Payload, payload, payload! You’ll hear this term used quite a bit on the truck camper forums. It’s important because the payload of a truck basically tells you how much camper you can buy in order to be safe on the road. The payload includes not only the weight of the camper, but also passengers and other stuff you’ll be carrying in your truck and camper.
Last month I took my 2011 F-250 to the scales. With just me and a full tank of gas the truck weighed 6,720 pounds. At the factory, the weight of my F-250 was 6,686 pounds, so the actual weight was pretty darn close with the difference being my own personal weight. With a 10,000 pound GVWR this gave me roughly 3,300 pounds of payload.
Before our recent camping and fishing trip to the Rim, we went to the scales again. This time the F-250 had a full load, including the Wolf Creek 850N camper, two additional passengers, and a large inflatable boat with an electric outboard engine. The total weight of my truck this time was 10,800 pounds. The total was a little higher than I expected. I was hoping to see a figure around 10,000 pounds. So, yes, I’m overweight, but not by much, especially when you factor in the GAWRs for each axle.
I thought I was all set when I bought my lightweight Wolf Creek 850 truck camper. With a certified wet weight of 2,328 pounds and an F-250 payload of 3,300 pounds, I had an extra 1,000 pounds with which to play. That 1,000 pounds would’ve be fine for just extra cargo, but I ate into that 1,000 pound figure by installing extra options for the camper like an air conditioner, two 6 volt AGM batteries, an inverter, a combo storage bunk, a fantastic vent fan, a flat screen TV, and three roof top solar panels. All those extras are great to have, but they really add up when it comes to weight.
So what’s the moral of the story? If you haven’t weighed your truck and camper yet, fully loaded, I can almost guarantee that they will weigh more than you expect. I went out of my way to get the lightest possible camper that fit our needs and I’m still overweight. Fortunately, with a rear axle GAWR of 6,100 pounds, my rear axle and tires are more than beefy enough to handle the extra 800 pounds. I don’t always bring the boat and our college-age boys on our trips so that figure will be around 300 pounds less for a total of 500 pounds over the GVWR.