- February 2, 2021 at 19:05 #48935
First of all, thanks everyone for this resource it has helped a bunch.
I was going to buy a new TT but kept reading about all the fun everyone here is having so I bought a TC and I will be picking it up in a few weeks. Thanks again.
Yes, I have read “Truck Camper 101”, twice.
My question is
Any other tips, suggestions, recommendations, safety-gear or other things I should consider for the maiden voyage?
It will be all road for this trip but about 1100 miles so I am in the pre planning trip mode.
Any insights greatly appreciated Thanks.
- February 2, 2021 at 19:36 #48936AnonymousInactive
Enjoy your trip, don’t be in a hurry!
- February 3, 2021 at 06:46 #48937JoelParticipant
I think the number one thing is to make sure you have a good battery and learn how to keep it healthy (If you get a used camper, check the specific gravity of each cell to make sure the battery is healthy). You can kill a new battery very quickly by excessive discharging. Assuming you have lead acid, don’t let it get below 50% (don’t believe claims that you can go below 12V). Ideally, get a battery monitor like the Bogart Trimetric. This device actually counts the amps into and out of the battery so you know the state of charge. If you plug in all the time, this is less of a concern, but even then you have to make sure that you get a full charge before and after camping off grid. Your camper likely has a converter/charger that can be very slow to provide a full charge. Check out Mike’s article on the Progressive Dynamics charger install for more info on that. Installing solar would also address this problem (assuming you get a quality 4 stage charge controller). Also check the battery when the camper is in storage. Phantom loads and battery self discharge will make periodic recharging necessary.
Do a test campout in the driveway to make sure you know how to operate all the camper systems and that everything works. Spending a few nights in the camper may also identify some modifications that would make your trip more comfortable. Especially if you heading out for a big trip right away. For example, some of my modifications:
I removed the bathroom door on my Palomino pop-up. Since it’s a pop-up camper, the door didn’t provide any privacy and was really annoying and in the way.
I also just removed the dinette table since it was a joke in a camper that small. And the table and support pole needed to be stored somewhere when you weren’t using it. We found it better to just leave it at home.
Good luck and let us know how it goes!
- February 3, 2021 at 09:14 #48949lindsayandchristinecarrParticipant
My wife and I are new to TC life also, last summer was our first full summer with our new Real Lite pop up camper. We decided to go to a local campground on a beautiful lake an hour away from our home for a weekend to break ourselves in. As it turned out it was a good idea as we forgot a bunch of things, had battery issues and no way to recharge and another issue with a tire that kept loosing air. They were easily remedied and worked around because with the shorter trip we were able to make due for the 2 nights we were away. Our second trip was much further from home and went much smoother. You can research and read to your hearts content but there is nothing like real world experience. Good luck and have a safe trip.
- February 3, 2021 at 14:56 #48954HarveyParticipant
Could you tell a bit about what TC you’ve got and equipment? I think that could help answering your question. Some things I’d immediately recommend if you don’t have them are solar panels if you plan to boondock away from hookup sites and unless the TC is not permanently on the truck I really think electric jacks are a must.
- February 3, 2021 at 17:44 #48955
Thanks all, I enjoy reading it all and take notes.
I for sure will not be in a hurry. I do like to take my time.
Anyway I do understand the need for “short shake” out Trips. But at the same time the picking up the camper will be 1100 miles away so short is out of the question but I do plan on spending a few extra days heading back.
It will have 200w of solar,2-6v agm, MPPT and 2000w inverter. I am thinking of a DC to DC charger also though. F-350 SRW.
The drive if itself is a big part of what I was wondering about. I have towed boats, trailers, and the sort. So how is hauling a big 5 ft high box (popup) in back different (or is it?) from a 25 ft trailer? I think it would be easier but things that come to mind are turnbuckles (how often you check them?) sway? wind? Anything to look out for or be on notice for? space is limited back there now, what might be ideas for recommended essentials? (for the truck and camper)
When towing I was able to fill the back of truck and the trailer with pretty much whatever I wanted. A big part of going with a TC was not be so bogged down with stuff.
I have had yards of gravel in my truck before but these TCs are high. If it will be similar to towing I got it covered.
But yes 1st haul with a TC and it will be across the Southern Rockys in February, that will be fun. It is a go!
