Looking for help finding the right camper

MattF350

Observer
If you havent yet, check out Truck Camper Magazine camper chooser. I was considering one when I first got my F350 and was easy to see options.
 

mightymike

Adventurer
We bought a used Lance truck camper two years ago and love it. We had an older gas F250 and that did fine (used air bags for leveling) but recently got a new diesel Ram 3500 and it does an awesome job. I recommend a one-ton truck.

IMHO, no affordable hard sided truck camper is set up for “off-roading“. Our setup handles forest service roads with no problem as long as you watch out for low branches. Once you get the hang of it, loading and unloadng the camper takes less than 10 minutes and we have often done this on trips, leaving the camper at a campground while we day-tripped on roads we didn’t want to take the camper on.

Typically we will camp at dispersed sites for a few days in a row, and then go to a full service campground to fill up the water tanks and dump the black and gray tanks. Again, in my experience emptying the tanks is no big deal as long as you pay attention.

We don’t pack much other than food and clothing in the camper. We store chairs and other gear in the back seat area of the truck. A favorite feature is to be able to pull off the road and park anywhere and have lunch or dinner or a nap in the camper without having to unload anything. On long driving days when we are transiting from home to where we are going to start camping, we’ve often boondocked in Cracker Barrel parking lots. Cableas, Lowe’s and other companies allow self-contained campers to park overnight. Why pay for a campsite for just a few hours?

The shower and wet bath in our camper is tiny, but awesome.

I would never buy new due to the steep depreciation. And older camper is easily upgraded for solar much more affordably than buying a new camper with solar. Used truck campers can be few and far between in the East, we drove from NC to WI to buy the specific model we wanted.

We just spent three days and nights boondocking on the beach at Cape Lookout. Used propane for the fridge, cooking, and hot showers.

Go and look at some new ones at a dealer to decide what layouts you like. We specifically chose our model after seeing one in person due an extra rear window that a similar model did not have.

Don’t forget to consider storage. We built a carport specifically to park it under. Just like boats that are left out, the sun can really be tough on the finish and roof of a camper. Use a cover at a minimum, but pay attention to moisture and other issues.

Good luck and post pics when you have your rig.
 

Attachments

Mundo4x4Casa

West slope, N. Ser. Nev.
Chief, you are traveling the same road we were on last year: trying to find a camper without all the extra ghee-ghahs. After actually sitting in; crawling around; trying every appliance; going through all the motions in the bathroom; climbing up into the bunk; working every window; and going up and down the stairs (if at actual loaded height) in about 2 dozen mostly new and a couple DSCN2585.jpgused campers, we got a real education. We had a 1998 Lance 165-s (the lightest, narrowest, least tall self contained hardside camper of the time) for 18 years and just loved the simplicity and light weighness (1842 pounds wet), but we had taken that sled through some terrible trails and the systems were slowly going south. The camper itself was still very tough when we sold it. The new NS is exactly the same footprint as the old Lance Lite. The upside is by this time we knew exactly what we wanted. We settled on Northstar Laredo SC (self contained) for a short bed pickup. Scroll back a ways on this page to see my description. The NS management let us pick and chose what extras and deletes we wanted and it was no problem getting sub-zero insulation; cassette toilet; no air conditioning; no oven; no microwave; no TV; no window in the door; 320 watts solar with 2 large storage batteries; compressor 12v fridge. The most important thing to know from a pair of seasoned TC-er's is that the NS has storage. NONE of the other brands we inspected had much storage space; certainly not Lance, which was the worst at that, with useless Bling as the most important feature. The NS fit and finish is simply exceptional. Now that we have had many trips in it, Jeanie and I are used to it and we are more satisfied than ever and would walk right out and buy it again. You never have to worry about power consumption. Solar covers every system except the stove top and heater, which run on propane. We have done some retrofitting of some items, and only the heater thermostat has been a problem. It's on warranty. On the 2nd pic are 2 NS Laredos. Note how narrow they are. This is good if you get off road in the bushes.thumb_DSCN2535_1024.jpgIt also weighs 2350 pounds wet mostly because the water tank is 41 gallons, not 18 gallons like the Lance. In the pic we are boondocking in the mountains of western Nevada. You don't want to know what the road getting here looked like. Notice the sleek look of the roof line, a plus when you have overhead obstructions like trees. At 84 inches wide without jacks it is narrow. We travel without jacks lowering the side to side sway without 145 pounds of outriggers. jefe
 
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Redheddedwonder

Active member
X2 for Capri, you can choose all your options plus if you want something unique they will work with you. There was one for sale in Bozeman recently with an extended overhead, so north south sleeping would be possible.
 

montypower

Adventure Time!
Northstar is a difficult value to beat especially with the good selection of components and good build quality. We had a used Laredo SC (too big and heavy). Just picked up a Liberty. Going to town with modifications... 800W Solar, Lithium Batteries, ETC - No black or Gray tanks.

 

billiebob

Well-known member
My only real reservation with the northern lite is the dependency on propane and a black tank vs a cassette toilet. I would rather have more electricity and fewer energy sources.
Talk to them. If they have a base that might work I'm sure they can make minor adjustments.
 

::Squish::

Observer
We bought a bigfoot1500 on a Ford F-350 SRW both truck and camper were 2000year models.
we have a 3 way fridge and propane stove, we don’t have a microwave or AC It has a black tank and standard RV toilet.
It’s been a great camper and it ticked so many of our boxes. But at first I was a little worried about the same systems the OP is worried about.
i wasn’t crazy about the propane fridge, or the black tank.
but after living with the camper for 4 1/2 years, it has been pretty easy to live with. And the whole shebang was cheap, I have had to put a lot of sweat equity into it fixing things and upgrading things but so far we’ve been happy. We will switch the fridge to a compressor style when this one goes and we are considering a composting toilet and converting the current black tank into a second grey tank.
 

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redthies

Renaissance Redneck
My only real reservation with the northern lite is the dependency on propane and a black tank vs a cassette toilet. I would rather have more electricity and fewer energy sources. I could nit pick a little bit about how much stuff they bolt on to the outside with the various awnings but I could probably have that deleted at the factory as well. Anyhow, they do look like the best option for low maintenance and ready to go.

Sparse Grey, when you say Alaskan has more maintenance, what do you mean?
Don’t get a dually if snow is in your plans. They can be made to work but are not ideal.

Northern Lite will build what you want, but you will need to order it. PM me if you want insight. I did a custom order and stripped mine down quite a bit from their usual builds.

Alaskans are nice, but heavy, and they are a “contraption”. One of my friends owns one. Lots of moving parts. They are not great for much off pavement use.
 
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