If you’re thinking about buying a pop-up truck camper, you probably fall into one of two groups. One, you’re looking to upgrade after camping in tents or, two, you’re looking to downsize after owning something larger. Whatever the reason, buying a pop-up truck camper is a great move. Not only is it cheaper, more aerodynamic, and more fuel-efficient than a hard-side truck camper, but it also weighs less, handles better off-road, and is easier to store. What’s more, the pop-up’s compact size and low center of gravity means that you can take it to places where most hard-side truck campers can’t. Sure there are negatives associated with a small pop-up—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 small pop-up truck camper far outweigh the cons. In this article, we rank the 8 best pop-up truck campers for half-ton F150-1500 trucks, including the Toyota Tundra and Nissan Titan.
Several companies make truck campers light enough and small enough to fit in the bed of a half-ton short-bed pickup truck. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the constraints associated with fitting on a half-ton also means that getting a camper with a full wet-bath won’t be easy. You might be able to get either a cassette toilet or an indoor shower, but the pickings are slim if you want to get both—in fact, only two exist. The same applies to having a gray water holding tank. Some pop-ups have them, some pop-ups don’t. In general, amenities are lacking in a small pop-up. That might work for some truck camper aficionados looking for a more minimalist approach to camping and overlanding, but it won’t work for all, which is why some decide to buy a larger truck so that a larger pop-up or hard-side can be purchased instead.
As you probably know, the process of picking a perfect truck camper can be difficult. Numerous decisions need to be made before purchase. If you’ve already decided on a pop-up, good for you. You’ve made it past the first hurdle. The biggest hurdle is deciding on which camper to get. With so many great companies and truck camper models, picking the right truck camper can be extremely difficult. That’s the purpose of this article. We’ve ranked the best pop-up truck campers for the half-ton, short-bed pickup truck and provided some important specifications and characteristics about each to help you make a better, more informed decision. 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 our 8 best pop-up truck campers for half-ton F150-1500 trucks.
1. Bundutec Wild
The hands-down winner and a brand-new design by Rory Willet, the Bundutec Wild pushes the truck camper envelope in a big way. The Wild not only comes with a complete wet-bath, but also a large, grey water holding tank that makes using that wet-bath practical. The standard color of the Wild is an attractive gray—not your standard, everyday white—and features contrasting black trim and black accents on the exterior. The camper is skinned with a smooth .040-inch aluminum that not only looks great, but also holds up better than standard fiberglass siding. The 7-foot floorplan of this 1,610-pound camper 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 21-gallon fresh water tank, a 17-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. A plethora of options are offered by Bundutec. Three worth noting are a Zamp 160 watt solar power system, the BunduAwn 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. The list price for the Wild is only $18,600, a real bargain when you consider all that you get for the money.
2. Phoenix Level 2
Interested in a semi-custom pop-up to haul on your half-ton truck? Well, the good folks at Phoenix Campers build perhaps the coolest looking truck campers in the industry. Customers start with a base model like the Level 2 and add only the options that they want. The 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. With a dry weight of only 1,180 pounds, construction consists an all-aluminum double welded tube cage frame, stuffed with high density foam, and protected by a tough outer shell of pre-laminated thick, one piece Crane fiberglass. Level 2 highlights include an 18-gallon fresh water tank, a Thetford cassette toilet, an 8-gallon grey water holding tank, a water heater and a shower, and a 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 8 best pop-up truck campers for half-ton F150-1500 trucks. 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 Level 2 starts at a cool $37,995.
3. Four Wheel Camper Hawk
With a floor length of 6.5 feet and a dry weight of only 1,075 pounds, the Four Wheel Camper Hawk is a perfect match for today’s half-ton pickup. The Hawk 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 Hawk—a rollover side couch, side dinette, or a front dinette. For those want a more amenities, a cassette toilet 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 dual Battle Born lithium 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 it also works great for driving off-road. Without a doubt, one of the 8 best pop-up truck campers for half-ton F150-1500 trucks. The Hawk lists for only $18,995, 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.
4. 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 is insulated to the hilt with Owen Corning block foam insulation in the hard walls, and Weblon three-layer insulation in the soft walls. One feature that really stands out is the full-size cabover bed that pulls out into a full-size queen. Highlights of the Caribou Lite include a 24-gallon fresh water tank, 5-gallon propane tank, a 1.9-cubic foot three-way refrigerator, a 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. Easily one of the 8 best pop-up truck campers for half-ton F150-1500 trucks that can be fully used off the truck. Comes with a LIFETIME structural warranty, the best warranty in the entire industry. The Caribou Lite 6.5 sells for only $16,720, one of the lowest priced campers in this list.
