Advice on pop up truck campers?

softdownsoftdown Solar Expert Posts: 2,917 ✭✭✭✭

These things may costs about $20,000 when new. Perhaps there is less competition for truck campers than there used to be? Truck campers were very common in the 70's. That gave way to motor homes and large trailers.

They become affordable when they are 20 years old or so - $5000 or less. Is that when things, like canvas, often start falling apart?

I have learned it is best to appear to live very modestly. Even if you have money, and I don't, best to appear modest. Or the "taxman cometh".

Have to go - hoping for some wisdom from you sages.

First Bank:16 180 watt Grape Solar with  FM80 controller and 3648 Inverter....Fullriver 8D AGM solar batteries. Second Bank/MacGyver Special: 10 165(?) watt BP Solar with Renogy MPPT 40A controller/ and Xantrex C-35 PWM controller/ and Morningstar PWM controller...Cotek 24V PSW inverter....forklift and diesel locomotive batteries

Comments

  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 30,058 admin

    The one warning I can think of for pickup campers... If you park the camper on the ground, make sure you have the bottom blocked up for support of the camper floor. As I recall (decades ago), without support, the floors can fail from people walking on them (no structural support without blocking/truck bed).

    -Bill

    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • billybob9billybob9 Registered Users Posts: 141 ✭✭

    I have 3 Lance pickup truck campers and Bill is correct about the floors being structurally week. Even unlevel blocking can warp the whole camper. These are great for renting a space in a campo in Baja right on the Sea of Cortez. These pics are my spot in an area 55 miles south of San Felipe where the good fishing starts. Rent is $100 a year. One 100W solar panel and battery to run my water pump, lights and VHF radio. In this area the VHF is your telephone that you have on all the time..BG.

  • PNW_StevePNW_Steve Registered Users Posts: 79 ✭✭

    I set out looking at truck campers a few years ago. I about fell off of the chair when I saw new campers for almost $50k....

    Crazy!

  • billybob9billybob9 Registered Users Posts: 141 ✭✭

    An older truck camper is what you want if you want to keep it in Mexico. Nobody will want to steal it. The last one I bought cost me $1000. You might have to fix the jacks and replace a few things but that's it. It's free no DMV stuff.

  • PNW_StevePNW_Steve Registered Users Posts: 79 ✭✭


    Depends on where you live....... Here in Washington state we have to title and register truck campers separate from the truck.

  • softdownsoftdown Solar Expert Posts: 2,917 ✭✭✭✭

    Looks like you got the extended top cab for crew cab trucks - nice option. Especially for tall folks that need a larger bed for full comfort.


    Right now I remain unconvinced that a pop up is the way to go. Slightly better gas mileage and less weight and rougher trail adaptability. Vs. more set up, probable challenges with canvas and zippers, and less insulation/protection from the elements.

    I inherited a 1969 pop up camper back in 2010. Set it up and went to my neighbors place for dinner. The wind came up and absolutely shredded the canvas - which was 41 years old. Never got used again. It has about 4" of ground clearance - bad for much of Colorado.


    Thanks for the ideas guys!

    First Bank:16 180 watt Grape Solar with  FM80 controller and 3648 Inverter....Fullriver 8D AGM solar batteries. Second Bank/MacGyver Special: 10 165(?) watt BP Solar with Renogy MPPT 40A controller/ and Xantrex C-35 PWM controller/ and Morningstar PWM controller...Cotek 24V PSW inverter....forklift and diesel locomotive batteries
  • softdownsoftdown Solar Expert Posts: 2,917 ✭✭✭✭

    Bought a 1996 Hallmark with queen bed (I'm real tall) for $600. Great price but a cranking gear is broken due to excessive snow load. Had two cranking gears. Still works but - cranky. Takes a few minutes now.

    Fridge may, or may not, work. Canvas is insulated which is very cool.

    Guy showed up as I left and, of course, "offered $950". Selling and buying always gets weird it seems.

    Mexico - here I come!

    First Bank:16 180 watt Grape Solar with  FM80 controller and 3648 Inverter....Fullriver 8D AGM solar batteries. Second Bank/MacGyver Special: 10 165(?) watt BP Solar with Renogy MPPT 40A controller/ and Xantrex C-35 PWM controller/ and Morningstar PWM controller...Cotek 24V PSW inverter....forklift and diesel locomotive batteries
  • littleharbor2littleharbor2 Solar Expert Posts: 1,482 ✭✭✭✭
    edited April 2019 #9

    I'll take a solid sided trailer anytime. Any soft sided set up is basically the same as a tent when it comes to noise and wind. Much better quality of sleep in a solid rig.


    Oh BTW, The weather in Baja is awesome right now. The water is in the 80's already

    2.1 Kw Suntech 175 mono, Classic 200, Trace SW 4024 ( 15 years old  but brand new out of sealed factory box Jan. 2015), Bogart Tri-metric, 700 ah @24 volt AGM battery bank. Plenty of Baja Sea of Cortez sunshine.

