The 7 Cheapest Truck Campers in 2024

Last Updated on February 12, 2024

boondockers 15 off

Key Takeaways

  • Top Picks for New Truck Campers: Capri Retreat Long Bed, Palomino Rogue EA1 & EB1, Scout Olympic 6.5, Palomino HS-690, TLRV 550U-XS, NorthStar 850SC, Adventurer 80RB, Wolf Creek 850
  • Compact Yet Spacious: Despite their small size, truck campers can comfortably accommodate at least two people along with camping gear, providing a safe and warm camping experience.
  • Factors to Consider When Choosing: Selecting the right truck camper involves understanding payload capacity, vehicle compatibility, and personal preferences regarding materials, amenities, and interior design.
  • Exterior Construction: Truck campers come in aluminum or fiberglass constructions, each offering its own set of advantages in terms of durability, maintenance, and weather resistance.
  • Interior Customization: Interior layouts and features vary among truck campers, allowing for customization based on individual needs and preferences, with options ranging from basic to premium.
  • Pros and Cons of Truck Campers: Pros: Easy storage, maneuverability, off-road capability, and the option to unload the camper for extended stays Cons: Top heaviness in windy conditions, height restrictions, requirement to exit the vehicle for sleeping, and challenges associated with loading and unloading.
  • Affordable Truck Camper Options: Several budget-friendly truck camper models are available, offering a range of features and amenities to suit different preferences and budgets.
  • Considerations for First-Time Buyers: Starting with simple and affordable truck campers provides an ideal entry point into the RV lifestyle, offering reliability, comfort, and ease of use.

Starting our journey that seamlessly blends the comforts of home with the freedom of the open road often leads travelers to consider recreational vehicles (RVs). However, the allure of RVs is accompanied by their substantial size, bulkiness, impracticality, and sometimes, a hefty price tag. For those seeking a more nimble and cost-effective alternative without compromising on the joy of road tripping, the spotlight turns to truck campers.

Truck campers, as a compact and versatile option, offer a perfect middle ground for adventurers who yearn for the road less traveled. Catering to the wanderlust of individuals wanting to embrace the great outdoors and explore off-road destinations, these campers provide a liberating experience without the constraints of larger RVs. In the following exploration of the truck camper realm, we’ll delve into the intricacies of hard-sided truck campers and touch upon some with the added convenience of a pop-up feature.

So, buckle up as we unravel the world of truck campers, unveiling not only their practicality and affordability but also shedding light on some of the most intriguing and lightweight selections, including those with the added versatility of a pop-up feature. Join us on this exploration as we pave the way for your road-tripping adventures with the perfect blend of comfort, convenience, and affordability.

We will be only talking about hard-sided truck campers and some with a pop-up on top in this article.

Truck campers typically provide enough space to accommodate at least 2 people, along with some camping gear. They give you a safe and warm place to camp, either directly on the bed of your truck. The biggest advantage of small truck campers is that they are lightweight and minimalistic.

Shopping for a new or used truck camper can be a challenging experience because choosing the best truck camper for your needs takes a little research. You need to understand all of the aspects and benefits to make sure you get the most out of your outdoor activities and provide better, enjoyable, and safe times on the road.

Choosing a truck camper will also save you money. In many cases, yearly maintenance is limited to the vehicle while seasonal storage fees can be offset by simply storing the truck camper in a garage. Insurance providers can also add coverage to your existing truck policy so you get additional savings there too.

Type of vehicle required

Whether you choose a short- or long-bed truck camper, what matters is that your truck’s payload capacity can accommodate the dry weight of the unit. This will determine the type of truck camper you should choose and also makes for safe travels, optimal handling, and preventing damage to your vehicle’s suspension. I suggest to get an off-road truck so you can go camping to more remote places.

Most truck campers vary in dry weight from approximately 61500 pounds (short bed) and 4000 pounds (long bed). The style, materials, construction, and size of the camper will all influence the weight. With these standard dry weights, a three-quarter or one-ton truck is the preferred choice because of their heavier payload. When considering payload and camper weight, you must not forget to account for the gear that you’ll bring along as it greatly contributes to weight.

Exterior: Aluminum or Fiberglass

There are essentially just a few types of structures to build truck campers. One is a solid wood-frame structure enclosed with aluminum sheets and the other is an aluminum frame structure with a laminated, fiberglass finish. Fiberglass is the more expensive option but it offers several advantages such as:

  • Stronger bond for better driving experiences
  • Better durability
  • Much easier to maintain and clean off debris
  • More functional in harsh conditions and weather
  • Higher resale value
  • Better sound insulation

The aluminum options may be more prone to weather damage but they are less expensive which makes them the best picks for first-time RVers.

Interior

The interior of any truck camper will depend on personal preferences. The spacing, utilities, materials, and designs are all different so you pick what best suits your style and needs. You will need to decide what matters most to you in terms of amenities, comfort, quality, and color. You also want to make sure it is practical to live in especially if you plan to be on the road for a while.

