In order for a truck camper to be street legal it must have an electrical interface with the truck’s running, stop, turn signal, and backup electrical circuits. This electrical interface also includes a 12 volt “hot” lead to charge a camper’s batteries while the truck’s alternator is running, and, of course, an electrical ground. While today’s trucks use the industry standard 7-pin wiring and 7-pin connector, only six of the seven pins are used in truck camper applications since the brake line isn’t needed. If you happen to have an older, vintage pickup truck, you’ll need to consult the documentation that came with your truck to determine the correct pin-outs, or you’ll have to do it manually with a voltmeter.
The electrical interface between the truck and camper is often referred to as either the umbilical or “pigtail.” This pigtail consists of a round 7-pin flat bladed connector on the truck side and proprietary 6-pin rectangular connector for the truck camper side. This 6-pin rectangular connector can be found on all Northwood Manufacturing Arctic Fox and Wolf Creek truck campers. You’ll notice that the ground wire on this connector uses a male fitting while the other five are female connections. This is done to prevent the 6-pin plug from being inserted upside down into the 6-pin receptacle. With the exception of the charge and ground wires, Northwood Manufacturing uses 14 gauge wiring inside their campers and in the pigtail. For the charge and ground wires, Northwood Manufacturing uses 10 gauge wiring to facilitate a better charge.
If you own a truck camper from another manufacturer the 6-pin receptacle will probably look a lot different than the 6-pin rectangular receptacle used by Northwood Manufacturing. I know that Lance uses a smaller, round receptacle as do several others. Because of these differences you won’t find a standard, factory sealed pigtail when you take delivery of your truck camper. Instead, you’ll receive a wiring harness with a matching plug for your camper that must be completed on the other end with a 7-pin plug. The dealership that sold you your camper will finish making this umbilical for you. Make sure that all lights and the charge lines are fully tested during your dealership PDI.
Maintaining the electrical contacts in your receptacles and umbilical plugs isn’t too difficult. I like to use WD-40 Electrical Contact Cleaner to clean the electrical contacts, followed up with a light brushing using a small, round metal brush. Once that’s done, I like to apply a thin coat of Di-Electric Grease to all the receptacle and plug contacts to protect them from the elements. As for the length of the pigtail, that varies. It really depends on where your truck’s 7-way receptacle is located. My pigtail is approximately 6 feet long.