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Yes, you can make a short-bed camper fit on a long-bed truck. It takes a bit of work to attach it securely, but it will work with most trucks and campers.

Ideally, a long bed camper is better if you have a long bed truck. However, a short-bed camper with a long-bed truck can work reasonably well, even though it is not ideal. Buying a short-bed camper and a long-bed truck isn't the best idea, but if you already have the two, you can probably make it work.

While installing a short bed camper on a long bed truck usually works, you have to be extra careful when you secure it. You have to make sure the camper doesn't slide around when you speed up or slow down. Measure everything carefully and never estimate.

If you intend to attach it yourself without hiring a professional, I have some pointers that can help you. You can do it if you do it carefully.

I have installed short bed campers on long bed trucks before and know that attaching them to a short bed truck is a hassle. However, unless the two models truly don't fit together, it is possible and not very difficult. The truck usually won't have any trouble handling the camper's weight.



Bed Campers vs. Trailers and Recreational Vehicles

Truck bed campers are not pulled behind your truck like trailers are. Instead, you put them on top of a pickup truck and take them wherever you want to go. Bed campers never have their own engines like RVs do, but they do provide a much better living space than a truck does.

A bed camper is partly on the roof of your pickup and mostly on the bed behind it. Ideally, the pickup truck and the bed camper should fit together perfectly. However, it does not have to be an ideal fit; you can make it work if the fit is imperfect.

Attaching Campers to Trucks in General

You must first raise your camper off the ground and then back your truck up until it is underneath it. You then secure the camper to the truck, and you are ready to go off on your adventure.

How to Raise the Camper

You should use jacks to raise your camper to the right height. Simple hand-cranked jacks are good enough. It is significantly faster to raise the camper if you have two people working.

If you want to use your camper fairly often, you might build a wooden stand for it. That way, it won't take long to raise with jacks. Make sure your wooden stand is sturdy enough.

Make sure not to raise the back of the camper higher than the front, or it could slide backward and be damaged. Raise the camper just a little bit at a time, slowly and carefully, until it is at least a few inches above the height of your truck. Then, slowly back the pickup truck under the camper.

Connect the Wires From the Camper to the Bed

After you back the truck under the camper, you should connect the wiring before you do anything else. It is easiest to connect the wiring at this stage, though still possible to connect it later.

Set the Truck Down

You should use a camper bumper kit to create a barrier between your camper and your truck bed. A camper bumper is a rubber barrier between the two that prevents damage. You might be fine without a bumper kit, but it reduces the risk of damage.

After the bumper kit is in place, you can slowly lower your jacks until the camper rests on your truck. Lower it carefully in increments of only a few inches and lower the back first.

Attach the Truck to the Camper Securely

You can use tie-downs and turnbuckles to secure the camper. Make sure you get everything tight enough. About 300 foot-pounds are appropriate; you can damage the turnbuckles if you go too far above that.

Attaching Short Bed Campers to Long Bed Trucks

The most important thing is to slide the camper as far forward as possible. Then, tie it in place securely so that it doesn't move around when you drive. Use tie-downs that you can bolt to your frame.

The biggest thing is preventing the camper from sliding back and forth. If you have a short bed camper on a long bed truck, you have to secure everything tightly to prevent this. When you speed up, the camper will want to slide back.

Thankfully, you can't easily speed up so fast that it slides backward very hard. If you slow down, it will slide forward, but rubber bumpers can prevent it from causing any damage. More than anything else, make sure you secure everything tightly to prevent it from sliding around.

Build a Frame to Protect Your Truck

You might also build a small frame to protect the back of your truck from the camper if it moves around. You can build a simple frame out of a few pieces of lumber.

Add Safety Features

Dealers can install special safety equipment to make your truck/camper combo as safe as possible. This equipment includes truck shocks, air springs, and anything else that makes it easier to handle the truck when carrying a heavy load. The truck will always be somewhat harder to control with so much extra weight.

Compatibility Between Campers and Trucks

Sometimes, a camper is too heavy for a truck. If a camper weighs more than a truck's load-carrying capacity, you need a different camper or a different vehicle. You can take your truck to a commercial weight station and find out exactly how much weight it can carry.

Truck Weight Capacity

Not every truck can handle the weight of every camper. An average camper weighs about 2700 pounds. That is too heavy for a Ford F-150 truck, which has a capacity of about 2300 pounds.

You can get campers that weigh only about 1000 pounds or up to more than 4000 pounds. At a weight station, you can find out how many pounds of possessions you can store in your truck and camper. The weight of your passengers and fuel tank adds to the total, so don't overestimate what your truck can carry.

Advantages of Bed Campers

While larger RVs with engines have some advantages, they are not one-sidedly better. Smaller bed campers have advantages, and the price isn't the only one. Some upsides you might not have thought of are:

  • A pickup truck can go across rougher terrain than an RV with motors. For this reason, you can take a truck bed camper to places you couldn't go with an RV.
  • You can camp more easily for free with a bed camper. Many roads that lead to public lands are too rough for an RV but perfectly fine with a pickup truck. These public lands are often full of great spots with few other campers.
  • You can take a pickup truck and camper to camp on a beach; it might be disastrous if you tried that with a heavy RV.
  • Everyone that has driven an RV through a city knows how much of a stressful hassle it can be. It's not easy to find a place to park, the traffic is terrible, and some bridges are too low. A relatively small pickup truck and bed camper are much easier to work with.

Some Small Bed Campers Work Better With Long Bed Trucks Than Others

If you don't have the right model, your camper might not fit on your truck at all. However, long-bed trucks usually carry campers pretty well, including short-bed campers.

Ideally, you could ask someone who has a similar truck and a similar camper how well their camper fits on their truck. Unfortunately, you probably don't know someone who has the same truck and camper.

The next best thing you can do is measure everything carefully and do the best you can. Possibly, there could be some information online about how well a camper fits on your model of a pickup truck.

Can You Put a Truck Bed Camper On Top of an SUV?

A truck bed camper is not designed to fit on top of an SUV. They are designed to fit on pickup truck beds, not SUV rooftops. You can turn your SUV into a camper, but that's very different from putting a short bed camper on a long bed truck.

Sometimes, It Isn't Possible

Depending on the truck and camper you are using, there might not be any way to attach the two. If the camper won't fit on the truck or won't fit securely and safely, you may need a different truck or a different camper. However, there is sometimes a way to make it fit, even if it seems impossible at first.

Driving With a Poorly Installed Camper Can Be Dangerous

If you get in your truck and find that your camper isn't attached to your truck properly, you will have to end the trip. It is dangerous to drive with your camper attached poorly, and it is not fair to others.

At worst, your camper could slip off your truck and go into traffic. This could cause a serious or fatal accident, especially if your camper hits a smaller vehicle. Don't risk it - don't drive anywhere unless you are sure your camper is securely attached.

Can You Build a Truck Bed Camper Yourself?

Yes, building a good one takes some skill and effort, but many people have done it. If you assume you have or could quickly learn the skills, you might want to try it. It is a time-consuming but fun project that you can realistically do yourself.