How to Mount a Truck Camper - Some Tips from Jeff Johnston

Jeff Johnston here for RVing Today TV. Our Palomino camper was comfortably wrapped away and protected for the winter, but like a lot of camper owners, in a couple of weeks we’re going to be unwrapping it and loading it back on the truck for the spring. Some camper owners do this multiple times every year and they’re really pretty good at it. Our first camper-loading project took place at the Palomino Factory with the aid of two Palomino tech experts. As you may imagine, that went pretty smoothly. Well, last spring, we loaded the camper ourselves at home for the first time, and it turned out the project was nowhere near as difficult or as scary as we thought it might have been.

It’s springtime. We’ve de-winterized the camper, and now the trick is getting this camper onto that truck.  It seems fairly easy at the outset. I mean, all you’re doing is backing the truck under the camper, set it down, and clamp it down, but you have to get it lined up right, you need to get it centered, you need to get it square. You want to make it a tidy load, and that’s what becomes a little bit of a challenge or it can be. We haven’t done this for a little while. We’re going to see how it goes. Maybe it’ll be quick and easy, maybe it won’t. We’ll find out soon. Not everyone is really, really good at backing a truck under a camper the first time or getting it lined up.  And there’s a lot of different ways people have come up with to do that. Different devices like a laser pointer on the back of the cab pointing at a target on the camper. Something like that. We’re just going to wing it, hope for the best. However, I did have– I put a couple of pieces of white tape here on the front of the camper, and those will line up more or less with the tape stripes here in the middle of the bed, and that’s just to help us kind of get a feel for when the camper is coming in. 

Now, these metal reinforcing bars, like I said, are smooth,  but they’re slippery. So I’ve added some traction material, the self-adhesive rolls of traction material you can get to put on a step, for example, to keep from slipping on it. I’ve added that all the way across each of these braces. And that grit will help keep the camper from sliding around and moving too much once. it’s on the bed of the truck,  or that’s the theory anyway. We’re going to see how it works. This is RICO tightening remote control that operates the jacks for the camper. as well as the lift for the roof; really handy.

Clear communication with your helper is important. A pair of inexpensive, handheld radios work well for us. I’m going to be backing in and I’m going to stop when the bed clears the side of the camper a little bit. Just heads back there. And I’m–like I said, hopefully we’ll see how close these white lines are to lining up ’cause all I’m doing is lining up with the mirrors and matching the mirrors in the side of the bed to the jacks on the sides. So, I also may need to raise it up a little bit. So if the bed gets really close to this and it looks like it’s not high enough, shout howdy ho or something like that.

It looks pretty good side to side here. I’m going to finish backing up. And to get those front bump stops up against the front, I got about 2 inches to go. So it’ll bump again.  We had marked the fast gun clamp positions, this one is passenger side rear, for easier installation because each is adjusted to a somewhat different length. It felt good before we took the camper off the first time and no reason it shouldn’t feel good now.

Practice makes camper unloading and loading a fairly easy job. It’s part of truck camper ownership. Now we’re plugged in, locked down, and ready for the road.