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Old 12-30-2023, 11:16 PM
jstubbs jstubbs is offline
 
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Default Real world advice on truck bed campers

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year all,

Can anyone here testify their experience with truck bed campers? Looking to hear the good, bad and ugly. How much of a pain are they to load/unload? And how is it driving with them?

I would be downsizing from a 27' high roof 5th wheel that has long been way too much trailer than needed. Just want something smaller and convenient to get out camping and road tripping with + be able to also pull the quads or boat.

Thanks!
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Old 12-30-2023, 11:46 PM
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Default 8ft Bigfoot

After doing a 3 year long rebuild of an 1988 8 ft bigfoot truck camper I can say I love using it. The 5th wheel we have stays at home now . I put electric jacks on it this year and is a great bonus for dropping it off at the lake when the truck is needed . Wifey likes the inside toilet for night time and roadside use. I added an outside shower and find it very handy.
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Old 12-30-2023, 11:48 PM
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Savage Bacon Savage Bacon is offline
 
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What are you carrying it with?

That's eventylually our plan too. One ton truck and sell the trailer. Right now we're taking 2 trips out west every time. One with the camper and one with the flat deck quad trailer.

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Old 12-31-2023, 07:11 AM
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3blade 3blade is offline
 
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Pretty great for getting into places you wouldnít want to pull a trailer. Have enough truck, and enough traction, and recovery gear. And make sure your toy trailer isnít the limiting factor. Good for one, or two people who like each other. Not good for more. If considering it for hunting use, get an insulated/winter rated one.

Driving was great, but we had a (brand new at the time) Ď06 dodge with a 5.9 Cummins, lift kit, and duratracs. I never once unloaded it, never needed to, so I canít speak to that. I didnít want to leave my expensive gear around for the more equals to steal/burn back then, and I sure as hell havenít changed my opinion today.

If you are pulling off maintained roads into reserved, RV hook up sites, Iíd bet youíll wish you kept the space you currently have. Think real hard on how much youíll actually use the toys. Lot of times downsizing doesnt go as planned, if you are already fine not using them and there is a woman involved.
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Old 12-31-2023, 08:25 AM
jstubbs jstubbs is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Savage Bacon View Post
What are you carrying it with?

That's eventylually our plan too. One ton truck and sell the trailer. Right now we're taking 2 trips out west every time. One with the camper and one with the flat deck quad trailer.

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I have a 2000 Ford one ton dually long box. Payload rating is around 4,000 lb iirc. But think Iíd almost like to find one that is built for a 3/4 ton. Donít need anything with a slide. Just bed, dinette, kictehnette, storage and maybe a bathroom are what Iím thinking would be perfect.

I hear you though. Pain in the butt trying to get the toys out camping with the trailer and running b train with a 5th wheel just doesnít sound up my alley after seeing how cheap most RVs are built. Plus no BC.
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Old 12-31-2023, 08:29 AM
Grizzly Adams1 Grizzly Adams1 is online now
 
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Being a bit of a minimalist, I've always liked the smaller sizes, happy with an 8 ft. , all you really need and few places you can't take it. The idea of dragging your house along when you go "camping" seems stupid to this cowboy.
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Old 12-31-2023, 08:37 AM
Hunter65 Hunter65 is offline
 
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2012 Chev 2500 diesel with a 6'6" box. Carried a 8'11" Slumber Queen, older maybe late 80's early 90's model. Not overly heavy like today's campers. Loading and unloading was straight forward but intimidating as the camper had to be jacked up quite high to get over the tailgate
and into the box. As long as you are on flat level ground loading and unloading is good, anything else becomes tricky. Soft ground can be a problem, use plywood pads or boards under the jack feet. It had hydraulic jacks which were fine but slow. Get quality tie downs, pricey but worth it. With a longer camper and a shortbox, you need to make sure the center of gravity is ahead of the rear axle, which mine was by about an inch. I also pulled a 12' flatdeck with a SXS. Handled very well with no issues. Even when I thought I was too heavy. I put airbags on the truck but didn't need them. I did need a hitch 3' extension to get the hitch past the tailgate, no problems. Sold it and now have a giant toy hauler. For 2 people, I'd go back to a truck camper in a flash (but a roomy trailer is nice).
Make sure the camper is taller than the truck cab. I had one that wasn't and had to build a platform for the truck bed to get the clearance over the cab. Big hassle.

