Pop top truck campers -
fuel economy, versatility and comfort
Pop top truck campers offer fuel economy, versatility, comfort and lots more for people who already own a truck and for people who want to go off-road or tow a boat.
One of the key benefits of pop top truck campers is that they can be taken almost anywhere:
- on the beach
- down a track that is suitable only for goats and four-wheel drive vehicles
- along the highway without using vast amounts of fuel
- into tight spots, including crowded campgrounds and ordinary parking spaces
- right to the door of attractions such as museums, whereas a larger RV might have to park a long way away
- down switchback mountain tracks with little room to maneuver
- through quite deep river crossings, because the camper door is usually high off the ground and above the water line
- and almost anywhere else except where the clearance is very low, but even then they can go to places that non-pop top truck campers can't go
Pop top truck campers save lots of money
There are lots of savings with truck campers generally including:
- There are no registration or license fees for truck campers in most states and provinces
- There is no running gear, such as wheels, tires, brakes and all the other things that can go wrong
- Servicing is easy because it’s pretty easy to find a truck dealer and if there isn't a suitable one, you probably don't need a special place to service it, almost any service center can handle the truck. Plus you don't have to pay for accommodation if your RV is in for more than one day, because you have left the camper parked in a campground so you have somewhere to stay while your truck is being serviced
- It is so easy to boondock or free camp almost anywhere almost any time. This is because truck campers:
- can go pretty well anywhere, allowing you to get to unspoiled places and often have them all to yourselves
- can fit into very small spaces and so can tuck away well out of sight in camping areas and this can lead to lower fees in some campgrounds, particularly in national parks and the like
- can easily be made self-contained and thus avoid the need for power, water and sewerage hookups and the extra costs that go with them
- There is little maintenance because almost everything in modern pop top truck campers is maintenance free or low maintenance
- Many owners already have the truck for work or recreation and only need to add a relatively cheap RV to complete the picture.
Having your truck camper as a poptop brings some further advantages over hard-sided truck campers, including:
- Lower wind resistance and thus less drag and thus better fuel consumption
- Lighter weight reduces fuel consumption and can mean that you can get away with a smaller truck, saving on purchase price
- Reduced overall height usually translates to a lower center of gravity and thus a more stable vehicle which allows you to travel at a more economical speed safely. This more economical speed is probably also faster and saves time in getting to your destination.
Because there is no running gear, pop top truck campers are often quite cheap to buy.
You can split your truck and camper into two separate pieces if you are staying a few days in one location. This allows you to explore the area in your truck and leave your camper behind to mind your spot and be there ready for when you come back at the end of the day.
Because your truck has just reverted to being just a truck, not towing or carrying the camper part as it would be if you had a motorhome or a vehicle and trailer, it is easier and more nimble and can get you places quickly, easily and efficiently.
It is very quick to make a roadside cuppa or a meal because all you need do is:
- unclip the roof catches
- flip the steps down
- open the door
- pop the top up - and you may not even need to do this, depending on your height and the height of your camper
- make the required drink or meal
- and enjoy it.
Setting up pop top truck campers for overnight stays requires no more, except that you do have to pop the top, because you won't be able to sleep in it unless your bed is in the part that sits on the truck bed, rather than in the overhang.
Truck campers are often small enough to store on your property. If your property is too small for even a truck camper, the smaller size will usually mean you pay less at a storage lot.
You can park it in your driveway or your family's driveway as an extra room. If you go to visit your parents, siblings or kids, you have somewhere to stay without having to be in the house. If you have guests come to stay at your place, some can stay in the truck camper in your driveway. This gives you freedom, saves money and allows for more separation which usually makes staying with family more pleasant.
Save on depreciation: all RVs depreciate and many of them depreciate a lot, particularly in the first year. Many owners have found that truck campers hold their value better. Part of it is because a truck camper has no odometer, so its depreciation is related to condition and age more than to the number of miles or kilometers it has traveled. In contrast, motorhomes often lose resale value for every digit added to the odometer as well as condition and age.
Save when you upgrade your RV: Because the truck and the camper are separate units, you can upgrade your camper without needing to change your truck. Or you can upgrade your truck without needing to change your camper.
Or you can upgrade both at once. This allows you to upgrade at a rate you can afford or upgrade only the bits that need to be upgraded.
For example, you might start out looking at used pop top truck campers to see whether you like the idea of RVing or to see whether you like having a truck camper as your RV. Then, having bought your truck camper and used it for a while, you might decide that you like RVing and you like doing so in a truck camper.
At this point, you might decide to steadily upgrade to exactly the unit you want by trading in your camper on the better model that fits the truck and will fit the later truck that you plan to have a few years down the track.
Or you could keep that camper and buy a truck that can carry it and that can carry the camper that you want to have eventually.
Or you might decide that although you like RVing, you would prefer a fifth wheel trailer, a travel trailer, a camper trailer, a tent trailer or a pop-up trailer. If so, you could sell the camper, keep the truck and buy whatever you decided to go with next.
You can pretty much have it all with pop top truck campers, because they allow you to have:
- an all-in-one vehicle and camper
- a camper that can stay in your camp and keep your place while freeing you to explore in your truck
- all your toys with you because you can tow a boat, a horse trailer, your ATV or motorbike, snowmobiles, a runabout or any other toys that you just must have when you camp.
- the ultimate in maneuverability, particularly if you have a four-wheel drive truck that can take you down the beach to the best fishing spots or right out into the boonies where you can commune with nature without other people crowding you out. Imagine being able to camp on the beach far from anyone else and able to fish from early in the morning until late at night with a place to keep warm or cool and to cook your fish. And there's no competition for the best spot!
Not all campers mounted on the back of a truck fit the description "truck camper". In many states and provinces, a camper that is permanently mounted to the frame of a truck is not a truck camper, but a motorhome.
What usually decides whether it is a motorhome or truck camper (and it varies from place to place) is:
- when the truck and camper are connected by some sort of walkway or crawl through and/or
- when the camper is permanently attached to the frame rather than sitting in the tub part of the style side or pick up or utility truck or is sitting on the bed of a flatbed truck.
Modern truck campers often have most of the facilities found in larger and more expensive RVs including:
- refrigerator and freezer
- stove with burners, griller and sometimes an oven
- heater or furnace powered by diesel, LPG and some even by wood
- microwave oven
- dining table and seats
- office area
- air conditioning
- panoramic windows around the lounging or dining area
- slide outs or slides which are sections of exterior wall that can be pushed or otherwise moved out to make the interior larger
- and pretty much anything else that can be fitted to any form of RV to make it more comfortable, practical or luxurious.
Despite being called "slide ons" by some people, truck campers are usually gently lowered in and gently raised off the truck by four corner jacks.
These jacks allow the camper to be taken from the truck and once the truck has been driven out from under it, the camper can be lowered to an appropriate height for easy entry or to match up with a deck if you are using it as an extra room.
To put the camper back on the truck:
- use the jacks to raise it to the right height
- align the truck carefully and reverse it under the camper
- once in position, lower the camper using the jacks
- attach with chains, spring-loaded tiedowns or other clamps that hold the camper in place
- retract the jacks fully
- check that everything is ready to roll
- drive away your chosen camping spot
When you're looking at pop top truck campers, there's a fairly good chance that you'll know when you've found the right one, because sitting in it will bring home to you just how right it feels and you'll be able to see that it will be perfect for what you want to use it for.