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Part of the appeal of RVing is the versatility that comes from bringing your living quarters on the road. While plenty of motorhomes offer spacious interiors and tons of amenities, they’re also massive and can be hard to drive.
If you have a pickup truck, one alternative is a truck camper.
Although these rigs are relatively small, they can provide more than enough room for you and a travel companion. Better yet, if you get the best four season truck camper, you can head out on the road any time of year.
So, with that in mind, let’s dive deeper into the world of four season truck campers – what they are, how they work, and which models are best for your needs.
Table of Contents
What Is A Truck Camper?
At first glance, a truck camper may resemble a class C motorhome. It has a pickup truck cab in front, often comes with an overhang, and then has the rest of the RV in the back.
However, while class C rigs are all one unit, truck campers are sold as individual pieces you can install on an existing truck.
Because it’s an add-on, you can install and remove it at your leisure, meaning that you can have an RV when you want it and then a pickup when you don’t.
Technically speaking, you can also use the RV section as a separate piece, much like a travel trailer.
Once you arrive at your campsite, you remove the living quarters, place the foot stabilizers, and you’re ready to go.
However, since the cabover portion typically has the bed, you might need to worry about being too top-heavy and tipping over. For the most part, it’s best to keep the camper section installed until your trip is over.
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What Makes A Truck Camper Four Season?
Since this article is looking at the best 4 season truck camper models, let’s look at how we define that term.
Unfortunately, there is no official “4 season” designation, meaning that RV manufacturers can claim that their rigs are built for all seasons, even if they’re not.
That said, some companies take pride in producing true 4 season truck campers, so let’s look at how you can tell the difference. Here’s a breakdown of the various elements to pay attention to.
4 Season Truck Campers Have Extra Insulation
Almost all RVs are built for fun in the sun, so you really have to make sure that your rig is well-suited for freezing temperatures.
If you like the idea of camping in a snow-covered setting, you’ll need to have proper insulation.
The most significant problem areas on an RV are the windows and doors, so check to see if there are gaskets or seals around the edges. These pieces can prevent cold air from seeping in when the windows are closed.
Ideally, the best 4 season truck camper will also have insulation on the windows since they can let most of your heat out through heat transference. If the windows don’t have anything, you can always use insulating material and do the job yourself.
You should also check the thickness of the walls. Most RVs use fiberglass panels for the exterior and interior, with nothing between them. However, four season campers should have some type of insulation between layers to keep heat in and cold air out.
4 Season Truck Campers Have Tank Heating
Another primary issue to pay attention to with four season truck campers is the placement of the water tanks and lines.
If these pieces are on the exterior, they can freeze relatively quickly.
If that happens, you’ll have to find a way to thaw the tank (or go without water). The best campers will not only cover the tanks, but they will also have a way to heat them.
When checking out the best four season truck camper models, ask the manufacturer if you can warm the tanks and water lines.
If not, you’ll either have to install heating units yourself or avoid subzero temperatures.
4 Season Truck Campers Have Interior Heating And Cooling
Because RVs are built for sunny and temperate climates, almost all models come with an A/C unit.
However, built-in heaters are less common because they draw so much energy.
True four season campers should have a heating system to help you survive the cold winter nights.
In many cases, this system is a blower that redistributes hot air as it moves to the ceiling. This method ensures that you don’t lose too much heat from the roof vent, meaning that any heat source will work more efficiently.
How To Compare The Best 4 Season Truck Campers
If you’re familiar with RVs at all, you should know which interior features to pay attention to, such as kitchen space, sleeping arrangements, and bathroom amenities.
However, truck campers have some unique features that you should pay attention to when comparing models. Here’s a breakdown of the top components.
Pop-Up vs. Hard Body
As the name suggests, pop-up truck campers have a section that pops up when you’re ready to use the interior. Hard body models, however, make your truck look like a class C motorhome since the top portion can’t be lowered.
The primary advantage of a pop-up truck camper is that you have less height clearance to worry about.
Typically, hard body campers can put your rig over 10 or 12 feet high, meaning that you can’t go under low bridges or most fast food drive-thru. If you don’t like the idea of having to raise and lower the top over and over again, a hard body model is much easier to manage.
The other benefit of hard body campers is that you often have more interior room.
Since pop-up rigs have to include collapsible supports, they can only go so high. So, if you’re tall, you might prefer a hard body RV since you can get more ceiling clearance.
Another factor to consider with a pop-up truck camper is whether you want soft or hard siding. Soft siding resembles a canvas tent, while rigid siding will look like the rest of the RV.
As you can imagine, hard siding provides better insulation from the elements, so it’s better for four-season traveling.
However, you can save a little money by switching to a soft pop-up, so that may influence your decision as well.
Four Season Truck Camper Bed Size
No, we’re not talking about a queen vs. a king-size bed. Instead, we’re referring to the truck bed.