Properly set up, truck campers are awesome.
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  #8  
Old 12-31-2023, 08:46 AM
ghfalls ghfalls is offline
 
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I had one for a few years and loved it. It had electric jacks which made loading and unloading easy. It was an older 9.5í model and you definitely felt it on a one ton dually. But the beauty of being able to camp wherever you can drive your truck was priceless. I will 100 percent have another one one day. Iíd even like to have a little camperette for solo hunting trips. A north south bed is a plus too.
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  #9  
Old 12-31-2023, 09:01 AM
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fordtruckin fordtruckin is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ghfalls View Post
I had one for a few years and loved it. It had electric jacks which made loading and unloading easy. It was an older 9.5í model and you definitely felt it on a one ton dually. But the beauty of being able to camp wherever you can drive your truck was priceless. I will 100 percent have another one one day. Iíd even like to have a little camperette for solo hunting trips. A north south bed is a plus too.
Donít have a cab over but my bumper pull has an east west bed. I second the north south bed as a HUGE plus!!
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Old 12-31-2023, 09:04 AM
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If you've already got a 1 ton dually you are off to a good start. It is hard to beat a Bigfoot or Northern Lite. Just be aware that while they are much less prone to water issues, they still do have issues. Particularly around compartments. These days finding a good deal can be a bit tough, they jumped a fair bit in price during COVID. I still see the odd deal out there but they sell quick. If you're intent on going this route I would suggest you get your truck set up with the tie downs now, buy some Torklift AnchorGuard or FastGuns and be ready to pounce when you find what you are looking for.

Ease of loading and unloading is helped a lot with the right equipment and a bit of practice. The aforementioned FastGuns pop off really quick. Electric jacks are super efficient. Wireless electric is even better. Unloading is really quick, not much more than 5 minutes. Loading can vary, ground conditions are the biggest factor. I would say on the fast side I could have it loaded in under 15 minutes, some days might stretch closer to a half hour if there are ground issues.

As far as driving, I think it is pretty much what you'd expect it to be. 50km/h cross winds definitely aren't fun. Headwinds kill fuel mileage in a hurry. I try to cut back to 80km/h when I can do it without burdening other traffic (quiet highways with clear sightlines for passing), makes a huge difference in my fuel mileage. I went from a single axle to tandem boat trailer this year and it is amazing how much it cleaned up the ride.
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Old 12-31-2023, 10:28 AM
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Dean2 Dean2 is offline
 
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Make sure the one you buy has electric jacks set wide enough to load into a Dually. Not all of them will without modifications to the jack mounting plates.
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Old 12-31-2023, 10:50 AM
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CanuckShooter CanuckShooter is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dean2 View Post
Make sure the one you buy has electric jacks set wide enough to load into a Dually. Not all of them will without modifications to the jack mounting plates.
I think any camper would need extensions on the front jacks so the wheel wells could pass in-between them.

Electric jacks would be the best, second would be ones you could crank up/down with an electric drill. I've always had pump style hydraulic ones and they all eventually leaked and needed news O rings to keep them functioning properly. Plus they take way longer to raise and lower the camper safely.
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  #13  
Old 12-31-2023, 07:09 PM
antlercarver antlercarver is offline
 
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Default Campers

I find that in truck campers the bathrooms are to small. I am only 165 lbs but still feel too crowded.
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  #14  
Old 12-31-2023, 09:03 PM
Kyle Kyle is offline
 
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I run a northern lite 10-2 on my dodge ram 3500. The bigfoot and northern lite are made out of fibreglass and superior to the others. Expect to pay more though for these 2. Arctic fox and lance are good names for stick built campers.

You definitely have the right truck, too many guys with these wimpy little trucks way overloaded and just an accident waiting to happen. I love my camper, can hook up anything behind the truck (quads, boat, enclosed trailer, etc) and go

Loading and unloading is a pain with manual crank jacks, electric jacks make it way way easier especially if you have a nice level spot to off load at home. I have dedicated 1 truck to hauling my camper so I rarely take it on or off.

