Pickup trucks are a beloved institution of the American road. This is thanks in part to their rugged durability, their ability to hold their value, and the versatility of the cargo box.
While they are often used as an RV tow vehicle to pull fifth-wheel campers and travel trailers, the box can also be used to host a camper with a surprising amount of amenities.
In addition, and perhaps more importantly, many pickup trucks are half-ton vehicles, which means they cannot tow heavier trailers.
Many half-ton truck owners want more lightweight campers that their pickup trucks can handle, and a truck camper is perfect.
That being said, not all half-ton pickup trucks can handle a hard-side truck camper. This is because most half-ton pickup trucks don’t have the required payload to haul a hard-side truck camper.
However, you can still find heavier duty half-ton pickup trucks from recognized brands like Ford, which can handle an impressive 2,799 pounds of payload–plenty for a truck camper.
But it’s still a challenge to find a hard-side truck camper that’s light enough for a half-ton pickup truck to haul safely, especially if you want a camper with a wet bath or you have a short-bed truck (which is typically 5 feet, 5 inches long).
So, if you’ve got a pickup truck and you want to hit the open road for a great camping adventure, you might be wondering what are some of the best campers for a half-ton pickup truck?
A good place to start looking is the Lance – TC 825 and the Capri Retreat with “The Works” package. Though you might be surprised to hear that there are a lot of great options in this market niche. If you’re feeling a little spoiled for choice or confused about which pickup camper is best for your half-ton truck, you should look no further.
We’ve rolled up our sleeves and dug deep into the research to find the best models on the market today, and in today’s article, we’re going to share all of the info we found.
7 Best Truck Campers For 1/2 Ton Pickups In 2023
There are a few different options to consider, depending on the payload capacity or your half-ton truck as well as the size of your cargo box.
If you’re not sure what those statistics are, you can usually find them in your owner’s manual or printed on a plate in your pickup truck’s door well.
So without further adieu, here are our top 7 lightweight Truck Campers for Half-Ton pickups.
1. Hallmark 8.5 UTE Pop-Up Truck Camper
Hallmark RV is based out of Colorado, and they have a nose for making truck campers with the material quality to keep you comfortable whether you’re camping in the mountains, forest, or desert.
The Ute. Is one of their most popular pop-up truck campers. With a dry weight of 1,643-pounds its within range of higher trim level half-ton pickup trucks.
Just keep in mind that with a length of 8-feet and 5-inches you will likely need a long-box pickup truck to properly secure it.
As a popup truck camper it’s compact when you are going down the road, which really helps the aerodynamics as well as improving the miles per gallon fuel consumption of your half-ton truck.
Then “Pops Up” like a popup camper, which sort of gives you the best of both worlds.
The Hallmark 8.5 UTE has a Mighty Mini 45 Amp Progressive Dynamics power center, as well as a 200-watt solar panel.
Power collected from the sun is then stored in a pair of deep-cycle 12-volt batteries.
The fresh and wastewater storage tanks on the Hallmark 8.5 UTE are rather large for a popup truck camper.
Especially when you consider that it has a cassette toilet. This makes it a great option for people who like to camp off the grid for a few days at a time.
2. Lance TC 825 Truck Camper
Lance is one of the stronger names in small campers and truck campers like the Lance TC 825. Here again at a 1,832-pound dry weight and a total overall length of 8-feet, 5-inches you’ll need a long box pickup truck with beefed up suspension.
Honestly this short bed camper rides the limits of a half-ton pickup truck, but would be a perfect fit for a three-quarter ton. It comes with large water storage tanks, and a wet bath, as well as a 100-Watt rooftop solar system.
This lets you live comfortably for a few days of boondocking, or a week parked up comfortably connected to an RV park’s resources.
The interior of the Lance TC 825 is as impressive as it’s sleek exterior. Inside you’ll find a very thoughtfully laid out floor plan.
The kitchenette is tastefully appointed with cherry-stained wood cabinetry and trim. It even has a 3-cubic foot RV refrigerator as well as a comfortable dinette.
The bathroom and kitchen are both supported by a relatively large 6-gallon hot water heater.
