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Old 08-26-2008, 11:49 AM   #1
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I have just retired, and while my wife and I have camped a great deal with an old Volkswagen and then a pop up tent trailer we are now thinking of getting a slide in and a new truck.

When we travel there will be just the two of us, except for maybe an occasional guest or two who could easily stay in a motel at night.

We live in the south and we do already spend time camping where no hookups are available, and as such, a generator and GOOD air conditioner are going to be needed. (We have found we can always sleep when it is cold but not hot!)

We are planning a lot of short trips, then, next year, a several month trip to Alaska starting in Texas and going by way of Maine. We also love to drive on small back roads and plan to avoid expressways much as possible.

We have found we usually spend almost all our time out of doors when camping, and we plan to use the slide in for sleeping and the occasional bad weather day when we don't want to move on and we can't find a museum or something else to do.

Our goal is to spend a night or two at a given location then drive 1 or 200 hundred miles the next day on our trip. We do not plan on any extended stays.

Right now a hard sided "pop up" set in a 3/4 ton dual wheel truck seems to be what we are looking for BUT we are new at all this and VERY open to suggestions.

Living in Texas it is hard to find dealers with units to look at and while we have seen lots of class C's and B's we have not found anything like we are thinking of getting.

As such all of our information has come from the internet.

ANY and ALL advise on both the unit and the truck would be appreciated. (We have had Yukons and Suburbans in the past, but never a pick up.)

Thanks in advance. After reading a lot of these posts I do think I am asking the right people for help!
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Old 08-26-2008, 11:49 AM   #2
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I have just retired, and while my wife and I have camped a great deal with an old Volkswagen and then a pop up tent trailer we are now thinking of getting a slide in and a new truck.

When we travel there will be just the two of us, except for maybe an occasional guest or two who could easily stay in a motel at night.

We live in the south and we do already spend time camping where no hookups are available, and as such, a generator and GOOD air conditioner are going to be needed. (We have found we can always sleep when it is cold but not hot!)

We are planning a lot of short trips, then, next year, a several month trip to Alaska starting in Texas and going by way of Maine. We also love to drive on small back roads and plan to avoid expressways much as possible.

We have found we usually spend almost all our time out of doors when camping, and we plan to use the slide in for sleeping and the occasional bad weather day when we don't want to move on and we can't find a museum or something else to do.

Our goal is to spend a night or two at a given location then drive 1 or 200 hundred miles the next day on our trip. We do not plan on any extended stays.

Right now a hard sided "pop up" set in a 3/4 ton dual wheel truck seems to be what we are looking for BUT we are new at all this and VERY open to suggestions.

Living in Texas it is hard to find dealers with units to look at and while we have seen lots of class C's and B's we have not found anything like we are thinking of getting.

As such all of our information has come from the internet.

ANY and ALL advise on both the unit and the truck would be appreciated. (We have had Yukons and Suburbans in the past, but never a pick up.)

Thanks in advance. After reading a lot of these posts I do think I am asking the right people for help!
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Old 08-26-2008, 01:47 PM   #3
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by Richard Merriman:
Right now a hard sided "pop up" set in a 3/4 ton dual wheel truck seems to be what we are looking for BUT we are new at all this and VERY open to suggestions. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>
First, you will not find a 3/4-ton truck with dual rear wheels unless a previous owner has added them after-market.

What kind of camper you get depends a great deal on what kind of truck you get...a 3/4-ton truck will limit you to the smaller, lighter, campers such as the hard sided popups you're currently looking at. Some of the smaller Northern Lites would be suitable for a 3/4-ton true, and Host makes two small campers that would also be suitable for a 3/4-ton truck...for anything larger and heavier, I'd recommend at least a 1-ton dual rear wheel truck.

Since you don't already have the truck, you might find the camper you like first and then buy the truck that will safely haul it.
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Old 08-26-2008, 06:52 PM   #4
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For extended travel the only pop ups that I would recommend would be Outfitter and hallmark.

Each offers shower and pottie options as well as the necessary air conditioning. We carry a Honda EU2000 generator which will handle any power requirements when we are boondocking.

Try www.outfittermfg.com

Good luck with your decision.
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Old 08-27-2008, 08:12 PM   #5
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As has been mentioned there is no such thing as a 3/4 ton dually. For the type of camper you are leaning towards you wouldn't need the dually anyways. A 1ton single rear wheel (SRW) truck would work fine and allow you to have a more pleasant drive on those smaller secondary roads. Ford and Dodge offer higher payload capacity along with a stronger suspension which would be better able to handle the rough Alaskan roads. GM trucks offer a smoother ride with the IFS but would be more susceptible to road damage and also have less payload capacity.

I would suggest a 4x4 truck as that would give you the most options for exploring off the beaten path.

A diesel engine will give the best power/mpg but has a higher initial cost. A gasser will lose 3% of its power for every 1000' of elevation gain. Something to consider if mountain travel is in the plans.

