With a truck camper, truck drivers can fulfill their traveling dreams without buying a whole other vehicle. However, not every truck is capable of hauling this kind of equipment. The Dodge 1500 is a half-ton truck, making it a smaller pick-up when compared to what’s out there, so can it handle a truck camper?
A Dodge 1500 can have a truck camper, but the truck’s payload capacity must be greater than the camper’s fully-loaded weight. As a light-duty truck, the highest available payload capacity for a 1500 is about 2,320 lbs (1,052 kg). This is enough to carry around smaller, more basic truck campers.
There is a wide range of truck campers, but they’re not all appropriate for the 1500. Below, I’ll look at truck capacities, camper weights, and what you need to know to fit your truck with the right camper.
Payload Capacity of a Dodge Ram 1500
Your truck’s payload capacity is the most important metric to look at before buying a camper, as you have to make sure the truck can handle the weight.
The 1500’s payload capacity varies by trim level but is relatively low overall. To put things into perspective, I compared the 1500 to the Dodge 2500 and 3500 in the chart below.
|’21 Dodge 1500 Classic
|’21 Dodge 1500 Big Horn/Tradesman
|’21 Dodge Ram 2500
|’21 Dodge Ram 3500
|Up to 1,930 Ibs (875 kg)
|Up to 2,329 Ibs (1,052 kg)
|Up to 4,380 Ibs (1,986 kg)
|Up to 7,680 Ibs (3,484 kg)
|Up to 4,560 Ibs (2,068 kg)
|Up to 11,650 Ibs (5,285 kg)
|Up to 20,000 Ibs (9,071 kg)
|Up to 37,100 Ibs (16,828 kg)
|67.2 to 98.4 in (171 to 250 cm)
|67.2 to 76.8 in (171 to 195 cm)
|76.8 to 98.4 in (195 to 250 cm)
|76.8 to 98.4 in (195 to 250 cm)
You’ll also need to know the dimensions of the truck bed, and I included towing capacity in case you ultimately decide a tow-behind camper is better for you.
Average Weight of a Truck Camper
Once you know your vehicle’s weight limit, you can narrow your search to campers that are light enough.
The average weight of a truck camper is somewhere around 2,200 lbs (998 kg). Miniature campers are just a few hundred pounds, but full-size truck campers weighing several thousand pounds are very common. These often resemble traditional campers and will have many, if not all, of the same amenities.
Pop-Up Campers vs. Traditional Truck Campers
There are different styles of truck campers, and some of them are lighter than others.
“Pop-up” campers, for example, sit in the truck bed but extend vertically to give you more room. These campers are typically soft-sided and made with canvas or another lightweight material. Heavier truck campers are made with aluminum and have hard sides with slide-out compartments. There are many hard-bodied campers that will fit on your 1500, but they just aren’t as big.
Other Weight Considerations
Keep in mind that your truck’s payload capacity is the maximum weight it should carry, which means you have to consider the contents of both the truck and the camper.
You shouldn’t buy a camper that is equal to your truck’s payload capacity because you’ll exceed the weight limit after you fill the truck and camper with supplies. Based on the above payload ratings, Dodge 1500s are somewhat limited in terms of truck campers they’ll be able to carry.
How To Find a Truck Camper That Fits Your Truck
Knowing a few key measurements will help you determine whether or not a particular camper will fit your truck. Here are some of the most important things you’ll need to do.
Find Out Your Truck’s Payload Capacity
A quick Google search will typically produce the answer you need. However, you can also follow these steps to calculate the weight limit:
- Get your truck’s empty weight. You can go to a commercial scale and weigh your truck or search on the manufacturer’s website.
- Find the GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating). This is the maximum total weight the vehicle should be. This is usually found on the sticker on the inside of the driver’s door.
- Subtract the empty weight from the GVWR. If your truck’s GVWR is 9,000 lbs (4,082 kg) and the empty weight is 6,000 lbs (2,721 kg), your payload capacity is 3,000 lbs (1,360 kg).
Know Your Truck’s Measurements
If the truck has a high enough payload capacity, you still have to make sure the camper will fit in the bed. The measurements you need include:
- Height of the cab.
- Rail height.
- Tailgate opening height and length.
You’ll be able to match these measurements up with the dimensions of the camper found on the spec sheet.
Understand Center of Gravity
Center of gravity is a factor when buying a truck camper. When the camper weight is in the wrong spot, you might experience issues such as poor handling or problems with the suspension. You want most of the camper weight to rest on the rear axle.
Truck campers typically have a center of gravity measurement expressed in inches. You can find your truck’s center of gravity point by measuring from the front of the truck bed to the center of the rear axle.
Basically, you want the camper’s center of gravity measurement to be less than your truck’s. Otherwise, the camper will likely sit behind the truck’s center of gravity point.
The Dodge Ram 1500 is a light-duty vehicle, so while capable, it doesn’t have the power or carrying capacity you’ll find in a 2500 or 3500.
Even the most capable 1500 only has a payload capacity of 2,320 (1,052 kg), and many truck campers weigh several thousand pounds. With that in mind, your truck camper options are somewhat limited. You shouldn’t have issues finding a basic camper that is a little bit smaller, but if you are looking for something with all the amenities and features of a typical RV, you’ll need a bigger truck.