Truck Camper Hunting Rig
Over the years I’ve camped in everything from a sleeping bag on the snow in Alaska to fancy tents. Then finally a 31 foot tow behind camper. I now have my dream camper. It’s a simple pop up truck camper. It’s the most versatile go anywhere option for hunting and fishing adventurers that love to get off the beaten path. In our “big camper” days we had to have two vehicles. One to pull the camper and the other to pull the boat. With the truck camper the camper sits in the bed leaving the hitch clear for hooking up my boat or my little camping trailer that I haul my small jon boat on top and plenty of cast iron, firewood and all kinds of gear to make camp more comfortable.
The truck camper is a great choice for those that love to get away from the big campgrounds. I love to find the most out of the way places I can to camp. There are places that allow you to camp anyplace on the property as long as you can get off the road. The truck camper is perfect for this type of backwoods camping. To be able to park where you plan to hunt deer or turkey for one thing is awesome. You can leave right from camp to start your hunt like I did here for a great turkey hunt. I camped and enjoyed 4 days of scouting by day and chilling at camp at night. The trip ended on opening morning with a great public land turkey hunt. Here is a shot of turkey camp 2019.
TRUCK CAMPER CHOICES
The following information is laid out for you to form an idea of what pickup truck camper is right for you. There are many options, both on the truck camper you choose as well as the style. Slide in campers run the gamut of styles and prices. There are $50,000 truck campers today with slide outs and hardwood floors. It all depends on what you are looking for for your outdoor adventures. I hunt and fish as my main outdoor activities so much of this will be geared toward those outdoor activities, but this information can definitely be useful to weekend campers that might want a truck camper so they can tow a kayak trailer or a couple Harley Davidsons. With the camper in your truck bed it opens up all sorts of camping opportunities for you. Let’s dig in and get some ideas.
TRUCK FOR YOUR CAMPER
If you need to choose a truck for your camper then you should find a camper first or together, to get the right setup. There are many variables when choosing a truck for camper or vice versa. If you
already own a truck then you’ll want to consider the truck camper you choose if you plan to keep your truck for your new slide in. I will skip the truck options like power windows, DVD player and things like that since they do not relate to the style that you buy. The main thing to consider about the truck you pick for your camper is the bed length. Some truck campers need a long bed pickup and others will fit in a 6 foot bed. You can fit a camper that needs a 6 foot bed in an 8 foot bed but not the other way around. If you have a pickup truck with a 6 foot bed then you will need to consider this when picking your new truck bed camper that will fit in your truck bed.
POP-UP TRUCK CAMPER
The pop-up is a lightweight option for those that don’t mind roughing it. Don’t get me wrong pop-up truck campers are pretty spiffy and some today are as plush as the hard sided campers. Pop-up truck campers usually lack some options because the idea is to keep the weight down. However, some of the upper end models still offer great options and you still get the benefit of being able to lower the top when traveling.
The benefits of lowering the top on a pop-up truck bed camper when traveling is the reduced drag overall. Also it helps with the side to side swaying you get when the wind is howling. It also helps with swaying when off-roading.. The pop-up is definitely geared toward the adventurous. It can be used as a great all around camper as well. It can also go inside your garage a little easier as well. Here is a link to some great pop-up truck camper models for you to check out.
HARD SIDED TRUCK CAMPER
A hard sided slide in camper offers a few more options than the pop-up. There is more area for attaching things like speakers or lighting outside the camper. Because the pop-up truck bed camper uses canvas for the sides there’s more drafts. The maintenance might be a little more as well on the pop-up. Obviously the hard sided option will have more insulation. Like the outside attachments mentioned above there’s more area for attaching TV arms, cabinets and things that can stay put while underway. This makes the hard sided truck camper a little more low maintenance than the pop-up but you get the added weight.
The hard sided truck camper is heavier than the pop-up style and it sits way higher on the pickup, catching all the wind. This is manageable for sure but can become unnerving going down the interstate when the wind is really gusting so keep this in mind. The height of the hard sided slide in camper will also decrease your gas mileage. The drag created by the size coupled with the increased weight can greatly influence your mileage. Check out these great truck camper reviews.
WHY CHOOSE A SLIDE IN CAMPER
Like I mentioned above my world revolves around fishing and hunting. My recommendations will also be based on fishing and hunting first. I love to camp and cook almost as much as I love to hunt and fish, but I focus first on the hunting and fishing and will give up creature comforts to facilitate those. When I’m camping I think that anything short of sleeping on the ground is plush so my simple little pop-up truck camper is great for what I use it for. I can pull my boat or trailer and live in the backwoods in total comfort. Because of this the truck camper is the best fit for me.