If you don’t mind paying premium prices for extra comfort, quality, and insulation, check out the Host Truck Campers. They have many different layouts, even one with 3 slides. They can customize it for you the way you’d like it and they are truly impressive. I have two friends who live in those full-time and they love it. But let’s talk about the budget-friendly options.

Pros and Cons of Truck Campers

Pros:

Easy to Store:

Truck campers are compact and can be easily stored in a garage or backyard, providing convenience and saving space. For those who may not have dedicated storage space or live in areas with strict regulations on RV parking.

Easy to Maneuver:

Truck campers can be driven like a normal car, allowing for easy maneuverability, fitting into standard parking spaces, and straightforward backing up. The ability to navigate urban areas with the flexibility of a regular vehicle enhances the overall convenience of truck campers.

Go Camping on Road Less Traveled:

With a 4-wheel drive truck, truck campers can venture off-road to explore remote and less-traveled destinations. This off-road capability expands the range of potential camping locations, offering a more adventurous experience to those seeking unconventional destinations.

Unload Your Camper:

For extended stays, the camper can be unloaded, allowing the truck to be used separately for local transportation or exploration. This adds versatility, enabling users to maintain a base camp while still having the convenience of a standalone vehicle.

Cons:

Top-Heavy and Difficult in Winds:

The height of the camper can make the truck top-heavy, leading to challenges in windy conditions and potentially affecting stability. Drivers need to be cautious when driving in adverse weather conditions to ensure the safety and stability of the truck camper.

Increased Height:

The overall height of a truck camper (10-12 feet) can pose difficulties in parking, passing under bridges, and fitting into some gas stations. Height restrictions may limit accessibility to certain areas, necessitating careful route planning to avoid obstacles that the increased height may encounter.

Sleeping Requires Exiting the Vehicle:

Sleeping in a truck camper involves getting out of the vehicle, which may be less convenient for some individuals. This aspect may be a drawback for those who prefer the immediate accessibility of an interior sleeping space without the need to exit the vehicle.

Loading and Unloading Challenges:

The process of loading and unloading the camper onto and off the truck can be time-consuming and may require physical effort. While the ability to unload the camper adds versatility, the process itself can be considered a drawback, especially for those looking for a quick setup or breakdown.

Limited Interior Space:

The interior space of a truck camper can be relatively small, potentially leading to a cramped feeling for some occupants. Individuals with a preference for spacious living quarters may find the limited interior space of a truck camper to be a drawback.

 

The Cheapest Truck Campers

For your first time living the RV life, you want to start out simple and affordable. But you also want a truck camper you can count on and that will give you the comfort of home. Below I am discussing some of the best low-cost truck campers on the market today to help get your search started. I don’t always pick the cheapest from the manufacturer’s line-up. I am trying to put together more variety of campers to choose from. You should check out the manufacturer’s websites for more models they might have in their line-up for even cheaper or more expensive with more features.

 

No products found.

 

Capri Retreat Long Bed

Capri Retreat Truck camper

The Retreat is a hard-side, non-slide truck camper for long-bed trucks. The company has truck campers for short bed trucks as well. The most unique feature is the one-piece fiberglass shower stall. Note that it’s not a wet bath with a toilet and a sink, just a shower stall. The shower stall will accommodate a Porta-Potty. You also get three large adjustable shelves for storage, which is something smaller truck campers typically lack. Your kitchen features a single basin stainless steel sink, two-burner flush-mount propane cooktop, a microwave, and a 2-way, 3-cubic foot refrigerator. The cabover sleeping area is in an east-west configuration meaning you sleep from passenger to driver side and there is additional storage space around the bed.

MSRP $16,995 (base model)
Weight 1740lbs (dry) and 2609 lbs (total)
Width 7′
Length 13′ 5″
Fresh Water 30 gallons
Long or Short Bed Long Bed
Slides No Slides

Palomino Rogue EA1 & EB1

Palomino Rogue

Small, cute, and light. This is how I can describe this Palomino pop-up hard-side camper. It comes with a power roof lifter, no hand cranking. The only thing you cannot use without the roof up is the bed. Pre-wired for power jacks or can be ordered separately with automatic power jacks. Comes with some solar setup, 20-pound propane tanks, a two-burner cooktop, a small 3-way-fridge, a small water tank, and 30 Amp connector. You also have an outdoor shower but no toilet. No AC. The dinette drops down to an additional bed if you have friends tag along. Check out Palomino for more models!

MSRP $16,571
UVW 1402lbs
Width 86″
Length 12′ 5″
Fresh Water 8 gallons
Long or Short Bed 5′ bed or longer truck
Slides No Slides

Scout Olympic 6.5

Scout Olympic 6.5

The Scout Olympic 6.5 is a hard-side, non-slide, short-bed truck camper. Inside this lightweight camper, you’ll find detachable camping equipment that you can take with you. Take your dining table, camp chairs, fridge, and stove outside and enjoy more fresh air. The exterior pull-out storage tray doubles as an outdoor tabletop that you can cook on and use as a functional surface. And with the Batwing awning, extending 270 degrees along the back wall and sidewall will protect you from the elements when needed. Here are more truck campers from their line-up.

