View Full Version : Slide In Camper: Pop top or Hard side?

01-27-2004, 10:38 PM
I am going to splurge on some comfort in the next month or so and need help on what to buy. A hardsided camper or a pop up.

I have an 00 F350 Crew Cab Shortbed Diesel 4x4 SWR with a 4" exhaust and running a hypertec program. I pull my 1 ton CJ7 on tandem axle trailer, total weight about 6000#. I plan on purchasing something fully self contained with head/shower. I will keep it short so I don't have to worry about extending the hitch.

Here are what I see as the pros and cons. Let me know what I am missing.

Pop up-
Pros: Lighter, less wind resistance , Better handling
Cons: Noisier, less insulation, moving parts, canvas wears out.

Pros: Quieter, better insulated
Cons: High center of gravity, sails in high winds

I lean towards the hardside because of the better insulating qualities. It gets hot here and a roof mounted AC unit will be mandatory. It should also be quieter.

I would like to hear opinions from those who have had experience with one or the other or both.

How heavy can I go and still drive/tow comfortably?

Other considerations?

01-28-2004, 10:01 AM

I run a 97 Chevy P/U 1500 shortbed with 5.8L 4WD. I use an 8 foot Angler slide-in hardside camper. I don't know it's weight but it is one of the lightest made. I added helper springs on the 1500 to keep the back end up. The camper has a very large bed, sink, two burner stove, fridge, dinning area which converts into another bed, overhead storage which converts into a child’s bed and a wet bathroom (shower in same area as toilet). Also has an outdoor shower which I like. My wife prefers the indoor one. It has no generator but a 110 A/C, propane heater and hot water heater. The camper hangs over the bed so I use an extender when flat-towing the jeep or a 22-foot F/S boat (read heavy boat). The extender is just a two-foot bar that connects just like the hitch, not an issue unless you are 4- wheeling with the whole rig. We ran it to the Jamboree this year with no problem.

We have no children so storage is not an issue, handling may be a little better with a pop-up but you get used to it and adjust. The wind may affect your mileage a little but I have never found it to be a major problem. The thing sticks up more but the top part is not very heavy so the center of gravity is not really much higher. They just look scary.

I have friends with a pop-up trk camper and have used it with them. I never liked it because of the noise, insulation, canvas and especially the lack of storage. Also they are hard to find with a good self-contained bathroom (here you can read your wife will hate it if you are married). Because of the canvas they are harder to cool in summer or heat in winter. Also because of the canvas most of them move things down a little, such as the fridge, heater and hot water tank thus leaving less storage and sometimes smaller holding tanks.

If you plan on running air out in the boonies and not always staying where there is a plugin you will need a large generator. These are expensive built in and take up quite a bit of room or you could bolt one on your trailer. I don't have one so in the summer we stay at campgrounds with hookups.

After using both, for my application I would never have a popup, well my wife would never let me have a popup. In fact my camper is for sale along with the truck because my wife wants a larger one. This means bigger truck also and a longbed for more floor space in the camper.

If you have any questions e-mail me with a phone number.

Creekers Rich & Kathy

01-28-2004, 11:36 AM
I have a 8' foot Lance with built in generator and it is nice to turn the air on where ever you want. There are not many hookups where I go. I put air bags on the truck ( 2500 HD ) and it made it handle much better also made it higher for towing.

02-01-2004, 06:20 AM
I've had both. Stick with the hard side, you will find that the driving differences are almost nothing, a little in the wind. Your rig is big enough that you won't even notice a diff, I'd bet... I had both of mine in a 3/4 ton 99 Chev X Cab with a 6.0 litre and I could hardly feel much difference, especially with my bass boat hooked on, and your Ford is a lot bigger.... Also, think canvas replacement in 4-5 years, $1,500+, insulation from summer heat, SECURITY, while you are out wheeling all day...Have fun !!

02-01-2004, 09:02 AM
I too have been doing ALOT of research on this one. In the next few weeks, The XJ will be getting sold, and I will be building a new one. It will be for trail use ONLY, so I will be buying a Dodge 2500 with a B5.9 Cummins in it. All of the campers I have looked at were ok, untill I looked at the LANCE. Let me tell you, this is the bad boy of the camper world. They are build good, fairly cost effective (the Lance 920 I am Looking at is just under 10,000) for what you get. The pop-up type of camper, is like, well, a pop-up tent trailer, which I have now. Good I guess, but I too want to be able to run A/C and heat and have some quiet also. I have been in both and the pop-up type is quite louder, and the bathrooms are not "enclosed" like the regular camper, just due to the roof having to retract down.... Yes, the LANCE is heavier, (The 920 is 2100# with generator and A/C) but I think heaver is better in this case...In my opinion... Try looking here www.lancecampers.com


02-06-2004, 10:15 PM
I haven't had a chance to hit the Lance dealer yet but I sure will before I buy.

I just get nervous when I think of a 2500# dry camper with another 1000-1500# of gear, liquids and such all coupled to a 6000# trailer running down the freeway. The truck weighs 7300 wet so that makes a CGWR of 16000# or more.

02-06-2004, 10:32 PM
YUP its great huh??? A big ARGH ARGH ARGH as the idiot in the geo pulls out infront of you......:)


02-07-2004, 01:03 AM
Craig for what its worth, I know guys with less truck then you got, pulling a whole lot more. Running those toy haulers filled with quads and rails. Maybe add some air bags to help it keep level. Air bags could be good, so can adust if you are just going out for a qucki day trip, or hauling water and supplies for a week. Ah, though :) check those tires for the load..

Of course, thsi is comeing from a guy who had to peel his fingers out of the steering wheel of his Dodge after flat towing his Big Ugly out to Glamis:)