Truck Campers - Anybody know something about them ?

Discussion in 'Shiny Things' started by mung, Dec 4, 2017.

  1. mung

    mung Been here awhile

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    Drive a full size pickup and pull an enclosed trailer. Usually spend 4-5 days in a row in the boonies with dirt bikes. Seems like a truck camper would add a bit of comfort to our rides. Spend 15 to 20 weekends a year doing this now and when I retire in 18 months would want to do more. What is your experience with truck campers ? Thinking of a Northstar 850SC. Two people most of the time with 3 or 4 infrequently. Any good advice ?
    #1
  2. machinebuilder

    machinebuilder Long timer

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    Look carefully at the weight of the camper and the load capacity of your truck.
    Campers tend to be very heavy and you need more truck than you realize.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk Pro
    #2
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  3. Murf2

    Murf2 Long timer

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    Nice camper! Your gonna need a heavy truck. I was looking at them but too much for my older 2500HD.

    Sent from my Z936L using Tapatalk
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  4. WIsixfitty

    WIsixfitty rock and roll the bones

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    I will eventually have a truck camper and will definitely go with a pop-up style. They go down the road much better and are lighter to boot. For most trips I'd just hang the bike off the back on the hitch hauler.

    FWC or Four Wheel Campers are the best, but you pay for them. They do hold there value and sell quick on the used market.
    http://www.fourwh.com/

    Even with a 3/4 ton I would still get air bags.
    #4
  5. Bobo413

    Bobo413 Been here awhile

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    The Northstar 850 SC is a great camper.
    What I like about them besides being well built , is that they have a toilet & shower & are fully self contained.
    Great factory support too.
    Great choice : )))
    #5
  6. Hannda

    Hannda Short, fat, bearded, old & slow

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    Maybe all that weight in the bed is the reason folks get travel trailers. I started doing the math, thinking you were crazy . . . then realized you were talking about weight in the bed, not being towed. FWIW I felt stupid.
    #6
  7. WIsixfitty

    WIsixfitty rock and roll the bones

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    The FWC Hawk, which is the 6.5 foot version that would fit my GMC extended cab short box is 1075 pounds empty, base model.
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  8. acesandeights

    acesandeights Noob

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    I also have a FWC Hawk. Great truck camper.
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  9. WIsixfitty

    WIsixfitty rock and roll the bones

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    For the record I do not have a hawk, just wish I did. :1drink
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  10. waybill

    waybill wayward

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    I've got an older Lance that's been great, it's heavy but it's also big and comfortable. I usually spend a few weeks to a month at a time in it with no regrets. It needs a 1 ton but the truck drives nice with it on there.

    [​IMG]
    #10
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  11. Jollyrogers

    Jollyrogers Long timer

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    I have a 2015 FWC Hawk in my Ram 2500. Great camper for 2, and maybe a dog, we camp with a chihuahua and take our pits, who sleep in the truck. Maybe a 3rd person, but definitely not 4. If someone is going to camp with us, I bring hammocks and tents etc for them, or take the TH. When taking the bikes, I tow a small enclosed, but usually if we are taking the FWC, it means we are going off the grid and towing a trailer is not usually good for that. I think we’ve camped in a few camp grounds, especially if we do take a bike, seems a certain one in the GWNF is a favorite when we do.

    Mine is loaded. Hot water, outdoor shower etc. I don’t have solar, but it is pre-wired. Where I camp it’s usually shady, with dual batts, I carry a 1kw honda to charge every 3rd or 4th day depending on weather. I don’t have A/C (dual high flow fans) so mountains or spring/fall is when it gets used most. My 3/4 ton doesn’t care it’s there, mileage drops to 19mpg (diesel). I wanted and looked for over a year and gave up. Impossible at the time to find on the east coast. I ended up buying a toy hauler and 8 months later, MLO became a dealer in PA. We went and looked and the build quality was great and we bought one. I had looked at other truck campers and they were either to big for the truck or cheap quality. FWC is as top notch as you are gonna get for a mainstream manufacture IMO. There are some others, northstars are pretty nice, but are heavier and have wooden frames vs the all aluminum of FWC.

    Unfortunately I still have the TH... and starting to get to the point that I need to sell one of them. We love our FWC, but would sell it and just use the TH to get close to mountains to ride.

    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
    #11
  12. oldmanb777

    oldmanb777 Just say NO to socialism!

