Things could get real interesting in the compact truck segment very soon.

Since size and payload is sacrificed at the compact truck alter, the truck camper industry has been forced to scale-down, miniaturize, and otherwise think big about going small.  Fortunately, the truck camper industry has already gone through much of this process as it developed half-ton compatible campers like the Palomino HS-650 hard side introduced earlier this year, and the SS-550 pop-up introduced in 2014.

Putting this all together, Palomino is introducing the 2017 Palomino SS-500, an impressively appointed pop-up truck camper for compact trucks.  It’s been light-weighted to an extreme, with some luxury features added back for comfort.  A refrigerator, sink, cooktop, face-to-face dinette, and a north-south bed on the back of a Canyon or Tacoma?  That’s impressive.

What will be more impressive will be properly matching this camper to a compact truck.  That calculation will have to be saved for a future review.  In the mean time, we are intrigued with Palomino’s new offering, and the aggressive dry weight they are reporting.

To find out more about the 2017 Palomino SS-500, we talked to Pat Hines, Truck Camper Product Manager for Palomino RV.

Palomino SS-500 truck camper floor plan

2017 Palomino SS-500 Specifications:

The 2017 Palomino SS-500 is a pop-up truck camper made for compact  trucks.  The interior floor length of the 2017 Palomino SS-500 is 6’0”, the interior height is 7’0” and the center of gravity is 19”.  The 2017 Palomino SS-500 has a 16 gallon fresh tank, an optional 6 gallon hot water heater, and no grey or black tank.  It can accommodate one battery and has one twenty-pound propane tank.  Palomino RV is reporting the base weight of the Palomino SS-500 to be 1,299 pounds.  The base MSRP for the 2017 Palomino SS-500 is $11,712.

Palomino SS-550 truck camper off truck

Above: The SS-500 with Palomino’s new 2017 exterior graphics

TCM: Palomino already has a pop-up truck camper that’s compatible with the compact truck market, the SS-600.  What does the new SS-500 offer the compact truck market that the SS-600 does not?

Pat: A few years ago we redesigned our SS-600 to fit compact trucks, but it was still too heavy, too tall, and it didn’t look right when mounted on some compact truck models.  With the SS-600, we were missing the mark for compact trucks, an increasingly important segment of the truck camper marketplace.

The SS-500 has been designed from the ground up to properly fit and payload match the most popular compact trucks.  We get a lot of dealer phone calls and asking about for Toyota Tacoma, Chevy Colorado, and GMC Canyon.  We believe there’s a large market for these compact trucks, and are excited to finally offer a proper pop-up camper for this segment.

TCM: How did you set the design parameters for the SS-500?

Pat: We went out and measured every compact truck and set the specifications for SS-500 around those measurements.  The SS-500 will fit a Tacoma, Colorado, Canyon, and essentially every compact truck currently available.

Beyond the fit, weight was also a significant concern for the SS-500.  To accommodate the payload capacity of the most compact trucks, the SS-500 needed to be under 1,300 pounds dry.  We met that goal.

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