Truck Camper Guide

Matching a Camper to a Truck

When purchasing a Truck Camper, there are a few important factors to consider:

1. The payload capacity – sometimes this rating is posted in the glove box of your truck, if not, another way to determine payload capacity Generic GVWR stickerwould be to weigh your truck, full of fuel, people and of course the dog and then subtract that weight from the (GVWR) posted on the door of your truck (see example to the right) and that difference would equal your payload capacity (weight of camper you can carry). Example, your truck weighs 6800lbs and the GVWR on the door reads 9900lbs your payload would be 3100lbs (9900lbs-6800lbs=3100lbs).

2. GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) – is the maximum weight the manufacturer rates that truck to carry, including weight of the truck and all people. Cargo, fuel etc.

3. GAWR (Gross Axle Weight Rating) – is the maximum rating the manufacturer rates the axles to carry. To determine these ratings on your truck with cargo (camper) weigh your truck again with just the front and then just the rear axle on the scales, this will give you your axle ratings on your truck with your camper. These ratings are usually posted on the driver’s side doorpost.

4. Tire capacity (rating of your tire) – This is the tiny fine print on the sidewall of your tire, usually just behind the tire inflation number, this will usually be a direct correlation to the axle ratings and GVWR on new truck.  This will always be your weak link in your weight carrying capacity and should always be checked before carrying any load, including a passenger car for that matter. SAFETY ALERT – Always make certain you choose tires with the proper load capacity to handle whatever load you are carrying with your vehicle! 

Ford Load range example

5. COG (Center of Gravity) – also known as Center of Balance is the point that the weight of your camper is balanced, ALP notes the COG on every camper with a large red arrow, this is determined as it is weighed and balanced as it goes out the door. Your camper COG should fall into the “Load Range” of your truck (see owners manual) for this measurement. (See example below)

As you can see in this example, to the right, the COG of this camper easily falls into the load range of this truck.

Chevrolet owners manual COG page

As the owner, it is your responsibility not to exceed the weight or COG specifications of your truck when purchasing a truck camper. Always think safety first before loading a camper on your truck. Please consult your dealer, who can help you select aftermarket items designed to aid in proper use of your truck and camper combination.

 Suspension Enhancements

Suspension enhancements allow you to manage your load but does not change or add to a trucks GVWR. In some areas you can make upgrades to your truck and then have it inspected by a DOT (Department of Transportation) and you may be able to increase your “legal” GVWR, check with your local DOT for details in your area.

Torklift Stable LoadsStable Loads by Tork Lift

We use and recommend this product. Today’s truck manufacturers market trucks to be our everyday driver, thus they want the empty loaded truck to be as smooth a ride as possible. To accomplish this they lower the overload spring (the heavy weight bearing springs) 3″ to 4″ lower to give that smoother ride when empty. The problem with this is when you add any weight to the truck it appears to be sitting low in the rear or “overloaded” since the vehicle has to drop 3 to 4″ before it touches the overload spring.  Stable Loads by Torklift simply fill this space so that as soon as you add the load, the weight immediately sets on the overload springs allowing your trucks suspension to do what it was designed to do, carry a load, a camper in this case. Go to Torklift.com for more information.

Air BagsRide-Rite Air Bag kit logo

We use and recommend air bags also, in the correct application. Some truck manufacturers recommend airbags in all applications and suggest you inflate them 80 to 100 lbs in the bags. We don’t recommend air bags to be used in this way, because in too many cases, this will raise your camper up off of the suspension causing you to have a spongier less safe ride, so if you choose air bags we only recommend you inflate them so that you are just touching the overload springs of your truck for the best ride and handling characteristics. For more information on airbags go to Ride-Rite website.

We love to Talk Truck Camper and Suspension Enhancements so feel free to contact us with more questions.