So you’re interested in buying a truck camper to haul on a one-ton SRW short-bed truck. If you already have the truck, you chose wisely. Today’s one-ton SRW truck is capable of hauling most non-slide truck campers being built today. Indeed, most of the gasoline-powered, Ram 3500, Chevy 3500, and Ford F-350 SRW trucks rolling off today’s assembly lines have payload ratings in excess of 4,000 pounds. This is a very good thing because safety is the key when hauling a truck camper. Exceeding the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) and the corresponding payload rating of your truck should be avoided. Doing so puts you and others who share the road with you at risk. In the article, we rank the 9 best short-bed truck campers for Ford F350 Ram Chevy GM 3500 trucks.
Unfortunately, getting the right info on truck camper dry weights isn’t as easy as it should be. Sometimes the weights listed on the manufacturer’s websites don’t take everything into account like added options. Northwood Manufacturing’s Arctic Fox 865 is a good example. The listed dry weight of the camper is 2,641 pounds, a very manageable weight. What isn’t said is that each camper includes the company’s mandatory “Fox Package” that weighs an additional 595 pounds, putting the total dry weight of the camper at 3,236 pounds. This additional weight is clearly listed in Northwood’s brochures, but is difficult to find on the company’s website. This failure to clearly identify the actual weight of the camper has burned many a customer. It shouldn’t be this way. Fortunately, we’ve done the research for you here in this article to avoid succumbing to this and similar pitfalls.
When researching truck campers, it’s important to understand that the dry weight is only half of the picture. The dry weight doesn’t take into account things like full tanks, batteries, gear, food, and options like air conditioners, awnings, and solar panels that were installed after the camper was built. All of this extra water and gear probably weighs a good 1,000 pounds, so a camper with a dry weight of 2,600 pounds will actually weigh around 3,600 pounds fully loaded. This means you’ll need to have a truck with a payload large enough to handle the fully loaded weight of the camper, plus passengers and anything you have stored in the truck. Unfortunately, some truck camper companies and dealers aren’t honest in divulging this information to customers shopping for a camper. Only the dry weight is often mentioned. Getting the correct information on weights when shopping for a truck camper is paramount. Nothing is more important.
In this article, we rank the best hard-side truck campers that can safely be hauled on a one-ton SRW short-bed truck. So who makes the best truck camper for this size truck? That’s a great question. We looked at several factors to determine our rankings, including build quality, features, handling, and holding tank capacities. Each camper needed to meet three requirements in order to be ranked—each needed to be a hard-side, non-slide model that weighed less than 4,200 pounds fully loaded. We chose this figure because it falls within the payload ratings of most gasoline-powered, one-ton SRW short-bed trucks being built today. Fortunately, finding campers that weigh less than this figure wasn’t too difficult. Most fall well below 4,000 pounds fully loaded.
Happily, the 10 truck campers that made our final cut offer the consumer a wide range of choices. Some are big and heavy, while others are light and aerodynamic. Some are framed with aluminum, while others are made of wood. Significant differences between the campers are noted here in the individual write-ups. Again, this article DOES NOT include truck campers with electric slide-outs. If you’re interested in a truck camper with one or more slide-outs, click here. Remember, you saw this comprehensive, well-researched list here first, well before Internet copycats with nearly identical lists publish theirs. So without further adieu, here are the 10 best short-bed truck campers for one-ton Ford F350 Ram Chevy GMC 3500 trucks:
1. Northern Lite 8-11 EX WET
Based out of Kelowna, British Columbia, Northern Lite suffered a terrible fire in 2014, but has come back better than ever by building one of the best, most luxurious truck campers in the entire industry. One reason for this high quality is Northern Lite’s fiberglass, “clam-shell” exterior. The molded fiberglass design produces not only a superior, aerodynamic structure, but also one that is stronger and doesn’t leak like typical campers. The camper’s 9-foot floorplan features a north-south queen-size bed, a roomy wet-bath, a face-to-face dinette, loads of storage, and a large kitchenette. Standard features include all-wood cabinets with beautiful sapele veneer paneling; a mirrored, three-way 6.3-cubic foot refrigerator; a 6-gallon DSI water heater; a dual battery compartment, Seitz windows, and a three-burner propane cooktop. The 2,900 pound camper also features an 18,000 btu furnace, two 20-pound propane tanks, a 9,200 BTU air conditioner, a 95-watt solar power system, a 45-amp Progressive Dynamics converter/charger with three-stage Charge Wizard, LED lighting, and side and rear awnings. The tank sizes in the Northern Lite 8-11EX are excellent, too, with 33 gallons fresh, 24 gallons grey, and 13 gallons black. Can also be ordered with a dry-bath. The Ozite “furry” headliner and the dated, turquoise color exterior graphics are the only negatives in what is otherwise an outstanding, four-season camper. The MSRP is a bit on the steep side with a price of $66,935, but it doesn’t matter, this camper rocks.
