Question Of The Week

The Amphicamper Camper-Boat Vote Is In

After publishing, “Return of the Amphicamper”, we asked Truck Camper Magazine readers if they would consider buying an amphicamper.  For those who didn’t read the article, an amphicamper is a cross between a truck camper and a boat.  On land, an amphicamper is truck mountable camper.  On water, the amphicamper is a boat, ready for fishing, water skiing, and waterway exploration.

As you might imagine, the responses ranged wildly from, “Sign me up, I’ll buy one.” to “No way Jose!  You’re out of your mind.”  The irony is that these comments are very similar to what we hear at RV shows when we approach folks about truck campers.

After reading the results, it’s clear that a small company could build a few dozen amphicampers per year, and sell them.  Of course this would require that the amphicamper would function well, be constructed at a high quality, and be priced right.

What are the chances of this actually happening?  Who knows!  Maybe someone out there saw the amphicamper article and got to work building a camper-boat.

“Not being a boater, I would not purchase a combination boat/camper but would certainly consider using my existing Alaskan Camper on a pontoon boat.  Rental of a good sized pontoon boat, transferring the camper to it, and enjoying a few weeks of lake exploration sounds like fun.  Wouldn’t that be a nice break in a longer road trip?  I really enjoyed this article about the Amphicamper.  Ingenious!” – Bob Ragain, Stewart and Stevson M-1078, Alaskan 10-foot NCO

“Yes I would!  I have already researched the idea numerous times.  You would have the best of both worlds.” – Greg Vickery

“Yes, if the price was reasonable.  It would seem that a simple box without bathroom, would be fairly cheap.  If it needed to be loaded and unloaded easily, it would probably be just a shell without insulation.” – William Rogers, 2010 GMC Sierra

“No, I will stick to the land camper.  I had a friend that had a house boat once.  I spent many a weekends on it, and made many memories.  I do like the concept of the amphicamper.  The recycled Avion amphicamper was really nice.  I have thought about buying a small boat to do a little lake fishing when I retire.” – Jeff Hagberg, 2002 Ford F250, 2006 Travel Lite 800 SBX

“There are already a number of compromises to truck campers without having to have the ability to float.  In the 1960s they built car/boats, car/airplanes, and camper/boats with none of them doing both tasks well.  The Amphicar from 1961-1967 sat rusting in barns for decades before recently bringing between $50-100K at auction.  At my age, I don’t have decades to wait for a camper/boat to become valuable.” – Bryce Dillree, 2007 GMC 2500HD, 2013 Wolf Creek 850

“As a truck camper and boat owner, I admire the old amphicampers.  I look at small house boats with envy and would like to see the amphicamper return.  My entire family would certainly get a lot of use out of one.  Bring it back, please!” – Rick Guffey, 2012 Ram 2500, 2013 Hallmark Everest

“In a heartbeat!  I have fallen asleep many nights trying to design the welded aluminum boat that my camper would slide onto.  I sold C-Dorys for 24 years and they were a great boat but, if I could only have the amenities and comfort of my Bigfoot on the water.  I’ve got lots of concepts stored in the old pillow crusher.  I just need to learn how to weld!” – Dave M, 2015 Ford F350, 2003 Bigfoot 10.6E

“For my wife and I, the possibilities are endless.  We sailed for more than 25 years and have owned a variety of watercraft.  While I don’t like stink pots (motor boats) for something like this, I could make an exception.

The little pontoons are both hideous and impractical on the 1961 Ford model, but the overall concept of a camper/boat is a great one.  There are so many places to explore that are accessible only by water.  My greatest concern would be safety, ensuring that the it would be safe in near-shore waters and rivers.” – Jon Hunstock, 2008 Ford F250, 2014 Northstar Arrow U

“Timing is everything.  We were just in Alabama for three months at a COE park and starting talking about what it would take to make a truck camper houseboat.  We visited with a gentleman who specialized in pontoons and looked at 30-foot tubes with 24-inch and 30-inch diameters.  We thought in a couple of years of taking a pop-up truck camper and having it installed on a pontoon deck and cruise the Tenn-Tom and Intercoastal waterways.” – Glenn Blount, 2012 Ford F350, 2004 Lance 1010

“We had a customer that mounted a Four Wheel Camper Grandby shell on a bare pontoon.  He liked the pop-up for going under bridges on the Eagle River chain of lakes. He would also take it to Lake Powell for extended winter expeditions.  It had a 40 horsepower Honda outboard motor.  He also had a Four Wheel Camper Hawk model on his pickup truck.” – Sean Dempsey