MSRP $19,980
Weight 1165 lbs (dry) and 1716 lbs (wet)
Width 7′
Length 10.62′
Fresh Water 4.9 gallons
Long or Short Bed Short Bed
Slides No Slides

 

Palomino HS-690

Another one Palomino. The HS-690 is a hard-side, non-slide truck camper that fits both long and short beds. The lightweight camper includes as standard a water heater, exterior shower, interior sink, two burner range, 5-cubic foot refrigerator, plenty of storage, a U-shaped dinette, queen size bed, porta-potty storage, and an AM/FM, CD, DVD, USB, and Bluetooth-equipped stereo system.

MSRP $21,991
Weight 1165 lbs (dry) and 1716 lbs (wet)
Width 7’16”
Length 12’9”
Fresh Water 8 gallons
Long or Short Bed Both
Slides No Slides

TLRV 550U-XS

TravelElite

Responding to the collective call for an upgrade, Travel Lite has seamlessly transitioned from traditional wood construction to a cutting-edge, lighter-weight design.

Gone are the days of wood and composite builds; say hello to a new era of camper construction. The transformation introduces a true aluminum and laminated unit, enriched with the groundbreaking Rove Lite technology. Imagine a camper that not only defies the weight norms but also paves the way for authentic off-grid adventures.

True to their commitment to listening to their community, Travel Lite has carefully crafted a camper that embodies modernity and functionality. The new design not only ensures a lighter load but also promises an enhanced off-grid camping experience. Picture yourself surrounded by nature, untethered by the limitations of conventional campers.

As you explore the outdoors, revel in the confidence that comes with better seals and a water intrusion-free design. The sleek and improved profile adds an aesthetic edge to your travels while maintaining an affordable stance. Travel Lite invites you to be a part of this journey, where your thoughts and input have shaped a camper that goes beyond expectations.

With Travel Lite’s new line, the road becomes a canvas for your adventures, and each journey is marked by the promise of durability, efficiency, and affordability. Step into a world where innovation meets your desire for true exploration—a world crafted with passion and dedicated to making your off-grid dreams a reality.

 

MSRP $25,995
Weight 1150 lbs
Width 88″ w/o Jacks 78″
Length 162″
Fresh Water 13 gallons
Long or Short Bed Long Bed
Slides No Slides

NorthStar 850SC

northstar camper

The Northstar 850 is a hard-side but pop-up on-top truck camper designed for adventurers seeking a compact and versatile camping experience. This lightweight camper is built with durability and functionality in mind. With its streamlined profile and small wet bath, the Northstar 850 fits snugly onto the bed of a truck, allowing for easy maneuverability on the road.

MSRP $25,995
Weight 1785 lbs (dry)
Width 7′
Length 15’
Fresh Water 30 gallons
Long or Short Bed Both
Slides No Slides

 

Adventurer 80RB

Adventurer 80RB

The Adventurer 80RB truck camper is a harmonious blend of cost-effectiveness and convenience, this camper stands out as one of the most budget-friendly options without compromising on essential features.  The Adventurer 80RB boasts a full-featured interior that includes a comfortable bathroom complete with a shower and toilet—a standard offering that sets it apart in its class. Tailored exclusively for today’s popular light-duty full-size super short (5.5′), short (6′, 6.5′, 6.75′), and long-bed (8′) trucks, this camper caters to a range of preferences and vehicle sizes. Its adaptability makes it an ideal companion for various truck models, ensuring a seamless integration with your chosen ride. The Adventurer 80RB takes pride in its lightweight construction, making it easy on your vehicle while maintaining a far-forward Center of Gravity (COG) for enhanced stability on the road. Embrace the freedom of travel without the burden of excessive weight, as this camper is designed to complement the agility of your truck. See more of their campers.

MSRP $34,945
Weight 1819 lbs (dry) and 2529 lbs (wet)
Width 7’5″
Length 15’10”
Fresh Water 15 gallons
Long or Short Bed Both
Slides No Slides

Wolf Creek 850

Wolf Creek 840

The Wolf Creek 850 is a hard-side, non-slide, wet bath truck camper suitable for both long and short beds. At the most basic Value Package, you can get an AM/FM/CD player with Bluetooth, rear awning, 5 cubic foot refrigerator, dual 20-pound LP tanks, exterior shower, heated holding tanks, roof rack, ladder, sewer hose storage, and Combo Bunk Cab with dinette. See their other models.

MSRP $43,990
Weight 2008 lbs (dry) and 3008 lbs (wet)
Width 8′
Length 16’2”
Fresh Water 33 gallons
Long or Short Bed Both
Slides No Slides

 

 

The choice for truck campers can be daunting, but I want to make sure that it isn’t that way for you. Once you know what your budget is, these are the top 5 new truck campers to start with. Moreover, you can find budget-friendly used options out there. You can find good, used truck campers for around $5000.

Whether you are a newbie to the RVing life or a pro, these smaller truck campers are perfect for exploring the open road even living in them full-time. They are affordable, reliable, easy to store, and easy to maneuver where bigger rigs cannot go, look into a truck camper today.

 

Last update on 2024-02-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe


No, thanks!