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One of best small and low cost RV that you can own is a truck camper. Its great for boondocking. Its a great option for those who have never tried RVing before. Although its simple to use people do have basic confusion and questions about truck campers. In this article we will be answering one of those basic questions.
Yes, truck campers can be used off truck. In fact, a lot of people use truck campers by taking them off from the truck. Its also true that many people avoid this and have never tried taking their camper off the truck.
Removing the camper from truck can also give you stress and that’s why people simply don’t do it. Its all about your needs and thus taking them off may not be necessary for all.
Taking a camper off truck gives you a flexible option of using your truck for other purposes. You can go off-grid using the truck while your camper stays at that camping location.
Many people don’t use the camper separately because they don’t find it necessary or don’t want to put that extra efforts or they feel its not safe to do.
A lot of Rvers take their campers off only when they have to do the maintenance on camper. A fear of camper tipping over makes a lot of people simply not take them off.
It all depends on how you want to camp. Taking the camper off or keeping it with the truck, both has its pros and cons. Keeping the camper on truck will give you everything that you need while you move (like your gear, food, sleeping space).
Where as keeping the camper placed on the ground means you have truck for sightseeing, other trips with less weight on the truck bed.
If you camp at a location for long enough then it makes sense to take the camper off. You can then head over to those short trips without the bulky camper on the bed. Also, going off grid through muddy or gravel roads you may want to avoid going with the camper.
What makes people take off the camper from truck or Avoid doing it
I think there are few points that make people take off their camper or not take them off.
- How difficult or easy it is to take the camper off. Whether you have manual jack movement or with remote.
- Its stability. How stable it can remain on ground.
- The overall weight of the camper.
- Whether you are camping alone or with your spouse or family makes a difference. You may want someone to be around when placing or removing it from the truck bed.
- Your stay at a particular location. If you are going to stay at a location only for a day then it may not make sense. Removing the camper from bed when camping at a location for longer duration is ideal.
- Your truck usage needs. Whether you go sightseeing or off-grid through muddy, gravel roads. Or you go for other recreation activities around the camping area.
Before we see how a truck camper can be unloaded from the truck, lets quickly check out how they are placed on top of a truck in first place. In case you know how it is done, jump over to next sub topic on “how to unload a truck”.
How the camper is placed on the truck
Those who have never used truck camper or any other RV then this can be a fascinating for them. Many of you may be wondering how do they put such a bulky thing on the truck. How much time it will take and can it be done by one or two people.
Truck camper or slide over campers are easy to use and install over truck. With camping experience you can do this in as little as 10 minutes. All it takes is few items and careful judgment to do it.
Whats needed :
Camper will need tie downs that will provide anchor points in connecting the truck with camper. Minimum 4 tie downs are needed, 2 at both the front and the backside.
The next thing is the turnbuckles on the camper that connect to the anchors on the truck. You get different forms of turnbuckles, you need to select as recommended by the manufacturer.
Apart from these things, you will also need wiring to make connections with the truck electrical system. This will provide power to the camper.
Steps in placing the camper on the truck.
1. First you have raise the camper at a height slightly higher than the truck bed. Make sure the truck and the camper are placed in line.
2. Next is to start backing the truck without hitting or sliding with the camper. Do this as slowly as possible. Have someone to look while the truck is backing up.
3. Make sure the truck bed goes below the camper. Do this carefully and avoid any contact with the camper. Once the truck comes exactly below the camper, stop it.
4. Later start lowering the camper slowly using the wireless remote or manual jack controls to place it on the bed. Once it is placed on the bed tie it down using tie down and anchors on the truck turnbuckles.
How to unload the camper from truck
You have to level the truck camper before removing the camper. Later-on little bit can be done to level the camper further.
Find the camping surface : Make sure the place where the camper jacks will land does not have big holes or rocks. Avoid surface that is soft, try finding surface that is hard and flat.
You can make use of wood or pads under the jack. This will keep them firm and stable.
Separate the camper : Next is to remove tie downs that connect camper to truck mounting brackets. Mounting brackets could be sticking out on the side or be hitched at the back.
Tie downs come in different forms like chains or turn buckles. It differs for campers. Be careful when removing the tie downs and avoid putting dents and scratches on them.
Operating Jack : Next is to operate the jacks and make sure all the jacks are touching the ground. With modern camper you get wireless remotes that you can use to lift the camper from truck.
