There’s no doubt about it. The pop-up truck camper is here to stay. Not only is it cheaper, more aerodynamic, and more fuel-efficient than a hard-side truck camper, but it weighs less, handles better off-road, and can be stored in your garage. Moreover, it’s compact size and low center of gravity also means that you can take it to places where most hard-side truck campers can’t. Sure there are negatives associated with the pop-up truck camper—its compact size, lack of amenities, and the need to raise the roof to effectively use it immediately come to mind—but the pros of having a pop-up truck camper far outweigh the cons.
Here’s an important tip when doing your research—the dry weight, though very important, doesn’t provide a complete picture of the camper’s true 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 in a pop-up probably weighs a good 500 pounds, so a pop-up with a dry weight of 1,800 pounds will actually weigh around 2,300 pounds fully loaded. This means you’ll need to have a truck with a payload rating 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 important fact to customers. Only the dry weight is often mentioned by sales people. Getting the correct information on weights when shopping for a truck camper is vital. Nothing is more important, which is why a trip to the scales is needed to ensure that you’re safe.
In this article, we rank eight pop-up campers that can safely be hauled on a 3/4-ton truck. This size of truck includes the Ford F-250, the Ram 2500, and the Chevy 2500. So who makes the best pop-up truck camper for this size truck? That’s a great question. We looked at several factors to determine our camper rankings—cost, build quality, features, and tank capacities. In order to be ranked, each truck camper needed to meet two basic requirements. First, it needed to be a standard slide-in truck camper, no flatbeds or truck toppers allowed. Second, it needed to weigh less than 2,300 pounds, fully loaded, the typical payload rating for most 3/4-ton trucks on today’s streets. The eight campers that made the final cut offer the consumer a wide range of choices. Some fit on short-bed or long-bed trucks only, while others are versatile enough to fit on both. Some have wet-baths, others offer only a toilet and an outdoor shower. Significant differences between the campers are noted in the write-ups. So without further adieu, here are the Top 8 Pop-Up Truck Campers For 3/4-Ton Trucks:
1. Outfitter Apex 8
The hands-down winner, the Outfitter Apex 8 is a superb truck camper loaded with an impressive number of standard features. The construction of the Apex 8 consists of an insulated, one-piece composite fiberglass body and features an electric roof lift with a manual over-ride. One feature of the Apex 8 that we really like is the spacious, 80-inch cabover with a pull out drawer. This drawer can be used either for storage or as a bed for the kiddies. Another thing we like is the camper’s fully enclosed, heated basement—a rarity for a pop-up truck camper. This basement houses a massive 44-gallon fresh water tank, a 16-gallon gray water tank, and a 16-gallon black water tank. The bathroom is fairly large for a pop-up, too, and features a marine-grade porcelain toilet, a full-size shower, and a small sink. The battery box in the Apex 8 is large enough for only one group-27 battery, but in the ones we’ve seen another battery box can be added quite easily. Popular options include an Onan 2500 Generator, a 7.5 cubic foot Nova Kool Compressor Refrigerator, and a Yakima Roof Rack with Ladder. Weighs a paltry 1,450-pounds dry. Made specifically for the short-bed, three-quarter-ton pickup truck, the Apex 8 is also a very popular choice with off-road enthusiasts due to its low-profile, superb layout, and large tank capacities. The base price is $38,995.
2. Alaskan 7 Cabover
Can’t decide between a hard-side or a pop-up? Well, look no further. The good folks at Alaskan make a hybrid camper that’s a little of both. Unlike the traditional pop-up truck camper, which has canvas sides, the patented pop-top on an Alaskan camper features a “solid wall” design with a hydraulic mechanism that raises and lowers the entire top of the camper with a simple flip of the switch. The benefits of this telescoping design are obvious. Not only does it provide full standing room in the interior when camping, but also less wind resistance and better gas mileage. It also makes the camper more capable off-road. Inside this rugged, well-insulated camper, you’ll find a gorgeous leather dinette, a wood-paneled ceiling, and attractive maple cabinets throughout. You’ll also find a generous amount of overhead storage and counter top space inside—more than many hard-side models. Standard features in this 1,560-pound camper include a NovaKool 2600 refrigerator, a full-length door (no stooping or bending is needed to enter or exit the camper), a 5-gallon propane tank, and a 27-gallon fresh water tank. One Group-34 AGM battery comes standard, but as many as two can be added as an option. Popular options include a Thetford C-200 swivel cassette toilet, a Zamp 170 watt solar power system, a 4-gallon water heater, a Suburban 20,000 BTU furnace, and LED lighting. Easily one of the Top 8 Pop-Up Truck Campers For 3/4-Ton Trucks with a numerous benefits. Fits on both short-bed and long-bed trucks. The Alaskan 7 Cabover model goes for $29,899.
