Home Forums Truck Camper Adventure Forum Gut it or Pop it?

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    • #37436
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      Own a 2016 5L 4×4 6.5 bed with 2100 lb payload. Problem is that lots of 1/2 ton truck campers come in around 1700 lbs; yeah some more than that. That is still too heavy for my taste … much too heavy in fact. I am loathe to go buy another truck to haul a TC when I love the truck I got.

      So far this is an old tiresome story but I’ll get around to the title of this thread. I looked at some 1/2 ton campers and then wrote to nucamp and lance about the possibility of them selling a shell model. Haven’t heard anything back and got to thinking about gutting a hardside TC myself. Call it remodeling for lightness. There is a lot of unknown ground here for me. Just not too sure that I could strip down the interior enough to shed 500 pounds. How much does a shower weigh? I suspect a lot of the TC’s weight is found in the structure itself. Not to mention that its a hard swallow to pay good money for a TC and then proceed to gutting it.

      Yes, I know. Sell the truck and buy a 1 ton. But the truck I have is paid off and I love it. Besides, I am not really an overlanding type. I ride colorado with dirt bikes because I love motorcycles and the places I go to fly fish are not that hard to get to. Honestly, I could manage it with a minivan. So, my activity doesn’t demand a popup. I see popup campers all over Central Colorado but not sure if I’ve ever seen one offroad.

      I’ve been sleeping in the back of my truck. Its been interesting at times. I’d enjoy a camper. So … would you buy a popup or go for gutting a hardside? Gut it or pop it?

      Regards, Don

    • #37438
      John Perz
      Participant

      For what you do, are you sure a truck camper is the best bet? Might you not be better off carrying the bike in the bed of the truck, and pulling a small trailer?

      I’m not sure how much you wanted to spend on a truck camper. You could get a used Casita trailer for $10 to $12 K. Or you could pick up a small cargo trailer and convert it. There is a VERY active sub-group for that over on the Teardrops and Tiny Travel Trailers site.

      Another possibility is a Jumping Jack Trailer.

      Some resources to look at:

      http://www.tnttt.com/

      http://www.fiberglassrv.com/

      http://jumpingjacktrailers.com

      Regards
      John
      I don't like to make plans. They cause the word "PREMEDITATED" to get used in court!
      DON'T FEED THE VULTURES!
      My Body is a Temple! Ancient, Crumbling, Probably Cursed . . .

      • #37502
        Anonymous
        Inactive

        Hi John, I went to look at trailers this afternoon. I sure could haul a lot of gear if I got one. I’ve no doubt I could fill a 5×8 with bicycles, kayaks, fishing gear, camping gear, … but I’d rather have the agility of a truck camper. Just need to think my way through this.

    • #37453
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      Hi John, Thanks for the advice. I really don’t want to pull anything behind me. There are times I get well into a tight road and have to turn around. Its hard enough with just the truck. I know some folks that manage to swing a light trailer around but only with a bit of effort. So, I’d like to stay within a 4 wheel footprint.

      I thought about leaving an rv trailer as a basecamp but then I would have to return to fetch it or spend a night. I’d rather just stay where I am and camp. I’ve been doing this in the back of my truck but no way my wife is going to join me. I seldom use campgrounds but my destinations are seldom offroad either. Just some rough gravel/dirt. So, no rock crawling or overlanding but certainly 4×4 at times and long way from towns.

      Appreciate the advice. Don

    • #37488
      John Perz
      Participant

      I hear where you’re coming from. The problem, as you’ve already discovered, of course, is that a half ton truck is really limited.

      I’ll leave you with one last thought. A front receiver hitch. You unhook the trailer, turn the truck around, hook the trailer up to the front, and PUSH the trailer back to a more open area.

      Anyway, good luck. Maybe one of the other guys here can come up with a better idea for you.

      Regards
      John
      I don't like to make plans. They cause the word "PREMEDITATED" to get used in court!
      DON'T FEED THE VULTURES!
      My Body is a Temple! Ancient, Crumbling, Probably Cursed . . .

    • #37489
      John Perz
      Participant

      BTW, you did see this article, right?