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    I had a Hallmark at one time, it was great. The current truck had a 4Wheel popup on it when I got it. Again they are great, and better in most cases than that hardside. We sold it. The problem with truck campers, is they tend to be heavy. Top heavy also. that was the nice thing about the 4 wheel popup. (we didn't have it long). It wasn't awkwardly top heavy. But for the weight and convenience it doesn't have any room in it. They all have their short comings and compromises. But for what you describe, it might be the right fit. Just have more truck than you need, never too much truck for that. Good luck on finding the right compromise, we all try and fail. My DRZ is a compromise, and so is my WeeStrom. It's that sort of thing. If you find the right do it all compromise, let us all know, and please bottle it.:rofl The best I have seen is the enclosed utility trailer with a camper built in. Use for hauling everything, then sweep it out, put the bike in. then camp in it. The ones I have seen were really nice. Van conversion nice, with the utility of hauling drywall and such on week days.
    #12
  13. Adanac rider

    Adanac rider Oh Shit I slept in " Oh wait ... I'm retired"

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    The most important thing is truck payload . New 1 tons have a capacity of about 3500 lbs unless you go Dually . 1/2 tons are about 1500 lbs . If the weather is moderate no need for a well insulated camper . If you plan on winter camping go with an "Arctic Fox ","Bigfoot" or "Northern Lite". They weigh 2500 to 3500 Lbs .
    #13
  14. advrockrider

    advrockrider Been here awhile

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    Been looking at the pop up's myself. Rode over to FWC and ATC facilities a few weeks ago and was given the grand tour at FWC. Top notch product and the lightest on the market. The standard cab overs are very heavy and require a BIG truck as others have said. I'm not a long bed truck guy but with the camper I think it would make the camper more usable. You can find the FWC used but you need to have the cash on hand and move fast. I think this is the direction I will go in the next few years, also look at the flatbed options that are out there.
    #14
  15. Scott_PDX

    Scott_PDX Leisure Engineer

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    I had a 2001 Fleetwood Caribou for the last 10 years or so. I traded it in last year on a small 19' Toy Hauler. The TC was great when I had a boat, and if you have some toy/trailer that you want to tow, they are a great choice. They are better with just 1 person, with two, one better be sitting, sleeping or in the bathroom. I added electric jacks to it so it was easier to unload at campsites, but that was only really worth it if I was staying more than a couple of days.

    What really started bothering me are the following points:
    - Loading it on and off the truck. It wasn't bad, but nowhere as easy as just connecting a trailer and going. There is a bit of stress and finess required to get smooth doing it.
    - Crawling up in the bed sucks. You get used to it, and tell yourself it's not bad, but it gets old eventually
    - They are heavy. Event the light ones really need 3/4+ to haul one, and a bigger one really needs a dually if you do the math. Better tires such as the 19.5's I had on mine help.
    - Bathroom size, don't expect much there. Mine had a wet bath and a shower and we used the heck out it, but the dry one in the trailer is so much nicer.

    The pop-up campers are awesome and I'd love to have a four-wheel camper on a dedicated truck, but if it was a daily driver that means you have to load and unload it. Truck campers are a lot nicer than sleeping in a tent though.
    #15
  16. RVDan

    RVDan Long timer

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    I hate campers. I really do. I leave mine on the truck all year round because I hate loading and unloading them that much.

    A necessary evil. I don't see myself ever sleeping on the ground or the cab of a pickup ever again. Always on the limit of the trucks GVWR it's hard to see around, hard to back up to a trailer, and a pain in the ass to park in a city, but I haven't found a better way to camp and bring bikes and a Jeep.
    #16
  17. oldoval

    oldoval Frank Orator

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  18. mung

    mung Been here awhile

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    Thanks for all the info and advice. I drive a 15 GMC 3500 diesel long bed. The 850sc is supposedly 1750 dry so maybe 2500 wet. My trailer is a Legend aluminum that dry is 1550 and full at the most is 3000. I am well within the limits of this truck I think. I would just leave the camper on most of the time. There are some very nice campers around but the 850sc seems to be in the upper middle range of price and quality.
    #18
  19. squish

    squish Out of the office.

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    After a lot of thinking, talking and figuring out what we wanted in a camping rig

    TL/DR We ended up with a truck camper. we like it, there are some major downsides but lots of upsides as well.
    The low down, down-load of what we learned.
    But first an image of us. active middle aged folks, retirement isn't even on the horizon (not that we ever thought it would be)
    Two adults, one kid, one older 45# dog
    We like to boondock and we like to wander all over the western USA (we'd love to go further but we have jobs)
    We like to explore and loath resorts or Kampgrounds.
    We live very close to the ocean right in the city; humidity, salt air and mold are a constant issue for us, the rig will be stored at home. So a pop-up right away was shot down, due to mold if we didnt live there, a pop-up might be in the plan,

    We have a Toyota Tacoma, that we first wanted to find a camper for... until we looked into it
    Yeah, that wasn't going to happen. it's payload is like 1,100 pounds. and I alone weigh 200#,
    Basicly all the slide in TC's that we were seeing start at like 2,000# and go up quickly from there
    Most of them topping out in the mid 3,000# range (for non slide out, no AC, no Microwave rigs)

    So we resigned our selves to the idea of a full size truck and a big one at that.
    Since we were going to be going off road, departure angle was an issue, and since if I was stepping up to full size one ton,
    I wanted an 8' box. and a camper that doesn't have a big bustle hanging off the back of the rig, (I also wanted to be able to tow without a mile long extension on my receiver.

