Advice Picking out Truck/Camper Combo

::Squish::

Observer
We too had a tacoma and were looking to upgrade.
we were on a budget. We ended up with a one owner F350 SRW diesel and bigfoot 1500 camper.
the truck is close to its payload limit with the Bigfoot and our bigfoot doesn’t have AC or an oven.
our truck is a 2000 7.3 so it’s pre DEF but it’s also dirty and stinks, I hate the smell of both unburned and burned diesel fuel.

While I am happy with the rig we got, and the deal we got it for, if I was to pick out my ideal truck it would not be a diesel especially a post DEF emissions diesel

I am also happy I don’t have a DRW. I don’t want one and I don’t miss it. My dad has the DRW version gas engine version of my truck and while the greater payload would be awesome the wider track and bigger cost put me off of them.

My recommendation; shop the camper first, find out what size you want then shop the truck to have greater payload then the camper plus fuel food water and people and stuff.
most truck camper combos you see are way over weight. Like thousands of pounds over weight.

For camper brands, I like;
bigfoot
northern lite
alaska campers

Our next camper might be an Alaska I like the idea of a pop up but we live on the coast and humidity and mold is a big issue and a fabric pop up would be moldy in about a month

Our 21 year old Bigfoot is starting to show its age, but everything works, it still is water tight. And it held its value pretty well.
our truck is showing it’s age as well eventhough it’s low mileage there’s rust on the body that’s going to cost us some cash to make right and it’s at the time in its life where it needs a lot of little things to keep running, but it was a fraction of the cost of a newer truck so I don’t mind.
 
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Mundo4x4Casa

West slope, N. Ser. Nev.
Jax, as always, get the least amount of camper that you can live with, and the most amount of truck you will happy in the long run to live with. Why? Most people overload their 2 and 3 series pickups. You don't have to live that dangerously hoping for serendipity.
We have owned a 1998 Lance Lite 165-s, the lightest, least tall, narrowest self contained hardside camper of the era. We simple ran the wheels off the thing.
Jeanie and I are some of the few that have owned both a legendary built 2001 High Output Cummins TD, 6 speed manual, and now a 2020 Ford F-350 soon to become legendary, 7.3L gasser/10 speed automatic.

When we were camper shopping to find a replacement for the Lance, the focus continually moved toward some kind of Northstar hardside.
Again why? We had 18 years of experience with the Lance and loved that rig, so had a pretty good list of wants, must-haves, and don't wants.
The one caveat is that we are 3-season campers. We don't do summer.

2020 Northstar Laredo Self Contained truck camper
no microwave oven
no air conditioner
no TV (but wired for cable interface)
no steps
no rear bumper
no awnings
no window in entry door
no basement
dry base weight: 2,090 pounds

The YES list:
84 inches wide.
North-South bed
an incredible amount of usable storage space
electric jacks with 3 inch front extender brackets, and only on to remove the camper which drops 200 pounds.
2 propane tanks
2 group 31 AGM batteries protected under the dinette
41 gallon fresh water tank protected under the step to the bed
13 gallon gray water tank
Thetford C402C cassette toilet:
(5 gallon black water capacity; 4 gallon fresh flush water)
indoor and outdoor shower
pull out grab handle
Lagun swivel table
memory foam mattress
Dometic 12v compressor fridge
sub zero insulation package
Rain hooded Fantastic Fan
standard crank vent over the gallery area
Snap cover for exit vent with insulation
EuroView dual pane insulated blackout windows, all 4
320 watts solar (2x-160w) with MPPT charge controller
Dometic furnace
Dometic 2-burner range top with hinged glass top and iron grate Suburban SW4D water heater
Glass top SS sink with a lot of nesting tubs, drying racks, and parts for more counter space.
Floor length: 8 feet 6 inches.
interior height: 6 feet 4 inches to clear
exterior width: 7 feet
entry door width: 26 inches
Little Giant 4-step entry stairs with the hoop removed
very stable and retains the correct tread depth into the camper

2020 Ford F-350 XLT FX4 4WD SRW SB SC 7.3L Godzilla Gas V-8 (430HP; 475TQ) TorqShift 10 speed 10R140 auto trans, 397 amps dual Alt, dual batts, frnt Ford/Dana 60; rear Dana M275 E-locker 4.30's 4125# payload, 7243# curb wt. 11,300# GVWR 5-er prepped for 26K pound GCWR.

