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Old 02-28-2018, 12:51 AM
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Are They Worth It?

Ive been interested in a truck camper for a while now. One reason I upgraded to an F350 from my midsized Dakota was the ability to get an RV, if I ever wanted it. Obviously the title responses will vary, but hopefully you can help me answer after I tell you about me a little.

I prefer simplicity. The 5th wheels are nice, better than my own apartment. But with the qc on them, lots of repairs to be done, like any home. I would even consider building out a large van, but I cant see myself buying a van. I love trucks too much.

TTs are relatively inexpensive but also comes with much more expenses. Tires being a major cost and potentially an additional hassle (5th included).

Storage would be an issue. currently living in city and nowhere to put it. 30+ ft of trailer takes up some space. TC are considerably less.

Im not worried about interior size. I can always upgrade to a dually and get a 3 slider. I want to get an RV to sleep, eat and stay out of bad weather, all dont require 40 ft (including my current apartment). Id spend time outside, doing things vs sitting on my bed, videogaming it.

So over all, would it be worth it to get a truck camper? Id love to go fulltime, but Im just starting my career with a federal agency and no mobile income.

Thoughts?
 
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Old 02-28-2018, 05:31 AM
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>Thoughts?

Yes. Many.

My wife and me, we are strictly recreational RVers. Meaning we do this for fun, to relax, have a good time, when the weather is nice, in our free time, without any pressure to move on, and so on. It is a hobby. We average some 30 nights a year. When I calculate the total cost per night... we could stay in a nice hotel, go to a good restaurant, and probably still come out ahead. But that is mostly because we spend so few nights, and the additional cost for an additional night would be small. And we are in a part of the world where it is not always easy (or even legal) to boondock.

But I think fulltiming is a different story. Before you do this, try to get some RVing experience and see how you like it personally. You don't need to rent a TC for that. An ordinary Class C will be very similar in the experience in most ways, you just can not take the living quarters off the truck. There are plenty of resources on the web for people who fulltime in an RV. Read as many of them as you can find.

In a TC, you have limited space (you knew that already). The space becomes smaller when the weather is not good, or the temperatures are too low to spend the time outside. Enough to sleep and eat and take care of personal hygiene - always. Spend night after night in a dull winter setting... I have doubts.

TCs (as most RVs) usually have a bit of a problem with moisture and condensation over time. You need to keep them well heated and ventilated, especially when you want to stay there for a long time. Otherwise you will find condensation accumulating in the colder spots, of which there will be many. Not an issue for a 3 day trip, when the camper can dry nicely afterwards.

Most TCs are OK in moderate winter temperatures. But many are not very well insulated, and in winter you need a constant source of electricity and propane to keep the thing warm. The colder it gets, the more difficult becomes to keep plumbing and tanks from freezing. Us holiday campers, we just winterize and wait for spring. As a fulltimer, you may be able to spend the winter months in an area with moderate temperatures.

Water damage is a problem that many RVs incur. Quality is not always as good as expected by the paying customer of a TC. The campers need frequent maintenance. TCs probably more than other RVs due to the fact that they frequently need to stand on their four legs in the wind, and are sometinmes roughly loaded and unloaded. All of this puts stress on the camper shell, which can develop leaks that can go on for a long time before they are discovered. Which is why you must pay great attention to water damage on any used camper you may be looking at.

Do not worry, though. We knew nothing about this when we bought our first camper in 2009. We learned - sometimes the hard way. We still think camping in a TC is the way for *us* to go. You get to stay in places where no one will ever build a hotel. You can go through the day at your own pace. Make your own bed, use your own bathroom, prepare your own food. But it is not the same for everyone, and only you can find out for yourself if it is right for you.
 
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Old 02-28-2018, 11:54 AM
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Thoughts? People have written and are writing books on this subject!

Like Burro, we are "recreational RVers" in that we camp for fun, not for work or as a full time home alternative to a 'stick built' abode. Having said that, we are all weather campers, almost as likely to be camping in December as we are in July.

Since you say you have no storage at your residence, before you get anything, you need to check on where you are going to store it during non use periods, how much that will cost, and ultimately how that fits into the overall budget. Usually there are storage lots available, but depending on your area, prices vary and there may be a waiting list. "Open Storage" is cheapest and escalating in price is 'covered', 'indoor', 'indoor heated'. If you are in an area that has freezing temps, RV's, especially slide in campers, are easily winterized without much expense. If stored outdoors, I recommend an RV cover.

Price per square foot will be higher on a camper. We were at a big Pacific RV show a couple of weeks ago and a brand new mid size slide in camper was $54,000. By comparison we saw an awful lot of 5th wheels and bumper pulls that were 3 and 4 times bigger and not near as much money. The big camper was cheaper, because it was not as popular.

