Of all the questions we get, the most commonly asked is can my half-ton pickup truck haul a hard-side truck camper with a wet bath? Most of the time we tell them, no. Why? Because most half-ton pickup trucks lack the requisite payload to haul a hard-side truck camper. In fact, if you were to look at the payload ratings of today’s Ford F150, Ram 1500, Toyota Tundra, and Chevy Silverado 1500 short-bed trucks, most would fall under 2,100 pounds. Sure, you might find an F150 with a payload rating around 2,800 pounds, but those are few and far between. To get anything around 3,200 pounds, you’ll need to get a Ford F150 long-bed, single cab pickup, one of the ugliest trucks in the market. When it comes to hauling a truck camper, we actually recommend doing it with a more capable one-ton truck, but this isn’t always practical. Many half-ton truck owners have already paid-off their trucks and don’t want to invest in something bigger, heavier, and more expensive. Fortunately, truck camper manufacturers know this and have done their homework by building a wide variety of campers that are lightweight and capable. So without further adieu, and ranked in order, let’s take a look at the 8 best truck campers for half-ton trucks:
1. Lance 650
When it comes to luxury and comfort for today’s half-ton pickup, nothing compares with the Lance 650. Indeed, the F-150 and Lance 650 combination is so luxurious and easy to drive, it remains one of Cruise America’s most popular rental RVs. The Lance 650 is one of our favorites as well. Not only does it provide a north-south queen bed and a full size wet bath with a sink, but it also features a large kitchen and a dinette long enough to sleep an adult. With standard equipment, the Lance 650 weighs just 1,700 pounds dry and 1,903 pounds wet. It has a floor length of 6 feet 10 inches long and offers a spacious 6 feet 9 inches of interior height. The tank sizes of this short-bed camper are excellent with 22 gallons fresh, 15 gallons grey, and 16 gallons black. We’re also big fans of Lance’s new exterior one-piece TPO nose cap, which gives the camper a sleek and aerodynamic look, the on-demand tankless water heater, and Lance’s new Easy Charge exterior charging center for quick battery charging. Versatile enough to fit on both 6.5-foot and 5.5-foot pickup trucks and a great little camper, the Lance 650 offers everything you could possibly want except for the excessive weight. Still, many F-150s will need to have the suspension upgraded and have higher rated wheels and tires installed to haul this luxury hotel around—unless, of course, the truck is already equipped with the heavy-duty payload package. We also recommend getting the 5.0L V8 for extra climbing power. The base MSRP for the Lance 650 is $23,738.
2. Scout Olympic 6.5
A revolutionary approach to truck camper design by Yakima, Washington-based Adventurer Manufacturing, the Scout Olympic incorporates a number of industry-first add-ons to save on weight. These removable add-ons include a roof-top pop-up tent, that increases the sleeping capacity by two, a Dometic CFX3 75L refridgerator-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 Renogy 160 watt 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. With a dry weight of only 1,133 pounds, the Scout Olympic 6.5 was designed for today’s half-ton pickup truck, including the Ford F-150, Toyota Tundra, Chevy Silverado 1500, and Ram 1500. The Olympic supports four-season travel with an optional Newport Real Flame 4,500 BTU propane fireplace and standard robust insulation. The camper will last for generations thanks to the camper’s rugged aluminum, exo-skeleton framing and no-wood composite structural panels that will never rot. Particularly noteworthy, is that the Scout Olympic can sleep up to six people when you include the roof-top tent, an unheard of number for a truck camper let alone a camper built for a half-ton truck. Interested in a long-bed model for a half-ton truck? The company has that angle covered too with the Scout Kenai, which features a floor length of 7.6 feet, a dry weight of 1,370 pounds, and a Thetford cassette toilet. The starting price for the Scout Olympic base model is only $19,980.
3. Northstar Liberty
Designed to fit on both regular short-bed and mini short-bed half-ton pickup trucks, and loaded with features, the Northstar Liberty is a winner. According to Northstar, the Liberty is basically a whittled down version of the company’s popular Arrow 8.5 model without the rear overhang. The Liberty floorplan features an L-shape dinette forward, a large and spacious kitchen, a wet bath with a Thetford cassette toilet, and a north-south queen size bed. This low profile camper, with 6 feet 4 inches of headroom, provides a surprising amount of storage for a half-ton camper, including the capacity for two 5-gallon propane tanks and two AGM batteries. With a 20-gallon fresh water tank, a 13-gallon gray water tank, a 6-gallon water heater, and a removable 5-gallon cassette for the black water, the holding tanks are fairly large, too. In an industry first, the Liberty can now be ordered with a flip-out top bunk that extends partially into the cabover. Even with all that the Liberty offers, the camper still weighs only 1,775 pounds dry and is a consistent top seller for the company. Like all Northstar truck campers, the Liberty’s frame and walls are constructed entirely of wood. The only real negative is the Liberty’s dated oak interior—a interior facelift is badly needed in all Northstar campers. MSRP for the base unit is $24,115.
