So, you’ve got a pickup truck and you want to do some camping. Fantastic! ???????? If you don’t yet have the “camper” part figured out, you may want to consider adding a pop up truck camper to your list of camping rigs to consider.
- 1) What Is a Pop Up Truck Camper?
- 2) What Size Pickup Truck Do I Need for a Truck Popup Camper?
- 3) Who Makes Popup Truck Campers?
11 Great Pop Up Truck Campers!
- 4.1) Alaskan 6.5 Cabover
- 4.2) Four Wheel Fleet Slide-In
- 4.3) Northstar 650SC
- 4.4) Palomino Backpack SS-1200
- 4.5) Phoenix Mini-Max
- 4.6) Hallmark Ute
- 4.7) Skinny Guy Kit ‘N Kaboodle
- 4.8) Overland Explorer Camp M
- 4.9) Outfitter Manufacturing Caribou Lite 6.5
- 4.10) All Terrain Bobcat
- 4.11) Bundutec Wild
- 5) Pickup Trucks Make Great Campers!
- 6) Free RVing Tips, Tricks, Reviews, Giveaways & More
What Is a Pop Up Truck Camper?
A truck pop up camper is a lightweight camper that offers the ability to travel and camp anywhere your truck can go. (For example, those with four-wheel-drive trucks automatically have 4WD campers!)
When compressed, the roof of a popup truck camper sits just above the roof of the cab of the pickup truck. When you reach your camping destination, you extend the roof upward, raising the sidewalls to give you an expanded camping/living space.
Most popup truck campers have a pop-top roof and camper shell made of heavy-duty canvas. These are lighter weight and more cost-efficient, but the downside is that canvas can develop leaks over time.
As a result, some popup truck camper manufacturers offer hard-sided campers as an alternative to canvas. These are generally made of metal (like aluminum) to provide semi-rigid camper walls that are raised using electric or hydraulic lifts.
Although rigid-sided popup campers cost more and weigh more, they’re less prone to leaking, offer better soundproofing, and are more durable than canvas, giving them a longer lifespan. They’re also better insulated and allow for heating and AC options.
Either way, popup truck campers are comparatively lightweight and, when compressed, sit much lower in the bed of the truck. For this reason, aerodynamics are far better than they are with traditional truck campers when driving down the road.
In addition, the lower center of gravity can improve handling, thanks to the lower profile. So a pop-up camper is less subject to the effects of wind, passing trucks, and general highway driving.
The lower profile also gives you greater clearance in wooded areas, making it easier to take the truck camper off-road to more primitive camping sites.
Popup campers are made for pickup trucks (slide-in campers) and for flatbeds, though slide-in popup campers are far more common/popular ( since most people have a standard pickup truck with bed walls).
What Size Pickup Truck Do I Need for a Truck Popup Camper?
This is the most important consideration you’ll need to make when considering the purchase of a popup truck camper, so let’s spend some time sorting out the answer to this question.
Pop-up truck campers are made for mid-size and full-size trucks, as well as long- and short-bed trucks. Many popup truck campers are light enough (and small enough) to fit in the bed of a half-ton pickup truck.
Small truck owners who once had to forego a slide-in camper can now fully enjoy the benefits of truck camping with a slide-in popup camper. In fact, there are popup campers on the market that are appropriate for most pickup trucks, including (believe it or not) smaller trucks like these:
- Toyota Tacoma
- Honda Ridgeline
- Chevy Colorado / GMC Canyon
- Nissan Frontier
- Ford Ranger
- Jeep Gladiator
HOWEVER (and this is a big “however”)… weight is always an issue when carrying or towing anything, and of course, a truck popup camper is no different. You also need to consider the length of the truck’s bed.
Surely, though, slide-in popups are far better suited to lighter-weight trucks than traditional truck campers are. For example, a half-ton truck like the Ford F-150 isn’t well suited to carrying a heavy truck camper, but it can absolutely accommodate a slide-in popup!
And many traditional hard-sided truck campers require a dually truck (six wheels total, with two in the front and four in the rear), whereas popups can more easily be carried on four wheels.
With all of that said, there are some very important things to keep in mind when considering even a lightweight popup truck camper. The three most important things to keep in mind are weight, weight, and weight.
As you may recall from our post, “What Is Dry Weight on a Camper?“, the payload capacity of a truck refers to the maximum amount of weight that can safely be added to a truck’s cargo & passenger areas in addition to its empty weight (or curb weight).
Weight is key, but it’s important to understand that dry weight isn’t the only factor to be considered. That’s because dry weight doesn’t include things like full tanks (or even jugs) of water, batteries, gear, food, and any options such as an awning or solar panels that you may have installed.
