So you’re interested in buying a truck camper to haul on a one-ton SRW short-bed truck. If you already have the truck, you chose wisely. Today’s one-ton SRW truck is capable of hauling most non-slide truck campers being built today. Indeed, most of the gasoline-powered, Ram 3500, Chevy 3500, and Ford F-350 SRW trucks rolling off today’s assembly lines have payload ratings in excess of 4,000 pounds. This is a very good thing because safety is the key when hauling a truck camper. Exceeding the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) and the corresponding payload rating of your truck should be avoided. Doing so puts you and others who share the road with you at risk. In the article, we rank the Top 7 Short-Bed Campers for One-Ton Trucks.
Unfortunately, getting the right info on truck camper dry weights isn’t as easy as it should be. Sometimes the weights listed on the manufacturer’s websites don’t take everything into account like added options. Northwood Manufacturing’s Arctic Fox 865 is a good example. The listed dry weight of the camper is 2,641 pounds, a very manageable weight. What isn’t said is that each camper includes the company’s mandatory “Fox Package” that weighs an additional 595 pounds, putting the total dry weight of the camper at 3,236 pounds. This additional weight is clearly listed in Northwood’s brochures, but is difficult to find on the company’s website. This failure to clearly identify the actual weight of the camper has burned many a customer. It shouldn’t be this way. Fortunately, we’ve done the research for you here in this article to avoid succumbing to this and similar pitfalls.
When researching truck campers, it’s important to understand that the dry weight is only half of the picture. 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 1,000 pounds, so a camper with a dry weight of 2,600 pounds will actually weigh around 3,600 pounds fully loaded. This means you’ll need to have a truck with a payload large enough to handle the fully loaded weight of the camper, plus passengers and anything you have stored in the truck. Unfortunately, some truck camper companies and dealers aren’t honest in divulging this information to customers shopping for a camper. Only the dry weight is often mentioned. Getting the correct information on weights when shopping for a truck camper is paramount. Nothing is more important.
In this article, we rank the best hard-side truck campers that can safely be hauled on a one-ton SRW short-bed 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 rankings, including build quality, features, handling, and holding tank capacities. Each camper needed to meet three requirements in order to be ranked—each needed to be a hard-side, non-slide model that weighed less than 4,200 pounds fully loaded. We chose this figure because it falls within the payload ratings of most gasoline-powered, one-ton SRW short-bed trucks being built today. Fortunately, finding campers that weigh less than this figure wasn’t too difficult. Most fall well below 4,000 pounds fully loaded.
Happily, the seven truck campers that made our final cut offer the consumer a wide range of choices. Some are big and heavy, while others are light and aerodynamic. Some are framed with aluminum, while others are made of wood. Significant differences between the campers are noted here in the individual write-ups. Again, this article DOES NOT include truck campers with slide-outs. If you’re interested in a truck camper with one or more slide-outs we will be ranking these soon in future installments here at Truck Camper Adventure. So without further adieu, here are Truck Camper Adventure’s Top 7 Short-Bed Campers for One-Ton Trucks:
1. Northern Lite 8-11EX WET
Based out of Kelowna, British Columbia, Northern Lite suffered a terrible fire in 2014, but has come back better than ever by building one of the best, most luxurious truck campers in the entire industry. One reason for this high quality is Northern Lite’s fiberglass, “clam-shell” exterior. The molded fiberglass design produces not only a superior, aerodynamic structure, but also one that is stronger and doesn’t leak like typical campers. The camper’s 9-foot floorplan features a north-south queen-size bed, a roomy wet-bath, a face-to-face dinette, loads of storage, and a large kitchenette. Standard features include all-wood cabinets with beautiful sapele veneer paneling; a mirrored, three-way 6.3-cubic foot refrigerator; a 6-gallon DSI water heater; a dual battery compartment, Seitz windows, and a three-burner propane cooktop. The 2,650 pound camper also features an 18,000 btu furnace, two 20-pound propane tanks, a 9,200 btu air conditioner, a 95-watt solar power system, a 45-amp Progressive Dynamics converter/charger with three-stage Charge Wizard, LED lighting, and side and rear awnings. The tank sizes in the Northern Lite 8-11EX are excellent, too, with 33 gallons fresh, 24 gallons grey, and 13 gallons black. Can also be ordered with a dry-bath. The Ozite “furry” headliner and the dated, turquoise color exterior graphics are the only negatives in what is otherwise an outstanding, four-season camper. The MSRP is a bit on the steep side with a price of $44,110.