The loaded weight of the camper is around 3000 pounds, near a thousand pounds under the payload capacity and GVWR.
The loaded weight (GVW) of the truck and camper was just over 10K pounds.

The MPG difference between my Cummins HO and the 7.3 gasser is about 1 mpg.
The 7.3 has almost twice the HP; 245 for the Cummins and 430 HP for the Ford. The TQ difference is 505 pound feet for the Cummins compared to 475 TQ for the Ford. The real winner here is that the TQ of the Ford goes down to 1500 RPM with only a marginal fall off. The Cummins pulls all the way down to idle.
This is a big change for a Ford gas engine, and one that has really no competition. No other gas V-8 can claim that range.

The final comparo is that of a Ford 6.7L diesel from Ford 6.7 owners:
It boils down to emissions:
Ford diesel fuel emissions systems woes:

OCC
DPF
SCR
DEF
DEF TANK AND PUMP
BOSCH CP4.2
EGR
HPFP
LIMP MODE
ACTIVE AND PASSIVE REGEN
WIF
ECS
ADDITIVES
MAINTENANCE

And what are the woes with the new Ford 7.3L gasser?





.......cricket......cricket.......Crickets.





It gets slightly less mpg when pulling up to a 15K pound load uphill.

But gas costs less; a lot less than diesel in some states

It doesn't have that testosterone raising rush of power you get with the 6.7L Ford diesel.

I'll be doing a comprehensive comparo between GAS and DIESEL engines for truck campers on Truck Camper Adventure.
jefethumb_Ford and badwater elevation sign_1024.jpg
 
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RAM5500 CAMPERTHING

OG Portal Member #183
Congrats for doing research and asking questions before throwing money into the trash like many!

My .02 is find the camper first that best suits your needs and that you, and buy/build truck accordingly.

When doing this, look closely at trucks rated weight and do the math to give yourself some buffer.

Don't buy the smallest truck that will hold the camper. You see a TON of trucks for sale where people are upgrading to bigger. You almost never see trucks for sale where people are going smaller.

Gas vs Diesel is a never ending debate that I don't care to jump into, and both have pros and cons.
 

jaxyaks

Adventurer
Jax, as always, get the least amount of camper that you can live with, and the most amount of truck you will happy in the long run to live with. Why? Most people overload their 2 and 3 series pickups. You don't have to live that dangerously hoping for serendipity.
We have owned a 1998 Lance Lite 165-s, the lightest, least tall, narrowest self contained hardside camper of the era. We simple ran the wheels off the thing.
Jeanie and I are some of the few that have owned both a legendary built 2001 High Output Cummins TD, 6 speed manual, and now a 2020 Ford F-350 soon to become legendary, 7.3L gasser/10 speed automatic.

When we were camper shopping to find a replacement for the Lance, the focus continually moved toward some kind of Northstar hardside.
Again why? We had 18 years of experience with the Lance and loved that rig, so had a pretty good list of wants, must-haves, and don't wants.
The one caveat is that we are 3-season campers. We don't do summer.

2020 Northstar Laredo Self Contained truck camper
no microwave oven
no air conditioner
no TV (but wired for cable interface)
no steps
no rear bumper
no awnings
no window in entry door
no basement
dry base weight: 2,090 pounds

The YES list:
84 inches wide.
North-South bed
an incredible amount of usable storage space
electric jacks with 3 inch front extender brackets, and only on to remove the camper which drops 200 pounds.
2 propane tanks
2 group 31 AGM batteries protected under the dinette
41 gallon fresh water tank protected under the step to the bed
13 gallon gray water tank
Thetford C402C cassette toilet:
(5 gallon black water capacity; 4 gallon fresh flush water)
indoor and outdoor shower
pull out grab handle
Lagun swivel table
memory foam mattress
Dometic 12v compressor fridge
sub zero insulation package
Rain hooded Fantastic Fan
standard crank vent over the gallery area
Snap cover for exit vent with insulation
EuroView dual pane insulated blackout windows, all 4
320 watts solar (2x-160w) with MPPT charge controller
Dometic furnace
Dometic 2-burner range top with hinged glass top and iron grate Suburban SW4D water heater
Glass top SS sink with a lot of nesting tubs, drying racks, and parts for more counter space.
Floor length: 8 feet 6 inches.
interior height: 6 feet 4 inches to clear
exterior width: 7 feet
entry door width: 26 inches
Little Giant 4-step entry stairs with the hoop removed
very stable and retains the correct tread depth into the camper