      Top 8 Pop-Up Campers For Half-Ton Trucks

      Regards
      John
      I don't like to make plans. They cause the word "PREMEDITATED" to get used in court!
      DON'T FEED THE VULTURES!
      My Body is a Temple! Ancient, Crumbling, Probably Cursed . . .

      • #37500
        Anonymous
        Inactive

        Yeah, but I am trying to avoid popups. I’ve read Mike’s articles. Thanks again. -d

    • #37498
      Mello Mike
      Keymaster

      Great advice so far. If you’re really set on keeping your truck I would do several things to it. Upgrade your p-spec wheels and tires with a good light truck wheel and tire with a Load Range of C or D, install and extra set of leaf springs, and a heavy-duty rear sway bar like those made by Hellwig. Your truck will handle the extra weight much better, but, as you probably already know, won’t officially raise your payload. I would do this before buying any Lance 650.

      • #37501
        Anonymous
        Inactive

        Yeah, I even thought about swapping out the front hubs and rear axles for more lug nuts. Better brakes up front. Better suspension front and rear. I’d eventually wind up with the camper package. 🙂

        I dunno. Wish someone had a review of hardside campers for F150 trucks and what it takes to create a fun combination. In the meantime, I’ll keep looking. -d

    • #37508
      John Perz
      Participant

      You know, if you want to think outside the box, you could buy one of those fiberglass work bodies for trucks and convert the inside yourself. I believe you can order them with windows and air conditioning from the factory.

      Master 75

      Regards
      John
      I don't like to make plans. They cause the word "PREMEDITATED" to get used in court!
      DON'T FEED THE VULTURES!
      My Body is a Temple! Ancient, Crumbling, Probably Cursed . . .

      Attachments:
    • #37511
      John Perz
      Participant

      You might also take a look at Hiatus campers. They’re building a hard side pop-up.

      Hiatus Camper

      Regards
      John
      I don't like to make plans. They cause the word "PREMEDITATED" to get used in court!
      DON'T FEED THE VULTURES!
      My Body is a Temple! Ancient, Crumbling, Probably Cursed . . .

    • #37524
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      Hi John, anything that bolts onto the truck is probably not of interest. My HOA doesn’t allow any kind of camper. So, campers like the 4WC project M or the Hiatus, while nice, just won’t work for me. The truck cap in the picture of my truck was ok though. It was not considered a camper by my HOA. And it wasn’t. Leaked like a sieve. Sent it back to the company after many trips to the dealership and an attempt to have the manufacturer fix it.

      I thought about using a bare bones, slide in truck cap and looked at the ARE Spacekap and Tufport bodies but felt like it was just too much of a reach. Possibly because I feel like I am done with projects and more interested in doing things.

      I suspect that much of the TC weight comes from creating a structure that is leak proof and capable of withstanding the stress of rough roads. Not sure that I can gut out a camper to get where I need to be and still have payload for gear. Beginning to think that truck camping is relegated to 3/4 – 1 ton trucks, unless your willing to make considerable concessions. This thread is about exploring this idea. -d

    • #37528
      Wheeldog
      Participant

      Wanna take a trip to Alaska? Cache Camper makes custom campers. They can make anything you want. According to their web page their 6′ camper weighs around 1200 lbs. I had one of their campers on a F 150 and it worked fine.

      https://www.cachecamper.com/

      2016 3500 HD Durmax

      1994 S and S 9.5' Camper (SOLD)
      1999 S and S 9.5 Camper

      • #37534
        Anonymous
        Inactive

        Alaska would be an awesome trip but looking for something closer to home. -d

    • #37529
      John Perz
      Participant

      OMG! HOAs are an invention of the Devil!

      Did you look at Capri Campers in TX? They have two models, one with a cabover called the RETREAT, and one without called the COWBOY. (The COWBOYs are called that because they are extremely popular with cowboys who follow the rodeo circuit, and just want someplace to crash at night.) Anyway, the RETREAT has a bare bones dry weight of 1100 pounds (1690 pounds loaded) for a 6’5″ foot model and the COWBOY has a bare bones weight of 780 pounds (1280 pounds loaded).

