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How to Load a Truck Camper on a Pickup Truck

How to Load a Truck Camper on a Pickup Truck

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!

How to Load and Unload a Truck Camper on a Pickup Truck | Go North Explore More

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.

truck camper unloaded

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!


follow the journey

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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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 Hwy.co and an Arizona travel guide.

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Boyne Cramm

Monday 21st of March 2022

When situating the truck camper into the bed of the truck, is it most important that the camper rest solely on the bed. or solely on the sides of the truck box or both. My new acquisition seems to rock slightly forwards and backwards under travel and while it dosent seem unsafe it certainly is unnerving.

Mortons on the Move

Friday 15th of April 2022

They are designed to have the weight in the bed of the truck. Campers that hang off the back do tend to rock a bit as much of the weight is near the rear tail. This is normal but some people will latch it down in the front or put horse mats under it to cushion it. The movement can be aggressive sometimes and is why lance offers their gas shocks that go to the front of the truck.

Joe

Tuesday 21st of April 2020

Can you tell us more about the integrated pickup truck leveling system that was shown on the digital dashboard in the beginning of the video? Was this a manufacturer option or some type of integrated add-on? Thank you for sharing your adventures with us.

Brian

Monday 20th of April 2020

I may have missed it in your Go North wrap up, but did you keep the pickup and camper? I just saw the video about loading and unloading and it appears like you still have the truck and camper and the 5th wheel and Ram?

Caitlin Morton

Monday 20th of April 2020

Hi Brian, No worries! We returned the truck camper back to Lance when we returned in early November. If you're curious, you might want to check out our FAQ page - it covers a lot of questions like this and will give you an idea of what's to come with the next several videos to come! Here is the web address to copy/paste into your browser: https://www.mortonsonthemove.com/gonorthfaq.html OR you can navigate to the GO NORTH drop down and find GO NORTH FAQs. Thanks for your comment!

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