Four Different Types of Truck Campers, Which One Is Right for You?

Four Different Types of Truck Campers, Which One Is Right for You?

In its basic form a pick-up truck camper just basically a box mounted on a truck. Although this is nothing new, truck campers have evolved over the years and have become more elaborate. From humble beginnings of the plywood box outfitted with a couple of cots, the truck camper interiors and exteriors have become much more elaborate. Depending your need, budget and love of adventure there are four types of truck camper to consider.

  1. Camper shell topper
  2. Slide in cab over camper
  3. Chassis mounted camper
  4. Pop Up Camper

Camper Shell Topper

The first type of camper is the camper shell topper. This unit is usually mounted onto the truck bed rails. They are mostly formed out of a fiberglass shell. This type of camper has very limited space. The camper shell topper is about the same height as the truck cab. Therefore you will not be able to stand up inside. The get around you will need to crawl around the inside.

For the individual on a budget this is a good way to get an introduction to the truck camping experience. For the most part this is a step above regular tent camping. For this type of camper the user will need to build out the interior with a carpet kit, bunk and storage cabinets if you want a more comfortable living quarters.

Slide In, Cab Over Camper

The secoGMC C4500 with Kodiak Campernd type of camper is the slide-in cab-over camper. To mount the camper to the truck the camper simply slides into the truck bed using jacks to lift it to the proper height. The camper is then secured by turnbuckles or straps.

It has a sleeping area that extends over the cab or the pickup truck. This is why they are called cab over campers.  This overhang provides additional area for occupants to sleep. There is also enough headroom for a normal person to stand up inside a cab over.

The cab-over slide in campers usually has a dinette that will convert to a sleeping area. This type of camper will easily sleep two adults and a couple of children. The camper is usually wider than the truck and over hangs over the side of the beds this increases the interior space. Also, for additional floor space many of these campers will extend about 12 inches beyond the rear of the truck.

With a slide in camper you have the ability to remove the camper while it is parked. If it a campground you’re able to do this, that will allow you to use your truck for local commuting. And not have to haul around the extra weight of a camper

Chassis Mount Camper

Truck Camper Earth RoamerThe third type of camper is the chassis mount camper.  In many ways it is similar to the cab-over slide-in camper.  These types of campers will also have a cab over section for sleeping. The main difference is that the truck’s bed is removed and the camper is permanently installed to the chassis of the truck.  These can also be classified as Class C  camper.

With the truck bed removed, there become more options when configuring the floor plan. For example the door does not need to be located at the rear, but instead on the side of the camper.  With no truck bed there is also more room for additional storage.

Pop-Up Camper

Dodge Truck Pop Up CamperThere a fourth type of camper and that is the pop-up camper.  The pop-up camper features a roof the lowers while driving and raises while parked camping.  The pop-up feature are mostly found on the slide-in style camper.  They can include a cab over section or not have one.  The biggest advantage to the pop is improved maneuverability while on the road.  With the roof lowered there is less wind resistance. Then when at the destination camp site the roof is lifted to provide additional head room inside.


bigfoot-30c10-11-floor-plan[1]Both the slide-in and chassis-mount campers will be equipped with a kitchen set up. The set may include a stove and refrigerator that is runs off of gas. The size of the kitchen is really depends upon the size and the specific camper model. They will have additional storage cabinets. Usually the electrical system will run off the vehicle’s battery, unless the solar system is installed. Some more deluxe models will include a bathroom can a have a shower, toilet, and some kind of water system.

Driving and Handling a Camper

Driving a truck and camper is a lot different than driving a regular car. This difference can cause the driver to overdrive the vehicle. One issue that is often brought up about the larger cab over campers is they can be top heavy. This can cause some concern while driving in strong winds. The wind may cause the vehicle to sway while going down the road. This swaying is due to the additional height of the camper and larger surface area on the sides. This can make it difficult to handle while driving in strong wind.

Another concern is most roads are crowned making the driver more aware of the extra load that’s being carried on the truck. It may feel like the vehicle is tilting a bit. Obviously the more space the more weight the driver will have to get used to calling around the extra weight.  These things will require some practice to become expert driving in these conditions.

One issue many beginning camper drivers have is backing up and parking. Because the camper obstructs the view around the vehicle these ordinary maneuvers require extra care.

Get the Right Truck for the Job

The type of truck required to carry a camper is critical. The pickup truck should be at least the three quarter ton truck.  Additionally it should be equipped with heavy duty springs on the rear axle. The tires need to be rated to carry the additional weight.

Is it Cost Effective?

When deciding to go on a vacation trip, there are the choices of traveling by truck camper or staying at motels. In the long run it may be cheaper to drive camp and travel in a truck camper. Some of the advantages include the ability to park and sleep, make your own meals on the road.

If you’re unsure about whether to get a truck camper one option would be to rent one. This will allow you the opportunity to experience what it’s like to vacation on the open road in your camper. You may find that you enjoy the freedom much more. If you find that you like traveling in this manner the investment risk is lowered.

Which Truck Camper is Right For You?

If you are single person or a couple on a tight budget, but love the outdoor adventure, you can start out with the camper shell topper.  If you are a family with a couple of kids, you may want to get the slide-in camper.  Not only is there more than the topper, because the camper is removable, the truck can still be used for daily commute without the extra load of a camper.  When it’s time to camp, just slide in the camper and go.  If you want a more luxurious camping experience and can afford a vehicle specifically dedicated for camping then you may consider the chassis mount camper.  Or if you are living a nomadic lifestyle this one could be better suited.

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Truck Camper HQ Website moderator. Loves camping and especially love truck campers. If it has to do with a truck camper I want to know about it and share it with others.

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