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  1. #1
    Join Date
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    WTB: Truck Camper

    I have a 3/4 ton chevy and I'd like a camper for it, both for summer adventures and some winter ski area camping. Want something that's lightweight and rough fs road friendly. Maybe a pop-up? Maybe a low COG hardside camper? Don't know... I'm a total JONG when it comes to campers - educate me.

    I'm in Washington, will drive as far a N. Idaho or Central Oregon for the right deal.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
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    You want a Roamin Chariot or a Four Wheel Camper. The Former will run 2k the latter up to 10k. Do some research, they are sexy.

  3. #3
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    livin the dream
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    Plenty of used options on CL. Just find the least beat up one within your budget.
    Best Skier on the Mountain
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    1992 - 2012
    Squaw Valley, USA

  4. #4
    Join Date
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    Does your truck have a 8' or 6-1/2/ bed?

  5. #5
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    I recommend going to look at a couple of different types of camper before you decide -- go to some dealers and check them out. Photos don't give you enough info.

    With a 3/4-ton truck, you aren't limited to the lightweight Four Wheel Camper/All-Terrain Camper style (vs. say a Tacoma). I originally thought I wanted a FWC, but then I visited the factory and checked out the different models. The pull-out cabover bed was a deal-breaker for me -- I wanted to be able to leave the bed fully made up, and you can't do that on a FWC. YMMV.

    Generally, though: with a 3/4-ton, you probably should avoid any hardside w/ slide-out(s). Those add a lot of weight, and pretty much require a 1-ton dually. Also, generally, the Palomino campers have been low-quality, though I've heard they've improved in the last couple years. Avoid any pop-up camper where the door extends into the pop-up section (hard to describe in writing) -- this style:



    ^ It makes the rear wall much weaker having the door cutaway going up into the pop-up section. Most all of the pop-up manufacturers use a shorter door, fully-framed into the rear wall, like this:



    I bought a Northstar. I'd buy it again, or an Outfitter or Hallmark. Those all have good reputations in the pop-up campers.
    Quote Originally Posted by powder11 View Post
    if you have to resort to taking advice from the nitwits on this forum, then you're doomed.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Big Steve View Post
    Does your truck have a 8' or 6-1/2/ bed?
    6.5 - it's a 2002 Chevy 2500 ext. cab shortbed.

    Quote Originally Posted by El Chupacabra View Post
    I recommend going to look at a couple of different types of camper before you decide -- go to some dealers and check them out. Photos don't give you enough info.

    With a 3/4-ton truck, you aren't limited to the lightweight Four Wheel Camper/All-Terrain Camper style (vs. say a Tacoma). I originally thought I wanted a FWC, but then I visited the factory and checked out the different models. The pull-out cabover bed was a deal-breaker for me -- I wanted to be able to leave the bed fully made up, and you can't do that on a FWC. YMMV.
    Will do. I am gravitating toward the lighter end of the spectrum mostly because I know more weight equals fuel consumption and potentially worse rough road handling. That's the correct thing to assume right? Or does the lack of aerodynamics make it all a moot point?

    Since I want to use it in the winter and have a 3/4 ton should I just jump to a hardsided camper? The lower COG and less potential to hang up on crap while on rough FS roads is appealing but would love to hear pros and cons. Are there any good lightweight hardsided campers?

    Currently leaning toward picking up a cheaper used pop-up camper to use for the summer and get a feel for what I want/need and then look at a new camper for next year if it's something we decide we want to sink money into.

    How cold is a pop-up in the winter? I'm in Washington so single digits are rare. If I'm planning on ski area camping on a somewhat frequent basis should I look toward any certain brands? I don't mind having the camper be "dry" in the winter, just don't want something where you are basically camping outside.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leavenworth Skier View Post
    6.5 - it's a 2002 Chevy 2500 ext. cab shortbed.
    Check out this one: https://seattle.craigslist.org/see/rvs/5632540521.html It's a lightweight hardside Six Pack Camper design made by Four Wheel Camper with FWC aluminum stud framing and with FWC interior components. FWC bought SPC a few years ago and made these for awhile, but ceased because popups is FWC's business. FWC continues to service SPCs. This one has the FWC side dinette. This is a nice lightweight hardside camper with FWC flex frame, designed to flex when off-roading. This would work best as a 2-person camper, but it'll sleep 3: 2 in the loft and one on the folded down side dinette.

  8. #8
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    We don't camp in our pop-up in winter, generally. Have done it a few times, but the biggest problem for us is controlling condensation. The furnace keeps things plenty warm, but the soft walls are dripping wet by morning, even with a couple windows cracked open.

    For mileage, as a data point: we have a 2000 GMC Sierra 2500, 6.0L gas V8, 4-speed automatic, extended cab, 4WD, longbed, stock suspension, stock 245/75/16 tires and wheels. MPG without the camper, empty, is about 13. MPG with the camper is about 11.5-12. The truck just sucks a lot of gas. I don't know if a hardside vs. pop-up would make much more difference.

