So you’re thinking about getting a truck camper with a slide-out to haul on your one-ton, short-bed truck. Going this route has merit. Not only does the slide-out add a significant amount of living space in a truck camper, but it can also create a more open feel to the interior, a big benefit for rainy days when outdoor activity has been curbed. Not only that, but the slide-out usually adds a sizable amount of storage space to a camper. This extra space is a big win for owners as storage is always at a premium in small RV like a truck camper. You can never have enough. Of course, the biggest negative associated with a slide-out is the extra weight. On average you’re looking at an extra 400 pounds per slide-out, which is why you need a one-ton truck to haul one. In this article, we rank the Top 8 Slide-Out Campers For Short-Bed Trucks.
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 quality, features, handling, and holding tank capacities. Each camper needed to meet three requirements in order to be ranked—first, it needed to have either one or two slide-outs; second, it needed to fit on a short-bed truck; third, it needed to weigh less than 4,500 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, primarily the Ford F-350, the Ram 3500, and the Chevy 3500HD. Fortunately, finding campers that weigh less than this figure wasn’t too difficult. Most fall well below 4,500 pounds fully loaded.
When researching truck campers, it’s important to understand that the dry weight, while important, 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 3,300 pounds will actually weigh around 4,300 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.
Happily, the eight truck campers that made our final cut offer the consumer a wide range of choices. Some campers have large, full-wall slide-outs, while others have slide-outs that are small. Some have massive holding tanks, while others are more modest in size. Significant differences between the campers are noted here in the individual write-ups. Unfortunately, if you’re looking for a short-bed, slide-out camper with dry-bath, you won’t find one. The only dry-bath we could find was in a double slide-out model—the Host Tahoe 9.6 SB. Of course, plenty of dry-bath campers can be found for long-bed trucks, but that’s another article. So without further adieu, here are Truck Camper Adventure’s Top 8 Slide-Out Campers For Short-Bed Trucks.
1. Arctic Fox 811
A time-tested classic, Northwood Manufacturing debuted the Arctic Fox 811 in 2005, and has been a steady seller for the company ever since. The listed dry weight on Northwood’s website is only 2,873 pounds, but don’t let that figure fool you. Including the company’s mandatory Fox Package, which weighs an extra 595 pounds, the dry weight of the Arctic Fox 811 is actually a hefty 3,468 pounds, putting this beast at 4,500 pounds fully loaded and probably more. The excessive weight makes sense because the Arctic Fox 811 is built like a tank. The camper features a strong, full walk-on cathedral arched ceiling, 2-inch thick, heavily insulated walls, a large basement, 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. Not only is the camper’s floor length generous, at a full 9 feet, but it also has some of the largest holding tanks in this class with 50 gallons fresh, 38 gallons grey, and 23 gallons black. Even the cabover height is generous at nearly 4 feet. The best options for the Arctic Fox 811 include Torklift’s excellent Fox Landing Step, thermal pane windows, and a 170 watt solar power system. Built for short-bed, one-ton trucks, but due to its weight should probably be mounted on a DRW truck. The MSRP of the Arctic Fox 811 is $29,216, making it the best value when it comes to both quality and cost.
2. Host Tahoe 9.6 SB
The only double slide-out for short-bed trucks, the Tahoe 9.6 SB is Host Industries newest and smallest camper. However, this 3,340-pound beast is anything but small. The Tahoe’s spacious 9-foot 6-inch floorplan features an extended cab with a 60×80-inch queen size bed, an off-center rear entry, a massive dry-bath with a full-size shower, a split kitchen with a huge two-way 8-cubic foot refrigerator, a large, four-door pantry, and a 6-foot sofa with an adjustable dining table. Not only that, the holding tanks in this aluminum-framed camper are probably the largest found in a short-bed camper, with 65 gallons of fresh, 43 gallons of grey, and 32 gallons black. Standard features include beautiful “grani-coat” solid surface counter tops, a dual battery compartment, a 25,000 BTU furnace with full ducting throughout the camper, two 30-pound propane tanks, a 6-gallon water heater, and a 1,000 watt inverter with a dedicated AC outlet. A true four-season camper, the Tahoe 9.6 SB also comes with freeze-resistant water lines, slide-out awning toppers, a slide-out 6-foot exterior storage tray, and a state-of-the-art systems monitor panel. Like all Host campers, the Tahoe 9.6 SB can be ordered with a “host” of options, including a king-size bed, a large driver-side wardrobe in the cabover, a 2.5 kilowatt LP Onan Generator, and a Nova Kool 9.5-cubic foot compressor refrigerator. An exquisite design and easily one of the Top 8 Slide-Out Campers For Short-Bed Trucks, but at 3,340 pounds dry, should probably be hauled on a DRW truck. The MSRP for the “base model” is a lofty $49,834.
