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Life in the back of a truck (part 2)

January 25th, 2009

This is part of an ongoing series on what it’s like to live in a truck camper fulltime. You may read other articles here:

  1. Part One – The fulltime lifestyle
  2. Part Two – Why a truck camper?
  3. Part Three – Weights & Dealing with them
  4. Part Four – Boondocking resource conservation

Why a truck camper when you could have something much larger?

True, a bus conversion or a 5th wheel would give quite a bit more space than a truck camper, but if you can deal with the smaller size, a truck camper has a lot going for it. For starters, you can take it places that just aren’t practical in most rigs that are suitable for fulltiming. Sure, a popup trailer or an especially small travel trailer might make it down a particular nasty stretch of dirt road, but even those are going to have issues if it turns out backing out is required. A smallish Class C is as manueverable as a truck camper, but they’re awfully hard to find in 4 wheel drive models with the kind of clearance you get from a full size truck.

Another bonus to truck campers is that you don’t really need to tow along a second vehicle for running around. Many Class A owners tow a dinghy vehicle for sightseeing in order to avoid moving their RV once its parked. While, we also haul around a scooter for short trips, we often just move the entire truck and camper if the trip requires it. Better yet, if we’re going to be somewhere more than a few days and know we’ll need to run around in the truck a lot, we can just drop the camper and have a separate vehicle to drive. It takes a bit more effort than dropping or loading a trailer, but the truck can easily be loaded or unloaded in around 30 minutes.

A final reason we really like the truck camper option is that the camper and drivetrain are not married as they are in Class A’s or C’s. If you decide you’d prefer a different floorplan or the truck experiences catastrophic failure, you can always change truck or camper with a minimum of hassle and keep the one you’re still happy with. For that matter, you can dump the camping lifestyle altogether and keep the truck. Not having the RV and truck married is what allows you to have a 4wd, diesel RV with good clearance at a reasonable price. It’s also an excellent choice for anyone that would like to pull a boat. Many states prohibit double towing, and I can’t imagine it being particularly fun even in those that allow it.

But, isn’t a truck camper way too small to live in fulltime?

I guess that depends on your lifestyle and what you want and need out of life. There are probably more people living in vans than truck campers by an order of magnitude. I can stand up fully, stretch out fully and have considerably more room to move around than any van I’ve ever seen except perhaps the shuttle buses, which I imagine would make a nice little rolling house with some work.

Personally, I find there is plenty of living space, but I’ve always liked living in smaller spaces. They prevent me from accumulating too much junk and I can usually find things I’ve mislaid without much trouble. Jenn and I as well as two cats have been living in the camper for 12 of the last 14 months and I feel much more comfortable to be back in our camper than I felt while we had the run of her parent’s place the past couple of months.

The one real constriction I feel about living in something the size of a truck camper is making a concious effort not to accumulate too much junk and finding a place to store the things we need. Anytime you consider picking up a new item, you have to think about just how often you’re going to use it, whether or not you can get along without it and where you’re going to store it. On top of that, you should consider whether it will be able to replace something you already have or if you already have something that can do the same thing. This problem actually helps me to save money by not buying things just because they’re shiny!

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7 Responses to “Life in the back of a truck (part 2)”

  1. Joong Kim says:

    Wow! Has it almost been a year! Congrats on your successful transition to a simpler lifestyle. I have a piggy bank for an iphone going right now. I don’t think I can ever get away from shiny things! I hope your adventures continue to make you guys happy.

  2. This is our first time to comment, but we have been reading your blog for a few months and love it! ! A lot of people think you have to have so much space to live comfortable. Most full-timers we have met cannot believe we live in such a small TT. It’s actually a little bigger than what we wanted! We chose a small TT for a lot of the same reasons you chose a truck camper.

    I have to say that the clearance issue is a big one on all TT and RVs. Your truck and camper allows you to go a lot of place that larger rigs just can’t go. In the future we may find ourselves in a truck camper! We love to stay in remote places. While our 22’ TT fits in lots of small sites, we have a clearance issue that would only be solved by a truck camper.

    We were total pack rats before we started full timing. Living in such a small space you really have to choose your junk wisely! We have everything we need close at hand now. No searching. No clutter. I love it! For us, a larger rig would mean more “stuff”, which defeats the simply lifestyle that we are try to enjoy.

  3. Russ says:

    I loved this article!

    I would hate for anyone not to get to see both parts and have found an error in a url.

    On this page, http://hitekhomeless.net/2008/11/life-in-the-back-of-a-truck-part-1.html the link to go to part 2 http://hitekhomeless.net/2009/01/life-in-the-ba%E2%80%A6a-truck-part-2life-in-the-back-of-a-truck-part-2.html is not working.

    (looks like the “ba%E2%80%” in your url may be inaccurate)

    The article was so great, and I am heading out to fulltime in about 60 days. I can relate with the story and am sure others will not be able to find the correct link http://hitekhomeless.net/2009/01/life-in-the-back-of-a-truck-part-2.html for part 2.

    Hope this helps!


  4. Thom Hoch says:

    Thanks for continuing to keep us updated on the truck camper and how it’s working for you guys. The range of vehicles that serious fulltimers use to accomplish their travel plans is broad and I learn a lot from those, like you, who accomplish what others think is impossible.


  5. Eduardo says:

    Looking backwards….would you still go for TT instead of a class C?


    • Hitek Homeless says:

      Well, we looked at a lot of CLass C’s and I think that would have been a good choice as well. If we were able to find one in Florida without a ton of water damage in our price range, I think we’d have gone that way.

      As I start seeing damage to the camper I wonder if a TC was the best way to go, but it’s still nice to be able to work on the camper and have a running vehicle.

      Next time around, I plan to build out my own rig, but we’ll have to figure out the secondary transportation angle ahead of time. There are a lot of options that can fit the bill, but it’s hard to beat a separate vehicle.

  6. Joseph Ervin says:

    hey my name is Joe I live in Oklahoma city I currently live in my 1981 idle time truck camper which needs a little TLC iam wondering if anyone would know where I could go to have what I need to get done to my camper that needs to be done if you know that would greatly benefit me thank you

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