Truck Campers...trashy or treasure? - Fiberglass RV
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Old 11-09-2020, 11:12 AM   #1
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Name: Sandy
Trailer: Scamp 13'
Florida
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Question Truck Campers...trashy or treasure?

We used to have a Scamp 13...loved it. It did leave us wanting a bathroom, a bigger bed, dedicated spaces for sleeping and eating, and maybe more floor space for the next rig though.

Getting back in the saddle with camping and being in a better place financially in life now, we were recently Lured by the idea of a shiny new Airstream with the new composite floors (going as far as trading in our newer high tech mid-sized pick-up for a slightly older Diesel F250), but we are finally resigned that now is not the time for that kind of financial investment...and came back to Earth. So completely shifting gears, we turned our eyes to the wonderful versatility of a truck camper, thinking "Hey...we could do some light off road adventures!". Going that route, and needing to stay light weight in this category for the F250, we looked back at fiberglass!

Enter...the Bigfoot 15C8.2 truck camper. It checks (almost) all the boxes: wet bath, dedicated queen sized bed, larger kitchen than the Scamp 13 had. Not a lot of floor space, but the benefits of fitting into any parking space seems pretty cool, and this is something that we could afford now.

What's my problem? Well (and I'm ashamed to even say it) I always thought of truck campers as kinda... "trashy". I think this stems from some encounters I had with a certain neighbor we had growing up. I do know some RV parks don't even allow them so that's not helping. Shopping online I am learning how mis-guided this is (some are amazing inside!), but still having a harder time getting excited about this idea. (The husband has NO problem here). I will say I do love the idea of going places the Airstream would never dare go.

I would love to hear others opinions on truck campers. Experiences from those with a fiberglass truck camper. Do you not have one and think less of them? Do you own one and experience any discrimination at RV Parks (or do you not care because you don't stay at RV Parks anyway)?

Finally, we might buy new. Is paying full price common or is it common to get something off of that? There sure doesn't seem to be many available.

Please help....wanting to be excited.
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Old 11-09-2020, 05:40 PM   #2
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What are your camping expectations? Pull in, spend the night, pull out the next morning for the next one-night-stand, repeat as needed? A self contained unit may work well.
We're more apt to set up for a few days to a week and make day trips from a base, so being able to disconnect and leave the sleeping unit behind for the day trips is more convenient for us.

That said, unloading a truck bed and placing the camper on stands then taking the unladen truck for day trips can also work for longer duration campground stays.


Not my cuppa-tea, but my sister and her other half like that.
https://www.truckcampermagazine.com/.../plan-no-plan/
They've since traded to a park model in FL for 'home', and a smaller slide-in for road use.
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p.s.: Those are her photos in the article. I'm jealous.
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Old 11-09-2020, 06:03 PM   #3
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Another thing: I usually see a Bigfoot camper delivery trailer parked at Walmart in the morning. I haven't seen one since the border was closed so that might be an issue.

Their manufacturer is up the river a few hours and I think this is one of their main routes for hauling the campers to dealers and customers in the US.

It seems to be a very popular camper.
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Old 11-09-2020, 06:29 PM   #4
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Name: Charlie Y
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Had a large pickup camper from 1985-2006; it was custom built for winter camping and ski trips; the floor was raised and a plenum constructed underneath so I could keep the tanks from freezing by blowing warm room air around them. Worked well; used it for fishing in the summer as I added a boat roller to the rear end of the top and loaded a 17 ft canoe up there. We even travelled with 3 dogs (Irish Setter, Golden Retriever, and a Beagle.) Before slideouts - so it was pretty tight, but it served us well for 20 years. Never had an issue at any campground, but never tried to stay at a private one, either (other than a KOA in Whistler, Canada. Put a 2000 lb camper in the bed of a pickup with 4WD and you can go almost anywhere, even in winter. Now we're in an Escape 21 after a Casita 17.
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Old 11-09-2020, 07:53 PM   #5
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I watched a couple in a neighboring site back their truck under their camper which had been on jacks for several days while they made day trips in their truck. It was a ticklish operation as they had very little clearance between the width of the bed and the width of the camper. It was also made more difficult by the significant slopes on the site.

The jacks were electric, but apparently are not controlled individually(?), though I might be wrong about this. It was definitely not as easy or simple as putting our trailer hitch on the ball. She kept putting her head into the ever-narrowing gap to inspect how things were going which made me nervous as he would goose the throttle to back a few more inches. This would never pass muster at a job site with a safety program; a mirror would let her maintain a safe position.

They had an F350 4X diesel with a healthy-sized camper with a slide, an Arctic Fox as best I recall. The wife commented that she loved the camper, although the four-wheeling capability wasn't quite what she had hoped for. I told the husband that she wanted a 650 and he just sort of snorted a half-laugh with a whimsical smile.

