8 Reasons We Chose to Buy a Truck Camper

Chris and Lindsay with their truck camper setup

Why We Chose a Truck Camper. The Perfect Set Up For Us!

There are many reasons why you might purchase an RV. We studied the different types of RVs and compared the pros and cons of each to our particular scenario. Here are a few reasons why we chose to purchase a truck camper and why you might choose otherwise.

OUR SCENARIO

We are in our thirties with no children and one dog. While we saved diligently, our budget for our entire rig was only $20,000. Our goal was to drive from Alaska to Argentina on roads that we knew would vary in quality. Additionally we wanted to be able to drive to places a little off the beaten path. And we wanted to be able to have a vehicle that we could use for daily activities before our trip.

With many different types of RVs, we made our decision to buy a truck camper based on the following criteria:

  1. Budget. We were on a pretty tight budget. This pretty much ruled out a Class A or Class C RV. By default it also placed our concern over “newness” as our first priority. We knew we were not going to be able to afford anything new.
  2. Size. We did not want a large RV for many reasons. We were not comfortable driving a large rig and were also concerned about the additional costs that we would incur with a larger vehicle (such as tolls, fuel mileage and campsites.). So size was a big factor for us.
  3. Connected Living Space. We were not so concerned about having a connected living space. While it would be nice for one of us to be able to work out of the living space while the other was driving, this criteria was not very important. The only reason we gave it any consideration was for convenience if we needed to use the restroom!
  4. Separate Vehicles. This was pretty important to us. We wanted to be able to use our vehicle as a personal vehicle before our trip as well as during the trip. This ruled out Class A and C vehicles for their size. We did consider purchasing an old Mercedes Sprinter (Class B) and outfitting it ourselves. We could still use the vehicle for groceries and other errands but also have it equipped for RV life. However as we lived on a ranch and Lindsay owned a horse, we thought it would be very important for us to have a truck.
  5. Travel Flexibility. This was important for us as well because we wanted to be able to go to places that many vehicles could not go. As we narrowed our focus to a truck camper or trailer combination we also started to look at whether it was feasible to pull a trailer to such rustic destinations.
  6. Comfort. Having a bathroom and kitchen was a must. But we were not as concerned with how big and nice these and other amenities were. We would be living “out” of our RV not “in” it. We were not as concerned about creature comforts.
  7. Duration of Use. This was our anomaly criteria because we planned to live full-time out of our RV for multiple years. For many people, the longer the duration then the bigger the RV. However we thought the opposite because of our live “out” of our RV and not live “in” it. We wanted to make what we had more efficient and last longer.
  8. Newness. Because of our budget we had to rule out pretty much anything new. There were a few brands of cheap RVs that we could have if we stretched our budget to buy new. But we were OK with the idea of spending a little money and time learning how to fix our own truck camper.

WE DECIDED TO PURCHASE A TRUCK CAMPER

Based on how we prioritized and answered these questions, we purchased a used truck camper.  We bought the truck camper and a used heavy duty diesel truck with a little over half of our budget. We then used the remaining portion of our budget to do repairs and upgrades. And yes, there were a LOT of those!

However, the truck gave us the ability to drive around and haul things on a daily basis before our trip. And because it has 4 wheel drive it also gave us the ability to go offload with more comfort than we would otherwise have.

Because our ultimate goal was to drive the Pan American Highway from Alaska to Argentina we knew that the road conditions would merit having a more sturdy vehicle that could handle the rugged terrain we knew we would face outside of the United States.

The truck camper was small enough that we could drive in most roads and parking lots without much inconvenience. While it was small and had less living space, it did have just enough of the amenities that we wanted for us to be able to live “out” of the camper instead of “in” it.

Sometimes we look around and see some people with more room or nicer, newer RVs with parts that don’t break. But we also feel like we have quite a bit more freedom in our lives by making the decision that was right for our circumstances.

BUT YOU MIGHT HAVE OTHER CIRCUMSTANCES!

There are many other reasons to buy an RV. What if you were this couple?

A couple our age has two young children and dog. One of the adults owns a company and is able to work remotely while the other focuses on the needs of the family and the RV. Because they have a steady income and also found that the cost of living in an RV is actually cheaper than living in their former mid-sized US city suburbs their RV budget was well above $20,000. This couple wants to raise their family exclusively in the United States. They also had the goal of visiting the 49 contiguous US states at some point in their journey. 

How might they have answered these questions?

  1. Budget. With steady income and having downsized their previous house expense their budget is higher. Further, while they don’t believe in carrying debt, they are not entirely worried about increasing their RV budget by having to make payments on it rather than paying cash.
  2. Size. With two children and a dog, plus the need for one parent to have a dedicated work space, the size of the RV is likely going to be large. Because nearly all of the travel will be in the US on highways that are built to accommodate Class A motorhomes, there is less concern for them over maneuverability. They also know that many campgrounds they plan to stay will have suitable sewer, water and power hookups that would accommodate a larger RV.
  3. Connected Living Space. Because of the size of their family, they knew that having a truck to pull/carry a trailer/camper was likely not an option. While the children would be secured at all times, the ability to pull over and come and go as necessary was important to them. Further, the working parent could very easily work from the RV while traveling when necessary and not be confined to cramped spaces.
  4. Separate Vehicles. Although being committed to a larger RV to raise the family and run the business, the family also wanted the convenience of having a vehicle they could use to run errands around town. They knew they would be staying in different places for weeks at a time and so moving the RV or catching a ride-share to the grocery store, laundry mat, or movie theater was not as appealing as being able to take their own vehicle. Also they wanted to be able to explore the backroads around each area in which they camped so their kids would have the full experience of being raised in beautiful places.
  5. Travel Flexibility. They were willing to sacrifice the off-road ability of their RV for the ability to bring their 4×4 Jeep as a towed vehicle being their motorhome. So they did not have to sacrifice some of the most scenic places in the country while also having a larger RV out of which to live.
  6. Comfort. While they were not as concerned about personal comforts as they were family comforts, they thought it would be nice to be able to cook a meal and not trip over the kids toys in a cramped kitchen space. They also wanted to be able to step into different rooms at times to give each other the space to read a book, cruise the internet and roll around on the floor with the dog.
  7. Duration of Use. Since they were going to be living out of the RV for an indefinite future it was important that they recognize the need to have the space and comforts that would not have them regretting their decision to sell their home and hit the road. They wanted an RV that they would enjoy for the long haul, since that was the goal for their journey.
  8. Newness. Their budget was higher and one parent was going to be working full time. They thought it was important to have a reliable RV that did not require much maintenance and that started and worked every time.

HOW MIGHT THEY DECIDE?

This family might opt for a Class A or a Class C motorhome with their tow-behind Jeep. Their decisions requires a little more planning in meeting the needs of a larger family. They might attend an RV show in their town and be willing to purchase a new RV. This would give them worry-free traveling so they can focus more on work and raising the family.

There is a chance they might also sell their Jeep and purchase a new truck with a crew cab. This would give them more space for the family in the vehicle and then tow a 5th wheel trailer. This would effectively give them a vehicle for errands and exploration. It would also provide them an RV with enough space to comfortably run a business and raise a family.

As you can see, two different scenarios can lead to two different decisions depending on your priorities. So back to the original question: Which RV is right for you?  

THE ONE YOU CHOOSE TO BUY! =)

Enjoy the road!

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