In the United States alone, over 40 million people love to go camping year after year. Why? 
 
Camping trips are relaxing getaways allowing you time away from your busy life to reconnect with yourself and nature.
 

Short bed truck campers, slide-in truck campers and popup truck bed campers are sleepers that are made to sit in the box of full size and some midsize pickup trucks. 

They are available in different models for different bed lengths including long bed, short bed and super short bed truck campers.

 

There are hard-sided and popup truck camper designs with their own floor plan options and standard features choice. 

Giving you the freedom to choose which camper features and floor plan layout is perfect for your own uses.

In This Article

Truck bed campers are among the most versatile ways to go on a camping trip. 

With the freedom they give you of setting up campsite anywhere your pickup truck can go. 

From your grandma’s backyard, to RV campsites, to the unexplored forests in your region. 

You have the possibility of camping wherever you choose.

When planning a camping trip with a truck bed camper you have the best of both worlds.  

There’s the ability to dry camp (boon dock) off-grid for extended camping trips due to features like large water holding tanks, batteries, solar panels and generators. 

Then, there’s the option to wet camp with your pickup truck and camper at a campsite or RV park.

Never have to worry about leaving your toys behind again. 

There’s an available hitch with slide-in truck campers allowing you to tow a trailer with your ATV, dirt bikes and seadoos.

Truck bed campers are a fantastic way to explore and take a truck camping adventure because of the many benefits they provide:

  • High Versatility
  • No Registration
  • Low Insurance Rates
  • Off-Road Capabilities
  • Better Fuel Economy Than A Motor-home RV
  • Easy To Store
  • Wet Camp Or Dry Camp (Boon dock)
  • Compact
  • Easy To Drive & Park
  • Low Maintenance
  • Ability To Tow

Before deciding on the best short bed pickup camper, you need to calculate whether or not it’s compatible with your truck. 

It’s very simple to do this in a couple of quick steps.

To calculate the weight of your truck go to your local dump or another area with a certified scale. 

Before going on the scale there are a few things to consider.

  • Have a full tank of gas
  • Remove your tailgate
  • Keep note off the approximate weight of all items in your truck
  • Find the GVWR on the driver’s side door
  • Subtract your certified scale weight from the GVWR number
  • Measure in inches from the front of the truck bed to the center of the rear axle
  • The center of gravity for your camper should be ahead of this point

The important exterior dimensions to measure for a truck bed camper are:

  • Bed Length
  • Bed Width
  • Rail Height
  • Cab Height
  • Tailgate Opening

There is not a universal best when it comes to the perfect truck bed camper for you.

When it comes to picking the right truck and camper set up for your truck camping adventure. 

You will need to decide what your intended uses are and the standard features in a truck bed camper you need.

Continue reading, answering the truck camper questions to help you choose the perfect camper for you.

What kind of truck camping adventures do you plan to have and what features do you need. 

Then, decide the style of camping you do the most: off-road, campsite or RV park. 

Depending on where you plan to camp there are some things to take into consideration such as:

  • Do you want slide-in or popup small truck camper?
  • Do you need hard or soft walls?
  • What electronics and features can you use there?
  • What bathroom amenities do you need? 
  • What size is your truck bed?
  • Do you need the extra space from a slide?

Slide-in truck campers have hard walls and a fixed roof giving them several benefits over pop up campers. 

These benefits include:

  • More Floor Plan Options
  • More Extra Features
  • Better Insulation
  • More Interior Storage
  • Sound Isolation
 

Popup truck campers are almost a universal fit for all full-size and small pickup trucks. 

They have a roof that folds ⅓ of the way down when not in use lowering the truck’s center of gravity. 

Popup campers are available in both a soft and a hard-walled model. 

Some benefits of pop-up truck campers are:

  • Improved Fuel Economy
  • Lower Purchase Price
  • Extreme Off-Roading Capabilities
  • Fits Almost Every Small Pickup Truck

When choosing a pickup camper you need to take the size of your truck box into consideration. 

When pickup trucks are manufactured there are 3 different options for the size of its bed. 

  • Long Truck Bed – 8’0” 
  • Short Truck Bed – 6’4” to 6’10”  
  • Super Short Truck Bed – 5’5” to 5’7”

There are more slide-in truck camper options and features for pickup trucks with long beds.

There are more popup truck campers for short and super short truck beds.

Cabover truck bed campers include a sleeping space over the cab of your pickup and the benefit of a separate bathroom.

A caboverless truck camper is a bare bones shell offering living space and a cook top. 

They feature some newer amenities such as an HD television, both 12-V and 110-V electrical systems and much more. 

Caboverless truck campers are perfect as a camper for hunting trips. 

They give avid hunters the essential amenities they need for a successful hunt.

Next to consider is what you need in your truck camper bathroom. 

There are four different bathroom floor plans to choose from:

  • No Bathroom – More interior space for short and super short bed trucks 
  • Toilet-Only Bathroom – Small space-saving dry toilet

The entire truck camper bathroom fits inside a shower stall containing both the sink and toilet. 

Whenever you shower in a wet bath camper the sink and toilet will get wet. You’ll need to squeegee and dry it to prevent mold.

Benefits of Wet Truck Camper Bathrooms

  • More Living Space
  • More Shower Room
  • More Popup Camper
  • Availability

Dry truck camper bathrooms are similar to the bathroom at your house. 

Included in the bathroom is a separate toilet, sink and shower with extra dry storage spaces.

Benefits of Dry Truck Campers

  • Bathroom Stays Dry
  • Same Style As Your House Bathroom
  • Extra Dry Storage Space

Truck bed campers that offer a bathroom have three different toilet types. 

