There are a lot of people in the United States that are very serious about camping. They like to get away to remote, out of the way places and hunt or fish, or just enjoy a weekend in the woods away from the rat race. Many younger couples with children enjoy tent camping, and it is a lot of fun. Other, older people take to the road in a 40 foot motor home, or RV, and travel the country and live in relative comfort. Whatever the choice, having the right vehicle to meet your needs is important. Whether you haul a fifth wheel travel trailer, have a 4X4 with an attached camper, or need something to haul all that camping equipment, a truck meets the needs of just about everyone. This article will focus on trucks used for camping - what the ideal truck is for your choice, and what has the best design under different circumstances.
The Pickup Camper
A very popular camper for those who want to get away into remote areas is the pickup camper. The camper unit itself can be detached from the pickup and put on jacks to allow normal use of the truck. When you wish to go camping, you jack up the camper, back under, and fasten it securely. You are ready to go.
This unit is great for people who already own a 4X4 1/2 or 3/4 ton pickup. These vehicles can more than handle a truck camper.
Choice Of Truck
If a truck camper is you, there are minimum requirements for your pickup. You must first determine what your vehicle is capable of carrying. Many of today's newer pickups have this listed either on the door pillar or in the glove box, or in the instruction manual. Manufacturers figure this gross vehicle weight (GVW) in such a fashion that there is quite a bit of wiggle room here. They calculate this with the metrics of the truck carrying a passenger in every available seat that weighs 150 pounds. Obviously, you will rarely run into that situation. However, the most important consideration when considering a truck camper is the carrying capacity of the vehicle.
Another good thing to have is a suspension package on your pickup. It helps with the added weight of the camper, and makes the truck more stable on the road. A towing package is also a good thing to have, because it provides a transmission cooler to help the tranny stay cool when traveling in steep terrain.
A new truck camper with all the amenities will set you back about $19,000. The newer models feature a shower, bathroom, and both air conditioning and a heating system. Some models are capable of sleeping six, and higher end models will even include a slide-out. They are designed for a pickup with either a 6 foot or 8 foot bed.
Perhaps a truck camper is not what you are looking for. On the market are pull behind "fifth wheel" trailers that are more luxurious and offer more in comfort. A pickup hauling this type of camper obviously needs to be more heavy duty than one hauling a bed mounted truck camper. A hitch is installed on rails in the pickup bed, allowing quick hookup when you are ready to hit the road.
The best truck to pull a trailer of this size and weight depends on who you talk to. Some advocate for the dual wheel 3/4 ton pickup with dual wheels, others say a single wheel pickup will pull just fine. Considering the weight of the fifth wheel trailer, the best recommendation would be for a dual wheel pickup. Here's why. Probably the biggest safety hazard pulling one of these rigs is a blowout. Almost all drivers tend to hit the brakes when a tire blows, and this sets you up for an accident because it will cause the trailer to slide.
When you consider a truck to haul a camper, be sure to check around to see what really works for people. Heavy duty 14 ply tires on a "dually" are highly recommended. A diesel engine is considered a must. Be sure you have the proper towing or weight capacity for what you intend to haul. Never take a chance on overloading a pickup with more weight than it can safely handle.
If all this sounds like a lot of hassle to you, consider a good sized pickup that will either pull a popup camper safely, or will carry all your tent camping supplies. Always know your truck's limitations and capacities. It will keep you from being stranded out in the boonies, or, even worse, in serious trouble from a crash because you used a truck that couldn't handle the weight and size.
Alden Smith is an award winning author and regular contributor to DoItYourself.com. He writes on a variety of subjects, and excels in research.