Our “Go North” truck camper trip to Alaska was our very first experience with truck campers, and one of our first questions was, “How do we get this thing in and out of the truck?”
We had 6 months to get used to loading and unloading this 2020 Lance 1172 Truck Camper on a 2019 Ford F350 Pickup. This video goes through step-by-step instructions to load a truck camper onto and off of a pickup truck. Mounting and dismounting a truck camper can be daunting the first time, but with practice the truck camper can be either put on or removed quickly and easily!
TO UNLOAD A TRUCK CAMPER
- Step 1: Find a level place to park
- Find as level as possible for most comfort.
- While can be leveled after off the truck, having a dip under any leg can cause additional wobble when getting in and out of the camper
- No need to level truck as you will be removing it from under the camper and can level it.
- Step 2: Release Tie-Downs from Truck Camper Mounting Brackets
- There are different types of Mounting Brackets & Tie-Downs – we used Torklift FastGun Turnbuckles
- Remove carefully so as not to bump and potentially scratch your truck side
- Also remove anything that may obstruct removal, like something on a stinger hitch
- Step 3: Check your Jacks & their path
- Not all jack systems are the same – some manual some electric remote
- Dually vs. Single Rear Wheel Truck
- Dually jacks sit too far in to drive past, so jacks are designed to swing out to accommodate for this
- Remember to swing out these jacks before you lift the camper off the truck
- Check path of jacks – clear rocks, branches, etc. & put down blocks of wood if particularly soft or chance of damaging asphalt/pad
- Step 4: Deploy Jacks
- At first deploy all at once until the first touches, then do one or two at a time until all are touching before lifting all in sync
- Power Usage – running the jack uses a lot of power, so be sure to either run the truck, plug into shore power, or use lithium batteries
- Ours used 550 watts to lift the unit, much less to lower the unit
- Lift until above truck bed
- If have Airbags, might have to raise higher or let air out
- Can take the measurement on legs of jacks to remember how far you need to raise it up to put in back on
- Be careful to watch for one leg going faster/slower than the others (when lifting all at once)
- If have a partner, have them talk to you as the camper lifts off the bed.
- Step 5: SLOWLY move truck straight forward ~3ft
- Ensure tires are pointing STRAIGHT ahead
- Turn only if directed by your partner or you notice rubbing on one side (your truck camper may have shifted in travel)
- Lift more if necessary as truck may move up as you pull forward (use your partner’s directions)
- Step 6: STOP! Unplug cable to truck
- Plug may be in different position for you, might have to run cable prior to hookup
- Plug installed in front of your truck bed to charge batteries from truck and power lights on back (turn signals, brake lights, back up camera)
- If possible, hang this up so it is out of the way
- We have a second cable that we have to unplug that enabled our alternator charging system
- Step 7: SLOWLY drive truck STRAIGHT forward again
- Monitor to make sure remains clear of truck camper and nothing is connected
- Move it far enough away that it will not be in the way of the lowering of the truck camper
- Step 8: Lower Truck Camper to desired height & level
- Most sturdy when lower
- Do not rest on steps/be cognoscente of steps
- Do not tip camper, keep level
- Watch out for lifting of one leg (moving faster than others, ending up on 3)
- Step 9: If applicable, push out slides.
- Ensure outside area is clear for slides’ paths
- For ours, back slide first, side slide second – make sure inside is clear and nothing fell in way during travel
TO LOAD A TRUCK CAMPER
- Step 1: If have slides, pull in. Put steps in travel position.
- Ensure slides are clear on inside and outside
- Step 2: Raise truck camper
- Manual vs. Remote
- To above height of truck bed by 1-2 inches, or remember the height from when you took it off
- Step 3: Line Up Truck
- Straight on, center truck camper inside the bed of the truck so equal spacing on both sides
- Will be within a few inches, is tight but very doable
- Keep wheels straight
- Use side and rearview mirrors, and turn around to look
- Can use tape to mark middle of the bed and camper for easy line-up
- Step 4: SLOWLY back the truck up
- Helps to have rubber or plastic mat in the bed – less damage
- Once you start coming alongside the camper, grab the cable and drape over side of truck or something else so you can grab easily for plugging in (again, plug might be set up differently)
- Look down both sides of truck bed to make sure relatively even spacing
- If get off track, pull forward, re-position, and start again until can back straight under the camper.
- Step 5: STOP ~3 ft from cab to plug in
- Step 6: SLOWLY back the truck up until the camper bumpers line up with the front of the truck bed
- Start lowering the camper and see how it is going to rest, might need to inch forward/backward to perfect the fit.
- Step 7: Lower Truck Camper onto Bed of Truck
- Again, remember your power draw, make sure you’re plugged into the truck or the shore power.
- Fill Airbags to proper inflation (if you have time)
- Raise legs all the way up to prevent dirt buildup and keep clean
- Step 8: Attach Tie-downs
- Finding the right snugness – might be different than last time due to slight shifts in position from last time
- Place on safeties
- Step 9: Ensure any/all pedestal and sewer connections are detached before driving away.
How Long Does It Take?
The first time we unloaded the truck camper we took our time and were extremely careful, so it probably took a good 20-30 minutes. (We were pretty nervous!)
After several times taking the truck camper on/off and understanding each other’s jobs, we could do it in about 10 minutes.
The important thing is to take your time getting the truck and camper lined up properly when loading to avoid rubbing the sides of the bed, but we promise this gets easier with practice!
Love truck campers? Check out our truck camper trip to Alaska and the Arctic Ocean that we documented in a 20-episode web docu-series called GO NORTH.
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