4. Capri Retreat
Based out of Bluff Dale, Texas, Capri makes an excellent, lightweight, no-frills style of truck camper that’s ideal for today’s half-ton pickup. Built entirely of wood and wrapped in aluminum, Capri campers can be ordered as either a lightweight shell with a bed, or completely decked out. One of the Capri’s most popular options it what the company calls “The Works,” which includes a Polar Cub 9,200 air conditioner, a shower, a 30-gallon fresh water holding tank, a two-way Dometic 3-cubic foot refrigerator, 4-gallon DSI water heater, a microwave, a cooktop, a sink and faucet, an audio/video package, a 12 volt electrical system, a dinette table, manual jacks, and blackout shades. Single options can also be ordered, including a Fantastic Vent Fan, a furnace, porta pottie, remote operated electric jacks, and a large dinette window. All Capri campers feature an attractive, diamond pattern aluminum exterior that can be ordered in 10 different base colors with different colored accents and stripes. The company also offers four different interior wood paneling options—Cypress, Weathered Cedar, Ridge Pine, and Pecan—and can be ordered in different bed lengths, including 8-foot, 6.5-foot, and 5.5-foot truck bed lengths. Overall, an excellent, well-built camper. A Capri Retreat with the options listed above, including “The Works,” retails for $21,845 and weighs 1,750 pounds dry.
5. Kimbo 6
A riveted all-aluminum design, the Kimbo 6’s design hearkens back to the 1960s when aluminum travel trailers and Avion truck campers were commonplace. At 1,100 pounds fully loaded, the Kimbo 6 is light enough to not only be hauled on half-ton trucks, but on mid-size trucks as well. The patented construction consists of a single wall, riveted aluminum, insulated with rigid R5 foam lined with suede. Standard features include a teak entryway/mudroom with an aluminum partition, a 54×75-inch east-west bed, two couches for social seating, removable lift jacks, and three Arctic Turn double pane insulated “Euro” windows. The camper also comes with a three-speed roof vent fan, a Yeti 400 solar generator with 12 volt USB ports, an exterior propane bay for a 30-pound propane tank, and high-efficiency, dimmable LED lighting. Optional “modules” can also be ordered and include a kitchen module with hot water, a refrigerator module, a table and clothes closet with shelves, a water reservoir with electric sprayer, a roof-mounted 100 watt solar power system, a 30-pound propane tank, an air conditioner with a storage bay, the the best option of all, a Dickinson propane fireplace and chimney. The Kimbo 6 embodies the minimalist principles espoused by its designer. As such, you won’t find the convenience of a large, walk-in wet-bath with a toilet, overhead storage cabinets (wire baskets are used instead), or massive fresh and grey water holding tanks. Pricing starts at $14,999, a very reasonable starting point for a lightweight camper of this quality.
6. Capri Cowboy
The only cabless model that made the list, Texas-based Capri Campers has carved a niche for itself by catering to the American rodeo circuit, which makes the Capri Cowboy name even more appropriate. But you don’t have to be a cowboy to like this particular camper. Standard features include a 48×80-inch east-west bed, a dedicated 12 volt battery system, a Fan-tastic Vent, three overhead cabinets, three windows, wood grain flooring, multiple interior and exterior 110 volt AC outlets, and a 12 volt charging station. One of Capri’s best options is what the company calls the “Cowboy Premium Package,” which includes a Polar Cub 9,200 air conditioner, an AC/DC compressor refrigerator, a hand-pump sink, manual jacks, and blackout shades. Other worthwhile options include an exterior shower, a furnace, and the “Sink and Faucet,” upgrade, which comes with a stainless steel sink with chrome faucet assembly, a 10 gallon fresh water holding tank, a 4-gallon DSI water heater, a 12 volt water pump, and 5-gallon propane tank. All Capri campers feature an attractive, diamond pattern aluminum exterior that can be ordered in 10 different exterior base colors with different colored accents and stripes. The company also offers three different interior wood paneling options for its campers—Weathered Cedar, Ridge Pine, and Pecan. A great little camper, the only real negative with the non-cabover design is its 5-foot interior height—meaning you’ll need to watch your head. Sold factory direct, the base model of the Capri Cowboy is only $7,995 and weighs only 750 pounds dry.
