We can help you to choose the right truck for your truck camper. We know that it can be a complex process. Not only are there six truck manufacturers and four truck levels to choose from, but each truck comes in a myriad of styles, bed lengths, engine types, and option packages.
Of course the number one issue when buying a truck for a truck camper is payload capacity. That’s not to say that paint color and leather seats aren’t important, but payload is the one, two, three, four, or even five thousand pound gorilla in the bed.
What Comes First – Truck or Camper?
The common truck camper wisdom says to pick your truck camper and then pick the truck you need to safely carry that camper. That sounds great, but the fact is that it’s hardly ever that simple.
For example, some people already have a truck and can’t afford or want to buy another. Others may want a specific truck, truck style or engine type all of which will dictate payload capacity.
If you already have a truck or have your heart set on a specific truck simply reverse the common wisdom. Find out exactly what the payload capacity of your truck is. Post questions on truck camper forums asking if anyone has that truck and what truck camper they carry. Make sure to ask what their truck and truck campers weigh when fully loaded with food, water, fuel, and supplies (fully loaded is also called wet).
For the rest of you, here’s a straight forward approach to choosing a truck.
Six Truck Manufacturers and Four Truck Levels
There are six trucks capable of carrying a truck camper: Chevy Silverado, Dodge Ram, Ford F-Series, GMC Sierra, Nissan Titan, and Toyota Tundra.
From those six manufacturers, there are four levels of trucks available: 1/2-ton, 3/4-ton, 1-ton, and bigger (Ford F-450 and F-550). People have put campers on any number of trucks and truck types, but the full-size trucks from these six manufacturers in these four levels are the trucks the truck camper manufacturers build the campers for. Stick with them.
Narrowing the Field – Truck Payload
It can be quite simple to rule in and rule out some manufacturers with the criteria of payload and preference.
For example, if you’re not interested in a very light truck camper, you can rule out the half-ton Nissan Titan and Toyota Tundra. If you are interested in a very light camper, you can look at these two models as well as the half-ton trucks from the other four manufacturers.
Most truck campers will require the payload offered by a 3/4 ton or 1 ton truck from Chevy, Dodge, Ford, or GMC. Again, knowing the approximate weight of the truck camper you have in mind will quickly rule in and rule out specific truck levels. For example, if you’re looking at a truck camper with a slide out you should be focused on a 1 ton truck, probably with dual rear wheels.
Further Narrowing the Field – Preferences
No one is actually allergic to trucks (are they?) but some people will not, at any price buy a Ford. Or a Dodge, or a dually, or anything that’s not a diesel. They’re seemingly allergic.
If you have allergies or preferences like these, let’s get them out in the open right now.
Find out exactly what you want from a truck. Gas or Diesel? Dodge or Ford? Long bed or short? Regular cab or crew cab? Two or four wheel drive? Get specific!
What you’re looking for are those things that you’re not willing to compromise, no matter what. These preferences will most likely impact your payload capacity and thus your truck camper choices. For example, if you insist on a single-rear-wheel truck you can all but forget most of the largest slide-out campers.
Once you’ve narrowed down your truck choices, get some estimates from your local dealers. Make sure the truck you want is available and affordable. Your estimate should include what your desired options cost so you know where to cut if you need to.