Explore the World With the RV That Goes Everywhere
Caravanning, camping, and RV-ing are all different names for one of the most beloved vacation pastimes in the whole world. The worldwide recreational vehicle industry is a multi-billion dollar enterprise.
Pickup campers, sometimes identified as pickup truck campers or simply truck campers, are a camping unit that fits neatly onto a short or long pickup bed. These campers are compact in size and lack the bulk and weight associated with larger RVs. Full Story »
There sizes and style for everyone: from the tiny trailer campers, to the huge RVs worth more than one million dollars, and everything else in between.
The recreational vehicles that are considered to be the most versatile of them all are pickup campers. Not only do these smaller sized campers have all the comforts and amenities of larger RVs, but they can go wherever your pickup truck can go. Whether you want to cruise along smooth, flat highways, or drive into dark forests with only dirt roads, a pickup camper is the best all around option for any terrain.
Development of the Recreational Vehicle
The term recreational vehicle is a relatively new one. The more common term is caravan, and it is the term still used in many other parts of the world. The first vehicle that kept supplies safe and provided shelter for its drivers was the covered wagon used by American Pioneers in the mid 1700s. While these did not provide the most luxurious accommodations, they could be a supply wagon, a tent, and a carriage all at the same time. Covered wagons were never meant to be permanent homes, but like pickup campers, they were built for rugged terrain and durability.
What more closely led into the idea of the modern caravans, were the carved and decorated wagons used by Roma (gypsies) in Europe. These beautiful wagons were more or less a permanent home to its residents, and were much more personalized than other wagons.
The first towable recreational vehicles didn’t show up in America until about the 1920s. Instead of horse drawn wagons equipped with rudimentary living quarters, these first campers owed by a car experimented with running water, gas stovetops, and comfortable furniture and bedding.
The camping industry didn’t really take off until the 1950s. After World War II, many people found had a desire to travel. They wanted to do so affordably, but did not want camp out under the open sky. Several small mom and pop type RV business started producing towable campers and also started producing pickup campers. Once the caravanning bug spread throughout the United States, the designs of campers, trailers, and caravans began to be perfected.
Types and Styles of Truck Campers
Traveling with some of the comforts of your own home is a luxury that recreational vehicle enthusiasts understand very well. Most styles of truck mounted camper has a lavatory, a sink, a range, and a sleeping area. To fit all of these things inside the relatively small space in a pickup truck takes ingenious engineering and craftsmanship.
Lightweight pickup campers are a necessity. American trucks are typically larger and more powerful than European or Asian pickups, simply because American roads are larger, and there is more of a demand for personal hauling vehicles in the United States. Even so, the weight of what amounts to a small apartment placed in the bed of a truck significantly decreases the gas mileage and maneuverability of even powerful trucks. This means the more weight that can be saved, the better the traveling experience will be.
Popup pickup campers are a great choice for people who want to conserve as much fuel as possible, but still have the RV experience. These low profile campers have a soft sided vertical expansion that can be raised to set up camp, and lowered to continue driving. Since these campers are not fully extended while driving, the aerodynamics of your truck is not hindered to the same extent as a traditional over-the-cab camper.
There is a size and style of pickup truck camper for every type of person and truck. The popup, softside pickup campers are generally the least expensive, weight very little, and have a lower, more aerodynamic profile. The larger, fiberglass slide in pickup campers are more expensive, but they offer more room, with larger sleeping space, better insulation from the heat and cold, and some even have slide out extensions. Somewhere in between are the used short box pickup campers for sale. These are designed for a smaller truck bed, but still come in many different styles to accommodate different tastes.
Buying New and Used Pickup Campers
No matter where you live, you can find a great deal on lightweight pickup campers. RV dealers may offer a wide selection of both new and used truck campers. The first thing you should do when looking for a pickup camper is to narrow your search to what will fit in your truck. No matter how much you may fall in love with a specific camper, if it is too big for your truck you cannot use it without buying a larger truck.
Once you have narrowed your search to the caravans that you will be able to haul on your truck, then you can start narrowing your search by price, and by creature comforts. If you are looking at used pickup campers, you may be able to afford more camper for your money than compared to new models. There is also a difference in price depending on the brand you buy. Some campers use more expensive materials than others.