    Then it was all about how we wanted the inside set up to be, we figured we wanted to sleep 3 comfortably and 4 friendly folks (two parents, two kids) on occasion
    Finally we figured out what was close to what we wanted. Wet bath, two way fridge, sink, north south bed, dinette that can sleep a sub 6'er
    Storage, outside shower, two propane tanks, big battery space, walk on roof.

    And started looking, we ended up with a Bigfoot 1500 3 season that was on a Ford F350 4X4 with the 7.3 PS diesel and a manual tranny.
    I didn't want a diesel, they are stupid expensive to maintain, the fuel is stupid expensive to buy and the fuel economy is about 3mpg better.
    But the engines cost both cubic dollars and cubic payload, but or deal was way, way to good to pass up. and it was a pre def, 7.3 with the manual transmission, a nearly bullet proof reliable base of a truck and ready to head down south of the border for when we are ready for that.

    We love it. we hate it. I'm not a fan of the constant work it takes to maintain an RV
    I come from a product development industrial design back ground and even a "good" TC like the Bigfoot
    The quality and execution of the designs grates on the very fiber of my being.
    It's criminal how terrible these are as products. I've said this in other RV threads.
    The quality of construction makes Ikea's products look like heirloom quality.

    On to the nuts and bolts;
    We have 100W solar panel charging two 6v GC batteries,
    We have around 30 Gallon fresh water tank and 20 each for the black and grey water.
    Our bigfoot is a 3 season, however, everything is tucked up inside the rig, so it's pretty easy to go camping when it's cold. (we bring a extra heater as the furnace uses a lot of juice to maintain even a moderate temp in the camper.
    It's quiet when a storm is blowing, (we've camping in 60mph winds before) it's just comfortable enough for the three of us, but it gets kind of cramped if you are all stuck inside because of the weather. but I wouldn't want it to be any bigger or any heavier.

    What we really like
    A big fridge, a North South bed
    Outdoor shower
    Indoor WC (at first not a big need for me, but I have two woman in my life, they wanted it, they got and I really like it in the middle of a cold night)
    The two fantastic fans
    A real bed to sleep in
    The ability to take it on and of and have a truck to us when we need it
    The ability to park in reasonable sized spots. I've spent a life time of working at places where I'm driving around in panel vans and sprinters
    so parking in the nether regions of parking lots isn't that big a deal to me.

    What we don't like
    Black water dumping
    Tank level sensors that simply don't work
    Wonky ass construction of the coach
    The cost of anything that's "RV"
    storing the beast
    putting the camper back on when it's been off of the truck, that's a pain in the ass.
    How much these things weigh.
    We have to watch our weight like we are back packing. everything we add we pay attention to it's weight
    There is always something to do to the camper. It never ends, and it's a hobby unto itself.
    Diesel, that fuel is stinky, owners of diesel trucks... well they are their own breed that's for sure.
    The amortization, to get the cost down per night, down to where we should have just given up on the RV and stayed in four star resorts
    It's like something on the order of 600 nights in the camper, that's a lot of nights.
    It's very easy to have these things cost like $400 a night if you don't use them often.

    What would I do differently,
    Well we were kind of blessed with this set up, the price was outrageously good and that off set some of the short comings
    So yes I'd do it again.
    If I wouldn't have stumbled on this set up.
    I'd most likely only get a gasser 1-ton truck with a locking rear diff and call that good. 4x4 is overkill and adds a bunch of weight I need for other things. and your not going to go wheeling a 22' foot long, 9' wide, 10' tall truck camper.

    We have kept the taco and it has a shell and will be used for exploring more rough roads closer to home and the camper for bigger trips.

    We think about full timing out of the camper, but we'd have to pull a trailer behind just to make it livable for being on the road full time.
    #19
  20. Maggot12

    Maggot12 U'mmmm yeaah!!

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    If you put the construction and quality of Bigfoot in question, if you owned one of the many other brands, your post would certainly be a lot different.

    Thanks for sharing your experience.
    #20
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