For solo campers or those traveling as a couple, a truck camper often makes more sense than towing a trailer or buying an RV.
As an owner of a short bed truck myself, I have been enviously staring at the best truck campers for 1/2 ton pickups during my recent time on the road.
The idea of having an enclosed space for cooking, working, and sleeping sounds pretty darn nice on rainy afternoons when I am confined to my tent. So, today, I am going to take some time to investigate some of the best truck campers for 1/2 ton pickups on the market right now.
Table of Contents
What Is A ½ Ton Pickup?
I had to look it up so it only makes sense to share my findings with you. A ton is 2,000 pounds so a half ton is…well…half of that.
The ‘half-ton’ designation in pickup trucks actually is quite a loose reference to the truck’s payload capacity. It designates that the truck can carry a minimum of 1,000 pounds of cargo between the cab and the bed.
But most trucks with this designation can actually carry several hundred pounds more than that.
Depending on the exact make and model you are looking for a truck camper for, your payload capacity will vary greatly. Fortunately, there is an easy way to find yours and it simply requires a brief flip through your owner’s manual (or you can probably find it online!).
The Ford F-150, Ram 1500, GMC Sierra 1500, and Chevrolet Silverado 1500 are the most common half-ton pickup trucks out there. But even their payload capacities will vary based mainly on engine specs.
Below, I have provided a brief table of payload capacity ranges for these four trucks. But I’d still encourage you to look deeper to find the exact capacity for your specific truck before selecting a ½-ton truck bed camper.
|GMC Sierra 1500
|1,200 to 3,270 pounds
|1,600 to 2,300 pounds
|1,830 to 2,280 pounds
|1,870 to 2,250 pounds
Should I Get One Of The Best Truck Campers For 1/2 Ton Pickups?
There are obviously a ton of camper options for you to choose from these days. From pulling one of the best fifth wheel campers to investing in a luxury RV for full-time living, it can be hard to narrow down your options.
So I wanted to compile a quick list of the most compelling reasons to choose a half ton truck camper over other recreational vehicles.
While I must admit that this is not a complete list of the benefits of bed-mounted truck campers, it should give you a good idea of whether or not this is a viable option for your camping needs.
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Best Truck Campers For 1/2 Ton Pickups
So if you have a half-ton truck and you want to install a lightweight camper in the bed, you should definitely check out these high-quality camper models. Let’s get into our reviews of the best truck campers for 1/2 ton pickups!
Capri Camper Cowboy 1/2 Ton Truck Camper
Dry Weight (Unloaded): 695 to 840 pounds
Length in Truck Bed: 72 to 101 inches
Width Above Bed Rails: 80 to 84 inches
Starting MSRP: $10,995
This Cowboy model from Capri Camper is available for mid-size, 5.5-foot short bed, 6.5-foot standard bed, and 8-foot long bed trucks. So that is why you see the ranges of weights, lengths, and widths above. With those options, this may be the best truck camper for short bed trucks!
The layout differs slightly depending on the size of your truck bed, but this is a non-cab-over truck camper.
That means you will be able to install a roof rack over the cab of your truck for additional gear storage if desired.
This rig comes equipped with a heavy foam mattress, a single battery with a dedicated charger, and a motorized vent fan to help with air circulation. Blackout shades on the two side windows will also help you with temperature regulation.
Wood grain flooring makes it easy to sweep out regularly and interior and exterior LED lights make this rig efficient and well-lit.
Dual exterior 110-volt outlets also make it easy to set up external appliances or keep your electronics charged while you are enjoying outdoor lounging.
The Capri Cowboy is also solar-ready because it comes equipped with a ‘Zamp’ brand external solar port. This means you will still need to install solar panels and a charge controller, but the bulk of the electrical wiring system is already installed.