2. nuCamp Cirrus 820:
Ohio-based nuCamp took the truck camper industry by storm in 2015 by introducing what immediately became one of the best looking, most innovative truck campers in the marketplace—the Cirrus 820. Noteworthy innovations found in this cutting-edge camper include the Alde hydronic heating system, a whisper-quiet water heater furnace combination unit that saves on both weight and space, the Froli modular sleep system, heated floors, and a space-saving folding bathroom sink. But this 2,540-pound camper provides more than just good looks and innovation, it also features a terrific 8-foot 6-inch floorplan with a large wet-bath, a spacious cabover with a north-south queen-size bed, a face-to-face dinette, a massive wardrobe, a large kitchenette with a three-way, 5-cubic foot refrigerator, and copious amounts of storage. Framed entirely of aluminum, highlights include a custom diamond-plated rear bumper with hose storage, a dual battery compartment, two 20-pound propane tanks, an 8-foot side awning, dual thermopane windows, a 38-gallon fresh water tank, a massive 32-gallon grey water holding tank, and an 18-gallon black water holding tank. Easily one of the 10 best short-bed truck campers for one-ton Ford F350 Ram Chevy GMC 3500 trucks. Customers have numerous color options when ordering a nuCamp Cirrus camper, including a silver or white exterior with 10 different color accents to match the color of your truck. The MSRP of the Cirrus 820 is $55,065. Available at top dealerships nationwide.
3. Bigfoot 25C9.4SB
The truck camper industry was shocked when Bigfoot RV went out of business in 2008, a victim of the Great Recession. Fortunately, the company reopened its doors in August 2010 after it was purchased by Grant Bilodeau, a former employee. A superb fiberglass, clam-shell design, the Bigfoot 25C9.4SB weighs 2,980 pounds dry, and features 1.5-inch thick heavily insulated walls. The camper’s stylish interior features a north-south queen-size bed; a large U-shaped dinette; a well-equipped kitchenette with loads of storage; a massive, two-way 6-cubic foot refrigerator, 6 feet 5 inches of headroom, and a floor length of 9 feet 6 inches. Highlights include a porcelain toilet, an 11,000 btu air conditioner, a powerful 30,000 BTU propane-fired furnace, two 20-pound propane tanks with auto change over, a rear awning, and a three-burner propane cooktop. The camper also comes with a number of upgrades, including a battery disconnect switch, an integrated stereo system with interior and exterior speakers, a black tank rinse, accordion-style day-night shades, and tinted thermal pane windows. The tank sizes in the Bigfoot 25C9.4SB are also excellent with a 38-gallon fresh water holding tank, a 32-gallon grey water holding tank, and a 22-gallon black water holding tank. Popular options for this superb, four-season camper include the Onan 2500 generator, the wireless rear camera, and the 250 watt solar power system. Without a doubt, one of the 10 best short-bed truck campers for one-ton Ford F350 Ram Chevy GMC 3500 trucks. The MSRP of the Bigfoot 25C9.4SB is $52,390.
4. BundutecUSA Roadrunner
Easily one of the 10 best short-bed truck campers for one-ton Ford F350 Ram Chevy GMC 3500 trucks. Truck camper guru, Rory Willett, the owner of the BundutecUSA, likes his campers to stand out in a crowd and the Roadrunner does in a major way. Like all Bundutec campers, the Roadrunner is constructed of wood overlayed with either a smooth grey aluminum or a grey fiberglass exterior siding. The Roadrunner’s 8-foot 7-inch floorplan features a north-south 80×60-inch bed with a large kitchen and a wardrobe on the driver’s side and a huge 30×36-inch wetbath and a 66-inch long U-shaped dinette on the passenger side. Standard features include a 35-gallon fresh water tank, a 20-gallon grey water holding tank, a Thetford cassette toilet, the revolutionary Truma Combi water heater furnace, an exterior shower, Seitz windows, a Dometic CR1110 3.7 cubic foot compressor refrigerator, and window and door screens fine enough to keep out annoying “no-see-ums.” Bundutec offers a plethora of options too, including a Zamp 340 watt solar power system, lithium ion batteries, a True Induction Cooktop, and a 3,000 watt Xantrex inverter with a built-in transfer relay. Unlike many other truck campers in this weight class, the Roadrunner is loaded with storage due to not only the space-saving Truma Combi, but also by using every available nook and cranny. With a dry weight of 2,450 pounds, the Roadrunner should only be hauled on a one-ton truck. A great-looking camper inside and out, the list price for the BundutecUSA Roadrunner only $33,706.
