Can you camp in a truck camper off the truck?

In today’s blog post, we will answer the following question: Can you camp in a truck camper off the truck? We will explain how to unload a truck camper off the truck and how to successfully secure and camp in it. 

Can you camp in a truck camper off the truck?

Yes, you can camp in a truck camper off the truck, as long as it is removable and you unload and secure it properly! There are two main types of truck campers:

  • Fixed truck campers
  • 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.

How to unload a truck camper off the truck?

Here are steps to follow if you need to unload 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. 

Now you are free to camp in the truck camper of the truck!

What to use to support the truck camper off the truck?

Here are a few ideas on what to use to support the truck camper off the truck:

  • Jacks: You can also use, for example, a few boards that you place under the wheel. For this, you need a jack to lift the wheel off the ground. Then you can place a few planks or other supports that the trailer wheel can lean on. 
  • Chocks: on the market, we can find this product for both motorhomes and truck campers. We recommend that, although you do not use them for levelling, they are useful when parking and fixing the vehicle. They are very easy to use, if you see that you need help, use a hydraulic jack to wedge the caravan or RV and insert the choke on the wheel to be levelled.
  • Hydraulic legs: it is a really comfortable and easy system. There are different models made with different materials. Take into account the weight they will support and the security system. Some vehicles have legs that are levelled with remote control.
  • Jockey wheel: The jockey wheel is essential to stabilize your truck camper when it is not hitched. It can be rigid or inflatable and even carry an electric motor. It will help us to level the caravan or find out how much weight the lance supports.

The advantages of camping in a truck camper off the truck

  • The basic models are usually very cheap.
  • Maintenance and insurance are not expensive.
  • Ideal for off-road experiences, short trips or vacations.
  • They are easy to drive and manoeuvre.
  • They provide a very flexible travel experience both in remote areas and in the city
  • When you are not camping you can use your pickup or truck for other activities.
  • It adapts to a variety of pick-ups, including backpackers or used.
  • It can be removed when not in use. Your pickup then becomes an automobile (or utility, depending on how you use it).
  • It embeds a real arrangement including beds, a kitchen, and sometimes a real bathroom with a shower.
  • It is much more comfortable and better insulated than a rooftop tent.

The disadvantages of camping in a truck camper off the truck

  • Very small living and storage space.
  • Limited services, especially on the lighter models.
  • Most do not have a full bathroom. Some, not even a half bath.
  • Requires specific truck or pickup models that match the type of caravan.
  • The most luxurious and spacious models can be as expensive as a fifth-wheel and require expensive and sturdy trucks or pickups that can support their weight.

Common problems when camping in a truck camper

The next issues are totally preventable with truck maintenance and care! But still, we have to mention them just so you are prepared. 

  • Broken water pipes and leaks. Let’s start with what is scary. Few things can ruin a truck camper faster than water damage. This does not only apply to truck campers. A house, regardless of the structure, can become uninhabitable due to water damage.

All the pipes and water pipes in your truck camper need your utmost care year after year or season to season. When these pipes are old or visibly damaged, don’t tell yourself that a change or repair can wait until the following season. The pipes run through your entire truck camper, and if one bursts, the whole camper can be flooded.

  • Electrical damage. The electrical damage is almost as severe. Most electrical problems start in the low season when the truck camper is put into winter storage, possibly without a cover. Since your truck camper is wide open, there is a risk of rodents such as mice or rats creeping in all over the place and literally gobbling up electrical cables. 

Even if you cover your truck camper with a special cover, this does not mean that it is protected against electrical surges. This can happen if you leave your truck camper plugged in at all times, even when you are not using it, or during a thunderstorm.

  • Wastewater tanks. Some truck campers have a toilet, maybe even a shower. Ideal when you are cutting the road for an indefinite period of time. But you are also subject to sewage leaks.

You should not use just any kind of toilet paper onboard a truck camper, but paper suitable for motorhomes. Beyond the type of paper you use, quantity also matters. (By the way, it may be appropriate to think about going to the dry toilet …).

The bottom line

Camping in a truck camper off the truck is a great benefit for many pick-up owners. This way you are free to travel with your truck while the camper is safely parked at the campsite. 

What do you think? Would you try sleeping in a truck camper off the truck? Please feel free to share your thoughts! 

FAQ on Can you camp in a truck camper off the truck?

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. 

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 155,000 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.

Can you ride in a truck camper?

Yes, except for five states which you will find in the table below, it is legal for you to ride a truck camper. But before going further, we feel the need to highlight that pets and children should never ride in a truck camper and should never be left unsupervised or alone in the truck camper for the duration of the entire trip!

Can you stay in a truck camper without the truck?

Yes, you can stay in a truck camper without the truck. As long as you park it legally and in a secure place, you are more than welcome to camp in your truck camper!

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