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This is Why Truck Campers Should Be Avoided

There’s no doubt about it – truck campers look really cool. 

A camper that sits on the back of your truck seems about as nimble as a campervan – you could take them almost anywhere!

But, is a truck camper really for you? What are the downsides of truck campers? Today, we’re taking a dive into 5 reasons why you might want to avoid truck campers. 

What is a Truck Camper?

A truck camper, also referred to as a slide-in, is a camper that sits in the bed of your truck. Truck campers are kind of like backpacks for trucks – and usually come with many of the same things a regular RV has.

There is typically a cabover area with a bed, a small kitchen area, and a small seating area. 

Some truck campers have slideouts to maximize space. Others have a pop-up canvas tent top to make them more nimble on the road and more lightweight overall. 

Also, when you’re parked at a campsite, you can remove the truck camper (lifted off the truck bed on four stands) and explore the local area without carrying extra weight.

How Much Do Truck Campers Cost? 

Truck camper prices vary depending on the type, age, etc. If buying a new truck camper, you can expect to pay anywhere from $8,000 to $60,000. 

Truck campers tend to hold their value very well. But, you can find used truck campers starting at $2,000 and up for a camper in decent condition. 

5 Reasons to Avoid Truck Campers: 

Truck campers are great because they’re compact and allow campers to get far off-grid.

But, there are several reasons why a truck camper may not be the right rig for you. 

They’re Heavy (Require a Big Truck)

Many truck campers are very heavy and typically require an expensive, heavy duty truck. You can find some truck campers that you can put on half-ton trucks – especially the pop-up truck campers. 

But you will sacrifice some amenities and creature comforts for the more lightweight options – storage, water, and bathrooms, usually.

Because truck campers are heavy and require heavy duty trucks, they are more expensive overall than a travel trailer – and they have much less space. 

In fact, we’ve seen underpowered trucks bend in half because they’ve been hauling around a truck camper.

Pro Tip: Here are our favorite heavy-duty trucks.

Truck Campers Aren’t Great For Families

Most truck campers don’t sleep more than 3 comfortably. 

You probably wouldn’t want to travel in a truck camper with more than just a partner. And, you’d probably want to have a pretty good relationship with your partner to live in such a small space! 

Truck campers are best suited for overland-camping solo travelers or small families on road trips. 

Lack of a Full Bathroom

Many truck campers don’t have a full bathroom. Some will have a cassette toilet, and some will have a wet bath. These types of bathrooms are doable… But having a fully functional bathroom (that you can actually move around in) makes life on the road a lot easier. 

You can modify the truck camper bathroom with a composting toilet to extend time between dumping tanks.

Difficulty of Loading and Unloading

Truck campers are totally unique in the sense that you don’t simply hitch them up… You load the entire thing into the bed of your truck.

This can be incredibly difficult to do if you’re alone – and still difficult with a partner. This is something that you can learn and improve upon, but definitely worth noting. 

However, new luxury truck campers have easier-to-use jack systems. They can be loaded and unloaded with one person. These truck campers will cost a premium.

Limited Space and Storage

If you’re considering a truck camper, you already know they have limited space. Like, very limited. Just think about living in the bed of a truck… That’s about how much standing room you’ll have, minus the space that’s taken up by the stove or sink, couch or dinette, etc. 

In addition to having very limited standing space, there’s very limited storage space too! 

While most RV and truck camper manufacturers try to make the most out of the small space, there’s only so much you can do. They have to make room for the plumbing, the water tanks, the propane, and all the other systems that make the camper work. That doesn’t leave much room for belongings, clothes, dishes, or food. 

Truck campers can be great campers for weekend getaways or shorter road trips, but they leave a lot to be desired for many full-time RVers.

If you’re solo, a truck camper can be great! But if you have a family, lots of belongings, or just can’t afford a heavy-duty truck, a truck camper probably isn’t the best choice for you. 

