There are many ways one could go about doing the normal day-to-day stuff like cooking, sleeping, or chilling out when camping.
The most common way is going simple with a table kitchen setup, a camp chair, and a normal tent. From there one could add rooftop tents, a slide-out kitchen, and so on, you get the point.
However, the most luxurious forms of camping rely on camper trailers or truck bed-based campers. With these two options, you can usually get the comfort and safety of sleeping inside, while also keeping the convenience of a kitchen, sink, and anything else you would find in a normal home.
In this article, we’ll do a towable trailer vs truck bed camper comparison, including a discussion of the pros and cons of both rigs to help you decide which one is most suitable for you.
Pros of Camper Trailers
This of course depends on which camper trailer you choose to go for. However, if your budget and vehicle towing capabilities allow, you could pretty much opt for one that has enough space and amenities to be confused with a house.
With a truck-based camper, you are pretty much limited to the space of your truck’s bed.
Towable Trailer vs Truck Bed Camper: Trailers Can Be Used by Multiple Vehicles.
Let’s imagine your next adventure does not require any off-roading and because of that, there is no point in using the big and thirsty off-roader.
With a camper trailer, you can unhook it from one car and install it on the other; so, in this case, you could use your more “civilized” vehicle.
Some may even say that camper trailers can also be used by your mates. You just hook it on their car and off they go.
Great for Setting Up Base Camp
Because they can be unhooked, you can leave your trailer at camp and explore the area around you without being held back on obstacles by the camper trailer. This will also reduce wear both on your vehicle and trailer as they will be stressed less.
Towable Trailer vs Truck Bed Camper: Cons of Camper
Trailers They Can Be a Pain to Navigate
It is no secret that off-roading requires squeezing through trees, rocks, or whatever other obstacle nature may throw at you. When towing a trailer, you have to worry both about the truck and the trailer behind you.
A situation every off-road trailer owner dreads is having to reverse through a tight bit of track either because it leads nowhere or it is impassable with the specific setup they are running.
In this case, you will have to go back and forth plenty of times and a spotter will be very welcome.
When Attached, Trailers Act as an Anchor
Whenever you make it through an obstacle you will always have to remember that the trailer also needs to go through. On uphill sections or deep sticky mud, the trailer will act as an anchor hindering all forward progress.
To add to the issue, you will need to be extra cautious about the line you take as the trailer needs to be able to follow it as well.
Towable Trailer vs Truck Bed Camper: Pros of Truck Bed-Based Four-Wheel Campers
They Don’t Take Up as Much Space
If you want to park at a restaurant, you will not need to be looking for two parking spots as the camper is part of your truck. The same applies to your driveway at home, a truck-based camper will take far less space.
Cheaper to Maintain
As they do not have wheels and suspension, maintenance only includes checking the body for wear, scratches and dents from off-roading. Once you have filled up the tanks with water and given it a quick wash you are ready to go!
Towable Trailer vs Truck Bed Camper: Truck Bed Campers are Less Intimidating to Drive
As you are no longer towing a trailer, driving will become far easier. The camper trailer needs to always be in your mind when driving, that’s not the case for the bed camper.
Cons of Truck Bed Campers They are too tall
The fact that they sit too high presents two issues. One is that you need to be aware of branches and low-hanging trees. The second and most important one is that the center of gravity is now extremely high.
Whenever you are off-roading, you will feel that camper holding you back and the truck will feel unstable on slopes.
The same is true on-road, try steering aggressively to avoid something with one of these in the bed, you are tipping straight over!
Towable Trailer vs Truck Bed Camper: You lose Cargo Space With a Truck Bed Camper
When installing a camper, you no longer have the bed space for all your gear. Therefore, you will need to come up with an idea to mount recovery equipment, tools, spare tires, and all the related overlanding gear.
They May Not Be Able to Be Unhooked
Some campers come with jacks that can mount on each corner to lift the canopy; therefore, freeing the vehicle from the load. This takes time to do, and some campers don’t even offer this option. So, if you are on a tough trail, removing the camper to tackle the obstacle will be time-consuming or even impossible
What Should You Get?
If I needed to choose between the two, I would go for the camper trailer. It can be left at home or camp; therefore, it does not commit my vehicle to a permanent setback in terms of off-road abilities.
Furthermore, with a camper trailer, you get to keep the cargo space in the bed while also adding the storage space of the trailer.
You may have different priorities though. If you never go on tough trails and need something that is slightly more compact in terms of parking and driving, go for the truck bed-based camper.
For anyone who likes to tackle the hard stuff and hates permanent commitments, go for the trailer. That’s just my two cents on the towable trailer vs truck bed camper debate!