8 Best Short Bed Truck Campers – Plus Buying Secrets From Insiders
When it comes to camping out and touring the great outdoors, nothing beats the convenience of an RV. However, did you know if you already own a pickup truck, there is no need to rent an RV? Yes, you can simply slide a short bed truck camper on to the bed your pickup.
Short bed truck campers or slide-in campers is a unit that attaches and fits snuggly on to the back of your pickup truck. It differs from an RV in the sense that RVs come attached to a van or a truck, and a short bed truck camper is an attachment.
This means you can detach camper anytime you want to use the pickup truck for another task like carrying wares or some farm work.
Most models of short bed truck camper come a bit wider and higher than the cab of pickup trucks. This makes them stick out a little on the top of a truck’s cab and the end of the bed.
While this may ruin their physical appeal to some people, it maximizes space and comfort. This enables you and your family or companions to sleep out comfortably during your nights out.
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These campers are very economical, convenient, and simple to use. You can take them anywhere and just snap them to your pick-up truck with less effort that it takes to change a flat tire. If you are new to the world of RVs, short bed truck campers offer low cost and simple option.
The Best Short Bed Truck Campers
Ever since the REV group acquired Lance campers, things have gone a notch higher. The lance 650 is their newest and most updated model. It is also worth to note that they put out more models that their competitors every year.
This Short Bed Truck Camper is the result of efforts to make lighter and more durable slide-in campers. It is specially designed to fit a half-ton truck featuring a 5’ or 6’ bed. It supports a wet weight of 1,903 pounds (1.9 tonnes) with standard features loaded.
The frame is built from the best quality aluminum making it sturdy yet light. The windows are made from highly resistant radius acrylic thermopane. Its roof is a one-piece PVC construct, which goes a long way in making the entire camper lighter and easier to attach and detach.
Standard built-in electronics and appliances include; a ducted heating system, tank-less water heater, a Bluetooth enabled audio system, air conditioning, and a microwave.
It also comes fitted with cabinets made from lite-ply for conveniently stowing away all your travel essentials. It also has keyless entry, which is always convenient when you are roughing it out on the road or the woods.
• Carpeted and evenly constructed base.
• has innerspring and memory foam mattresses.
• A roomy and well-designed bathroom.
• The kitchen comes complete with every essential amenities.
• Ideal for complete RV living.
• It doesn’t come in many colors.
This Ohio based firm first took the world of short bed truck campers by storm in 2015. NuCamp offers some of the most advancements in innovation and style. Every model that comes from this manufacturer really ups the game and the NuCamp cirrus 820 is their latest offering.
This is a 2,540 pound (2.5 tonnes) camper that has an impressive floor plan spanning 18 feet 10 inches. It has a height of 7 foot 7 inches and a width of 7 foot 2 inches. It can comfortably house three burly adult males. It is sturdy thanks to a class defining aluminum frame fitted with break-resistant, tinted dual thermopane windows. It also has the Froli modular sleep system that will enable you to have a better night’s sleep than most of the box spring mattresses that cam loaded in most short bed truck campers.
Other features that should pique your interest are; a spacious cab over that is fitted with a queen bed, a wet bath, a dinette, a spacious kitchenette, 5-cubic refrigerator a dual battery compartment and compartment for a generator. It also has hydronic central heating for those frosty nights. It has LED interior lighting and plenty of storage for all your needs.
You can get it in white or silver and have 10 color and design trimmings to choose. When all is said and done the cirrus 82o will set you back over $35,000
• Adequate LED lighting for enhanced illumination.
• Compact but still offers plenty of storage space.
• Ergonomic sleeping system.
• Comes with all the essential amenities needed for RV living.
• Lavish floor plan and stylish design.
• You may need to add some counter space.
• The bath sink is very light in weight.
This entry level short bed truck camper from four-wheel campers is the best option for those new to the world of RVs. If you want to do things on a budget, then look no further. The amenities and comfort it provides are great for the road life, with the added benefit of a significantly lower price point.
The Short Bed Truck Camper is compatible with most full-size truck beds. It supports a wet weight of 1,827 pounds (1.8 tonnes) with standard features loaded. Interior dimensions of 6 foot 6 inches width and a height of 6 foot 9 inches there is a decent amount of room for all your personal effects and sleeping arrangements.
It is lightest short bed truck camper on the list thanks to its low profile design and lightweight ply and aluminum frame construction. It may not have as many amenities like most of the campers listed here, but it can comfortably house 4 adults. It also has water tanks, fully integrated LED lighting and storage cabinets.
• Lightweight and solid profile.
• Optimal storage space design.
• Can accommodate up to four adults.
• Sturdy and weatherproof construction.
• Older models of the Hawk may not fit updated truck models.
