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You should consider buying a truck camper. Here’s why

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We happened to be in a Florida RV park during a big fishing tournament. Anglers from all over the United States seemed to have one thing in common: Each competitor had a slide-in truck camper. Many of these folks travel and fish for a living, so they live in their RVs much of the year. That made me wonder, with all the nice, big fifth-wheel RVs and some equally large travel trailers available, “Why would a person choose a slide-in camper over a roomier travel trailer or fifth wheel?”

So, I asked. Here are some of the responses I got, and the owners’ reasoning makes good sense! See if you agree.

  • So many fishermen (and women) I spoke with said they prefer a slide-in camper because they can tow their boat more easily with it. (No wonder we saw so many, huh?) Not into fishing? A truck camper allows you to tow a variety of things: horse trailers, equipment trailers, trailered off-road vehicles, and more.
  • A slide-in camper is usually less expensive than other RVs on the market today. A well-equipped, new slide-in camper unit retails for about $40,000. That’s much less than you’d pay for a new and larger fifth-wheel RV or diesel pusher. Pre-owned slide-in campers can be much less.
  • Many folks I talked to said they like how much easier it is for them to drive with a camper instead of dragging a long trailer behind them. There’s no extensive learning curve, like learning to safely corner or back up a bigger rig. You just drive your truck!
  • Along those same lines, it’s easier to park a camper on your truck. Your rig will fit into any campsite, unlike the RV’s bigger cousins.
  • Maintenance issues are less with a slide-in camper. There are no wheels or engine issues to worry about. (Wouldn’t that be a relief?)
  • A truck camper is easier to store when you’re not traveling. Many people said they put their camper in the backyard during off season.
  • Off-road enthusiasts love that they can take their camper anywhere the truck can go. That means more adventures without sacrificing the comforts of home.
  • Many states consider slide-in truck camper units as “cargo” on the truck. That means you need not register this RV. (Check your local regulations.)

Over the years, much has changed with slide-in truck camper designs. Did you know that some 2021 models feature dry bathrooms, multiple slide outs, extra storage space, and sleeping accommodations for more than three adults? It’s true! The newer, bigger, slide-in models are heavy, however, so you’ll need a beefier truck to pull the extra weight. But with all the other positives going for it, maybe a slide-in camper is the right RV for you!

Would you ever consider purchasing a slide-in truck camper? Tell us in the poll below, then leave a comment saying why or why not. Thanks!

Check out some of these recent truck camper reviews:

Scout Olympic Truck Camper

Alaska Campers Truck Camper

2021 Kimbo Truck Camper: The “spaceship”

2021 Host Campers Mammoth Truck Camper

##RVT1007

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35 Comments
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Steven N
1 month ago

My wife and I are looking at them as a way to get into smaller camping areas that are out of the way and on the water for Kayaking/Fishing. It’s impossible to drag our 5th wheel into some of the back country areas of Colorado for example. The big draw back is that, per square foot, this is THE most expensive class of RV on the market!

T Edwards
1 month ago

Ouch$$$ I looked up the price on RVTrader. They want more for these little slide in boxes than we would pay for a replacement 40 foot 5th wheel. We could put 3 of these truck campers inside the space of our 5th wheel. Nope! We simply can’t see the value of a truck camper. Then there’s climbing up into the cramped loft bed and extremely limited storage space. We watched a next door neighbour set up then tediously realign his truck camper on a gentle slope. Over half an hour just to get it aligned then hook up. The camper was filled with his camp equipment. About the same space as our 5th wheel basement storage area. And at 150% of the price for 33% of the space? I can rent a lot of boat time with that savings. Oh, tack on top of that the cost of buying a boat. Dad always said: Money doesn’t grow on trees AND some folks have more money than sense😃😃

Dennis
1 month ago

I purchased a used Northern Lite TC in 2011 and traveled solo for a couple years until retirement. In 2014 I was joined in any journeys by my lovely lady companion. We thought we needed something larger so we purchased a 2014 Thor Axis and then a larger 2016 Thor ACE. I was tired of wrangling those two class A RVs down the road and not being able to park where we wanted to go. We purchased a 2018 Cirrus 820 and a Ford Super Duty Lariat 4×4 before the pandemic panic. We love it. Yes, it’s small but both of us can drive it and it suits our purpose. It has everything we need to be comfortable and safe. They are not your grandfather’s TCs anymore.

DENNY JOHNSON
1 month ago

And it’s a free country. They can have one if they want, with no further explanation needed. Sounds like RV snobbery a little bit.

Shannon
1 month ago

We LOVE our Lance truck camper! Prior to having the Lance we had a TT and though I was skeptical when the hubby suggested we look at a TC I have found that I love it. First getting in and out of places is so much easier, you’re just driving a truck, piece of cake. There is less storage space so we have to be a little more creative but living space is comparable to our TT. I was concerned about having to climb up into the bed but that didn’t end up being an issue, however making the bed is more difficult but the ease of the TC so outweighs the cons for me.

Cindy
1 month ago

I bought a used Sunlite slide in at a fantastic price. Just a basic slide in-no bath, hot water, etc. It does have a fresh water tank, air conditioning, cook top, and a 3 way fridge. I took a 2400 mile trip thru Michigan and did the UP Circle Tour. I love being able to find a “wide spot” in the road in a National Forest and have an “instant campsite”. The ability to find dispersed campsites is a lot easier with a slide in, as opposed to the travel trailer that I have. For driving around and exploring the country, I really love the slide in. For extended stays (like the winter trip to Florida where I stay at the same place for a couple of weeks) I prefer the trailer. During an extended stay where I have reservations, I know where I am staying with the trailer, and what the roads and campsites are like. Plus, the ability to drop the trailer and run around is great.

