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RV Review: Palomino Backpack SS-1251 Pop-top Truck Camper

Frontal area. That’s one of the biggest threats to RV fuel mileage. You see, the larger the box you’re trying to push through the air, the more fuel it takes to overcome that wind resistance. So if you don’t have a large engine, reducing the frontal area of your RV makes more sense. As such, today we’re looking at the Palomino Backpack SS-1251 truck camper. 

The Palomino Backpack SS-1251 is a relatively lightweight truck camper that collapses down to allow for minimization of the height of the camper in travel, but pops up using electric jacks to optimize headroom when you’re inside. This can make a lot of sense for many pickup owners. 

Roughing it

There are so many degrees of amenities you can achieve in any RV space – from the uber luxurious to a tent. This camper has all the basic amenities but isn’t quite as luxurious, say, as that diesel pusher. But you can also drop off the camper and just head out. There’s a lot of convenience in not having to deal with a huge vehicle. Plus, with a pickup camper, you can also still tow a trailer such as a boat, which I see a lot up by where I live. 

What’s inside the Palomino Backpack

Duck. Our tour begins at the back door where you’ll definitely want to duck as it’s a low door to accommodate the roof design. That door features a shade in the window. I think that should be standard in all RVs. 

Of course, bathrooms are always a popular thing in RVs. So let’s start there, as the potty department is immediately to the left. This camper facilitates the toilet and shower with a half wall that features a magnetic door. Remember that the roof comes down in transit, so I don’t see how they’d do a full wall. 

There’s a curtain that wraps around the whole bathroom for privacy but, of course, this is only visual privacy. There is no audio barrier. The foot flush toilet sends its contents to the same seven-gallon tank as the shower drain. So you’ll want to be very mindful of filling this. 

In fact, while so many RVs come with outdoor showers nowadays, this might be a case where the outdoor shower on the Palomino Backpack is a first choice option, not just for rinsing off Fido. The water heater onboard this camper is a Girard tankless water heater. So you’ll have plenty of hot water whether you’re inside or out. 

You might want to get one of those shower tents unless you’re really good looking. Even then, it’s probably a good idea. 

Back inside, there are three drawers to your left as you enter. The refrigerator, on the road side, is a smaller three-way fridge. That means you can chill it before you leave using propane and then keep things cool on the road using the truck’s 12-volt power. I like these three-way fridges. 

The galley in the Palomino Backpack

The galley consists of a two-burner stove with a small adjacent sink. 

The Palomino Backpack has three canvas compartments which are suspended from the ceiling via hooks. Two are above the galley and a third is above the dinette. These are like cabinets made of canvas, of sorts. The neat thing about these is that you can bring them inside to fill them before a camping trip and then they’re there to hang up as you need them. 

The front of these compartments has a zippered door so they’re really convenient, in my opinion. 

On the subject of the dinette, what you have here is a “U”-shaped dinette that has a larger table which can be rotated. Drop that table down and you have sleeping for two. However, the people sleeping above the cab in the loft sleeping area should probably be mindful of these dinette sleepers if they have to use the facilities in the middle of the night. 

I also would rather see this table, which is mounted on a removable pole, be a Lagun table, which would give it a greater range of motion. 

Upstairs in the loft is a true queen bed mounted “north-south.” So, essentially, you enter at either the foot or the head, depending on which way you’re sleeping. On both sides of the bed are storage lockers accessed by wooden doors. 

Surrounding the entire camper is a canvas top that bridges the gap between the ceiling, which raises and lowers, and the main body of the camper. There are multiple zip-up windows all around the canvas, and then canvas covers which zip over the plastic windows. You can zip everything up to seal everything off or just zip down the covers to let light in. Or you can even zip down the windows to create a really breezy space. 

Options in the Palomino Backpack

There are a number of options on this camper including a MaxxAir fan over the bed. Get this option. Just do it. 

You can also order this with an air conditioner, as there isn’t one standard. There are several bumper/step options as well. Also, there’s a “Badlands” package that includes a 100-watt solar panel, Thule roof rack and second battery tray. 

Truck campers

Let’s talk a moment about truck campers and weight. Actually this applies to all of you, particularly with towable RVs of any sort. I was recently speaking with someone who weighs RVs for a living. He said that over half the RVs he weighs are overweight. This means towables and motorhomes. Think about that. Half. 

So what, you say? Well, this kind of thing can cause long-term damage to the running gear of your rig. It can also can compromise handling or even cause component or tire failure. Yikes. 

Many might say this is a great pickup camper for a half-ton truck. But if you do choose to go that way you owe it to yourself and anyone you’re sharing the highway with to make sure you accommodate the weight of the camper, all the stuff you put in it including water and you and your passengers. Yep, in this sense you’re all cargo. 

So this can legitimately work with some half-ton trucks, but calculate carefully and know your numbers. Lesson is over, time for recess!

In summary

I can see this camper making a lot of sense for people. The lower frontal area and lower overall height afforded by the power collapsible top mean easier handling and less of a hit with fuel mileage. 

Interestingly the seven-gallon black tank doesn’t get used by the galley sink so you’ll need to put some form of container to catch that water. However, I could see with a seven-gallon black tank you might want a portable waste tank as it is. That might be where you direct this water when not using it for the black tank. Solution. 

A camper like this might make a lot of sense for a lot of people looking for a getaway machine for a pickup they already own.

These RV reviews are written based on information provided by the manufacturers along with our writer’s own research. We receive no money or other financial benefits from these reviews. They are intended only as a brief overview of the vehicle, not a comprehensive critique, which would require a thorough inspection and/or test drive.

Got an RV we need to look at? Contact us today and let us know in the form below – thank you!

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REVIEW OVERVIEW

Folding top
Queen bed
Tank sizes

SUMMARY

The Forest River Palomino SS-1251 pickup camper offers a top that raises for great headroom but lowers for easier traveling.

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Tommy Molnar
3 months ago

When I was single (30+ years ago), a buddy and I headed out to the Nevada desert every year for a week of prospecting, metal detecting, exploring, ghost towning, goofing off etc. This would have been the perfect unit – FOR ME. No one else. The bed would never get made. I would just toss a sleeping bag up there (and most of the time it would have been too warm even for that). I’d have to bring extra water, just like back then (I was sleeping in a tent). The fact that the top cranks down gets the center of gravity lower, which makes this great for true off-road exploring.

The fact that there is nowhere for the galley water to go has a simple remedy. Just toss it like when you’re tent camping. There are thirsty sage brush plants everywhere.

Another friend lives next door to a CHP officer. He said his neighbor told him they KNOW they could stop RV’ers all day long and ticket them for overwheight but they have better things to do.

Last edited 3 months ago by Tommy Molnar