Feel free to pm me with other questions.
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Old 01-01-2024, 11:20 AM
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Stinky Buffalo Stinky Buffalo is offline
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My hunting buddy and I use one for hunting. Itís a Falcon that he inherited from his parents.

Itís an 8-foot older one, with a pretty good setup. No bathroom, which keeps things simple and gives us enough room inside. Comfy for two big guys and hunting/winter gear.

He uses it with his wife and two teenage kids and it works for them. A lot really depends on expectations of comfort.

For solo hunting, even a camperette would work for me, but I do like a bit more comfort on longer outings.
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  #16  
Old 01-01-2024, 01:40 PM
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I have been running a Adventure 910 Fws for a number of years now. It has electric jacks and I had the jack extenders but gave them away to a friend with a dually.
I had a 03 Reg Cab Dodge long box3/4 ton, then a 05 quad cab 1 ton and now a 2012 quad cab long box 1 ton both SRW.
Pay attention to your weights. I went from a fully loaded truck and trailer with 250lbs extra on the rear axle and 100-150lbs front to being maxed on the rear axle when fully loaded for hunting season. Not a big deal for the most part if your tires are rated for the weight at these trucks use the same axles for SRW and DRW. But if your going into BC and get pulled in things will suck.

If I am travelling a far distance I will leave my water tank empty until I get close to where I was heading. I ensure my torsion bars on the trailer are set up properly to take some weight off the rear axle.

I don't really have much to complain about, put it in the back of the truck, load the jeep and quad on the trailer and head off to the woods or vacation.

I get into a few areas my friends wont or cant reasonably bring their tow behinds into.
Getting into and out of the camper can be pain, especially if you have a few drinks, it was sleeting out and the steps are icy.

Make sure you get one with a decent sized fridge and freezer.

Otherwise I dont think you will regret it unless you want lots of space for people and gear.
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  #17  
Old 01-01-2024, 10:07 PM
fishnguy fishnguy is online now
 
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No experience with it, but I just wanted to say it is quite a shock for me to find out from this thread that a camper like that can have a washroom in it. I had no idea. I have never used any type of camper at all (tent kind of a guy/family), soÖ

I can say that I used to have a neighbour who has one. He would throw that in the bed, strap his bike (as in motorcycle) to the front of the truck, hook his boat at the back and off he went for a couple/few weeks in the summer. Looked super convenient and all a guy would ever need, really.

Good luck and happy new year, stubbs!
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  #18  
Old 01-02-2024, 07:28 AM
~altiplano~ ~altiplano~ is offline
 
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I'm in the market for a truck camper this year. Considering a new generation minimalist composite build - either Total Composites or Scout Kenai. I have a F350 SRW with a 4K payload, but going with a sub 1500lbs or sub 1000lbs camper even is appealing to me.
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  #19  
Old 01-02-2024, 07:38 AM
jstubbs jstubbs is offline
 
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Thanks for all the great insights, advice and anecdotes.

Some quick questions:

-Does anyone run a rubber bed mat under their camper? I saw this is highly recommended to help the camper from wanting to slide around in the box but wondering if it makes enough difference

-My truck already has the camper bars installed, no idea what the brand is (front ones are there chrome bars and Iíve never seen others like it, rears are the typical steel metal square tubes)óare most of the turnbuckle tiedowns that connect the bars to the camper universal? Does it matter much if a guy just used his own chain and turnbuckle rather than something store bought?

-Any recommendations for tires? Truck desperately needs new rubber before I can load anything on it. Donít think Iíll do a ton of off highway use but wouldnít mind having something with a little meat in the event I do.

Been eyeing up a model in Calgary that looks pretty much exactly what Iím looking for (even has the jack extensions for a duallyóthanks for the great advice on that Dean). Trying to get everything in order so I can drive down and take it home if I end up liking it.
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  #20  
Old 01-02-2024, 08:44 AM
calgarychef calgarychef is offline
 
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Default Truck camper

I got one last spring on a whim, itís a late 80ís model and I thought Iíd have to fix lots of stuff in it. To my surprise everything worked! I had to run a new pet waterline as the old stuff had frozen and split. Other than that no issues at all.
Driving down the road is so much nicer than hauling a trailer and when I get sleepy a nap in a real bed isnít far away. Be sure to get good tie downs, I went to trailer town in Calgary and they fixed me up. Mine is quite light and easy to carry with the 3/4 ton, your truck is going to be a big deciding factor.

