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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We were looking at Class C diesel rv's on rvtrader.com and we came across some truck bed campers. We've got a 2003 Ford f-250 6.0 diesel with a 8 foot bed so we thought we'd take a look. They even had some with slide-outs. These things were expensive too. Some were $30,000 or more.
So my question is from all of your experiences with truck bed campers what manufacturers would you suggest we look at and why. Do they have 1 piece roofs or are they rubber roofs. We did not care for the tent top campers we saw. AC is a must but a slide-out for us is not nessesary.
 

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campers for trucks

I originally looked at campers but was amazed at what they cost compared to room. They must be one of the most expensive RVs per cubic foot. And heavy too. We went with a bumper pull. Just my 2c, Gerry
 

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The advantage of the truck bed camper is that it creates an RV on a single chassis and is therefore easier to maneuver and is not limited to the speed restrictions many states have for towed trailers. Being able to remove it when not in use means that the vehicle gets driven around and is kept in shape over than the occasional usage of a Class A, B or C.

The disadvantage is that their weight may be too much for many trucks and no offense to your truck, but an F-250's weight capacity is much less than you might expect for a truck that size. I recollect an 2003 F-250 is about 10,000 GVWR. If you weighed your truck at a scale with just you in it, it would probably weigh around 7500 lbs, which only leaves 2500 lbs for your passengers, all the luggage and gear and the camper, too.

Don't expect to find anything with slides because of the weight of the mechanisms. In fact, you might have to look for a popup.

DO NOT let the sales personnel convince you what you need. They are NOT your friends, they just need your money. It is YOUR responsibility to do what's right such as staying within the weight ratings and knowing the laws and must-dos for camper ownership.

I think Lance is one of the best brands out there, but their strength might increase the weight. Other popular brands are Bigfoot and Palomino. I suggest you weigh your truck, add about 500 to 600 lbs for gear, propane, and passengers and their gear then estimate you'll have about 2,000 to 1,900 lbs left over. You don't mention if you have a Crew Cab but you can bet that will reduce your camper capability as well. That doesn't even leave any extra margin left over for the souvenir rocks you might want to take home.

Don't argue that since you have a diesel you don't have to worry about weight, otherwise your truck would have the same weight rating as the F-450 with the same engine and trans. There is more about weight ratings than those two objects like brakes, wheels, tires, suspension, springs, drive shaft, differential, and the list is long.

Then there's the "camper ready" preparation which includes a little more weight loss for the extra hardware, anti-sway bar or other components to support the extra weight AND height of the camper. Remember that a truck's GVWR is based on weight and not just the size of the cargo and a camper raises the center of gravity and the wind resistance so that the truck might need some help to make the ride more safe and comfortable.

After all is said and done, that's why folks like me and Gerry just went with a detachable trailer. It slows us down but provides outstanding accommodations. But I do know a couple of others who live within the camper limitations. Depending on where you are going to camp, you've got a lot of checking to do. In California, I do not believe campers are allowed to disconnect the trucks like a trailer allows. Other states might have other restrictions.

Good luck with your search.
 

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Let's hold on folks. We are discounting that fastback may have already decided against a trailer, because a trailer can't go as many places as a truck camper. If the truck is a 4x4, then the camper goes wherever the truck wants to go. It is also more economical when driving with mpgs.

I provided good brands of truck campers and I hope others can recommend more that his truck can carry. I'm guessing it has to be less than 2,000 lbs and with some features that are better than a camper shell or a truck bed tent.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Great points made....

Thank you all. Artmart, Gerry, thanks for those facts concerning my f-250's weight limits and how much truck campers weight. I would be close to max weight if not over after considering gear, food, passengers, fuel and a 18' pontoon boat. I did not know some camp sites prohibit you from leaving a truck camper unattended. I can see where some people might want to use the underside of the unattended truck camper as a sun shade while it's sitting on it's stilts and you know perhaps it falls over on them thus making the campground liable....lol. But seriously, do you have to leave the camper in the bed of the truck while your camping in it?
We must take our pontoon boat with us, so is there a 18-20 foot tow behind camper that you can tow a small boat behind it.
 

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Don't forget that now you must consider the hitch weight of the trailer being towed. Typically 10% to 12% of the trailer's weight is carried on the rear axle and therefore by the truck.

The only way to improve your truck's GVWR, especially at the rear is to make sure your truck has an F-350 spring pack (an overload spring, the brackets and hardware and a spacer). Other than larger tires and wheels rated for the new higher weight rating this is the only difference between an F-250 & F-350. The amount you gain and even if this can be done depends on the exact model and options on your truck.

I have a model year 2006 and was able to legally and successfully increase my GVWR in this manner because I was fortunate enough to have the proper F-250 to allow this. Many aftermarket improvements like air bags and other allegedly improvements DO NOT increase GVWR. Do NOT believe the sales person's who tell you this. I have proven many of them wrong with their own information that they chose to ignore.

You are definitely gonna need a lightweight Truck camper to do all you want with your F-250. We all appreciate your concern about doing this correctly and you are commended for doing this. I can't tell you how many others ignore this, then wonder why things broke. Things break even when within limits. Why push it?
 
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