Are truck campers easy to remove? (7 simple steps)

In this blog post, we will answer the following question: Are truck campers easy to remove? We will explain how you can remove a truck camper and give you a few tips on properly securing and driving with a truck camper attached. 

Are truck campers easy to remove?

The good news is that truck campers are easy to remove, once you get used to how to do it. The bad news is that if you do not reattach the truck camper properly, you risk damaging both the camper and the pick-up truck. 

Before explaining how you can remove a truck camper, we must discuss several key points. There are two main categories of truck campers if we consider the way in which they are connected to the carrier vehicle:

  1. Fixed truck campers
  2. Removable truck campers.

The fixed truck campers are permanently attached in place of the bucket directly to the frame or via what is called an approved “Australian” type platform. In this configuration, the truck camper becomes one with the carrier. It is in fact a subframe that attaches to the chassis of the carrier. 

Normally with such a system, the vehicle registration card does not have to be changed to VASP (Specialized Self-propelled Vehicle with GVW <or = 3.5 tonnes). This mention is attributed to leisure vehicles (eg: motorhome weighing less than 3.5 tonnes).

The removable truck campers, as their name suggests, are designed to be placed in the pick-up bed, sometimes even without removing the tailgate. The major advantage of this system lies in the fact that you can use the pick-up in utility mode when you are not travelling, or even for some models leave the truck camper on its feet and go for a ride with the vehicle without worrying about height.

There are also two other types of more structural categories:

  1. A truck camper with a lifting roof 
  2. “Classic” truck camper with a fixed roof.

There are more and more truck campers with a lifting roof (canvas) on the market. It has the advantage of a small footprint which is very appreciable for steep paths and especially for container transport of the whole if you want to explore other continents. 

Another very popular point is the almost panoramic view that we have from the raised roof with open curtains (mosquito nets). The main drawback is that the functions (kitchen, etc.) and in particular the sleeping area are only accessible when the roof is up, installation and folding take a few minutes. In addition, in (very) strong winds the roof and the canvas may suffer.

The fixed roof truck campers are larger, more comfortable, the kitchen and the sleeping area are still available, but the space requirement is much larger than the previous ones, which can be a barrier for off-road developments or for containerization. Life on board is more like living in a “traditional” motorhome.

I will also cite an intermediate category: truck campers made for the most part in canvas with not only a pop-up roof but also side extensions allowing the interior space to be enlarged such as the products offered by South African manufacturers such as Alu-Cab by example.

How to remove a truck camper?

Here are steps to follow if you need to remove a truck camper:

Step 1: Find a level place to park: You don’t want the truck or the camper to shake when trying to separate the two. 

Step 2: Release tie-downs from the truck camper mounting brackets: be careful so as not to scratch or damage them in any way camper at this point. 

Step 3: Check the jacks/stabilizers: make sure you know how to use them. Read our article on how to stabilize a camper for instructions. 

Step 4: Deploy the stabilizers: Ask someone to help you lift the truck camper from the bed. Be careful to deploy the jacks until they touch the camper (all in sync). 

Step 5: Carefully move the truck straight forward about three ft: You must go straight ahead and lift the camper more if necessary.  

Step 6: Unplug the cable to the truck: This is the cable responsible for recharging your camper batteries. Remove it now. 

Step 7: Carefully drive the truck forward again: Make sure there is no other cable connected to the camper beforehand. Drive enough to be able to lift the front side of the truck camper. 

Step 8: Lower the truck camper to desired height & level: Make sure you keep the camper level and that you lower it slowly and with precision. 

To keep in mind when reattaching a truck camper

You most likely don’t want your camper to rock and roll over, so follow these simple tips to avoid an accident:

  1. Make sure you are towing your truck camper with the right vehicle. Make sure to check your vehicle’s towing capacity to find out if your vehicle can support the weight of your camper.
  1. Use a stabilizer bar or other type of tool that will level the height and weight of your truck camper. By doing this, you ensure that your camper is secure and does not put pressure on the towing vehicle.
  1. Make sure the hitch is secure before starting a road trip. If your hitch is not secure, your truck camper could come loose and start rolling on its own. 
  1. Drive slow in high winds. I would recommend not taking breaks quickly in high winds.
  1. Don’t force the brake pedal. You risk losing control of your vehicle. 

So this is what you do:

  • Don’t apply breaks quickly
  • Keep speed slow
  • Use a lower gear to slow down

To try not to accelerate so as not to risk swaying. Always drive with caution!

When we carry a truck camper, it is important to be very careful, especially if the weather conditions are not optimal.  The resistance that our vehicle has, plus that added by the camper is considerable. This is why driving slowly and holding the steering wheel firmly is very important.

Avoiding overturning is the most essential. By reducing the speed we will go much calmer and we will have greater control of the vehicle. Remember that the longer the camper and car set, the more the force of the wind will be noticeable. We must avoid swaying, reduce the speed as much as possible until we feel safer.

Conclusions

Before leaving on a trip, check the conditions of the anchors, window and door closures. Check wheels, pressure and brakes. You should know that, with gusts of wind, the rocking of the camper is noticeable. Don’t panic, slow down until you notice that you are safer. 

Do not pass cars, much fewer trucks or large vehicles. This practice with gusts of strong wind can give us a great scare. If you do not see yourself prepared for such driving and you know it in advance, better change your route. If there is no way you can tell, wait for the wind force to change. Travelling safely is the most important thing.

If you have any comments, questions or suggestions on driving with a truck camper, please feel free to share them with our other readers!

FAQ on Are truck campers easy to remove?

Can a truck camper tip over?

It happens rarely, but yes, a truck camper can tip over. This obviously happens for several reasons:

  • you did not secure the camper properly;
  • you overloaded the camper or do not distribute the weight correctly;
  • you drove in high winds and severe weather aversions. 

Are truck campers hard on trucks?

Yes, truck campers can be hard to load and unload. You must make sure you respect the towing capacity of your truck and properly load the weight of the camper. 

Can you sleep in a truck camper on jacks?

Yes, you can sleep in a truck camper on jacks. Jacks will support your truck camper and will safely hold all the weight.

How long do truck campers last?

Truck campers last approximately 155,ooo miles (about 250,000 kilometres), which corresponds to approximately 25 years. Factors such as how often your camper is used, the quality of maintenance and cleaning all have an impact on the life of the vehicle in one way or another.

What is the best truck for a camper?

The best trucks for a camper are, in our opinion, the following models:

  1. Ford F-150 – up to 13,200 lbs towing capacity
  2. Chevrolet Silverado – 14,500 lbs towing capacity
  3. GMC Sierra – 12, 200 lbs towing capacity
  4. Ram 1500 – 8,290 lbs towing capacity
  5. Toyota Tundra – 10,200 lbs towing capacity
  6. Nissan Titan – 9,400 lbs towing capacity
  7. Toyota Tacoma – 6,800 lbs towing capacity
  8. Nissan Frontier 6,720 lbs towing capacity
  9. Chevrolet Colorado / GMC Canyon – 7,000 lbs towing capacity
  10. Honda Ridgeline – 5,000 lbs towing capacity.

Are diesel pickup better for pop-up truck campers?

When considering your options, diesel engine variants will provide as much torque as possible to pull a large trailer behind so factor that into the price. Also, inquire about your tow hitch options as if you want to tow very large trailers you may need the fifth wheel hitch which will add to the base price. 

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