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Truck Camper Vs Travel Trailer: Pros and Cons

RVs come in a wide range of shapes, sizes, and designs. Two of the most popular options include truck campers and travel trailers. The best type of RV for you depends on where you camp, how often you camp, who you camp with, your budget, and your personal preferences. In this guide, I’ll outline the pros and cons of camping in a truck camper vs travel trailer. I’ll cover living space, weight, ease of driving, amenities, parking, cost, maintenance, and much more.

Truck campers are easier to drive, park, maintain, and store at home. They can also fit in more campsites. Travel trailers are more affordable and offer more living space, storage space, and amenities. They can also be towed with smaller vehicles.

Truck campers are better for minimalists, off-road campers, solo travelers or couples, those who want to tow a boat, and those with limited storage space. Travel trailers are best for families or groups, those who want more amenities, RV living, and those on a budget.

Over the years, I have camped extensively in both types of RVs. I prefer truck campers because I like to camp off-road and I find them easier to drive. I grew up camping in pop-up trailers. In this guide, I’ll share my experience.

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy for details.

Pros of Truck Campers

  • Easier to drive
  • More compact
  • You can fit in more campsites
  • Easier to park
  • Easier to maintain
  • More fuel efficient
  • Easier to store
  • Truck campers usually don’t need to be licensed and registered
  • You can tow a boat or trailer with the camper mounted
  • More off-road capable

Cons of Truck Campers

  • Campers are too tall to access some places
  • Storage space is limited
  • Cramped living space
  • You need a heavy-duty truck
  • More expensive
  • Difficult to mount and unmount

Pros of Travel Trailers

  • More living space
  • More storage space
  • Can be towed with a small truck, SUV, or even a sedan
  • Cheaper
  • Easy to hook up and unhook from the tow vehicle

Cons of Travel Trailers

  • Too large for some campsites
  • Harder to park
  • Requires more maintenance
  • Requires more space to store
  • Less fuel efficient
  • Needs to be licensed and registered
  • You can’t tow a boat or other trailer
  • Not as off-road capable

An Overview of Truck Campers

A truck with a pop up camper driving down the highway

A truck camper is a small type of RV that is designed to sit in the bed of a pickup truck. Truck campers come with essential amenities, such as a bed, a compact kitchenette, a dining table, a small bathroom, and some storage. The bed sits over the truck cab. This is called a cab over bed.

To haul a truck camper, you will need a pickup truck. For lighter campers, a half-ton truck will do. Heavier campers require a heavier-duty truck like a 3/4 ton or 1 ton dually pickup to support the extra weight.

The truck camper is lifted onto the truck bed with jacks. It is locked in place with tie-downs that mount directly to the truck’s frame. When you reach camp or when you’re not using the camper, you can remove it from your pickup truck.

Truck campers are sometimes called slide-in campers, pickup campers, or truck bed campers.

An Overview of Travel Trailers

A travel trailer

A travel trailer is a towable RV. Travel trailers attach to a tow vehicle using a ball hitch. They can be towed by SUVs, pickup trucks, vans, and even some sedans, depending on the size and weight of the trailer.

Travel trailers come in a range of sizes, shapes, and designs. Some common types of trailers include teardrop trailers, pop up trailers, toy haulers, and luxury trailers. Travel trailers can range in length from anywhere from 10 feet to 40+ feet. They can weigh anywhere from 1,200-12,000+ pounds.

Travel trailers can offer a range of amenities. Small models might only offer a sleeping space and kitchenette. Larger models feature luxurious interiors with a full-size kitchen, a full bathroom, a private bedroom, slide-outs, and entertainment systems.

Travel trailers are often referred to as caravans, camper trailers, or towable RVs.

Truck Campers Vs Travel Trailers

A campground on a lake

Ease of Driving

A pickup with a camper is easier to drive than a vehicle towing a travel trailer. There are a couple of reasons for this.

First, a truck with a camper is smaller. A truck and camper might measure 20 feet long while a small trailer and tow vehicle might be 30 feet long. It’s far easier to maneuver a shorter vehicle. The turning radius is smaller. Backing up is also far easier with a camper because there is no trailer. The truck backs up just like any other vehicle. It’s easier to navigate tight places, such as campgrounds and parking lots.

