Top 7 Pop-Up Truck Campers for Half-Ton Trucks

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Top 7 Pop-Up Truck Campers for Half-Ton Trucks

Top 7 Pop-Up Truck Campers for Half-Ton Trucks

If youre thinking about buying a pop-up truck camper, you probably fall into one of two camps. Either youre looking to upgrade after camping in tents or youre looking to downsize after owning something larger. Whatever the reason, buying a pop-up truck camper is a great move. Not only is it cheaper, more aerodynamic, and more fuel-efficient than a hard-side truck camper, but it also weighs less, handles better off-road, and is easier to store. Whats more, the pop-ups compact size and low center of gravity means that you can take it to places where most hard-side truck campers cant. Sure there are negatives associated with a small pop-upits compact size, lack of amenities, and the need to raise the roof to effectively use it immediately come to mindbut the pros of having a small pop-up truck camper far outweigh the cons.

Several companies make truck campers light enough and small enough to fit in the bed of a half-ton short-bed pickup truck. Thats the good news. The bad news is that the constraints associated with fitting on a half-ton also means that getting a camper with a full wet bath isnt going to happen. You might be able to get either acassette toiletor an indoor shower, but the pickings are slim if you want to get both. With a few exceptions, a porta pottie and an outdoor shower will be the most you can hope for. The same applies to having a gray water holding tank. Some pop-ups have them, some pop-ups dont. In general, amenities are lacking in a small pop-up. That might work for some truck camper aficionados looking for a more minimalist approach to camping and overlanding, but it wont work for all, which is why some decide to buy a larger truck so that a larger pop-up or hard-side can be purchased instead.

As you probably know, the process of picking a truck camper can be difficult. Numerous decisions need to be made. If youve already decided to go with a pop-up, good for you. Youve made it past the first hurdle. The biggest hurdle is deciding on which camper to get. With so many great companies and truck camper models to choose from picking one can be extremely difficult. Thats the purpose of this article. Weve ranked the top seven pop-up truck campers for the half-ton, short-bed pickup truck and provided some important specifications and characteristics about each to help you make a better, more informed decision. So without further adieu, lets look at Truck Camper Adventures top seven.

When it comes to overall quality, capacities, features, and storage nothing beats a Hallmark truck camper. Weighing 1,212 pounds, the Milner 6.5 is constructed of a durable yet attractive molded fiberglass composite exterior frame topped with a low-maintenance, one-piece molded composite roof. Standard features of the Milner include a 6080 east-west bed with under bed storage; a large, 30 gallon fresh water tank; molded one-piece counter tops; exclusive big view double windows; a 3-way refrigerator; a 5 gallon propane tank; attractive overhead cabinets with Tambour doors; and a battery compartment large enough to hold two 6 volt golf cart batteries. The list of options Hallmark offers is just as impressive and includes a 12 gallon gray tank, a 5 gallon black tank, a porta pottie, a north-south bed, a shower pan for indoor showers, a DC compressor refrigerator, and a Zamp 160-watt solar suitcase. Hallmark even gives you options on the look of the cabinetry. All of their campers come standard with Oak or Amber Bamboo cabinets. Cherry, Blond Bamboo, Maple, and Hickory cabinetry are also available for an additional $1,200. Coosa composite cabinetry is available for an additional $2,000 if its wanted. Better yet, Hallmark campers come with a five-year structural warranty, one of the best in the entire industry. The Milner 6.5 lists for $30,995.

With a floor length of 6.5 feet and a dry weight of only 1,075 pounds, theFour Wheel CamperHawk is a perfect match for todays half-ton pickup. The Hawk features a 20 gallon fresh water tank, a fully equipped kitchenette, an east-west queen bed, a 1.7 cubic foot 3-way reefer, and attractive yet durable interior woodwork. For those want a little more, a porta pottie and outside shower can both be added as options. Interested in extending your time off-grid? Four Wheel Campers has that covered, too, by offering a 160 watt roof-mounted solar system, a dual battery setup, an 85 liter DC compressor refrigerator, and two 10-pound propane tanks. Four Wheel Campers uses a proprietary tie-down system consisting of four, zinc-coated eye bolts reinforced with steel backing plates that are mounted to the bed of the pickup. The advantage of having a hidden system like this is that it not only presents a clean look on the outside of the camper, but it also works great for driving off-road. The Hawk lists for only $17,395, but dont let the price fool you. This rugged, well-made camper can take you almost anywhere you want, and with its welded aluminum frame and aluminum exterior, it will last for decades.