• Lacks an overhead cabinet system.
The makers of this lovely camper had gone bust in the wake of 2008 global financial crisis, but thanks to a 2010 acquisition by Grant Bilodeau, a former employee it was saved. Fast forward to the present and Bigfoot are (pun intended) doing big things for the RV industry.
The Bigfoot 25C9.4SB has a dry weight 2,980 pounds (2.9 tonnes) and features 1.5-inch heavily insulated walls. It is made from an amazing fiberglass clam-shell with plenty of options to choose from in trimmings and designs. Its floor plan spans a massive length of 9 feet 6 inches.
It comes fully loaded with; a big u-shaped dinette, a kitchenette with nearly anything you need, 6- cubic fridge, porcelain toilet, 11,00 btu A/C, a 30,000 btu propane furnace, 3 burner cooker, dual 20-pound out-change over propane tanks. You can also customize it by ordering additional features like integrated stereo sound, battery disconnect switch, nightshades, and 32- gallon grey water holding tank and loads more.
• Two-piece molded fiberglass construction for superior strength.
• first-rate Interior and exterior fit, finish and overall quality.
• Exceptional storage prospects thru the unit.
• Well placed 110-volt, USB and 12-volt outlets in dinette.
• A bright Floor plan that is open and airy for a non-slide design.
• Durable construction.
• Premium price for a short bed non-slide truck camper.
• Short bed truck compatibility is possible but requires careful matching.
• Optional microwave doesn’t match the stainless interior design.
Iowa based Northstar understand that there is nothing classier than wood-framed short bed truck camper that is encased in fiberglass with a smooth. They pay such close attention to the quality of finish that every part of this camper is screwed and glued properly.
It is also loaded with features and amenities to make your life on the road the same as life at home. It has cab over sleeping station featuring a North-South queen bed. There is also an impressive 8-foot 8-inch floor plan and is loaded with many features like; u-shaped leather dinette, wet bath, 3 cubic fridges, 36-gallon fresh water tank, 6 gallon DSI water heater, 14 gallons grey, and 13 gallons black.
This small bed truck camper packs it all in in a sleek aerodynamic package. The only drawback with this model is its small battery compartment
• The non-slide design avoids slide-out weight, maintenance, and potential issues.
• The non-basement design keeps the overall weight, height, and center of gravity down.
• Dry bath design is a total knock out – with an optional flush toilet and a fan.
• Huge kitchen area and sprawling kitchen counter sure to impress the chefs.
• An incredible amount of storage throughout the camper.
• Excellent fit, finish, and materials.
• Excellent overall quality.
• 41-gallon fresh and 20-gallon grey tanks are mismatched.
• The thermostat is too close to the main heating vent.
• Dinette seating could be more comfortable, and the dinette table may be too small for some.
Ever since 2013 this has been this small bed truck camper has been flagship model for Yakima, Washington based ALP. It has enjoyed continued growth and a resurgence in sales, Garnering sterling review from users and RV enthusiast all over the land.
The ALP adventurer has a massive box-shaped design supporting a dry weight of 2,648 pounds (2.6 tonnes). Its construction features a proprietary “Tru-Composite Construction” which is wood overlayed with high-quality fiberglass and all season tinted thermopane windows. It is very ideal for a one-ton truck.
It has an 8-foot 9-inch floor plan which is packed with the following features; a north-south queen bed, a spacious wet-bath, double door wardrobe, a big kitchen with an enormous 7-cubic foot double-door fridge. It also has tons of storage. Furthermore, the holding tanks in this true, all-season small bed camper offer the most storage capabilities in their class. It features a 42 gallons fresh water tanks, 25 gallons tank for grey water, and 22 gallons for black water.
The interior is enhanced further with attractive hardwood maple cabinets. A slide-out storage tray offers additional basement storage space. It has two 20-pound propane tanks that fuel a 20,000 btu propane furnace. For your water heating needs, it features a 4-gallon DSI water heater (basic for most campers).
• Can accommodate a large number of people.
• Interior is fully illuminated.
• Offers a simple entertainment system.
• Luxurious and spacious interiors.
• A set of awning and windows are present.
• Only fits long-bed trucks.
Originally the arctic fox had been struck out of the Oregon based Northwood’s catalog back in 2008. However, due to widespread public demand, they resumed sales for this small bed truck camper. This is because there is a renewed demand for non-slide out campers.
However, it would be good to note that even without the slide out features, this camper is still very heavy. It comes with a mandatory set of features known as “ The Fox package.” This package adds 559 pounds to the total dry weight of the camper. Which brings the total dry weight to 4,200 pounds (4.2Tonnes), but even with all this weight, you still get your money’s worth.
