So you’re thinking about buying a pop-up camper to haul on your mid-size truck. You’re not alone. Sales of small pop-up truck campers are on the rise. The main reason, of course, is the increasing number of mid-size trucks on today’s streets. Quality and cost appear to be the primary reasons. Full-size trucks, like the diesel-powered Ford F-350, are now pushing a ridiculous $100,000. In contrast, a well-equipped Toyota Tacoma can be purchased for only $33,000. Still a large sum, but much easier to swallow than a full $100k. While full-size trucks offer more payload and larger bed sizes, not everyone wants a large truck and camper. This is especially true not only for young couples with growing families, but also those who are looking to get into a truck and camper for less than $50,000. In this article, we rank the 7 best pop-up truck campers for mid-size trucks.
Fortunately, the American mid-size truck market is continuing to grow. The Toyota Tacoma, Honda Ridgeline, Chevy Colorado, GMC Canyon, Nissian Frontier have been joined by the recently resurrected Ford Ranger and the brand new Jeep Gladiator. The new additions to the mid-size market are especially welcome. The Jeep Gladiator, with its 4×4 capability and 1,600-pound payload, continue to excite as does the Ford Ranger with its rugged good looks and class leading 1,860-pound payload. For those looking to haul a small truck camper, payload is king and the Gladiator and Ranger newcomers offer more than those who proceeded them, even the well-built, wonderfully-equipped Toyota Tacoma with its 1,420-pound payload.
Here’s a big tip—weight is the key. When researching truck camper weights, it’s important to understand that the dry weight isn’t the end-all be-all when it comes to the camper’s final weight. The dry weight doesn’t take into account things like full tanks, batteries, gear, food, and options like air conditioners, awnings, and solar panels that were installed after the camper was built. All of this extra water and gear probably weighs a good 400 to 500 pounds, so a camper with a dry weight of 1,100 pounds will actually weigh around 1,600 pounds fully loaded. This means you’ll need to have a truck with a payload rating large enough to handle not only the fully loaded weight of the camper, but also all passengers and any gear you have stored in the truck.
So who makes the best truck camper for this size truck? That’s a great question. We looked at several factors to determine our truck camper rankings, including cost, quality, weight, features, and holding tank capacities. In this article, we placed more emphasis on weight because of the limited payload ratings found in today’s mid-size truck. Happily, the seven pop-ups that made the final cut offer the consumer a wide range of choices. Some are made of aluminum, while others are made of wood. Some are relatively light, others a little heavy. Significant differences between the campers are noted here. Remember, you saw this comprehensive, well-researched list here first, well before Internet copycats with nearly identical lists publish theirs. So without further adieu, here are the 7 best pop-up truck campers for mid-size trucks:
1. Four Wheel Camper Fleet
The hands-down winner in a very crowded field, the Four Wheel Camper Fleet delivers on adventure and ruggedness in a major way. The camper is equipped with a 20 gallon fresh water tank, a kitchenette with a two-burner stove and sink, an east-west 60×80-inch queen-size bed, a three-way 1.7-cubic foot reefer, and attractive yet durable interior woodwork. When ordering a Fleet, customers can choose from one of four floorplans—a rollover side couch, a side dinette, a front dinette, and a shell model. For those want a more amenities, a porta pottie and an outside shower can both be added as options. Interested in extending your time off-grid? Four Wheel Campers has that covered, too, by offering a 160 watt roof-mounted solar system, a 6 volt dual battery setup, an 65-liter DC compressor refrigerator, and two 10-pound propane tanks. Four Wheel Campers uses a hidden, proprietary tie-down system that not only presents a clean look on the outside of the camper, but it also works great for driving off-road. Due to its 6-foot floor length, the Fleet works best on a Toyota Tacoma, Ford Ranger, Nissan Frontier, or Chevy Colorado/GMC Canyon with the longer 6-foot bed. Weighs only 1,045 pounds dry. Available in numerous colors in smooth or ribbed aluminum. The Fleet lists for only $18,995, but don’t let the price fool you. This low-profile camper can take you almost anywhere, and with its welded aluminum frame and aluminum exterior, will last for decades.