The Camp Lite line of truck campers at Lininlite.com is an example of more expensive campers made with top quality materials. The benefit of buying one of these campers is that they can last much longer than traditional campers because of the way they are built. You could end up passing it down from generation to generation if it is properly looked after. These campers are made entirely of aluminum and non-wood composite materials. This means that along with being the most sturdy lightweight pickup campers on the market, they also weigh the least. If you are worried that they would have a clinical, impersonal interior because of the aluminum, do not be too distressed. They can be outfitted with wood-like cabinetry, but without the risks associated with wood. Because these campers are made using only aluminum and other water resistant materials, they will not be damaged by corrosive molds or by dampness as wood is. The Camp Lite campers still have all the major amenities, some with an innovative separate shower and lavatory design. There are even models with slide out expansions. Each camper is built for specific size trucks, and they have a design for every size truck currently on the market.
To see a wide variety of styles and brands in the same place, check out Apache Camping Center online. They have an extensive selection of new and used campers from many brands including Arctic Fox, Northstar, Palomino, and Adventurer. Here you can find the perfect fit for your extra long pickup truck, and they also have used short box pickup campers for sale. This company is based in the north western part of the United States.
Another site that has a great selection of recreational vehicles is Camping World. On their site you can locate their brick and mortar stores all over the United States. They have many locations and there is sure to be one within a few hours driving distance of where you live. Their website is extremely easy to use. You can refine your search for campers close to your area, by the year the camper was produced, by the name brand, or by size and weight. Their inventory is constantly fluctuation as people buy up their used vehicles and as they bring in each new year’s models. If you see something you like, you had best make inquiries right away so that you can purchase their quality and lightweight pickup campers before someone else beats you to it.
If you are unsure what the model numbers mean when looking for your next pickup camper, they usually indicate the length, and the features. An 800 model is typically for an 8 foot truck bed, while an 1100 model is for an 11 foot pickup bed. Every manufacturer has different make and model numbers, so it is very important you know the towing capacity and size of your truck before making any camper purchase.
Home Built Pickup Campers
In the beginning, nearly all pickup truck caravans were home built. People use their ingenuity, tools, and patience to build travel trailers using only the parts they could find. There is still this tradition among RV enthusiasts. Some choose to build their own campers because it is less expensive than buying from dealers; others simply enjoy working with their hands.
There are several places online where you can search for instructions on how to build your own camper, but you should be prepared for extensive measurements, the expense of buying the materials, and the time it will take to manufacture it. If you want to build the same kind of camper you see on the showroom of an RV retailer, be prepared to spend more money on good supplies and on a proper building plan. It is a little like building a tiny house: you may need carpentry skills, plumbing skills, electricity skills, and a dash of engineering skills. It is very possible to make home built pickup campers just like you might find at a dealer, but often they end up being just as expensive, if not more expensive than the models the dealer offers.
If you just want a simple shelter, then the building process can be very cheap and very easy. You will still need to line the bed of your pickup truck and have some sort of drainage system so that moisture does not collect. You should be very aware of the towing capacity of your truck. Dealer purchased models are designed with your truck in mind, and they know the parameters they must work within. If you decide to build your own camper, try to find the most lightweight materials you can, but do not forget about insulation. If you are building a simple shelter, it can get very cold without insulation or a heating unit.
No matter how you choose to build your own camper, perform some tests at home before you take it out on a long journey and discover a major flaw.
Adventures in the Great Outdoors
Whatever kind of camper you buy, whether it is used, fiberglass, aluminum, soft sided, or home built, you can have the perks of having a truck and a camper all in one. A terrific feature of fiberglass slide in pickup campers is that they are easily removed from the bed of your truck, and then stored for future used.
Aluminum and fiberglass slide in pickup campers are not permanently attached to your truck, as opposed with camper vans. This means that when you want to go traveling, simply lift the camper on the four corner jacks, back your truck underneath and attach as per the manufacturer’s instructions. When you want your truck empty again, do the same process just in reverse.
The mobility of your truck is only slightly reduced when hauling a pickup camper. These campers can go where no other RV can dream of going because they are not towed. They have proper off road suspension because they are part of your truck. If you like to travel deep into the woods, like to camp in the snowy mountains, or just like to have the convinces of home with you when you travel, pickup campers are the ideal recreational vehicle for you.