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Full-Time Truck Campers Must Be Crazy

Bryan Appleby reveals his full-time truck camping lifestyle; the good, the bad, and what many of his friends and family thought was, well… crazy.  First step, sell the house.


It’s easy to think back to when the seed for this type of lifestyle began.  It was in the dreams of an eight year old little boy, dreaming out the window of his Kansas elementary school.

The book I had in front of me is still crystal clear in my senior citizen mind; “Our Nation’s National Parks”.  From that point forward I knew my destiny was going to be the outdoors.  I just needed to get older, and get on with it.

With my path set early, I completed my education with an emphasis on the outdoors.  I continued on to work in three National Parks, followed by a career as a State Policeman.  I am now enjoying my retirement and touring this beautiful country.

My early childhood was growing up in a family that did not hunt, camp, or fish.  This was a bit of a slow start.  But along the way, I gained experience hiking, cross-country bicycling, backpacking, and skiing all over the United States, all on my own.

When I was old enough, I moved to the Rocky Mountains and it was there I began raising a family.  My kids were backpacking from the first year they were born, as well as tent camping every summer thereafter.


Above: Camping in the high grasslands of Idaho during a motorcycle tour through Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and Utah, for ten days in 2010.  Every year Bryan takes ten to twelve days to go on a backpack trip, motorcycle tour, or a kayak backpack trip.

With my beginnings as a National Park Ranger, I originally hated RVs.  I always wanted to retire, travel, hike, kayak, and backpack.  But as I grew older and wiser, I saw the value of not sleeping on the ground, and not to staying in hotels, as I toured the country.  My tree hugging friends just cringe knowing how I ended up.

In January of 2004 I attended the Denver RV show, my first.  For reasons that escape me now, I thought a 5th wheel was what I needed.  After walking around the show and seeing the largesse of these rigs, I was completely turned off.  That was until I was walking out and saw four truck campers stuck over in the corner by the exit.


Above: Bryan’s Lance 1191 at Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho

What caught my attention was a truck camper with a slide-out.  “That’s it!”  I thought.  A truck camper fit what I wanted to do and would allow me to get to the places where I could backpack, paddle, or mountain bike.  Now I just needed to get started.

There were many places to go for information on the full-time RVing lifestyle, but very few that understood the type of extreme full-timing I was planning for.  I wanted to be in very remote places; not for days or weeks, but months.  Now I didn’t want to get all Jack Kerouac or all Edward Abbey Romaticy, but maybe a little.


Above: Camping off-the-grid at Coyote Buttes in Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, Arizona

There are many types and forms of full-time RVing and they all work.  The type of full-time RV lifestyle I was looking for included selling my house, putting everything in storage, and then beginning a life of adventure, camping off-the-grid, avoiding campgrounds, and exploring remote locations for years.  For now, I have no plan of living in a “stick” home again.

Making the Decision to Full-Time

One of the important questions I hear is, “How can you live in such a small space?”.  That is something one needs to really ask themselves.  Are you a person who can and will live in a small area?  I often hear the typical; “Oh, my life will be outside my camper, so it doesn’t matter!”  Well, they are just not full-timers, if not a bit naïve.

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