2. Outfitter Caribou Lite 6.5
At 850 pounds, the Caribou Lite 6.5 is the lightest, lowest profile camper in the Outfitter Manufacturing catalog. The construction of this well-equipped camper consists of vacuum bonded composite walls, a full walk-on roof, and a fully welded, boxed aluminum frame. The Caribou Lite 6.5 is insulated to the hilt with Owen Corning block foam in the hard walls, and Weblon three-layer insulation in the top. One feature that really stands out is the full-size cabover bed that pulls out into a full-size queen. Standard features include a 24-gallon fresh water tank, 5-gallon propane tank, a 1.9-cubic foot three-way refrigerator, a quality Progressive Dynamics 45-amp converter-charger with the three-stage Charge Wizard, a torsion assisted lift system, a 16,000 BTU furnace, a three-burner cooktop, attractive birch interior doors and cabinets, and solar reflective windows. Notable options of the Caribou Lite 6.5 include a 5-gallon cassette toilet, an outside shower, a 3.8-cubic foot Tundra DC compressor fridge, a 95 watt solar power system, a King Dome satellite dish, a Yakima roof rack, and an air conditioner. A fantastic little camper that can be fully used off the truck. Without a doubt, one of the Top Seven Pop-Up Campers For Mid-Size Trucks. Fits on most mid-size trucks including Toyota Tacoma, Honda Ridgeline, and Chevy Colorado. Comes with a LIFETIME structural warranty, the best warranty in the entire industry. The Caribou Lite 6.5 sells for only $17,995, one of the lowest priced campers in this list.
3. Phoenix Level 1
The Level series is the newest camper in the Phoenix Camper catalog and the only camper in this article to feature a wet-bath. Phoenix is a quality manufacturer known for producing custom campers. The Level 1’s 7-foot floorplan features an east-west 60×80-inch bed, a large dinette forward, a cassette toilet on the driver side, and a small kitchenette on the passenger side. Construction consists an all-aluminum double welded tube cage frame, packed with high density foam, and wrapped in a tough outer shell of pre-laminated thick, one piece Crane fiberglass. Mini-Max highlights include an 18-gallon fresh water tank, a Thetford cassette toilet, an 8-gallon grey water holding tank, and Dometic 1.9 cubic foot compressor refrigerator. The standard cabinet color is birch with a clear coat finish, but more exotic cabinet materials like bamboo can be ordered. Popular options include integrated power inverters with a built-in transfer relay, solar power systems of various sizes, roof racks, a rear ladder, flood lights, a low profile air conditioner, and Rotopax fuel-water containers. They’re also one of the few companies that can paint your camper a custom color to match your truck. Easily one of the 7 best pop-up truck campers for mid-size trucks. Weighs only 1,180 pounds dry. Can be modified to fit on any mid-size truck, though due to its length should be mounted on a 6-foot bed. Comes in two versions: the Level 2 version comes with a water heater and shower, while the Level 1 does not. Previously marketed as the Mini-Max, pricing for the Phoenix Pop Up Camper Level 1 starts at a cool $32,995.
4. Overland Explorer Vehicles Camp-M
Another outstanding, rugged popup by our Canadian friends at Overland Explorer Vehicles (OEV). Released in 2021, the Camp-M features a proprietary composite construction with R8 insulation, and an aluminum extrusion system to help keep the weight down. This approach increases the strength of the camper and nearly eliminates thermal transfer. The 5-foot 6-inch floorplan features a king-size bed, 6 feet 10 inches of headroom, a large kitchen on the driver side and an U-shape dinette on the passenger side. There is no bathroom. Features include a 20 gallon fresh water holding tank, a 20-pound propane tank, a Victron group-27 100 amp hour battery with a battery heater, a portable DC compressor refrigerator, a Remo Removable Dinette Table, a Truma AquaGo water heater, and a Truma Vario Heat furnace. To keep that lithium battery charged, the camper comes with a Redarc Manager 30 along with a Redarc 1240D 50 amp DC to DC Charger. The Camp-M also comes with an outside shower enclosure bracket kit with universal adapters, four Reico-Titan manual lift jacks, and four Torklift Anchor Guard Derringer tie-downs. Options include a 200 watt solar panel with brackets, a universal awning adaptor kit, a rear MOLLE rack, and OEV roof rack, and an OEV light bar. Weighs only 1,055 pounds dry. Designed specifically for mid-size trucks with either a 5-foot or 6-foot bed. The Overland Explorer Vehicles Camp-M lists for $36,363 USD for the base model.