“I probably would not purchase one because it would be out of my price range.  I remember about 20 years ago, some manufacturer made a motorhome called a Boaterhome that could drive on the highway and become a boat on a lake.  It was much larger than the amphicamper that you had in your article.” – Bob Chan, 1989 Ford F250, 1988 Lance 780

“No!  It makes a poor boat and a poor truck camper; like putting A-1 Steak Sauce on a Del Frisco Ribeye.  Neither will benefit from it.” – Don Pryor, 2015 Ford F350, 2008 Arctic Fox 1150

“It would have to be designed for something other then a mirror smooth lake.  A great destination, if it could handle it, would be Lake Powell.  My concern would be how top heavy it would be but, yes put me on the list and hurry.  My truck is getting old, my truck camper is getting old, and I am getting old.” – David Weinstein, 1999 Ram 3500, 2005 Arctic Fox 1150

“Interesting concept, but the licensing for each state could be a nightmare.” – Philip Bolding, 2012 Ford F350, Northern Lite 8-11 SE

“Absolutely!  Ignore my wife, who will only consider a 40-foot+ Class A.” – David Latour

“Not for me.  There are too many compromises.  My boat spends almost all its time on either a 125,000 acre lake or the largest (in terms of surface area) reservoir in the United States.  I need a V hull.  I’ll continue to tow my boat behind my pickup and camper.

You mentioned C-Dory boats.  Go to their website.  There a lots of people living on them like we use our truck campers.  There is an article about C-Dory traveling/camping every couple years or so in Boat US magazine.” – Philip Tron, 2009 Chevy 3500, 2012 Lance 1050

“I would definitely consider one as they are not only practical, but they look really cool!  A+ for good ole American ingenuity!” – Howard Burke, 2015 Ford F-150, 1985 Ford Econoline 350

“Usually combos don’t work, but go for it!” – Martha Redeker, 2004 Dodge 2500, 2007 Six-Pac

“Not seriously, but I appreciate the idea.  I can’t imagine a current truck camper manufacturer having the marine expertise to produce a product that would stand up to consumer expectation.  If produced by a hull manufacturer, I wonder if your price estimate might be a little low.

You know, keeping water out of a camper tends to be a never-ending quest, and you want to put your camper in the water?  I think you’ve gone over the deep end.” – Mark Obert, 1999 Ford F250 SD, 1999 Lance 920

“Sure would.  Build it and I will come buy it.” – Thomas Bulger, Ford F450, 2014 Lance 1172

“Yes, for all the obvious possibilities you’ve already noted, not mention it would certainly seem that it would be very well insulated and weather tight.  An adaptation of the original 1960s concept seems like it might be the most easily created.  However, using a full-sized camper might present a height problem at over or underpasses, and I don’t see how it might be done with a pop-top, unless it didn’t in anyway rest on the roof.

I’m still having a hard time picturing using the original 5-inch blocks as a means of being able to just park over them and drive away without having some way to jack it up a bit.  There must be something I’m just not seeing.” – David Pracht, 2015 GMC K3500, 1987 Lance LC900

“Absolutely!  I love the combination of camping and boating.  Sign me up for one!” – Charles Coushaine, 2001 Ford F350, 2012 Chalet DS116RB

“I would think about it.  There are several ways I see that it can be done.  They would have to relocate the black tank, maybe to the pontoon?  Use an external gray tank. Dump before you float.  That way your pontoon is under the truck camper.  Then just pull out the engine attachment plate area and go.  The floatation will be the key and how easy to convert.  I like the concept.” – James Tedford, 2012 Ram 3500HD, 2007 Arctic Fox 990

“Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  I’d love to have something like this that would combine my love of camping and boating.  Imagine a long vacation of camping on land and visiting all the beautiful lakes you come across.  This would be my dream machine!” – Andy Scoles, 2003 GMC 2500HD, 1996 Coachmen

“Yes!  The camper needs no modification.  The design is how do you make the camper float on a houseboat?  I have thought of this before I got a camper.  This setup really only works with a boat trailer.  The trailer would be used to launch and retrieve the camper/houseboat.” – Ron Richardson, 2014 Ram 3500, 2012 Wolf Creek 850

“No.  I would prefer to buy a nice used bow-rider and trailer it behind my F-150 (my next truck) and keep my camper and truck nice and dry on shore.  It is simply easier to use one or both depending on my needs on that day.” – Kirk Semlitsch, 2003 Ford Ranger, 2016 homemade cabover-less slide-in box camper 7.5 feet long

“I’ve never owned this type, but have been involved in the design and construction of several.  In my experience, they are impractical as they are very unwieldy, both on land and on water, therefore unsafe.

