A Question About GM’s Truck Camper Loading Sticker

We recently received this email from reader Dean Herold of Dousman, Wisconsin about the “Truck Camper Loading Information” sticker that came with his truck…

Mike, I own a 1992 Airstream Excella that weighs around 7,000 pounds.  Last fall I bought a 2018 GMC Sierra Denali 2500HD, 4WD, Duramax 6.6L Turbo Diesel V8. It pulls my Airstream well. This summer I started looking into selling my Airstream and purchasing a truck camper. I have read several articles by you, Mike, and cherish your thoughts. According to GMC, my truck weighs 7,600 pounds empty and my total GVWR is 10,000 pounds so that leaves me 2,400 pounds for payload. However, there is a sticker in my glovebox that says I have a slide-in camper cargo weight rating of only 1,364 pounds. With these two figures, I’m not sure which number to believe and I’m not sure there is a truck camper with the options I want that would fall within these numbers. What are your thoughts and is there a percentage over these numbers for payload that would safely allow me to carry a TC on my truck? Thanks, Mike, for your input.

Thanks, Dean. This a great question because the “Truck Camper Loading Information” sticker in question does create a lot of confusion with truck owners (the same confusion applies to the Ford and Ram Truck Camper Certification Form found in the glovebox). Based upon the photos of the payload stickers you sent us from your 2018 GMC Sierra 2500HD, the actual payload rating of your truck is 2,114 pounds. This is less than what GMC told you and quite a bit more than the 1,364-pound number listed on your Truck Camper Loading Information sticker. Which number is right? Both, but I’d go by the official payload sticker because it’s easier and what everyone really goes by whether you’re hauling bricks, firewood, gravel, or a camper. How was your truck’s official 2,114-pound payload rating determined? It’s pretty easy. All GM needed to do was subtract the actual weight of your truck, which is 7,886 pounds, from your truck’s 10,000-pound GVWR. As the payload sticker indicates, the combined weight of all occupants and cargo should never exceed that number.

The payload certification sticker that came with Dean’s 2018 GMC Denali. The listed payload rating for this truck is 2,114 pounds.
The Truck Camper Loading Information Sticker that came with Dean’s 2018 GMC Denali.

So how is the cargo weight rating found on Truck Camper Loading Information sticker determined? Why do manufacturers even include it with all of the confusion it creates? Probably to discourage buyers from overloading the truck. The cargo weight rating is determined by subtracting the weight of the truck’s occupants from the payload rating of your truck. The formula uses the 150-pound rule for each occupant. Since crew cab trucks can theoretically hold up to five occupants for a total of 750 pounds, that number is subtracted from your truck’s 2,114-pound payload rating to determine your truck’s cargo weight rating (2,114 – 750 = 1,364 pounds). The bottom line here is that you still need to be below the 10,000-pound GVWR and 2,114-pound payload rating of your truck (which includes everything including cargo, the camper, and all occupants). As you can see, the Truck Camper Loading Information sticker creates unnecessary complexity and confusion to an important matter because not everyone travels with five passengers or weighs 150 pounds. It easier to just go by the GVWR/payload rating when calculating your truck’s load.

So is there a good hard-sided truck camper that weighs less than 2,114 pounds fully loaded? The Lance 650 and Capri Retreat come close with their published dry weights of 1,700 pounds, but, you’d have to load them pretty lightly to stay below the payload rating of your 3/4-ton truck (most hard-side campers weigh a good 800 to 1,000 pounds more fully loaded). You’d be better off getting the Capri Cowboy or a good pop-up camper, which will open up a wide range of possibilities for you. If a small hard-side or pop-up doesn’t appeal to you and you want something bigger, then you’ll need to upgrade to a one-ton truck with the options that you have. Why? Because even with a diesel engine and a 4WD, you’ll still be able to net a 4,000-pound payload, which is what you want. Unfortunately, when you ordered those two options with your GMC Sierra 2500HD they significantly reduced the payload rating of your truck. By how much? By a whopping 1,000 pounds (diesel engines typically weigh 600 pounds more than their gas counterparts while the 4×4 drivetrain adds another 400 pounds to the total weight of the truck).