Some mfg's are now selling what they call the "Four Season" camping units. These supposedly have better insulation and a couple of other features for foul weather camping. In our slide in, we can set the furnace and be quite comfortable in very short order. It is "central" heating and after coming back to an ice cold camper, we can turn the heat on and have it at T-shirt temps in no time at all. We generally (late fall, winter camping) will go through a couple of 30# propane bottles in about a week. This not only covers the furnace, but running the built in propane gen set as needed, cooking and hot water tank.

In snow and ice, TC's aren't too bad, bumper pulls are pretty problematic, 5th wheels are better than bumper pull. Hunting, fishing, boating, hiking, skiing (we don't snow ski) or just to "get out of Dodge" for a couple of days. We have camped "under the stars", in a horse truck with a tarp across the stock racks, in a camp trailer and in a camper. At one time, due to a 'special assignment', the wife and I lived for four months in an 18' camp trailer. I don't recommend it, but I can't say it wasn't "interesting". Based on strictly 'creature' comforts I don't think that anyone can argue that a 5th wheel is probably the top of the line until you start talking Class A MH's.

With a 5th wheel, of course, you have to plan and compensate for the hitch in the bed of your pickup and then the tail gate, if so inclined.

Then there is the "Where do I want to go, where will I be likely to go?" question. We have seen an awful lot of folks get themselves into big trouble and suffer thousands of dollars of damage with and to their RV's from Class A's to 5th wheels. Last July, we watched an inexperienced camper with a slide in try unloading it on too much of an incline. I got a tight knot in my gut as we watched his camper "walk down" the hill after he pulled his pickup out from under it. Around here, especially in the High Cascades, the bigger units just don't fit. One of our favorite camp grounds has a great many trees with "the big rig scars", usually starting at about the 6' level. We spend 5 to 8 weeks (depending on snow) there every year, and every trip we hear the inevitable noises of RV Vs. Tree. Every thing from full length scrapes down the side of the RV to A/C units busted up and Refrigerator vent caps broken off.

In our case, we really have no choice of anything other than a slide in Camper. We pull a boat. Sometimes a horse trailer. This leaves us no choice except a TC or a tent.

This is a High Cascades 3 week camp last fall. We went from what you see, to driving Thunder & Lightening rain and wind storms with copious amounts of rain fall to 4" of snow on the ground. Less than a week after pulling out and heading home, the USFS closed this camp ground due to snow. The snow probably won't be melted sufficiently to reopen this camp ground until a projected mid May date. Last year they didn't get it open until mid June.
 
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Old 02-28-2018, 02:51 PM
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I looked into getting a slide-in camper and decided it wasn't worth it. For what I wanted, they were too expensive and required too much truck (DRW). The weight of the campers depleted my cargo capacity and didn't leave enough to be able to pull my side-by-side ATV on a trailer.

I ended up with a used toy hauler that was 95% of what I was looking for.

Storage lots around here are rented by the linear foot. I have a 32' spot that holds both my toy hauler trailer and the ATV trailer. $2/foot = $64/month. I get a discount for paying the invoice a year in advance and get one month "free". My storage lot also provides a dump station.
 
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Old 02-28-2018, 03:57 PM
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I would ditto most all of the comments stated above. We love our Northern Lite and like to get off the beaten path where I would not want to try and maneuver a bumper pull or 5th wheel. We also have ATV's which I can easily pull behind on a small trailer. Since it is just my wife and I, the truck camper has enough room but when we are camping, unless the weather turns bad we are outside anyway. I can tell you it sure beats sleeping on the ground in a tent, those days are over for us.
It really all depends on what type of camping you want to do and it sounds like you don't have room right now for a trailer anyway. One thing you might look at to see if you really like it first is a pop up truck camper. Since when they are not popped up a lot of the guys here where I live leave them on their trucks year around, never taking them off. Those same guys can get places as well off grid that you will not get a hard side into. Again, it depends on the type of camping you want to do.
 
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Old 03-02-2018, 12:56 PM
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I don't know of any other RV with the versatility of a Truck Camper. You can tow your toys, travel off road in 4wd plus having the power and economy of a Diesel. Not to mention doing all this in the luxury of your truck.
 
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Old 03-03-2018, 07:58 AM
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Originally Posted by stufarmer View Post
I don't know of any other RV with the versatility of a Truck Camper. You can tow your toys, travel off road in 4wd plus having the power and economy of a Diesel. Not to mention doing all this in the luxury of your truck.
well I have a gasser.
My ccc is circa 3600. I wouldnt want to go too far off the beaten path, but not necessarily a campground hopper.
 
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Old 03-03-2018, 09:31 AM
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It is not uncommon for us to take off on 'improvised' overnighters or two day site seeing trips. It's pretty nice to be up in the mountains and just pick a Forrest Service Road to drive a ways down and spend the night 'wild camping'. No need to race for the next campground. No fuss, no muss and no campground neighbors a few feet away.
We're heading for the Cascades tomorrow for 3 nights. Have camper, have furnace, but really would prefer to stay out snow over a couple of inches.
 
