Truck campers offer a lot of benefits.
Truck campers are more rugged than most campers, they take up less space than most campers, and they come in a wide variety of models.
This being said, truck campers do have their fair share of problems.
Here are the 10 most common problems with truck campers:
1. You Have To Have A Truck
The fact that you’ll need a truck for your truck camper might seem obvious, but the reason that this is such an issue might not.
Not all trucks can house certain truck campers, and some can’t house them at all.
When I got my truck, I assumed I’d eventually get a truck camper. Unfortunately, I quickly found out that the truck just isn’t built to haul a truck camper around.
It isn’t that it can’t hold the weight; it’s just that the truck is too top-heavy to travel with a truck camper on top safely.
If you’re in the market for a truck camper, you may want to buy the truck camper at the same time that you buy the truck so that you can choose the right truck and truck camper combination.
2. A Truck Camper Can Be Top Heavy
Top-heavy means that truck campers can make driving in strong winds a lot more complicated.
It also means that you’re more likely to flip your vehicle while hauling a truck camper.
For most drivers, this means you’ll have to slow down a bit more when you’re going around corners and turns, but it is something to consider.
This is especially true if you plan on driving up and down long windy mountain roads.
3. Truck Campers Have Height Issues
A truck camper can make your vehicle too tall.
Some truck campers push the vehicle up to heights of over 12’ tall. This is almost the equivalent of driving a tractor-trailer down the road.
This means you may have trouble getting into gas stations and underneath of tunnels and bridges. You may also find that you can’t go into parking garages.
Luckily, people who are worried about this issue can get a truck camper with a pop-top.
These come in both hard-shell and tent top versions, so there really is something for everybody.
4. A Truck Camper Can Be Difficult To Load and Unload
Motorhomes are fully contained, so you never have to worry about taking them off the vehicle or putting them back on.
Travel trailer owners do have this concern, but it’s generally pretty easy.
This is especially true for unloading as all you have to do is use the crank on your trailer hitch.
People with truck campers have it harder. A truck camper owner will need to use the truck camper’s legs to raise the camper off the truck. Before doing this, they’ll have to disconnect any straps tying the camper to the truck.
Following this, they’ll have to get in their truck and drive it out from under the camper.
When the truck camper owner wants to load their camper back up, they’ll have to drive back underneath of it carefully. Make a wrong move backing up, and you could end up damaging your truck and knocking your truck camper over.
Once it’s knocked off of its legs, it can become impossible for the owner to lift it back up again without a lot of help.
5. Getting In And Out Of A Truck Camper Can Be Difficult
Truck campers aren’t built for people with mobility issues.
A truck camper sits high off of the ground, and you’ll need to climb up a ladder or walk up a multitude of steps to get in and out of it.
Once inside, your climb is not over. You’ll have to climb up once more to get into the bed.
This is because most truck campers have their beds over the cab, and they aren’t always the easiest places to get in and out of.
6. Truck Camper Layouts Are Limited
There are only so many layouts to choose from with truck campers.
In most cases, you’ll have to enter from the rear, and you’ll have to sleep on top of the cab.
Additionally, truck campers without slides are narrow and not very long. This means your dinette booth will usually have to be located across the width of the camper.
As a result, it ends up directly in front of your cabover bed.
The only real way to get around this limitation is to go with a camper with slides or a less traditional truck camper.
For example, you could go with a truck camper that sits on a flatbed truck.
With these campers, you can choose to go with a side entry instead of rear entry.
7. The Price Per Square Foot Is Higher
Truck campers can be expensive.
In fact, the price per square foot of a truck camper is dramatically higher than the price per square foot on a travel trailer.
Get a truck camper, and you’ll end up paying more money and having less space.
8. Truck Campers Reduce Cargo Space
Typically, a truck owner can load the back of their truck bed up with whatever won’t fit inside their travel trailer.
With a truck camper, this isn’t an option. The truck bed will house the truck camper, and any extra gear will have to be stuffed inside the truck camper.
