The 6 Best Truck Campers For for Short-Bed Trucks

Short bed pickup trucks are increasingly popular with families and tradesmen who need to carry more passengers than a single straight cab pickup truck can accommodate.

At the same time, a lot of pickup truck owners love to use truck campers to give them a place to stay when they hit the open road for adventure.

Though, the tradeoff of a crew or king-size cab means that you lose some length in the rear cargo box.

This can make finding a truck camper that will fit a short-bed pickup a little bit challenging.

We’ve done the hard work for you, so you can easily find the best slide-in or pop-up campers designed to fit on both regular short-bed and mini short-bed pickup trucks.

Can You Put A Camper On A Short Bed Truck?

The good news is that yes, you can indeed fit a truck camper in the cargo box of a short-bed pickup truck. Though the selection is somewhat limited.

The goal is to target a truck camper that will fit in a 6’6” to 7-foot or smaller truck bed.

With this in mind, the Lance 650 is one of the best truck campers for a short-bed truck to meet this general criteria.

Though it certainly is not the only option worthy of your consideration.

Choosing The Right Type Of Truck Camper For A Short-Bed Pickup Truck

When it comes to pickup truck campers for a short-bed pickup truck, it boils down to three options.

A Hard-sided truck camper, a soft-sided truck camper, or a slide-out truck camper.

Slide-in Truck Campers

As the name implies a hard-sided truck camper has rigid walls and travels down the highway at full profile.

They tend to be heavier, and a few hard-sided truck campers that fit in a short-bed truck even have wet bath shower & toilet combos in them. They also tend to cost more but have a higher resale value.

Hard-Sided Truck Camper With Slide Out

As the name implies this is a specially engineered truck camper with a section that is installed on a set of rails allowing it to “Slide Out” of the main body of the hard-sided camper.

Sometimes referred to as “Expandable” truck campers they are slightly more compact traveling down the road but expand to offer much more living space when it’s time to set up camp.

This is handy for short-bed pickup trucks that already have a limited amount of available cargo box space.

Though they do tend to weigh more and cost more, which doesn’t necessarily make them an ideal option for half-ton pickup truck with a limited payload capacity.

Soft-Sided Truck Campers

Also known as “Popup Truck Campers” have a basic frame and a canvas tent-like section that expands.

This gives you more living space when you need it, but you can collapse it down for a lower profile aerodynamic shape.

The trade-off is that the tent material of the popup camper can suffer wear and tear over time.

The Relationship Between Dry Weight & Payload Capacity

When choosing the best truck camper for your short-bed pickup truck, it’s important to factor in the dry weight of the truck camper, and compare it to the payload capacity of the pickup truck.

If the dry weight of the truck camper is more than the payload capacity of the short-bed pickup truck’s cargo box, it could severely damage the truck’s suspension system.

Not to mention being a major safety hazard when driving down the road at highway speed.

The following is a ballpark estimation of the average payload capacity of some common pickup truck classes.

The Truck Bed Length

One of the biggest challenges with pairing a truck camper and a short-bed pickup truck is making sure that the truck bed length in the specifications of the truck camper matches the available length inside the truck’s cargo bed.

This tends to be an enormous challenge when you try to find a truck camper that will fit the short-bed of a half-ton pickup truck.

It becomes less of a challenge as you move up to three-quarter and one-ton crew cab pickup trucks.

6 Best Truck Campers For A Short-Bed Pickup Trucks

When it comes to truck campers that will fit in the cargo box of a short-bed pickup truck, there are a few options that rise to the top of this admittedly limited selection.

The dry weight, floorplan dimensions, and the special features all weighed in as primary factors in the truck campers we reviewed.

1. The 2020 Lance TC 650 Truck Camper

The-2020-Lance-–-TC-650-Truck-Camper
@where_ever_the_road_takes_us
  • Truck Bed Length6.83 ft. (82 in.)
  • Dry Weight of 1,700 lbs.
  • Total Fresh Water Tank Capacity of 22.0 gallons
  • Total Gray Water Tank Capacity of 15.0 gallons
  • Total Black Water Tank Capacity of 16.0 gallons
  • Sleeps up to 3 people

Lance is one of the most well-known manufacturers of truck campers with models to suit an impressive array of pickup trucks and cargo boxes.

So, it should come as little surprise that the 2020 Lance – TC 650 is one of the best truck campers for a short-bed truck box.

Though with a dry weight of 1,700-pounds and a truck bed length of 82-inches it pushes the boundaries of what a half-ton pickup truck can hold in its cargo box.

This is ultimately more of a truck camper for a three-quarter to one-ton pickup truck.