This is one huge camper; it has 9 feet 4 inches of floor space and a high cathedral arched ceiling, packing in a lot of handy and essential features and amenities. It offers the largest water tank holding capacity of any short truck camper. It has total with 34 gallons fresh water tank, 32 gallons grey water tank, and 31 gallons black water tank. It also has thick insulated walls and a 20,000 btu propane powered furnace so you can camp out even in the coldest of tundra.
Other features include; a 6-gallon DSI water heater, a 100-watt solar panel, a Landing Step, two-way 7 cubic foot refrigerator and the Onan 2500 generator. This camper qualifies as both a short-bed and long-bed truck camper, ideal for every season of the year.
• Fantastic non-slide floor plan; interior feels like a slide-out model.
• Rear panoramic view and arch ceilings make the camper feel spacious.
• One-piece fiberglass wet bath is high-quality and huge.
• Excellent storage opportunities throughout the unit.
• Overall fit, finish, and quality was exceptional.
• Single rear wheel compatibility is possible – but a dual is recommended.
• Wide kitchen sink wastes precious counter space.
• Unusually tall entry step into the wet bath.
• No space available for a dedicated kitchen trash container.
• Ladder to cathedral arch roof is challenging to climb and descend.
• Four-light tank monitors and sensors are notoriously inaccurate.
• Fox Value Package could confuse customers on weight and price.
Last but not least, we have Forrest river’s Palomino HS-8801. According to the company website and various online reviews from enthusiasts and users alike, this short bed truck camper can be hauled comfortably on the back of a ton pickup truck. However, it is quite unlikely with a wet weight (fully loaded) of 3,400 pounds (3.4 tonnes).
Aside from the single piece, rubber roof it features an all-aluminum frame with an exceptional gel gloss fiberglass exterior, and it is enhanced further with lovely black accent trimming. It has a 9-foot floor plan with enough room for a north-south queen bed, wet bath, kitchenette, dinette, and a fridge. The freshwater tank on this model is 31 gallons, which is standard for this class of camper. However, the rest of the tanks are quite measly you get; 8-gallon for grey water and 7-gallon for black water.
It has 2 5-gallon propane tanks and other features like an exterior battery charge center, a 55 amp converter/charger and a handy disconnection switch for the battery. Over the years, there has been widespread complains about the dwindling standards of this model, from crappy workmanship to sub-par components.
This short bed truck camper has room for improvement.
• Has an incredible number and storage options.
• Dinette that can be converted to about 7-footbed.
• Push-button to initiate electric roof lift.
• North-South cab overused for easy entry/exit and storage.
• Compatible with a Half-ton when perfectly matched.
• Stability of the table could be improved.
• Lacks a shower, a toilet, and a bathroom.
• Doors and the cab over hamper openings can be small.
• Lining of some materials and seems could be made better.
How to choose Short Bed Truck Camper
If you are planning to buy a short bed truck, then there are some important factors you need to consider to ensure that you make the right pick. With several of such trucks in the market, it’s easy to get confused and this could be worse if you are a beginner. These top factors should help as your guide to buying one of the best short bed truck that meets your needs:
1. Hard Side or Pop-Up Truck Camper
There are two different kinds of pickup truck campers the hard side and pop-up truck campers.
Pop-up truck campers feature a roof that can be raised or lowered the upper third of the truck camper. For you to drive the truck, you need to lower the cab to the driving position. When you want to use the camper, you raise it to what is referred to as the camping position.
Hard side truck campers roofs are fixed and have a hard sidewall and are permanently raised to the camping position. These types of campers offer many essential advantages, these including; better comprehensive insulation heightened sound isolation, and extra interior storage and living space. These campers also offer extra floor plan space for additional features and options like dry baths, slide-outs, and sofas.
Most truck campers quite bulky and cumbersome to have around when they are not attached to a truck. For this reason, storage space is an important factor to consider even before you go buying a camper. Storing a camper inside a garage or getting a tarp to cover it is the easiest option. This will prevent damage and wear and tear from the weather, making you avoid more maintenance costs in the future.
You should also avoid storing it on the bare ground that has dirt on soil since you could have a termite or rodent infestation on your hands. The best practice is to store it on a well-cemented floor as this will save a lot of time and money in the form of future repair costs.
3. Bed length
When buying a truck camper the length of the bed of your truck is one of the first things to consider. Truck campers are built with this consideration in minds. There are campers for long bed trucks, and some like the ones in this article meant for short bed trucks.
However, some campers mentioned in this article, like the bigfoot model, can fit both a short bed truck and a long bed truck. The only limiting factor left to consider is the weight capacity of the truck, not to be confused with the truck’s towing capacity. This payload weight can be found on the driver’s side door on a placard or in the vehicle’s manual. If all else fails, you can search the internet for the right weight.
