When it comes to truck campers, more and more people are taking the plunge. One such couple is Shane and Patty Gill who started out in a large 5th Wheel and now own a truck camper as well. The reasons why they bought a truck camper are familiar to most who read Truck Camper Adventure: it’s easier to drive and better boondocking opportunities. The active couple enjoy a large social media following under the “Gills on Wheels” banner. In their channels, they share valuable tips and tricks on a myriad of topics related to truck campers and recreational vehicles in general. As a matter of fact, the couple will be teaching a full-timing class at next month’s Truck Camper Adventure Quartzsite Rally. How was their transition going from a large 5th Wheel to a relatively small truck camper? Patty was kind enough to answer several questions.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Patty Gill: We are Shane and Patty Gill. We have been married for 28 years, we met 30 years ago when Shane was stationed in my hometown. He was in the Air Force for 24 years and we traveled all over the world as a family. Shane is from Texas and Patty is from Georgia. We moved to San Antonio, Texas 13 years ago. Three years ago after our sons left the nest, we sold our house and all our belongings and moved in our 42 foot 5th wheel. We traveled the country in it for about 2.5 years. At the beginning of 2023, we decided to buy a truck camper to make more trips while we were stationary in the 5th wheel. We are workampers in Texas every summer for four months. Then we decided to take it to Mexico and Alaska next year.
How do you support yourselves on the road?
Patty Gill: Shane is retired Air Force. He served for 24 years before retiring 13 years ago. I run our social media platforms, website, and collaborations with companies, and work part-time for a campground booking company from the road. We are both workampers several months out of the year to be able to save a little money for our travels.
Can you tell us about your truck camper and why you chose that particular make and model?
Patty Gill: We have the 2023 Palomino Backpack Edition HS2902 with a slide-out. We had been looking at truck campers for a few years. It was something we had both wanted for a while. We wanted something smaller that was easier to get into national parks, easier to pull, and easier for boondocking. We saw many that we really liked, but couldn’t really afford. So, we started looking at used truck campers, and where we lived there just were not any, and the ones we found were in just horrible condition. Then a friend of ours had just purchased a Palomino Truck camper with no slide-out in Indiana. We started talking and she told me how great it was and how less expensive it was than the very large brand of truck campers. We started looking on the website of the dealership she bought hers, found the one we liked, and bought it sight unseen. This one had a slide-out and everything else that we wanted. We put down a payment and drove from Texas to Indiana to purchase it.
What modifications, if any, have you made to your truck camper?
Patty Gill: We have done several, some inside and some outside. Inside, I put some home touches like added wallpaper, decor, a new mattress, shelves for storage, rugs, pillows, and photos to make it feel more like home. To the outside, we added 600 watts of solar on the roof, added two lithium batteries, and an inverter. We also added a generator tray from Torklift International to house our generator. We also added a bike rack to the back so we can take our e-bikes with us on our travels.
What was the biggest adjustment going from a large 5th Wheel to a “small” truck camper?
Patty Gill: Storage space for sure. We have a ton of storage in the 5th wheel, and hardly any in the truck camper. But, we actually have just figured out we don’t need as much as we thought we did and we have learned how to make storage out of baskets, hanging baskets, containers, and using the back seat of the truck.
How do you keep your camper’s batteries charged?
Patty Gill: We use 600 watts of solar to keep our batteries topped-off for the majority of the time. As a backup, we do have a 2,500-watt generator.
Can you tell us about your truck? Did you need to upgrade the suspension in any way to carry your camper.
Patty Gill: We haul our camper on a 2018 Ram 3500 Laramie dually. We’ve had for five years now and we love it. It has been great to us. We added Timbrens to help with the suspension. That’s it.
What tires do you have on your truck and what inflation values do you typically run when driving on and off-road?
Patty Gill: The tires are BF Goodrich, All-Terrain, LT235/80 R17s, load range E. We keep them at 60 psi.
Have you taken your rig to a CAT Scale yet?
Patty Gill: We have not weighed it yet. We are planning on doing that soon because we have just about everything that we want on it now.
What kind of mileage do you get when hauling your truck camper?
Patty Gill: We get about 11 mpg.
Does your rig feature any other accessories or features worthy of note?
Patty Gill: We highly recommend any gear from Torklift International. All of their gear is top-notch and the best quality. We have a front hitch from them, where we added a cargo carrier. We have their tie-downs and turnbuckles, we also have their lock and load generator tray, and the sidekick so it can be moved around. And last we have their super truss extended hitch so we are able to carry our bikes on the back.
Do you have any regrets in your choices? Anything you wished that you had done differently?
Patty Gill: Only thing we wish is that we had a dry bath. We don’t mind the wet bath, but it is so much easier with a dry bath.
Where have you taken your rig thus far?
Patty Gill: We have been to Indiana, Missouri, Arkansas, and Texas. We are on a trip now heading to Colorado, Wyoming, and Idaho.
Where are you planning to take your rig in the future?
Patty Gill: We are planning out west this winter, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, and California, then head to Canada and Alaska in summer 2024. We will be at the Truck Camper Adventure Quartzsite Rally in February. We will be teaching a class on full-timing in an RV.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about your truck camper rig that would interest our readers?
Patty Gill: We love our rig. It is the perfect space for just the two of us. Perfect for us to boondock and see more national parks and places that are not your typical campgrounds.
Do you have any social media channels where our readers can follow you?
Patty Gill: Yes, we have several channels. You can find us on our main website at www.gillsonwheels.com. You can also find us on….
- Instagram – @gills_on_wheels
- Facebook – GillsonWheels
- TikTok – @gills_on_wheels
- YouTube – GillsOnWheels
You have a large social media following. What have been your most popular videos to date?
Patty Gill: Our most popular reels for truck camper life have been any mods we have done, any extra storage or gadgets we have added, how we level the truck camper, and tours of the inside of the truck camper.
This has been great talking to you. Thanks again for taking the time to talk with us. Do you have any final advice for our readers?
Patty Gill: If you have ever been thinking about getting a truck camper, we highly recommend trying it out. We kind of did it on a whim and would do it again! We are in our 50s and we are absolutely loving our truck camper and all the places it has taken us so far. We are excited for all of our many adventures to come.