Be cognizant of where the jacks are going to land. Jacks on truck camper can be electric or manual. Electric can also be manual and can also be driven by drill. It depends on campers. Depending on the setup you may have to spread the jacks outward.
Jacks have level marking to know how higher it has come. Or if they don’t have it then you can make marking by yourself. Most new campers will have markings printed.
Read : How to level an RV
You get remote to operate all the jack at once or even individual ones. Before you start the process of lifting the camper make sure any obstruction be removed from the truck or camper like having a bike rack or any other item should be removed.
If you have electric jack the lifting of camper need good power and hence you will have to be plugged in. It can take more than 400-450 watts to do the operation. It depends on how big your camper is. For some campers, you may also need the truck be running to power the whole lifting process. It all depends on the type of truck camper you have.
Drive the truck : Once the jacks are set-up you have to drive the truck from underneath.
Once the camper is lifted, next is to drive away the truck. Make sure the tires are pointing straight and not turned on any direction. You will be driving the truck straight off the camper.
If you have someone to watch it then that’s going to be great. You never know there can some obstruction or the camper may be titling when driving so having some one see it from outside kind of really helps.
Make sure its not pulling with you. Be careful and stay calm while going ahead with this.
Unplugging the camper : There is one more thing to do before you take the truck off the camper completely. Just drive a little bit like foot or two and then unplug the camper from the truck. Campers are connected to truck for electric power and lightning.
Some plugs can be at the back or inside the truck bed too. Once you are done removing the plugs pull the truck slowly and you are done.
Lower the Camper : To remove the truck you have to bring the camper at much height and because of this the camper will not be stable. It will be shaky with that much height. Therefore the next step is bring the camper to lower the camper towards the ground as much as possible.
This will stabilize the camper much more. Get it lower till the point that there are no obstructions. In most campers, you will lower till the camper steps.
Here again you have to use the remote or if its manual have to do it manually. Make sure you have to do it all at once for all jacks, so that you don’t end up with a sliding camper on one end.
Extend Slide out or awning : Once the camper is standing stable you can extend the slide or extend the awnings if present.
Can you sleep inside the camper when its off the truck
If you can get it off the truck you definitely can sleep and be inside it when its not present on the truck. But, make sure the camper is stable and is being supported by good jacks that are leveled.
Its also worth to note that not all campers may be good enough to sleep inside them when off truck. If you own a one that’s cheap and not of great quality, getting them off truck itself may be not wise.
So, before you get it off the truck and sleep inside it, make sure you own a one that’s of good quality and not one of those cheaper one’s out there.
The reason why i say that is because you want the camper to be stable when not on truck. With good camper having a wireless jack movement you can definitely go ahead but not with any camper out there.
If you have visited camper showroom you can try going inside them and see how it feels. obviously, the camper at a show are stabilized using great support and are also lying on a flat surface.That may not be the case when you actually camp at a boondocking site. The problem can be to find a flat surface that will keep it leveled and stable.
If you can manage to get a nice little space that’s flat and isn’t very soft then you can keep the camper stable.
So, before you decide on doing this check with the manufacturer. See whats written and what they recommend.
Additional questions that people have about truck campers
Should you think about buying camper first or the truck?
The best thing to do here is to get the camper first and then look for the truck that is capable enough. But, very often this will not work for people as they already own a truck. With that scenario, it may not be great for them to buy a separate truck just to pull the camper. If you are in that situation then do check out your trucks capacity to carry a camper first.
What type of truck are used to carry truck campers?
The truck made by most popular manufacturer are of different levels as 1/2 ton, 3/4th ton , 1 ton or higher with bigger capacity. The main truck manufacturers include Ford (F-series, F-450 or 550), Chevy Silverado, Toyota Tundra, GMC Sierra, Dodge Ram Trucks, and Nissan Titan. You would be mostly choosing from this for your camper.
How much do truck campers weigh?
Truck campers can weigh depending on the models, type and layout. On an average, the truck campers weigh between 1000 lbs to 4500 lbs. You have to check with the trucks capacity before loading the camper on its bed.
Want ot know some of the best lightweight truck campers? Here are top 10 truck camper under 2000 lbs.
Truck campers are a great to RV in a campground or go boondocking. With modern truck campers its easy to operate them for loading and unloading. While things will become easy for you as you camp with them, always be careful while taking them off and putting them back. And as always enjoy the outdoor as much as possible. Taking your camper off will help you enjoy the sightseeing better with your truck.