Bill Semion
1 month ago

Had a great one. A Hallmark, four-season, built in Colorado outside Denver. Denise then started complaining about climbing into the bed. It’s a struggle for some who aren’t used to doing it or aren’t as nimble as they used to be. Very well designed. Our clothes were kept in a large under-bed compartment. Large TC’s like some Lance models become huge sails especially out west. Talked to one who had to upgrade to a dually so he wouldn’t be shoved into the next lane. Some also appear to be extremely top-heavy, so helpers like air bags that we had installed on our then-F-250 help a lot. For some these would be too claustrophobic. For others they’re the ultimate boondocking machine. I averaged about 12 mpg with my pop-top Hallmark. Those interested in this form of RVing should take a look at these. As with all RVs, however, it is ALWAYS a matter of compromise. A matter of personal preference. Form V. Function. Space V. “need.” We moved to an LTV and love it.

Jeff Buckley
1 month ago

I have a Travel Lite 625SL truck camper that fits completely inside the tailgate. I have had it for 5 years and love it for going to car events and swap meets. I can tow an enclosed trailer with a car inside or thousands of pounds of car parts. All of this with a Ford F250 diesel that allows me to use the truck for everything else when the camper is off of it. I love the flexibility.

Bob p
1 month ago

I would think you would “need a beefier truck” to carry the weight than “pull the load”.

Shannon
1 month ago
Reply to  Bob p

We have a one ton dually for our TC

bill
1 month ago
Reply to  Shannon

In my opinion you have the safest and sturdiest rig for a slide in camper or towing any type of RV.

Larry
1 month ago

We have a 40′ fifth wheel,we are thinking of a trip to alaska and doing some of that on a ferry to save some driving. The slide in camper would save a lot of cash for ferry,you pay for total length for your rv. Also a lot easier to find campsites with smaller rv.

Jo Pa
1 month ago

I’ve had every type of RV, and nothing beats my truck camper when traveling solo. I can travel anywhere my truck goes without the added considerations towing and driving a large RV may entail. I mentioned traveling “solo”, as I wouldn’t be so keen on traveling with a companion long term with my truck camper.

Mary
1 month ago

We purchased a used truck camper this year for my husband’s 7-week trip to Alaska. No problem finding campsite when larger sites were booked. Being small has it’s advantages. We do have a trailer which is what I prefer.

D Smith
2 months ago

While I really like my truck camper for all of the above reasons, I’ve found it limiting me in keeping my dispersed site while I have to pack it up to explore, go stream fishing (if the stream is not near me, which is usually the case), or to pickup items from town. I’m trying a travel trailer now to see which one my family prefers.

Bill Braniff
2 months ago

I can’t imagine why the fishermen and women wouldn’t more often consider a motor home over a truck camper?

Bob p
1 month ago
Reply to  Bill Braniff

It’s much easier backing a boat trailer down the boat launch ramp with a pickup than a motorhome. Plus most probably have 4WD trucks for that slippery ramp that a motorhome could be stuck on.

Dennis M.
1 month ago
Reply to  Bob p

Exactly, one of the reasons I’ve kept my ’83 Sunlite, even after buying a new class C. Boat ramps and hunting where the class C can’t go. On my 4th 3/4-ton pickup hauling the same old camper. Can’t part with it.

Al H.
1 year ago

We tow a 24’ Jayco for multiple night stays within a couple hundred miles. That’s fine, but if we are going any serious distance, I want to take a TC. It’s just so easy to drive, park, maneuver, and do things spontaneously without having to analyze the whole scene in advance and file an environmental impact statement before I can make a quick side trip into a restaurant or a local attraction. Give me 11’ of vertical clearance and I’m a happy camper! Current TC is a new-to-us 1990 Skamper hard side. Needs some tlc, not too pretty, but it’s got everything we need in it, and, while my old 2500HD Silverado must know it’s there, it really isn’t willing to admit it! To me, that’s the way to travel. To each his own!

Scott R. Ellis
1 year ago

We own one and love it. However . . . you’re only going to get the “full off-road” performance of the truck with the very smallest and lightest of campers. And those all-the-comforts-of-home monsters you’re talking about? You need at LEAST a one-ton dually–no off-road ace empty, and certainly not with 6000 lbs of weight high on the back.

bill
1 month ago
Reply to  Scott R. Ellis

Agreed!

Carson Axtell
1 year ago

I was hoping to read a comparison with RVs more similar to truck campers, like Class Bs and Class Cs, rather than with classes of RVs on a completely different scale. This comparison just boils down to bigger-vs-smaller, in which the same arguments apply to other RVs of similar size to truck campers versus mega-land yachts and mega-land barges…

KellyR
1 year ago

Camped in my father-in-laws. It was great. Love our class B – but truck camper would be my next choice.

rvgrandma
1 year ago

We had one years ago. Too hard for this old lady now to climb up in that bed.

Carl
1 year ago

Gail, where was this Fishing Tournament? We saw a similar one a few years ago at Lake Okeechobee, while staying an RV Park near there. Were you near there, or elsewhere?

We are on our third Truck Camper. We have had two Lances and one Okanagan!
Can’t beat the quality, features and maneuverability!

Gail
1 year ago
Reply to  Carl

Lake Okeechobee! We enjoyed our stay near Clewiston, FL.

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