One alternative to this might be to get a cargo carrier that fits onto the truck’s trailer hitch. This can create some additional room for cargo so that this problem won’t be quite an issue.
The only trouble with this solution is that some truck campers extend out past the truck’s tailgate. If this happens to be the case with your truck camper, you won’t be able to take advantage of this solution.
In this case, your only option is to load your truck camper up.
9. Your Gas Mileage May Suffer
A travel trailer owner with an ultralight camper can tow their camper with a vehicle that gets good gas mileage.
While the vehicle might struggle to retain its superior gas mileage while towing, it will quickly get it back when you drop your RV off and set your base camp up.
Trucks don’t have this advantage. Even after your truck drops your truck camper off at your campsite, it will still retain its poor gas mileage.
This could change one day with the advent of the Cybertruck, but for now, this is still a big issue.
10. A Breakdown Can Be More Difficult
If you’ve ever broken down while towing, you know that it can be tough to find a tow truck.
You’ll have to have one truck take your vehicle in many cases, and another truck takes your trailer.
With a truck camper, things can become even more complicated. You’ll need to make sure the tow truck company knows that you’re hauling a truck camper so that they can send a truck out that is equipped to take the extra size and weight.
Once your truck is towed away, you’ll also have the issue of where to stay.
Will you be able to sleep in the truck camper at the garage you’re towed to?
Remember, you won’t be able to separate the camper from your vehicle easily, so you may end up stuck at a hotel.
General Pros and Cons of Truck Campers
While truck campers do have their problems, there are many reasons why you might want to own one.
Here are the top 10 pros of truck campers:
- Boondocking Is Easy
- Parking Is Easy
- Truck Campers Are Easier to Maneuver
- Truck Campers Require Less Maintenance
- Truck Camper Storage Is Easier
- It’s Easier To Heat And Cool A Truck Camper
- Licensing and Registering Is Often Unnecessary
- You Can Still Tow Your Toys
- You’ll Save Money On Tolls
- The Vehicle Isn’t Linked To The Camper
Boondocking Is Easy
Truck campers are small, and they don’t take up a lot of space in parking lots or on the street.
People are much less likely to call the authorities on you while you boondock.
On top of this, getting a truck camper onto BLM land or down tight forest roads can be easier than getting a motorhome down the same roads.
This is especially true if you have a popup truck camper as you won’t have to worry as much about overhead branches.
Being able to boondock more often will save you time and money. It will also give you greater access to some of the best camping spots in the country.
Parking Is Easy
Truck campers are pretty much the same size as your truck.
In most cases, they’ll be the same length, and while they may be wider, they won’t be any wider than your truck’s side-view mirrors.
Because of all of this, you’ll find that parking a truck camper is much easier than parking a motorhome or a truck with a travel trailer in tow.
Not only this, but you’ll be able to fit into standard size parking spaces. This means you’ll be able to park anywhere that a normal vehicle can park.
Truck Campers Are Easier to Maneuver
The small footprint of a truck camper makes it easier to maneuver.
Not only does this make it easier to park, but it makes it easier to drive as well.
Merging onto the highway and getting in and out of campsites is much easier in a truck camper.
Truck Campers Require Less Maintenance
A truck camper does not have brakes, tires, or an engine.
This means you’ll save a lot of time and money on maintenance with a truck camper compared to a travel trailer or motorhome.
You’ll also find that you don’t have to get your truck camper inspected as you do with a motorhome or travel trailer. This is just one less expense you have to pay when owning an RV.
Truck Camper Storage Is Easier
Travel trailers and motorhomes need to be stored when you’re not using them.
In some cases, you may be able to do this on your property or your street.
In other cases, you’ll have to store your RV at a storage facility. This becomes another problem that costs you both time and money.
With a truck camper, you usually don’t have to worry about storage.
Popup truck campers can be left on your truck permanently, and hard side campers can easily be taken off and placed into your garage.
Even if they don’t fit in your garage, they’re generally small enough that you can place them in your yard with a nice tarp over them, and nobody will complain.
