This article is designed to simplify, as much as possible, the process of matching a safe and successful truck and camper combination. Hint: It’s CAT Scale, not cat on a scale.
Almost everyday, we get an email from someone who is researching their first truck and camper purchase and needs help with truck and camper matching. Often these folks are frustrated with what appears to be an overly complex problem looking for a simple and safe solution. This article is designed to be that solution by helping to simplify, as much as possible, the process of matching a safe and successful truck and camper combination.
The Two Paths to Matching a Truck and Camper
There are two paths to matching a safe and successful truck and camper combination.
The first path is to match a specific camper to an unspecified truck. Use this path if you (a) already own a camper or have selected the camper you are going to purchase and (b) are now ready to find the right matching truck.
The second path is to match a specific truck to an unspecified camper. Use this path if you (a) already own a truck or have selected the truck you are going to purchase and (b) are now ready to find the right matching camper.
Many people, ourselves included, have become frustrated by attempting to match a truck and camper when they haven’t yet selected either one. You need to choose either a truck or a camper before you can assemble a safe and successful truck and camper combination. To help you to choose your truck or your camper, we have written two articles, “How to Choose a Truck” and, “How to Choose a Truck Camper”.
As a magazine, we strongly recommend choosing your camper first to ensure that you get the camper you want and to avoid buying more or less truck than you need.
Path One: Matching a Specific Camper to an Unspecified Truck
Let’s begin with the path we recommend, matching a specific camper to an unspecified truck. For this path, we assume you’ve done your homework and found the camper of your dreams. Now it’s time to match that camper to the right truck and get you on the road to fun and adventure.
Before we can find the right truck, we need to determine a few exterior dimensions of your camper as well as the wet weight of your camper.
Begin by measuring the length and width of the lower camper box. The lower camper box is the part of the camper that rests in the bed of the truck. While these measurements are fairly standard between camper manufacturers, some lower camper boxes are narrower, wider, longer, or shorter, than others.
Naturally, you will check these lower camper box length and width measurements against the length and width measurements of your future truck bed floor to ensure your camper will fit. You also need to check that the widest point of your lower camper box is not wider than the space between the wheel wells inside your future truck bed.
Next you want to measure the height from the bottom of the front lower camper box (under the cabover nose) to the bottom of the cabover nose above your head. Again this measurement is fairly standard from one camper manufacturer to the next, but some campers will measure taller or shorter than others. This measurement is important to make sure that your camper’s cabover nose will clear the roof and roof lights of your future truck cab.
Now it’s time to determine the wet weight for your camper. What you need is the weight of your camper with options, batteries, and full water and propane tanks. It’s also important to add an additional 500 to 1,000 pounds for you, your passengers, gear, and stuff (food, clothing, etc.). Add more weight if you plan to bring more stuff.
Weighing a camper can be a challenge. Perhaps the easiest solution is to use a portable scale system such as the Intercomp SW500 E-Z scale. Many manufacturers and camper dealerships use this system and we’ve tested it to be very accurate.
If the dealer or manufacturer doesn’t have an available portable or on-site scale, mount the camper on a truck and take the camper to a local CAT Scale. You can find a local CAT Scale by visiting catscale.com/cat-scale-locator. It’s important that the truck has been previously weighted (preferably at the same CAT Scale) as you will need to subtract the weight of the truck from the weight of the truck and camper combination to get your camper’s weight. Again, be sure to add 500 to 1,000 pounds (or more) for you, your passengers, gear, and stuff.