One of the smallest and most mobile options of all recreational vehicles is the Pickup Camper.
What is a Pickup Camper?
A Pickup Camper, also known as a “Truck Camper” is a type of recreational vehicle that is carried in the bed of a pickup truck.
Depending on the style and model of camper, pickup campers are available with slide outs which greatly increase their space and amenities.
Advantages of a Pickup Camper:
One of the biggest benefits of this type of camper is that it can go anywhere a truck can go. It rides in the bed of the truck, so it doesn’t require special parking spaces, or altered driving habits, and can be taken off-road as long as the truck is able.
2. Modern amenities
Despite it’s small size, truck campers offer kitchens, beds and in most models, even bathrooms. This brings all the comforts of home with you, wherever you want to go. All in the back of your pickup truck.
3. Options for more space
Some models of pickup RV campers even offer slide outs which greatly increases the amount of living space inside the camper.
4. Truck hitch remains available
Because this camper sits in the bed of your truck, the ball hitch on the truck remains open for towing other things such as a boat.
5. Save money on insurance
Most states don’t require separate RV insurance for a truck camper, because it’s considered part of your truck. It only needs to be added onto your truck’s policy.
States may vary in their specific rules pertaining to this though, so make sure to check with your specific state.
Disadvantages of a Pickup RV Camper:
1. Small size
Regardless of the model, pickup campers are among the smallest of the RV options.
If you’re looking for space to sleep a lot of people or plan to stay in your camper for extended periods of time, you might want to look into other options like a small travel trailer.
2. Limited amenities
In some models and styles, the available amenities might be limited. Some pickup campers don’t have toilets or showers because of the limited space.
As is often the case with pop up campers, a portable toilet is a commonly used solution if a bathroom is not available in the camper.
3. Soft Sided Pop Up style lets the weather in
There are pickup campers that combine the Pop Up soft-side style with a traditional truck camper, meaning the top roof of the pickup camper raises up to give the camper more height and the walls are usually made of canvas up at the top.
This is a good thing for increasing interior space, but the soft sides of the pickup camper can be a disadvantage if you’re trying to camp in cold or very hot weather. It can let the weather in and make camping less comfortable.
Requirements for Pickup Campers:
One thing to keep in mind when choosing a pickup camper is how much your truck can carry or tow.
Trucks have a GVWR or a gross vehicle weight rating – this is the maximum amount of weight the truck can carry, as specified by the manufacturer.
That means that your truck’s weight plus the camper’s weight can’t exceed your truck’s specific GVWR.
Make sure to refer to your truck’s information as well as the camper you are considering in order to determine if your truck is able to carry the weight of the camper.
Styles of Pickup Campers:
There are lots of variations among the different brands, models and styles of pickup campers.
The first is the type of sides that the camper has: Soft-Sided or Hard Sided
Pickup Campers are available in Soft-Sided styles list this:
Or in Hard Sided styles like this:
Typically, the soft sided models have a lower price tag, but in return can limit the climates that you are able to camp comfortably in.
Another variable in the styles is the length. Depending on the type of truck and the length of the truck bed, there are campers made for short bed trucks, campers made specifically for trucks with long beds, and everything in between.
The height of the ceiling in the pickup campers varies depending on the model as do the amenities inside. Slide outs are available in some models which dramatically increase the living space inside the camper.
[The Hard Side Max models on the right in the graphic below show the slide out options.]
Pickup campers are widely loved by outdoor enthusiasts for use during hunting trips and backcountry camping trips. They love the versatility; the ability to take the comforts of home anywhere their truck can take them.
Thanks to the many benefits such as the small size which allows for easy storage, usually not requiring separate RV insurance, and the modern models offering high end amenities including slide outs for added space, pickup campers are becoming more popular with a wider audience, including casual campers and people looking for a cross-country alternative to hotel rooms or tents.