      You can find a bunch of YouTube videos showing various rodeo cowboys showing off their Capri campers, which will give you a good idea of their internal configurations.

      The RETREAT has an inside standing height of 6’4″. The COWBOY only has an inside standing height of 5′, but I’ve spoken to them and they say I can order a COWBOY XL with an inside height of 6′ for a few thousand dollars more.

      They custom build your camper after you order, and there is no dealer network. You have to drive down to TX to pick it up at the factory.

      Oh, and speaking of non-cabovers (strange looking campers!) Travel lite makes one called the Rayzr which they list at around 1100 pounds.

      Regards
      John
      I don't like to make plans. They cause the word "PREMEDITATED" to get used in court!
      DON'T FEED THE VULTURES!
      My Body is a Temple! Ancient, Crumbling, Probably Cursed . . .

      • #37535
        Anonymous
        Inactive

        All good points. However, I am really looking for advice on gut it or pop it. I live in Texas and have seen most everything. Just a 20 minute drive from https://www.princesscraft.com/ who claims to be the biggest TC dealer in Texas.

        Started looking at larger trucks. 🙁

    • #37542
      John Perz
      Participant

      All good points. However, I am really looking for advice on gut it or pop it. I live in Texas and have seen most everything. Just a 20 minute drive from https://www.princesscraft.com/ who claims to be the biggest TC dealer in Texas.

      Started looking at larger trucks. ?

      We haven’t seen anybody here jump in to talk about how they like their pop up truck campers. Maybe everyone here has the traditional full size hard sides?

      Quite a few guys over on the American Adventurist forums seem to have pop ups. And I think there are more than a few of them over on the Wander The West site. Maybe you should join those forums to get a better perspective on them.

      https://americanadventurist.com/forum/

      http://www.wanderthewest.com/forum/

      Regards
      John
      I don't like to make plans. They cause the word "PREMEDITATED" to get used in court!
      DON'T FEED THE VULTURES!
      My Body is a Temple! Ancient, Crumbling, Probably Cursed . . .

      • #37546
        Anonymous
        Inactive

        Thanks! I will.

        I fly fish in Colorado and run into popups all the time. Did I say … all the time? The owners love them. No, love isn’t a strong enough word. Specifically, they love four wheel campers more than the air they breathe. I’ve fished with some of these owners; slept in the back of my truck crazy jealous at their relative comfort. It might be the finest TC for this rough outdoor activity. I even visited 4WC in Houston and was close but just couldn’t part with the $$ they were asking. If all I did was high mtn photography or headwater fishing I probably would have jumped but I do other stuff.

        But this is all besides the point. I came here cuz I like the site and because I wanted some advice. Just looking for opinions.

        I’ll check out those other sites. Thanks! -d

    • #37560
      David
      Participant

      I have owned a 4 wheel hawk and an outfitter caribou lite 6.5, both popups.
      I don’t like popups. they add setup time to camping, don’t allow you to move
      with top up, sweat on the inside of popup during below freezing weather, are a nightmare to close in new snow, cause anxiety while up during snow storms.

      If you don’t deal in below freezing, snow, etc. I’d look at one of the new aluminum popup canopies out of AZ.

      If you do choose the ‘gut it” route, you need a good stomach for remodels, and a lot of time looking for a wood framed camper with no water damage that fits your truck well.
      Wood framing will be alot easier to work on than aluminum or a fiberglass shell like a bigfoot or northern lite.

      Finding said wood framed camper may be hard. I’d look for a Lance 815, older Norstar Laredo, possibly a fleetwood angler,

      A light weight wood framed gutted, 8 foot even camper, with extended cabover should come in about 1,400 lbs.

      Fix jacks with easy to remove keeper pins, and pull them, to save 100-250lbs when
      you travel. Remove tailgate to save 70 lbs.

      • #37561
        Anonymous
        Inactive

        Thanks David. I take it your not a roof top tent kind of guy. 🙂

        I hear you about popups but then I see folks like on the GrizzlyNbear youtube channel and think … well damn. Yeah, I”d prefer a hardside but am not sure I can accomplish a camper as nimble as your popups. 1400 lbs is still a lot of weight. -d

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