Most capable, dependable, affordable truck camper truck?

panema

Member
What, in your opinion, is the most capable, dependable, affordable, and readily available 4x4 truck to slide in a truck camper and hit the road for a full time adventure / overland trip?

Additionally, if you have a particular 4 season truck camper you think pairs perfectly and meets the same criteria, would love to know what you think.

I’m keen to find an old pickup, get a truck camper, and hit the road for a bit. I’ve been eyeballing at 1990-1997 F-250s with the powerstroke on a friends recommendation and got me wondering if this community has any strong opinions or a consensus on older affordable trucks in the $10-$15k price range that meet these criteria.

Thinking another $8-$10k for a used truck camper could help get me on the road as quickly as possible.

This community has so much more knowledge and experience than me I’d love to know what ya’ll think.

Thanks!
 

wild1

Adventurer
Having $20-25k and a full time adventure planned, you may want to consider a class B or C motor home. I would take a class B over a truck camper any day for full time.
This combination served me well for 15 years and 130 thousand miles all over the west. 2001 F-350, 2002 alaskan camper. I recently sold it for less then half of your budget. Watch Craigslist .
 

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Buliwyf

Viking with a Hammer
I was fixing my olde truck too often to trust it on long trips, especially off road. Some used trucks just have too many demons.

Went new with a F250 XL, CC, SB, Elocker. Solid locker ready axles, manual hubs. 3100# cargo capacity should be fine for a 6.5' Budutec Bunduvry, or Capris slide in camper. If you're after an older truck, you'll likely need a 350 to get a good cargo capacity. Some f350's from 2001 only had just over 2000# capacty.

Used trucks? Try to find a 2001-08 F350.

Keep an eye on overland forums, maybe a nice little hardside will show up.
 
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zoomad75

Observer
Careful on the old diesel trucks. Most have been whooped up on, have a bazillion miles on them and generally beat. One of the guys at work just sold a 97 F250 that he's had as a project for the last 4 years. Ate him out of house and home trying to get it reliable.

Unless you are well versed at working on those trucks on your own I wouldn't do it. Being able to do the work yourself is one of the only ways that makes driving an old rig possible since you aren't paying through the nose on labor to get it fixed. I say that with knowing that my off road/camping rig is a 1991 Blazer. But I helped build it and know every nut and bolt and don't have a problem fixing it myself.
 

Mundo4x4Casa

West slope, N. Ser. Nev.
You left out one very important characteristic on your list: most trouble free and reliable.
There are way too many variables in what you did list as important. More than a few on here will say what they wheel is the ticket.
The way to TC nirvana is finding out YOUR real needs. WANTS will soon become secondary. Will you lean more to be a camper in the shadows, or will you consider yourself a light weight traveller? These may or may not be mutually exclusive so you must draw the line somewhere.
Jeanie and I have an almost 20 year history with our Lance 165-s and it fits like an old shoe. I picked up the L.A. Recycler on fall day in 2001 and spied a 3-year old Lance camper for sale. It was a short bed: just what I needed. We bought and paid for it all on the same day. It was what you would consider the stripped, self contained model sans air conditioning; microwave; oven; TV; with smallish everything we really needed except the queen bed; 60x80". The best night's sleep ever for us was in that Lance with the N/S bed. The rig took some amount of maintenance, since the low end camper's lifespan is said to be 6 years according to my RV Guru. There was a period of adjustment where we wanted more luxury, but over time the wisdom of living lite/small came into better focus.
Alas, that era for us is over. Last night a local guy and his wife backed his Chevy 2500 short bed up to our beloved Lance; taking a couple tries at it; hooked it up ( he already had the anchor shear plates and buttons attached); tied it down; handed me 32-$100 bills and drove off with a smile. What's deceiving is that he already owned a 5-er, so he knew what to expect of the systems. He said he'll be camping in it this weekend.
We have ordered a new NorthStar with just what we wanted making it even lighter than our old Lance.
Good luck and good hunting.
jefe
 
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Buliwyf

Viking with a Hammer
I'm a master fn technician, and I still won't go through all of that anymore.

I think POS Jeep YJ's and TJ's sapped all of the wrenching enthusiasm from me. Why can't jeeps come with real axles?