A truck and camper also offers a more familiar driving experience. This makes truck campers a good choice for people who don’t have experience with driving larger vehicles or towing.

Travel trailers require towing. There is a bit of a learning curve. You have to learn to take wider turns than you’re used to so you don’t cut a corner and drive over a curb. Sway can also be an issue when towing. Backing up with a travel trailer can be challenging as well. It’s kind of counterintuitive.

This is one of the main reasons I chose a truck camper. I’m not the most confident driver. I feel much more comfortable driving a smaller vehicle without a trailer.

Winner: It’s easier to drive a truck with a camper than a travel trailer.

Size and Weight

Truck campers are smaller than travel trailers. Most models measure between 8 to 20 feet long. They are 7 to 8 feet wide and 10 to 13 feet tall when mounted to the truck. Truck camper weigh between 1,000 and 5,000 pounds, depending on the size, materials, and amenities included.

Travel trailers come in a wide range of sizes. Small travel trailers, such as teardrop trailers and pop-up campers, range from 8 to 20 feet in length. They are 4 to 8 feet wide and 4 to 8 feet tall and weigh between 1,000 to 4,000 pounds.

Large travel trailers measure between 20 to 40 feet long, around 8 feet wide, 10 to 12 feet tall, and weigh between 4,000 to 10,000 pounds.

Winner: There isn’t really a winner here. It really depends on how much space you need. Truck campers are smaller. Travel trailers come in a wide range of sizes.

A large airstream trailer

Campsite Options

With a truck and camper, you have more campsite options to choose from. The smaller footprint of truck campers allows you to access campgrounds with length restrictions. A truck and camper can fit in pretty much every campsite that is accessible by road. As long as the rig is less than 20 feet long, you can camp in pretty much any campground.

Truck campers paired with 4×4 trucks also provide off-road capabilities. The extra traction and higher clearance of a 4×4 truck allows you to access more remote campsites that you may not be able to reach with a trailer. For example, there are lots of free campsites on public lands that can only be accessed with a 4×4 vehicle. You can also go winter camping more easily. This opens up lots of unique and scenic campsite options.

In addition, it’s easier to stealth camp in urban areas with a truck camper. The small size allows you to more easily find parking in cities. It’s nice being able to camp in cities and explore more urban areas once in a while.

A campground on a lake during the morning

Travel trailers can limit your campsite options due to their size. Many campgrounds have length restrictions. They can’t accommodate long trailers. Length restrictions vary. Often national parks are unable to accommodate rigs over 28 feet. Larger travel trailers might not fit. Sometimes the length restriction is as low as 20 feet. This limits where you can camp with a large trailer.

This length also limits where you can drive. Some roads have length restrictions. For example, to drive the Going-to-the-Sun road in Glacier National Park, there is a length limit of 21 feet. It’s also harder to drive off-road with a trailer.

This is another major reason I went with a truck camper. Recently, I got into off-road camping. I like having more options as to where I can camp. I also stealth camp once in a while. It’s easier with a camper.

Winner: You have more campsite options when you use a truck camper.

A travel trailer near the beach

Height Restrictions

Travel trailers are shorter than truck campers. Most have a maximum height of around 10 feet. You don’t have to worry too much about height restrictions while driving a travel trailer.

Truck campers are much taller. Many are 12-13 feet tall when mounted to the truck. This is almost as tall as a semi-truck. Truck campers are tall because the bed of the truck sits so far off the ground and the camper needs to be tall enough to stand up in.

While driving with a truck camper, you need to keep an eye out for height restrictions. You’ll have to look out for low bridges, overhanging tree branches, and other obstacles. You also can’t drive through a drive-thru or into a parking garage. This can limit where you can drive.

Not all models are tall. There are pop-up truck campers that only add a foot or so to the height of the truck.

Winner: Travel trailers have a lower height than truck campers.

Living Space

Truck campers almost always have less living space than travel trailers. This is because a truck camper must be small enough to fit in the bed of a pickup truck. This limits the maximum size. Travel trailers don’t have this limitation.

Even though they are small, truck campers usually feature a kitchenette, wet bath, dinette, and a cab-over bed. They are usually tall enough to stand up inside and move around. Some large truck campers also have a slide out to increase the living space. Some models have a pop-up roof. This also makes the interior feel larger.