It can sleep up to three people comfortably, which is perfect for a couple or a small family with a single child.

It has the waste and fresh water storage tank capacity to take care of you for multiple days of boondocking off the grid.

There is even a tidy wet bath in the rear of the truck camper. The 18,000 BTU heater is also a nice thing if you are interested in using the Lance – TC 650 for camping in the mountain or as a fall hunting base camp.

2. The North Star Popup Truck Camper 600SS

The North Star Popup Truck Camper 600SS
  • Truck Bed Length6’ 3” (75 in.)
  • Dry Weight of 1,258 lbs.
  • Total Fresh Water Tank Capacity of 17.0 gallons
  • Sleeps up to 3 people

The NorthStar 600SS is a well-made popup truck camper that was specifically designed to fit in the short cargo boxes and accommodate smaller light-duty pickup trucks.

This improves aerodynamics when driving at highway speeds which can also improve fuel economy.

With a truck bed length of 75-inches and a dry weight of 1,258-pounds, it could conceivably fit in the short-bed of many half-ton pickup trucks like the Ford F-150 and the RAM 1500’s higher trim levels.

With the cab-over bunk and the convertible dinette station,the NorthStar 600SS can comfortably sleep three adults, or perhaps even two adults and two small children.

There is no formal bathroom, though you do get a fully functional kitchen with an RV refrigerator, two-burner stove, and a single basin sink that is supported by a 17-gallon fresh water storage tank.

It’s also worth noting that the NorthStar 600SS comes with some nice bells and whistles include in the standard package.

Such as a Dometic 3.7 cubic foot 3-way fridge that has a removable freezer. The North/South Extended Cabover Bed and electric roof lift make it easy to set up.

TheHappijac (4220) 4 Corner Jacks are also robust and will serve to hold the truck camper firmly when you set up camp for the evening. 

3. 2021 NuCamp Cirrus 820 Truck Camper

The-2021-NuCamp-–-Cirrus-820
@packedbaggz

Specifications

  • Truck Bed Length6’ (72 in.)
  • Dry Weight of 2,916 lbs.
  • Total Fresh Water Tank Capacity of 33.0 gallons
  • Total Gray Water Tank Capacity of 32.0 gallons
  • Total Black Water Tank Capacity of 18.0 gal.
  • Sleeps up to 4people
  • Air Conditioner of 14,000 BTUs
  • A heater of 18,000 BTUs

The 2021 NuCamp – Cirrus 820 is a rare hard-sided truck camper with a wet bath and water storage tanks to support a small family for days of off-the-grid boondocking.

Yet it only has a 72-inch cargo box floorplan, which is extremely tidy for a truck camper this large and well-appointed.

Though, it’s worth noting that the 2021 NuCamp – Cirrus 820 has a dry weight of 2,916-pounds, which is too heavy for a standard half-ton pickup truck to support.

This is truly the sort of camper you would pair with a crew cab three-quarter or one-ton pickup truck which will have the payload capacity to accommodate it.

You will also appreciate the 14,000 BTU air conditioner and the 18,000 BTU heater.

This gives you superior climate control that you don’t necessarily get with a lot of other truck campers in this class.

It makes the 2021 NuCamp – Cirrus 820 a great option for people who love to do a lot of four-season camping.

4. The Hawk Four Wheel Camper

The-Hawk-Four-Wheel-Camper
@mainlineoverland
  • Truck Bed Length6’8” (80 in.)
  • Dry Weight of 1,100 lbs.
  • Total Fresh Water Tank Capacity of 20.0 gallons
  • Sleeps 3 to 4 people

The Hawk Four Wheel Camper is an increasingly popular lightweight popup truck camper.

It has a static base with expandable canvas sidewalls. This makes it compact and aerodynamic when driving down the road.

Yet it is spacious and roomy enough to potentially sleep up to four people. Though three adults are more realistic.

The dry weight of the Hawk Four Wheel Camper only rings in at 1,100-pounds, and it has an 80-inch truck bed length.

This is light enough and tight enough to fit in the cargo box of most half-ton short box pickup trucks.

It’s also worth noting that there are three optional layouts available through the manufacturer.

This includes a side-dinette, a rollover couch, and a front dinette layout. You can choose the one that is best for your family size and camping style.

The ventilation in the Hawk Four Wheel Camperis one of those things that might not get noticed on paper, but you will appreciate it when you take it out into the real world.

When it is “Popped Up” there are four windows to provide superior airflow. This isn’t always the case with a lot of similar competition models.