At 850 pounds, the Caribou Lite 6.5 is the lightest, lowest profile camper in theOutfitter Manufacturingcatalog. The construction of this well-equipped camper consists of vacuum bonded composite walls, a full walk-on roof, and a fully welded, boxed aluminum frame. The Caribou Lite is insulated to the hilt with Owen Corning block foam insulation in the hard walls, and Weblon 3-layer insulation in the soft walls. One feature that really stands out is the full-size cabover bed that pulls out into a full-size queen. Highlights of the Caribou Lite include a 24 gallon fresh water tank, 5 gallon propane tank, a 1.9 cubic foot 3-way refrigerator, a torsion assisted lift system, a 16,000 BTU furnace, a 3-burner cooktop, attractive birch interior doors and cabinets, and solar reflective windows. Unfortunately, a stripped-down model or shell of the Caribou Lite cant be purchased by customers, but Outfitter president, Brian Ward, explains that the camper can be fully used off the truck. Notable options of the Caribou Lite 6.5 include a cassette toilet, an outside shower, a 3.8 cubic foot Tundra DC compressor fridge, a 95 watt solar power system, a King Dome satellite dish, a Yakima roof rack, and an air conditioner. The Caribou Lite 6.5 sells for only $16,720, one of the lowest priced campers in this list.

Rory Willett, the owner of theBundutecUSA, likes his campers to stand out in a crowd and this one does. The standard color of the BunduKort is an attractive graynot your standard, everyday whiteand features contrasting black trim and black accents on the exterior. The camper is skinned with a smooth .040-inch aluminum that not only looks great, but also holds up better than standard fiberglass siding. Another thing that I really like about the BunduKort is the amount of cabover storage it offersthere isnt another half-ton pop-up that rivals it. Standard features of this rugged, wood-framed, 1,400-pound camper include a north-south 5674-inch mattress with lift up under bed storage, a 20 gallon fresh water tank, an exterior shower, a Norcold 1.6 cubic foot chest refrigerator, a stainless steel sink, and window and door screens fine enough to keep out annoying no-see-ums bugs. A plethora of options are offered by BundutecUSA. Three worth noting are a Zamp 160 watt solar power system, a porta pottie, and the revolutionaryTruma Combiwater heater furnace that saves not only on weight and space, but is also whisper quiet when in operation. The list price for the BunduCamp is only $15,400, a real bargain when you consider all that you get for the money.

The only solid wall camper on our list, the Alaskan 6.5, debuted in 2015 and has been a steady seller for the company ever since. Like allAlaskan campers, this particular model features a patented pop-up design thats totally unique. Unlike the traditional pop-up, which has soft sides, the pop-top on an Alaskan camper is solid with a hydraulic mechanism that raises and lowers the entire top of the camper. If youve never seen the interior of an Alaskan camper, youre in for a treat. Inside youll find a gorgeous leather dinette, a wood-paneled ceiling, and attractive maple cabinets. In this particular model, youll also find a generous amount of counter top spaceit has more than many hard-side campersand copious amounts of overhead storage. Standard items in this 1,390-pound camper include a large, 2.5 cubic foot 3-way refrigerator, a 5 gallon propane tank, and a 15 gallon fresh water tank. One group-24 battery comes standard, but as many as two can be added as an option. Other options include a Thetford C-200 swivel cassette toilet, a Zamp 160 watt solar power system, a water heater, a Suburban 20,000 BTU furnace, and LED lighting. Another thing worth noting is thatAlaskan Campershas been making pop-up truck campers since 1953, and is the oldest truck camper company in America. The list price for the Alaskan 6.5 is $27,539.

Based on a French design called the Gazelle, the GZL-400 is a brand-new offering from the good folks atEarthcruiser. This modern, aerodynamic camper is constructed of a lightweight, molded fiberglass, and features a pop-top that lifts only in the rear of the camper. Earthcruiser designers were able to get the dry weight of this diminutive camper down to a very manageable 1,200 pounds, which even when fully loaded, still puts it within the payload ratings of most half-ton trucks. Highlights include an en-suite shower, a portable toilet, a large dinette with bench storage, a 1.5 cubic foot Isotherm compressor refrigerator, Dometic Seitz windows, and a fold-out 8060-inch queen size bed. Holding tank sizes for the GZL-400 are surprisingly large, with a 27 gallon fresh water tank, and a 7 gallon gray water holding tank. Those interested in having solar power will particularly like the thin-film, 200-watt Zamp solar power system molded into the truck campers fiberglass roof. The only real knock against the GZL-400 is the smallish interior, but putting the shower pan in the entryway is a clever way to save space. The GZL-400 lists for about $36,000.

