A few days ago, I received this surprising email from Steve in Utah about his brand new 2014 Chevy Silverado.
Hi, Mike. I am in the process of buying my first truck camper and have some info that might be of use to your readers. After carefully reviewing the specs, I bought a Chevy Silverado 2500HD 4×4 with a double cab (not a crew cab) and short bed. I purchased this primarily for the intention of going into the back country. My considerations included ground clearance, truck ratings, warranty, what would fit in my garage, and truck payload. With the 6.0L engine in the truck, Chevy’s website said that the truck could carry a payload of 3,379 pounds. Since we didn’t want a huge camper, this seemed fine.
We initially planned to buy an all-aluminum camper, but when we subsequently saw an Adventurer 86FB aluminum and fiberglass camper we liked it much better, and since it was only 2,380 pounds we thought we could easily do this. We ordered the Adventurer and were due to pick it up the following week.
I am the type of person who reads manuals, so I sat down to read the Chevy owner’s manual. It is tedious reading to say the least. In the middle of the manual I came across a section on truck campers. It said to check in the glove compartment of your truck to see what the camper capacity is. This seemed somewhat puzzling since the website made no mention of a separate camper capacity. When I checked the glovebox, I found that the capacity was only 2,014 pounds! I called the dealer, who did not believe me. When I went to see him, he pulled out a dealer sheet that says that the truck’s capacity is only 3,120 pounds for cargo, again with no mention of camper capacity. So Chevy lists three different carrying capacities for this vehicle. Nobody at my dealer knew about these discrepancies. The website has no information on the Silverado’s ability to carry a truck camper. The 2015 Silverado catalog, which was just released as a PDF, makes no mention either (the PDF can be viewed here).
I am sure that the truck could easily handle the weight of the 2,380-pound-camper, but I don’t want to buy it because, 1) if something goes wrong with the truck, Chevy will say I exceeded the payload, 2) if I have an accident, my insurance company won’t cover me because I violated the specs of the truck and, 3) if I have an accident and hurt someone, the plaintiff’s lawyers will have a field day.
It has to do with the weight limit of the FRONT axle. With a truck camper (TC), most of the camper weight is on the rear axle (same as the truck bed weight). However, SOME of the weight of the TC is also bearing on the front axle and suspension. THIS is typically why your truck is rated for a lighter TC; get the snow-plow prep front end or camper prep package and they will add strong springs and thicker torsion bars to the front of the truck to accommodate this additional weight.
After reading all this has me worried. I was originally planning to get a 2500 size truck for a slide in but now I am second guessing it. Are there any particular models with a w/d bath that are in a 1,300lb gvwr category? My budget would be overly compromised if I try going up to a 3500 size truck. My plan is to live in the slide in full time. Need help!!
That will be a tall order for a 3/4-ton unless you go with a pop-up. Check out the truck camper rankings on this website. If you’re going to full-time and need a max amount of payload, we recommend going with a one-ton (3500) truck.
Well, this was an eye opener – ours says, “This truck should not be used to carry a slide in camper.” Glad I checked before we bought the camper.
I know I am a few years late on joining this discussion but anyway.
I see no mention of Fords in this discussion. I am in a small town and looking to buy a truck not on the local lot. So I can not scope out the glove box for a camper weight or run to the truck scales to weigh the truck.
Salesman trying to sell the truck pulled out a book that showed 2600 lb. payload. 6360 lb GVWR, 3350 lb rear GAWR and a front GAWR 3150. It is only a F150. I am also looking at a camper with a dry weight of 1700 lbs.
Any ideas on whether or not this is a good match? The truck will be mostly light loads, a camper road trip now and then, and a boat to pull a couple of times a month.
You should be ok if your payload is 900 to 1000 pounds higher than the dry weight of your camper. But if I was you, I’d buy a 3/4-ton or a one-ton. Much higher payloads, plus if you ever want to upgrade your camper in the future, you’ll have the truck to do it.