There are RV Flush Toilets, Cassette Toilets and Porta Potties.

RV flush toilets are the main type of toilet in motorhomes, travel trailers and fifth wheelers. 

They’re compatible with RV hookups and dump stations for truck campers at full-hookup campsites.

RV toilets work in the same manner as your home toilet. 

Except, they draw freshwater then pump waste to a black tank which is emptied at a camping dump station.

The holding capacity for an RV toilet black waste tank ranges from 6 to 40 gallons. 

With the average flush toilet size being over 20 gallons.

A cassette toilet is similar to the toilet you have at home except it has a removable waste tank.

Cassette toilet systems in the majority of truck bed campers have a 4.5 or 5.1 gallon removable tank. To clean the tank, take it out, dump at a dump station and put it back in.

Interested in a smaller truck camper that doesn’t have an interior bathroom? A porta potty is exactly what you need. They are portable waste tanks you can take camping and empty when you return. 

The bathroom in a hard side camper can be in one of two places.

  • Rear-Bath – Found at the back corner on the drivers side – Opens up entryway
  • Mid-Bath – Found in the middle – Separates the camper into two separate rooms.

A slide is an addition to a truck bed camper that can extend to give more floor space.

Small pickup truck campers have either no slides, a single slide or multiple slides. 

Half- ton truck campers without a slide have less maintenance as there’s less moving parts. 

However, they don’t offer the benefits of extra interior space.

Most truck bed campers that have a single slide will incorporate the fridge and kitchen into the slide. 

The benefit of a slide is when extended all the way it provides a huge amount of interior space.

Multi-slide truck campers offer the most interior space possible in a truck camper. 

When campers have 2 or more slides it can be separated into 2 rooms and includes a full-size sofa.

If you’re interested in a popup truck bed camper the next decision is between hard or soft walls.

Hard-sided popup truck bed campers are constructed with a solid wood frame and aluminum exterior. 

Benefits of Hard Sided Popup Truck Campers

  • Better Insulated
  • Better Sound Isolation
  • Greater Durability

Negatives of Hard Sided Popup Bed Campers

  • Higher Cost
  • Higher Weight
  • Higher Center of Gravity

Soft-sided popup truck campers are constructed from waterproof vinyl fabrics.

Benefits of Soft Wall Popup Truck Bed Campers

  • Lightweight
  • Lower Center of Gravity
  • Lower Cost

Disadvantages of Soft Sided Popup Truck Bed Campers

  • Less Insulation
  • Lower Durability
  • Minimal Noise Isolation

Wood Frame Truck Bed Camper

There are two main methods of constructing a truck bed camper.

The first truck camper construction method is the classic 1940’s solid-wood frame covered by aluminum sheets.

Before you buy a wood truck camper, to prevent water damage issues be sure to ask the dealer all the details how it was sealed and constructed.

  • Lower Cost
  • Durable
  • Easy Repairs
  • Flexible
  • Heavy
  • Water Damage Potential
  • Difficult to Clean

The second camper construction method is an aluminum frame covered by fiberglass. 

This method while lighter weight has a chance to de-laminate.

De-lamination is a process that happens when water enters into the walls causing the plywood and glue to separate from the fiberglass wall.

De-lamination will result in the outer walls blistering. 

Be sure to do a thorough inspection and interview with the dealer to make sure you avoid this issue.

  • Lightweight
  • More Durable
  • Easy to Clean
  • Hard to Dent

Downsides of Aluminum-Fiberglass Pickup Campers

  • Possibility of De-lamination
  • Hard to Repair
  • Difficult to Find Aftermarket Parts

Lance Campers are a truck camper manufacturer located in Lancaster, California. 

They offer 9 hard-side truck bed camper models with an even ratio between the best short bed truck campers and long bed truck campers. 

Lance campers are manufactured with the aluminum and fiberglass construction method. 

They have a 1 year limited and a 2 year structural warranty policy.

Alaskan Campers are a truck camper manufactured located in Winlock, Washington. 

They have 9 hard-side popup truck bed campers for both short beds and long beds.

Alaskan Campers are manufactured with the wood and aluminum siding method. 

They have a standard 1 year warranty and a lifetime warranty on the hydraulic motor pump.

Capri Campers are a truck bed camper manufactured located in Bluff Dale, Texas. 

They have 6 hard-sided cabover and caboverless truck bed campers from super-short bed to long bed.

Capri campers are made with wood and aluminum exterior method. 

They have a limited 1 year workmanship warranty.

The average cost for a standard slide-in camper ranges between $2500 – $15,000.

Three of the best truck bed camper brands are:

  • TravelLite RV
  • Lance Campers
  • CampLite Truck Campers

The weight of truck bed campers varies depending on the model. 

However, truck campers weigh between 1,000 – 5,000 lbs dry.

Yes, there are some models of truck bed campers that can be used without being in the bed of your truck. 

However, not every model of truck campers can.

When driving with a truck bed camper it’s a best practice to not go over 55 MPH

Yes, truck bed campers are allowed in RV parks. 

However, not every model of truck bed camper includes the proper connections to hook to the grid of the campsite.

Gas mileage when driving with a slide-in truck camper seems to decrease by 5 mpg on average.

To heat up your truck camper a propane heater works perfectly if you have no power. 

If you have power a ceramic heater is a great option for keeping warm.

Slide-in truck campers are perfect for enjoying more time outdoors or going on a family camping trip. 

They can be custom designed allowing you to build a camper that suit your needs. 

This is great for whatever you choose to do with it whether camping, travelling or choosing to live off of the grid.

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