But what if you have no set preferences? Then you can start narrowing your field by making some choices.
Oh no! We’re not getting into this debate! Recommending one truck brand over another can be like suggesting a change in political party and a new religion all at once.
Our advice is to go and see the trucks and see what you like. Read the reviews. Check the payload and other capacities. They’re all good trucks. Just make sure you pick the truck that’s good for you.
Gas Truck or Diesel Truck?
The gas vs. diesel debate runs red hot through the truck camping community. The truth is that both types will work well for pulling a truck camper. The debate comes down to purchase price, fuel economy, resale value, and preference.
Gas engines are significantly less expensive than diesel engines. If you don’t plan to keep your truck for more than 50,000 miles, a gas engine may be your best value. Despite what you’ll hear from the diesel fans, many truck campers are out exploring the world happy as can be with their gas trucks.
Diesel engines commonly cost $5,000 more than gas engines. They can also require expensive regular maintenance. In return, they can give upwards of 20 to 50% better mileage, hold their resale value significantly better, and last a lot longer. Diesels also tend to have more muscle when climbing steep grades and can often run on B20 bio-diesel without modification.
The real deal with diesels is that some people just like them – a lot. Maybe it’s the sound or the fumes. If you’re one of those folks, by all means get a diesel. Otherwise, don’t be afraid to look at gas trucks. They’re good too.
Long Bed Truck or Short Bed Truck?
There are three reasons to own a short bed camper over a long bed. First would be that you already own one. Second would be that you want a shorter truck camping rig. And third would be that the truck camper model you want is designed for short bed trucks.
Other than those three reasons, you’ll have more options if you buy a long bed truck. Other factors including camper cost are negligible. Resale values are also generally better for a long bed as more people want them. And lastly, a long bed will give you more options should you decide to get trade up to another truck camper in the future.
Regular Cab, Extended Cab, Crew Cab?
The two main advantages of an extended or four-door cab over a regular cab would be (a) the ability to have more than two people in the truck and (b) storage. We chose an extended cab for these two reasons.
The advantages of a regular cab are (a) they’re cheaper, (b) they’re lighter which gives more payload and better fuel economy, and (c) they’re shorter in length. We’ve seen quite a few large campers on regular cabs due to the increase in payload they offer. One disadvantage of a regular cab is that your visibility from the drivers seat may be compromised by the camper over head. In other words, you may have difficulty seeing lights and highway signs that are up and in front of you.
Most truck campers choose an extended or four-door cab. The important point, as always, is to factor in the weight of the cab type you choose into your payload number.
4×4 Truck or 4×2 Truck?
For those of you who know that you’re headed for the dirt hills in the middle of nowhere the answer is clear, go 4×4. For those who will venture off the path but don’t intend to be extreme about it, a 4×2 is generally more than enough.
There are some strong arguments against a 4×4. For one, a 4×4 weighs more than a 4×2 cutting into your available payload. Another is that many 4×4 truck owners claim to have never or very seldom used their 4×4 option. Furthermore, 4×2 trucks often have technologies that perform many of the benefits of the 4×4 option without the extra weight and expense.
On the other hand, it’s good to know you have 4×4 if you ever need it and 4×4 trucks tend to hold their resale values much better than 4×2 trucks.