5. Lance 865
The REV Group acquired California-based Lance Campers in January 2018, but that hasn’t slowed the company’s production down one bit. The company continues to sell more slide-in truck campers than any other company in the industry. Over the years, Lance designers have worked hard to make their campers lighter and more durable and their efforts have paid off in a big way. The Lance 865 weighs only 2,012 pounds dry, which puts the camper around 3,000 pounds fully loaded, well within the reach of all one-ton trucks (and many 3/4-tons). The Lance 865’s 8-foot 7-inch floorplan features a gorgeous interior with dark, cherry stained cabinets, a large wet bath with a bathroom sink, a small kitchen with a three-way 3-cubic foot refrigerator, a north-south queen-size bed, and a cozy U-shaped leather dinette. The tank capacities of the Lance 865 are pretty decent, too, with 36 gallons fresh (including the 6-gallon DSI water heater), 14 gallons gray, and 13 gallons black. We’re big fans of Lance’s new exterior one-piece TPO nose cap, which gives the camper a sleek and aerodynamic look, and Lance’s new exterior charging center that allows owners to hook up a portable solar panel or a generator for quick battery charging. Easily one of the 10 best short-bed truck campers for Ford F350 Ram Chevy GM 3500 trucks. The only real negative with the Lance 865 is its small battery compartment—it’s large enough to hold only one Group-27 battery. The MSRP for the Lance 865 is a very affordable $50,584. Sold at top dealerships nationwide.
6. Arctic Fox 865
Oregon-based Northwood Manufacturing debuted the Arctic Fox 865 in 2008, but removed it from the company’s catalog in 2012 after declining sales. The company, however, decided to bring it back in 2017 after repeated requests for the camper. Being the only Arctic Fox truck camper without a slide-out, it was the right decision by the company. Unfortunately, even without any slide-outs, the Arctic Fox 865 is still a heavy camper. Including the company’s mandatory Fox Package, which weighs 595 pounds, the dry weight of the Arctic Fox 865 is still 3,236 pounds, easily putting it at 4,200 pounds fully loaded and probably more. The Arctic Fox 865 is a big camper too. Not only is the camper’s floor length generous, at 9 feet 4 inches long, but it also has some of the largest holding tanks in this weight class with 34 gallons fresh, 32 gallons grey, and 31 gallons black. Even the cabover height is large at nearly 4 feet. This well-built, four-season camper features a strong, cathedral arched ceiling, 2-inch thick heavily insulated walls, a 20,000 BTU propane fired furnace, two huge 30-pound propane tanks, a 6-gallon DSI water heater, a 45-amp Progressive Dynamics converter/charger with a three-stage Charge Wizard, and a huge, two-way 7 cubic foot refrigerator. The best options include Torklift’s excellent Fox Landing Step, thermal pane windows, and a 100 watt solar power system. Easily one of the 10 best long-bed truck campers for one-ton F350-3500 trucks. Fits on both short-bed and long-bed trucks. The MSRP of the Arctic Fox 865 is $40,646.
7. Scout Olympic 6.5
The lightest camper in this survey and a revolutionary truck camper design to boot, the Scout Olympic 6.5 incorporates a number of portables to save on weight. These portables include a removable Dometic CFX3 75L refrigerator-freezer with WiFi, a 4.9-gallon removable water tank, a removable dining table, a Yeti Goal Zero 1500x lithium battery pack, and a removable propane cooktop. Standard features include a 175 watt flexible solar panel, a moon roof with a screen and solar reflective shade, a four-person dinette with sleeper conversion, and dual 5-pound propane bottles. The best options include a Thetford Cassette Toilet, a Newport Real Flame 4,500 BTU propane fireplace, and a Rhino Rack Batwing Awning. Particularly noteworthy, is that the Scout Olympic can sleep up to six people when you include the optional roof-top tent, an unheard of number for a truck camper let alone a camper of this size. With a dry weight of only 1,081 pounds and an floor length of 6 feet 2 inches, the Scout Olympic works well with any short-bed, half-ton truck. Interested in a long-bed model? The company has that angle covered too with the Scout Kenai, which features a floor length of 7 feet 7 inches and a dry weight of 1,265 pounds. The starting price for the Scout Kenai base model is an affordable $23,990.
