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Downsizing to a Truck Camper from a Fifth Wheel RV

Downsizing to a Truck Camper from a Fifth Wheel RV

​Downsizing and minimalism are two hot topics these days – both in RV Life and in “normal society.”   The main thoughts around it are about de-cluttering your life – the less stuff you have, the less material worries you have.

There are also environmental considerations (both in the sense of going green and your own improved surrounding environment), mindful living ideals, quality over quantity, and spending more money on experiences over things.  

downsizing from fifth wheel to truck camper

  When we moved from our 2,000 square foot house to our 33ft fifth wheel, we couldn’t believe the amount of stuff we had held on to. We had boxes of stuff that hadn’t been unpacked from not one but TWO moves ago.  

Why did we have this stuff? And why was it so hard to get rid of?  

Everyone has their own answers.  

We hoped that this previous experience helped us with the task of downsizing to a Lance 1172 truck camper from our 33ft Mobile Suites fifth wheel for the next 6 months.

We saw an advantage and a disadvantage to living the RV life prior to this endeavor:  

Advantage to Downsizing Before

​Fortunately, the process of moving into the RV in 2015 taught us a lot about living minimally. If you want something new, something old has to go. Consider weight. Do you really need those crystal wine glasses? If you haven’t used it in 6 months, we don’t need it anymore.

Because of this we were pretty confident that we could go through with another downsizing – especially one where it was temporary (only 6-8 months) and we didn’t have to get rid of everything we weren’t taking, which really is the hard part about downsizing.

Packing truck camper

Disadvantage to Downsizing Before

​We’ve gotten so used to traveling with our house on our backs – and having EVERYTHING we need with us. We realized we had a problem when we did a weekend at a hotel and had to make 3 trips back and forth from the truck to the room to bring all our stuff in…we don’t pack lightly anymore!

The truck camper is smaller and doesn’t have as much space or, most importantly, weight carrying capacity (which means that even if I could fit it in there doesn’t mean it can come.) You can read more about this and what we did in our Packing post.

packing the truck camper

How Downsizing Went

So how did our theories hold up? ​While we spent a lot of time thinking about the packing and placement of things, we hadn’t really spent a lot of time in the space we were going to be living.

The first week on the road taught us a lot about actually living in a smaller space, and we ended up rearranging where things were stored or used when brought out. I switched the silverware drawer and moved the “spot” for the garbage can to live in. ​It is going to be important to keep up the tidiness of this rig – it gets disheveled in seconds and there really isn’t enough counter or table space to let things hang about.

Fortunately, it only takes seconds to clean and tidy up!

Truck Camper Adjustments

​The counter extender next to the sink was a lifesaver, as well as the little rack that holds the soap up off the counter – every little bit helps!

The latches were a huge adjustment that you might not think of. When you get used to a certain way of opening cabinets, it take a little while to change to a different style. It took me a couple of days for my brain to remember where latches are without searching, as well as how to move out of the way for opening and closing doors. ​

The dogs had a pretty hard time adjusting to the truck camper. They take up most of the limited floorspace in the back in front of the couch, which happens to be right next to the door. It took them a few weeks to get used to us moving around and over them so much.

truck camper kitchen

Driving the Truck Camper

I (Cait) have done a lot of the driving with the Lance truck camper – most of it in fact! In the fifth wheel, I never felt confident to drive more than stints on interstate with the easy on and off ramps.

The truck camper only took an hour or two to get used to, and it is MUCH easier that the fifth wheel for obvious reasons. It is smaller and more maneuverable, and you can see out of both mirrors and down the sides of the RV all the time.

Read more about Driving the Truck Camper.

go north truck camper

 We have already driven it places and in ways that we would have never taken the fifth wheel. We’ve been down winding mountain roads, into parking lots, to trail heads, through small towns – even down two-tracks!

We are also able to park it practically anywhere, making running errands and finding boondocking spots a breeze.   ​

Unloading & Loading the Truck Camper

Being able to take the camper off the truck has also been awesome – and I would think would be one of the big advantages over a small Class B or a van.

We can drop the RV and still use our vehicle so we don’t have to pack up and move everything whenever we want to go somewhere. We are also looking forward to being able to do some more off-road adventures with the 4×4 truck by taking the camper off!  

Read more about How to Load and Unload a Truck Camper here.

unmount truck camper

Overall First Impressions

  Overall, our first impressions are very positive. There is a learning curve to every new RV, and our initial drive to Whidbey Island was a great shakedown of what worked and what didn’t.

We’re already experiencing the huge benefits to driving around a smaller rig, and so far don’t feel any negatives of having a smaller space or less stuff with us. Finger crossed these feelings continue throughout the journey!  

inside of lance 1172 truck camper

Questions or Thoughts?

At the time of writing this article, we’re obviously very new to the Truck Camper Life at this time, so if you have/had one we’d love to hear your thoughts on them and how you adapted. Also, if you’re curious about anything truck-camper wise, or about the 1172 model that we are using, please let us know!    

The Go North Expedition is made possible by Lance Camper ManufacturingBattle Born BatteriesTruma North AmericaDometicLivinLite.netHellwig Suspension Products, and viewers like you through Patreon. Thank you!

This post may include affiliate links.

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About Mortons on the Move

Tom & Caitlin Morton of Mortons on the Move gave up the stationary life for one where they are constantly on the move. They are full-time travelers, television hosts, and digital media producers.
They left their jobs, sold their house and possessions, and hit the road in September 2015 in their full-time “home on wheels”. Since then they have traveled the US, Canada, and even internationally by RV.
Now, they are Discovery Channel & PBS TV Co-stars of The RVers, producers of “Go North” on Amazon Prime, co-founders and instructors of RV Masterclass, and contributing authors for and an Arizona travel guide.

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Bloggin Brandi

Monday 18th of May 2020

Downsizing from a house to an Rv is a process in itself. Each new Rv is another. I went from a travel trailer to a van. Then, a van to a class a motorhome. Fifth wheel would be my best advice for full time. But, Truck campers are cool for shorter adventures or road trips. Something I could do momentarily.

John Lockhart

Friday 12th of July 2019

As I watch your videos, each time you take the camper off, I think one of those mesh tailgate nets would be a handy accessory to have. I assume your jacks are essentially "locked" to prevent unauthorized operation? Is it relatively easy to load with the power jacks? My only experience is with manual jacks and found it was extremely tricky on uneven ground.

Richard Wood

Friday 7th of June 2019

How do you secure the 1172 when it is off of the truck? I am glad all is going well and continue having a safe journey.

Mike Chiles

Friday 7th of June 2019

We also have a Lance and a very large 5th wheel so we understand your comments about space and managing your space in your 1172 Lance TC. It is challenging and fun at the same time.

Michael McMahan

Friday 7th of June 2019

I to have also downsized to a Lance camper and you are spot on about how you really need to decide what stuff you can't live without and what stuff has gotta go. The positives outweigh the negatives for me, mostly for my love of boondocking and ease of parking. I will watch your posts and maybe someday we will cross paths while enjoying our travels. Michael