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Thread: New to campers...Advice!!!

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Formally Oregon but now Queen Creek Arizona! !
    Posts
    33

    Default New to campers...Advice!!!

    I have always wanted a truck camper for many years and we are ready to pull the trigger. I don't want to spend a fortune, I was looking at a new Palamino maverick for around 20k but is that justifiable? or looking at used lance campers at anywhere from 5k to 20k... just looking at some honest opinions on new or used, finance vs. cash via private seller. We finally got the truck (Chevy 2500HD) we have needed to haul our equipment and hope to get a truck camper for our long excursions...

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Southern Alberta - or where the truck is parked
    Posts
    335
    Welcome to the club (or just about).

    A lot depends on what you want and what you are gong to do.

    Honestly if this is your first TCer then I would say buy used. Get something that you like, don't spend a fortune, do some repairs to learn about the good and bad and go from there. Then if you find in a couple of years that you like tcers either keep what you have or find one that meets your needs using the experience that you get with the used one. Way too many people go out and drop a lot of money only to find out that the wife is pregnant, the style is not your thing or many other reasons and they regret spending all that money (just look at how many slightly used units are for sale).

    I bought a used TCer several years back and since then I have been looking at something that would be better for me and have not found it. I am VERY thankful that I did not spend $35,000 on a new unit as really I had no idea what made a good Tcer.

    For me I would spend cash if at all possible, I hate owing on something that is loosing money.

    If you find a lower price used one then take the money that you save and get out and enjoy the used one.
    2002 GMC 2500HD - 1992 Northern Lite Truck Camper

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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Alberta, Canada
    Posts
    53
    I agree with Photomike, get a reasonably priced used one and make sure that a TC matches your lifestyle. If it suits you, then you can step up to a higher priced unit with more features, quality, and size. I started out with a tin sided (wood framed) 8 footer and then through experience figured out that I wanted more space, a hot water tank, better insulation, heated tanks, and better construction (alu. frame). We searched for 2 years then found our current unit... we are now shopping for the next evolution of our "home away from home"!
    Good luck!

    PS, don't purchase one that is too large for your truck's GVWR... allow enough additional carrying capacity to handle the water, propane, your supplies (food, clothing, camping stuff, etc.), and whoever is going to be traveling with you.
    Last edited by motrhed; 05-08-2012 at 06:00 PM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    So Cal
    Posts
    1,776
    I agree you probably should start by figuring out what the capacity of your truck is, and then work from there to make a list of campers that are within your weight budget. You might be surprised how limiting that can be. We have a '99 Bigfoot C25-10.6, which Bigfoot marketed as being suitable for a 3/4 ton pickup. The reality is that in many instances you need a 1 ton dually to be fully within the GVWR of the truck. Point being is that I think the camper manufacturers can sometimes be a little optimistic.

    We bought new when we purchased our Bigfoot. It was our first camper, and in fact our first "RV" of any sort. We had done a lot of research over a period of a few years before we made the decision. We spent a lot of time crawling in and out of campers, trailers, and 5th wheels before first settling on a truck camper as the right solution for our needs, and then deciding on the make and model. We were very comfortable with the decision at the time as evidenced by the fact that we still own and use the camper 13 years later. It's very likely we will own this camper for 20 years or more.

    If you are uncertain about your commitment to using a truck camper, or about the particular make/model, then buying used can make sense. Much like cars, there is a lot of initial depreciation when you purchase new. But, if you're going to keep the camper for 20 years, then I think the initial depreciation isn't so much of an issue. On the other hand, if you buy your first one used with the anticipation that there is a high probability that you will turn around in a few years and buy a new one, then I'm not sure you aren't better off skipping the step of owning a used camper that may have some hidden issues to be fixed. It really depends on the specifics of your situation.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    La Habra, CA
    Posts
    503
    Some great advice already in this thread.

    If you are looking at used TCs I suggest the following:

    Look for rot and/or water damage EVERYWHERE
    If the unit has a front overhead window it is notorious for leaks.
    If the unit has rear wings they are notorious for water damage.

    If the unit has a refrigerator make sure it works all ways.
    If the unit has a hot water heater make sure it works and check for leaks.
    If the unit has a forced air furnace make sure it and the thermostat work.
    If the unit has roof AC make sure it works.
    Test the fresh water pump and pipes for leaks. Look at all the connections visible under sinks.
    If the unit has holding tanks test the tanks and the valves for leaks and look for water damage.
    Climb on the roof and check the condition of the roof and caulking (take care not to step through the roof)
    If the unit has a bathroom check underneath for leaks/water damage.
    If the unit has a slide make sure it works and there is no water damage on the slide.
    If the unit has jacks connected to the camper make sure they work and check the connections to the camper for water damage, loose screws or bent brackets.
    Doug N1DUG
    2004 WJ stock
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  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    So Cal
    Posts
    1,776
    That's some good advice from FishPOET. Based on our experience with our 13 year old camper, when stuff breaks it's the kind of things he's listed.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Formally Oregon but now Queen Creek Arizona! !
    Posts
    33
    Thanks for all the feedback!! many good valid points here... We do feel this will fit our lifestyle in many ways as we are coming from camping for 20+ years in tent, truck bed, Jeep cherokees and now for the last 3 years a 16 ft bare box trailer set up to carry our equipment and sleep/camp out of. But now feel the TC is the next step to have complete versatility...

    Cheers!
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  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Montreal & San Francisco
    Posts
    5,619
    I will be selling out Bigfoot soon but it's a long bed model - I believe your truck is a short bed?
    Christian

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    www.overlandjournal.com

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Arizona and Montana
    Posts
    163

    Default Never buy new

    Never buy new.

    Never buy new.

    Buy a good shape used camper and customize it for your specific needs.

    This is easy to do.

    Never buy new!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Ojai, Ca
    Posts
    489
    I bought a used Lance 9.5' 1995, it has been great, we've had 1 class C, and 2 class A's, the Lance is our favorite.
    '06 Liberty Limited CRD, Franken lifted, OME shocks, BFG 245/75/16, Magnaflow, ORM, ALLJs rear rack, Lightforce, TJM front bumper, Scorpion diesel tuner and Baja tested.
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