3. Lance 855s
The undisputed heavyweight of the industry, Lance Campers continues to sell more truck campers than any other company in the industry. Over the years, Lance designers worked hard to make their campers lighter and more durable and their efforts have paid off in a major way. The Lance 855s weighs only 2,997 pounds dry, which puts the camper at only 4,000 pounds loaded, well within the payload ratings of most short-bed, SRW one-ton trucks, even those with a diesel. The camper’s 8-foot 11-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 5-cubic foot refrigerator, a north-south queen-size bed, and a cozy leather dinette. We’re also big fans of Lance’s new exterior mountain graphics, the exterior one-piece TPO nose cap, which gives the camper a sleek and aerodynamic look, and Lance’s new Easy Charge battery charging center that allows owners to hook up a portable solar panel or a generator for quick battery charging. Popular options include a 100 watt solar power system, side and rear awnings, a dual battery compartment, keyless entry with key FOB, and Lance’s excellent roof rack system. One of the Top 8 Slide-Out Campers For Short-Bed Trucks. Unfortunately, tank capacities are a bit on the light side with only 30 gallons fresh, 20 gallons grey, and 25 gallons black. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a comparatively light camper to haul on a SRW one-ton, the Lance 855s is probably your best bet. The MSRP for the Lance 855s is $39,875.
4. Rugged Mountain Polar 860
Idaho-based Rugged Mountain started out as a tiny house builder, branched out into travel trailers in 2014, and launched a successful truck camper line in late 2016. This is a very good thing because Rugged Mountain builds a quality truck camper with a solid wood frame, painted beadboard walls, hard wood cabinets, and a full walk-on crowned TPO roof. The camper’s 8-foot 6-inch floorplan features a large cabover with a north-south queen size bed, a kitchen and wet-bath on the driver side and a rear dinette slide-out and 5-cubic foot refrigerator on the passenger side. The Polar 860 features lots of interior storage, a 84-inch slide-out fishing pole drawer, a dual battery compartment with a battery cut-off switch, two 20-pound LP tanks, and a 6-gallon DSI water heater. Holding tanks sizes are also excellent with 36 gallons fresh, 24 gallons grey, and 24 gallons black. The optional “Rugged Package” comes with a number of nice upgrades, including Reico Titan Remote Controlled Jacks, a 20-inch black oven, a black microwave, DVD/DC player with four speakers, a slide-out counter extension, recessed touch LED lights, an 11,000 BTU air conditioner, day/night shades, a 12 volt roof vent, and a wall powered HDTV antenna. One of the Top 8 Slide-Out Campers For Short-Bed Trucks, the Polar 860 weighs only 3,120 pounds, putting it well with the payload ratings of most short-bed SRW and DRW one-ton trucks. The MSRP for the base model of the Polar 860 is $24,950; the Rugged Package adds another $7,236 for a total of $32,186.
5. ALP Eagle Cap 811
Another new release this time from Washington-based ALP Campers. The Eagle Cap 811, features a full-wall slide-out along with what the company calls its “camper caddy” bedroom storage system, consisting of numerous storage pouches and compartments. The camper’s 8-foot 11-inch floorplan features a dinette and 7-cubic foot refrigerator slide-out on the driver side, a wet-bath and kitchen on the passenger side, and a huge cabover with a 60×80-inch bed and 4-feet of headroom. The Eagle Cap 811 comes with a number of customer requested features including thermoformed granite look countertops, a stainless steel deep double bowl kitchen sink, Digi-Level tank sensors, a digital dual control heat and A/C thermostat, a dual ram slide mechanism, and a glass cooktop cover. Like all ALP campers, the Eagle Cap 811’s construction features what ALP calls a “Tru-Composite Construction” using a hybrid wood-aluminum frame, then backs up that construction with a better-than-average three-year structural warranty. This behomoth also features a big basement with generous holding tank sizes of 44 gallons fresh, 34 gallons grey, and 34 gallons black, a dual battery compartment, and two 20-pound LP propane tanks. Fits on both short-bed and long-bed trucks and weighs a surprisingly low 3,362 pounds dry. Due to its high center of gravity and weight, should probably be hauled on a DRW truck. One of the Top 8 Slide-Out Campers For Short-Bed Trucks. Unfortunately, you can’t get side storage boxes on an Eagle Cap or any other short-bed ALP camper for that matter. The MSRP for the Eagle Cap 811 is competitively priced at $36,085.