3. Northstar 850SC
Based out of Cedar Falls, Iowa, Northstar Campers has been manufacturing truck campers since 1955, making it one of the oldest truck camper companies in the country. With a dry weight of 1,785 pounds and a floor length of 8 feet 6 inches, the venerable Northstar 850SC matches well with today’s 3/4-ton truck. The spacious floorplan features a U-shape dinette forward, a large and spacious kitchen, a small wet-bath, a massive wardrobe, and a north-south queen size bed. Highlights include the Lagun swing away table, a three-way 3.7-cubic foot refrigerator, two Dometic Seitz Thermal Pane Windows, a 26-inch wide entry door, and a 5-gallon Thetford cassette toilet, a feature we love here at Truck Camper Adventure. The camper also features excellent tank capacities with a generous 30-gallon fresh water holding tank, a 13-gallon gray water tank, and single 20-gallon propane tank. Popular options include a permanent rear wrap/removable side storage boxes, a compressor refrigerator, a 160 watt solar power system, a sub-zero package for four-season camping, and a rear storage bumper with a swing-down step. Available for both short-bed and long-bed trucks and constructed entirely of wood. The only real negative associated with the Northstar 850SC is its 1990s dated oak interior—a facelift is badly needed in all Northstar campers. The MSRP for the base model is only $21,520.
4. BundutecUSA BunduCamp
A time-tested classic by Rory Willet, the BunduCamp was designed specifically for today’s 3/4-ton pickup truck. The standard color of the BunduCamp is an attractive gray—not your standard, everyday white—and features contrasting black trim and black accents on the exterior. The 1,700-pound camper is skinned with a smooth .040-inch aluminum that not only looks great, but also holds up better than standard fiberglass siding. The camper’s 8-foot floorplan features a split dinette with loads of storage in front, a kitchen on the driver side and a refrigerator cabinet and bathroom on the passenger side. Standard features include a north-south 56×74-inch mattress with lift up under bed storage, a 30-gallon fresh water tank, a 10-gallon grey water holding 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. Popular options include a dual battery box, a Zamp 160 watt solar power system, the BunduAwn 270 degree wrap-around awning, and an exterior shower with a Quick-En-Suite exterior shower privacy enclosure. Another big Bundutec favorite is the Truma Combi, the revolutionary water heater furnace that not only saves on weight and space, but is also whisper quiet when in operation. Easily one of the Top 8 Pop-Up Campers For 3/4-Ton Trucks. Can be ordered in a 6.5-foot and 8-foot floorplan with or without rear storage boxes. A great camper, one of the best. The list price for the BunduCamp is only $19,500, a real bargain when you consider all that you get for the money.
5. Four Wheel Camper Grandby
With a floor length of 8 feet and a dry weight of only 1,200 pounds, the Four Wheel Camper Grandby is a terrific match for today’s 3/4-ton, long-bed pickup. The Grandby features a 20 gallon fresh water tank, a fully equipped kitchenette, an east-west queen bed, a three-way 1.7-cubic foot reefer, and attractive yet durable interior woodwork. Customers can choose from one of three floorplans when ordering a Grandby—a rollover side couch, side dinette, or a front dinette. For those who want more amenities, a cassette toilet and an inside shower can both be added as options, but only with the front dinette floorplan. Interested in extending your time off-grid? Four Wheel Campers has that covered, too, by offering a 160 watt roof-mounted solar system, a dual battery setup, an 85-liter DC compressor refrigerator, and two 10-pound propane tanks. Four Wheel Campers uses a proprietary tie-down system consisting of four, zinc-coated eye bolts reinforced with steel backing plates that are mounted to the bed of the pickup. The advantage of having a hidden system like this is that it not only presents a clean look on the outside of the camper, but with nothing to snag on it also works great for driving off-road. Without a doubt, one of the Top 8 Pop-Up Truck Campers For 3/4-Ton Trucks. The Grandby lists for only $19,695, but don’t let the price fool you. This rugged, well-made camper can take you almost anywhere you want, and with its welded aluminum frame and aluminum exterior, will last for decades.
