For this article, we we talk about how to choose a truck camper. We will guess that you have decided to select your truck camper first, and then buy a truck to match. If you prefer to choose your truck first, we need to refer you another Truck Camper Magazine article titled, “How to Choose a Truck”.
Pop-Up Camper or Hard-Side Camper
There are several compelling advantages to a pop-up truck camper. They are often hundreds and sometimes thousands of pounds lighter than hard-side campers. When collapsed, their low profile allows for a lower rig height and superior driving aerodynamics compared to hard-side campers. Their lower weight allows you to use a lighter duty truck. And the result of the superior aerodynamics and a lighter duty truck is improved gas mileage compared to hard-side campers. And best of all, they’re often less expensive than hard-side truck campers.
Hard-side campers answer these advantages with a laundry list of their own advantages. They offer significantly more storage and significantly more insulation from the weather. They’re always set up and ready to go (although slide-outs need to be extended). And in general, hard-side campers also have a more domestic full-sized RV feel.
Our recommendation is to take a good look at both pop-up and hard-side models. Carefully consider what you will be using the camper for. If you’re going off-road a lot, the lower clearance and lighter weight of a pop-up might be a better choice. If you want a more domestic feel, like to camp in colder environments, or are considering living full-time in your camper, the qualities of a hard-side model is likely to be a better option.
Slide-Out Camper or Non Slide-Out Camper
No doubt about it, slide-outs in a truck camper have a huge “wow” factor. The first time I walked into a truck camper with a slide-out, I was blown away by the difference. When just a single slide goes out, it can completely transform the interior feel of a truck camper. When a truck camper features a full-wall slide-out or multiple slide-outs, you can easily forget you’re even in a camper. The answer seems obvious, “Yes, please”.
On the other hand, non-slide campers are usually several thousand dollars less than slide-out models and are often several hundred pounds lighter as well. The reduced weight can mean that you can use a less expensive, lighter-duty, and more fuel-efficient truck. And then there is something about the simplicity of a non-slide camper that is often very appealing.
If you can’t live without a slide-out camper, you won’t be the first. Just keep in mind the added weight, costs, and other considerations. And then enjoy your extra room.
Mid-Bath Camper or Rear-Bath Camper
Truck camper bathrooms are either located in a rear corner or mid-camper on the left or right side. The advantage to a mid-bath is that it leaves the back open for a panoramic window layout for the dinette and kitchen areas. A mid-bath also divides a camper into two distinct areas, the dinette kitchen area and the cab-over sleeping area. This can be a real plus if you like to be in a separate ‘room’ from your camping party every once in a while.
The main disadvantage of a mid-bath is also this separation. You may find the ‘hall’ separating the two ‘rooms’ to feel confining or closed in. In some of the full-wall slide-out models this effect is avoided entirely then the slide-out is out.
Rear-bath layouts are more common and leave the camper more open, especially in non slide-out models. Of course you give up the panoramic view in the back.
In the end, it’s often a feel thing. Get into campers with both types of bath locations and see what feels right.