2. NuCamp Cirrus 820:
Ohio-based NuCamp took the truck camper industry by storm in 2015 by introducing what immediately became one of the best looking, most innovative truck campers in the marketplace—the Cirrus 820. Noteworthy innovations found in this cutting-edge camper include the Alde hydronic heating system, a whisper-quiet water heater furnace combination unit that saves on both weight and space, the Froli modular sleep system, heated floors, and a space-saving folding bathroom sink. But this 2,540-pound camper provides more than just good looks and innovation, it also features a terrific 8-foot 6-inch floorplan with a large wet-bath, a spacious cabover with a north-south queen-size bed, a face-to-face dinette, a massive wardrobe, a large kitchenette with a three-way, 5-cubic foot refrigerator, and copious amounts of storage. Framed entirely of aluminum, highlights include a custom diamond-plated rear bumper with hose storage, a dual battery compartment, two 20-pound propane tanks, an 8-foot side awning, dual thermopane windows, a 38-gallon fresh water tank, a massive 32-gallon grey water holding tank, and an 18-gallon black water holding tank. Easily one of the Top 7 Short-Bed Campers for One-Ton Trucks. Customers have numerous color options when ordering a NuCamp Cirrus camper, including a silver or white exterior with 10 different color accents to match the color of your truck. The MSRP of the Cirrus 820 is $31,842.
3. Bigfoot 25C9.4SB
The truck camper industry was shocked when Bigfoot RV went out of business in 2008, a victim of the Great Recession. Fortunately, the company reopened its doors in August 2010 after it was purchased by Grant Bilodeau, a former employee. A superb fiberglass, clam-shell design, the Bigfoot 25C9.4SB weighs 2,980 pounds dry, and features 1.5-inch thick heavily insulated walls. The camper’s stylish interior features a north-south queen-size bed; a large U-shaped dinette; a well-equipped kitchenette with loads of storage; a massive, two-way 6-cubic foot refrigerator, 6 feet 5 inches of headroom, and a floor length of 9 feet 6 inches. Highlights include a porcelain toilet, an 11,000 btu air conditioner, a powerful 30,000 btu propane-fired furnace, two 20-pound propane tanks with auto change over, a rear awning, and a three-burner propane cooktop. The camper also comes with a number of upgrades, including a battery disconnect switch, an integrated stereo system with interior and exterior speakers, a black tank rinse, accordion-style day-night shades, and tinted thermal pane windows. The tank sizes in the Bigfoot 25C9.4SB are also excellent with a 38-gallon fresh water holding tank, a 32-gallon grey water holding tank, and a 22-gallon black water holding tank. Popular options for this superb, four-season camper include the Onan 2500 generator, the wireless rear camera, and the 250 watt solar power system. Without a doubt, one of the Top 7 Short-Bed Campers for One-Ton Trucks. The MSRP of the Bigfoot 25C9.4SB is $40,390.
4. Lance 865
The REV Group acquired California-based Lance Campers in January 2018, but that hasn’t slowed the company’s production down one bit. The company continues to sell more slide-in truck campers than any other company in the industry. Over the years, Lance designers have worked hard to make their campers lighter and more durable and their efforts have paid off in a big way. The Lance 865 weighs only 2,012 pounds dry, which puts the camper around 3,000 pounds fully loaded, well within the reach of all one-ton trucks (and many 3/4-tons). The Lance 865’s 8-foot 7-inch floorplan features a gorgeous interior with dark, cherry stained cabinets, a large wet bath with a bathroom sink, a small kitchen with a three-way 3-cubic foot refrigerator, a north-south queen-size bed, and a cozy U-shaped leather dinette. The tank capacities of the Lance 865 are pretty decent, too, with 36 gallons fresh (including the 6-gallon DSI water heater), 14 gallons gray, and 13 gallons black. We’re big fans of Lance’s new exterior one-piece TPO nose cap, which gives the camper a sleek and aerodynamic look, and Lance’s new exterior charging center that allows owners to hook up a portable solar panel or a generator for quick battery charging. One of the Top 7 Short-Bed Campers for One-Ton Trucks. The only real negative with the Lance 865 is its small battery compartment—it’s large enough to hold only one Group-27 battery. The MSRP for the Lance 865 is a very affordable $25,969.
