Camper FAQ

Periodically I get an enquiry concerning my pop-camper and/or pickup truck. This last time I realized I'm answering the same questions over and over. So, here are a few basic questions and answers. 

Q: Where is the best place to learn more about pop-up campers to slide into a pickup truck?

A: The very best site I've found is Wander the West. Although there is an abundance of general camping and touring information on the American West, the forums are where you can learn from folks who actually own and use this type of camper. These friendly people tell their stories and answer questions from other forum users. You can learn about the various brands that owners recommend. You can search for specific questions, too.

Q: What truck do you have?

A: I have a 2013 Toyota Tacoma SR5, V6, 4x4, Access Cab with automatic transmission.

Q: Is it a stock truck or did you make modifications to carry the camper.

A: I recommend beefing up the suspension either with air bags, such as the Ride-Rite brand I use, or if you are going to leave the camper on full-time, you can add leaves to the rear suspension. In either case, note one side of the truck/camper will likely be heavier than the other, so tune accordingly, such as air lines for each air bag.

I exchanged the OEM tires for the same size E-rated B.F. Goodrich All-terain 245/75-16 tires, which are much more rugged for those rocky, mountain trails and provide extra support for the weight of the camper. Make sure you get one for the spare, too! I use 42psi front and 48psi rear (see weight table, below).

I recommend replacing the OEM shocks, as they are not designed to carry the extra weight, so do not dampen movement adequately. I chose Bilstein 5100 shocks, front and rear. They are designed for carrying loads, yet are not too stiff for the highway or when the camper is off the truck.

I also installed a "hidden" front receiver hitch. See the details in this post.

I added hitch-receiver mounted steps to access the camper, modified so the bottom step swings up; see this blog post.

Q: What camper do you have and what options did you order?

A: I have a 2013 Fleet, built by Four Wheel Camper (FWC), but you should also check out All Terrain Campers (ATC) as many on Wander the West have them and recommend the brand.

Here are the options (except as marked "Standard") I ordered for my camper:
  • Compressor refrigerator - 12vdc/120vac*
  • Forced-air propane furnace - worth its weight in gold for cold mountain nights
  • Standard 2-burner propane stove
  • Standard sink with 20 gallon water tank and self-priming pump
  • Outside Shower faucet - which I've only used a couple of times
  • Sliding front window - used once; which I'd skip next time as it partially block the rear view
  • Two 12v AGM "house" batteries - separate from the truck battery
  • Roof mounted satellite radio antenna** - I listen to XM radio in the camper most nights
  • Standard "roll-over" couch
  • LED lighting option
  • LED exterior down-lights - great; exterior flood light - used once
  • Screen door - keep those flies and mosquitoes outside! Only available at time of order.
I did not get the hot water heater as it takes up too much space in the cabinet and storage space is too precious in such a small camper. I use the stove if I need hot water.

* My original Dometic CR-65 began to fail in May 2021. I replaced it with the CRX-65 in July 2021. I purchased a 12v only model as the camper came with an IOTA 120vac to 12vdc converter/battery-charger.

** I purchased an aftermarket docking, satellite radio from SiriusXM with their portable speaker box. I installed the antenna near the front edge of the truck hood, as the roof is eclipsed by the camper overhang. Email me if you'd like more information.

For a photo tour of the inside of the camper, view this post.

Q: Do you have a solar panel charging system in your camper?

A: I added a solar panel charging system to the camper in 2016. Instead of a permanently affixed panel I chose a deployable panel. To learn why and see the details of the installation, go to this post.

[Update] I added a solar panel to the roof of the camper in May 2017 to supplement the deployable panel. The why & wherefore was added to the original post, here
[Update 2] I replaced my PWM solar controller with a Victron SmartSolar MPPT 100/20 controller in June of 2021. I upgraded for the higher efficiency of MPPT technology and the Victron has a bluetooth interface that connects to a free phone app - this allows me to view status & history of the important parameters of the system easily. I also slightly rewired the camper appliances to the Load Output terminal of the controller which allows me to enable an automatic low-voltage cut-off to protect the battery bank.
[Update 3] As my power needs increased, I added a second 100w panel to the roof in August 2021.

For a pictorial tour of the camper see this post.

Q: How much does your rig weigh? 

A: I get asked this more often than you'd think and have trouble remembering. Maybe this will help me, too. I used the front/rear weights to formulate tire pressure.

Front Axle Rear Axle Gross Weight
Truck unloaded 2660 1760 4420
"Dry" camper & truck 2660 3080 5740
"Wet" camper & truck 2700 3200 5900
Weighed on CAT scale at the local truck stop (weight in pounds).

Q: Do you carry extra gasoline?

A: I had a carrier built that mounts under the camper overhang. It will hold two Roto-Pax 2 gallon gasoline containers, plus a few less needed items; or three 2 gallon carriers.

For photos see the Wander the West forum post here.

If this doesn't satisfy your curiosity, use the contact link above.