Buying Guide for Truck Campers

by Christa Kerley

Buying a camper for a truck can be tricky. First you must know the make, model and year of the truck you want to retrofit with a camper, also called a camper shell. Some camper styles change year to year; a camper that fits a truck one year may not fit a truck of the previous year. Size of the truck makes a big difference, as well; long bed, short bed or a full-size truck can have an impact on whether the camper shell fits correctly. You must also determine if you want to buy new or used.

New Campers

Buying a new camper can be expensive; truck campers range in price depending on the construction quality, manufacture, size and options. To get the best price for your investment, you’re going to have to shop around to different franchised or licensed aftermarket camper shell dealers. Some camper dealers may have factory models available on the lot, but color choices and options are limited. If you want a camper shell that matches your truck you will need to custom order. Prices for a new shell can range from $1,250 for a basic model to three to four times as much with added options. Costs usually include installation; however, make sure mounting clamps are included in the dealer’s sale contract. Delivery time is normally three to four weeks.

Used Campers

One way to find a used camper is on craigslist.com. Craigslist provides free local classifieds for a variety of new and used products, listed by non-commercial individuals. There are craigslist classified listing web sites for most U.S. metropolitan cities and some rural towns. You can purchase a used camper for a truck on craigslist that is made by a different manufacturer, but you need to know the exact dimensions of the truck’s bed. This can save on expense, but the camper may still not fit correctly and an improper camper fit can lead to leaks. Prices for a used shell are dependent on the condition and the year; the older the shell, the lower the cost, on average prices range from $100 to $1,500. You can also purchase a used camper shell from an independent dealer. Most independent dealers strictly buy and sell used camper shells, and if they don’t have the shell you want, they can typically find one for you or one that is similar. Used camper dealers are normally found in the yellow pages or in local publications; dealers are prohibited from advertising on Craigslist.

About the Author

Christa Kerley has a B.A. in anthropology with emphasis in archaeology. She also has certificates in geographic information systems and cultural resource management. Kerley was author and distributor of a nonfiction newsletter for several years, and has worked since 1997 as a freelance copywriter and research writer. Some of Kerley's published works can be viewed at eHow, Bukisa, Suddenlyslim.net, Answerbag, and Pluck on Demand.