The Northstar 650 is a terrific, little camper. It fits perfectly on standard short-bed and mini-short-bed trucks and features attractive half-wraps on the rear. In spite of its compact size, this rugged, 1,400-pound camper is still loaded with an impressive list of standard features, including a large, 30-gallon fresh water tank, an east-west 6080-inch queen size bed with under bed storage, a 3.7-cubic foot 3-way refrigerator, a 5 gallon horizontal propane tank, a comfortable 6-inch Suresleep memory foam mattress, and one of my favorite truck camper options, the Lagun swing-away table system. The long list of options for the Northstar 650, includes a 7.5 gallon gray water tank, a north-south bed, an outdoor shower, a Girard tankless water heater, a Dometic DC compressor refrigerator, and a Zamp 160-watt solar power system. If you like to camp in the winter, I highly recommend ordering Northstars optional Sub Zero Package,  which includes an insulated tent, an insulated dinette window, and foil-faced wall insulation. Overall, a great little camper that can take a beating. The only real negative is the dated Oak interioran interior facelift is badly needed in all Northstar campers. The list price for the Northstar 650 is a very affordable $18,890.

Before you buy a pop-up truck camper, make sure you have the right truck to haul it. When it comes to hauling a truck camper, the payload rating of your truck is the most important number you need to know. For half-ton trucks, this rating can be less than 1,000 pounds or as high as 3,200. This means your camper, plus passengers and gear, must be below this number. Determining your trucks payload rating is easy. It can be found either on a driver side door pillar sticker or can be determined by taking the truck to the scales and subtracting the weight of the truck from the trucks gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR). The payload certification form in the trucks glovebox will have this information, too, but it will also say something to the effect that hauling a slide-in truck camper is NOT recommended. You can ignore that recommendation, especially if youre planning on getting a lightweight pop-up. As long as you stay within the payload rating and GVWR of your truck, youll be safe, but youll probably need to upgrade your tires to get the weight-bearing capacity that you need. For a half-ton, that usually means upgrading the OEM passenger-rated tires that came with your truck to a good light truck tire with a load range D minimum.

Interested in a hard-side truck camper for your half-ton truck instead? Then youll want to check out our top five hard-side truck campershere.

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Mello Mike is an Arizona native, author, and the founder of Truck Camper Adventure. Hes been RVing since 2002, is a Jeep and truck camper enthusiast, and has restored several Airstream travel trailers. He currently owns a 2013 Ram 3500 with a 2016 Northstar Laredo solar powered truck camper mounted on top. He enjoys college football, hiking, travel, off-roading, photography, and fishing. He retired from the U.S. Navy in 2004 as a CWO3 after 24 years and now works as a project manager for a major banking and security firm. He also does some RV consulting and RV inspections on the side.

This is my way forward, fantastic Fishing and logging here I come

Hey Mike, great article. Any reason why you left the Palomino Backpack ss550 off the list? It looks like pretty good value, but wondering if there have been issues with quality that kept it from being included?

Reviews are great. Appreciate your footwork and thank you for serving. Im 66. reviews seldom include this spec. So my home work continues. So far, Palamino @ 7 ft head room for a Popup is max. Any ideas, pointers, thoughts? Thanks, Troy.

Why are all the 1/2 ton campers listed here (and on the hard side article) only for short bed trucks? What about the 8ft bed variety of 1/2 ton trucks?

Because the vast majority of half-ton trucks out there are short-bed models. We did rank the Adventurer 80RB model highly, it can fit on both short-bed and long-bed trucks.

My payload capacity is 2929 lbs and I am really leaning towards a 8 pop-up for off-road use in the rockies, but I found your 80RB review and will check it out.

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Truck Camper Adventure is a free online magazine offering news, reviews, travel tips, and information of interest to the truck camper community. We cover all types of truck campers here at Truck Camper Adventure. It doesnt matter if its a slide-in or a chassis-mount, a hard-side or a pop-up, if its a truck camper and its carried on a truck, we cover it.

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