Before you buy that 150, weigh yourself, all the clothing, food, drinks, fishing/hunting gear, other toys, etc. you plan to bring. A rule of thumb is 500 lbs. Add all the water the camper holds, fresh water tank, hot water tank. How many gallons? Times that by 8 pounds per gallon. Will you have a full fresh water tank and 1/2 a tank of grey and black tanks? Add those weights also. Find out what the camper dry weight includes. Many camper companies do not include common options like A/C, upgrade refrigerator, heater, TV, Ladder, fans, etc. They also “fudge” on the weight. You might find out the dry wt. is more than 1700 lb. I agree with Mello Mike. Get the F250 or F350.
I went to look at Ford trucks today. Looked at the door sticker, GVWR is on there. I looked in the glove box, nothing on capacity in there. Truck weight was not on the door sticker as far as I could see. Went to the dealer’s computer for that vehicle and found a curb weight listed for each truck there. I suspect that varies a little based on options and you need to weigh the actual truck. 3/4Ton diesel crew cab 4X4 had listed 10,000 GVWR, same vehicle as listed as weighing in at 6989, leaving 3000# payload + change. With the gas engine, maybe (couldn’t find one) you would have 6-800# more payload to work with. About the range I was looking for. Why not just buy the 1 ton tho? Hard to find a used one, really rare to find with gas. Why gas? cheaper to buy $8K, lighter.
I had 2000 1/2 ton 4×4 chevy and hauled a 2000 lb WET slide in with full shower and extended bed in front for 9 yrs. i had to put airbags to help it, but it handled it fine. I believe they underrate on the stickers for liability reasons. I now have a fifth wheel and a 2500, mama goes with me now. I liked having my boat with me.
Is this sticker in 2013. Which glove box upper lower? I have half ton with air but now I’m finding I’m border line with 1600lbs?and I’m worried about getting weighed at bc?
Are they talking about on the bed campers or pull behinds?
They’re talking about slide-in truck campers/truck bed campers.
Wow, this information is really important and it sucks. I am following your site for quite a while and intended to get a 2500 with extended cab and short bed because it just fits in my garage. But now it seems that it is just useless for truck camping. Is there any way to extend the payload of the 2500 by improving the shocks? Martin
Hi Martin. Not really. Upgrading your shocks will do nothing for the payload rating. Why not buy a Ram 3500 in the same configuration?
My garage has 237 inch so I am limited to this length. As far as I know the 3500s are all double cabs. If you have any ideas, let me know please.
Other have extended their payload. One poster uses Firestone Ride-Rite Air Helper Springs on his F-150 to carry his camper. For a better ride, another uses SuperSprings, Bilstein shock absorbers a Roadmaster Sway Bar and Roadmaster steering stabilizer (he says it brings the steering back to center quickly and essentially its a shock absorber for the steering system). Another poster uses Suspension: Firestone Air Bags, Torklift StableLoads, Hellwig Sway Bar, Rancho Shocks to carry his Northern Lite 10-2 on his Silverado 2500 HD. SumoSprings by SuperSprings have mini air pockets in closed cell foam and are better than air springs which eventually leak all the air out. Also get 10 ply tires.
For a suspension upgrade (better ride) get Sulastic Springs. Truck Masters installs them for $400. They are in San Antonio, TX (maybe) and at 5734 McArdle Road B, Corpus Christi, TX 78412. 361/334-2622.
Before you do this, check with your insurance company to see if with all this suspension equipment, they still consider you “overloaded.” All this stuff is still a “band-aid” Best to get a bigger truck.
I just realized this 5 months after buying a 2015 HD2500 crew cab, long bed Duramax. It kind of pisses me off because I told the salesman that I was going to get a camper. The sticker in my glove box says 1321 lbs. Another small annoyance that with the 20″ rims the manual says not to use snow chains. Me and my boy like snow shoeing so we drive up logging roads in the snow. Correction I guess. We “used” to drive up logging roads. Other than those 2 things I love the truck. Too bad I bought it for camping trips.
Sorry to hear about that, Gary. Unfortunately, most salesmen are clueless about campers and payloads.