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Old 03-05-2018, 09:52 AM
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Not sure why we're comparing 30'TT's to a slide in. A little 23' TT has 10x the room of a slide in, especially a slide out model. You have a whole truck bed worth of cargo room, and the trailers storage areas are also there. Not to mention that the TT can be dropped, and awning out in 10 minutes flat.

Even a single axle lite camper is bigger than a slide in by a far margin. So if tight spots are an issue, go small. I just want tandem axles and a big bathroom. So that's around 23' for me. If someone made an 18' like that.....

Bang for the buck goes to a little TT for me. I love slide in campers and grew up in one, but they're far too expensive for what they are. If you can't tow, or want a slide in camper for wheeling, go slide in, for sure. Normal stuff, go TT. I think it's $60 month for a storage space around me.

I stealth camp, or wild camp with little TT's all the time. I absolutely prefer the heavy models, especially the ones with better ground clearance. I'll never go over 25' ever again.
 
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Old 03-07-2018, 04:31 PM
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To address your qc concern, RV stands for Ruins Vacation ..... lol
Like many have said regarding a slide in, the ability to tow a toy. If used occasionally no tires or licence registration. Limited space, easier to park in smaller spots. You can pull into a tent parking spot.
A TT is the most bang for the buck when it comes to room
 
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Old 03-07-2018, 09:37 PM
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I have owned 2 truck campers, there is very little maintenance to do, I fish bass tournaments and pull a Ranger bass boat while carrying a 2015 Lance 855s. It takes ten minutes to unload with my electric jacks and I also have a slideout. When I load my camper I have a camera in the cab light and that makes loading a breeze. I also have a camper camera so I can hitch my boat and watch the boat while I tow.
 
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Old 03-17-2018, 08:51 PM
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We have had one bumper pull, 2 5th wheels and a LARGE 5th wheel toy hauler.
What we found is the larger the unit the more restrcted you are. Large 5th wheels and bumper pulls take the largest camp sites, and often require a pull through site.
This usually means reservation way in advance at popular places. Often the big 5th wheels are well over 12.5' high and you are taking a chance that you will not be able to go on meny back roads. Every stop needs to be planed out, there are lots of attractions and restauants that you can not navigate with a LARGE pull behind.
Two years ago we got a used 11.5' single slide truck camper. We found that we can be completly spontainious on our trips now. We make no plans or reservations more that one day in advance and we have always found a place to stay. Sometimes it' without any hook ups bit we are fine with that. We can usually go a week without hookups, but I like to have a utilitys ever 3 days to dump the tanks and use the facilitys showers (nice not to worry about how much hot water you have).
We now spend more time on back roads and get to see much more of the country, can stay longer when we find things we like, and never have to worry where to camp.
Now the trip itself is just as fun as the destanation.
Last year we traded the single slide for an Eagle Cap 1200. It has 3 slides with two recliners and a couch. It' has about the same room as a 24' 5th wheel. We are leaving next week for spring break, we have some ideas where we might go, but will not decide till we leave our house, and the planes could change often depending on what we find on our way.
 
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Old 03-23-2018, 03:13 PM
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Originally Posted by bobv60 View Post
Last year we traded the single slide for an Eagle Cap 1200. It has 3 slides with two recliners and a couch. It' has about the same room as a 24' 5th wheel. We are leaving next week for spring break, we have some ideas where we might go, but will not decide till we leave our house, and the planes could change often depending on what we find on our way.
How do you like that Eagle Cap 1200 and how does it handle colder weather? I see it's pretty heavy at ~4,900 pounds dry. My dually would handle it fine with airbags but it wouldn't leave much overhead for tongue weight pulling a trailer with 2 ATV's.

The wife and I are considering doing the RV thing in our retirement. By then, we'll be into a new truck but we're debating wether we want to go ahead and upgrade to a very nice TC now or not. We love exploring our great state with our son and 2 dogs. And until we retire, winter camping ability is a must.
 
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Old 03-27-2018, 07:49 PM
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Ive been checking out truck toppers for a cheaper alternative. Use the truck bed for sleeping and get a tent for day usage, eating etc. Otherwise we would be outside doing whatever.
 
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Old 03-27-2018, 08:17 PM
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Originally Posted by bobv60 View Post
Last year we traded the single slide for an Eagle Cap 1200. It has 3 slides with two recliners and a couch. It' has about the same room as a 24' 5th wheel. We are leaving next week for spring break, we have some ideas where we might go, but will not decide till we leave our house, and the planes could change often depending on what we find on our way.
Also, in addition to the question I ask above, do you mind if I ask what you're hauling your Eagle Cap 1200 in? My F350 has a cargo capacity of 6,114 pounds. Fully loaded, all gear, the wife, the boy, and the dogs, we'd be overloaded by a few hundred pounds. I figure that'd be okay with StableLoads and airbags. What do you think?

Originally Posted by ExDakotaOwner View Post
Ive been checking out truck toppers for a cheaper alternative. Use the truck bed for sleeping and get a tent for day usage, eating etc. Otherwise we would be outside doing whatever.
In my younger days when my back didn't care too much, that would've been the ticket.
 
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