8. Adventurer 86FB
Washington-based Adventurer Manufacturing began making campers in 1969 and the Adventurer 86FB is one of the company’s best sellers. Exceptionally well-balanced, the Adventurer 86FB features what the company calls its “Tru-Composite Construction” overlayed with a high gloss fiberglass. The Adventurer 86FB weighs 2,585 pounds dry, which puts the camper well within the payload ratings of most one-ton trucks. The camper’s 8-foot 11-inch floorplan features a north-south queen-size bed, a roomy wet-bath, a mirrored sliding double door wardrobe in the cabover, a large kitchen with a massive 7-cubic foot double-door refrigerator, tons of storage, and a face-to-face 40 x 72-inch dinette in the rear. Moreover, the holding tanks in this true, four-season camper are some of the largest in this weight class with 42 gallons fresh, 31 gallons grey, and 31 gallons black. Features include attractive maple hardwood cabinets, basement storage with a slide-out storage tray, heated holding tanks, four-season tinted thermopane windows, two 20-pound propane tanks, a 20,000 BTU propane-fired furnace, and a 4-gallon DSI water heater. Easily, one of the 10 best short-bed truck campers for one-ton Ford F350 Ram Chevy GMC 3500 trucks, unfortunately, the Adventurer 86FB’s grade takes a small hit due to the lack of side storage boxes, which are pretty standard on most short-bed truck campers of this size. The MSRP of the Adventurer 86FB is an affordable $36,988.
9. Wolf Creek 850 by Northwood Mfg.
In response to complaints about its Arctic Fox campers being too heavy, Northwood Manufacturing expanded its catalog in 2011 by offering a lightweight line of campers called the Wolf Creek. The Wolf Creek 850 is the company’s most popular model. The dry weight is only 2,008 pounds, a figure that puts it well within the payload ratings of most 3/4-ton trucks, but not half-ton trucks which the company erroneously claims. The 8-foot 8-inch floorplan features a north-south queen bed, a dinette long enough (78 inches) to sleep an adult; an excellent one-piece, molded wet-bath with a sink; a large kitchen with a 5-cubic foot refrigerator; and a sizable wardrobe. Noteworthy options for the Wolf Creek 850 include a 2,500-watt Onan generator (the only camper in this list to offer one), Hehr thermal pane windows, a curbside wardrobe in the cabover, and the excellent Fox Landing folding step made by our friends at Torklift. The camper also features a dual battery compartment and a basement, which houses fairly large holding tanks—27 gallons of fresh water, 19 gallons of grey, and 20 gallons of black. The camper also features two 5-gallon propane cylinders. Available for both short-bed and long-bed trucks. If this floorplan, doesn’t appeal, Northwood Manufacturing makes a longer Wolf Creek 890 model with even more features and more elbow room. MSRP the Wolf Creek 850 is $33,975. Sold at top dealerships nationwide.
10. Travel Lite Up Country 900U
Travel Lite RV recently revamped its entire lineup by offering two new truck camper brands: the Up Country for full-size trucks and the Atom for mid-size trucks. Travel Lite also upped the game by eliminating wood and staples and going with a composite structure and aluminum trussed roof. The Travel Lite Up Country 900U is one of the largest and best-equipped models with a floor length of 7 feet 5 inches and a dry weight of only 2,304 pounds. The 900U floor plan features a kitchen and wet-bath on the driver side and a U-shaped dinette on the passenger side. Standard features include a 21 gallon fresh water holding tank, one group-27 battery, a 200 watt solar power system, one 20 pound propane tanks, a stainless steel sink, a free standing table, a Shur-Flo water pump, a 40 amp converter, and a DC compressor refrigerator. Additional standards include a two-burner stainless steel stove, a stainless steel microwave, a 20,000 BTU furnace, an outdoor spray port, and detachable electric jacks. Only one option is offered, a 13.5k BTU air conditioner, but, hey, for a lightweight camper as well equipped as this one, you don’t need much more. Fits on both short-bed and long-bed trucks with a weight that is compatible with any one-ton pickup truck and many 3/4-ton pickups. The MSRP for the Travel Lite Up Country 900U is $36,993. Available at top dealerships nationwide.