Most truck campers are designed to accommodate 2-4 people. The smaller size makes truck campers better for solo travelers, couples, and small families.

A dog looking out the window of a travel trailer

Travel trailers offer a much larger living space. A large travel trailer can include a full bathroom, a full kitchen, a living area, a dining area, and a private bedroom. There are often additional sleeping spaces. Larger models have slide outs.

Most travel trailers can accommodate 4-8 people. The larger living space makes travel trailers the better choice for families or large groups.

There are small travel trailers that are similar in size to truck campers. Micro travel trailers, teardrop trailers, and pop up trailers only offer a sleeping space. Some models may include a kitchenette. Most don’t have a bathroom.

Winner: Travel trailers offer more living space than truck campers.

Storage Space

Travel trailers offer more storage space than truck campers. They have cabinets, closets, and under-bed storage inside. In addition, they usually feature some external storage compartments. There is plenty of room for a camping gear, outdoor furniture, a generator, a chainsaw, etc.

When towing a travel trailer, the bed of your pickup truck is also free for storage. This allows you to haul larger items such as dirt bikes, an ATV, a golf cart, kayaks, etc. You can also mount a roof rack and carry a kayak, bicycles, or a cargo box. This makes travel trailers a better choice for those who like to bring lots of camping gear and toys.

Truck campers offer less storage space. There will be a few cabinets and maybe a small closet. You can’t use the bed or roof of the pickup. If you wanted to bring large items with you, would have to pull a cargo trailer.

Winner: Travel trailers offer more storage than truck campers.


A truck with a camper is far easier to park than a travel trailer. A pickup truck with a camper can fit in a standard parking space. It will be tight but it will fit in most cases.

With a truck camper, you can drive into pretty much any parking lot and park normally. You can also parallel park on city streets or in a residential area. You can also park in a normal driveway.

This brings peace of mind. You never have to worry about finding parking. To me, this is a major benefit. I can pull over wherever I want. I like being spontaneous while I’m traveling.

A pop up travel trailer in a camping space
Parking a travel trailer is harder than parking a truck with a camper

Travel trailers are harder to park due to their length. They take up multiple parking spaces. A small travel trailer and tow vehicle might take up 3 spaces. A large trailer might need a 50-60 foot long space to park.

It’s also important to note that there are parking limitations to both RV types. Due to their height, neither truck campers nor travel trailers can access parking garages or drive-thrus.

Winner: Truck campers are easier to park than travel trailers due to their smaller size.

Making Unplanned Stops

Because truck campers are smaller and easier to park, it’s much easier to make unplanned stops. For example, maybe you want to pull over and grab a coffee or pop into a restaurant for a bite to eat. You can do that without having to worry about whether or not you’ll be able to find a place to park. You just need to find a regular parking space. This gives you much more flexibility. You can be more spontaneous. You can pull over whenever you want.

With a travel trailer, it’s more difficult to make unplanned stops. You need to think about where you’ll park your rig. There won’t be space in a small parking lot. You can’t just pull over and park in the city. You’ll have to plan your stops more carefully. You’ll only be able to stop at large shopping centers with large parking lots, rest stops, campgrounds, and gas stations. You can’t just pull into any lot.

Winner: It’s easier to make unplanned stops with a truck camper.

Vehicle Requirements

Truck campers require a pickup truck. If you already own a pickup or if you have the need for a pickup, a truck camper can be a great choice. If you have no use for a pickup, a truck camper might not be for you.

It’s also important to choose the right truck for your camper. The pickup must have enough payload capacity to support the weight of the camper. On average, truck campers weigh around 2500-3500 pounds. Ideally, your truck camper shouldn’t weigh more than 80% of the payload capacity. The truck also needs to have the appropriate bed size and shape to fit the camper. Not all campers can fit all trucks.

Smaller campers can be hauled with a half ton trucks or 3/4 ton trucks. Larger campers require a heavy duty 1 ton truck with dual rear tires (dually). Popular trucks used for hauling truck campers include the Ford F-Series, Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Sierra, and Ram. Each of these brands come in 1/2 ton, 3/4 ton, and 1 ton options. For a mid-size camper, a Ford F-250 is a solid choice. That’s what I chose.

