5 Best Lightweight Truck Campers in 2021
Are you looking for an RV that’s incredibly compact and easy to haul? You might want to take a close look at lightweight truck campers.
These piggyback-style campers have been around for years, and the modern versions are a definite improvement. They have limited space, but they use it wisely.
For many, they are a smart and worthwhile alternative to larger campers and travel trailers.
Let’s dive in!
What is a Truck Camper?
A truck camper is, quite literally, a camper that rests inside a pickup truck’s bed. Whether they’re technically RVs or not is up for debate. Some say they are the smallest types of RVs, but many states actually classify them as cargo.
Efficient may be the best way to describe the interior. Most have a cabover design to accommodate the sleeping quarters, while down below, you’ll find a small kitchen and bathroom. They are self-contained, too – having their own electric power for small appliances, a furnace, and tanks for water storage.
Also, truck campers aren’t a permanent addition to your truck. They can easily be dismounted and stored on jacks.
Benefits of Lightweight Truck Campers
One of the problems with older truck campers is they tended to be top-heavy. This can be a big problem on the road, especially in heavy winds or tight curves.
Too heavy of a load can spell trouble, as well. If you try to haul too much weight, you can wind up harming your engine or your rear axle.
Many of today’s lightweight truck campers weigh in at 2,000 pounds or less. That means you don’t need a huge truck to carry them.
In fact, because modern trucks are sturdy and robust, many half-ton trucks can easily do the job. These are light-duty trucks such as Ford F-150, the Chevrolet Silverado, and the Dodge Ram 1500. Some lightweight truck campers are also designed to work well with short-bed vehicles like the Toyota Tundra and Nissan Titan.
A lightweight truck camper is a lot easier to maneuver than an RV trailer, even if it’s a tiny one. As long as the ground isn’t too soft, you’ll find it easy to squeeze into some cool off-road places.
And when you’re on the road, they’re easy to park because they’ll go wherever your truck goes, no problem. They literally have no additional footprint.
Keep in mind: Even though truck campers are great, here are 5 reasons we think some people should avoid them.
5 Best Lightweight Truck Campers in 2021
There are lots of options out there for lightweight truck campers. These are the ones we think are the best.
#1 – Lance TC 825 with Bathroom
The lightweight Lance TC 825 is one of the company’s most popular models, and for lots of good reasons. In addition to the queen-sized bed over the cab, the interior includes a galley, convertible dinette, and a wet bath. The showers have heated vents, as well.
Solid-surface lightweight countertops are a nice touch. The 825 has a 3-cubic-foot fridge, 18,000 BTU furnace, and a five-gallon propane tank. The freshwater tank is 30 gallons, the black tank is 14 gallons, and the grey is 13 gallons. A 10-foot powered awning is optional, and so are lithium batteries and 100-watt solar panels.
The 825 has an overall length of 16’ 3” and a floor length of 8’ 6”. Inside, the height is right at 6’ 5”, and (with the standard equipment) it weighs 1,837 pounds unloaded.
#2 – Lance 650 Short-Bed Camper for Half-Ton Trucks
You can think of the smaller Lance 650 as kind of a little brother to the popular TC 825. It weighs in at 1,700 pounds and is designed for half-ton trucks with 5-foot and 6-foot beds.
Not only does the Lance 650 provide a north-south queen bed and a full-size wet bath with a sink, but it also features a large kitchen and a dinette big enough for an adult to sleep on.
This means it can sleep up to three people. Lance accomplished this by moving the 3-cubic-foot fridge “upstairs” into the cabover area.
The freshwater tank is 22 gallons, but the additional space accommodates a tankless water heater. (It also reduces the weight by 48 pounds.) The floor length of this lightweight truck camper is 6′ 10″, and the interior height is extra tall at 6’ 10”. The overall length is 15’ 6”.
Pro Tip: These are the best 1/2 ton trucks for towing.
#3 – Alaskan Cabover 6.5 Hard-Sided Pop Up
Alaskan truck campers are known for their solid designs and workmanship and a “solid wall” telescoping feature. This hard-sided pop-up truck camper actually raises and lowers. This gives you expanded living space, but it’s more compact and aerodynamic while in transit.
Inside are a two-burner stove, refrigerator, and stainless steel sink, as well as maple laminate cabinets and other storage space. There is a standard 20,000 BTU furnace, and the cassette toilet is optional. Alaskan’s attention to detail includes maple trim that’s solid and hand sanded.
With a ceiling height of 6’ 3 1/4”, there’s some headroom for most.
The camper is 6 1/2 feet long on the inside, and it has a dry weight of just 1,390 pounds.
#4 – 2021 Northstar Liberty
Northstar has been at the game for a long time. Since 1955, in fact, the company has been building both pop-up and hardwall campers for pickup trucks. At 1,775 pounds, the Northstar Liberty is their shortest and lightest model. It’s a smaller version of their popular Arrow 8.5 model (minus the rear overhang but with the same features).
It’s the shortest and lightest of Northstar’s designs. The headroom is 6′ 4″, and the floor length is 7 feet. The overall length is 14’ 5”, and the dry weight is 1,775 lb.
The Liberty floorplan features an L-shaped dinette, a kitchen, a wet bath with a cassette toilet, and a north-south queen size bed.
It can also be ordered with a flip-out top bunk that extends partially into the cabover. Other features include insulated windows, auto-ignition water heater, cassette toilet, interior/exterior shower, and LED lighting.
#5 – Adventurer 80RB with Bathroom
Adventurer Campers has been building truck campers since 1969. Its Adventurer 80RB absolutely brings modern tastes and designs into play.
Along with the 60×80 bed, kitchen galley, and convertible dinette, this camper also has a stylish wet bath with a shower and a Dometic toilet with foot flush. There is even a skylight in the bathroom. Another unique feature is a 72” roll-over sofa that makes into an additional 40″ x 72″ bed.
Adventurer provides options for a low-profile air conditioner and a 12-foot powered awning.
These campers, too, are designed for trucks with short beds or long beds. The 80RB has a floor length of 8’ 4” and an overall length of 15’ 10”. Its dry weight is 1,757 pounds.
Is a Truck Camper Right for You?
Truck Campers may not be for everybody, but they certainly have their place in the RV community. Calling them “roomy” might be a stretch, and they probably aren’t something a full-timer would want.
But if you like to camp occasionally and don’t mind small spaces, lightweight truck campers are a viable way to go.
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Kyle & Olivia
Surprised your didn’t include the 4 season Northern Lite truck campers. We’ve had one for 10 years and absolutely love it. Mounted on a 3/4 ton Chevy truck. Its taken us to Baja 7 times, 6-8 week trips. Plus weeks of camping in our home state Montana .Roomie and of course anywhere and I mean anywhere your 4 by 4 can go you can take your home on wheels.
We love our Northern Lite camper.
Deborah Y Thomas
P,S. So enjoy reading your postings.