I have a hard time finding a style of RV I don’t like. I think every type of RV has a time and a place and depending on where you are in life and how you like to live while traveling, you might prefer a fifth wheel for a few years and then have an urge to downsize to a tiny trailer. Camping World has all of the above.
This is sort of the crossroads we were at this summer when we wanted to go on more fishing and camping adventures with our family which ultimately meant having a camper that would allow us to also tow a boat. Cue our first experience camping with a truck camper. Thank you to Camping World for being such amazing partners and collaborating with us to make our summer experience with a truck camper happen.
We’ve had big dreams of taking the family camping in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. There would be opportunities to go boating and fishing on Lake Superior and check out the sandy beaches and shoals. My parents talked about how amazing it is up there after camping there two years in a row. We were set on making this trip happen!
Which truck camper did we go with?
Truck campers come in different styles and sizes, but whatever you choose ultimately depends on what sort of truck you have. We have a Chevy Silverado 1500 with a short bed that’s 5.5 feet, which is probably one of the most popular half ton trucks. We did some research and perused Camping World’s inventory and found a Palomino Backpack Truck Camper HS-750 which weighs 1860 pounds and is 16 feet in length. We probably should’ve gone with something slightly smaller, but it was challenging to find a truck camper under 1800 pounds to accommodate our family. After contemplating, we decided to travel light and have my parents take most of our belongings for trips in the truck camper (since we camp together most of the time anyway). Ultimately, we decided to roll with the HS-750 which we picked up from Camping World of Mankato.
Thank you to Camping World of Mankato Service Center for also installing our tie downs so that we could attach the truck camper to our Silverado securely. Also, big shoutout to Camping World of Hugo Service Center whose team stepped in last-minute to help us install a new backup camera on the RV and fix a plumbing issue before our big trip!
Three reasons I loved our truck camper
There are so many perks (as well as a few downfalls depending on your lifestyle) to camping with a truck camper. Here are three reasons why I loved camping in a truck camper for our Upper Peninsula of Michigan trip.
1. We can tow a boat
Ok, as you could’ve probably guessed, my number one reason for loving our truck camper is the versatility of towing a boat. I’d personally consider it the number one perk of a truck camper :). We were able to take my entire family on a boat ride around Munising and check out some of the landmarks on Lake Superior. We checked out a couple of sunken ships which we could see through the crystal blue waters and even took the boat into a sea cave! One of the most memorable boating moments was when we pulled up to Trout Bay on Grand Island. We went kayaking and standup paddle boarding along the bay. Harlan kayaked with my dad to a nearby cave and they picked a handful of cool rocks to take home as souvenirs. The hubs and I trolled for salmon and lake trout on the big lake, but didn’t catch anything this time. We did catch a few bass at a nearby inland lake and got some alone time together since the grandparents could watch the kids for a few hours.
2. It can go anywhere
Truck campers are as mobile as it gets. They can go places that bigger campers and fifth wheels can’t. From rugged terrain to dirt roads and off-road adventures, it can do it all. Because it sits on the truck bed, you’re only limited by the clearance of your four-wheel drive truck. Boondocking is even more possible because many truck campers, like the Palomino we traveled with, runs on solar power. That means no need to manually charge batteries as long as the sun is out during the day. And if you want to disconnect from your truck camper and use your vehicle separately, you certainly can! Just undo the tie downs, raise the jacks, and drive off.
3. Traveling made easy
If we didn’t tow a boat, the truck camper would basically be like driving our truck. It’s lightweight in comparison to other campers and it’s so compact. RVers who want to travel light will definitely experience the perks of this. It’s a little bit longer than our truck bed so it sits on top of our tailgate. The tie downs come out slightly more than the width of our truck, but with that in mind, it’s no different than driving a regular truck which makes backing up or parking quite easy. The only thing to note – the camper will add some weight so you’ll want to brake sooner and ease up on the gas pedal. Our 7-hour road trip (14 hours total) went as smooth as we hoped with a couple of toddlers!
More on our camping experience in the Upper Peninsula
The UP is as beautiful as they say it is. Every evening, the sky was filled with hues of pinks and oranges as the sun set on the horizon of Lake Superior. There are tons of great campgrounds, many of which are within the National Park system or state parks, but we ended up staying at Munising Tourist Park Campground. It’s city owned and located right next to Lake Superior. There are bathrooms and showers as well as full hookups which we took full advantage of.
The beaches are never ending because there’s so much lakeshore. You can bet our family visited as many beaches we could. I highly recommend visiting Sand Point Beach and take advantage of the shallow shoals. It’s a great area for kids to play at. If you have time, do the Chapel Loop at Pictured Rocks National Lake Shore and enjoy the views oof Chapel Falls and spend some time at Chapel Beach.
Highlights from our trip include taking my parents, our friends and the kids boating to see Pictured Rocks, eating amazing Korean cuisine (courtesy of my parents) over the campfire, and camping in our truck camper.
Some other things to note – we have a family of four and the Palomino Backpack Truck Camper HS-750 is meant to sleep three people. To be honest, it was tight. If we had a bigger, more powerful truck, we would’ve gone with a larger truck camper. There were quite a few options that slept five or six people. But in the end, we were able to fit all four of us by having our 3-year-old sleep next to us in the queen bed. There’s a jackknife sofa that could’ve worked as a bed, but because Juni still sleeps in a crib, we setup the Pack n’ Play on top of the sofa laid flat. Thankfully, my parents have a much bigger camper and the kids took turns sleeping in there as well.
We used a 6-inch hitch extension that not only helps us increase the turning radius so that our truck and truck camper wouldn’t hit the boat, but also raised the extension height by a couple of inches to increase the clearance. It’s definitely something to keep in mind if you plan to tow anything while camping with a truck camper.
There are so many reasons RVers love truck campers. Truck campers are great for folks who like to camp in locations that might be more difficult for regular RVs to get to. They’re also more convenient for camping out in the wilderness or rough terrain where the truck’s clearance is all that you have to worry about. Others, like us, want to tow the toys. Whether you want to bring your boat, tow a trailer with an ATV, snowmobile or motorcycle, a truck camper frees up your hitch so that you can do just that.
Check out the Complete Guide to Truck Camper Camping on the Camping World blog to learn more about what it’s like to camp in a truck camper.