A white Ford pickup
You’ll need a large pickup truck to haul a truck camper

Travel trailers can be towed with a wider range of vehicles. You can tow a travel trailer with a pickup truck, SUV, or a van. Small travel trailers are designed to be towed with regular sedans. This gives you more vehicle options to choose from.

If you and your family have no use for a pickup and you’d prefer to drive an SUV, a travel trailer is the better option. Chances are, you can tow a trailer with the vehicle you already own.

You do need to make sure your vehicle has enough towing capacity for the trailer you choose. Large travel trailers need a larger tow vehicle such as a 3/4 ton or 1 ton pickup or SUV. Mid-size trailers can be pulled with a full-sized truck, van, or SUV. Smaller trailers can often be towed by compact SUVs.

Some travel can even be towed by sedans. For example, you could tow a small teardrop trailer or pop up trailer with a Toyota Corolla. You could even use an electric car.

Winner: Travel trailers can be towed with a wider range of vehicles. Truck campers can only be used with pickup trucks.


Truck campers are usually more expensive than travel trailers. On average, truck campers cost around $30,000-$50,000. Entry-level models start at around $10,000. Premium models start at around $80,000.

To compare, basic travel trailers start at around $6000 for a teardrop or pop-up modle. Mid-range travel trailers cost around $25,000-$40,000. Higher-end models can cost $50,000-$80,000. Luxury models can cost $250,000-$1 million plus.

A truck camper costs around $150 per square foot of space. A travel trailer costs around $100 per square foot.

Truck campers are more expensive because the design is more complex. They have to be engineered to fit perfectly in the bed of a pickup truck. They also need to use lighter materials so the truck can carry them. Travel trailers are much simpler. They are just fiberglass boxes built on a simple frame with wheels.

An airstream trailer in the showroom
Travel trailers come in a wide range of prices

Travel trailers come in a wider variety of price points. If you’re looking for a roomy RV, travel trailers offer the best value for your money. Luxury trailers can also be extremely expensive.

It’s also important to factor in the cost of the vehicle you use to tow your travel trailer or carry your truck camper. A heavy duty truck that is capable of hauling a camper or towing a large trailer is an expensive. You could easily spend $50,000-$80,000 for a suitable truck. It’s much more affordable to buy a vehicle to tow a small travel trailer. You can buy a small pickup, SUV, or van for less than $30,000.

A great way to save money is to buy used. You can find some great older truck campers and travel trailers in the $15,000-$20,000 price range. RVs depreciate quickly.

When buying an RV, you should also consider the cost of insurance, fuel, maintenance, and campsites.

Winner: Travel trailers are generally cheaper than truck campers. They can also be towed with a less expensive vehicle.


Truck campers are easier and cheaper to maintain than travel trailers. The main reason is that they have fewer moving parts that can wear out. There are no tires, axles, or brakes to worry about. This makes maintenance simpler. it also reduces the cost of ownership.

Travel trailers require more extensive maintenance. This is because there are more moving parts. You need to maintain the tires, axles, brakes, lights, and more. This adds to the cost of ownership over time.

Leaks are a common issue in both truck campers and travel trailers as they age. You should regularly inspect the roof and seals.

Winner: Truck campers are easier and cheaper to maintain.

Fuel Efficiency

You’ll usually get better fuel efficiency while carrying a truck camper than while towing a travel trailer. On average, a truck with a camper gets around 10-12 miles per gallon (mpg).

On average, your vehicle will lose around 7 MPG while towing. With an average truck or SUV, you might get 8-10 mpg when towing a medium sized travel trailer. It is less fuel efficient to tow a trailer because they are heavier. They also create more rolling resistance.

Fuel efficiency is an important consideration because gas is one of the biggest expenses of RV camping. The gas mileage you get with your RV depends on the truck’s engine type (gas or diesel) and size, the weight of the RV, the size of the RV, aerodynamics, and the road conditions.

You’ll get better mileage when you tow with a diesel vehicle instead of a gas vehicle. A lower-profile RV with better aerodynamics will also give you better fuel efficiency because it creates less drag. Lighter RVs are also more fuel efficient to tow.

A teardrop travel trailer
Small, aerodynamic trailers, like teardrop trailers, can get good fuel economy

Driving a less fuel-efficient vehicle is more expensive. For example, imagine you’re taking a 2000 mile road trip. With a truck and camper that gets 12 mpg, you would need around 167 gallons of fuel. If gas costs $3.50 per gallon, this trip would cost around $585. If you’re towing a travel trailer and you get 10 mpg, you would need 200 gallons of fuel for the same trip. This would cost about $700.