As for your last question about going over the payload rating by a certain percentage, I wouldn’t do it. I always recommend getting a “bigger” truck when more payload is needed. Can you go over your payload rating? Sure you can! A good percentage of truck camper owners do, sometimes a little, sometimes a lot, but personally, I wouldn’t do it. Payload ratings have been established for safety because if you exceed it, components will eventually wear out and break. These components include things like the truck’s frame, the axles, the leaf springs, the brakes, and the wheels and tires. Not only that, but exceeding the GVWR and payload rating of your truck is neither safe for your passengers nor for others who are sharing the road with you. And if you happen to get in an accident while overloaded and harm others, the insurance companies will have a field day with you. Additional information and advice on this very important topic can be found in our article, How to Raise Your Truck’s Payload.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

About Mello Mike 502 Articles
Mello Mike is an Arizona native, author, and the founder of Truck Camper Adventure. He's been RV'ing since 2002, is a certified RVIA Level 1 RV Technician, and has restored several Airstream travel trailers. He currently owns a 2016 Northstar Laredo truck camper hauled on a diesel-powered 2013 Ram 3500 pickup truck. He retired from the U.S. Navy in 2004 as a CWO3 after 24 years, worked in project management several years, and now runs Truck Camper Adventure full-time. He also does some RV consulting, repairs, and inspections on the side.

12 Comments

  1. This topic gets beat longer and harder than a rented mule. Trying to get inside the rated payload is not easy. So as we are going back to the world of the TC and leave the world of 5th wheels and motorcoaches behind I have done my best to meet the new challenge. I have on order a ’20 F 450. I ordered it with max payload in mind. The Snowplow/Camper package, diesel and everything I can add on to make it a safer and better truck to meet my needs of the Host Mammoth Camper I have on order. In the final tally I am going to be over my payload limit by a large margin.

    But why? The max number we are playing with is 14,000 gross, and what drives this (no pun intended) is that when you cross the 14k threshold you enter into a whole new can of worms. Like CDLS, insurance and all kinds of things that apply to the commercial world. Many insurance companies do not insure commercial vehicles those that do treat you and your truck as a commercial truck, the mix of various state rules and reg governing the classes of commercial.

    Bottom line everything has to be subtracted from the max line of 14,000. This generally gives the F 350 a greater payload than the F 450, because the 350 weighs less. However, in reality, the 450 carries more! My advice to any and all that are looking at long bed level of TC is to buy a 450/4500 series…

    Mitigation strategy: With 8 years of TC time in 2 F 350 Dually’s with an Arctic Fox 1150 that tilted the scales at 5000+ the following are the mods I did to improve handling and expand the safety envelope: Upper overload spring Stable Loads, Rancho RS 9000XL adjustable shocks and a HellWig BIG WIG rear sway bar. NOTE I also added the BIG WIG front sway bar and while it it adds a bit more in functionality it really impacts the unloaded ride and is prob too harsh for most. I tried airbags and while they offered some functionality, fact is not much at all. They are way overrated and rarely bring anything to the table other than a thinner wallet. I did just recommend them on an F 350 that pulled a 41 ft 3 horse traile. They made a big difference and well worth the money.

  2. Once observed a 1968 GMC with eight foot plywood side walls loaded fully loaded while pulling an overloaded trailer, 24 miles per hour over the Continental Divide.

    Keyword being “AS MANUFACTURED”. As of today I have 210k miles on my 2015 2500HD and with an Arctic Fox 811 strapped to the bed. A beast at 4K pounds, including a 10K pound trailer, yet somehow my truck survives multiple road trips each year.

    The payload puzzle is additional leaf springs, 4K pound load rated tires, sway bar and airbags.
    Keep your speed reasonable (5 to 10 miles below the speed limit) and make good driving decisions

  3. Mike, thanks for the phone call. In response to this week’s GMC 2500 question, I have a 2018 2500HD crewcab 4×4 gas/6.0. Payload sticker states 2,908lbs (occupants/gear). I also have a Lance 650, fits great. I pull a Kawasaki Teryx 800 behind with a custom rack/step assembly for camper entry. Not a hint of overload! Fuel economy is a steady 9.6 MPG, fully loaded.

