The response to last Friday’s Question of the Moment, “Have you ever had a challenge with your truck camper related to the length, height, or width of your truck bed?”, was off the charts. It seems I hit a nerve, again. As Angela will tell you, I’m good at that.
Reading your responses, I had one thought running through my mind. For the love of truck campers, please, please, please follow my payload and measurement advice in the article, “Matching a Truck and Camper”. I am well aware of how payload and measurements are the last topics any of us want to think about during the excitement of choosing a truck and camper, but the time tested and hard learned advice in that article could save you a lot of time and aggravation, not to mention money.
Maybe I need to add a new line to my, “Camper Weight Police Chief” title. I will now be, “Camper Weight Police Chief and Measurement Officer”. I hope that all fits on a deck plaque.
“Yes. I don’t understand why truck manufacturers don’t make their truck beds standardized. I looked into all makes (Ford, Dodge,Toyota, and Chevrolet) to find the one with the best payload and largest bed. It turned out to be a Chevrolet. Then I found out I would have to raise the bed about half an inch to keep the sidewall from hitting the camper. The tailgate also was very narrow leaving only about one inch on each side to slide my camper in. It would be nice if a truck camper would engineer a pick-up truck bed for truck campers. There seems to be so much wasted space and poor design in truck beds. I camp with a 2008 Lance 915 on a 3500 single rear wheel, two wheel drive, extended cab, gas Chevrolet. It works very well for me and I haven’t had to worry about being overloaded.” – Bill Schapfel-Black River Falls, Wisconsin
“My truck bed tailgate is 48.5″ wide. That severely limits the number and types of campers I can choose.” – Tano Fiegler
“Yes. The bed of my 2006 Dodge 3500 Ram is not a full six feet long. This required Aluminess to modify, at some trouble, the brackets to mount the rear bumper to the frame, as the camper extended past the bed. A number of photos went back and forth and I don’t think the bumper is as sturdy as it would have been if it had been stock.” – Dan Dinsmoor
“Hi Angela. I never thought about it, but you’re right. My last truck camper was bigger than my current camper. It fit my truck width, length, and height much better than the pisser I have now. Now I have to put boards under my camper to lift it up so the bed doesn’t bounce on the hood in my truck; those bastards. Anyway, I’ve been driving my beautiful Ford F-250 diesel, long bed truck for fourteen years and my new camper for four years now so I guess it didn’t bother me too much, until you brought it up. Now I’m pissed off at the truck, the camper… and Gordon. Have a great day.” – Joei
“Hi Angela. I have a Northern Lite Special Edition on a Ram 2500 diesel. Just last week, I found out that the front wall of the truck bed was displaced forward, apparently from a heavy object pushing against it. It was hidden by a bed liner. When I had to make a sharp stop I could hear this “ka-ploonk” from the back and later found out that the camper had slid forward and was stopped by the taillights. Now I have a piece of 2×12 upright in between the bed and the camper to make up the extra space.” – Ronald Bosch
“I already owned my 1997 step side, super cab, six cylinder, manual transmission Ford F-150 when I purchased my 2005 Northstar TC800 online nearly 900 miles away. Prior to pickup, communication with the dealer alleviated potential problems such as bringing a two inch platform in the truck bed and removing the grey water tank on the side of camper by the dealer. Other problems like adapting different tie-down systems to a step side were performed when the truck and camper were placed side by side at the dealership.
It wasn’t until the truck was being backed under the camper that they realized the pins that hold the tailgate up had to be removed because a stepside’s bed rails are 49″ wide but only 47″ between pins. I soon added Firestone airbags to help level the ride and later added custom springs on a cross country trip when the bags broke and replacements were unavailable.
There have been challenges in the six years and tens of thousands of miles since, but we manage. I know that someday I will have no choice but to retire my trusty beast of burden. The knowledge that I have gleaned from our many travels together will greatly influence my decisions for a successor.” – John Goins
“Good topic. I spent a year researching trucks and campers to try to make sure I had a good fit. In order to get what I wanted I had to order both the truck and camper new. I thought it was perfect. Low and behold, when I put my camper on my truck, a 2008 Sierra 3500, I discovered there was a brace at the back sides of the box that my camper hung up on! I have to put two by sixes under my camper. Cheers.” – Merv Henry
“The only problem I had was with the reinforcement molding at the rear of my Chevy one ton dually’s bed. The square edges of my Lance camper’s bottom would have crushed that molded steel. I also needed a slip-proof liner per the instructions that came with my Torklift tie-downs. The solution to both came from a Wyoming Arctic fox dealer who sold my brother-in-law a camper; a thick, all-rubber, slip-proof, stable mat. They are over half an inch thick, not very compressible, and stick to any surface. Though intended to ease the strain on horses’ legs and feet in concrete floored stables, they work really well under campers. They are only four feet by six feet, so a couple will be needed for an eight foot box. Short box pick-ups should need only one and the cost is around $35 per mat.” – Philip Tron
“Yep. I always assumed if I could fit a four by eight sheet of plywood in my truck bed, then any truck camper should fit. Ha! We have a 2002 Ford F-250. We were looking at used pick-up campers. We finally found one that fit into the smaller than normal tailgate opening of our truck. When lowering the camper into the bed, we found the camper was going to hit the cab roof. I built a two by four and plywood base to sit the camper on. Yes, it was frustrating.” – Greg Sellers, Evergreen, Colorado
“When building my camper, I avoided bed length and width problems by buying a chassis cab and building the camper on that. When traveling in Central America with friends, my rig was easy to navigate around small town streets and obstacles. My camper is seven feet wide, nine feet long, has much more storage down the sides, and is lower overall.” – G. Baines
“Oh, you hit a nerve! I am in the process of selling my truck camper which is made for a half ton pick-up. I have a 1998 Ford F-150 extra cab and the person who was looking at my camper has a brand new Ford F-150 crew cab that he purchased two months earlier. The problem came when we both measured his crew bed. It was six to seven inches shorter than my extra cab bed. He was not comfortable with the extra hang-over so he wished me luck and went on his way. I have not had a serious bite since! I failed to mention that my camper has a two foot skirt hangover which, size wise, is perfect for my six foot bed, but not his.” – Steve