In this example, you could save $115 by using a truck camper instead of a travel trailer. This is just one trip. Over the lifetime of the RV, this fuel savings adds up.

A truck and camper isn’t always the most fuel efficient option. Towing a small, aerodynamic trailer, with a small vehicle will be more fuel efficient. For example, you could tow a teardrop trailer or pop-up trailer with a hybrid SUV or a sedan. This will be much more fuel efficient than driving a large truck with a camper. You could get 25-30 mpg with a fuel efficient vehicle and small trailer.

There are also some small truck campers available that don’t affect your MPG as much. For example, pop up truck campers offer good aerodynamics. They don’t create much drag.

Fuel efficiency was an important consideration for me. I can travel further when I spend less on gas.

Winner: A truck and camper will get better fuel economy than a travel trailer and tow vehicle.


Truck campers are cheaper to insure than travel trailers. In most places, they don’t need their own insurance policy.

The camper can be covered by your homeowner’s insurance when it’s stored on your property. When it’s mounted to the truck, it can be covered by your truck’s insurance policy.

This is because truck campers are considered cargo rather than RVs in most states. This makes insurance for truck campers less costly.

In some states, you may need to buy a separate policy for your truck camper. You may also need a separate policy if you plan to remove the camper from the truck at camp. In most cases, insurance will cost around $200-$300 per year.

Travel trailers require their own insurance policy. This makes insurance more expensive. Most policies cost around $300-$600 per year. The cost depends on the trailer’s value and the coverage you choose.

One of the reasons I switched from a trailer to a truck camper was because I didn’t have to insure it where I live. This saved me money and paperwork.

Winner: Truck campers are usually cheaper to insure than travel trailers.

An airstream trailer next to a lake
Travel trailers require their own standalone insurance policy


Truck campers are far easier to store than travel trailers due to their small size. A truck camper can fit into most standard garages or driveways. It takes up one parking space.

This makes truck campers cheaper and more convenient to own. Not having to worry about additional storage space or costs is a major benefit.

Travel trailers can be harder to store due to their larger size. Larger models won’t fit into a standard garage or driveway. To store your trailer, you’ll need a large space on your property.

A 5th wheel trailer
Travel trailers are more difficult to store due to their larger size.

If you don’t have space you may have to pay for storage. This could add a significant cost to owning a travel trailer. RV storage can cost anywhere from $40-$200 per month depending on where you live and the size of your trailer.

Not all travel trailers require a large space for storage. Trailers that measure less than 20 feet long can usually fit in a garage or driveway.

If you plan to park your RV on the street, you should check your local regulations. In some jurisdictions, it’s against the law to park in one space for more than a few days. Some HOAs also have regulations against parking RVs on your property.

When I owned a travel trailer, I had to pay for storage. Luckily storage costs are pretty low where I live but it did add up. I can store my truck camper at home.

Winner: Truck campers are easier and cheaper to store due to their smaller size.

Mounting and Unmounting The Camper or Trailer

Generally, mounting and unmounting a truck camper is more difficult and time-consuming than hooking and unhooking a travel trailer.

Mounting a truck camper onto the bed of a truck requires the use of a jack system. The jacks are attached to the sides of the camper. They lift the camper high enough for you to back the truck under it. You then lower the jacks and the camper drops into the truck bed. Both manual and electric jacks are available.

Once the camper is in place in the truck bed, you secure it to the truck with a mounting system. The mounting system usually uses turnbuckles or tie-downs. This ensures the camper stays firmly in place while you’re driving.

This job can be time-consuming. It also requires some physical effort. It takes anywhere from 30-60 minutes to mount and unmount a truck camper. If you have someone to help you, it may go a bit faster. You won’t want to do it every day.

Attaching and detaching a travel trailer is much simpler. You just back the tow vehicle up and attach the trailer’s hitch to the ball receiver. This is faster and less labor-intensive than mounting a truck camper. Attaching a trailer takes about 5-10 minutes. It will go even quicker if you have a helper to guide you as you back up.

