Family of 5 & a truck camper: CRAZY??

I'm not even a newby, I'm still trying to figure out how to get me family on the road. Class A and 5th wheel are definitely ruled out. If I need that much luxury, I'll just stay home! Ultimate rig will have to be towable, because anything else just won't get used on the weekend. Also, I like having a second truck when I need it.

My husband and I have three children, (10,4,3). They are growing fast. We plan on taking a lot of weekend trips and longer trips (1-2 weeks) maybe twice a year. We will hit the entire west coast down through Baja MX and plan on winter traveling to the snow. The camper seems to be easier than trailer hook-up. There's no extra insurance or DMV tags to buy. Little depreciation because there is no engine. Little to no towing worries.

Is it really feasible for a family of our size? I've checked out a lot of campers with dual slide outs, rear slide outs, etc. for extra space. They look classy on-line but they seem to be pushing every payload max. that exists. Is there really a truck that will haul a camper that can sleep 7? Most of the models we've looked at and think we could live with are roughly 3500 lb. to 4000 dry weight. Is that insane?

Whatever we decided we plan on buying the recreational rig before the truck to keep our options wide open. GMC's new Sierra 3500HD has a pretty high payload, but I don't know if diesel is offered on that. Plus, I think most of the advertised max payloads are exaggerated for sales. Ford has a 450HD Dually w/Turbo diesel coming out next year with GVWR around #9,600, Payload #11,000 & GCVR 23,000. 4.88 torque. But then again, it is a Ford! That leaves Chevy which runs the same engine as a GMC, but looks like a F-series Fiat.

Any advice will help. I sincerely appreciate it.


DL Rupper

Senior Member
Re: Family of 5 & a truck camper: CRAZY??

A big camper will cost as much as a lower cost 5th Wheel and the 5th wheel will accommodate 7 people easier as you can get them with bunk beds . I'm not sure where you are coming from with thinking a 5th Wheel is the lap of luxury. A diesel pickup can tow and accommodate the weight of a 5th wheel easier than trying to handle the extreme weight of a large camper and 5 to 7 people. The camper puts all of the weight in the pickup bed + weight of passengers in the cab.
Re: Family of 5 & a truck camper: CRAZY??

It just seems way too much to tow. We are new at this. Having a 5th wheel is not conducive to our weekend trips on the fly that our family likes to take. Just trying to back up and park the thing sounds intimidating. If we had something that big, I know what would happen. After considering loading it all up, and gas mileage, we would talk ourselves out of going altogether. Storing it when it isn't in use is another downer. Sorry, I'm just not going to be convinced otherwise until we gain a little more experience in RVing.

I think you are right about the truck camper weight factor. Thank you for the advice.
Re: Family of 5 & a truck camper: CRAZY??

:blush: OK DL Rupper. I took your advice on ruling out the truck camper because of the excess weight in the bed of the truck. I started looking at Travel Trailers. I wasn't thinking of starting at the high end. More like the low-end, light weight or a low-end winterized unit. Are those easier or harder to pull than a 5th wheel? Can you tell 5th wheels scare me?

Also, I was considering buying used before stepping up to a new, fully loaded RV. I am seeing a lot of great deals on ebay by users that bought into an RV and just never used it and now are looking to unload the thing. There are also a lot of 5th wheels on there at a TT price. It seems like a great way to move in and take it off their hands at a low price. Can you advise me on this market?

Still searching and still open

DL Rupper

Senior Member
Re: Family of 5 & a truck camper: CRAZY??

Well I'll give it a try.
1. The 5th wheel is easier to hookup and easier to pull than a Travel Trailer (TT). The TT tends to sway and back and forth when passed by big trucks or in high wind.

2. The Travel Trailer is usually a little lighter in weight and generally costs less than a 5th wheel and if you buy the right kind of hitch it will pull better without swaying in winds and when being passed.

3. The TT is usually suited to weekend campers with larger families. The TT floor plans often times have bunk beds and tables, couches that make into beds. Some 5th wheels have bunk beds and tables that make into beds. Most have couches that make into beds.

4. The lighter weight ( 21-27 foot ) TT's can be pulled with any larger Van, SUV, or pickup with a V-8 engine. The average size (29-34 foot) 5th wheel require a pickup truck with/or preferably a diesel engine. The smaller 5th wheels (21-25 foot) require a pickup with a V-8 engine.