  • softdownsoftdown Solar Expert Posts: 2,917 ✭✭✭✭
    edited April 2019 #10

    Makes sense. The Sea of Cortez is so big that there is likely to be quite a variation in weather possibilities. The area around Mexicali is generally - hot - from what I gather. The Sea of Cortez probably moderates the weather within several miles of it.

    Pros and cons to pop ups and solids. The trip to the Baja is over 1000 miles so wind drag is an issue. I was fine with a tent and ground pad until this year. Something about being 60?

    First Bank:16 180 watt Grape Solar with  FM80 controller and 3648 Inverter....Fullriver 8D AGM solar batteries. Second Bank/MacGyver Special: 10 165(?) watt BP Solar with Renogy MPPT 40A controller/ and Xantrex C-35 PWM controller/ and Morningstar PWM controller...Cotek 24V PSW inverter....forklift and diesel locomotive batteries
  • littleharbor2littleharbor2 Solar Expert Posts: 1,482 ✭✭✭✭

    Actually most of the east side of the peninsula is very hot in the summer. San Felipe, on the water, is steadily over 100 degrees for 3-4 months with night time in the 90's. When the calm sea surface is in the 90's you don't get much cooling, actually it probably adds to the hot overnight temps. The humidity is the killer. I have found that a pedestal fan directly on me at night makes sleeping quite a bit more comfortable. I hate lying in my own sweat.

    2.1 Kw Suntech 175 mono, Classic 200, Trace SW 4024 ( 15 years old  but brand new out of sealed factory box Jan. 2015), Bogart Tri-metric, 700 ah @24 volt AGM battery bank. Plenty of Baja Sea of Cortez sunshine.

  • softdownsoftdown Solar Expert Posts: 2,917 ✭✭✭✭

    I would imagine the west side would get hurricanes....along with milder weather.

    First Bank:16 180 watt Grape Solar with  FM80 controller and 3648 Inverter....Fullriver 8D AGM solar batteries. Second Bank/MacGyver Special: 10 165(?) watt BP Solar with Renogy MPPT 40A controller/ and Xantrex C-35 PWM controller/ and Morningstar PWM controller...Cotek 24V PSW inverter....forklift and diesel locomotive batteries
  • littleharbor2littleharbor2 Solar Expert Posts: 1,482 ✭✭✭✭
    Rare above Todos Santos. They spawn off of Puerto Vallarta From there they can go anywhere. Had one cross over us last October here in the South Campos. 9" of rain in two hours. Very minor,  actually.

    2.1 Kw Suntech 175 mono, Classic 200, Trace SW 4024 ( 15 years old  but brand new out of sealed factory box Jan. 2015), Bogart Tri-metric, 700 ah @24 volt AGM battery bank. Plenty of Baja Sea of Cortez sunshine.

  • softdownsoftdown Solar Expert Posts: 2,917 ✭✭✭✭

    Speaking of weather, Ensenada would appear to have pretty mild weather. Much as I like the sailing and diving prospects of the Sea of Cortez, I am not a fan of hot weather. I had thought the Sea of Cortez would help keep things mild - like the Pacific does. Apparently the Sea of Cortez is much warmer than the Pacific. Food for thought.

    Easy drive from Ensenada to the Sea of Cortez of course.

    First Bank:16 180 watt Grape Solar with  FM80 controller and 3648 Inverter....Fullriver 8D AGM solar batteries. Second Bank/MacGyver Special: 10 165(?) watt BP Solar with Renogy MPPT 40A controller/ and Xantrex C-35 PWM controller/ and Morningstar PWM controller...Cotek 24V PSW inverter....forklift and diesel locomotive batteries
  • billybob9billybob9 Registered Users Posts: 141 ✭✭

    That's the ticket you live in the San Felipe area from September to July then hop on highway 3 and head to the west coast. Turn left at the ocean and go down to San Quintin where the water is the coolest because of the depth close to shore. You'll love if you like cracked crab.

  • littleharbor2littleharbor2 Solar Expert Posts: 1,482 ✭✭✭✭
     There's nothing in the upper Sea of Cortez worth gearing up with your dive gear to see. The bottom is 99.9999% sand.  You need to get farther south before there's any structure and variety of sea life to see.
     Just got back home yesterday from a week down there. The water is already in the mid 80's. Last Sept. I measured water as warm as 97 degrees. I have actually gone in the water before sunrise with my coffee to watch the sun come up. If you like warm water you'll love swimming down there.

    2.1 Kw Suntech 175 mono, Classic 200, Trace SW 4024 ( 15 years old  but brand new out of sealed factory box Jan. 2015), Bogart Tri-metric, 700 ah @24 volt AGM battery bank. Plenty of Baja Sea of Cortez sunshine.

  • softdownsoftdown Solar Expert Posts: 2,917 ✭✭✭✭

    Thanks for the wealth of useful information. Makes perfect sense as well. Thinking I should more time reading before doing a great deal of driving. Right now I am liking Ensenada. I don't like real hot weather as a rule. Was sure that the Sea of Cortez moderated the temperatures but you set me straight on that myth.