A major benefit is that you can easily detach your trailer at camp and use your vehicle to go sightseeing or run errands. You can also do that with a truck and camper but it’s a bigger job. You’ll only want to do it if you’re staying for a few days.

Winner: It’s faster and easier to hook and unhook a travel trailer than it is to mount and unmount a truck camper.

Licensing and Registration

Truck campers are usually considered cargo rather than separate vehicles. In 42 out of 50 states, truck campers do not require their own license or registration. They don’t need their own license plate. This is a major advantage. It reduces the cost of ownership and eliminates the need for additional paperwork every year.

Travel trailers are classified as separate vehicles. They require their own license and registration. This involves an annual registration fee. You’ll have to pay for new tabs every year. This adds to the cost of ownership. There is also some extra paperwork you have to do.

Winner: In most cases, truck campers do not need to be licensed or registered. Travel trailers always need a license and registration.

Riding in the RV

In most states, it’s legal for passengers to ride in a truck camper while the vehicle is in motion. Sometimes there is a minimum age requirement. In some states, there needs to be a piece of safety glass between the camper and the truck cab so the driver and passenger can communicate.

It’s almost always illegal for passengers to ride in a travel trailer.

A travel trailer rolling down the highway
It’s illegal for passengers to ride in the trailer in most jurisdictions

Generally, it’s not a good idea for passengers to ride in a truck camper or travel trailer, even when it is legal because it’s dangerous. These RVs don’t have safety equipment such as seat belts or airbags.

Winner: Passengers can usually ride in a truck camper legally but not in a travel trailer.


With a truck camper, the rear hitch remains free. This allows you to tow a boat, a horse trailer, a cargo trailer full of dirt bikes, ATVs, golf carts, etc while carrying the camper. You will need to make sure you stay under your truck’s towing capacity if you do this.

When you tow a travel trailer, the hitch is always being used. You can’t tow an additional item behind your travel trailer. In some jurisdictions, ‘triple towing’ is legal but it is a bit more tedious. Most drivers won’t want to triple tow.

Also, when you use a travel trailer, you’re always towing. Towing itself brings along its own set of challenges. For example, you need to balance the load correctly to prevent sway. Towing also makes it harder to back up. You also need to make sure the tires, lights, and brakes in the trailer are in good working condition so you can tow safely.

Winner: With a truck camper, you can tow a boat or trailer behind your truck.

Off-Road Capability

A truck with a camper campers is more off-road capable than a truck with a travel trailer. Many pickup trucks come with 4-wheel drive. This gives you more traction in muddy, snowy, icy, or sandy conditions. Trucks also have more ground clearance. In addition, trucks have a sturdy build and longer travel suspension. This makes navigating uneven terrain a little easier. With a truck and camper, you can go overlanding.

A truck camper allows you to reach remote and isolated campsites that wouldn’t be accessible with other types of RVs. You can drive on public lands, forestry roads, fire roads to access disperse campsites. As an added bonus, these types of campsites are usually free.

A truck camper isn’t quite as off-road capable as the truck it’s attached to. The extra height, width, and weight make it a bit more difficult to navigate rugged or dense roads. You have to keep an eye out for overhanging tree branches. The weight of the trailer also makes the vehicle a bit top-heavy.

An off-road travel trailer for overlanding
This trailer was designed for off-road use. Notice the knobby tires, long suspension travel, and low profile.

Travel trailers are not designed for off-road use. They are long and have lower ground clearance. This makes maneuvering on uneven surfaces difficult. Turning around can also be an issue due to the length of the trailer. You can drive a travel trailer on dirt and gravel roads. That’s about as extreme as you’ll want to go.

There is a niche market of off-road travel trailers. These feature reinforced frames, knobby tires, higher ground clearance, and heavy-duty suspension. They are designed to handle off-road conditions. They can be towed by off-road vehicles like jeeps, 4Runnrers, etc. These trailers are sometimes referred to as overlanding trailers. For more info, check out my guide to off-road trailers.

Winner: Trucks with campers are more off-road capable than travel trailers.


Truck campers are more versatile. You can detach the camper when you’re not using it and use and use the truck normally. A pickup can be used for commuting, hauling, or towing boats or utility trailers. Pickups are very versatile.

You can also pull a trailer while the camper is attached. This allows you to bring a fishing boat or some toys on your camping trips.