We’re Not Biased – All RVs Have Reasons to Avoid Them

There are RVs for everyone, no matter your camping style. We know that truck campers will be perfect for some travelers.

If you want to discover the reasons why you may want to avoid other RV types, you can access the information below.

Reasons to avoid…

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To be honest with you, we hate paying for camping. There are so many free campsites in America (with complete privacy).

You should give it a try!

As a matter of fact, these free campsites are yours. Every time you pay federal taxes, you’re contributing to these lands.

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  1. jim zapp says:

    Our family of 4 used a 10 1/2′ slide in for 12 years on trips, 2 week vacations. When we wern’t using it , which was 9 months out of the year, it sat in our yard. No taxes, registration, or e test.

  2. William Macy says:

    Much prefer a 5th wheel or a classB van over a slide in. Camped in all three many times. Slide in is just way too limited especially for taller folks. My all time favorites were my class A campers, but they are too expensive for many folks. I also enjoyed two different 5th wheels one of which I took to every state west of the Mississippi. As a senior citizen now the B van is much easier than my big rigs and still more roomier than a slide in. Of course when I was young a two person pop up tent and sleeping bags were all I needed. Lately I have been seeing a lot of young couples with MicroWinnies and similar small tow behinds. Nicely equipped and cozy for two. Lots of choices these days but I don’t see nearly as many slide ins like back in the old days. They do have an advantage for off road adventure use but have some very significant limitations for families with kids and pets. More convenient than a tent, especially in bad weather. Safer in bear country than a tent. But too small for most folks especially on extended trips. But any camper is way better than no camper! I still have my LL Bean wall tent with attached screen room but haven’t used it in almost 20 years.

  3. ffaubert says:

    My wife and I have been living in a small truck camper 24/7 for over a year with no issues. Most of the points here are irrelevant. I have manual crank legs on my camper and can have it off or on the truck (RAM 1500 with a short box) in less time than most folks can hitch and unhitch their trailer with leveling. You don’t need a big truck or a diesel engine unless that’s what you want. Match the rig to the vehicle just like you would with a trailer because I’ve seen transmissions blown from folks hauling too big of a trailer. Yes, you don’t have a lot of storage or a full bathroom but what are you taking with you? If you need every amenity under the sun, consider renting a motel room, it’s cheaper in the long run if you’re only out for a weekend or a couple of weeks a year. For those of you who are not dainty, a truck camper is a great way to see the country.

  4. Dennis Whitfield says:

    Truck campers started it all. Great history.

  5. Dana says:

    We started out in a tent, went to a small travel trailer, the a small mini winne, small toyhauler to behind, 35 ft 5th wheel. 3 small lance campers. We are in our 4th and final 2016 Lance . Fully equipped with solar,propane heater, 2 slides full dry bath. Have it on a 2000 f350 4×4. Do boodocking, campgrounds, desert, you name it.
    Its a matter of what you want. We flat tow our drive around vehicles. They may be expensive but not nearly as expensive as a motorhome. We can go anywhere we want with no lenght restrictions. We love our Lance.

  6. John T. says:

    While this may be somewhat true you can do a 5 reason not to purchase etc. for any type of rv. We have had 2 pop up t/c’s and 2 travel trailers. Hands down ever day we would pick the tc. Like anything you need to plan and prepare for the unit you tow haul or drive. Truck campers overall have the highest resale of most all types of camping units along with quality b and c classes. Just came back from glacier and Yellowstone, just take a look at the ones towing the 30ft fifth wheel and travel trailer. If they put in any miles, yeah they are feeling the rv (ruined vacation) trip. I figured you just wrote this to start something. Generally folks using truck campers don’t follow the norm anyway.