5. Buying a used TT or 5th wheel makes sense to get a good deal and explore the RV way of doing things. I would only recommend a new fully loaded RV to someone that plans to use it extensively and wants certain options that require special order. Retirees often know what they want, certain floor plans, options and make/model, so they buy new.
Way back when, my first 4 RVs were used. It wasn't until I retired and started full timing that I bought a new 5th wheel.
I would probably buy used if I ever have to buy another RV. They are getting real expensive.
Re: Family of 5 & a truck camper: CRAZY??

Hi CAmom! This is my very first post, and I am a true rookie!! I purchased a 29ft 5th wheel just last month. I bought it on Tuesday the 19th, parked it at my parent's house, and on Friday, I took off from St. Augustine FL to Santee SC, then on to Chesapeake VA for a reunion. I might add, I did this without my hubby (who couldn't get off from work :angry: ) and I brought my 9 yr old DD and 7 yr old DS with me. Now I did follow my Aunt and Uncle, who drive a big diesel pusher, but my Uncle quickly left me in the dust, so he was really my insurance policy!!

TOTALLY DOABLE, no problems, SO much fun, and even with my new white knuckles and steering wheel calluses, I think I did quite well (can you tell my head is just a little to big for my body?) We got home on the following Tuesday, and took off the next weekend to the beach with the hubby. HE LOVES IT!

Here are the "bad" things that happened, and I take full responsibility for them!!!

- Pulling into the campground in Chesapeake at 9:45pm was not my brightest moment. Did not park it level on the site pad, and suffered (although not too bad) through it for two nights.

- Pulling out of Chesapeake pad was a huge success (being parked between two forests of trees and all). Being quite full of myself, didn't take a wide enough turn onto the main drag, and scraped against a pine tree. No damage to anything but my ego, and a few experienced campers helped me get out of that jam.

- Backing up. Probably the biggest fear I had, and from what I read, one of yours, too. Well, I pull with a F250 6.5ft bed, and the dealer gave me a slider hitch and quick lesson. But I just didn't get the feel for it. Well let's just say the slide is there for a very good reason :blush: Last weekend at the beach, (hubby at work - he always misses the excitement!!) I have backed up quite a few times, and did fine, but this time I pushed my luck without using the slide, and POW!!! You guessed it, I popped the back window. I scarred my poor son for life, I think, and had to plunk down $300 dollars to replace the truck window. BUT - It's done, it's over, this weekend I WILL learn to use that slider, and of course I have the first of many stories (hopefully all funny!) about my RV experiences.

My fifth wheel is beautiful, very roomy, we think "the bomb", but we definitely did not spend what we thought we would for a 5th wheel. It is easy easy easy, and as long as you are confident, and careful, you will love a 5th wheel!! The kids absolutely love it as well. I just don't want you to miss out on a wonderful experience due to fears (that are very understandable - I had them too!) that in my very short memory now seem so small.

Good luck on finding your perfect fit, and happy camping!!
Amy :)

DL Rupper

Senior Member
Re: Family of 5 & a truck camper: CRAZY??

Hey amywibbing, welcome to the forum. Good post. The only real mistake you made was not buying the automatic slider hitch. It would have paid for itself with the added $300 for the window. Waiting for the next adventure to appear. :)
Re: Family of 5 & a truck camper: CRAZY??

Hello, DL - Happy Sunday!! AUTOMATIC?? I had no idea hitches came with auto sliders!! That definitely would have been worth the extra money, and I would've been happy to pay it! The next adventure starts this weekend, we're off to the beach again. Hubby will perform his first solo tow, so we may have quite a humurous story to tell!! :laugh:

Thank you for the warm welcome, and call me Amy!



Senior Member
Re: Family of 5 & a truck camper: CRAZY??

I believe the 'automatic' slider is by PullRite. Looks really useful, but there is at least one caveat. If you ever disconnect with the truck at an angle (greater than that allowed), you won't ever be able to rehook it back up (or at least not without lots of trouble) since the slot in the spring loaded hitch will be at an angle to the dual pin on the trailer.
Re: Family of 5 & a truck camper: CRAZY??

Thanks Hertig!! I knew there must be a good reason I don't have an auto!! I would indeed be the one who didn't disconnect straight, so I will rest easy with my plain one!! Just got to learn the touch on it, I guess! We are camping at the beach this weekend, and they have assistants who will help me maneuver in - so I am secretly hoping they will teach me how to operate it!

Have a great evening!

Re: Family of 5 & a truck camper: CRAZY??

Nah....Our family of 6 actually lived in a 14' TT (Towed by a Datsun P/U I might add), for 6 months. Of course it was tight but we did it because we had no other choice. Would we do it over again? NOT ON YOUR LIFE!

Best of Luck,