    If I wanted to use it as a winter camper, I'd probably sell the pop-up and go to a hardside. It'll be less dirt road friendly (taller, more likely to hit trees), but I think it'd be much more usable in snow. For winter use, keep in mind what each manufacturer says about roof load (snow load) -- if you go with a pop-up, you'll have to pop it up (or down) with snow up top. FWC/ATC rely on you physically lifting the roof, and there are optional gas struts that help. Other manufacturers use a hand crank or electric lift, but those have weight limits too (snow load, cargo, etc).
    Quote Originally Posted by powder11 View Post
    if you have to resort to taking advice from the nitwits on this forum, then you're doomed.

  9. #9
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    Sep 2006
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    I'm rebuilding an old FWC Fleet I found and bought along 97 near peshastin this spring if you want to look at a local FWC. Not for sale, but in progress for a skiing base camp this coming winter. I'll be tackling the various shortfalls of popups throughout the summer, hopefully the result is worthy. When I set it in my t100 it barely even sagged, and I've stripped a bunch of weight since.
    Gravity always wins...

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
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    644
    I was close to going this route a while back, and narrowed it down to a Lance Truck Camper. They seemed to be more innovative and focused on quality.

  11. #11
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    No advice, but this thread interests me!
    "fuck off you asshat gaper shit for brains fucktard wanker." - Jesus Christ
    "She was tossing her bean salad with the vigor of a Drunken Pop princess so I walked out of the corner and said.... "need a hand?"" - Odin

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
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    i'm thinking poor man's version of something similar. i was actually wondering about condensation in the poptop in the winter.

  13. #13
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    Sep 2009
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    Dude... camper club!

    I'd second Steve's thumbs-up for the old Six Pack campers. I looked at those before finding the Northern Lite.

    Some folks run soft-sided popups in the winter (Big Steve included!), but I think those things are best kept to the dry zones. If I lived in the Rockies, I'd have one for sure, but out here in the Cascades there's too much bullshit to deal with for them IMHO... aforementioned condensation, poor warmth without fancy wall coverings, and a lack of strength to support the thousand pounds of overnight snow at BBI17. It's sweet to be able to park and be done with setup. If you ever take a camper to bear country... no soft-sides.

    Might look at some of the hard-sided popups... Alaskan is one brand. They are robust (heavy, but your truck would take it no prob), and provide better warmth.

    Don't shop for one west of the crest. Unless it's fairly new, it'll likely be full of mold or rotten. I found mine out in Lewiston, where the heat and dryness kept the 20-year old thing perfectly preserved... and affordable.

  14. #14
    Join Date
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    Your camper is the good stuff, Norse, love the outdoor speakers.
    bF
    Alpental Indigenous

  15. #15
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    Meh, it suits us very well for how little we paid, but there are a lot of good choices out there.

    It's crazy how much money you can spend on a new truck camper. Way more than the truck it rides on! An 8-ft something Northern Lite classic (similar to my old horse) is over $30k new. Lots go for over $50k.

    Search in the desert, LWS! Snowbird retirees dump RVs for cheaps.
    PE, Mechanical Engineering
    University of Bridger Bowl Alumnus
    Alpental Creeper

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
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    I have a 2001 Lance and its pretty much bomber, I looked at lots and lots of campers and Lances are heads and shoulders above the rest

  17. #17
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    Oct 2005
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    Idaho
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    Quote Originally Posted by Norseman View Post
    Don't shop for one west of the crest. Unless it's fairly new, it'll likely be full of mold or rotten. I found mine out in Lewiston, where the heat and dryness kept the 20-year old thing perfectly preserved... and affordable.
    Yeah, shop in Lewiston. Lots of dudes with more access to credit than than brains and low income. Should be able to find something on a take over payment sort of arrangement.

  18. #18
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    Nov 2007
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    FWC specs its roofs to hold a 1,000 lb. snow load. Also, the new one-piece FWC roofs perform as well as the best hardsides in rain storms.

    All campers will sweat in winter. Condensation happens. One advantage of FWC popups is that the (optional) thermal liner can be stripped and the walls wiped down. I've put lots of winter days/nights in my FWCs. Dealing with condensation is a bit of work, but never stopped me from getting out. Condensation is reduced to a minor issue if your winter trips are never more than a few days and you have a shop or garage where you can get the camper warm and dried out after each trip.

    Word is that a Bigfoot is a good, maybe the best, winter camper.

    Some vintages of Lance campers are notorious for developing dry rot. Same re some other wood frame campers. (FWC uses aluminum studs and popups are easier to dry out.)

    Alaska campers are nice, tho heavy.

    Norse's Northern Lite is a nice camper. Put that brand on your list.
    Last edited by Big Steve; 06-21-2016 at 03:07 PM.