There are AFAIK only two hardside pop-up TCs on the market, the Alaskan and the Chalet. Neither comes equipped with a full bathroom. Though I understand that for enough money Alaskan will add one and supposedly Chalet has a new model with one coming out.

The Alaskan is a VERY well built camper but is also very spartan, especially considering its cost. Unless you get the cabover model they are also pretty cramped inside. The cabover brings other issues with it though. That being that the way it works allows for the cabover sidewall area to be open to the elements during raising/lowering the top until the side panels are manually raised into place. This becomes a problem during times of rain, snow, blowing dust, etc. The side panels also fold down into contact with the bed and allow anything on them to be deposited directly onto the bedding.

The Chalet I looked at really wasn't designed-for or up-to-the-task-of supporting an extended camping trip. The tanks were tiny and storage was almost non-existent. You also can't run the fridge while the top is lowered for travel since the wall then blocks the fridge vents.

Will your trip consist of going campground-to-campground or will it be dry-camping with out hookups? If the former the tank size isn't really important but your overall camping cost will be higher due to fees. If the later then you will save on camping fees but you will want a camper with the largest capacities (fresh water, waste, LP, battery) you can find.

You might want to look at some of the better equipped softwall pop-up TC's such as the already mentioned Outfitter or for a little lower budget the Northstar. These have ALL the amenities of much larger (non pop-up) hardside TC's while providing a more relaxing driving experience due to their lower over all height, weight and COG.

We do almost exclusively boondocking type camping with our rig and it would be perfect for what you intend to do. It offers the largest tank capacities of any pop-up (hard or soft walled) and larger then even most comparably sized hardwall TCs.

The built in generators are noisy, expensive and suck LP at a high rate. A better bet would be to pick up a Honda 2000i. A TC can get by with a smaller A/C unit and in fact the larger 13500BTU units common on larger RVs and even some TCs won't function properly since the cooling capacity isn't well matched to the TC's smaller interior volume. A 9000BTU unit such as the Polar Cub is perfect for a TC and runs easily off the Honda. Even out here in the desert (100+ degree temps) the Polar Cub keeps our softwall TC plenty cool.

Feel free to ask any questions you come up with.
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Old 08-28-2008, 10:19 AM   #6
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I can not begin to tell you how much help your answers have been. I also realize some of the questions I am asking are much like asking someone "what should I eat", but again, we are new at this.

My wife and I camped and lived in a VW van for four months when I got out of the Navy (but that was 30 years ago) and had a ball. Being cramped is something we can live with, and with our tent trailer we found we almost always spent most of our time outside anyway. We are not above getting a motel if the weather is horrid.

We do indeed plan to "boondock" most of the time. Our goal is to have no goals. We plan to spend one or two nights in a given spot, then drive 100 or so miles the next day "smelling the roses" as we go. (Unless the fish are really biting!)

I think I have read most of the previous posts, I have spent days doing so, and I have learned a great deal (and become confused as well. I just found out the difference between a wet and dry bath)! We would be happy for a wet one to save space for other things like storage.

I have had a 4x4 for hunting for years, in 8 years I used the 4 wheel drive all of 7 times and I still got stuck 3 of those times. Would it really make that much difference on a camper? Also it seems like everyone feels dual wheels makes the drive easier. Since we plan to do A LOT of driving, even if it is overkill, would duals still help?

Here in Dallas it is hard to find campers to look at. We have started and seen only one line which did not impress us. By the same token, we have ruled out Class C as all too big (wide) for our needs and a B seems too limited for other things I want to do with it. (Hunt, etc.)

There is another RV show in September which we plan to attend, but if it is like the one we just went to in Ft Worth, I don't expect to see ANY campers. I'm not sure why!

I am VERY happy to hear that a soft side popup can be cooled in Arizona, this was one of our major worries.

(Even if it was from a Marine. As a former Navy Doc, I just had to put that in. By the same token, when the *** hits the fan, I will be running, looking for Marines! Thanks SO MUCH for your service!)
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Old 08-28-2008, 04:01 PM   #7
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Having owned a 11 1/2' cabover camper on a 1 ton dually. IMHO, the biggest issue with truck campers is overloading the truck. Most campers are much heavier than claimed by the manufacturer and dealer. Our Lance was close to 700 lbs heavier than the sticker on the camper indicated. When we added our gear, water, fuel, etc and we were about 1200 lbs over the GVWR of the truck. I would not drive a large camper without dual rear wheels for stability. They do sway when you drive and they get blown about when you pass semis. The other issue with the weight is the service brakes are inadequate. Since I had a diesel, I added an exhaust brake to help stop the load. I had a 2X4 and never needed all wheel drive. The truck would have been 6" taller if I had a 4X4. This would have created more sway when I drove. When running, the air conditioner was so loud I could not sleep with it on. As far as width of the rig is concerned, my camper was 8' wide and my class A is 8.5' wide. Really not much difference.