It’s Easier To Heat And Cool A Truck Camper
A truck camper does not have much space inside of it.
In many ways, this can be seen as a disadvantage. When it comes to heating and cooling your truck camper, this is a huge advantage.
Truck campers can be heated up or cooled down much quicker than other types of RVs.
This makes truck campers great for people who don’t stay very long at one campsite.
Licensing and Registering Is Often Unnecessary
In most states, you’ll find that truck campers do not need to be licensed or registered. This saves time and money when buying it, while owning it, and when you go to sell it.
You Can Still Tow Your Toys
One great advantage of a truck camper is that you can often tow other trailers behind your truck camper.
For example, some people might tow golf cart trailers, motorcycles, and ATVs.
Other people might take advantage of this fact by bringing another RV with them. For instance, a large family could tow a popup camper behind their truck camper.
This could potentially give them the ability to camp with an additional six people.
You’ll Save Money On Tolls
Toll roads and bridges will often charge you based on how many axles you have.
A travel trailer will increase the number of axles you have going through the toll.
This, in turn, increases the amount of money you have to pay each time you go through a toll.
The Vehicle Isn’t Linked To The Camper
A truck camper drives like a motorhome but gives you the flexibility of a travel trailer.
You can get a new vehicle without losing your camper and vice versa.
Additionally, you have the flexibility to set up a base camp while you travel. With a motorhome, you can’t do this without bringing a tow vehicle along.
Instead, you have to pack everything up each time you want to drive away from your campsite.
This can drastically reduce the quality of your camping trips.
We went over the most common problems with truck campers earlier, but here is a quick breakdown so you can directly compare them to the list of pros above.
- You Have To Have A Truck
- A Truck Camper Can Be Top Heavy
- Truck Campers Have Height Issues
- A Truck Camper Can Be Difficult To Load and Unload
- Getting In And Out Of A Truck Camper Can Be Difficult
- Truck Camper Layouts Are Limited
- The Price Per Square Foot Is Higher
- Truck Campers Reduce Cargo Space
- Your Gas Mileage May Suffer
- A Breakdown Can Be More Difficult
What Do the Reviews Say?
Colorado Camperman from Youtube has this to say about truck campers:
“My favorite aspect of truck campers is that they are a lot easier to move around.”
Taylor Dzaman from Youtube says something similar:
“I can literally park anywhere.”
Mr. Fixit from the irv2.com forums says:
“If space is your greatest concern, forget truck campers.”
As you can see, the camper’s size seems to be its greatest advantage and most significant disadvantage. On the one hand, it is easy to drive, to park, and to store.
On the other hand, a truck camper doesn’t offer as much living space as a travel trailer or even a motorhome.
Truck campers tend to hold their value well.
This is probably because they don’t have an engine, brakes, or even tires to wear out. On top of this, the lack of registration makes them much easier to sell than traditional travel trailers and motorhomes.
A great example of this is the Alaska camper. An 8’ Alaskan camper can be purchased brand new for $30,000.00. Three years later, you can still sell it for around $24,000.00.
While this might seem like a big loss, you have to remember that trailers lose most of their value within the first three years. In this case, you’ve only lost $2,000.00 a year.
This is the equivalent of what you’d pay to stay in a hotel for a two-week vacation each year.
Here are some example price models for you to consider:
|Camper Model||New Price||Price after 3 years||Price after 5 years|
|8′ Alaskan Truck Camper||$30,000.00||$24,000.00||$18,000.00|
|Palamino Truck Camper – SS 500||$13,000.00||$7,600||$6,700.00|
Truck campers offer a wide variety of pros and cons.
In the end, only you can decide whether a truck camper is a good fit for you and your lifestyle.
Morten is the founder of GoDownsize. He has filmed and interviewed people living in tiny houses and RVs since 2011. He grew up on the coast where his dad took him boating from a young age. He has completely rebuilt two RVs in which he travels with his family for months at the time. Read more about Morten here.