The size of your pickup will determine the dimensions of your truck camper. For example, if your bed is only five feet long, you can’t install a 12-foot model.
Your truck’s bed length may also help you decide between a hard body or a pop-up camper. Typically, larger units are hard bodies, while smaller ones are pop-ups. Part of the reason for this difference is that pop-up campers don’t weigh as much.
The three options for bed sizes are long (eight feet and over), standard (around 6′ 5″ or more), and super short (around 5′ 5″). Most truck campers are made for standard and long beds, but there is an increasing number of super short rigs.
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Cabover vs. Non-Cabover Design
Typically, truck campers will extend over the cab, but not always. In the old days, non-cabover campers were more prevalent, but they’re making a comeback.
Obviously, if your RV doesn’t extend over the cab, you’ll lose valuable interior space.
However, if you’re looking for something compact and convenient for one or two-night stays in the wilderness, a non-cabover camper can work well. These rigs are also a bit cheaper because they don’t have as many amenities, which can be another advantage.
Four Season Truck Camper Slide-Outs
On the opposite end of the spectrum from non-cabover truck campers is the slide-out model.
Many RVs and trailers come with slide-out sections to make them more accommodating on the inside. Truck campers can either have one or two slide-outs, depending on the size.
This option allows you to get more bang for your buck since you can increase your interior space without having to upgrade to a much larger rig. Although relatively rare, some units may even have three slide-out sections.
The primary downside to this feature is that the pieces require more upkeep and maintenance.
As a rule, the more moving parts you have, the more likely they will fail at some point. If you are traveling in all seasons, you can put a lot more wear and tear on your rig.
In a worst-case scenario, the slide-outs will get stuck, leaving you with a cramped and potentially unusable interior.
Wet vs. Dry Bath
When comparing class A or class C motorhomes, you don’t have to worry about not having a bathroom.
However, as you get into smaller models, toilets, tubs, and sinks are often the first amenities to go.
With the best 4 season truck camper models, you’ll have to decide whether you want a wet or dry bathroom or just a toilet.
A wet bath means that the whole bathroom is essentially a large shower stall. So, when you need to take a shower, you’ll have to cover the sink and toilet since they’ll get wet.
The primary benefit of a wet bath is that it saves space. However, it can take time to adapt to at first.
By comparison, dry baths will have a separate tub or shower or just a toilet and sink. If you’re really trying to save space (i.e., on a super short model), you may not have anything, meaning that you’ll have to find separate accommodations for when nature calls.
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Best Four Season Truck Campers
Now that you know how to choose a truck camper, let’s take a look at some of the best models.
Before we begin our list, keep in mind that most of these RVs come in multiple sizes. So, even if we’re showing a long bed unit, you can likely get it in a standard or short bed size.
Also, keep in mind that height dimensions are for the camper itself. Since the height of pickup trucks can vary, you’ll have to add them to see what your total clearance is while driving.
Here are our top six picks.
Length: 18′ 1″
Height: 8′ 8″
Interior Height: 6′ 8″
Fresh/Gray/Black Water Tank Sizes: 36/40/18 gal
Amenities: Queen size bet, wet bath, convertible dinette area (sleeps four), kitchenette, hard body design
As we mentioned, the term “four season” doesn’t have an official definition, so it’s up to the manufacturer to determine what constitutes “all-weather” conditions.
Northern Lite is one of the brands that takes four season camping seriously, as evidenced by their comprehensive cold-weather features.
Each camper comes with R7 insulation, which is one of the best options for campers. While R values can get pretty high for home insulation, the numbers are relatively low for RVs.
Northern Lite campers also come with thermal pane windows and skylights, double dome ceiling fans, and heated tanks.
Overall, these rigs check off all the boxes for four season durability, which is why the 10-2EXCD tops our list.
This specific model is a special edition with a queen-size bed, dinette, kitchenette, and a wet bath. As we discussed, you can find truck campers with wet or dry baths, and all Northern Lite rigs can come either way.
We prefer wet baths ourselves, but you can switch to a dry bath version if necessary. If you need to sleep extra people, you can convert the dinette table to a sleeping area.
Height: 8′ 7″
Interior Height: 6′ 7″
Fresh/Gray/Black Water Tank Sizes: 42/32/31 gal
Amenities: Wet bath, convertible dinette, queen-size bed, three-burner stove, full-size fridge
With a name like Arctic Fox, you know that this truck camper is built for cold weather.
This brand has been making four season RVs for years, so it knows a thing or two about providing insulation and warmth.
One particular reason why the 865 works well as a four season truck camper is that it has an aluminum welded frame with a single continuous fiberglass shell. This design means no cracks or seams for cold air to get in or hot air to get out.
