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It would seem that any short bed truck camper that fits into the bed of your truck would be a convenient option. Believe it or not, there is much more to pairing a camper and truck than whether it physically fits in the bed.
There are crucial safety considerations, from how much weight the truck can carry to the build of the camper.
If you’re in the market for a short bed truck camper, we’ll help you learn what to look for during your search. We’ve also assembled a list of the top options.
Let’s dive into the best short bed truck campers in 2023!
What Is a Short Bed Truck Camper?
A short bed truck camper is a type of camper that fits into the bed of a smaller truck.
They are ideal if you already have a small truck but want some of the features of an RV when camping.
These campers typically have the same features as those fitting larger trucks, including a kitchenette, bathroom, and sleeping area.
But you have the additional quality of it being on a smaller vehicle, so it’s much easier to maneuver and park in tighter spaces.
How Long Is a Short Bed Truck Camper?
A short bed on a truck is typically about 5 feet 8 inches long. A short bed truck camper, however, is generally much longer than the length of the truck bed.
That’s because the camper typically extends over the truck’s cab and beyond the end of the truck bed to maximize its interior space. Trailers for a short bed truck can range from just under 11 feet to 18 feet long.
Pros of a Short Bed Truck Camper
There are several reasons to buy a short bed truck camper. First, if you already have a truck, putting a camper on it can be much less expensive than purchasing a travel trailer, fifth wheel trailer, or motorhome.
A truck camper can fit into tighter spaces than trailers or motorhomes. They are also more agile than most other RVs, making boondocking in more remote areas more manageable.
You can remove and drop many short bed truck campers at your campsite, freeing the truck for running errands or exploring. Along those same lines, you can remove them for storage when not in use.
Fuel efficiency is an additional benefit. A short bed truck with a camper is more fuel efficient than most other RVs.
Cons of a Short Bed Truck Camper
There are a few drawbacks to a short bed truck camper. One chief concern is that a truck camper sits in the bed so that it can increase your overall height dramatically. This can be a little cumbersome when driving and can make the truck top-heavy.
Truck campers can also be weighty. This is a crucial consideration. You need to know how much weight your truck can carry and match the truck camper accordingly. This is not a one-size-fits-all situation.
Though you can drop it at your campsite or remove and store it when not in use, it’s not always an easy process.
Can a Half-Ton Truck Carry a Truck Camper?
Yes, a half-ton truck can carry a truck camper. However, not all half-ton trucks are equal.
Though all short beds are around 5 feet 8 inches long, not all half-ton trucks can carry the same payload. This is a crucial element you need to know when matching a camper with a truck.
A truck’s payload is how much weight it can safely carry without overloading the vehicle. When placing a camper on a truck, you are carrying it.
The payload rating is on the inside frame of the driver’s side door, on the tire, and loading information plaque. Don’t forget to include the weight of passengers and any equipment, appliances, etc. that will be part of the payload in addition to the camper.
The Best Short Bed Truck Campers
There are many short-bed truck campers on the market to fit any lifestyle.
Some are roomy, luxurious hard-sided campers with slides. Others are smaller, hard-sided, all-weather campers. There are also pop-up campers.
We’ve assembled several of the best campers on the market, ranging from lighter, less expensive models to the most extravagant options. You’re sure to find something that fits your style, budget, and, most vitally, your truck.
Lance 855S Truck Camper
MSRP: Starting at $53,774
Length: 18 feet
Weight: 3,064 lbs
Just because you’re opting for a truck camper doesn’t mean you have to miss out on RV luxury, even with a short bed truck camper.
The Lance 855S comes with the all-weather package, a slideout dinette seating four, a wet bath, a queen-size bed, a refrigerator, a stove with oven, a microwave, a furnace, and ample holding tank capacities.
However, this hard-sided camper is at the upper end of the budget, and the only short bed truck we’re sure can handle its weight is a Ford F-150. There are larger trucks with short beds that can also take heavier truck campers.
Lance 650 Truck Camper
MSRP: Starting at $37,549
Length: 15 feet, 6 inches
Weight: 2,061 lbs
The Lance 650 is much more compact than the 855S but is still a hard-sided, well-built camper with a wet bath and many of the same luxuries as its larger counterpart.
The most significant difference is there is no slide, so the interior is smaller, as are the appliances and the capacities of the holding tanks.
