Which is better: a truck camper or a travel trailer?

Which is better: a truck camper or a travel trailer? After reviewing all the pros and cons of both truck campers and travel trailers, we will help you decide which type of camper is best for you!

Which is better: a truck camper or a travel trailer?

When deciding which is better for you: a truck camper or a travel trailer, you must first understand the main differences between the two. 

Truck campers are caravans that are placed on the bed of a truck or pickup. This RV class typically seats two or three people and offers basic sleeping, cooking and eating facilities. The newer and more luxurious models have extensions that greatly expand and improve the living space.

Obviously, if you want to travel as a family, you must choose a travel trailer that can comfortably accommodate all of its members. Precisely, did you know that there are not only travel trailers or fifth-wheel type travel trailers that can accommodate up to 10 people? Several configurations of trailers and even tent trailers could also accommodate you on this site.

See more about the pros and cons of each type of camper in the tables below. 

Truck Campers: Pros & Cons

Advantages of travelling with a truck camperDisadvantages of travelling with a truck camper
The basic models are usually very cheap.Very small living and storage space.
Maintenance and insurance are not expensive.Limited services, especially on the lighter models.
Ideal for off-road experiences, short trips or vacations.Most do not have a full bathroom. Some, not even a half bath.
They are easy to drive and manoeuvre.Requires specific truck or pickup models that match the type of camper.
They provide a very flexible travel experience both in remote areas and in the city.The most luxurious and spacious models can be as expensive as a fifth-wheel. 
When you are not camping you can use your pickup or truck for other activities.Require expensive and sturdy trucks or pickups that can support their weight.

Travel Trailers: Pros & Cons

Advantages of travelling with a travel trailerDisadvantages of travelling with a travel trailer
With a few exceptions, travel trailers are the cheapest RV class.Many large and inexpensive models are designed for vacations, not for living and/or travelling permanently. The quality of construction and materials tends to be cheap and weak.
They are usually light and can be towed with medium or small vehicles.They can be difficult to tow, especially in high wind situations or when cargo weight is incorrectly distributed.
Lighter weight results in better MPG. (Best mileage per gallon)Backing up can be mission impossible and requires a lot of practice.
The largest have very interesting and versatile plans, they have the same comforts as a small apartment, some even have two separate rooms, and very spacious living and kitchen spaces.Even the largest ones have very little internal and external storage space.
Among the different options that exist in the market, you will surely find some that can be used as a permanent home.The manoeuvres can be very complicated: the turning of the rear of the trailer can become a big problem with the larger models.
The smallest ones are designed to be towed with a small vehicle. They are ideal for people who love nature but do not want to sleep in a tent or are looking to improve their camping experience.Unless you have an airstream, vintage RV, or moulded fibreglass travel trailer, your travel trailer will most likely lose value quickly, much more than any other type of RV.

How to choose between a truck camper or a travel trailer?

We appreciate that both truck campers and travel trailers have their advantages and disadvantages. Choosing between them can, thus, be quite difficult. Here are our tips for making this choice a little bit easier!

  1. Determine the type of camping you want to do. If you plan to use your RV only in the summer, for weekend trips or short stays, a non-motorized recreational vehicle such as a trailer, cargo or hybrid trailer, a caravan or a tent trailer will help you. It will allow you to enjoy your vehicle once you arrive at your destination. If you have kids and are planning outings, you will certainly appreciate the freedom that a non-motorized RV offers you that can be unhitched at the campsite.

If you are opting for a non-motorized recreational vehicle, you will need to consider the pulling force of your vehicle as this will influence the maximum RV weight you can purchase.

If you plan to travel long distances or go on an adventure, it’s a safe bet that you will appreciate the comfort and autonomy of a motorized recreational vehicle of the motorhome type since once immobilized you have immediate access to the interior space to prepare food, go to the bathroom or take a nap!

It is good to know that in the United States, it is forbidden to move inside a moving vehicle, including recreational vehicles, and that the law requires that all passengers wear seat belts. security under penalty of a fine.

For long stays, whether you are on the move or always in the same place or almost, look for a model with a lot of storage so that you do not spend your holidays looking for your personal belongings and those of the children. In this regard, fifth-wheel trailers often offer more storage than motor homes, in addition to offering more height.

  1. Make your choice according to the number of people to be accommodated. If you’re planning on going as a couple that’s okay, but with a large family, consider an RV big enough to accommodate and sleep everyone. Depending on your budget, you can choose an RV that can accommodate up to 12 people! Also think of occasional visitors, visiting grandchildren or pets!

A word of advice: As with buying a cruiser-type boat, people often make the mistake of buying an RV that is too small for their needs and end up switching to a bigger one after just one season.

If your budget does not allow you to purchase a new recreational vehicle large enough to meet your needs, you may want to look to the second-hand market.

  1.  Set an annual purchase and maintenance budget. Remember that even if you go camping a few months out of the year, you will have to pay yearly monthly payments, unless of course, you pay cash.

You must also provide for insurance costs, rental of campgrounds in summer and provide an amount dedicated to the general maintenance of your recreational vehicle, not to mention winter storage if you do not have the space available at home or if your municipality does not allow you to keep your RV at home in the winter.

  1. Ask yourself about your driving skills. Although a class B driver’s license allows you to drive a Class A, B or C RV, it’s not like driving a car! The longer, wider and taller the motorhome, the more complex the manoeuvres to move and park. 

The bottom line

If you’re not sure you’re making the right choice, you can always rent an RV similar to the model you want to try out for a few days. You will be able to assess its comfort and handling before proceeding with a new or used purchase.

Would you like to share your experience with either a truck camper or a travel trailer (or both)? Please feel free to get in contact!

FAQ on Which is better: a truck camper or a travel trailer?

What are the worst travel trailers to buy?

The following are considered the worst travel trailers to buy:

  • Hurricane.
  • Coachmen.
  • Jayco.
  • Coleman.
  • Keystone.
  • Winnebago.
  • Fleetwood.

What is the most reliable travel trailer brand?

The most reliable travel trailer brands are:

  • Airstream.
  • Winnebago.
  • Forest River.
  • Jayco.
  • Keystone.
  • Oliver.
  • Happier Camper.

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. 

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.


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