A couple sitting outside a pop up truck camper.

5 Reasons Why Truck Campers Are Better Than Vans

Truck campers and vans are the ideal vehicles for adventuring. However, if you’re tired of camping in established campgrounds and looking to up your camping game, a truck camper is the best option.

If you’re on the fence and deciding between a truck camper or van for your travels, today’s article is just what you need to read.

We want to help you decide which rig is best for you. So today, we’re sharing five reasons why truck campers are better than vans. Let’s dive in.

A couple sitting outside a pop up truck camper.

What Is a Truck Camper?

A truck camper is a type of camper that sits in the bed of a truck. These campers come in a variety of shapes and sizes.

Despite their smaller stature, some models have slides that make these units much more spacious than they often appear. While you can get some lighter truck campers, drivers often need a dual-rear-wheel truck to haul them.

Like a towable camper, drivers can unload a truck camper when they arrive at their campsite or when not in use. This gives full use of the bed and allows drivers to go on adventures that wouldn’t be possible with the truck camper attached.

It doesn’t get much better than a truck camper for those looking to push the limits for off-road adventures and camping in remote locations.

These RVers explain why they switched from a camper van to a truck camper.

What Is a Van?

Many travelers have jumped onboard the #vanlife trend in recent years. This typically means traveling and journeying in a Class B motorhome or a conversion van.

These vans often have minimal room but work great for solo and couple travelers. Many digital nomads can even use them to work from the road.

Some manufacturers produce vans specifically for full-time traveling. However, they can be very expensive, and many vanlifers opt to do their own van conversion.

A popup camper van with all the doors open.

This typically means completely overhauling vehicles like the Ram Promaster, Ford Transit, or the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter. However, with the proper DIY skills and knowledge, travelers can create the perfect space to call home and be self-sufficient during their travels.

5 Reasons Why Truck Campers Are Better Than Vans

We think truck campers are the better option despite both being great ways to travel. Let’s look at five reasons why we believe truck campers are a better option than vans.

1. Off-Roading

Trucks capable of hauling a truck camper often have more off-roading capabilities. They offer higher clearance, more power, and stability.

You also have more after-market off-roading gear for trucks that can enhance your ability to go further and harder. If you do find yourself stuck, you may appreciate the additional muscle that a pickup can provide.

You need to check out this log cabin that is actually a truck camper!

2. Detachable

One of the largest reasons many travelers choose truck campers is because they are detachable. This is convenient for unloading the trailer at your campsite or using your truck as a daily driver when not camping or traveling. 

Truck campers use jacks to raise and lower it out of the truck’s bed. While it may take longer at first, this typically takes 10 to 15 minutes with enough practice and experience.

A detached truck camper situated on the ground at a campsite in the woods.

3. Insurance and Registration

Laws regarding insurance coverage and registration of truck campers vary from state to state. However, truck campers typically have much cheaper insurance than vans. In fact, some van owners have issues getting sufficient coverage if it is a DIY conversion.

A truck camper without a lien may not require insurance or registration in some states. You’ll want to check with your specific one, but many policies will include the truck camper under the vehicle’s policy when attached.

4. Low Maintenance

Because the truck camper is essentially a shell, you have fewer moving parts and very little maintenance. You’ll still have the routine maintenance on the truck but less on the camper.

The largest maintenance tasks include inspecting seals to prevent water damage and keeping the camper jacks in good condition. 

A truck camper parked at the top of mountain road.

5. More Interior Space

Truck campers may seem small, but they often provide more interior space. Living in a tight area can be difficult for anybody, specifically taller people. Many truck campers can provide 6’4” to 6’6” vertical clearance, which can seem incredibly spacious compared to many vans.

An additional benefit is the interior space above the truck’s cab. This is often a designated sleeping area, which means not having to convert a table into a bed every time you want to go to sleep. Some manufacturers can even fit a king-size bed in a truck camper.

How Much Do Truck Campers and Vans Cost?

To get an apples-to-apples comparison, you have to include the cost of the truck and the cost of the camper. However, even tacking on $40,000 to $50,000 for a truck, it’s typically much less expensive than a van.

A DIY conversion van built for off-grid camping can cost well over $50,000 when done right. However, if you want it professionally done, you can spend over $100,000 on your van.

Why Some People Choose Vans

Many travelers opt for vans over truck campers if they like the idea of stealth camping.

Conversion vans can blend in easier with normal vehicles in parking lots and other public places. Sometimes travel days don’t go as planned, and you just need an easy spot to park for the night to get some rest.

With fuel prices these days, you can’t forget to consider that expense. A truck hauling a camper will likely get around 10 to 13 MPG, but most vans will often get 15 to 20. Smaller and lighter vehicles get better mileage.

A camper van with it's back doors open and camp chairs and table set up at a wooded campsite.

Those not comfortable driving a big beefy truck will likely find a van easier to maneuver and navigate. Their design and dimensions are similar to a typical passenger vehicle and often don’t require much adjustment when driving.

You also don’t have to worry about fitting into parking spaces, as most conversion vans can fit in a standard-size parking spot.

What You Choose Depends on Your Needs

Which vehicle you choose depends on your needs, camping preferences, and where you plan to go. There certainly are benefits to both.

There’s no one-size-fits-all option when making this decision. It may be worth renting a van or truck camper to take for a test run to make up your mind.

Would you rather travel in a truck camper or a van?

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