When Steve first started talking about a truck camper, I was skeptical. As in, very skeptical. Then he started listing all the truck camper highlights he could think of and it was enough for me to be open-minded enough to go look at some. And gosh, once I did, I got the hype! Noelle here, by the way.
Top Five Truck Camper Highlights
- We’re at home, no matter where we are.
- Our truck camper size is perfect for the two of us.
- The solar system covers almost all our electrical needs.
- Cooking meals is easy because everything is close at hand.
- Set-up and “tear-down” takes less than five minutes.
We’re at home, no matter where we are
My very favorite thing about living full time in our truck camper is probably echoed by any full time RV dweller, no matter the rig size. I love that our home is always with us. Have to go to the bathroom, but you’re at the Post Office where there are none? No worry! We just hop into our camper and go! Need some turmeric, when cooking dinner at a relative’s? No worry! Run out to the camper and get some from the spice shelf!
I love that where ever we go, we’re at home. And sometimes that home has a pretty amazing setting! From Yellowstone National Park to Craters of the Moon NP to a small campground on the banks of a bayou in Louisiana, we’ve called some fantastic places home.
Steve and I seem to get along in a small space pretty well. For years, he’s been all about building a tiny home. I’ve thought the project sounds way more fun than the living size. However, we’re living pretty tiny right now, so who knows? Maybe building our own small home after we finish this wandering phase is a good idea for us. For now, having our home always with us is pretty great!
Our truck camper size is perfect for the two of us
So that brings me to my next truck camper highlight! The size of Cupcake is perfect for us. Of course, it would be fantastic if we had a recliner to sit in. That bit of comfort is something we both miss. Basically, we sit at the dinette or on the bed. Neither of which is particularly comfortable for super long. But the overall living space is enough.
A couple days ago, we celebrated our 19th wedding anniversary by eating inside an Indian restaurant. I know, I know, it’s a huge deal to eat inside nowadays, so it really was special. Only us and one family opted to eat in, so the owner had time to chat with us. He asked if the truck camper was ours and Steve replied that it’s our home. The three of us had a great conversation about the size of homes in America and the general pursuit of “things” to make one happy.
Joy from the inside…
He believes that joy comes from inside, whether that’s in love or food or drink or playing games or reading. Any of the things which we can take into ourselves, rather than things which are outside of ourselves. His specific example was wanting a new couch and how great it is to bring it home. But then you get up from it and can not see it as you walk to the kitchen. So the joy from the new couch dissipates quickly because our eyes see something else to take its place. Alternatively, the joy received from sitting on the couch and talking to a loved one is what lasts.
All that to say, the size of our home is enough. For now, we don’t need more. Be that as it may, we do have furniture in storage in Portland, so our future probably does have a brick and mortar house in its future. But for now, a truck camper highlight for me is that the size of our home is enough.
The Size of the Camper goes everywhere too!
Along the same lines of the camper being the right size for the two of us, it also is a great size for going where ever we want to go. We can boondock pretty much anywhere we want. Going off the beaten path is what we strive for, so having a rig that’s small enough to do so makes life more full for Steve and I. Of truck camper highlights, that’s a huge one for us!
The solar system covers almost all our electrical needs
We had some hot days in the truck camper last summer, but I really only remember turning on the generator once so that we could run the air conditioner. The rest of the time, our solar panels generate enough electricity to cover our needs. That’s a huge truck camper highlight right there! I think the smaller size of our setup makes it easy for our 120 volt panels to keep up with our needs. A larger RV would likely need more panels.
Now, if we’re talking about camping in the Pacific Northwest during the winter, the life-draining grayness may change things. But we’re mostly boondockers (in as much sun as we can find) and we haven’t run out of power yet. (Well, I guess that’s not technically true, as we lost power during a snow storm, but we weren’t actually staying in the camper during that cold spell.) During a typical day, we don’t use much lighting. Instead we pull up window shades for the sunshine to warm the insides of the camper and then we go off hiking or exploring. During the summer we pull the shades down, obviously, to keep it cooler inside. So we mainly only use lighting in the evening, but we use what we need, without worrying about it.