I spent almost 5 months living in the camper this summer. Donít expect to cook and wash dishes easily. I didnít use the toilet even once, theyíre really cramped. For one person campers are perfect. My buddy and I hunt out of his Bigfoot, itís way bigger than my camper but my truck would never carry that big beast of a camper. Choose your truck well, mines a short box, thatís very limiting.
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Old 01-02-2024, 09:07 AM
Duramaximos Duramaximos is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jstubbs View Post
Thanks for all the great insights, advice and anecdotes.



Some quick questions:



-Does anyone run a rubber bed mat under their camper? I saw this is highly recommended to help the camper from wanting to slide around in the box but wondering if it makes enough difference



-My truck already has the camper bars installed, no idea what the brand is (front ones are there chrome bars and Iíve never seen others like it, rears are the typical steel metal square tubes)óare most of the turnbuckle tiedowns that connect the bars to the camper universal? Does it matter much if a guy just used his own chain and turnbuckle rather than something store bought?



-Any recommendations for tires? Truck desperately needs new rubber before I can load anything on it. Donít think Iíll do a ton of off highway use but wouldnít mind having something with a little meat in the event I do.



Been eyeing up a model in Calgary that looks pretty much exactly what Iím looking for (even has the jack extensions for a duallyóthanks for the great advice on that Dean). Trying to get everything in order so I can drive down and take it home if I end up liking it.
Yes, a rubber mat is highly recommended. Some manufacturers insist on it for warranty purposes.

No, you cannot use chain and rigid turn buckle. You need to use purpose built turnbuckles that are spring loaded and tuned for approximately 200 pounds of force.

Michelin LTX have served me very well for my truck and camper setup, but very little offroad use.

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Old 01-02-2024, 09:10 AM
Mb-MBR Mb-MBR is offline
 
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Very good thread because I'm headed down this path as well. I picked up a very clean 1994 Bigfoot camper and a 1997 Ford F250 crew cab with a 7.3 Powerstroke. I'm going to put airbags on the truck and will be my new setup this year. If the F250 can't handle the job, I'm sure my 98 Dodge with the Cummins will. I'm going to try the setup out this year before I decide on the toyhauler.

I was initially looking at truck campers where the roof portion collapsed but they were cost prohibitive to me and it was my understanding its only a matter of time before the canvas and other areas where there is movement gives you issues but has been said here they will all have their issues.

Great advice so far and will be monitoring for further advice.
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Old 01-02-2024, 10:00 AM
ghfalls ghfalls is offline
 
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One like this would be an awesome little solo hunting and adventure camper for a half ton.



https://youtu.be/eeQs1tYtuvM?si=PgvF47Nd5reGPf7W
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Old 01-02-2024, 10:07 AM
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CanuckShooter CanuckShooter is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Duramaximos View Post
Yes, a rubber mat is highly recommended. Some manufacturers insist on it for warranty purposes.

No, you cannot use chain and rigid turn buckle. You need to use purpose built turnbuckles that are spring loaded and tuned for approximately 200 pounds of force.

Michelin LTX have served me very well for my truck and camper setup, but very little offroad use.

Sent from my SM-G990W using Tapatalk
Funny, we used chain and turnbuckles for years, before they came up with the uber expensive ones with shock absorbers. IF you're running real rough roads then the spring loaded ones are a better idea....if you can afford them.
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Old 01-02-2024, 10:09 AM
scesfiremedic scesfiremedic is offline
 
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Iíve owned 2 truck campers over the years.