  7. Guy H says:

    There are a lot of reasons why we prefer to have a slide-in camper that you left out. The #1 reason why I have one is because we want to be able to take something with you for your trip. Some people take ATVs, others horses, bikes, canoes, etc. I pull a boat & it is difficult at best to launch a a boat when you’re driving a 40 ft. Class A. Yes, a lot are heavy & require a bigger Truck. But there’s a lot of slide-in’ s designed for 1/2 ton & compact trucks. As for Truck Campers aren’t great for families, this is totally B.S.! Some of best camping trips were in a slide-in. As for lack of a full bathroom… YOU’RE CAMPING!!! If you want a full bathroom, go get a hotel room! If you have difficulties loading and unloading, you’d better go back to driving school! It’s a pickup, it’s designed and meant to carry a load. And for limited space and storage… YOU’RE CAMPING!!! Why do you need a lot of crap? Plus, You need to learn how to load & pack. The biggest problem with a slide-in is the horrible, ungodly amount that the RV is charging for them. They are not as complex as a 5th wheel or some type of motor coach. And the reason why they charge that amount is that people are stupid enough to fork over that amount of money because “they have to have it”.

  8. Bob Brunelle says:

    I have had a slide in truck camper for over 25 years, I can load and unload it in about 15 minutes, I also pull a boat and can’t do that with a trailer, I also have a fifth wheel trailer, the slide in is for short trips with me and the wife and the Alaskan malamute and the black lab. Works great.

  9. Robert says:

    Wrong comparison. Pull behind teardrops and off-road trailers and truck campers compare – especially roof pop ups. Maybe sprinter vans but good luck getting to trailheads with our 4×4. Full time RV is a different issue and not really a comparison.

  10. Frank Baldwin says:

    Here Here !! The Original Tiny Home and I Love them. Go anywhere at any time 🇺🇸🇺🇸

  11. Frank Baldwin says:

    Great reply !! Spot on 🇺🇸❤️🇺🇸

  12. Peter E Zettler says:

    There are almost to many good reasons for a slide in. Mine is 22 yrs old almost 200 k on it. Longest time out 6 months .89 f250 daul.400k.Go any where a pickup will go. Used the truck for work when not camping. Fast. Pull anything behind. Ect .ect. PZ Williston Fl

  13. Douglas Palmeri says:

    I have a Hallmark RV Cuchara popup truck camper which has a shower and cassette toilet and find its great for solo and couple traveling. I think all of your observations are spot on but for myself the biggest disadvantage is a potential security issue because you have to exit the camper (which only has one door) to access the vehicle. So if you have concerns over safety you would have to confront whatever the concern was outside of the camper in order to access the truck to leave the area. I carry a pistol that uses non lethal pepper filled rounds for safety to minimize security concerns.

  14. Dave Hoffmann says:

    My wife and I own an Arctic Fox 1150 truck camper. Full bath, kitchen , slide out dining area and more storage than I thought. Wife loves it, she has set it up nicely inside and we can stop anywhere when she needs to use the girls room. Not for everyone, truck rides like a lead sled when unloaded due to beefed up spring system but when loaded is a dream. Seattle to San Antonio and back this last years. Parked right in front of the Old Faithful Inn, backed out and away we went.

  15. Chris Abbot says:

    I’ve had an Alpenlite Odessa 9 for twenty-three years and have put a lot of miles on it in that time. There are many pluses to a “slide in”, but this article is (supposed to be) about the negatives. Cost, yes… you can buy a really nice TT for what you’ll have to pay for a ten foot slide in. You called out overlanding as a good use… maybe on reasonable terrain, but I’ve come way too close to tipping over on several occasions to agree (talk about a “wet seat ride”). The high center of gravity of a camper is a major detriment. (If I had it to do over, I’d go with a dually, but that really complicates the loading issue.) The height can also be a real problem in windy situations… staying in your lane can quickly degenerate into staying on the road.
    I don’t regret going with a slide in, having a “plain old truck” to use most of the time is great, as are the registration and insurance perks. Folks just need to be aware of the downsides. (Guess that applies to everything, doesn’t it??)