Do I have to remove my tailgate to carry a truck camper?

In this blog post, we will answer the following question: Do I have to remove my tailgate to carry a truck camper? We will explain what the purpose of a truck camper tailgate is, when and how you can safely remove it. We will also discuss the advantages of a truck tailgate. 

Do I have to remove my tailgate to carry a truck camper?

Whether you have to remove your tailgate to carry a truck camper will highly depend if you are carrying a camper designed for a short bed or a long bed truck. In short, the tailgate is a vehicle-mounted handling assistance system that makes the handling (loading and unloading) of the truck camper much easier and it holds the weight off the truck bed. 

Let’s discuss two possible scenarios:

  1. You carry a truck camper designed to run on a short bed: In this case, you would not need the extra support that the tailgate could offer you. By leaving the tailgate on, you are carrying extra weight as well. Make sure you are not exceeding the recommended towing capacity of your truck. 
  1. You carry a truck camper designed to run on a long bed: For this scenario, yes, the tailgate on your truck could help with the unloading and loading process of the camper. It will also offer more support thus making the loading more secure. Again, you must be careful not to exceed the recommended towing capacity of your truck. 

How do you remove a truck’s tailgate?

There can be a number of reasons why you may have to remove the tailgate from the back of your truck. If the tailgate has been damaged, it should be removed for possible repair or replacement. Some people may want to replace the hatchback stock with a mesh hatchback. 

Like a vehicle door, the tailgate is a large and heavy body part. Removing it from your truck is simple, but it’s going to take at least two people to safely separate it. 

  1. Open the tailgate with the handle and the lock, and let it lie flat against the bumper.
  1. Separate the guy wires from the sides of the truck by lifting the spring retainer and sliding the bolt. On some models, like the Chevrolet, you may also need to remove the screw near one of the hinges, using a wrench.
  1. Lower the tailgate lower, paying attention to the tailgate hinge pin with a slot in your pocket – this is usually the hinge pin on the right side of the tailgate. Find the flat part of the hinge pin to line up with the slot.
  1. Lift the hinge pin out of the slot to remove that side of the rear door from the body. Have your assistant support the weight of the tailgate while you remove the other hinge pin from the body so that you can both lift the tailgate off the truck.

Make sure you store the tailgate in a secure place!

Why you should leave the truck tailgate on

An essential handling aid device, the tailgate can be used on various types of trucks. It allows to :

  • secure handling operations
  • reduce downtime
  • make the tours profitable
  • free the driver from additional help for deliveries
  • store large loads, especially at heights
  • unload bulky items
  • lifting heavy loads. 

The operation of a tailgate can only be entrusted to an operator trained in its use, with strict rules to be observed:

  • Always use the control station for better visibility
  • Before any lifting operation, check that the weight of the loads and their position is compatible with the indications in the load table
  • If present on the vehicle, the stabilizing stands must be put into position before operating the tailgate
  • Properly support rolling loads
  • Turn on the vehicle’s hazard warning lights day and night
  • Leave the parking lights on at night
  • Put the platform on the ground in case of prolonged stoppage
  • Lock the tailgate manoeuvre at the end of each use. 

The advantages of having the tailgate on while carrying a truck camper

The benefits of installing a tailgate are more prominent than you might think. Please see the following list and additional information below.  Several reasons to invest in a tailgate include the following:

  • Distributed weight. For trucks that do not have tailgates, it is common practice to overload the front of the truck to prevent the camper from falling out of the rear. Although it may seem like a practical solution, excessive weight concentrated in one area can put stress on the front tires and the lifting mechanism of your truck. 

Since most off-road pick-up trucks carry a third of the weight of material on the front axle and two-thirds on the rear, installing a tailgate can achieve proper distribution.

  • Extending the life of your truck. Making a solid investment in a tailgate for your pick-up truck gives you the ability to increase overall productivity while extending the life of your equipment.
  • Faster and easier loading. The benefits of mounting a tailgate on your off-road truck are exceptional. As the spill becomes a minimal occurrence, road maintenance is also avoided, which means less downtime and more time spent travelling. The tailgates increase the target and help save on fuel consumption. 
  • Increased load capacity. The first advantage of using a tailgate on your truck is the increased load capacity. Compared to no tailgate, your investment will equip your vehicle to use the full length and width of the bed. You will be able to close the rear, which will lead to larger loads, increasing production by 10-20%. 

The pick-up truck’s absence of a tailgate means that the bottom corners of the bed are left empty. The slope for stacking capacity begins beyond the rear, indicating a smaller region to transport material.

  • Reduction of tire costs. A pick-up truck tailgate can improve overall weight distribution by assigning it to all four tires instead of the front two. As a result of the even dispersion of sand, rock or gravel, the pressure of your truck’s lift system can be reduced by 15-25%. 

In the event you don’t install a tailgate, your tires are more likely to roll over dangerous objects, making them more susceptible to internal and external damage. But with the added accessory, tire costs can be reduced by 40%.

Helpful advice for carrying a truck camper

Truck campers can be top-heavy, which means they require extra care while driving off-road or in strong winds. Here are a few useful tips for carrying a truck camper that every driver must keep in mind:

  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. 

The bottom line

The tailgate is useful for vehicles whose function is to transport bulky objects, especially in height. This increases the hatch space, providing more storage space and more weight support. 

Depending on the type of truck camper you are carrying, removing the tailgate may or may not seem like a good idea. In the end, it is your decision whether you want to keep it on or off. Still, remember that removing and reinstalling the tailgate is a two-men job, which some drivers find a nuisance at some point. 

Please feel free to get in contact should you have any questions, comments or suggestions on how to improve this article. 

FAQ on Do I have to remove my tailgate to carry a truck camper?

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 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. 

References