6. Livin’ Lite Camplite 8.4S
Yes, we know that Livin’ Lite went out of business in 2018, but these rugged, aluminum campers will be in the used market for many years to come. The Camplite 8.4s was the company’s best short-bed camper. It weighs 3,027 pounds dry, has a floor length of 8 feet 1 inch, and provides a generous 6 feet 8 inches of headroom. The camper’s floorplan features a kitchen and wet-bath on the driver side and a dinette slide-out and refrigerator on the passenger side. Incredibly well-built, the camper’s construction features a six-sided aluminum super structure, vacuum bonded aluminum walls laminated with a composite R9 insulation, an Alpha Superflex Roof, all-aluminum tube cabinet structures, dual-panel Euro screen windows, beautiful solid surface counter tops, and an all-aluminum shower surround in the bathroom. Standard highlights include a 6-cubic foot two-way refrigerator, a vented battery compartment, two 20-pound LP tanks, a stainless steel sink with a high-rise faucet, and a 6-gallon DSI water heater. The best options include side and rear awnings, and 11,000 BTU low profile air conditioner, electric jacks, a roof rack, 12 volt tank heaters, and a 12 volt Fan-Tastic Vent. Unfortunately, the tank sizes in the Camplite 8.4s are a bit meager with only 30 gallons fresh, 13 gallons grey, and 17 gallons black; otherwise, this camper would’ve ranked higher. Of course, the big positive buying an aluminum truck camper is how durable it is—a good portion of the old aluminum Avion and Airstreams are still going strong after 60 years. If you’re lucky to find one, you can score on a used Camplite 8.4s for around $23,000.
7. ALP Adventurer 89RBS
Another solid entry from ALP Campers, the Adventurer 89RBS is nearly identical to the Eagle Cap 811 except that the floor length is a full 2-inches shorter than it’s more expensive cousin. Featuring what the company calls a wood “Tru-Composite Construction” overlayed with a high gloss fiberglass, the 89RBS weighs 3,099 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 full-wall slide-out with a dinette and 7-cubic foot refrigerator on the driver side, and a roomy wet-bath and large kitchen on the passenger side. Better yet, the holding tanks in this true, four-season camper are very respectable with 44 gallons fresh, 25 gallons grey, and 22 gallons black. Highlights include attractive maple hardwood cabinets, basement storage with a slide-out storage tray, ALP’s excellent Super Step Bumper, 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. The best options include a 200 watt solar power system, a Cummins Onan 2500 LP Generator, side and rear awnings, a low profile air conditioner, and a Maggie Roof Rack System. One of the Top 8 Slide-Out Campers For Short-Bed Trucks. Unfortunately, the Adventurer 89RBS’ grade takes a big hit due to the lack of side storage boxes, which are pretty standard on most short-bed campers. The MSRP of the Adventurer 89RBS is an affordable $30,877.
8. Palomino HS-2902 Max
Bringing up the rear is a fairly new offering from Forrest River, the Palomino HS-2902 Max. We aren’t particularily big fans of Palomino campers, but the HS-2902 isn’t a bad design for this price point. Palomino’s construction features an all-aluminum frame, a one-piece rubber roof, a large front window, and a premium gel gloss fiberglass exterior with attractive black trim accents. The camper’s 9-foot floor plan features an north-south queen-size bed in front, a kitchen, wardrobe, and wet-bath on the driver’s side, and a slide-out dinette and a refrigerator on the passenger side. You’ll also get decent water tank capacities with 45 gallons fresh, 20 gallons grey, and 20 gallons black. Unfortunately, capacities in other critical areas are lacking with only a single 30-pound propane tank, and a 5-cubic foot refrigerator, though there are a few other goodies worth noting like a dual battery box, an Easy Charge battery charging center, a 55 amp converter/charger (most campers have only a 45 amp model) and a battery disconnect switch near the door. Weighs 3,261 pounds and fits on both short-bed and long-bed one-ton trucks. Unfortunately, Palomino’s build quality has been uneven over the years with substandard components and shoddy workmanship though there are signs of improvement as of late. The camper is appropriately priced at $24,579, the lowest priced camper on this list.