Good news! I was able to trade my HD2500 in for what I owed and just paid the difference for a 2016 HD3500 High Country. They got me the same color too so I can re-use my canopy. I just picked it up. The door jam says 3622 lbs for cargo + passengers and the camper sticker in the glove box says 2873 lbs. That’s better! Gary
It took me awhile to understand the discrepancy, too. On my 2005 Chevy truck It turns out that the manufacturer deducted 150 pounds per seat available in the truck. Then whatever portion of the fully rated payload was left is what they put on my camper sticker.
A good warning insofar as being aware of your truck's weight limits. And the warning is applicable to all truck manufacturers' recommended cargo weights, and you should take them with a grain of salt. The real number that counts is the the maximum weight of the unit you are putting on the road, or the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating – GVWR. That is the legal limit.
You cannot choose an appropriate camper for your truck without knowing how much your truck actually weighs. Not the published curb weight, but the real weight with all accessories and equipment on-board, even the camper tie-downs. To do this you need to weigh your truck, and then add-in the weight of full fuel tanks, passengers you intend to take, pets, and portable equipment that you'll carry in the cab. Now you have a real baseline to work a calculation of the second major piece – the weight of your camper wet.
Here's where you need to do some research; you need to know what the BASE unit camper weight is, and add-in the weight of the accessories you want, such as an air conditioner, a roof vent, an awning, microwave,etc.. This gives you the gross DRY weight of your selected camper before you buy it. Now, add-in the weight of water that can be accommodated in the fresh water tanks, the anticipated weight of your food stuffs, cloths, any portable equipment you'll store in the camper, and don't forget the weight of full tanks of propane. This number represents the anticipated weight of cargo and camper- that is, the camper loaded. I weighed my camper and truck together before hitting the road for the first time too.
Add the weight of the truck (as weighed and calculated) to the weight of the camper (as calculated). If the result is less than the GVWR, you pass the first test for legal weight limits and the camper can be carried. Now here is where some work-arounds come into play. If you are slightly over the GVWR, you can choose to limit your on-board weight by reducing the weight of water, food, or anything else. But you need to stick to the reductions (including your own body weight!). If your resultant weight is at or below the GVWR, you are again OK from a legal perspective.
For instance, my truck has a GVWR of 10,000 pounds. With full water tanks, I theoretically weigh-in 215 pounds over my GVWR. So I choose to put only 1/4 tank of water in the camper tank when travelling. I fill up at my camping spot.
Now, you need to look at two other things: the type of tires you will use, and the carrying capacity of your front and rear axles. Had enough yet? Bear with me.
Combined Axle weight limits add-up to more than the GVWR, but the GVWR governs what load you can put on the road. The idea here is how to control weight distribution over axles under different loading conditions. It is unlikely that a TC owner will have to calculate or weigh axle loads; just be aware of the concept.
BUT, your tires should have a designed load bearing capacity at least equal to one-half the maximum axle load limit. So, two 3025 pound rated rear tires equal a maximum axle weight rating of 6050 pounds for example, which represents the average 3/4 ton truck rating. In the case of my truck and camper, I needed to use four wheels to meet the axle capacity, thus a dually one ton is used by me. It is no use loading your truck axle below its maximum weight but overload your tires. You may well be below your GVWR, but you are dangerously overloading your tires and risk blow-out and significant damage or worse. So if you are buying a new truck for a camper, make sure you order the right tires for your camper.
I hope this helps some of the new TC owners.
Great Advice, Glen.
Basically, Chevy's truck camper ratings appear to be 33% less than their payload ratings as verified by checking two different Silverado models. Can't really vouch for all models, but this is a good place to start in your selection of a truck. The bottom line is to check the glove box in any new Chevy pickup before purchasing a truck from them.
I just checked my glovebox…2013 Silverado with 6.2 400+ HP…1500 Ext Cab..
3/4ton rearend……831#..Sounds like not much in the box..Good thing I have a Class A Winnebago to haul me around in..
Wow, that isn't much.
This is really interesting. I can see having three different payloads, but they should all be posted together where a prospective buyer will see them at the same time. Otherwise it's misleading, and I wonder why they would do this. 🙁
I'll bet your readers with trucks are all checking their glove boxes!
I agree. Especially for those who haul truck campers.