2020 Ford F-350 XLT FX4 4WD SRW SB SC 7.3L Godzilla Gas V-8 (430HP; 475TQ) TorqShift 10 speed 10R140 auto trans, 397 amps dual Alt, dual batts, frnt Ford/Dana 60; rear Dana M275 E-locker 4.30's 4125# payload, 7243# curb wt. 11,300# GVWR 5-er prepped for 26K pound GCWR.

The loaded weight of the camper is around 3000 pounds, near a thousand pounds under the payload capacity and GVWR.
The loaded weight (GVW) of the truck and camper was just over 10K pounds.

The MPG difference between my Cummins HO and the 7.3 gasser is about 1 mpg.
The 7.3 has almost twice the HP; 245 for the Cummins and 430 HP for the Ford. The TQ difference is 505 pound feet for the Cummins compared to 475 TQ for the Ford. The real winner here is that the TQ of the Ford goes down to 1500 RPM with only a marginal fall off. The Cummins pulls all the way down to idle.
This is a big change for a Ford gas engine, and one that has really no competition. No other gas V-8 can claim that range.

The final comparo is that of a Ford 6.7L diesel from Ford 6.7 owners:
It boils down to emissions:
Ford diesel fuel emissions systems woes:

OCC
DPF
SCR
DEF
DEF TANK AND PUMP
BOSCH CP4.2
EGR
HPFP
LIMP MODE
ACTIVE AND PASSIVE REGEN
WIF
ECS
ADDITIVES
MAINTENANCE

And what are the woes with the new Ford 7.3L gasser?





.......cricket......cricket.......Crickets.





It gets slightly less mpg when pulling up to a 15K pound load uphill.

But gas costs less; a lot less than diesel in some states

It doesn't have that testosterone raising rush of power you get with the 6.7L Ford diesel.

I'll be doing a comprehensive comparo between GAS and DIESEL engines for truck campers on Truck Camper Adventure.
jefeView attachment 638485
Wow, thanks for all the info, I will be waiting on the comprehensive review. I really don't want anything to do with a modern diesel truck for a truck camper or a travel trailer for that matter. The more I read about the 7.3 and the design the more I like it. I am familiar with the 6.4 Hemi, but the 7.3 looks like it has a lot going for it especially in the reliability/simplicity department. I don't think I could go without an AC though...lol
 

MTVR

Well-known member
So I have decided that a truck camper suits my needs the best in the rv department, and I am sure like a lot of people I can sometimes suffer from paralysis by analysis syndrome...lol.

I have been reading as much as I can here and on other forums so I figured I would throw out a thread and give an opportunity for some opinions and ideas I may not have thought of.

So having said that this is kind of what I am looking for out of a rig, and I prefer to purchase pretty much built.

Budget
I generally don't go for the bottom budget things on big purchases but I also don't have to have custom over inflated, I am looking for reliability and longevity and if there is strong resale available that would also be a factor.

Uses
Pretty much an all around recreational travel vehicle. I don't rock crawl, but I do like to spend time in the backcountry in national forests etc, and would like whatever combo to not limit that as much as possible...so I guess...Don't care about rock crawling in Moab, but if I want to spend a week on dirt roads I don't want to be limited. Boondocking doesn't have to be weeks at a time but I would like to get off grid from time to time. Any rough off-roading can usually be done on the dirt bike or side by side (another reason the truck camper combo works)

I live on the east coast (GA) but we like to travel just about anywhere, and we tend to travel to a different spot everyday instead of parking in one spot kind of thing. I would prefer to buy once cry once so it needs to have some longevity to it, more so the camper, I know I will wear out trucks.

I'm torn on Diesel and Gas and on the fence about DRW vs Single as well. I like SRW trucks and I have had a Gas HD truck before. At the moment Its a clean slate, I would be picking out the truck and camper together expensive but I like being able to pair the right truck with the camper instead of having to make do.

4 Season is kind of important one of the trips I have is Alaska/Canada at some point and don't want to be limited by equipment.