5. Northstar Arrow 8.5U
We’ve always had an affinity for wood-framed campers with fiberglass, hung wall exteriors and Iowa-based Northstar builds one of the best. Every exterior and interior joint in a Northstar camper is glued and screwed, resulting in a rock-solid camper that doesn’t flex off-road. The 8-foot 8-inch floorplan of Northstar Arrow 8.5U features a spacious cabover sleeping area with a north-south queen size bed, a U-shaped dinette and large wet-bath on the passenger side and a large wardrobe, refrigerator and kitchen on the driver side. Key features of this 2,480-pound camper include a two-way Dometic 6.6-cubic foot refrigerator, a Lagun swing away table, a 6-gallon DSI furnace, two 20-pound propane tanks, a three-burner enameled stove, a Heki vent, LED lights, and a fully lined generator compartment. The camper also features a large, 39 gallon fresh water holding tank, a 13 gallon grey water holding tank, and a Thetford cassette toilet with a removable 5-gallon cassette that makes dumping easy (and free in most cases). Easily of the Top 7 Short-Bed Campers for One-Ton Trucks, the only real negative is company’s insistence on using fake oak paper in the interiors of all its campers. Aside from the dated 1980’s look, the fake paper has a tendency to blister and bleach-out if it ever gets wet. The MSRP of the Northstar Arrow 8.5U is $31,865.
6. ALP Adventurer 89RB
Yakima, Washington-based ALP introduced the Adventurer 89RB in 2013 and has been a steady seller for the company ever since. With its massive, box-shaped superstructure, the Adventurer 89RB certainly isn’t the most awe-inspiring and aerodynamic camper in the market, but it is well-balanced and handles surprisingly well on the road. Featuring what the company calls a wood “Tru-Composite Construction” overlayed with a high gloss fiberglass, the Adventurer 89RB weighs 2,648 pounds dry, which puts the camper well within the payload ratings of most one-ton trucks. The camper’s 8-foot 9-inch floorplan features a north-south queen-size bed, a roomy wet-bath, a mirrored sliding double door wardrobe in the cabover, a large kitchen with a massive 7-cubic foot double-door refrigerator, tons of storage, and a face-to-face dinette in the rear of the coach. Moreover, the holding tanks in this true, four-season camper are some of the largest in this class with 42 gallons fresh, 25 gallons grey, and 22 gallons black. Features include attractive maple hardwood cabinets, basement storage with a slide-out storage tray, heated holding tanks, four-season tinted thermopane windows, two 20-pound propane tanks, a 20,000 btu propane-fired furnace, and a 4-gallon DSI water heater. One of the Top 7 Truck Campers for One-Ton Trucks. Unfortunately, the Adventurer 89RB’s grade takes a hit due to the lack of side storage boxes, which are pretty standard on most short-bed truck campers. The MSRP of the Adventurer 89RB is an affordable $25,648.
7. Arctic Fox 865
Oregon-based Northwood Manufacturing debuted the Arctic Fox 865 in 2008, but removed it from the company’s catalog in 2012 after declining sales. The company, however, decided to bring it back in 2017 after repeated requests for the camper. Being the only Arctic Fox truck camper without a slide-out, it was the right decision by the company. Unfortunately, even without any slide-outs, the Arctic Fox 865 is still a very heavy camper. Including the company’s mandatory Fox Package, which weighs 595 pounds, the dry weight of the camper is a suffocating 3,236 pounds, easily putting this behemoth at 4,200 pounds fully loaded. However, you do get a lot of camper for the money. Not only is the Arctic Fox 865’s floor length the second longest in this article, at 9 feet 4 inches long, but it also has the largest holding tanks in total with 34 gallons fresh, 32 gallons grey, and 31 gallons black, and probably the most storage. It also features a strong, cathedral arched ceiling, 2-inch thick heavily insulated walls, a 20,000 btu propane fired furnace, two huge 30-pound propane tanks, a 6-gallon DSI water heater, a 45-amp Progressive Dynamics converter/charger with a three-stage Charge Wizard, and a huge, two-way 7 cubic foot refrigerator. The best options include the excellent Fox Landing Step, thermal pane windows, a 100 watt solar panel, and the Onan 2500 generator. A true four-season camper, the Arctic Fox 865 is easily one of the Top 7 Short-Bed Campers for One-Ton Trucks. The MSRP of the Arctic Fox 865 is $31,115.