1/2 Ton VS 3/4 Ton Trucks for Four Wheel Camper Hawk model?


Apologies in advance if this topic has been discussed previously.

Hoping to glean some knowledge from those using full-size trucks mounted with a FWC.

We are looking for our next "adventure rig" and are giving a 4WD truck with pop-up camper some consideration over a van build. Really like the look/reputation/features of the FWC models.

Looking at base weight for a Hawk model being 1100# plus additional gear/options, I estimate an "all-up" weight of close to 2000#. Not planning to tow anything.

So do we need to be looking at 3/4 ton trucks or are folks making 1/2 ton models work with this set-up?

Since we would buying a "new-to-us" truck, cost and fuel economy are considerations that make a 1/2 ton, gas model more appealing.

That said, we don't want to get a truck and discover it's not up to the task of carrying the camper where we would like to go (read: remote Baja beaches).




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I would opt for the 3/4 ton. Before the truck we have now the previous 3 were all 3/4. When shopping for the truck we have now, I wanted a hi-top, white, 350 small block, and 3/4 ton. Years ago the conversion van companies started using 1/2 ton chassis to cut down on costs. While shopping 3/4s were really rare or almost non existant or not having met the other requirements. We finally had to settle on a 1/2 ton. The biggest issues I have found are the brakes and suspension. I installed air lift and a Hawk HD brake system which wasnt cheap.


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brakes, suspension system components, cooling system (incl tranny cooler) components, tires, frame...

are all items you will likely wish you had better of if you opt for a 1/2 tonner :-(

your initial weight guestimation IMHO exceeds the safe working limits of a 1/2 tonner

back when i was growing up( in the dark ages ) a 1/2 ton pick up would do what you are asking BUTT the ride was quite a bit ruffer than what folks are wanting/will put up with today

you will give up some ride cush to goto a 3/4 tonner butt you and your family will be safer w/ your above listed weight IMHO

btw, i went on up to a full 1 tonner in '02(350k+) and haven't looked back ;-)



speaking from experience,the 1/2 ton will wear out prematurely.i had to rebuild my front steering/suspension twice in 10 years,among other things,especially premature brake wear.i now have a great disdain for ifs pickup trucks. for all the upgrades needed to operate safely,you may as well get the h/d truck.you get used to the stiffer ride eventually.fortunately for me my ram has the light load setting where i can air down my tires to a reasonable 45 psi without setting off all kinds of lights and warnings.


Be realistic on the amount of time the Hawk will be on the truck and how much rough back road driving you will be doing. If you hardly ever use the Hawk and hardly ever leave the pavement. I think a heavy 1/2 will be fine for you. I ran a ’04 Tundra 4x4/ Hawk shell for several years. loved it but GVW was max’d out and I found I used it in much rougher terrain than most. Always regreted not having a 3/4T.
Have you joined, Wander the West popup forum? Another very good forum is Truck Camper Adventure. IMO, a must for newbie camper owners because their members/owners have so much good advice and experience.

The camper would be on the truck most of the time. We hope to take a year off and full-time in the rig. After that, it would be primarily a dedicated camping rig.

I've checked-out Wander the West....good sight (like this one) with knowledgeable members.

Thanks for your help,



There’s only a couple grand in price difference but resale I imagine is better. Unless you’re extra sensitive to rough ride (bad back etc) I’d go 3/4 or 1 Ton.
I get about 14 mpg.


Thanks for the responses guys....seems 3/4 or 1-ton is the way to go.

My GF is saying "I told you so". I guess being from OK, she knows about big trucks.


I run a F150 and it handles the weight just fine. All I’ve added was airbags. If money was no option sure I’d do 1 ton but money is a factor. For an exclusive 1 yr trip I could argue buck up and go larger truck. Check out the owners group on Facebook. Looks of good insight on there and friendly folk who own actual truck and campers


I doubt anyone that bought a 3/4 or 1 ton truck to haul a camper has ever regretted the purchase......I know that many people that bought a 1/2 ton for the same purpose have regretted it, or spent countless dollars trying to compensate with airbags and other “fixes”.
All full size trucks are huge and expensive...might as well get one that can do the job.
Baja isn’t kind to suspension components......less kind to maxed out 1/2 ton trucks.
Wander the west is a great forum.
We sold a tundra because we couldn’t come up with a legal way to haul a FWC and other required gear.


a lot of people think getting a 1//2 ton for better gas milage is the way to go. in my experience, not true. 1/2 ton will get better MPG empty. if the camper is on full time the milage drops like a rock. ecoboost guys always bragged about milage until camper was on, then complained after. i went from a 02 tundra with hawk full camper and then upgraded trucks to 3/4 ton 6.4 gasser RAM. tundra got like 9mpg loaded, 18-20 empty. 3/4 ton ram gets about 18 empty and like 14-17 loaded. i just dropped the same camper in the RAM, zero mods to suspension initially. i eventually added air bags and cradles to level it side to side (side dinette campers are heavier on driver side)


I caught her looking at flatbed trucks today. Seems she really likes the FB models from Four Wheel.
It's the way to go man. I have an old Fleet I turned into a flatbed model to go on my old F-150, it's very spacious, like it seems ridiculous when it's just me, but very comfortable when friends join and bring dogs. Doing a 1 year trip? No question you should go that route if it's financially feasible.