There are trailer people, and motorhome people, and camper people who are all happy with their choices.
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Old 11-09-2020, 08:58 PM   #6
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There are a couple of reasons that some RV parks will not allow truck campers.

1) That opinion that people with truck campers are "trash". They think that all truck camping people are sleeping in the back of a pickup with a Leer topper on it.

2) A more practical reason for not allowing them is the difficulty of removing them should they become abandon. Its rather easy for a tow truck to remove a motorhome, and easy enough to tow off a trailer, but a truck camper is not that easy to remove. Some campgrounds may allow them provided they stay on the truck and are not removed during the stay.

Bear in mind, these would be private campgrounds, as few public campgrounds will have rules like that. Its kinda like the 10 year old rule, its a private campground thing, and I for one, avoid private campgrounds (spent one night in a KOA at Hot Springs South Dakota in 2017 and that is the only private campground I have been in.)

People think that truck campers are light but they are not. I was looking for one for my RAM 2500, but the reality is that virtually any truck camper short of a popup is too much. I can accomodate about 2800 lbs and that puts my tire and rear axle loading at max. Every time someone hears "fiberglass" in conjunction with a trailer or truck camper, they instantly say "lightweight" and that is not so. Fiberglass RVs are comparable in weight to most other RVs of the same design and size.

Well, anyhow, enough of that rant.

Charles
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Old 11-09-2020, 10:19 PM   #7
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Anytime I’m told I’m not welcome I let the exclusive. expletive deleted, know what I think of them and let them know I’ve been thrown out of classier joints than they are running. I have no respect for exclusivity of any kind.

I met a guy with an old school bus camper conversion at the Mississippi River Rendezvous a few years ago. I told him the diesel engine sounded pretty healthy. He explained how he adapted a Cummins engine and Allison transmission to the bus and what he used for cross members. carrier bearings etc. I knew then that his mechanical abilities were miles down the road from anything I ever dreamed of doing. He had paid full price, we were skating by on the half price Geezer pass. Respect for your fellow camper is just part of being a decent person.
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Old 11-10-2020, 07:51 AM   #8
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With a trailer you can establish a base camp and do your 4x4 exploring without the higher center of mass, extra weight, and overhead clearance of the truck camper.

With a truck camper you can get your base camp deeper in, but then you either have to off-load it or cart it around when you explore. Lifting a slide-in in and out of a raised HD truck is not for the faint of heart.

You might feel out of place or even get turned away at a few RV “resort” type parks, but you wouldn’t be considering a truck camper if that’s where you plan to “camp,” right?

A well-maintained 4x4 truck and shiny fiberglass camper will get admiring looks in many places, especially out West. Not quite as hip as a Sprinter 4x4, but close, and it can go more places.

I met John Oliver a few years ago at our local supermarket. He was on a solo hunting trip and had a Nissan Frontier 4x4 outfitted for off-road use and was pulling the smaller Oliver trailer. That was a nice, understated bit of boondocking eye candy. I’m firmly in the trailer camp. I’d rather leave my house parked for serious backcountry exploring, and I’d rather do it in a smaller truck than the 3/4T required for a slide-in.

Different strokes. No one here will think you trashy for choosing a molded slide-in.
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Old 11-10-2020, 08:20 AM   #9
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Trailer: Escape 21 and Northern Lite truck camper 2014 2500 HD Duramax
Michigan
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We have both, an Escape 21 and a Northern Lite truck camper. Each has its special purpose.
When we will be in only a couple of spots for extended times we take the trailer

When we may be moving every few days we take the camper. Though with practice it only takes about 10 minutes to drop the camper, with electric jacks, to go explore the smaller spaces.

On our Alaska trip in 2015 the camper was used, easier parking in so many places.

Having both, if I had to get rid of one, the travel trailer would go and the camper would stay.
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Old 11-10-2020, 08:55 AM   #10
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Oh man thanks for the replies. We definitely want to spend more time in remote places, national/state parks, BLM etc while we are healthy enough to take on a more adventurous style. We do also enjoy the occasional trip to Disney's Fort Wilderness, and other resorts. I can accept that in this season of camping some places may not permit truck campers and we can work around that. We live in Florida so my past perspective is probably skewed by the fact that there is no overlanding here (at least in the sense people think of it), so I hadn't gained an appreciation for the access it affords.
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Old 11-10-2020, 10:47 AM   #11
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I'll put in another word for the Northern Lite truck camper that Tom mentioned. I think you should look at it and not just the Bigfoot. They are all out classy, roomy and comfortable. And they are both made in BC, so that's not an issue.
If I were in the market I'd do some more research before deciding, but right now I'd choose the Northern Lite.
Both top of the line though.

