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Old 04-04-2021, 05:23 PM   #1
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Thinking about a truck camper

So... we've had a few travel trailers over the last ~8 years. Got one older one initially to see if we liked the lifestyle, sold it after a bit to get something newer with a slide and some other features. Later 'moved up' to a little bigger TT, with more room and amenities. Some aggravation with the general quality of new RVs aside, it's all been pretty good.

But now it seems the campgrounds around here are *always* full, and booked out months in advance. It's less of 'where do we want to go' and 'where can we actually find a spot'. As a result, we've started doing more dry camping, and have started changing some stuff around on the current TT towards that end - bigger battery bank, better charge converter, solar, etc.

Even so, we've found that there are only so many places we are comfortable dragging a ~30 ft TT around to, especially 'off road' i.e. up in the mountains. Couple run-ins with getting down to the end of a road only to find that the camping spots weren't nearly big enough... and there's no room to turn around! Not cool.

Recently we've re-visited the notion of keeping an eye out for a less expensive used TC for this kind of 'boondocking'. We're not looking at getting a new truck - currently have a '12 F250 CCSB 4x4, so that limits things considerably. Still, there are some shorter, lighter TCs out there for short bed trucks. Not wild about the notion of a pop-up, but it's not outside the realm of possibility.

At this point... what do we need to have on hand / in advance when we go to look at used units (besides $$$!) so that if we find 'the one' we can bring it home? Some sort of tie-down setup? It seems like 9 out of 10 related videos I find on YT are about Torklift and Fastguns, with the other 1 maybe being HappiJac... just not sure I want to drop a grand plus on that kind of gear right off the bat. Is the camper just going to magically fall off if I use old-school Brophy bed rail tie-downs? What about plug-in? Seems like most dedicated setups have a jack in the front of the bed... but I've seen some where they run an extension in the bed alongside the camper back to the regular one in the bumper.

I'm sure I'll have lots of other questions as things move along, but those two are kind of at the forefront right now.

Thanks!
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Old 04-04-2021, 06:18 PM   #2
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I had a couple truck campers years ago, and used a turnbuckle tripe arrangement connected to tabs that I welded to my frame between the bed and cab, and some bolt-on eyes from Truck Smart on the rear (heavy duty steel) bumper. On the second one, I got more sophisticated and bought shock absorbing turnbuckles. But still pretty cheap - probably less than $100/pair. Again, probably Truck Smart. Worked just fine and they were heavy campers.

I never wanted to attach to the bed because it just wouldn’t be strong enough, but for just getting it home, something in the stake pockets would probably be ok. Just remember that if you go over an abrupt hump, it will want to lift and you could drive out from under it. On wiring, just get a long enough flat-4 extension cable from Napa.

I miss the days of being able to take logging roads to remote lakes. I might buy a medium sized truck camper to be able to do that sort of thing again too. Also keep in mind that this time next year there will be a glut of lightly used, near new RVs of all types for sale, it will be a buyers market, and the campgrounds will look like ghost towns.

If you don’t mind, I’d like to see some examples of what you are looking at. I’m about three decades out of date on TCs.
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Old 04-04-2021, 06:38 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by memilanuk View Post
So... we've had a few travel trailers over the last ~8 years. Got one older one initially to see if we liked the lifestyle, sold it after a bit to get something newer with a slide and some other features. Later 'moved up' to a little bigger TT, with more room and amenities. Some aggravation with the general quality of new RVs aside, it's all been pretty good.

But now it seems the campgrounds around here are *always* full, and booked out months in advance. It's less of 'where do we want to go' and 'where can we actually find a spot'. As a result, we've started doing more dry camping, and have started changing some stuff around on the current TT towards that end - bigger battery bank, better charge converter, solar, etc.

Even so, we've found that there are only so many places we are comfortable dragging a ~30 ft TT around to, especially 'off road' i.e. up in the mountains. Couple run-ins with getting down to the end of a road only to find that the camping spots weren't nearly big enough... and there's no room to turn around! Not cool.

Recently we've re-visited the notion of keeping an eye out for a less expensive used TC for this kind of 'boondocking'. We're not looking at getting a new truck - currently have a '12 F250 CCSB 4x4, so that limits things considerably. Still, there are some shorter, lighter TCs out there for short bed trucks. Not wild about the notion of a pop-up, but it's not outside the realm of possibility.

At this point... what do we need to have on hand / in advance when we go to look at used units (besides $$$!) so that if we find 'the one' we can bring it home? Some sort of tie-down setup? It seems like 9 out of 10 related videos I find on YT are about Torklift and Fastguns, with the other 1 maybe being HappiJac... just not sure I want to drop a grand plus on that kind of gear right off the bat. Is the camper just going to magically fall off if I use old-school Brophy bed rail tie-downs? What about plug-in? Seems like most dedicated setups have a jack in the front of the bed... but I've seen some where they run an extension in the bed alongside the camper back to the regular one in the bumper.

I'm sure I'll have lots of other questions as things move along, but those two are kind of at the forefront right now.

Thanks!
I don't think you should limit yourself to a truck camper.

There are many small TT that can get into the backcountry.
https://forestriverinc.com/rvs/r-pod
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Old 04-04-2021, 08:02 PM   #4
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I don't think you should limit yourself to a truck camper.

Just to clarify... we haven't gotten rid of the TT we have, and don't really intend to at this point.



This is more of trying something completely different to see if we like it more - or less - than the current setup.
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Old 04-04-2021, 08:15 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by R.Wold View Post
I miss the days of being able to take logging roads to remote lakes. I might buy a medium sized truck camper to be able to do that sort of thing again too.


I'm half-tempted to take the DW on a ride up some of those roads to 'scout' some camp sites. Her back may say 'No bueno' on those forest service roads. That may end the discussion early on, and save me some trouble.



Quote:
Also keep in mind that this time next year there will be a glut of lightly used, near new RVs of all types for sale, it will be a buyers market, and the campgrounds will look like ghost towns.


We've been watching the camp grounds fill up for several years now, that's unlikely to change any time soon. Maybe all the 'like-new/lightly-used' models will end up driving the prices of the older units back down where they belong.


Quote:
If you donít mind, Iíd like to see some examples of what you are looking at. Iím about three decades out of date on TCs.

https://offerup.com/item/detail/1091356979/


https://www.facebook.com/marketplace/item/110304437731859/


These are a couple of what we're considering.
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Old 04-04-2021, 09:21 PM   #6
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Those both look good for the price, which is a good range for something you might use a couple time per year. I’d keep my coach too - just store one of these behind it for “those trips”.

I do think we’ll see some easing in the camp ground over crowding once the covid refugees go back to whatever they were doing before the big one. Might take more than a year after the herd is immune, but not much. They’ll figure out things like camp fires smell like smoke, black tanks have to be emptied, and things break even on new rigs, to name a few, and they will abandon ship.
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