Our solar system powers our lighting, the fans for our heater, our tv (maybe on for three hours in the evening), the pump for our water system, our over-the-stove fan and our USB ports. Through the USB ports, we charge cell phones, Steve’s cpap, sometimes our laptops and also our Oster portable blender. Our solar system doesn’t power our microwave or the AC, but it covers everything we really need.
Cooking meals is easy in a Truck Camper
Another of my truck camper highlights is the layout and functionality of the kitchen. Everything is close together and well laid out, so it makes cooking meals easy. A lot of the time, we opt for one pan meals. Easy dishes like cabbage, onion and kielbasa. These are generally my cooking days! Other times, Steve gets all fancy and cooks gourmet dishes, like seafood risotto, where he uses every bowl and pan that we own!
I love the pull-out pantry, although we’re still figuring out the best uses for it. We keep baskets in the cupboards above the sink/stovetop with extra food. And the spice rack is great. As it turns out, we keep a good amount of spices on hand. So having a convenient place to store them works well.
The Stovetop is plenty big enough…
Our stove top has three burners that operate fine even when they’re all on at the same time. Our pans are smaller sized, which makes it easier to use multiples. But we’ve experienced no issues with three pans going simultaneously. Then there’s this morning when Steve made us oatmeal. It was incredibly salty, I mean pucker your lips kind of salty. We ate the raisins out and used the rest as a sacrifice to the cooking gods. Not sure what happened there, but I’m thinking it wasn’t really an outcome of our well-laid out kitchen. 🙂
We hang a cutting board for quick chopping access and sometimes even put up the extra counter top for larger prep space. Generally though it stays in its storage cupboard. We even sometimes put the sink cover on to use it for counter space, but even that generally remains tucked under the mattress where it’s stored. All that to say, we really have enough room to cook simple or elaborate meals. It’s nice having everything close at hand.
Set-up and “tear-down” Takes Less Than 5 minutes
Of all my truck camper highlights, this is one of the best! We arrive at camp, press the button to roll out the dinette slide, turn on the water pump and we’re set up. That’s it! Occasionally, we drag out a lawn chair before popping open a cold beer, so that adds another two minutes to our set up. It’s friggin’ fantastic!
Getting ready to leave again is pretty much the same. Turn off the water pump, tuck away any loose items we’ve used, slide in the slide and hit the road. The hardest part of truck camper maintenance, which really isn’t about tear-down, is making the bed. Now that’s a pain in the ass, but everything else…simple. I’ve thought about getting Beddy’s, which are a zipper system, but it’s a big expense that doesn’t seem particularly necessary. I just wrestle the blankets and call it a morning workout!
Anyway, last summer we camped with one of our daughters, her husband and our grandson. Another family joined too. Granted they have a 36′ tow behind (which is awesome!), but their set up and tear down took about an hour each. They first needed to level the rig. Then they set up an outdoor tented area for sitting in the shade and meal-staging. Then they had a sh*t ton of lawn chairs and a rug and campfire wood and ice chests. It was crazy comfortable and a little like glamping, which was fantastic. But it took an hour on both ends.
Overall Truck Camper Highlights
We’re lazy. The quick set up works well for us. Living in a truck camper is just easy. Cleaning it is super easy. It fits us and we like that. We like being always at home, so much so that when we took the camper in for a little maintenance work, it just felt odd. The truck by itself isn’t our home. The combo is what we love.
The small size of our home fits us perfectly and makes it easy to use solar power for all our basic needs. We do use the microwave if we’re at a campground with electricity, but that’s not super often. Maybe once a week or so. Cooking in our camper is easy, because everything is so close at hand. And we’re ready to go in five minutes tops! When Steve first suggested a truck camper, I was dubious. But now, I realize it’s the perfect fit for us.