So, remember that while you might have a camper with a dry weight of 1,500 pounds, once you add things like extra water, gear, and passengers, your weight will increase, perhaps substantially. This means you’ll need a truck with a payload rating that’s large enough to handle whatever (and whomever) you intend to carry in addition to the popup camper.
Now, we don’t want to drag this out any longer than necessary, but it’s really the most important aspect of truck camper ownership because it involves your safety and the safety of those traveling with and around you. So, it bears some repetition:
When considering the purchase of a popup truck camper, the most important thing you’ll need to know is the payload rating of your pickup truck.
So, some of the mid-size trucks we mentioned above (like the Ford Ranger, Nissan Frontier, and the ever-popular Toyota Tacoma) can have a payload rating as low as 900 pounds! That’s pretty low, and it means that the popup camper you purchase, PLUS any water, food, and gear you intend to carry, PLUS any passengers you intend to have on board, must be below that payload number (in the case of this example, 900 pounds).
Again, this is most-importantly a matter of safety. But it’s also a matter of not damaging your truck. Depending on the tires currently on your truck, you may also need to consider moving to high-quality LT (light truck) tires.
Just remember that payload matters most, and payload = ALL the weight.
Who Makes Popup Truck Campers?
There are a number of manufacturers producing pop up campers for trucks. In fact, truck popups are getting more and more popular all the time. While we can’t list them all, some of the most popular truck pop up campers currently on the market include popups from the following manufacturers:
- Four Wheel
- Skinny Guy Campers
- Overland Explorer Vehicles
- Outfitter Manufacturing
- All Terrain Campers
11 Great Pop Up Truck Campers!
Let’s take a look at one example of a popular pop up truck camper from each of the manufacturers we mentioned above. We’ll do our best to represent a variety of sizes and prices, but most of these manufacturers have larger and smaller options as well, and most have campers with a variety of amenities and options.
So, if none of our examples below fit your particular criteria, go to the company websites linked in the section above to look for your perfect fit.
Alaskan 6.5 Cabover
The 6.5′ Cabover Camper from Alaskan is a hard-sided pop-up truck camper. It has a unique “solid wall” design that raises and lowers in a telescopic manner.
The Cabover Camper has just under 6’4″ of headroom and is well-insulated. Amenities include a Thetford 2-burner stove, stainless steel sink, Novakool 2600 refrigerator, Suburban 20,000 BTU forced air furnace, two MaxxAir vent fans, a water & propane supply, and lots of cabinets and storage space.
There’s no canvas at all on this popup truck camper. It’s completely hard-sided, which means that it’s suitable for camping in bear country, where most popups aren’t welcome (or wise).
Alaskan’s 6.5′ Cabover Camper can be outfitted with many other options, such as a Thetford cassette toilet, an outside shower, dual batteries, solar panels, and a Fiamma awning.
The slide-in camper has a dry weight of 1,390 lbs and a retail price of $37,190.00.
Four Wheel Fleet Slide-In
Four Wheel Campers’ Fleet slide-in fits mid-size truck beds between 6′ and 6’7″. These are low-profile but rugged little truck popup campers.
This camper is constructed with a durable welded aluminum frame and a fully aluminum exterior. It’s offered in three different floor plans: Roll-Over Couch, Side Dinette Upgrade, and Front Dinette Upgrade.
Amenities include a 20-gallon fresh water tank, a two-burner stove, 2 x 10-pound propane tanks, a sink, and a three-way 1.7 cu ft fridge.
The Fleet will sleep 2-3 adults with its large 72″ x 76″ bed and 33″ x 72″ seat conversion bed. There’s no bathroom or shower in this unit, but customers can choose to add the options of a porta-potty and an outside shower if desired.
A 160-Watt solar panel is mounted on the roof, and the rig comes with two 6V batteries.
The Fleet is a great off-road camper, and with its 6′ length, it’ll work well on little trucks like the Toyota Tacoma, Ford Ranger, and Nissan Frontier.
The dry weight of the base model is 1,050lb. The shell model of the fleet starts at a base price of $16,695.00, while the full camper Fleet models start at $25,625.00.
The Northstar 650SC is a compact little pop-up camper built for ultra-short & short-bed trucks! The “SC” stands for “self-contained,” meaning this unit has an interior toilet and shower (this can be important if you’re planning to stay at RV parks that require all RVs to be fully self-contained).
