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?”
Truck Camper Loading Video Tutorial
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 the 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 the 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 are manual some have electric remotes.
Depending on whether you’re driving a dually or single rear wheel truck, you’ll have to be careful. 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 the path of jacks. Clear rocks, branches, and other debris & put down blocks of wood if particularly soft or if there is a chance of damaging asphalt.
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 the truck bed. If you have Airbags, might have to raise them higher or let the air out.
You can take the measurement on the legs of jacks to remember how far you need to raise it up to put it 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 the 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 the truck may move up as you pull forward (use your partner’s directions).
Step 6: STOP! Unplug the cable to the truck
This is the plug installed in front of your truck bed to charge batteries from the truck and power lights on back. It powers things like your turn signals, brake lights, and backup camera.
The plug may be in a different position for you, might have to run the cable prior to hookup. If possible, hang this up so it is out of the way.
Note: we had a second cable in the video that we have to unplug that enabled our alternator charging system.
Step 7: SLOWLY drive the truck STRAIGHT forward again
Monitor closely to make sure the truck remains clear of the 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
The camper will be the most sturdy when lower. Be careful of the your camper steps, you do not want to rest the weight of the camper on them as they can easily bend.
Do not tip the camper, and try to keep it as level as you can while you lower or raise it. Watch out for lifting of one leg. Sometimes one leg may move faster than the other and leave your camper standing on 3 legs.
Step 9: If applicable, push out slides.
If your camper has slide-outs, ensure the outside area is clear for the slides’ paths. Also make sure the inside of the camper is clear and nothing fell in the way of the slides 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 the truck camper
Manually or by using a remote, raise the camper to above the height of the 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, it is tight but very doable.
Keep wheels straight. Use side and rearview mirrors, and turn around to look. You can use tape to mark the 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 as it does less damage to the bed of the truck and underside of the camper over time.
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 you 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), then raise legs all the way up to prevent dirt buildup and keep clean.
Step 8: Attach Tie-downs
Find the right snugness as it might be different than last time due to slight shifts in position from last time. Put 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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