  19. #19
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    There's a year when Lance switched from wood to metal. I can't remember the year but my buddy's dad is on the wrong side of it with a Lance and is not too happy right now.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Conundrum View Post
    There's a year when Lance switched from wood to metal. I can't remember the year but my buddy's dad is on the wrong side of it with a Lance and is not too happy right now.
    My understanding is that Lance switched from all wood studs to some metal and some wood, and that Lance also redid its flashing/sealing specs. The problem is that, unless you have a truly sealed wall (e.g., Bigfoot) condensation will form inside the wall. The key is to vent properly to allow the wall interiors to dry out.

    I don't buy into the claim that FWC are "dry side" campers and/or not suitable for lots of winter use. To the contrary, see my comment above re the advantage of FWC's system of upper single wall + removable thermal liner to form a double wall (necessary only in winter), and how the latter can be removed to wipe down the wall and/or let it dry out. IMV, that gives FWCs an advantage over most hardside campers (tho not Bigfoot). The bottom 60% of FWC walls are double wall and get some condensation (tho not as much as the upper walls and roof) but FWC has figured out the venting and most of the condensation is on the upper single wall (which dries out quickly and completely). I don't know how other popups deal with this, but I do see plenty of older Northstars on the road and all the long term Northstar owners with whom I've spoken seem satisfied.

    To a large extent, selecting a camper is an exercise is balancing weight/COG vs. amenities. FWCs and All Terrain Campers are at the lightest weight (c. 1,000 lbs., depending on model)/lower COG end of the spectrum but at the cost of having less space and fewer amenities. At the other (heavy) end of the spectrum are c. 2,500 lbs. hardsides, e.g., Arctic Fox, bigger Lances and Bigfoot, which have more amenities and more room, but at a cost. 'Tweeners include the c. 1500 lb. hardsides (e.g., Northern Lite, Pastime) and midweight popups (e.g., Northstar). If you are doing off-road or rough roads, FWC and ATC have flexible frames, designed for off-roading. (ATCs are knockoffs of c. 2000 FWCs, operated by former FWC workers, less expensive, fewer amenities).

    So there's no right camper for everyone. Gotta figure your priorities. I prefer a lightweight camper set up for 2 people and rough roads (and I would never take a shit in my RV), but my choice won't work for a family of 4 that travels on the highway and wants a shitter in their camper.

  21. #21
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    Agreed on all points.

    I struggle mentally with the tradeoff between cold weather comfort and mobility. My rig is relatively compact for the features and does well with cold temps and condensation, but is not worthy of rough roads.

    For a rig that can do it all and go the distance, something like Steve's pop-up with extra insulation panels is probably best.

    My priority was for winter comfort in snowy weather, including shitter (you're welcome to use it, Steve!) and decent furnace plus insulation... which, for my lil half ton truck, meant molded fiberglass camper body construction.

    If I didn't use the thing almost solely in the winter, precluding most mountain road travel, I might have gone a different route to improve portability. It was bought as a cheap ski camper and fulfills that purpose, while also being manageable with a light truck. The OP has a bit more flexibility.
    PE, Mechanical Engineering
    University of Bridger Bowl Alumnus
    Alpental Creeper

  22. #22
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    Add another vote from me for Bigfoot-style molded fiberglass campers as being the best choice for winter use. No wood framing to rot, no metal framing to crack.

    Another comment on exterior materials: the old-style overlap aluminum siding can get dented, but it's supposedly much easier to repair than the one-piece sides, and doesn't suffer from delamination problems. Google "luan delamination" for more info than you could possibly want.

    Old style but good:


    New style -- glossy graphics, but potentially troublesome:


    Example of delamination:
    Quote Originally Posted by powder11 View Post
    if you have to resort to taking advice from the nitwits on this forum, then you're doomed.

  23. #23
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    Solid intel guys. Thanks.

    I want a barebones camper that is basically a place to sleep, that is warm, dry and out of the elements. I have no desire to shit in my camper or deal with emptying tanks, etc. It's just my wife and I plus 2 50 lb dogs.

    So how much should I budget for? $2500? $5000? $10,000?

  24. #24
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    $3k.

    Go buy the NorthStar pop-up for sale in Wenatchee and fix er up to suit your style.

    Decent looking Viking pop-up in Lewiston, too.

    Old FWC Granby in Missoula.
    Last edited by Norseman; 06-22-2016 at 10:35 AM.
    PE, Mechanical Engineering
    University of Bridger Bowl Alumnus
    Alpental Creeper

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Norseman View Post
    $3k.

    Go buy the NorthStar pop-up for sale in Wenatchee and fix er up to suit your style.

    Decent looking Viking pop-up in Lewiston, too.

    Old FWC Granby in Missoula.
    I shot the Wenatchee dude an email - looks like NADA value is between $1300 - $1500 depending on options. That leaves a lot of cheddar to fix any small issues, get a new mattress, etc.

    So when are we going to have a maggot summer summit/camp-out at Hart's Pass Campground?

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