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Old 11-10-2020, 01:17 PM   #12
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I definitly get a case of truck camper envy whenever I see a Northern Lite.


But of course unless it exactly matches your mind set there is no one perfect choice. But there are at least some good choices. Making up your mind is the difficult part. So use a prioritized check list and see which one you give the highest rating to.
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Old 11-10-2020, 01:47 PM   #13
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There are also the non fiberglass kind of collapsible campers. I went on a tour of the Alaskan Camper facility a few years ago. They are hard sided and very heavy. They do not come with a bathroom as there are difficulties to have a shower in a telescoping trailer.

The story goes that the developer of the Alaskan Camper almost tipped over with a regular camper while traveling in Alaska--hence the name. He made a less top heavy kind of collapsing camper that makes going off the beaten path a bit better. Alaskan Campers are made in Washington, the state and I think they now are in Winlock. They will work with you and can do customization. They also refurbish their old campers.
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Old 11-10-2020, 04:28 PM   #14
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Name: Bruce & Kathryn
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We love truck campers. It’s just not something you see a lot of here in the Southeast. In Idaho and Wyoming this Sept/Oct, we often wanted to turn down Forest Service roads that our 25 foot Bigfoot is just not suited for. We did foolishly and luckily find some incredible spots to dry camp, but a truck camper would have made it a lot easier. Bigfoot, Northern Lite and Arctic Fox all look nice. We like to stay out 7 days or so without a trip to town for water and a dump station, so tank size would be important. We are actually considering moving from our trailer to a truck camper. We do need hard sides as we are often in bear country with “hard-sided campers only” restrictions. So no, we don’t think they are trashy!
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Old 11-11-2020, 01:00 AM   #15
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we looked at a bunch before we decided to get a FGRV.

I hated driving them, big F350 or Dodge 3500 longbed, dualies, big bloated Lance or something cabover.

We never camped it one, but the idea of climbing in and out of that high cabover bed in the middle of the night, with no onboard facilities wasn't attractive, so we got a Casita. and now an Escape. We have some experience with rental class C and A RVs from the 80s, and we had a nice tent trailer for awhile.

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Old 11-11-2020, 03:23 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon in AZ View Post
I met John Oliver a few years ago at our local supermarket. He was on a solo hunting trip and had a Nissan Frontier 4x4 outfitted for off-road use and was pulling the smaller Oliver trailer. .

I was thinking you met John Oliver, host of "Last Week Tonight".

I thought cool - his last name's Oliver and so is his trailer.

Then I figured it out...
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Old 11-11-2020, 03:42 AM   #17
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John, I don't know what you mean by "no onboard facilities". Certainly those under discussion here have wet baths, just like our TTs. In fact I kinda think maybe the Northern Lite might have a dry bath. Maybe not.

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Old 11-11-2020, 09:37 AM   #18
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I have spent time having coffee in my friends' stick built camper. It seems roomier than my 17 foot Casita and the bed looks quite easy to climb in and out of. Another couple I know had an Artic Fox with a slide out. They got rid of it and went with a small motorhome and I think they regret their decision, due to the smaller tank size and less insulation in the motorhome.
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Old 11-11-2020, 10:46 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by slowpat View Post
I have spent time having coffee in my friends' stick built camper. It seems roomier than my 17 foot Casita and the bed looks quite easy to climb in and out of. Another couple I know had an Artic Fox with a slide out. They got rid of it and went with a small motorhome and I think they regret their decision, due to the smaller tank size and less insulation in the motorhome.


We had several truck campers and traveled over much of the country including Alaska three times. We gave up the truck camper and switched to a travel trailer when my wife starting having problems getting into and out of the overcab bed. In my opinion a truck camper is the best way to travel. We actually wintered in Arizona twice in the camper. For what it’s worth in my opinion hitching and unhitching a trailer is easier than loading and unloading a truck camper.
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Old 11-11-2020, 10:46 AM   #20
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Great feedback!

We are going to check out a 2021 Northern Lite Sportsman Plus (8-11 EXSP) today.

Charles you are right that not all truck campers are light weight, and there are a many fiberglass units too heavy for our 3/4 ton. We like some margin for “stuff” (including ourselves) so even some units advertised as 3/4 ton compatible (yet weigh dangerously close to 3000lbs) are a no go for us.

Pretty much narrowed down to the Bigfoot 15c8.2FR or Northern Lite 8-11 Sportsman Plus. Bigfoot is lighter at 2061 dry vs Northern Lite at 2400lbs, but the Northern Lite may still be in our comfort zone with a few more standard features. We do want hard side / 4 season capability.

Walt you are right that Northern Lite does have a dry bath option. The one we are looking at today is a wet bath. I’m ok with either one and might even prefer the wet bath if it means more space to maneuver.
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