I am partial to Ram trucks (I have owned them before) I have a tacoma currently but toyota has nothing that can really carry a camper. But I would entertain any other trucks that might fit the bill, I want the best most reliable combo and I won't let brand bias get in the way of that.

Camper needs a bathroom and creature comforts so a lot of the off road campers while I like them, the significant other is not as thrilled. This will be for 2 people (kids are grown)

I have looked at
Lance
Arctic Fox
Northern Lite
Bigfoot
and a few others

I am not opposed to a used rig if I can put together a reliable combo.

I know this is pretty generic but I think it would be a good thing to hear some opinions and options from the crowd on one thread. If there is already a thread that addresses the same stuff by all means let me know, I don't want to beat a dead horse so to speak.

Thanks!!!
Sounds quite do-able.

I'd recommend a stripped base-model standard-cab gas 4x4 long box SRW one-ton with a locking rear axle, and probably with whatever lower final drive option is available.

It's not the sexy choice that all the cool kids want, but it gets you 4x4 and a long box in the least expensive, simplest, most maneuverable, most off-road capable, highest payload capacity combination.

And then don't go crazy on the camper- the taller, wider, longer, and heavier it is, the less you're actually going to be able to do with it.

Bring a compressor- you're not gonna want to drive off road with 80 pounds of air in your load range "E" tires, and it's not safe to drive on public roads fully loaded without having them pumped all the way up to the manufacturer's recommended cold inflation specifications.

And maybe a nice big winch that can be used in receivers at both ends. Self-recovering nice and slow under winch power, might be better than letting some random drunk-asz Billy-Joe-Jim-Bob spill your wife's dishes all over the floor with a kinetic recovery strap...
 

Regcabguy

Expedition Leader
We too had a tacoma and were looking to upgrade.
we were on a budget. We ended up wit a one owner F350 SRW diesel and bigfoot 1500 camper.
the truck is close to its payload limit with the Bigfoot and our bigfoot doesn’t have AC or an oven.
our truck is a 2000 7.3 so it’s pre DEF but it’s also dirty and stinks, I hate the smell of both unturned and burned diesel fuel.

while I am happy with the rig we got And the deal we got it for if I was to pick out my ideal truck it would not be a diesel especially a post DEF emissions diesel

i am also happy I don’t have a DRW. I don’t want one and I don’t miss it. My dad has the DRW version gas engine version of my truck and while the greater payload would be awesome the wider track and bigger cost. put me off of them.

my recommendation; shop the camper first, find out what size you want then shop the truck to have greater payload then the camper plus fuel food water and people and stuff.
most truck camper combos you see are way over weight. Like thousands of pounds over weight.

I like
bigfoot
northern lite
alaska campers

our next camper might be an Alaska I like the idea of a pop up but we live on the coast and humidity and mold is a big issue and a fabric pop up would be moldy in about a month

our 21 year old bigfoot is starting to show its age, but everything works, it still is water tight. And it held its value pretty well.
our truck is showing it’s age as well eventhough it’s low mileage there’s rust on the body that’s going to cost us some cash to make right and it’s at the time in its life where it needs a lot of little things to keep running, but it was a fraction of the cost of a newer truck so I don’t mind.
I don't know what it is about the Ford's of the 1998-2002 era but they do emit a lot of diesel smell to the point of my thinking there's diesel dripping on the exhaust. My buddy's 2000 7.3 had to have the entire cab removed and replaced due to rust. He's in Encinitas and lives five miles from the ocean here.
 

redthies

Renaissance Redneck
Traveling on gravel fire roads was never fun with slide in campers. I would usually drive at a crawl. Every pot hole and washboard would shake the camper or cause it rock side to side. With all of my RV's on fire roads I was concerned about opening up seams and sealed areas as well as shaking cabinet doors etc.
I on the other hand drive some of the gnarliest FSRs (forest service roads) in the PNW at breakneck speeds with my rig. The Hurley River Rd is an example of one that is notorious for killing tires. There is no other reason to explain TWO tire shops in Gold Bridge. A town of maybe 100 people. I drive that road at 50+ mph with my camper on with no I’ll effects. It would be far worse at slow speeds. Every bump has you feeling like you are going to tip over or break in half. At 50, it’s smoooooth-ish.
 
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