practical stuff ...matching camper and pickup

There are very few cases where a demountable camper is designed and made for one specific base vehicle (Easy Camper's EC8R for the Landrover or Apollo Motorhome's camper for the Ford Transit Flareside are examples) but in all cases the size and weight of the camper and the dimensions and weight-carrying capacity of the pickup will have to be matched.

Given its importance, matching one to the other should be straightforward but sadly, in Europe anyway, it is not as simple as it ought to be. Although pickup manufacturers are required by law to make clear declarations of their vehicles' capacities, no such requirement is made of European camper manufacturers. As a result, although all of them will offer some kind of reassuringly low ball-park figure, very few of them provide accurate and specific weights of their campers or fitted equipment. (German manufacturers Artica and Tischer are notable exceptions. Artica in particular gives detailed and precise figures of all campers, equipment and optional extras in their brochure.)

In sharp contrast, since 1973 U.S. law has required that camper manufacturers clearly display the precise weight of each unit on a label fixed securely to the camper body as well as giving that information in an owner's manual (See ''). Furthermore it has required that they give detailed information (accurate to 5 centimetres) of the camper's centre of gravity and offer clear statements and guidance in the camper's documentation regarding weight distribution.

The same regulations require that truck manufacturers, in fact "each manufacturer of a truck that is capable of accommodating a slide-in camper", must provide owners with complementary information, similarly precise and detailed, on the truck's load carrying capacities and must identify its "recommended location for cargo center of gravity". In addition, if a manufacturer recommends that a truck should not be used for carrying a camper, they must make a clear statement to that effect. As examples, you can see Ford's comprehensive response to this requirement for 2012 here, or you can see the same for other years on the Ford Motorcraft site.

How you go about the process of matching one to the other will depend on whether you’re starting with a pickup and looking for a camper to put on it, or starting with a demountable and looking for a suitable pickup to carry it. Whichever is the case, 'Matching a truck and camper' from Truck Camper Magazine (TCM) is an excellent on-line article and how-to-do-it guide. It inevitably uses a few US-specific terms and units of measurement but is very relevant nonetheless and is highly recommended. You can read the article here, where you'll also find links to a couple of other TCM articles, 'How to choose a camper' and 'How to choose a truck', which are interesting but more specifically relevant to the US market.

A number of US camper manufacturers and dealers offer their own guidance on matching truck and camper. You can find the Lance Campers version here and one from Polar RV Sales here but they really have nothing to add to the TCM article above and, not surprisingly, are more concerned to sell what they have to offer rather than to give genuinely impartial advice. You will get that from the RV Consumer Group (see ''), a non-profit organisation that campaigns for improvement in the construction and safety of all RVs. Sadly their guidance on matching truck camper and pickup is not available online but is published in J.D.Gallant's book 'How to Select, Inspect and Buy an RV' (RV Consumer Group, 2005).

Camper design and, more particularly, pickup design has changed significantly during the last two decades and matching old with new (either way round) is unlikely to be a straightforward matter. 'A Choice of One' is an illustrated article published in the U.K.'s Motorcaravan Motorhome Monthly magazine (MMM) in Nov.'07. It describes the process and difficulties of trying to find a 2006 pickup to match to a 1994 Suntrekker demountable but it includes a lot of information and guidance applicable to any combination. You can read it in Adobe Reader here or in Microsoft Word here .

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Appropriately matching a demountable camper and the pickup that's to carry it is a crucial safety issue. Get the combination slightly wrong and you'll regret every mile that you wallow and meander down the road. Get the combination very wrong and you may not live to regret anything! This page looks at the key factors which should be taken into account when matching a camper to a pickup, or vice versa.