Truck Camper vs. Travel Trailer

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Almost everyone loves traveling and camping. That’s exactly why truck campers and travel trailers are trendy these days; the adventure is spot on. And the most amazing part is that you get to recreate your home.

However, you have to make sure you have the right motor vehicle with you. What works for you might not work for someone else. Because of such high demand for travel and camping gear, the competition and variety are getting tougher every day. 

If you’re into camping, you may get confused while choosing between a travel trailer and a truck camper. Today, I will take you through a detailed guide that will help you decide what best suits your needs. 

All About Trucks Campers and Travel Trailers

I will start with the most common question people, mostly newbies, ask: what exactly is the difference between truck campers and travel trailers?

People usually can’t differentiate between them as they are quite similar.

However, there are some technical differences you should know about. I have discussed the features in detail, so you can figure out the differences and know what works best for you.

I have also jotted down the pros and cons of truck campers and travel trailers for your convenience. 

Truck Campers

As the name suggests, you have a camper loaded on a truck. They are well-known for their compactness and flexibility in sizes. 

Did you know truck campers are the smallest available RV’s? They classify as cargo in most states. An average truck camper will cost around $60,000, having four to six sleepers and a height of up to 20 ft.

Pros

  • The slide outs make truck campers extremely user-friendly. You can use them to get some extra space and keep aside for convenient travel.
  • Since truck campers classify as cargos in many states, you don’t have to pay a hefty registration and insurance cost
  • Truck campers have a good resale value. If you keep your camper up to the mark, you can get a good deal.
  • It feels more home-like because of the motorized mechanisms. You can very easily adjust the temperature inside the camp. And mind you, temperature regulation is necessary during extreme weather conditions.
  • Driving truck campers is quite similar to driving a truck. It doesn’t feel too bulky, as in the case of a travel trailer. 
  • If you have a luxurious truck camper, you can enjoy a more comfortable environment while being on the road. 
  • They are great for off-road traveling and rough terrains.

Cons

  • They have a limited space, which limits the number of travelers.
  • Some truck campers can be extremely expensive even though they have similar features of a travel trailer.
  • They are quite tall in general. Hence, it limits access, particularly in forest areas.
  • Because of motorized mechanisms, the cost of repair increases.
  • More mechanical parts mean that the maintenance has to be more frequent than other RV’s
  • Truck campers have a big top, so they are tough to handle in high winds.

Travel Trailers

Travel trailers are adventure vehicles that attach to a carrier, be it a truck or a car. 

Many perceive it as a pop-up camper, which isn’t entirely true. However, travel trailers connect to the carrier vehicle with a ball hitch. They can cost up to $35,000. 

Generally, they have a seating capacity of six to eight sleepers. But some models may accommodate up to 10 or even 12 sleepers. 

The average height of a travel trailer is 11 feet. Some of these models are even higher, but they are much pricier too.

These trailers have the essential features needed for camping.

Pros

  • Since there is no motorized mechanism, it saves your fuel and risk of mechanical problems while you are on the road. It is a significant advantage if you’re traveling alone. 
  • As I mentioned earlier, travel trailers are cheaper. Therefore, their insurance is cheaper too. According to the stats, travel trailer insurance is available for as little as $200. 
  • Travel trailers have a reasonable economy and mileage, which is the perfect package for starters. 
  • Maintenance is deficient because of lesser mechanical parts. Therefore, it adds to the economy of your traveling expenses.
  • The towing vehicle is entirely independent of the trailer. Hence, you won’t have to worry about compatibility and can even upgrade either of the two when needed.
  • Trailers are flexible when it comes to sizes. Regardless of how large or small your family is, you can find an accommodating vehicle.

Cons

  • They are licensed vehicles, which means you need a parking space to keep them legally.
  • Because they are not motorized, they need a carrier all the time.
  • Travel trailers aren’t great if you want to manage the temperature inside. It is because they are not motorized. Hence, it can be difficult for trailer users, especially in extreme weather conditions.
  • Hitching and unhitching require a lot of time.

Similarities

No matter which one you buy, some features remain the same. Let’s find out some basic similarities between the two RV’s. 

Holding Tanks

Are you planning a long vacation? Well, you need an RV with a larger holding tank. The longer your journey, the larger the tanks need to be. 

Compared to truck campers, most travel trailers have larger holding tanks, so they are safe to take on a long trip. It mostly depends on the duration of your trip. 

Slides

Once again, it depends on how much space you want to have inside your RV. Although slides will provide you with more space and comfort, they add to its weight, ultimately affecting the mileage. 

However, if you are okay with the cost and wish to add slides, you can choose any of them.  

Baths

Although truck campers have options for both dry bath and wet bath, there isn’t much difference. Travel trailers feature functional full-sized baths as well. 