5. ATC Bobcat
Based out of Sacramento, California, All-Terrain Campers has been making quality truck campers since 2005. With a dry weight of only 804 pounds, the Bobcat is the company’s smallest and lightest camper. The 6-foot 8-inch floorplan features a kitchenette on the driver side and a flip out sofa on the passenger side that makes into another bed. Standard features include an icebox, stainless steel sink, two-burner stove, portable table, and overhead storage. A 20-pound propane tank with gauge, a 15-gallon water tank with monitor panel, pre-wiring for solar, an AGM battery, a screen door with a deadbolt, and a front sliding window with screen also come standard. The best options include a Dometic 1.7 cubic foot compressor refrigerator, a three-speed roof van, an 8-foot side awning, a roof-mounted 200 watt solar power system, an AT Overland can holder, and the Cold Weather Pack, which provides extra insulation. Rugged and built to last, every All-Terrain camper is built with an aluminum frame and covered in an equally durable aluminum. Every camper is semi-custom and can be made to fit any mid-size truck including the brand new Jeep Gladiator. Can also be ordered as a lightweight shell. Sold factory direct only. The list price for the Bobcat is $15,475, which includes all standard features.
6. Bundutec Topi
An excellent design by long-time designer Rory Willet, the Bundutec Topi weighs in at a hefty 1,380 pounds. The Topi features a solid wood frame overlayed with a smooth .040-inch aluminum exterior that looks great. The standard color of the camper is an attractive gray—not your standard, everyday white—and features contrasting black trim and black accents on the exterior. The Topi’s 6-foot 3-inch floorplan features a kitchen and wet-bath on the driver side, a refrigerator with loads of storage on the front wall, and a full-length dinette on the passenger side. Standard features include a north-south 56×74-inch mattress with lift up under bed storage, a 20-gallon fresh water tank, a NovaKool R3000 compressor refrigerator, a stainless steel sink, and window and door screens fine enough to keep out annoying “no-see-ums” bugs. A plethora of options are offered by Bundutec. Four worth noting are a Zamp 160 watt solar power system, a 2,000 watt inverter, the BunduAwn “batwing” wrap-around awning, and the revolutionary Truma Combi water heater furnace that not only saves on weight and space, but is also whisper quiet when in operation. Fits on most mid-size trucks, including the Toyota Tacoma, Nissan Frontier, and Ford Ranger. Easily one of 7 best pop-up truck campers for mid-size trucks and built like a tank, the only real negative is the camper’s relatively high weight. The list price for the Topi is only $14,715, a real bargain when you consider all that you get for the money.
7. Northstar 600
Although the Northstar 600 is the company’s smallest camper, this 1,258-pound camper won’t disappoint. Highlights include a 17-gallon fresh water holding tank, an east-west 60×80-inch queen size bed with under bed storage, a 3.7-cubic foot three-way refrigerator, a 5 gallon horizontal propane tank, a comfortable 6-inch “Suresleep” memory foam mattress, and one of my favorite truck camper options, the Lagun swing-away table system. The long list of options for the Northstar 600, includes a 7.5-gallon gray water tank, a Thetford cassette toilet, a north-south bed, an outdoor shower, a Girard tankless water heater, a Dometic DC compressor refrigerator, and a Zamp 160-watt solar power system. If you like to camp in the winter, we highly recommend ordering Northstar’s optional “Sub Zero Package,” which includes an “insulated tent,” an insulated dinette window, and foil-faced wall insulation. The camper’s 6-foot 3-inch floor length fits most mid-size trucks, including the Toyota Tacoma, Chevy Colorado, Nissan Frontier, and Ford Ranger, short- or long-bed, and features attractive half-wraps in the rear. A great little camper that can take a beating. The only real negative is the dated oak interior—an interior facelift is badly needed in all Northstar campers. The list price for the Northstar 600 is a very affordable $17,695.
Read This Before You Buy!
Before purchasing a pop-up camper, make sure you have the right truck to haul it. When it comes to matching a truck camper with your truck, the payload rating of your truck is the most important number. For mid-size trucks like the Toyota Tacoma, Ford Ranger, and Nissan Frontier, this rating can be as low as 900 pounds or as high as 1,860 pounds. This means that your camper, plus passengers and gear, must be below this number. It’s important to stay within the payload rating and GVWR of your truck as this keeps you and everyone sharing the road with you safe. It also prevents excessive wear and tear on your truck. You’ll also need to ensure that your truck is up to the task of hauling a camper. This means upgrading the passenger-rated tires that originally came with your truck with a good Light Truck (LT) tire with a Load Lange D. In addition, we also recommend getting a set of Hellwig air springs or Timbrens to correct rear sag that may occur from hauling the extra weight.
“When it comes to matching a truck camper with your truck, the payload rating of your truck is the most important number.” This is the best truck camper article and the best advice (for all truck sizes) I’ve ever seen! Also, your emphasis on camper dry weight vs wet weight is extremely important. Keep up the good work!