There's no shame in new truck payments and tents. That's what I've come full circle back to, until I'm absolutely sure I enjoy this enough for a new slide in camper. Fail, and I'll go towards normal-ish camping and a little TT.
 

panema

Member
Having $20-25k and a full time adventure planned, you may want to consider a class B or C motor home. I would take a class B over a truck camper any day for full time.
Thanks for your input. Have given this some consideration and am interested in out of the box 4x4 capacity and also the ability to separate the truck camper from the truck and use independently for various reasons.
 

panema

Member
This combination served me well for 15 years and 130 thousand miles all over the west. 2001 F-350, 2002 alaskan camper. I recently sold it for less then half of your budget. Watch Craigslist .
Did you
This combination served me well for 15 years and 130 thousand miles all over the west. 2001 F-350, 2002 alaskan camper. I recently sold it for less then half of your budget. Watch Craigslist .
I just spent the last 2 hours perusing 1999-2003 F-350s and definitely feel like there is a lot of merit this set up.

Did you do the build on this or did you buy the truck / camper combo as is?

The crew cab option and removing the rear seats could yield some valuable extra storage which I’m interested in. Thanks for your input!
 

panema

Member
Careful on the old diesel trucks. Most have been whooped up on, have a bazillion miles on them and generally beat. One of the guys at work just sold a 97 F250 that he's had as a project for the last 4 years. Ate him out of house and home trying to get it reliable.

Unless you are well versed at working on those trucks on your own I wouldn't do it. Being able to do the work yourself is one of the only ways that makes driving an old rig possible since you aren't paying through the nose on labor to get it fixed. I say that with knowing that my off road/camping rig is a 1991 Blazer. But I helped build it and know every nut and bolt and don't have a problem fixing it myself.
Thanks for your input - appreciate it. I am not a mechanic and agree and this is why the post is asking more for specific tried and true models and not opinions on older diesel trucks.

I think any older truck could end up surprising a new owner with issues...
 

panema

Member
You left out one very important characteristic on your list: most trouble free and reliable.
There are way too many variables in what you did list as important. More than a few on here will say what they wheel is the ticket.
The way to TC nirvana is finding out YOUR real needs. WANTS will soon become secondary. Will you lean more to be a camper in the shadows, or will you consider yourself a light weight traveller? These may or may not be mutually exclusive so you must draw the line somewhere.
Jeanie and I have an almost 20 year history with our Lance 165-s and it fits like an old shoe. I picked up the L.A. Recycler on fall day in 2001 and spied a 3-year old Lance camper for sale. It was a short bed: just what I needed. We bought and paid for it all on the same day. It was what you would consider the stripped, self contained model sans air conditioning; microwave; oven; TV; with smallish everything we really needed except the queen bed; 60x80". The best night's sleep ever for us was in that Lance with the N/S bed. The rig took some amount of maintenance, since the low end camper's lifespan is said to be 6 years according to my RV Guru. There was a period of adjustment where we wanted more luxury, but over time the wisdom of living lite/small came into better focus.
Alas, that era for us is over. Last night a local guy and his wife backed his Chevy 2500 short bed up to our beloved Lance; taking a couple tries at it; hooked it up ( he already had the anchor shear plates and buttons attached); tied it down; handed me 32-$100 bills and drove off with a smile. What's deceiving is that he already owned a 5-er, so he knew what to expect of the systems. He said he'll be camping in it this weekend.
We have ordered a new NorthStar with just what we wanted making it even lighter than our old Lance.
Good luck and good hunting.
jefe
Thanks! I appreciate your thoughts. Was hoping the post / request for info would focus first on specific truck recommendations... which is why it was left deliberately a little vague. But to be more specific about camper choice and style thinking hard side, wet bath, on the smaller / lighter side. I’d like to keep things as light and nimble as possible with the min requirement of having a wet bath.

Re: the truck when you say trouble free and reliable, this is exactly what I meant when I included ‘dependable’ so hopefully didn’t leave too big a hole in my criteria... if you have more specific thoughts on particular makes / models I’m all ears.
 

tacollie

Explorer
Are you stuck on the powerstrock? For your price range you could get a 11-15 f250/f350 with a 6.2 gas motor. You'll get a more modern truck and probably higher payload. Also, consider the truck bed/camper length. We just went through this. The 8' campers are cheaper and more common used. 6.5' campers get taken by all us fools with half ton trucks. Plus 1.5' in a slide camper is like an extra room in a house.
 

vargsmetal

Active member
I lean towards GM in general but they're all junk when they're broken. If I had to put forth an unbiased opinion on which fullsize would fit your needs I'd say 99+ F350. Diesel or gas is user preference. The axles are good. Plenty of room for big tires. Parts are everywhere but not as cheap as GM. Tons of aftermarket support etc...

What would I do? Find a rust free 2000+ GM 2500/3500 with the 6.0L. Do the transfer case pump rub fix. Solid axle swap if going bigger than 35in tires. Won't be as fast as the newest trucks but it won't have any issues.

Sent from my SM-G965U using Tapatalk
 
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