Truma? / what is a hard side camper like to drive? (cross winds, handling on highways)

LosAngeles

Active member
Hi all

Plan is to get a 2020 8’ bed Ford F-350 Crew Cab - and always keep a new camper (yet to buy) mounted. (Quick overnight camping trips, 4 seasons! plus longer trips too)

I don’t drive much at all, and our family will have a 2nd regular car.

I had planned on a Hallmark 9.5’ pop up (wet about 2,500 lbs)

however I’m now considering a hard side camper instead.

Advantages of hard side camper:
More sound and thermal insulation in upper walls. (Minor issue - hallmark pop up has 3 good layers soft insulation, plus we’d get almost silent Truma propane heater built in it)

Never have to pop up or down. (Easy with power drill on Hallmark, my pop up choice)

Disadvantages to hard side camper:

More susceptible to cross winds while driving. Being taller. This is my main concern, by far.

heavier.

Much less able to go off road (tree branch clearance issues)

And... price point about the same..... ish.

Thoughts? Discuss.

bonus question - do any hard side campers use or offer the Truma water + air heater ? quiet and efficient. desired for sure.

Good article below:

long bed HARD SIDE campers for 1 ton trucks

 

LosAngeles

Active member
p.p.s whatever we get (even a pop up) it'll be too tall to garage.... and it will be in midwest (!) so the strongest roof possible is key. and yes i'll have to manage the snow load on the roof. Ug.
 

Trikebubble

Adventurer
We have a Four Wheel Camper and have never regretted that choice yet. I don't know about the Hallmarks but the FWC's takes no more than 2 minutes to pop up. It depends on where you see yourself wanting to travel really. For me, I knew we wanted ot get far off-road, to go to those places where you just can't take a traditional high camper or trailer. The pop-up camper allows for that and gives us 95% of the creature comforts we would have had with a "real camper" when we get there. I honestly hardly know the camper is on the truck when driving on the highway, don't feel cross-winds or any of that sort of thing. Based on where we go and where I want to go, I wouldn't trade it for the world.
 

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JMadigan

New member
I have a truck camper from the late 60s and I agree with your pros and cons. Here in Colorado the cross winds going over mountain passes can get a bit hairy at time. Since a truck camper is 'sealed' you don't have to worry as much about condensation during the cold winter months either. There are a few 8'+ truck campers out there that weigh less than 2500lbs wet, the 90's Lance Lites could be something to look at if you're not set on buying something brand new.
 

AbleGuy

Too Much Fun Club, founder
Over the past 40+ years we’ve owned and used three different pop ups (one was a Hallmark) and three different hard sided campers.

We preferred the hard sided ones for colder weather camping and better security (really, just peace of mind) in bear country. In fact, if I recall correctly, there were some campgrounds in bear country where you were not allowed to camp in a tent or in a soft sided camper.

We felt that the pop ups were better for their low profile while driving on forest roads, had much less side to side sway on winding mountain roads, and gave us a bit better mpgs too. We liked them better for warmer weather camping too because of all of the extra ventilation provided by the upper zip windows. Raising and lowering the roof was never seen as a headache, even when just stopping for groceries and a lunch break. You quickly get used to that process.

Once while driving with a hard sided rig in the Four Corners area in extremely strong side winds, a violent gust of wind almost knocked us over. Later that day, when setting up camp, I discovered that the wind gust had shoved the camper over hard to one side, damaging the trucks bed on the up-wind side where the turn buckle tie downs were attached. This only ever happened that one time though.
 
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Buliwyf

Viking with a Hammer
The ''best 8'' article you posted lists only campers with generous rear over hangs. And some are a bit porky.

Get a DRW f350 and sidewind worries will disappear, if you select an almost SRW truck friendly sized camper.

Also consider smaller, no overhang, Capris campers. They are smaller and lighter. Only a couple inches taller inside than me. 6'4'', IIRC height inside.

In my experience, it's side wind hitting the top sides at the rear of the camper that's the biggest problem. For example, when a semi truck passes you. The wind blowing off the semi, hits the rear top of your camper, and your whole truck will steer INTO the semi truck. You have to steer away to correct for it, and it's tiresome.

I call that the ''Econoline effect''. Because Fords whale tail full length Econoline vans did that terribly.
 

boxcar1

boxcar1
I feel, and have plenty of miles with hard sides and pick up trucks to qualify my opinion, that 90 % of the cross wind problems listed by many responders of this thread are due to improper set ups . If the truck is properly set up for the haul you should never have a problem .Grossly overloaded trucks or campers secured with stake mount or bed mount tie downs will always suffer from sway issues. Try frame mounts...... Adjust or add to your suspension with helper/ over loader springs , air bags or a combination of the two. Virtually no pick up trucks are designed to carry a hard side camper in stock livery. I won't get into the age old argument over witch - hard or soft side campers are best. For me? I gave up tent camping long ago. I will always go hard side.
 