- February 5, 2021 at 07:20 #49024ardvarkParticipant
As someone has already pointed out, nothing takes the place of experience with your own equipment, thus I would suggest you change nothing at all until you establish your own usage pattern.
Regarding handling, in my experience a higher center of gravity in the wind does not feel the same as a full load in the bed. However, I would opine much of the improvement in handing has more to do with time behind the wheel than a boatload of aftermarket parts.
There is a learning curve to truck camping which is fairly steep starting out, but not very high.
We are catching Florida sunshine now and will soon be heading home to prepare to head West for the summer/fall. Maybe we’ll meet on the road. 🙂
Steve and Andra
2012 F350 6.2 gasser SRW LB
Fab Fours front and rear in case we run into a rhino
2019 Northstar Laredo SC
- February 8, 2021 at 00:21 #49080SquishParticipant
We got our camper used back in 2016, we were green.
We had rented a TC and Ford from cruise America so we at least had that experience. I had years of experience driving cargo vans so I was used to high profile vehicles, but my wife had much less experience but is a motorcycle and vehicle enthusiast and is a talented driver.
First and foremost make sure your truck can handle the weight of the camper…
That said here’s some of our tips;
We got our set used as a combo that was set up already.
Gave ourselves plenty of time to get to know the camper and truck. Started out slow (and have remained so)
We went through the camper filming a video with the previous owner going over all of the systems and how they work.
We check our tires every fill up, and in the morning we check tire pressure. And temp check tires at each fill up.
Since both the camper and truck were new to use we also checked the oil, coolant, and kept and eye on steering, clutch and brake fluids.
On our first drive we were very cautious and just putted around the local area for a bit until we had got the basic feel for the rig. Then we hit the road.
We check the hold downs and electrical, we make sure all lights are working.
And most of all we have and use check lists for leaving, setting up camp breaking down camp and underway.
We printed the size of the rig and have it on a card on the review mirror it has the height, width, length and weight of the rig.
We adopted G.O.A.L. (Get out and look) and we don’t back into a space unless we have a spotter or know it’s otherwise ok.
We also added a backup camera which is awesome and worth the price.
We found moving from bed to frame mount camper mounts made a massive difference in the handling of the rig.
We use noise canceling headphones and our phone when backing the rig up or parking in a camp spot. We have formalized directions using the following
Drivers side(left side) passenger side (right side)
Front and back for front of the rig and back of the rig, with the headsets and standard terms makes it easy to communicate what the driver needs to do. We never move the rig unless the driver and passenger are in visual or audio contact.
We have wheel chocks and leveling blocks, and traction boards
Anytime we are on the dirt and in the camper the chocks are under the wheels.
We recently upgraded our brakes to Fords severe duty pads and new rotors and it made a noticeable improvement in braking.
Despite all of this we have both done minor damage to the rig.
I took out the old and brittle fridge vent, we both have taken off marker lights and one set of folding stairs have been backed over.
Stuff happens we learned to roll with it.
The extra weight really weighs on the chassis and wears stuff out much quicker when compared to not having the load in the bed, so we check the suspension, brakes, frame, wheels and tires often. Tire under inflation is a big issue and big cause of dramatic tire failure.
Good luck and enjoy your new camper.
- February 9, 2021 at 19:22 #49101MikeParticipant
Congrats on your new rig you will love it I’m sure. I also went and picked up my 2019 AF990 camper from the factory back in June of 2018. Make sure you remove your tailgate before leaving home or you will be packing it around on the return trip. Living in San Diego and the camper being in N/E Oregon made for a nice shakedown trip coming home. Drove up in two days, picked up camper and hung out in a small campground for two more days before driving back in 6 more days. Make sure camper is well secured and take your time going through corners. Try to make sure your truck is set up beforehand. My setup was a 2004 Ford F250sd with front and rear sway bars, airlift airbags and compressor, custom rear leaf springs. That truck recently gave up the goods so now I have a 2019 F350 CCSW and pretty much the same set up as before and it hauls it just fine. Just err on the side of caution and you’ll be good to go.
- March 27, 2021 at 16:41 #50041
Thanks again everyone, everything was a great help.
Got back safe. All went well.
- March 29, 2021 at 20:28 #50054MikeParticipant
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