New to truck camping? Check out this post: Truck Camping: The Ultimate Guide
Adventurer 80RB Half Ton Truck Camper
Dry Weight: 1,762 pounds
Floor Length: 8’4”
Interior Height: 78”
Exterior Width: 90”
Starting MSRP: $21,245
The Adventurer 80RB is a slightly larger option that can actually sleep a family of four.
It is a fully self-contained truck camper and it is available for 5.5’, 6’, 6.5’, 6.75’, and 8’ truck beds.
Adventurer outfits this rig with their exclusive 72-inch roll-over sofa. That sofa then turns into a 40” by 72” bed to create a sleeping space that is secondary to the queen-sized mattress over the cab.
A total of four windows (two on the sides of the queen bed, one over the sofa and one over the galley) allow plenty of natural light to pour into this camper.
That is unique because many other models can feel a little dungeon-like during the shorter days of the year.
Speaking of those shorter days, this model is also equipped with a 16,000-BTU furnace and a four-gallon DSI water heater. All of the holding tanks are also heated, enclosed, and insulated for protection from the effects of colder weather.
It is also equipped with a Dometic cassette toilet and a wet bath with a one-piece fiberglass pan shower. The bathroom also features a power exhaust fan for better ventilation and a dual-layer skylight for a more illuminated shower experience.
Arctic Fox Camper 811 1/2 Ton Truck Camper
Dry Weight: 2,873 pounds
Floor Length: 9’
Interior Height: 6’7”
Exterior Width: 8’1”
Starting MSRP: $31,916
As you can see, the Arctic Fox 811 is a slightly heavier model and that is largely due to the fact that it is larger than the first two. That provides additional interior living space if your half ton pickup has the capacity to handle it.
Still, the name of this truck camper speaks for itself. It is ready for four-season camping with foam block insulation, a fully-welded thick-wall aluminum frame, and multi-layered substrate walls laminated with polyurethane for added weather resistance.
That is just a fancy way of saying that this is a great option for full-time truck campers because it can handle adverse weather conditions.
Plus, it is outfitted with a 20,000-BTU auto-ignition furnace with a digital interior thermostat for superior climate control.
When the temperatures swing the other way though, you will also be able to pull the window shades and turn on the multi-speed vent fan.
And if you are really concerned about the heat, you also have the option of adding an 11,000 BTU air conditioning unit on top of this rig as an upgrade.
This truck camper is packed with a number of additional features that make it great for full-time living.
Some of the ones that stick out to me most include the dinette slide-out for extra interior living space, electric awning with LED lighting for outdoor lounging comfort, and an interior command center that makes it easy to monitor your rig’s vitals in one place.
Lance 650 Half Ton Truck Camper
Dry Weight: 1,700 pounds
Floor Length: 6’10”
Exterior Width: 86”
Interior Height: 81”
Starting MSRP: $35,456
Nobody in their right mind would leave the Lance 650 off a list of the best half ton truck campers. This is one of the most common rigs out there for F-150 owners and Lance offers two models to fit 5’ or 6’ truck beds so it is another contender for the best truck camper for short bed trucks!
The tankless water heater on this camper allows you to enjoy hot water for dishes at a moment’s notice instead of turning on a water heater and waiting for 10-15 minutes for your hot water tank to fill.
The one-piece PVC roof on top of the camper is also designed to last and hold up to various weather conditions. This design is an alternative to campers with multi-piece roofs where cracks and separations are more likely to lead to leaks between the pieces.
The Lance 650 is also equipped with electric exterior jacks with a wireless remote. This makes it much easier to install and remove this camper in your truck bed.
For travelers, it will also give you the option of dropping your camper off at a campsite and retaining the use of your truck bed during the remainder of your stay.
Another unique feature on this rig is that it comes with a 100-watt solar panel mounted to the roof. While other campers are ‘solar-ready’, this one is already set up for longer dry camping trips.
Additionally, the 650 comes with a 10’4’ electric side awning, a stainless steel two-burner stove, a deluxe queen-size bed in the cabover, and an exterior wash station as part of its many standard features.