7. Adventurer 80RB
The Adventurer 80RB is unique in that it’s the only camper on this list that’s compatible with both short-bed and long-bed half-ton trucks. Featuring what the company calls a wood “Tru-Composite Construction” overlayed with a high gloss fiberglass, the 80RB weighs 1,808 pounds dry, which puts the camper well within the payload ratings of some half-ton pickup trucks. While the holding tanks in the 80RB are fairly small with 15 gallons fresh, 6 gallons gray, and 6 gallons black, this low-profile camper has everything else you need to boondock comfortably, including a nicely equipped wet bath and a kitchen with a 4-cubic foot refrigerator. Perhaps the most striking aspect about this camper is its attractive and roomy interior. The cherry cabinets with the fully radiused corners and the stainless steel appliances and accents reminds me of some of the Airstream travel trailers I’ve seen. Moreover, the Adventurer 80RB’s dinette, which features a flip-out sofa that can be converted into a bed, is also very functional and adds a tremendous amount of seating to the diminutive camper. However, there are a few issues with the camper’s design and 8-foot floor length, the biggest issue being the ugly rear overhang when mounted on a short-bed truck, the other being the lack of side storage boxes. Obviously, the 8-foot floor length and center of gravity of the Adventurer 80RB precludes it from being mounted on a 5-foot 5-inch mini short-bed truck. The MSRP for the Adventurer 80RB is only $19,208.
8. Travel Lite 770R Super Lite
Based out of New Paris, Indiana, Travel Lite is a relatively new company that has been producing truck campers since 1998. Travel Lite makes campers the old-fashioned way using 2×2-inch and 2×4-inch solid wood with R7 insulated walls, .024-inch thick aluminum siding, and double plywood insulated flooring. With a dry weight of 1,385 pounds, the Travel Lite 770RSL fits well on most half-ton trucks. The 7-foot 7-inch floor plan features a 48×82-inch east-west bed, attractive cherry cabinets, lots of overhead cabinets, a small kitchen, a porta pottie, and a face-to-face dinette in the front. The camper is equipped with a three-way 3-cubic foot refrigerator, one 20-pound propane tank, a 12,000 BTU propane-fired furnace, a two-burner cooktop, a 6-gallon DSI water heater, and a single group-27 battery. Popular options include a gelcoat exterior, an indoor shower, an 80 watt portable solar panel, a fiberglass front nose cap, and a 5-foot rear awning. Unfortunately, the tank sizes in the Travel Lite 770RSL are very substandard for a half-ton camper with only 9 gallons fresh and 5 gallons grey. Travel Lite’s quality has also been called into question over the years with leaks being the most common complaint. Unfortunately, this makes the company’s basic, one-year structural warranty even more problematic. The MSRP for the Travel Lite 770RSL is $12,580.
Read This Before You Buy
Before purchasing your camper, make sure your half-ton truck can handle the extra weight. When it comes to hauling a truck camper, the payload rating trumps all other performance numbers including horsepower, fuel-mileage, and torque. For a Ford F-150 with the heavy-duty payload package, this rating can be a low as 1,844 pounds or as high as 3,270 pounds. This means the camper you buy, plus passengers and gear, must be below this number. Determining the payload rating of your truck is easy. It can be found either on the driver side door jamb sticker (pictured here) or can be determined by taking the truck to the scales and subtracting the weight of the truck from the truck’s gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR). You’ll also need to ensure that the wheels and suspension are up to the task of hauling a camper. This is because only a small number of factory half-ton trucks are made to do it. One 4×2 Ford F-150 SuperCrew that we recently looked at illustrates this shortcoming with a mediocre 1,760-pound payload and ill-equipped p-spec (passenger-rated) tires (see photo). In order for this truck to carry more weight, light truck (LT) load range C or D wheels and tires and a set of Hellwig Helper Springs at a minimum will be needed. Aftermarket suspension mods like these won’t officially increase your truck’s payload rating, but they will make hauling your camper easier and a whole lot safer. Of course, some of these changes might not be needed if your truck is already equipped with a “heavy-duty payload package.”
Interested in a pop-up truck camper for your half-ton truck instead? Then you’ll want to check out our top eight pop-up truck campers here.