I think most hard sided campers, at least the common ones, aren't built with light weight or low CG to begin with. While neither of those details change the physical side profile of the camper, they can change the way the camper acts and more importantly how the truck and camper combo react to wind gusts. If you look at a normal Lance camper, the interior has floor to ceiling cabinetry and for some reason they like to mount the fridge as high on the wall as possible, add in a rooftop AC....... If you built the interior of a hardside more like the interior of a pop up you'd probably fair a bit better in crosswinds and offroad.

Kevin
 

Buliwyf

Viking with a Hammer
That's why I'm going Capri when I can afford it.

Going to opt for nothing up high except for AC. No cabinets, no fridge, no microwave. More like a pop up. All my clothes stay in a duffel or suitcase on the floor, or in the cab of the truck.

I just don't need to storage space up top, and would rather have airspace for a less cramped feel. And Scuba trips > Expo travel, for me, right now.

I doubt that bed mounting such a light camper would matter. But if I choose to bolt it to the frame, I'm knocking holes in the bed floor to get to the frame. I don't want long grabby chains along the sides of my truck.

I'd love a FWC, but I'm heading towards 100% humidity, not away from it.

Short beds, have half the dinette area, if you include a shower. Longbed pic:

 
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I think most hard sided campers, at least the common ones, aren't built with light weight or low CG to begin with. While neither of those details change the physical side profile of the camper, they can change the way the camper acts and more importantly how the truck and camper combo react to wind gusts. If you look at a normal Lance camper, the interior has floor to ceiling cabinetry and for some reason they like to mount the fridge as high on the wall as possible, add in a rooftop AC....... If you built the interior of a hardside more like the interior of a pop up you'd probably fair a bit better in crosswinds and offroad.

Kevin
A very accurate statement. Also, most truck campers have too many things stuffed into them. Do I need a four burner stove with oven, 9 cu ft refer, microwave, and a slide-out? No.

Speaking of Lance, I just bought a 2007 805. It's an unusual camper. 8' long, 7' wide, no bath, and very minimal. The base weight is supposed to be 1260 lbs. The only option it has is AC (95 lbs), which I'm debating removing. The refer is 3 cu ft, but like you pointed out, the top of the refer is at the 6'-4" ceiling! Depending on how well it works, I may jettison that, and use my Engel sitting on the floor.
 

pappawheely

Autonomous4X4
A very accurate statement. Also, most truck campers have too many things stuffed into them. Do I need a four burner stove with oven, 9 cu ft refer, microwave, and a slide-out? No.

Speaking of Lance, I just bought a 2007 805. It's an unusual camper. 8' long, 7' wide, no bath, and very minimal. The base weight is supposed to be 1260 lbs. The only option it has is AC (95 lbs), which I'm debating removing. The refer is 3 cu ft, but like you pointed out, the top of the refer is at the 6'-4" ceiling! Depending on how well it works, I may jettison that, and use my Engel sitting on the floor.
That's something that has always turned me off about slide-in campers. I want utility, not grandma's house on wheels.
 

BritKLR

Kapitis Indagatoris
Living in KCMO and therefore having to travel days to get anywhere interesting we've had a number of different campers. 1997 Chevy K2500 std cab 4wd SRW with a Lance 910 and then a 2003 Ford CC DRW 4wd with a Lance 1130. Both were properly setup and I can't say I every really worried about the winds. We put 10's of thousands of miles on those rigs and the worst winds were in Kansas along I-70, Nebraska along I-80, a hurricane in Galveston and a tropical storm along the Florida panhandle, but nothing that caused us concerns that they would blow over. Get what will meet your interests and needs and then use it to get acustom to it in different weather conditions and you will be fine!

Safe travels!
 
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Bayou Boy

Adventurer
I also have 10s of thousands of miles on my Ram 3500SRW with a Lance 855 in the bed. My only mod was Torqlift Stableloads. Drove like a dream. Zero issue in any wind in multiple trips across Texas to the rockies. Stable as can be in curvy mountain roads. A lot of negative experiences come from older early 2000s or 90s model trucks carrying way too heavy of campers. The newer model 3500 trucks have payloads and GVWRs equivalent to DRW trucks of 15 years ago and can carry 3000-3500# campers with zero issues. Before you take advice, ask what year their rig is. You will see a sharp difference from owners of older rigs and newer stuff.
 

Darwin

Explorer
If it makes you feel better I drove through a micro burst like mini tornado in eastern Colorado with my hardside. A few tractor trailers got turned over and one RV trailer flipped.
 
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