The 650SC is 7′ in floor length and will fit full-size 5’6″ to 5’10” ultra-short-bed trucks as well as 6’4″ to 6’10” standard short-bed trucks. This compact little rig has a 30-gallon fresh water tank and extra battery storage for longer boondocking periods.
Including in the base price, you’ll find a glass top sink, a 2-burner slide-in stove, a 12v compressor fridge, one 175 Watt solar panel w/BlueTooth, 12v USB, a 110v outlet in the cabover for CPAP machines, and a winterization kit.
The base model of the 650SC has a dry weight of 1,650 lbs, and the base price of this ultra-short and short-bed truck popup camper is $29,995.00.
Palomino Backpack SS-1200
Palomino’s Backpack SS-1200 (SS stands for “soft side”) is a popup truck camper for 1/2 ton trucks with beds from 6’6″ to 8′ long. An electric lift eliminates the need to hand-crank the top up or down, and an optional remote will let you raise and lower the top with the push of a button.
The Backpack SS-1200 has a generous 55” one-piece door, and highly durable canvas in the expanded section.
The dry weight of this camper is 1,591 pounds, making it a reasonable option for those who don’t have a 3/4 or one-ton pickup. In fact, it fits most half-ton trucks with at least a 6-foot cargo box.
The Backpack SS-1200 sleeps up to three people, but it doesn’t have a bathroom. It does have a small sink for washing hands/dishes and a 15-gallon fresh water tank.
This truck popup camper comes at a retail price of just $17,195.
The Mini-Max from Phoenix Campers is a self-contained camper (which means it has a bathroom, of sorts) – it has a cassette toilet with what we can best describe as “half doors.”
If you saw our post asking, “Do RV Wet Baths Suck?“, you’ll know that they kind of do suck (and this half-height wet bath may suck even more), BUT they’re far preferable to having no bathroom at all, which is the case in lots of pop up truck campers.
Phoenix Campers are customizable, and you’ll need to order your Mini-Max to fit your truck (more on that in a minute), because Phoenix can build the Mini-Max for almost any truck size, including 1/2-ton pickups.
In fact, they’ll build you a Mini-Max (or another Phoenix truck camper) to match the payload of your truck which, again, is super important.
You’ll get some standard options such as a double-welded aluminum cage frame and fiberglass siding, a molded cab over, four corner mechanical jacks with a drill attachment,
The Mini-Max will give you a nice little galley space with a stove and a fridge/freezer. You’ll also get a nice, 8-foot Carefree Freedom III side awning and a water heater.
The cabover offers a sleeping area with a queen-sized bed and 30″ of headroom. There’s also a fairly roomy storage area below the bed.
The subfloor is elevated in this unit, and there’s storage available under there as well, which gives the Mini-Max sufficient storage (this may be a good place to remind you to be mindful of your truck’s payload ????).
Phoenix Campers builds both slide-in campers (for standard truck beds) and flat-bed campers. The way it works is that you choose which type and size (between 5.5′ and 8′) camper you want, then you choose your camper level, options, colors, etc., and customize the rig you want them to build.
After that, you’ll wait 6 to 8 months for your truck camper to be ready.
The Mini-Max retails for around $37,000 and has a GVWR of 1,180 pounds.
The Hallmark Ute is an 8.5 foot pop-up truck camper designed for use with full-size long or standard bed trucks. (A North-South cabover is optional.)
The Ute has a rear wet bath with a built-in cassette toilet & indoor shower as well as fresh (30-gallon), grey (12-gallon), and black water (14-gallon) holding tanks, and a 6-gallon water heater.
Every Ute has space for a couple of batteries and includes electrical wiring, truck tie-downs, entry steps, and a camping starter kit.
The weight of the base model of the Hallmark Ute is 1,643 lbs, and the price of the base model is $58,995.00.
Skinny Guy Kit ‘N Kaboodle
Skinny Guy Campers offers three different camping modules, and they’re a bit of a different design than the other popup truck campers we’ve featured so far in this post.
The Kit ‘N Kaboodle is Skinny Guy Campers’ most feature-rich model, designed for campers who want to take their trucks off the beaten path with as many creature comforts as possible.
There are standard features such as a cooktop and sink, portable 12V refrigerator, RedArc® Battery Manager, a 1000-Watt inverter, interior GFCI receptacles, and a Truma Combi heater & water heater.
And there are multiple a la carte options offered, such as heated holding tank pads, solar panels, a rain guard kit, a plumbed water purification and filtration system, and a fully plumbed toilet.
You’ll give Skinny Guy Campers your truck model and bed size (4.5′, 5.0′, 5.0′ Jeep Gladiator, 5.5′, 6.0′, 6.5′, or 8′), then you’ll choose your exterior finish and any options you want in addition to the standard features.
