Why Buy A Truck Camper

Do MORE and Spend LESS with a Truck Camper

“No way,” exclaimed my wife upon first hearing my description of a truck camper. Of course she had never really looked at a truck camper, much less been in one.

You can hardly blame my wife for her initial doubts about RVing in a truck camper. “Way too small,” she thought. Just six months later we were traveling the United States and Canada in a truck camper, and absolutely loving it.

What happened? Two things. First, we were both impressed with the luxurious appointments and features of modern truck campers. And two, after months of research, we learned how a truck camper would allow us to do more and spend less. A lot less.

This article covers the top ten most significant benefits of truck camper ownership. There are many other benefits, but these are the real stand outs.

1. Go Anywhere a Pick-Up Truck Can Go

From white sandy beaches, to unpaved back roads, to regular parking spaces, to the driveways of family and friends, truck campers can go anywhere a pick-up truck can go. This opens up the possibilities of where you can camp and explore many, many times over.

Other RV types make up for this by towing cars or detaching their trucks when they can’t access an area due to size, durability, or restriction issues. These solutions work okay, but they add considerable expense and complexity that simply doesn’t apply to truck campers.

If you’re at all interested in seeing more than highways, parking lots, and RV parks, keep a truck camper’s ‘go anywhere’ advantage in mind. It’s amazing.

2. Superior Maneuverability

When you’re traveling into areas that you’ve never been to before, the ability to quickly turn around can be critical. The turning radius of modern pick-up trucks is light years ahead of most RVs. Combined with the shorter length of a truck camper, the turning radius allows you to turn around quickly without needing a large empty parking lot to do it.

Backing up can also be a real challenge in longer and less maneuverable RVs. Again the qualities of modern trucks and the efficient size of truck campers make backing up a breeze. And in wind, rain, or snow, modern trucks have excellent traction and control.

There have been plenty of times when turning around, backing up, and staying confidently in control have made us more than glad to be driving a truck camper versus any other type of RV.

3. Boondocking - Camp Where You Want For FREE

There are four main reasons why boondocking is easier and better in a truck camper. First, you can go more places that are off the beaten path in a truck camper. Second, the shorter length of a truck camper allows you to stay in smaller places where other RVs could not fit. Third, truck campers fly under the RV radar a little better than other types of RVs and attract less attention. And fourth, many truck campers have more than enough battery and holding tank capacity to last several days without hook-ups. Add solar panels and/or a generator and a few days could turn into a week or more.

When other types of RVs are looking for an expensive RV park, you’ll be looking for an interesting and FREE place to stay for the night. In practice this means saving lots of time and money and waking up to more than another RV ten feet away.

4. Competitive Purchase Price

The purchase price of a truck camper ranges from $8,000 for a basic pop-up to $50,000 for a loaded multi-slide-out hard-side model. Trucks range from $20,000 for a half-ton to $50,000+ for a one-ton. In other words, you can spend under $30,000 on a new truck camping rig or upwards of $100,000 on a state-of-the-art rig. Go used for the truck or camper and those numbers can drop considerably. These prices are very competitive with other RV types.

5. Save On Fuel

Your fuel costs in a truck camper will depend greatly on your truck and camper combo. Most truck campers claim 10 to 15 miles per gallon. These numbers are on par or better than other types of RVs.

The big fuel advantage of truck campers is that you can get an efficient diesel truck and push that 15 mile per gallon number. Some claim upwards of 18 and even 20 miles per gallon in their truck camping rig while others burn bio-diesel or vegetable oil to potentially save money and help the environment.

6. Save On Registration & Insurance

Most states do not require truck campers to be registered. And for most insurance companies, the camper is insured with your truck. Of course you should check your state’s registration laws and talk with your insurance company. Compared to other types of RVs that require separate registration and insurance, this can be a very, very big savings.

7. Save On Maintenance

Your truck should be maintained as any truck should with regular oil changes and service. The advantage is that trucks cost considerably less to service and repair than motorhomes and there are thousands more places to get service and repair compared to motorhomes.

You can get an oil change anywhere that has a tall service bay. We’ve had our oil changed at Ford, Chevy, and Dodge truck dealerships, Wal-Marts, and even Jiffy Lube service centers.

As for the campers, they are built better and need less maintenance than other forms of RVs. They have less moving parts (no wheels) and are built to handle the stress of sitting in the bed of a truck. You will have to maintain your truck camper, but generally speaking, your maintenance issues should take less time and less money than any another RV type would require.

8. Save On Storage

Truck campers are often small enough to store on your property. If not, their smaller size will allow you to pay less for storage in a storage lot. Either way, you’re saving a significant amount of money on storage fees.

9. Save On Depreciation

Make no mistake, all RVs depreciate - a lot. The good news is that because truck campers are built better, they tend to hold their values better too. This is a particular benefit when compared to motorhomes which lose resale value for every mile added to their odometers.

10. Save When You Upgrade

As the truck and camper are physically separate units, you can decide to upgrade your truck and keep your camper or vice versa. Many truck campers decide to upgrade their campers while keeping their trucks. Others decide that they want a more capable truck and upgrade their truck while keeping their campers. This flexibility can save a considerable amount of money compared to trading up whole motorhomes.

In Conclusion - Truck Campers Rock!

You really can do a lot more and spend a lot less with a truck camper. We didn’t even mention how great truck campers are for towing your boat, horse trailer, ATVs, snowmobiles, and other toys. It gets better!

The real proof is when you're sitting in a truck camper and it feels right. You'll know. For those of us who go truck camping, the feeling is unmistakable. 

** This is a reprint from Truck Camper magazine. Author: Gordon White