3. Outfitter Apex 8 Truck Camper
Outfitter Apex 8 Truck Camper is a classic popup truck camper with a long-standing reputation for quality.
It has a convenient dry weight of 1,450-pounds, which will reduce the load on your truck’s suspension system compared to some of the larger competitors in this niche.
With a length of 8-feet, 1-inch you could just get it into a standard-length pickup box. Though that might vary depending on your make and model of truck
Even though it’s a long-standing model, Outfitter has done their best to keep the Apex 8 from falling behind the competition.
They continue to listen to industry trends to stay current. You see their pride in build quality reflected in the 5-year warranty that’s included in the original purchase.
It sports a 44-gallon freshwater storage tank, which is massive for a truck camper.
Paired with dual 16-gallon waste water tanks, it’s a great option for camping off the grid.
They even offer an affordable upgrade option for an Onan 2500 generator.
Just keep in mind that when full the weight of the water storage can push the limits of what a half-ton truck’s payload capacity can handle.
So, if you are going to do a little boondocking, you should plan on a way to fill your tanks as close to your intended campsite as possible.
4. Alaskan 7 Cabover Pop-Up Hard Side Truck Camper
The Alaskan 7 Cabover is a little bit of an odd duck but in a good way. It’s a hybrid truck camper, in that it blends the best of a hard-sided camper and a pop-up truck camper. This involves a blend of solid wall design, yet a hydraulic mechanism can raise the entire top of the camper when needed.
This improves the aerodynamics when you drive down the road, but gives you the walking and standing space you want once you set up camp. With a length of 8-feet 1-inch it can fit in a lot of standard length cargo boxes.
The dry weight of 1,560-pounds is a little on the heavy side, but should be within the scope of a high-trim level pickup truck with a strong suspension system.
Inside you’ll find a lot of wood paneling and even a leather-upholstered dinette in the kitchen area.
There’s a 27-gallon freshwater storage tank as well as a cassette toilet. It even includes a NovaKool 2600 refrigerator, as well as enough storage to let you keep a modest-size cooler on hand.
There are also some optional extras worth considering. This includes a Zamp 170 watt solar power system paired with an energy-efficient LED lighting system, a 4-gallon water heater, and a Suburban 20,000 BTU furnace.
5. Four Wheel Camper Flatbed Hawk
The Four Wheel Camper Flatbed Hawk is built in California and has been engineered to be a durable pop-up camper with the durability to handle off-road life. When collapsed this low-profile popup camper is only 59-inches high.
The Flatbed Hawk is very light. The base package only tips the scales at a 1,075-pound dry weight. Though there are a lot of optional extras available that can drive the weight up.
So, if you are going to customize it, be mindful of the weight of each add-on. With an 80-inch length, you should be able to fit it in most standard cargo boxes. Inside the compact floorplan makes the most out of the available space. The bed runs east-to-west and measures in at 72 by 78-inches.
The compact kitchenette even comes with a 1.7 cubic foot RV absorption refrigerator. It can run on electricity or propane. With no moving parts, it’s durable enough to handle life on bumpy back roads.
There are some really handy optional upgrades available with the Four Wheel Camper Flatbed Hawk. This includes things like a portable toilet, an indoor wet bath shower, and a larger refrigerator.
Though probably the most popular is an impressive 320-Watt solar power system paired with dual battery boxes. With the solar system onboard, and a portable toilet you can spend prolonged periods boondocking off the grid in comfort.
6. Bundutec Wild Pop-Up Truck Camper
The Bundutec Wild has a long and storied history that makes it much beloved with truck camper enthusiasts.
It has a rugged wood frame that is integrated with a single-piece fiberglass shell. The roof is also framed in aluminum. Not only does this help save weight, but it also adds to the overall stability.
With a length of 84-inches the Bundutec Wild should fit in most standard-length cargo boxes. Though the 1,610-pound dry weight does require a half-ton pickup truck to have the kind of beefy suspension that you usually only find at the highest trim levels.
On the inside, you’ll find a relatively spacious kitchen and a wet bath worked into the driver’s side of the popup truck camper. Then the mattress runs north to south to help make the most of the interior living space. It measures in at 56-inches by 74-inches, which is more than enough room to sleep two adults comfortably.