6. Hallmark K2
Based out of Lupton, Colorado, Hallmark RV offers a complete line of high-quality pop-up truck campers. The K2 is Hallmark’s best-selling model. Constructed of a surprisingly strong composite fiberglass with a balsa wood core, the K2 weighs only 1,262 pounds dry and boasts a width of only 6 feet 9 inches. The 8-foot floorplan features a 60×80-inch east-west queen-size bed with underbed storage, a large kitchen on the driver’s side, and a U-shaped dinette and toilet on the passenger side. Standard features of this low-profile pop-up include a 30-gallon fresh water holding tank, a Progressive Dynamics 45 amp “Mighty Mini” Power Center, molded one-piece counter tops, big view double windows, a 4-gallon DSI water heater, a dual battery compartment, a Lagun swing-away table, and amber bamboo or maple cabinetry. Unfortunately, the camper doesn’t have a wet-bath—there’s only a porta pottie—but it does offer an outdoor shower as an option. Hallmark’s best options include a 200 watt solar power system, a north-south cabover, a 12 gallon grey water holding tank, a Thetford cassette toilet, side storage boxes, and several choices in cabinet finishes. Easily one of the Top 8 Pop-Up Campers For 3/4-Ton Trucks. Fits on both long-bed and short-bed full-size trucks and comes with a five-year structural warranty, one of the best in the industry. A great looking camper, one of the best. The base price is $37,995.
7. Overland Explorer Camp-X
The Camp-X debuted at the 2018 Overland Expo and is the newest truck camper by Canada-based Overland Explorer. This well-built, 1,350-pound camper features a composite construction, employing a hybrid panel with honeycomb skins and foam core, reinforced with aluminum edging on the camper’s exterior corners. The 6-foot 2-inch floorplan features a king-size bed, 6 feet 10 inches of headroom, a large kitchen on the driver side and an L-shape dinette on the passenger side. Features include a 20 gallon fresh water holding tank, a 20-pound propane tank, a Group-27 battery, a Dometic 1.7 cubic foot Compressor Chest Refrigerator, a Remo Removable Dinette Table, and the Truma Combi, the water-heater furnace that saves on weight and optimizes storage. Options include a Partner Steel Two Burner Stove, a Bullfinch Outdoor Shower, a Dometic CFX 65 Compressor Refrigerator, a 100 watt solar power system, a 1,500 watt Go Power Pure Sine Wave Inverter, a Battle Born 100 amp hour Lithium Iron Battery, and a Victron Battery Monitor. While the camper offers a number of special features like the Truma Combi, it lacks important basics found in most truck campers like a toilet. Storage space is also severely lacking. Fortunately, an “XL” version with an 8-foot floor length will be released in 2019 that should be large enough to correct most of these deficiencies. The Camp-X lists for $25,000 USD for the base model.
8. Palomino Real Lite SS-1605
Bringing up the rear is a relatively new offering, Forest River RV’s Palomino SS-1605. Forrest River calls this line of pop-up campers “Real-Lite,” but at 1,614 pounds, this camper is anything but. The Real-Lite construction features aluminum framing, a hi-gloss gel coat fiberglass exterior, available in either grey or white, high density block foam insulation, and a heated insulated basement. The 8-foot floor plan offers an east-west 60×80-inch queen-size bed, a large U-shaped dinette and a small kitchenette with a three-way 3-cubic foot refrigerator in the front, and two large storage closets in the rear. Unfortunately, this camper has neither a wet-bath nor a grey water holding tank, but it does have a small compartment where a porta potti can be stored, a 16-gallon fresh water holding tank, a 20-pound propane tank, and an on-demand tankless water heater. It also has a few other goodies not typically found in a truck camper like an exterior battery charge station and a push-pull battery disconnect switch by the door. Popular options include a porta pottie, a 9,200 btu low-profile air conditioner, an entry step, and a wireless remote for the Rieco Titan Roof Lift system for the pop-top. A mediocre offering in this weight class, but with an MSRP of only $12,878, the Palomino SS-1605 price is hard to beat.