We can’t give you a complete retail price for a Skinny Guy Kit ‘N Kaboodle camper, but it appears they start at around $30,000.
Overland Explorer Camp M
Overland Explorer’s Camp M model is a lightweight slide-in popup truck camper that appears to be best suited for mid-sized trucks.
This camper is constructed of lightweight aluminum, giving it a low dry weight of just 975 pounds. Note that it doesn’t have a bathroom, but it does have a 20-gallon fresh water holding tank, which is really quite large for a soft-sided popup truck camper.
The Camp M sleeps 3-4 people and offers amenities such as a Truma Vario heater with thermostat, a multi-speed roof vent, stainless steel sink, and an inside propane connection for a portable cooktop (not included).
It seems odd to us that the cooktop isn’t included (nor is a fridge!), especially for the MSRP of just a hair under $44,000, but if you take a look at the Overland Explorer website, you’ll see that the Camp-M has a multitude of excellent features to consider and Overland has an excellent reputation for quality.
Outfitter Manufacturing Caribou Lite 6.5
The Caribou Lite 6.5 by Outfitter Manufacturing is a very lightweight popup truck camper built for short-bed trucks that weighs in at just 950 pounds. It’s Outfitter’s lightest, least expensive, and lowest-profile camper.
This slide-in camper is designed for truck beds under 8 feet long, making it a good choice for 1/2-ton or mid-sized pickup trucks.
It has a welded aluminum roof and frame, and vacuum-bonded composite walls. The roof lift system is torsion-assisted, and the soft walls are insulated Weblon (a PVC composite material with a strong polyester fabric base).
Standard features include a 3-burner cooktop, 1.9 cu. ft. refrigerator, 16,000 BTU furnace, full-size cabover bed that pulls out to a queen, and a power roof vent system.
The 950-pound Caribou Lite 6.5 retails for $22,995.
All Terrain Bobcat
The ATC Bobcat is an aluminum-framed pop up truck camper that’s well-suited to small trucks with 6′ beds. These would include the Toyota Tacoma, Ford Ranger, Dodge Dakota, Nissan Frontier, and Chevy Colorado/GMC Canyon.
The Bobcat is the company’s smallest, lightest camper, with a dry weight of just 804 pounds and a floor length of 6’4″.
The Bobcat fills the back of a standard bed, running slightly over the sides. The cabover is also fairly long, which provides room for a queen-sized bed. You’ll find a kitchenette on the driver’s side and a flip-out sofa on the passenger’s side that makes it into another bed.
The Bobcat includes amenities such as a 15-gallon fresh water tank, a propane tank, an icebox, sink, stove, couch, table, and porta potty. It has a single battery and comes pre-wired for a solar panel.
Inside, there’s a fair amount of overhead cabinet storage and additional storage space under the couch.
The Bobcat offers options for a custom design and can be made to fit any mid-size truck, including the Jeep Gladiator. It can also be ordered as a lightweight shell.
Sold directly from the factory, the price of a Bobcat with standard features is just $15,475.
The Bundutec Wild is built to fit 1/2-ton trucks with wheel well widths of 49 1/2″. Bundutec notes that cargo boxes that measure 5-1/2′, 6-1/2′ and 6-3/4′ need to have the tailgates removed for the Wild to fit.
Bundutec offers many standard amenities in the Wild, including a 20-gallon fresh water tank, an 11-gallon gray water capacity, and a cassette-style toilet with 5.1-gallon black water and its own dedicated 4-gallon fresh water capacity.
The bathroom is another half-height area, as shown in the photo.
Standard amenities in the Wild also include an exterior shower, a 2.5 cu. ft. 12v refrigerator, 4-corner mechanical jacks, a Truma Combi Eco (combination furnace & water heater), Maxxair roof vent, 2-burner drop-in stove, stainless steel sink, pressurized water system, 20-lb upright propane bottle, aluminum siding, and a north/south cabover with hamper storage and under-bed storage.
The Wild comes with a single group 27 AGM battery, though Bundutec says there’s room to add another battery if desired. Multiple additional accessories and options can be added before, during, or after each build.
The Wild has a dry weight of 1,630 lbs and a base price of $26,593
Pickup Trucks Make Great Campers!
Remember, if you’ve got a pickup truck, you already have a camper! (Again, we refer you to our post on truck bed camping!)
But if you’re ready to take the next step and want to try a popup truck camper, we hope this post can serve as a startup guide for your research.
Happy truck camping!
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