Bundutec also gives customers a plethora of optional extras to help you customize the camper to your taste and needs.
This includes things like a fine mesh screen door, an impressive wrap-around awning, a shower enclosure, and even a 160-Watt solar power system installed into the lightweight aluminum roof.
7. Capri Retreat Truck Camper
Capri is a Texas-based company known for making truck campers that are built to be tough. Though the dry weight can push the upper limits of a half-ton pickup truck’s payload capacity.
The standard package is arguably a little basic. This is intentional, to let you choose various options to create your own custom camper. With so much customization available, the dry weight of the Capri can vary a lot. Some iterations can carry a dry weight of 1,750-pounds or more.
Though with only a 7-foot overall length it should fit comfortably in most standard cargo boxes. Their most popular package is called “The Works” and it certainly lives up to its name.
It starts with a 9,200 BTU “Polar Cub” air conditioning system, as well as a shower supported by a 30-gallon freshwater storage tank and a 4-gallon water heater. The kitchen in The Works package includes a two-burner cooktop, as well as a microwave and a 3-cubic foot refrigerator.
There’s even an audio speaker system that’s designed to operate off the on-board 12-Volt electrical system. Of course, these options aren’t the only way Capri lets you customize the iteration of the Retreat.
They also offer 10 different base colors that can be further accented by colored accents and stripes. If you want a more organic feel, they also offer four different types of wood paneling, which gives the interior a little bit of a Northwoods cabin feel.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is A Popup Camper Better For Fuel-Efficiency?
A popup camper condenses down nicely, which lets the nose cap area be more aerodynamic. They also tend to weigh a little less than their static counterparts.
This does translate into better miles to the gallon fuel usage. Of course, the drawback here is that the canvas walls when the camper is popped up tend to be less thermally efficient, which you might feel on a hot day or cold night. The canvas is also more likely to rip and tear over time.
Does A Truck Camper Need To Stay Installed Permanently?
Some people have a second truck that they install the truck camper into and secure it in place. This is certainly more convenient than installing it and removing it every time.
Though not everyone has the luxury of a second vehicle. Some people will buy an older model 4-wheel drive pickup truck and leave the truck camper permanently installed.
How Big Of A Pickup Camper Can My Truck Handle?
This really comes down to the make and model of your pickup truck. Fortunately, modern-day pickup truck manufacturers have been beefing up the suspension systems in their half-ton pickup trucks.
To the point that many can now handle far more than simply half a ton of payload in the cargo box.
Before you think about buying any truck camper, you first need to double-check the payload capacity of your truck.
Ideally, you want the dry weight of the truck camper to be 15 to 20% less than the payload capacity of your truck.
If you’re not sure what your truck’s payload capacity is, you can find it stamped in the driver’s side door well, or in the owner’s manual.
Truck campers have certainly evolved in recent years to be shoulder-to-shoulder competitors with some tow-behind campers.
Just bear in mind that you’re going to be dealing with your half-ton truck’s payload capacity rather than it’s towing capacity.
A lot of pickup truck camper manufacturers recognize the growing demand for the ability to customize models. This can let you reduce weight or increase weight depending on the features you choose.
Though it usually does require you to buy direct from the manufacturer. Most truck campers aren’t all that modular with optional features.
If you are looking to get far off the grid, and you need a pickup truck camper that can stand up to the punishment of bumpy roads, then the Four Wheel Camper Flatbed Hawk might be the best pickup camper for your half-ton truck.
Not only is it very lightweight and durable, but it can also be equipped with additional boondocking features like a roof-top solar panel.
If you are concerned about MPG, and you’re in the market for a popup truck camper, then the Alaskan 7 Cabover deserves to be on your radar.
As a “Hybrid” pickup truck camper, it is aerodynamic when you drive down the road, but still “Pops Up” with durable rigid side walls.
If you’re looking for a pickup camper that has it all, and you’ve got enough available budget, then you might want to select the “The Works” package of the Capri Retreat.
Then you can enjoy frigid air conditioning and a lot of the creature comforts of home when you’re away from home.
Whatever your needs, budget, or pickup truck happens to be, chances are good that the best truck camper for you is somewhere on this list.