4. Bathroom options
Do you want a Wet Bath, Dry Bath, Toilet-Only Bath, or No Bath? These are things to consider for the sake of price and your comfort. No bath is pretty self-explanatory, you will have no toilet or shower inside your camper. The toilet only option doesn’t come with a shower.
A wet bath is essentially a shower stall that contains a sink and toilet. In a wet bath, has to have a shower, a toilet, and a sink. Wet baths have the entire arrangement inside one stall. A wet bath is pretty much the same as those bathrooms that have a shower that you can find in most households.
Dry baths look a lot like wet baths, but they have to be dried after you take a shower. This is because their walls are not designed to be water resistant or waterproof. If you leave a dry bath wet it will wick at the water and parts of your camper will start to rot or to grow mold and fungi. However, you can use the toilet and sink just like you would use any other.
Short Bed Truck Campers FAQ
Can a half ton pickup truck haul a camper?
The short answer is yes. However, it depends on the pickup truck’s overall payload rating. This rating determines the weight and the size of the camper that can be attached to the truck. If you consider a 2015 Ford F-150 short-bed pick up, it has a wheelbase of 154 inches, a double cab, two-wheel drive, and it is a heavy-duty truck with an impressive payload rating of 2,799 pounds (2.8 tons). Most of the half-ton pickup trucks available in the market can’t possibly handle this weight. The average pick up can support a payload of 1,600 pounds (1.6 tons). Such a small rating limits your options to short bed truck campers like the Northstar Vista or any other cab-less campers, pop-ups and small hard-side campers.
Even with the Ford F-150, a few upgrades will be needed to support the camper as the pickup truck moves. You will need to change the tires, upgrade the shocks, springs, and breaks. These improvements will go a long way to bolster the ability to support the weight of a camper.
How can you know your pickup’s payload rating?
The payload rating of any pickup or vehicle for that matter can be conveniently found on the driver’s side door on a placard attached to a pillar. It can also be found in the glove compartment on the certification form.
To determine your truck’s payload rating by taking the curb weight from the trucks GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating).
How can you correct swaying and pitching when driving a truck with a camper attached?
If you are experiencing too much sway or tipping every time you turn a corner, you should use Torklift Stable loads or a sway bar. These tools have different uses. Stable loads manipulate the leaf springs to activate the overload springs. While a sway bar keeps the truck stable by working the axle and the frame of the truck Keeping it level.
Many of the trucks been produced these days are built with a sway bar only at the front. A sway bar to the rear is needed when hauling a camper on your truck. This forces many truck owners to install a stronger sway bar to their trucks to enhance the stability of their trucks as they haul their campers.
Can you tow a wagon or boat when hauling a truck camper?
The answer is a resounding yes. The capability to tow things is one of the greatest advantages you will have in owning a truck camper or a truck in general. You should, however, factor in the tow weight against your truck’s payload rating. Getting a hitch extension is also another novel idea; this is because most campers extend beyond the tailgate of a truck.
Ideally, a hitch extension with a length of between 18 and 24 inches will do the trick.
Can I put a long-bed truck camper on a short-bed truck?
It is not possible or advisable in most cases. This is all because you would be forcing your truck’s center of gravity to move to the back of the rear wheel axle. There are hybrid models that can fit on both short bed and long bed trucks like Northwood Wolf Creek 850.
There is a lot of side storage space that short bed truck campers offer that you would lose if you used a long bed truck camper. As mentioned throughout this article, there are weight restrictions that determine the size of a camper you can attach to a particular truck.
Should I remove my truck’s tailgate before mounting my camper?
Yes, in the case of any camper that goes beyond the bed of your truck will force you to remove the tailgate. It is still a good idea to remove it even if the camper does not go beyond your truck’s bed. Remember that every ounce of weight you that can be removed will make a difference. This is because as you have seen campers are quite heavy and tailgates weigh an average of 80 pounds. It won’t take you that long to remove it, and it’s a better option when compared to damaging your tailgate on the rocks that you will kick up while on the rail.
Short bed truck campers and other RVs are probably the best way for you to see the inter-country. They give you more than just the bare necessities along with the modern conveniences you left at home. As you have seen through the cause of reading this article, Short bed truck campers are quite affordable.
Their price point is also quite fair as none of these the campers reviewed here cost over $46,000. There are very many amazing places and things to see out there, but you can’t always expect to find a cozy hotel or even a BnB out there in the wild. Why stay in a tacky hotel or a dingy motel if you got a truck anyways? When you can be out on your own or with your loved ones enjoying what nature has to offer. Truck campers give you the best of both worlds; you commune with nature while still having modern conveniences like plumbing, a kitchen, TV and anything else you might want to carry with you.