If the objective is to have the features of an RV while on water, then start with a boat hull which provides adequate size and stability to support such a cabin, and transport it to and from water with an appropriate boat trailer.  Amphicampers are an accident looking for a place to happen.” – William Durkee II, 2005 Toyota Tundra, High Profile Shell and kit

“Why not?  Once I met a retired minister who was touring the back roads of America at four miles an hour on a hay wagon pulled by two rescued giant New York City carriage horses.  He was living in an Elkhorn truck camper set backwards on the wagon.  He was having a wonderful time, “depending on the kindness of strangers to find places to spend the nights”, he said.” – Janet Carter, Chevrolet, Sun-lite 6’

“I now have a truck, truck camper, fifth wheel, and a boat.  License plate costs and insurance would sure be a lot cheaper with a boat camper!” – Paul Roberson, 2014 Ford F350, 1988 Lance 930

“Jack of two trades, master of none!  No way the compromise could be a great boat and a great camper.  If you’ve got a truck camper already, pop for a Torklift SuperTruss and get a boat and trailer that you’ll truly enjoy.  Besides, everyone knows a boat is just a hole in the water that you throw money in.  What would the equivalent camper-related definition be?  A black hole on land you throw money in?  Oh, wait, sometimes that seems too much like reality already!” – John Wells, 2011 Chevy 3500, 2012 Chalet Ascent S100F

“The Amphicamper looks like it would be great fun for small protected lakes or rivers.  I have camped in my 22-foot Catalina sailboat and have been through many storms and one tropical storm.  Stormy weather on the water can be pretty rough, unforgiving, and downright scary.  Keep the camper on your truck and use your boat, like the nice C-Dory you mentioned, or a Catalina or similar for camping on the water.” – Jack Pavie, 1995 Ford F350, 1987 Real Lite 950

“No.  My wife does not like the water that well and I get sea sick.  Being inside with waves rocking the boat would not be good for me.

I like my current setup really well.  Pop-up truck campers are great!  At least mine is.” – Matt Reinker, 2006 Chevy 1500, 2007 Northstar TC650

“I think it’s a cool idea.  I love the thought of folding out the pontoons, launching the rig, and having a place to fish and sleep.  I grew up playing around with a pontoon boat, so it would be a easy conversion for me.  Think about not having to hauling around a boat trailer, and a bug-less place to sleep on the water.  What’s not to like?” – Blake Hooper, no truck yet, no camper yet

“To each his own.  We prefer our camper mounted on a pickup, on terra firma!  If we want, we can still tow a boat behind.  There are plenty of small cruisers with cabins, 25 feet or so that can sleep three or four.  It’s much cheaper too, as everything with marine parts costs more.” – Mike Kolinski, 2012 Four Wheel Camper Hawk

“No.  Why?  As a boat builder I prefer to use and sail real boats.” – Dave Scobie, 2007 Toyota Tundra, 2015 Outfitter Caribou lite 6.5

“Probably not.  I use to have a sea ray 28 foot cruiser.  If you like boating, it’s just right for the great lakes.  But I can’t see an amphicamper in any rough water. S o this would not be for me.  And, it’s probably not very safe.  It looks like a calm water unit.” – Charlie Young, 2013 Chevy 2500HD, 2012 Whitewater 865

“Yes.  The reasons why are simple; both size and affordability.  The size makes it easy to move around to our few and far between large reservoirs in this part of the country.  It won’t take a semi to move it either.” – James Thomas, Ford F350, 2013 Host Shasta

“No.  I have a boat and a camper.  A combo will never be as good as an individual unit.  Plus, I am a sailor.  I can’t see a sail on that rig!” – Ron Wolfgram, 2002 Ford F250, 2006 Adventurer

“Yes, I would like a small houseboat, when needed.  I would be able to get to more isolated spots then the roads would allow.  With newer materials, the weight would be lightened up to less then 1000 pounds for small bed pickups, and probably the same for the larger bed sized camper.” – Debra Eichner



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