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Truck Camper vs. Camper Van: Van and Truck Camper Pros and Cons

Truck Camper vs. Camper Van: Van and Truck Camper Pros and Cons. truck camper vs van

When it comes to mobile living, the debate between choosing a truck camper or a van is a common dilemma for adventure enthusiasts. Both options offer unique advantages and drawbacks based on individual preferences and needs. 

If you’re looking for a camping vehicle to enjoy your outdoor vacation, you may need to consider a truck camper or van.

In this article, we will explore and discuss the pros and cons of truck campers and camper vans, highlighting key differences and considerations to help you make an informed decision.

What is a Camper Van?

If you’ve seen a van that has been modified to include essential home amenities like seating space, small kitchen, storage space, sleeping area, sometimes bathroom and more, then you’ve seen a Camper Van. It’s also called a conversion van.

Regardless of the manufacturer, if you’re considering a used van for your camping, checking the van history will do you more good than harm, helping you choose and build the right camper van that meets your needs.

What is a Truck Camper?

A truck camper is simply a type of recreational vehicle (RV) that sits in the  bed of a pickup truck, with a range of home amenities like a small bathroom, dining space, sleeping area, seating space, refrigerator, cooking equipment and more. It can also be referred to as cab over campers or slide-in campers.

If you prefer a used truck as your camping vehicle for that great adventure, checking the truck history with a physical inspection will help you avoid a truck with serious hidden and legal issues , helping you build with the right truck

What are the Major Differences Between a Truck and Van Campers?

While both truck campers and vans share some similarities in the type of amenities installed in them and that they are designed for individuals and couples, the following differences still exist.

Although truck and van campers are similar in the type of equipment installed and are designed for individuals and couples, there are still differences, including:

 Feature Truck Camper Van
 Vehicle Type a camper shell mounted
 to the bed of a pickup   truck
 a camper built into   the
 back of a cargo van or
 passenger van.
 Vehicle Access no passage between
 the cab and the camper
 of a cargo van or
 passenger van.
 Designed for off-   road
 Yes. Thanks to the four
 wheel drive system (4WD)
 and heavy-duty   suspension
 No, except for   specially
 designed off-road   vans

Truck Camper vs Vans: Other Key Differences

When comparing truck campers and camper vans, several other key distinctions come into play, influencing the overall suitability for different preferences and travel styles.

Wheelbase Variations

Wheelbase variations impact maneuverability and interior space. Camper vans with longer wheelbases offer more living space but can be challenging to navigate in tight spaces compared to the agility of truck campers.

Class B vs. Class C RVs

Camper vans are categorized as Class B RVs, providing compact and versatile mobile homes. In contrast, truck campers fall under the Class C RV classification due to being attached to pickup trucks.

Mercedes vs. Transit Vans

The choice between Mercedes and Transit vans often comes down to personal preferences and budget considerations. Mercedes vans are renowned for luxury and performance, while Transit vans offer reliability and affordability.

Pros and Cons of Owning a Truck Campers and Camper Van

Truck Campers Pros

Truck campers are compact living spaces that are mounted onto the bed of a pickup truck. They provide a versatile camping experience with the ability to detach the camper and use the truck separately.

1. Living Space Comparison

While truck campers offer a cozy living area that is separate from the cab of the truck, the space is limited compared to camper vans. However, the advantage of a truck camper lies in the ability to sell the truck and keep the camper if needed.

2. Off-Road Capabilities

Truck campers are ideal for off-road adventures, providing better mobility on rough terrains compared to camper vans. The rugged construction and higher ground clearance make them suitable for exploring remote locations.

3. Customization Options

Customizing a truck camper allows for personalization to suit specific needs. From adding storage solutions to upgrading features for off-grid living, the flexibility of customization is a major selling point for truck camper enthusiasts.

Other advantages of truck campers include:

  • They can easily be maintained.
  • They are designed for all the four seasons available, so suitable for a year round use.
  • They have a greater and heavier towing capacity
  • They have been found to be easy to register, license and insure.
  • They are more versatile in terms of use.

Truck Camper Cons

  1. They can be harder to drive or park due to their tallness, wideness and length.
  2. It is difficult to get in and out of a truck camper.
  3. Moisture can easily accumulate in the cab-over bed area. This can develop into mildew if nothing is done to arrest the moisture.
  4. The fuel economy is compromised after the addition of a camper, resulting in a poor gas mileage.
  5. Attaching or detaching the camper can be very challenging.