If at all possible, try to spend some time in a camper before you purchase. If you can, try to drive one that is equipped the way you want. You should be able to find some used ones that are similar. Check out the available storage for a long trip. You may have to place chairs, portable generators, etc. on the floor of the camper while traveling. If you stop for lunch, you will have to deal with extra stuff. Also, the truck manufactures have a sticker that indicates the maximum camper load and center of gravity.

Good luck on you final decision!
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Old 08-28-2008, 04:09 PM   #8
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As Steve mentioned, we have camped and been comfortable in 113 degree weather in Arizona as well as 9 degrees in Colorado.

Virtually all of our truck camper camping with the Outfitter Apex-8 is boondocking. We have unloaded at the camp site many times especially when hunting in Colorado in October.

Even though it is seldom used, a 4X4 is a requirement for me.
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Old 08-28-2008, 04:50 PM   #9
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Why 4x4 comes in handy.

I hit this patch of soft sand unexpectedly and ended up down to the axles. After lowering tire pressure and digging out in front of the tires we slipped it into 4WD and simply drove out. This was approx 40 miles from ANYTHING in Baja with NO cell coverage.
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Old 08-28-2008, 08:11 PM   #10
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">We do indeed plan to "boondock" most of the time. Our goal is to have no goals. We plan to spend one or two nights in a given spot, then drive 100 or so miles the next day "smelling the roses" as we go. (Unless the fish are really biting!) </div></BLOCKQUOTE>You will also want to consider a solar system as well then, though not necessarily a large one since the every other day driving will tend to keep your batteries topped up.
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">I think I have read most of the previous posts, I have spent days doing so, and I have learned a great deal (and become confused as well. I just found out the difference between a wet and dry bath)! We would be happy for a wet one to save space for other things like storage. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>You will not find ANY pop-up TC with a dry bath. They ALL have wetbath's if they have one at all.

For even more camper info, head over to the Truck Camper Forum at RV.net.
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">I have had a 4x4 for hunting for years, in 8 years I used the 4 wheel drive all of 7 times and I still got stuck 3 of those times. Would it really make that much difference on a camper? Also it seems like everyone feels dual wheels makes the drive easier. Since we plan to do A LOT of driving, even if it is overkill, would duals still help? </div></BLOCKQUOTE>Even if 4WD only saves you once it can be well worth the money. For example my Baja stuck could have resulted in at least a days delay (probably more) trying to walk out to locate a local that could extract my vehicle. In the US an off-road tow (pretty much any time the tow operator gets off pavement) can run $500 easy and can go up from there depending on circumstances.

Duals are WAY overkill for the type of camper you are contemplating and your Class C width objections would apply to it as well. Unless you decide to switch to one of the larger hardside campers you can safely pass on the dually.
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">There is another RV show in September which we plan to attend, but if it is like the one we just went to in Ft Worth, I don't expect to see ANY campers. I'm not sure why! </div></BLOCKQUOTE>TC's are a specialized breed of RV that fills a small niche and as such tend to be under represented at RV Shows. Also there is the tendency of RV people to think of them as low class.
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">I am VERY happy to hear that a soft side popup can be cooled in Arizona, this was one of our major worries. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>Just to be clear, I am in the desert in Southern California but the A/C will work just as well in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, etc.. Also I only state that my camper can be cooled, as I have no experience with pop-ups that have a different softwall material or construction.<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Thanks SO MUCH for your service!) </div></BLOCKQUOTE>Thanks for yours as well. Every Marine holds the Doc in high regard. After all when the bullets start flying and we are hitting the deck, it's the Doc who is up and running to aid the wounded.
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Old 09-06-2008, 05:25 PM   #11
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I don't belong to the weight police force, but if you go by the yellow payload decal on the inside of the door jam, just about every truck camper would over load a 3/4 ton PU. IMHO, avoid potential problems and get a one ton truck!
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Old 09-21-2008, 01:08 PM   #12
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by realter:
I don't belong to the weight police force, but if you go by the yellow payload decal on the inside of the door jam, just about every truck camper would over load a 3/4 ton PU. IMHO, avoid potential problems and get a one ton truck! </div></BLOCKQUOTE>This is a VERY valid point.

For the slight price increase (usually less then $1K) a 1ton SRW is the way to go IMO. The ride won't be noticeably different and the payload (at least on the Fords) is appreciably higher. The only downside is that some States have much higher registration fees for a 1ton and some HOAs won't let you park one in your driveway.
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Old 11-03-2008, 03:36 PM   #13
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by Richard Merriman:

We are planning a lot of short trips, then, next year, a several month trip to Alaska starting in Texas and going by way of Maine. We also love to drive on small back roads and plan to avoid expressways much as possible.


Keep me posted on this trip. sounds awsome, Very similar to what the wife and would love to do. She retired back in Feb. Been to Maine several times. You'll love it. Maybe we could tag along if everything works out for us.
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