Lessons Learned Buying a Truck Camper
Friday, May 22, 2015
Lessons learned buying a truck camper:
- Slide-outs are a must. They make everything so spacious.
- Solar panels are worth it so that you don't have to always worry about disconnecting the battery when leaving the camper for a while.
- Learn all the weight acronyms and try to take everything into account (solar panels, generators, etc). Most of the additional weight will be on the back axle (although cab+engine is still the majority of the weight in front), so each GAWR is just as important as GVWR.
- Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) = Everything in Vehicle including passengers and cargo
- Wet Weight/Curb Weight = GVW – (Passengers + Cargo)
- Dry Weight = Wet Weight – Fluids
- Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) = Max GVW
- Gross Combination Weight (GCW) = GVW + GTW
- Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR) = Max on one axle
- List out all truck components (axles, wheels, rims, springs, etc.) to find your weakest weight rating link, as that's all that really matters (unless you upgrade those). Manuals can be confusing: some calculate available cargo assuming a 150lb person in every seat. Manuals might also give the rating of something as its weakest link, so for example an axle might have a much higher rating but it may be listed at the rating of the springs (which can be upgraded).
- Get weighed at a CAT scale before and after putting on the camper: http://catscale.com/
- Wheel airbags with remote control are really nice - 5 PSI without camper and 70 PSI with
- Get a rechargeable tire inflater and a tire gauge that runs to the tires' max PSI
- Make sure the tires are at max PSI before putting the camper on
- Use checklists before putting on the camper, taking it off, going somewhere, etc. (e.g. retracting the slide out, moving license plate, etc.)
- Make sure the center of gravity will go in the right place
- Measure the total height of truck+camper and put it somewhere on the dash so that you always know if you're good when an overpass is coming up.
- When backing the truck under the camper, kneel down under the tailend to see if you're lined up
- If you're financing, as always, get a few quotes before hand to find a good deal on the rate.
- If you get bigger wheels, make sure the odometer is updated to track correctly.
- Carry a portable, rechargeable tire inflator in the truck like the Slime 40033