  4. Well there is one other solution you might consider. Here in the Northwest there are at least two family truck camper builders that can custom build you a camper. I Had Pastime of Angel Oregon build me a hard side 8’camper that weighs 1450 pounds with full tanks of water and propane but without air or a generator or solar panels…..and I don’t need those things given where and how I use the camper.

    A custom build will cost a little more but it might be a option for you.

  5. Hi Dean, I thought I would come back and give you a less emotional perspective on your problem. I will use my numbers from a 2016 dually,crew cab,4×4,diesel,long bed one ton.

    I read the response you received from the other members and I thought Mike’s formula was insightful as well as relative to my conclusion.

    So lets start. My truck has a stated GVWR of 13025. The max payload as shown in the door jamb is 4766. The sticker in my clove compartment shows 3866. The truck weighs 8040 with a half tank of fuel and the OEM spray in bed liner and stock receiver hitch. This is a number you need to know, go down and have your truck weighed and make note of fuel and general supplies that are in the truck at thew time of measurement. Now that I know the numbers I can do the math. I guess there are two ways to do this. The easy way is to adhere to the GVWR and the 4766 number on the jamb. Nether one of these numbers have anything to do with GCVWR, they only govern total payload which includes occupants,fuel, gear and tongue weight of anything being pulled. For those of you who like to overthink things you could go by the lesser number in the clove which accounts for maximum occupants. Having a crew cab means 6 people and using Mike’s 150lb formula that means 900 lb’s, hence the reason for the number being less than the on in the door jamb.

    I would suggest going the easy route, it will provide you with more than enough bad news about the prospects of your truck toting around a camper in the future. I don’t claim to be responsible for all the new information addressing payload on GM’s web site for there 2020 line that was not there in earlier models but I would like to think somebody with some clout read my input and decided to make pay load capacity’s as prominent as towing capacity’s.

    Having been involved with campers since 2015 I can easily understand why they make up a single digit percentage of the entire RV industry. There cost to space ratio is horrible. Plus, you will need a huge truck if you have your eye’s on anything bigger than a 9 footer. With all that said there is no doubt they fill a niche in the industry. I think the entry level horse crowd and the camping/fishing crowd will always see the good in a TC. The boon dockers are probably the most loyal, there need as well as there rig’s ability to go off road in pursuit of peace and quite will insure for all others that there will always be a tilton Hilton swaying back and forth in front of you on the freeway leading to the beach,desert or my favorite, the mountains.

  6. What this really means Dean is you have a great truck for hauling people and pulling trailers. However, you have a terrible truck for payload. Don’t feel bad, many of us have made this mistake including me. Selecting a three quarter ton instead of a one ton was your first mistake. The addition of a crew cab, 4×4 option and a diesel further decreased your payload. Personally, I bought the one ton with dual wheels along with the same options you chose and I only have 4766. For my needs that number was a real buzz kill. My dreams of a large multi slide camper loaded on my truck while it pulls a 5000lb boat or a 30 foot plus toy box trailer are gone.

    The way I see it for you Dean is you can keep the trailer and truck or sale the truck and buy a 2020 model with a new and greatly improved payload capacity. Make sure you buy the one ton if you still want the diesel. All the numbers are out on GM’s website so decide what you want long term and match the truck to your needs.

  7. I’d like to know if the manufacturers include the fuel weight of a full tank in their recommendations. In other words, if we subtract the weight of the occupants (and cargo), do we also have to account for the fuel weight in the same way ?

  8. Two thoughts.

    This question comes up a often and to date I have never seen anyone offer a satisfactory explanation for the discrepancy between the glove box and payload ratings. If it is meaningless why does the manufacturer include it?

    Secondly, the policy you have with your insurance policy is a binding contract which spells out the conditions under which your carrier can initiate actions against you. They can refuse renewal for multiple reasons, but if they could fail to honor a policy simply because the policy holder is at fault how about drunk driving, running a stop light, etc? Does anyone know of a verifiable instance where a company failed to pay due to an overweight condition (in the United States)? What does your policy say?

    • Ardvark,
      Because the glovebox rating is based upon the number of passengers which are calculated on the 150-pound rule. The truck can hold up to five passengers for a total of 750 pounds. Subtract that number from the payload and you get the glove box number. Bottom line is that you still need to be below the payload rating and GVWR.

Leave a Reply