Build Help -- Camper Hauler and Part Time 5th Wheel Tow Vehicle


New member
Hi all,

I'm hoping to build my first (and last) camper hauler that can also perform part time duty as the tow vehicle for a 5th wheel. The thinking is that I have the camper on there most of the time for short trips on the weekends, and will undock it for towing the 5th wheel on longer trips.

I have my eyes on an Eagle Cap 1165, and am thinking I will need to get into an MDT/Class 5 truck to meet the payload requirements. I really like the new gen 4.5 HD Rams and have settled on a Ram 5500 Limited, Crew Cab (we have 3 young kids). I've never purchased a cab/chassis truck before, so I'm unfamiliar with the upfit / install of a truck bed.

Just doing random research on the internet, it seems like I can get an off the shelf solution with a CM truck bed (flatbed SK model with the tool boxes), and option it with a 5th wheel hitch / turnover ball, but can also go semi-custom (Knapheide) or fully custom (Sherptek or Douglass).

Budget is not a huge concern, but I'd like to be smart/strategic about where to spend the money if possible for the most benefit.

I think I will need the 84" cab to axle Ram 5500, but am not sure of the length of the bed. I assume some portion of the camper will hang off the rear of the flatbed, so I may not need a 11+ foot bed to match the camper?

What about suspension improvements to mitigate the harsh ride? Is it worth it to go all in on an air suspension system from Kelderman? Is that overkill or too complicated?

Thank you all!


I'd look closely at the Sherptek bed, if you're getting a traditional truck camper with all that space potentially wasted in the bed sides.

Lots of storage and more utilitarian when off. If the camper is off a lot, the big boxes on a traditional flat bed may be nice.

The difficulty of threading a camper on and off of tight clearance boxes was a main driver of the sherptek design.

I am not familiar with that camper, but damn near all of them need an 8' bed max, or the tanks that typically hang low off the back wont fit on a longer bed.


Renaissance Redneck
You’ve probably already bought a truck by now, but I agree with dfrank in the 60” CA version. You won’t want the truck to be too long for the camper but the COG of the 1165 is at 61”, so I’d have my measuring tape in hand and see where all the tank outlets etc are on the camper and get a deck built to accommodate that. I would have the deck built, then install the camper, and then build custom boxes that fit the leftover space. That set up will be ridonkulously big, but if you don’t plan on anything more challenging than a dirt road, should be very comfortable to camp out of.

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