Camper Van Pros

  1. They have better gas mileage and saving on fuel can greatly enhance driving and camping experience.
  2. Building a camper van doesn’t consume a lot of money or require a technician.
  3. It’s more secure as you don’t need to go outside to pass from the camper to the cab.
  4.  Think of easy driving or packing, think of a camper van.

Camper Van cons

  1. They are not versatile. and are not capable of off-road
  2. Camper Vans can be very expensive except you’re building your own van
  3. It is harder to get a van registered, licensed and insured.
  4. Standing tall in some camper vans may not be possible and you have to remain hunched when moving around in the van.
  5. They have less space and are very expensive to maintain.

Van Conversions: A Detailed Guide

Van conversions involve transforming a cargo van into a fully functional living space, often referred to as a camper van. This process allows for maximizing living space through strategic layout designs and amenities.

Here are key things to consider:

1. Choosing the Right Van

Selecting the suitable van chassis for conversion is crucial, considering factors like wheelbase, interior height, and overall size to meet individual preferences and travel requirements.

2. Maximizing Living Space

Efficient space utilization is key in camper van conversions. Incorporating features like foldable furniture, multipurpose storage, and compact appliances can significantly enhance the comfort and functionality of the living area.

3. Off-Road Features to Consider

For individuals seeking off-road capabilities in a camper van, adding features like four-wheel drive, enhanced suspension systems, and increased ground clearance can make the vehicle more versatile in different terrains.

Enhancing Van Life: Tips to Customize Your Van

Van lifers can customize their camper van and transform it into a personalized space tailored to your unique needs and style. 

Here are some tips for vanlife traders to enhance their experience driving down the road:

1. Ground Clearance Upgrades

Investing in ground clearance upgrades such as raised suspension kits and off-road tires can improve the off-road capabilities of your camper van, allowing you to explore rugged terrains with ease.

2. Creating a Cozy Interior

Designing a cozy interior space with plush bedding, ambient lighting, and ergonomic furniture can elevate comfort levels and create a welcoming environment for relaxation on the road.

3. Optimizing Storage Solutions

Utilize innovative storage solutions like overhead compartments, slide-out drawers, and under-seat storage to maximize space efficiency and keep your essentials organized during travels.

Factors to Help You Decide: Truck Camper or Van?

When deliberating between a truck camper and a van for your mobile living adventures, several factors should be considered to make the right choice that aligns with your needs and preferences.

1. Understanding Your Travel Needs

Assess your travel requirements, including the destinations you plan to visit, the duration of your trips, and the amenities you prioritize to determine whether a truck camper or a van better suits your lifestyle.

2. Budget Considerations

Evaluate your budget constraints, including the initial purchase cost, maintenance expenses, and potential modifications to customize the vehicle, to ensure that your choice aligns with your financial capabilities.

3. Durability and Maintenance

Consider the durability and maintenance requirements of both truck campers and vans, factoring in long-term reliability, ease of repairs, and the overall longevity of the vehicle to make an informed decision that suits your lifestyle and preferences.


For adventurers who want to enjoy nature and the open road, both truck campers and camper vans are good options. The type of RV that is best for you will depend on how you camp, how intensely you camp, where you camp, your budget, and your personal preferences.

If you need off-road capabilities or already own a truck, a pickup truck is often a better option. If you need a less powerful car, want to get better gas mileage, or are on a tight budget, a pickup truck may be a better option.

If you’re buying a used truck or van, you can decode the VIN to verify vehicle details like the specifications, engine information, and more. You can also trace the history by conducting a VIN check.

Frequently Asked Questions

Vanlife refers to the lifestyle of living and traveling in a van, while owning a truck camper involves attaching a camper to the bed of a truck for camping purposes.

Truck campers offer off-road capabilities and tend to have a lower cost of fuel compared to camper vans. However, camper vans generally provide more living space and are easier to drive as a daily driver.

Custom vans offer the advantage of being tailored to the owner’s specific needs and preferences, providing unique features and customization options not commonly found in regular camper vans.

Truck campers, being mounted on a truck bed, generally have better off-road capabilities compared to camper vans, which are usually built on van chassis with rear-wheel drive.

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