When my wife was camping with me all the time we had a giant camper trailer and it was like living in luxury and I loved it but it did have its drawbacks for hunting and fishing especially if you wanted to camp in a remote area that only a 4×4 could get to. If you are a die hard hunter or angler then this is the way to go. You can get it small enough to fit in the smallest pickup trucks. This can keep costs down and adventure up on your camping trips.
You can even turn a truck topper into a nice little camper. I did that for years. I mean I just sleept in the back of the pickup. It got me by, but you can get pretty fancy with camper shells. The thing I would say I didn’t like about camping in the truck topper was the lack of insulation and getting in and out of it. I actually used a twin size posturepedic mattress in my truck bed. It was comfortable but I prefer a tent myself over the camper shell route. Unless I was only staying one night for a bass tournament like I did for years. Overall the truck camper is the winner when it comes to exploring new places to hunt and fish.
CHOOSING A TRUCK CAMPER MATTRESS
If there is one thing that I would suggest for an upgrade to your truck camper would be the bed. The bed that comes with campers are OK at first, but of all the things that make camping in a truck camper much better than a tent is the comfort of being off the ground and having a full size comfortable mattress. There are many options today for a awesome mattress that will fit in a pickup truck camper. Memory foam mattresses are the new thing and can add so much to your camping experience. To climb into a nice comfortable bed after a long day hiking ridges chasing turkeys is a great way to be ready to do it again the next morning.
Popular materials used in truck camper mattresses today include
- Synthetic Latex is a petroleum based latex that keeps the cost down shop for a synthetic mattress here
As mentioned above foam mattresses are slowly becoming more popular. The main reason for this is its ability to roll up into a very small package for shipping. As we all know online shopping is taking over. It’s so easy when you can just order a mattress and have it delivered to your doorstep. My wife and I just upgraded our mattress in our truck camper (best thing we ever did). It came in a box rolled tightly. You can then take the mattress into the camper and lay it in place then carefully cut the wrapper off. It will extend and unroll and after a few hours you have a comfortable mattress in place full expanded. It’s awesome and the comfort of our 8 inch Gel Memory Foam Mattress is so much better than the old factory innerspring mattress that was in the camper. You can check out the mattress we purchased here.
POWER YOUR TRUCK CAMPER
Next in line for modifications on your pickup truck camper is power. Power that can last a few days while you enjoy your outdoor adventures in the backwoods. I always look for off the beaten path places to camp. This can be on the side of the road or just off the road or in primitive campsites that many campgrounds offer. Many public lands allow backwoods camping or boondocking and many campsites offer primitive sites that are much less expensive and usually are more secluded. A lot of times some great primitive sites are right on the water and offer the best sites in the campground just because they don’t have to run any utilities. With the right set up you can easily camp several days without worrying about power.
I have a solar panel and a generator. With a generator you could camp indefinitely. I don’t like listening to the generator so I run it a limited amount of time. This is where a solar panel comes in handy. They can help you keep a charge going into your battery while you’re away enjoying the day. The little bit of charge you get throughout the day with the solar panel allows you to top off the battery quickly with your generator. I like to run the generator while I’m cooking in the evening or in the morning before heading into the woods to hunt. I like the lighting I can have while cooking in the evening and in the morning, when not disturbing anyone else, I can brew some coffee with my coffee maker. When there are others sleeping around I use my percolator on the stove.
BATTERY FOR CAMPER
Today, like so many things, there are many options for a truck camper battery to provide power in camp and there is just as much to consider. Here is a few questions to ask yourself when choosing the best battery for your truck camper.
LEAD ACID- If you’re a weekender then a good 12 volt lead acid battery will get you by without the solar system or generator depending on how much power you need.
GELL CELL– If you go much past 2 nights you will need the solar and/or the generator to top off your camp battery or a gel cell battery will get you another couple nights and takes discharging past 50% better than lead acid. A gel cell camper battery also resist vibration, does not gas or release vapor like a lead acid. All advantages but it does cost more.
LITHIUM ION- A lithium ion battery is the most efficient battery that I know of that you can put in your truck camper. Many advantages to the lithium. The biggest disadvantage is the upfront cost, but over time the lithium ion is less expensive than any of the other options. As long as you keep it charged properly. Properly cared for lithium ion batteries can last up to 10 years and beyond. The last lead acid battery I put in my truck camper (a cheap walmart battery) lasted barely two seasons. Research the pros and cons and decide for yourself if you can justify the expense. A lead acid will last longer that mine but I didn’t treat it right. The batteries in my bass boat has seen much more use but they are past their warranty and still going.
Read about my public land turkey hunt