Vanlife

Truck Campers… the Short List

In resent months I have come to the idea that a truck camper is probably my best option for the overland vehicle I am looking for. For a while I had considered getting a van and converting it but as this vehicle will become my primary transport as well a van won’t really work. Being able to separate camper from truck will make it more fesable.

The bonus of a truck camper is that all the comforts anyone would want for extended travel. Truck campers have a bed that doesn’t need to be made each day, a kitchen and table and most have a bathroom with shower. Another advantage is that they have heating and cooling systems and can be insulated to combat colder temperatures.

So in general I am looking for a few things. I am hoping that the entire vehicle will be as light / small as possible. While I don’t plan on doing major rock crawling with the camper attached being able to go off road. Being light will also help with some of the other compromises this rig will have to deal with.

First compromise is that of payload. I am amazed at the small weights that pick ups can carry. That said for day to day driving the smaller the rig the better as fuel economy will already be much worse than I am used to. The second compromise is that of shipping. In order to get to some of the places in the world (South America included) it is necessary to ship your vehicle. Lower weight will hopefully provide some advantage to me. One shipping issue still to be overcome will be the height of the rigs below as I am fairly sure they wont fit within a shipping container, something I may have to figure out.

So these are the current short list that research has told me would be good options for what I am thinking of.

Adventurer Truck Camper Model 80RB

Click picture for review by Truck Camper Magazine

The Adventurer website states that this camper can fit on Nissan Titan and Toyota Tundra trucks and all of the pictures show it on a Ford F150. I am not so certain though as the weights quoted and the suggested amount you need to consider for your own belongings exceed the max payloads of those trucks. The nice thing about the Adventurer Campers is that they advertise 4 season insulation as a standard which is a definate plus.

Northstar Laredo SC

Click the picture above for review by Truck Camper Adventure

The Laredo SC is heavier than the 80RB and would need a bigger truck, which it looks like I will have to do anyways. One nice thing about this rig is how it makes use of a Cassette Toilet. If you are going to have a toilet then you will have to deal with the nasty mess that is left behind. In North America camp grounds have waste disposal areas where the RV’s dump their tanks through a hose you carry with the truck but outside of the USA and Canada these facilities are not common. As gross as it may seem to someone that has not used RV’s or trailers, having a cassette that you can take to an appropriate disposal area (any toilet really) is an important consideration if you have a bathroom on board.

Lance 650 Truck Camper

Click picture for a review by Truck Camper Adventure

This camper has been designed and launched in the last year or two and was designed to fit the Ford 150. It is the lightest as well as the shortest camper I have listed and still retains having a bathroom. Anything smaller and lighter comes with that big compromise and isn’t currently a part of the thought process. A very big thing that I like about this camper is that the floor length is only 6.5 feet long which means that it will not hang over the end of the typical truck. The other campers either need to have an 8 foot truck bed or there will be overhang which doesn’t seem ideal to me even though the manufactures say that isn’t a problem.

Winnebago Revel

Click image for review by Gear Junkie

This rig is not a truck camper but I saw it recently and thought it was cool. It is the most expensive idea on this list and would require me to drive a motorhome to work every day but it is a self contained unit that would easily fit in a shipping container. The Mercedes Sprinter van chassis is also a very capable truck and should be able to get to where ever I would want to go with a camper. The other very cool thing about this RV is how flexable it is to a variety of different applications.

So that is where I am at the moment. Do you or anyone you know have any experience with these or other RV’s / Truck Campers that may be useful? If so I would love to hear about it.

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Overlanding Vehicle Part 2: Just What Am I Looking For?

It is so easy to get excited at the idea of buying a new vehicle. It is even easier to let dreaming get out of hand when you avoid looking at prices and imagine that you have unlimited resources. In the last post I talked about the dream of EarthRoamers and EarthCruiser. Those rigs are amazing but The EarthCruiser is close to $200,000 US and the EarthRoamer is closer to $500,000! Time to think for something more reasonable.

What Am I Looking For?

The more that you look into Overlanding the more you find out that there are a million ways to do this. To this point I have spent the time getting around on my motorbike. As I have said before the bike is an amazing way to see and be a part of where you are. As you travel you experience the sights, sounds and smells in a very intense way that is not possible when the metal of a car or truck is separating you from it. That said I have learnt that the idea of building your house and making your bed every day gets old after a while. On the last trip to Europe I also found it hard to find campgrounds as language was a barrier and in the end didn’t even set up my tent once.

So for a year away I am looking for some things in a new vehicle. First is that I need something that will allow me to be independent. That means somewhere I can sleep, eat and possibly use a washroom. Secondly I am also interested in a 4×4, I have no idea what the state of the roads will be like and I don’t want that to be the reason why I don’t see something cool.

There are a few different options that might fit these conditions.

Class B RV’s

There are a bunch of different types of vans that are being used by people to live in for long periods of time. As houseing prices soar, #Vanlife is becoming more popular. The vans are quite amazing and usually have most of the things that I am looking for. The company Sportsmobile creates some amazing off road capable vehicles.

While these trucks are right for the task I have two issues with them. First, and least important, is that they generally do not have washrooms. Some designs do but most do not and I guess that I am now getting old enough that comfort is becoming more of an issue for me. I am assuming that access to showers in campgrounds in South America will not be the same thing as here in the North and the idea of always showering in the outside with portable showers may become a little old.

The second and most important issue is that for the years before and after the trip this will probably become my primary vehicle. I don’t have amazing amounts of space to store an RV and being able to afford two cars is a lot of money that I just don’t have. Driving a camper to the grocery store every day may get a little old.

Truck Campers

Truck Campers seem like the perfect comprimise. These rigs allow me to leave the camper stored some place and a pick up truck to drive around in at home. I have never owned a truck before but I do treat the hatchbacks sort of like pick ups, I rarely have the back seat up. Many trucks on the market come as very good 4×4’s and will allow me to learn about off roading before I go.

The campers also match most of the things I am looking for. Depending on the size they come with bathrooms, full kitchens and beds that I won’t have to make up every day. Air conditioning and heating systems are possible and storage of water and food is easy. I really like this option as it means I have something for trips before and after South America.

So there it is, time to start looking for the right truck and camper.