Those trade-offs make the camper lighter and shorter, which means there are more options regarding trucks that can carry it.
nuCamp Cirrus 620 Truck Camper
MSRP: Starting at $38,591
Length: 12 feet, 8 inches
Weight: 1,491 lbs
Coming in at under 1,500 pounds, the nuCamp Cirrus 620 is a hard-sided camper that works with almost any half-ton, short bed truck.
This is another four-season option packing all the amenities you need to go off-grid, including a queen bed with a massive stargazer window, a tank-saving cassette toilet, fridge, stove, sink, and 210-watt solar package.
Keep in Mind: Are Fiberglass Campers Better Than Other RVs? Let’s find out!
nuCamp Cirrus 820 Truck Camper
MSRP: Starting at $47,335
Length: 17 feet, 5 inches
Weight: 2,916 lbs
The nuCamp Cirrus 820 takes everything its smaller model has, including four-season comfort, and ramps it up to a more luxurious size.
This is another short bed truck camper needing a truck with a higher payload capacity because of its weight. However, that affords it ample holding tank capacities, a spacious sleeping area, a wet bath, and larger appliances, all without the need for a slide.
Four-Wheel Pop-Up Campers Hawk Model
MSRP: Starting at $25,625
Length: 10 feet, 8 inches
Weight: 1,100 lbs
The Four-Wheel Hawk Model is a bargain pop-up camper with a hard-sided and soft-sided combination of materials allowing it to work with almost any short bed truck on the market.
The soft-sided upper portion lets the camper pack away into a more aerodynamic, low profile, so fuel efficiency doesn’t take such a hit while traveling.
It’s not the ultimate four seasons camper, but it is waterproof and comes with a queen-size bed and full kitchenette.
The base model does not have a toilet, but three floorplans exist. It also has a less expensive shell option letting you customize the interior to your liking.
Palomino Backpack Truck Camper HS-750
MSRP: Starting at $31,934
Length: 16 feet, 5 inches
Weight: 1,870 lbs
The Palomino Backpack HS-750 is a solid middle-of-the-pack option for price and weight. It’s a hard-sided camper with a wet bath, a full dinette with a microwave and cooktop, a queen-size bed, and a jack knife sofa for additional sleeping space.
It doesn’t have the holding tank capacity of other hard-sided options, but its relatively light weight also allows for a few more truck options.
Host Campers Tahoe 9’6”
MSRP: Starting at $49,834
Length: 17 feet, 1 inch
Weight: 3,340 lbs
Want to go off-grid and stay there for a while? The Host Campers Tahoe 9’6” is one of the best options. It is an all-weather, hard-sided camper with the largest capacities of any storage tank on this list. It has a 65-gallon fresh water tank, a 12.5-gallon LP tank, and a 25,000 BTU furnace.
Of course, it also has a complete kitchenette, a queen-size bed, and a dry bath with a dedicated shower, courtesy of two slides. All this weighs 3,340 pounds, so you’ll need a beefy truck to manage the weight safely.
Keep in Mind: Who Owns Host Campers? Learn more about the brand here!
Northern Lite 8-11EX Limited Edition
MSRP: Starting at $62,630
Length: 16 feet, 3 inches
Weight: 2,832 lbs
The Northern Lite 8-11EX Limited Edition is at the top end of the price spectrum, but that’s because it truly delivers on the luxury you would expect from a camper with a Limited Edition brand.
The 8-11EX Limited Edition has many of the same amenities as the other high-end, all-season models on this list, including a complete dry bath with a dedicated shower.
It steps up the game with premium touches, including solid wood construction, leather seating, thermal windows, and two 200-watt solar panels. This is about as close a short bed truck camper can get to a class C motorhome.
Hallmark Milner Overland
MSRP: Starting at $52,995
Length: 11 feet, 8 inches
Weight: 1,212 lbs
The Hallmark Milner Overland is much more expensive than the other pop-up camper on our list, but for a good reason. Where the Four-Wheel Hawk Model goes light and compact by minimizing, Hallmark has more features in its pop-up format.
It comes with a clean waste toilet, 215 watts of solar power, two lithium batteries, a 30-gallon fresh water tank, a 20-pound propane tank, a water heater, a kitchenette, and a dinette, and still manages to fit a queen-size bed.
Manufacturers engineered the compact, flexible design with off-roading in mind.
Short Bed Truck Campers Are Practical for Any Road Trip
You now know what to look for regarding a short bed truck camper and the towing vehicle. Pairing them appropriately is the most crucial thing to know.
With the list above, you should quickly zero in on a short bed truck camper that fits your travel style and budget. You can safely travel down the road… or off it!
Which of these models would best suit your needs?