Truck Camper vs. Travel Trailer

I will now take you through a comparative analysis. The discussion will feature some essential and most sought for features in both RVs.

Price

Camping is a fun activity, but not everyone can afford it. First, people want to get the feel and see if it’s their cup of tea. So beginners don’t prefer to invest in something expensive. In this regard, travel trailers have a slight edge because they are comparatively cheaper.

Travel trailers are usually the starting point for RV enthusiasts. Eventually, they upgrade to truck campers at a higher cost. Although truck campers are more expensive, they have the edge over travel trailers regarding other essential features that we will discuss further. 

Access to Camp Space

Truck campers usually feature a slide-in option, which is not the case with travel trailers. 

Because of this, you cannot access the back of the trailer from inside the truck. 

On the other hand, if you’re in a truck camper, you can simply hop back and nap while someone else is driving around. It may seem small, but it’s a big plus, especially if you are on a long journey. 

Camp Setting and Mounting

Travel trailers are simply trailers, after all. You can’t do much to save space and camp in smaller areas with them. Therefore, you have to be mindful of where to park and think of the space requirements accordingly.

On the contrary, truck campers come with several space-saving options. I like pop-up campers because they can quickly retract and expand when needed. Also, travel trailers’ maneuverability is much more complicated because of the ball hitch mounting. 

Box Length

Travel trailers are usually more versatile when it comes to length, measuring up to 35 feet. It gives you more space, and therefore, you can accommodate up to 10 people on board.

With a lot of space adjustments, truck campers can have a maximum of eight people at once. Therefore, when it comes to space, travel trailers have the edge.

Interior Space

Truck campers are tight on moving space. They usually have at least four beds, which means you have quite sufficient sleeping space, but moving space is compromised. 

As I mentioned earlier, travel trailers will give you more moving space and not necessarily the same sleeping space as truck campers.

Economy and Mileage

Typically, camping sites are in remote areas. Therefore, it’s better to limit your spendings and save for an emergency. You wouldn’t want to get stuck in the middle of the road after spending most of your cash on fuel.

With truck campers, this is one of the drawbacks. They have motorized mechanisms that not only move the vehicle but also control and power it electrically. Also, it harms the vehicle’s mileage.

On the contrary, travel trailers don’t have any motorized parts, so they are not too heavy and are more economical in the longer run. Their lesser maintenance cost means that you recover most of your purchase price when you sell the trailer. 

Security

Remember that you’re on the road, and you most likely don’t know what meets you next. Therefore, security is a crucial point to consider when it comes to off-road camping.

I often tell people not to carry any expensive items, but that’s not always possible. Hence, your RV must be capable of securing your stuff.

Truck campers are much safer in this regard. There is better security because of the sturdy structure. Travel trailers, on the other hand, are easier to break into. 

Towability

You might be off for a boat ride or fishing. You can tow your boat trailer with a truck camper because the truck itself acts as the vehicle. It gives an added advantage to camper trucks because you can carry two trailers in one go.

On the other hand, the travel trailer itself gets towed by another vehicle, so you can’t add another trailer behind it. If you own a boat, I suggest you go for a truck camper instead of a travel trailer. 

Sitting Space

Most camping enthusiasts can’t be on the road all the time. Sometimes you have to leave your RV behind and do other activities like bicycling, dining in your favorite restaurants, or even working. Do you know what that means? Your RV needs to rest somewhere.

If you’re using a truck camper, you are in luck, because it can quietly sit in your driveway. Other than that, you can even park it easily while you are out shopping or buying groceries. Since it’s not huge, you won’t have trouble parking it. 

You can use your camper as a separate living space in your front yard until you start packing for the next camping trip. 

On the other hand, a travel trailer requires sufficient parking space, so you may find it challenging to find a legal parking spot. Yes, you can’t just park it anywhere. 

You need to check first if you are allowed to park your travel trailer in a particular area. Travel trailers are best if you don’t plan to stop a lot. Even if you do, it’s better to know the parking rules to avoid the hefty fine.

Maneuvering

If your vehicle can’t handle tough terrains and uneven roads, there is no fun going for off-road trips. But, in the end, it depends on where you plan to go. For me, truck campers are better because of their motor-powered system. 

Travel trailers cannot travel on their own. While towing, they don’t precisely follow the lead, especially when reversing and parking. 

Conclusion

If I were to judge, there is no clear winner when deciding between a truck camper or a travel trailer. Both the RV’s have their sets of pros and cons. 

If money is not a problem and you plan a short trip, I would suggest you buy a truck camper. Some great truck camper options are available in different price ranges and features. 

On the other hand, if you are new to camping and just want to gain some first-hand experience, travel trailers are good to start from. Other than that, they also work pretty great for long journeys because of more storage and a larger holding tank. 

It all boils down to your preference and budget. Happy traveling!