What I didnít like:
1. No awning to get out of the elements (but stay outside) - so carting along a shelter for outside cooking/eating is a nuisance.
2. The steps on most campers are terrible - narrow, and when wet are slippery. Slips/falls are a big risk. There are some campers with nice, wide steps.
3. The wet baths are a nuisance.
4. Bathrooms are for skinny little people.
5. Minimal storage.
6. Small fridge for longer trips

What I did like:
1. Truck rode really smooth with camper
2. Could get into spots where you couldnít with travel trailer/fifth wheel RV

Other considerations;
1. If trailering with camper - make sure you buy a proper hitch extension set-up like Torklift Superhitch: https://www.torklift.com/automotive/...eries-overview
2. Definitely buy proper camper tie-downs: https://www.torklift.com/rv/original-fastguns

Yes, you should use a rubber bed mat under camper - protects the box and minimize sliding.

Storage off the truck - I used an old hay wagon but make sure you have solid/stable sawhorses or something that will support the weight
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  #26  
Old 01-02-2024, 10:15 AM
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CanuckShooter CanuckShooter is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jstubbs View Post
Thanks for all the great insights, advice and anecdotes.

Some quick questions:

-Does anyone run a rubber bed mat under their camper? I saw this is highly recommended to help the camper from wanting to slide around in the box but wondering if it makes enough difference

-My truck already has the camper bars installed, no idea what the brand is (front ones are there chrome bars and Iíve never seen others like it, rears are the typical steel metal square tubes)óare most of the turnbuckle tiedowns that connect the bars to the camper universal? Does it matter much if a guy just used his own chain and turnbuckle rather than something store bought?

-Any recommendations for tires? Truck desperately needs new rubber before I can load anything on it. Donít think Iíll do a ton of off highway use but wouldnít mind having something with a little meat in the event I do.

Been eyeing up a model in Calgary that looks pretty much exactly what Iím looking for (even has the jack extensions for a duallyóthanks for the great advice on that Dean). Trying to get everything in order so I can drive down and take it home if I end up liking it.

I never had a mat under my campers and didn't have any issues, a bigger issue is the camper sliding around [mostly side to side] and you can fix that with some homemade centering guides. Front and back. It's the sliding around that could potentially do some damage to the camper undercarriage.

https://www.truckcampermagazine.com/...de-in-campers/

We drove the truck and camper over some really rough ground, probably a few places we had no business going. I wouldn't have a truck camper on without centering guides.



Tires? Nokian 10 ply.....
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  #27  
Old 01-02-2024, 10:37 AM
Mavrick Mavrick is offline
 
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Iím also thinking of a camper. The idea is to switch from our living quarters horse trailer to a camper and 3 horse tag .( most times we only take 2 horses) for our camping horse trips. We will still use our big stock trailer for the pack in trips.

There is a few used that seem ok but I havenít gone to look at any yet. Iím thinking Iíd like to go for a four season style for our fall trips and it would be a good hunting rig. I have a F450 with air bags to level the truck, so Iím not too worried about the weight.

A question I do have to those that might know is regarding an extension for my my ball mount in order to accommodate the horse trailer, any body ever had one built so it will bypass the hang over of the camper?
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Old 01-02-2024, 11:00 AM
scesfiremedic scesfiremedic is offline
 
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Look at the Torklift Superhitch setup https://youtu.be/-OFZ0sLW9v8?si=wP6m7CGeUFCA3iqK

https://youtu.be/xdf4CEFdWmI?si=1xJ7JB0g54VhaJPh

https://www.rvtravel.com/improper-tr...saster-making/

You donít want a cheap set-up!
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  #29  
Old 01-02-2024, 11:09 AM
Mavrick Mavrick is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scesfiremedic View Post
Thank you for this, and youíre right I donít want to cheap out. It has to be good enough to handle active cargo.
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  #30  
Old 01-02-2024, 11:25 AM
Ackleyman Ackleyman is offline
 
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had two truck campers. A weekend in them was enough. Two crowded even with two people. Not enough room inside for gear [even though packs etc can be left in crewcab] the bathrooms are kid sized. Went to a 24' bumper pull and its like night and day for gear you need inside. Good sized fridge and breakfast nook vs the campers tiny belly squasher. 100% more comfortable. I can tow it as far as I want to go up forestry /well roads and into a clearing to setup without gettin in a jackpot and you probably wont go much further in a camper. Quad goes in truck box and give er.
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