5. Hallmark Milner 6.5
Introduced in 1969, the Hallmark Milner 6.5 has stood the test of time as an enduring classic. Like all Hallmark campers, the Milner is constructed of a durable yet attractive molded fiberglass composite exterior topped with a low-maintenance, one-piece molded composite roof. In spite of its stout construction, the camper still only weighs 1,212 pounds dry. Standard features include a 60×80-inch east-west bed with under bed storage; a large, 30-gallon fresh water tank; molded one-piece counter tops; exclusive big view double windows; a three-way 3.8-cubic foot refrigerator; a 5-gallon propane tank; attractive overhead cabinets with Tambour doors; and a battery compartment large enough to hold AGM or Battle Born lithium batteries. The list of options Hallmark offers is just as impressive and includes a 12 gallon gray tank, a 5-gallon black tank, a cubby large enough to store a portable toilet, a north-south bed, a shower pan for indoor showers, a 4.2-cubic foot compressor refrigerator, and a Zamp 160-watt solar suitcase. Hallmark even gives you options on the look of the interior cabinetry. All of their campers come standard with Oak or Amber Bamboo cabinets. Cherry, Blond Bamboo, Maple, and Hickory cabinetry are also available for an additional $1,200. Coosa composite cabinetry is available for an additional $2,000 if it’s wanted. Better yet, Hallmark campers come with a 5-year structural warranty, one of the best in the entire industry. A venerable classic, one of the 8 best pop-up truck campers for Ford F150 Ram Chevy GM 1500 trucks, the Milner 6.5 lists for $26,900.
6. Alaskan Sportsman
A brand-new, non-cabover model, the Alaskan Sportsman was designed with the minimalist in mind. The hard-top camper is only 6-foot 6-inches long and weighs only 1,449 pounds wet, perfect for short-bed half-ton pickups like the Ford F150, Ram 1500, and Chevy/GMC 1500. The Sportman’s floorplan is simple. The driver side features a small kitchenette with a stove and sink with a storage locker large enough to house a portable toilet located on the passenger side. Sleeping and seating is provided by an attractive jack knife sofa that sits along the front wall with a 45L refrigerator-freezer mounted underneath. As one would expect for a 6-foot 6-inch floorplan, the amenities inside the Sportsman are pretty spartan. The jack knife sofa expands to a comfortable and spacious 80×44-inch, full-size bed large enough to sleep two adults. There is no wet-bath, though the storage cabinet in the camper is large enough to store a porta-pottie for late night nature calls. The Sportsman comes with a 15 gallon fresh water holding tank (with an optional 27 gallon tank available), a horizontal 20-pound propane tank with gauge, a Thetford two-burner cooktop, a stainless steel sink with a manual hand pump, a 12 volt Truma Weekender C44 refrigerator-freezer chest, and a Truma VarioHeat furnace. The non-cabover camper also comes with a Zamp 170 watt solar power system, a group 31 AGM or lithium battery, a 10-speed MaxxAir Vent Fan, overhead storage, and blacked out window covers. Sold direct from Alaskan’s Winlock, Washington factory. Lists for $25,500.
7. Overland Explorer Vehicles Camp-X
The Camp-X debuted at the 2018 Overland Expo and is a superb truck camper built by Canada-based Overland Explorer Vehicles (OEV). This well-built, 1,350-pound camper features a proprietary composite construction with R8 insulation, and an aluminum extrusion system to help keep the weight down, while at the same time increasing the strength of the camper and nearly eliminating thermal transfer. 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 Victron group-27 100 amp hour battery, a Dometic CFX DC compressor refrigerator, a Remo Removable Dinette Table, Redarc Manager 30 with display, a Truma AquaGo water heater, and a Truma Vario Heat furnace. The camper 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 180 watt solar panel, a 125 amp hour lithium ion battery, and OEV light bar, OEV roof rack, and OEV king-bed extension kit with refrigerator. Designed specifically for half-ton and 3/4-ton trucks with either a 5.5-foot or 6.5-foot bed. The Overland Explorer Vehicles Camp-X lists for $38,771 USD for the base model.
8. Northstar 650
The Northstar 650 is a terrific, little camper. It fits perfectly on standard short-bed and mini-short-bed trucks and features attractive half-wraps in the rear. In spite of its compact size, this rugged, 1,405-pound camper is still loaded with an impressive list of standard features, including a large, 30-gallon fresh water 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 650, 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. Overall, 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 650 is a very affordable $18,890.
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 hauling a truck camper, the payload rating of your truck is the most important number you need to know. For half-ton trucks like the Ford F-150, Ram 1500, GMC/Chevy 1500, Toyota Tundra and Nissan Frontier, this rating can be less than 1,000 pounds or as high as 3,200. This means your camper, plus passengers and gear, must be below this number. Determining your truck’s payload rating is easy. It can be found either on a driver side door pillar sticker or can be determined by taking the truck to the scales and subtracting the weight of the truck from the truck’s gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR). The payload certification form in the truck’s glovebox will have this information, too, but it will also say something to the effect that hauling a slide-in truck camper is NOT recommended. You can ignore that recommendation, especially if you’re planning on getting a lightweight pop-up. As long as you stay within the payload rating and GVWR of your truck, you’ll be safe, but you’ll probably need to upgrade your tires to get the weight-bearing capacity that you need. For a half-ton, that usually means upgrading the OEM passenger-rated tires that came with your truck to a good light truck tire with a load range D minimum.
Interested in a hard-side truck camper for your half-ton truck instead? Then you’ll want to check out our top eight ranked here.
Great advice on the load rating of your vehicle and tires. Thanks.
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