Other 4-season features include foam insulation for the walls, heated water tanks, 20,000 BTU furnace, and frameless windows. Overall, you don’t have to worry about upgrading your camper to stay toasty during the winter.
At 17 feet long, the 865 has decent interior space and can sleep four, thanks to its convertible dinette table.
Thanks to its earthy color palette and faux-wood paneling, the layout and design of the inside make this rig look nice and cozy.
It also has a cathedral arched ceiling so that you don’t have to duck at all when moving throughout the space.
Length: 17′ 7″
Height: 8′ 6″
Interior Height: 6′ 3″
Fresh/Gray/Black Water Tank Sizes: 30/20/18 gal
Amenities: Wet bath, queen-size mattress, carpeted interior, dual-pane skylight, privacy curtain, built-in LED night lights, 20K BTU furnace
Lance is another top-tier RV brand, although the company is mainly known for building motorhomes and trailers.
However, when it comes to truck campers, the 850 is one of the most versatile options.
We like it so much because it can fit both standard and long truck beds, meaning that you don’t have to pick a specific size for it to work.
As far as being the best 4-season truck camper, this rig has foam insulated walls, a single-piece roof, heated water tanks, carpeted flooring, a dual-pane skylight, and a powerful furnace and air conditioning system.
No matter the terrain or the weather, you can feel comfortable inside the 850.
The interior design of this camper is also modern and chic, with a gray and white color scheme. The inside also comes with a wet bath, but you can upgrade to a larger dry bath if necessary.
That said, this camper does not have a convertible dinette, so if you need to sleep more than two people, you might have to get creative.
Height: 4′ 10″ when lowered, 6′ 9″ when raised
Interior Height: 6′ 4″
Fresh/Gray/Black Water Tank Sizes: 27/0/4 gal
Amenities: Hydraulic solid pop-up, scratch-resistant laminate interior, spray foam insulation, dual roof fans/vents, dual-burner stove
Alaskan truck campers are unique compared to other brands on this list.
First, each cabover model is a pop-up camper, meaning it raises and lowers when it’s not in use. Alaskan RVs are all solid side pop-ups, so you don’t have to worry about canvas keeping out the heat and cold.
However, as we mentioned, complex machinery can require more maintenance and upkeep, so don’t assume that the hydraulics will work if you haven’t been out in a few months.
Another unique feature is the simplicity of the interior. If you read through the specs above, you’ll notice that this rig does not have a gray water tank.
Instead, it just has a four-gallon black water tank. You’ll also see that this rig doesn’t have a bathroom, so you’ll need to find other accommodations when traveling.
Overall, Alaskan truck campers are ideal for those who want a compact and affordable RV.
Thanks to the pop-up design, it’s easier to travel since you don’t have to worry about height clearance. These rigs are also highly affordable compared to more amenity-heavy designs, like those from Lance or Arctic Fox.
This camper does have decent insulation, but it doesn’t have heated water tanks, so you’ll have to figure something out if you plan on staying in subzero temperatures overnight.
Length: 12′ 2″
Height: 5′ 1″ when closed, 7′ when open
Interior Height: 6′ 11″
Fresh/Gray/Black Water Tank Sizes: 17-gallon fresh water, no gray or black water tanks
Amenities: Pop-up design, kitchenette, L-shaped dinette area, linoleum flooring, exterior storage
Here we have another compact pop-up truck camper. As with the Alaskan model above, this unit does not come with extra water tanks or a bathroom. You do have a sink within the kitchenette, but you have to dump your water immediately, so plan accordingly.
This is a canvas-style pop-up, making it much more affordable but less insulated during the winter. However, you don’t have to worry much about the tank freezing since it’s relatively small and fully insulated.
Overall, this truck camper is an excellent choice if you have a short pickup truck bed. This RV is designed for truck models like the Tacoma, Canyon, or Ranger. However, it can also fit on a standard or long bed if necessary.
Length: 17′ 4″
Height: 9′ 7″
Interior Height: 6′ 6″
Fresh/Gray/Black Water Tank Sizes: 33/32/18 gal
Amenities: Wet bath, convertible dinette area, multiple colors and styles available, built-in solar panels, wireless backup camera
Last, but certainly not least, is the 820 truck camper from Cirrus.
Here we have another “fully loaded” four season RV, complete with all three water tanks, a wet bath, and two sleeping areas.
However, since this is a standard bed camper, we recommend the dinette area for only one person, not two. It’s pretty slim to fit an extra body unless you’re talking about small kids.
The 820 is rated as a 4-season camper, but it doesn’t have all the same features and amenities as some of the other models we’ve seen.
You may have to install window insulation and a water tank heater for frigid winter weather.
Otherwise, the walls are pretty well insulated, and this camper comes with a built-in heating and cooling system. It may not hold up in extreme conditions, but it should work well otherwise.
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