5. Northwood – Arctic Fox 811 Hard Sided Truck Camper With Slide-Out

Northwood-Arctic-Fox-811
@la_vie_meli_melo_de_val
  • Truck Bed Length9 ft. (108 in.)
  • Dry Weight of 2,873 lbs.
  • Total Fresh Water Tank Capacity of 50.0 gallons
  • Total Gray Water Tank Capacity of 38.0 gallons
  • Total Black Water Tank Capacity of 23.0 gallons
  • Sleeps up to 5 people

The Arctic Fox is one of the most popular and versatile truck campers. So it comesas little surprise that they would engineer a model like the Arctic Fox 811 to fit into the short box of a three-quarter to one-ton pickup truck.

Though with a dry weight of 2,873-pounds and a 9-foot floor-length, you will need a truck at least this robust to be able to safely tote this hard-sided truck camper with slide-out.

What you get in exchange is a truly well-designed truck camper that is rife with superior material build quality and a lot of interior living space.

On paper, it can sleep up to 5 people though a couple and two teenagers is more realistic.

The slide-out section houses a relatively large dinette table that converts to a bed in the evening.

There is an option bunk overhead for families who need to sleep two children but want to give each their own bed. Families will also appreciate the wetbath in the back.

6. Palomino Backpack HS-2902 Hard Sided Truck Camper With Slide-Out

Palomino-Backpack-HS-2902
  • Truck Bed Length9.75 ft. (117 in.)
  • Dry Weight of 3,261 lbs.
  • Total Fresh Water Tank Capacity of 45.0 gallons
  • Total Gray Water Tank Capacity of 20.0 gallons
  • Total Black Water Tank Capacity of 20.0 gallons
  • Sleeps up to 4people

Palomino is an RV manufacturer that does its best to accommodate a widerange of interests.

You see that shining through with the 2020 Palomino – Backpack HS-2902. With a 9.75-foot long bed length and a 3,261-pound dry weight, this is a hard-sided truck camper for a one-ton short-bed truck, rather than a half-ton pickup truck.

Though what you get is a slide-out truck camper with a wet bath and enough sleeping space to easily accommodate up to four people.

There’s also an optional rooftop air conditioner and optional heater package offered through many dealerships, which is a good idea if you want to use this slide-out truck camper for true four-season camping.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Put ALong-Bed Truck Camper OnAShort-Bed Truck?

With some models,a long bed truck can be installed in a short bed cargo box.

Though the install is a little bit complicated and if it is done wrong it can cause severe damage to the truck, the truck camper.

If there is a problem when traveling at highway speeds it could cause a severe accident.

What Are TheDrawbacks Of A Slide-Out In A Truck Camper?

truck campers are a very popular innovation and are attractive to short-bed truck owners. Though there are a few potential drawbacks to consider.

They havea section that slides out on an installed rail system, viaspecial hardware and mechanical components that can add as much as 300-pounds to the total weight of the truck camper.

Especially if you want a model with waste and fresh water storage tanks. This puts them out of range for pretty much all half-ton pickup trucks and even some three-quarter-ton pickup trucks.

A hard-sided truck camper with a slide-out also tends to cost more, which can be a factor for your budget.

The moving parts need to be properly maintained, or you risk damaging them which could increase the long-term cost of ownership or hamper the potential resale value later on down the line.

People who want to use their truck camper for late-season fall hunting or winter camping might want to upgrade the heater or add a heater, as most slidouts are poorly insulated.

They also tend to be prone to air leaks, which can make it cold to camp in when the mercury dips low.

How Much Do Short Bed Truck Campers Cost?

As a ballpark figure, you can expect the short-bed truck camper to cost between $10,000 to $50,000, depending on the optional extras.

Just like a lot of other RVs and truck campers the model, trim level, and special features you choose will influence the final price tag of the short bed truck camper.

Conclusion

Short-bed pickup trucks with large crew cabs are incredibly popular for their ability to transport families and coworkers on Monday through Friday.

Thankfully a fair number of RV manufacturers have started making truck campers that can fit the smaller cargo box area of these pickup trucks.

If you are looking for a high-quality hard-sided model then the 2020 Lance – TC 650 might be the best truck camper to meet your needs.

The fact that it can accommodate a wet bath for convenient off-the-grid boondocking is especially handy.

Though it might be a little too heavy to pair with the payload capacity of a half-ton pickup truck.

If you are looking for a model that is low-profile and aerodynamic then the Hawk Four Wheel Camper might be the best popup truck camper for a short-bed pickup truck.

The interior ventilation is certainly something you will appreciate on warm summer nights.

Not to mention the convenience of the 20-gallon fresh water storage tank for washing dishes and taking care of basic cleaning. It’s even light enough to fit in the cargo box of most short-bed pickup trucks.

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