    First Bank:16 180 watt Grape Solar with  FM80 controller and 3648 Inverter....Fullriver 8D AGM solar batteries. Second Bank/MacGyver Special: 10 165(?) watt BP Solar with Renogy MPPT 40A controller/ and Xantrex C-35 PWM controller/ and Morningstar PWM controller...Cotek 24V PSW inverter....forklift and diesel locomotive batteries
  • billybob9billybob9 Registered Users Posts: 141 ✭✭

    Good diving doesn't start until you get to the Santa Rosalita area. Sure there are some locals pulling Grouper and Snapper out of the rock along the shoreline to that point but that's it. The Isla Marcos coming out of the bay at San Lucas is the first place that I would call good or worth going for. See Map


  • littleharbor2littleharbor2 Solar Expert Posts: 1,482 ✭✭✭✭
    Thought you preferred to avoid cities? Head south of Ensenada. Never been there myself but from all I hear it's quite developed. The mountains that make up the spine of Baja look really nice. Again never been there.

    2.1 Kw Suntech 175 mono, Classic 200, Trace SW 4024 ( 15 years old  but brand new out of sealed factory box Jan. 2015), Bogart Tri-metric, 700 ah @24 volt AGM battery bank. Plenty of Baja Sea of Cortez sunshine.

  • billybob9billybob9 Registered Users Posts: 141 ✭✭

    Littleharbor2 is right Ensenada is quite developed that why I recommended San Quintin ( not the jail ). Your a talented solar person and you should make that known in this area as most Gringos here don't know jack and live near the water. Cielito Lindo is where they park.

  • billybob9billybob9 Registered Users Posts: 141 ✭✭

    Sorry I said Gringo ( I am one ) but these guys running their generators into the night just don't get it (solar).

  • softdownsoftdown Solar Expert Posts: 2,917 ✭✭✭✭
    Thought you preferred to avoid cities? Head south of Ensenada. Never been there myself but from all I hear it's quite developed. The mountains that make up the spine of Baja look really nice. Again never been there.
    Depends on their size and I don't really know anything about the sizes yet. A city may show 150,000 but have over a million in the suburbs - for example. If one lives 20 miles from a city then things are maybe OK. Plus they can buy and sell stuff. It is hard to sell stuff in this valley of maybe 40,000 people spread over ~100 x 60 miles. 

    How could you avoid the mountains of Baja with a Jeep? 
    First Bank:16 180 watt Grape Solar with  FM80 controller and 3648 Inverter....Fullriver 8D AGM solar batteries. Second Bank/MacGyver Special: 10 165(?) watt BP Solar with Renogy MPPT 40A controller/ and Xantrex C-35 PWM controller/ and Morningstar PWM controller...Cotek 24V PSW inverter....forklift and diesel locomotive batteries
  • littleharbor2littleharbor2 Solar Expert Posts: 1,482 ✭✭✭✭
    edited April 2019 #23
    "How could you avoid the mountains of Baja with a Jeep? "


    Exactly!  Still working on lots of adventures. I've wheeled the snot out of my old Jeep in the desert and on the beaches. Just haven't gotten up there yet.

    2.1 Kw Suntech 175 mono, Classic 200, Trace SW 4024 ( 15 years old  but brand new out of sealed factory box Jan. 2015), Bogart Tri-metric, 700 ah @24 volt AGM battery bank. Plenty of Baja Sea of Cortez sunshine.

  • softdownsoftdown Solar Expert Posts: 2,917 ✭✭✭✭
    edited April 2019 #24
    Seems like it would take a conscious effort to avoid the mountains based on looking at a map. The roads must avoid them like the plague - which makes some sense. 

    As for pop ups - they are far more aerodynamic. I have found that wind drag is far more important than weight when deciding mpg. Hard sided campers suffer a huge loss in mpg. For that reason I would favor a pop up for interstate travel. 

    On another note - the biggest name in truck trailer tie downs is Torklift. Their system may cost ~$1500. I bolted mine down for a the cost of bolts, nuts and washers though common sense must be exercised. 

    This hard sided camper looks ready to tip over:  https://www.amazon.com/photos/shared/fJ_-RGI6Tqm7p16oou5obA.yfUv0Ofh-wX2wtZPWDeqyI

    The heavy weight of a camper actually works against you in rough conditions: https://www.amazon.com/photos/shared/jPoi3HIMR4ucXq-00hsypg.fXU-4CYZrXmP20NHFThDYO   A winch is often a good idea. 
    First Bank:16 180 watt Grape Solar with  FM80 controller and 3648 Inverter....Fullriver 8D AGM solar batteries. Second Bank/MacGyver Special: 10 165(?) watt BP Solar with Renogy MPPT 40A controller/ and Xantrex C-35 PWM controller/ and Morningstar PWM controller...Cotek 24V PSW inverter....forklift and diesel locomotive batteries
Sign In or Register to comment.