The small size of truck campers also adds versatility. You can camp in more places. You can take your truck and camper off-road.

Travel trailers aren’t quite as versatile. A travel trailer needs to be towed by a separate vehicle. You can use the vehicle separately. One drawback is that you usually can’t bring a boat with you. There are also some places you can’t take a travel trailer due to length restrictions. They’re also less off-road capable.

Versatility is one of the main reasons I prefer truck campers. I like owning a pickup truck. I like driving off-road.

Winner: Truck campers are a bit more versatile than travel trailers.


Truck campers hold their value better than travel trailers. They don’t depreciate as quickly. This slower depreciation rate is great if you plan to resell their RV in the future. You can get more out of a used truck camper.

Travel trailers tend to depreciate faster. This can be an issue if you plan to sell your RV down the line. You won’t get nearly as much as you paid for it. In fact, after just one year, your trailer will be worth around 20% less than what you paid for it. After around 10 years, it will be worth less than half of what it cost new. The larger the trailer, the faster it will depreciate.

Depreciation can be an advantage if you’re buying a used RV. If you shop around, you can find an RV that’s less than 10 years old for half of the original purchase price. This is a great way to save money.

Winner: Truck campers don’t depreciate as quickly as travel trailers.


Both types of RVs are safe to use. Travel trailers require more safety checks. This can take a bit more time.

On a travel trailer, you need to make sure the hitch is secure and correctly attached. You also need to use safety chains. It’s also important to check the weight distribution of the trailer so it doesn’t sway. Checking the lights is also important. It’s also important to check the tire pressure and the brakes, if your trailer has them.

For truck campers, you need to make sure the camper is securely fastened to the truck bed. You also need to make sure the weight of your gear in the camper is evenly distributed to prevent any tipping or swaying while you drive.

For more general info on safety, check out my guide: Is Camping Safe?

Winner: Both truck campers and travel trailers are safe if they’re used properly.

A pickup towing a trailer down the freeway

Who Should Choose a Truck Camper?

  • Minimalist travelers
  • Off-road campers
  • Solo campers, couples, and small families
  • Those who aren’t comfortable driving with a trailer
  • Those who value versatility
  • People who want to bring a fishing boat, dirt bikes, ATVs, etc.
  • Those with limited storage space
  • Those who value ease of ownership and low maintenance
  • People who own a large pickup or have the need for one

Who Should Choose a Travel Trailer?

  • Those who need more space
  • Large families or groups
  • Those who value comfort or luxury
  • Long-term travelers and those who want to live in their RV
  • Sedan, SUV, or van owners
  • Those on a tight budget
A small camper parked in the woods

My Experience

For my style of camping, I prefer using a truck camper. The main reason is the off-road capability. I love being able to camp in free campsites on public land. Many of the sites I camp in would not be accessible with a standard travel trailer.

I also enjoy owning a pickup truck. A pickup is one of the most useful and versatile vehicles. I can use it for camping, hauling, towing, off-roading, and commuting. I have owned a pickup for many years and I can’t imagine my life without one.

Another reason I prefer a truck camper is their maneuverability. Being able to pull over and easily find parking is really convenient. It’s also nice being able to easily drive through cities. I’m a bit of a city person so it’s nice to be able to explore cities once in a while. Not having to deal with the hassles of towing is nice.

There are some situations where I would prefer to have a travel trailer. If I were to stay in one place for weeks or months at a time, a travel trailer would make more sense. The extra space would be nice. Truck campers get cramped. If I were to start a family, I would also probably upgrade to a larger RV. A travel trailer would make sense. I would also consider a motorhome. At this time, a truck camper is the best choice for me.

A toy hauler trailer

Final Thoughts

The choice between a truck camper and a travel trailer comes down to where you camp, your budget, storage space, maneuverability, the number of people you camp with, the gear you need to carry, which amenities you need, and the type of camping you do. Do you like to go wilderness camping or do you prefer to stay in RV parks? Do you want to bring a fishing boat?

Both travel trailers and truck campers have their own advantages and disadvantages. Truck campers are smaller, lighter, and more maneuverable. Travel trailers offer more living space and more amenities. Whichever type of RV you choose, I hope this guide helps you in making your decision.

Do you camp in a truck camper or travel trailer? Share your experience in the comments below!

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