Tips For Picking A Half-Ton Truck Camper
Now that you have a few camper models rattling around in your noggin’, it is time to discuss how to decide which one will actually suit your needs.
As is the case with many major purchases, selecting a truck camper is a question of finding a model that checks as many of your boxes as possible.
Make A List Of Your Non-Negotiables
From the color of the cabinetry to whether or not it comes with roof-mounted solar panels, there are a lot of features to look into when you are shopping for these truck camper models. So the rational first step is to make a list of the features and specifications that you absolutely must have.
This can include things like “it must be under XXXX pounds” or “it must be under $$,$$$ price.” But your non-negotiables should be based on your budget, truck make and model, the amount of gear you intend to put inside and attach to the exterior, and a variety of other considerations.
Ultimately, however, you need to sit down and be honest with yourself about the features and specifications that are absolutely non-negotiable for you and your current situation.
This will automatically help you align with camper options that will meet your basic needs, even if they require minor tweaks down the line.
Prioritize Your “It Would Be Nice To Have…” Features
After you have your set list of the features and specifications that you can’t live without, then you can have a little more fun making a longer list of the other features that you think it would be really nice to have.
This can include things like a secondary battery for backup power or roof racks that allow you to attach recreation gear to the roof more easily.
I have found that it can be useful to start by making a long list of all the features that you think “it would be nice to have.” From there, go back through your list and place a 1, 2, or 3 next to each line item.
You can use whatever scale you like, but I have had success by placing a 1 next to items that I feel would dramatically improve my quality of life. The items that would minorly improve my quality of life are labeled with a 2. And items that would simply be a nice luxury but I know I honestly wouldn’t use all that often are labeled with a 3.
Whether you are selecting a new camper for solo travel or you do this exercise with your travel companion, it can really help you set clear priorities for what you are looking for in your ideal truck camper.
Looking to accessorize? Check out The Best Truck Camper Accessories For Life On The Road
Commit To Seeing A Handful Of Truck Camper Models Before Thinking About The Money
For myself, it has been very helpful to take money out of the equation when I am initially beginning my search. I will schedule multiple appointments at RV dealerships or set up multiple private showings before I even consider whether or not I can afford a camper model.
Of course, I have some idea of the budget range I will be able to afford.
But I have found that it helps to clear your mind and allow yourself to really evaluate a camper based on its features and specifications before writing it off (or, worse, settling) based on its price.
So it can make sense to commit to seeing at least 2-3 camper models before you begin to get more serious about your search.
This can help to make sure you ultimately invest in one of the best truck campers for 1/2 ton pickups that you are excited to travel in versus settling for the first option that comes across your path.
Consider Renting One Of The Best Truck Campers For 1/2 Ton Pickups For A Test Run!
Assuming you already have a half ton pickup, you can also consider renting one of the best truck campers for 1/2 ton pickups to make sure you will actually like this form of camping.
Fortunately, there are sites like Outdoorsy out there that make it easier than ever to rent campers from private owners.
Schedule a long weekend or, better yet, a week-long getaway to put your rented truck camper to the test.
Evaluate how you like driving with a truck camper, whether you like cooking inside of it, and anything else related to the day-to-day use of this type of recreational vehicle.
I cannot overstate the importance of a suggestion like this because truck camping is much different than what it might look like from social media images and YouTube videos.
Living this lifestyle for multiple days is the only true way to decide if you will really like it and be at ease with it.
Conclusion On The Best Truck Campers For 1/2 Ton Pickups
I sincerely hope that you have identified at least one camper model that you want to investigate further after reading through this guide.
If you are new to truck camping or just beginning to think about a mobile lifestyle, I would highly recommend you read this article with 12 amazing insights from full-time campers!
Also, feel free to drop any questions you may have about truck camping or these adventure rigs in the comments below.
We will do our best to get back to you in a timely manner and also welcome you to share your direct experience if you are already the proud owner of one of these camper options!
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