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Truck Camper Forum > General > Support Equipment
Hi guys, I'm looking to upgrade my old 70's pop up Palomino to something newer and bigger.. hard shell this time.

My truck is a 2002 GMC 2500HD 4x4, stock suspension, regular cab, 8ft bed. I also pull a small 2 horse trailer, max weight of the trailer if I have both horses in it is around 4000 lbs. I live in WI and generally don't have any big mountains to climb or anything like that, its all generally easy hauling, freeway except the last couple of miles to whatever campground I'm headed to.

I'm looking at a pretty hefty 11ft Elkhorn (1994).. the price is right and it has everything I want, seller says its 2000 lbs dry. I think my truck can handle it for the type of driving I do (payload capacity is well under), but when I actually see the beast in person I'll make that decision and possibly not go with something that big.

Whatever I end up getting for a camper this time around, I want to go with some sort of suspension support. I'm not sure what I should be looking at, both brand wise and product wise. I am leaning towards air bags, I don't think I need to bother with a controller as well as I can just adjust them when I take the camper on and off.

I don't know if I should also get the Torklift attachments that go inside the leaf springs, or if the airbags are fine by themselves. Or, if anyone has any experience with those newer SumoSprings, that don't actually have compressed air so you don't have to do the adjusting every time you load or unload?

Thanks! And if you feel I'm nuts considering a camper that big for my truck let me know.. checking specs it seems okay, and seller said a one ton would be better but this should be okay (being the HD, its about equilivent to a 1 ton frame wise, is my understanding).
I don't know much about Elkhorns but If this is a 11 footer with any amminities I think it would weigh much more than 2000 lbs. I have a Ford 1 ton dually and carry a 11 foot Lance and it weighs about 2600 and I only have an extra leaf on my truck and it still sways a little. I pull a 24 foot pontoon boat and sometimes my bass boat and although I am not under powered the truck is maxed out. I would recheck the weight of this camper before making any decisions on what to add to your truck. I won't pretend to know anything about bags and such as I have never used any of them. I just always try to be careful and not "over drive" my truck and so far it has worked for me. Hope this makes sense and is somewhat helpful to you. I am sure someone will chime in who knows more on this subject.
Sailor Dave
You will see a lot of different opinions when it comes to how much weight one should put into the bed of a truck and many different aftermarket items people use to try and increase their load capacity.

As a law enforcement officer and a person who prefers things be done within the limits of the vehicle, here is my take.

You can add springs, shocks, air bags, new axles and whatever else you like. The point is the truck was designed and built with a specific gross vehicle weight rating. This rating is stamped onto the vehicle and cannot be changed, no matter what modifications are made to it.

If you get into a serious accident the police are going to weigh your vehicle and if it exceeds the GVWR you are going to be liable.

That said, there are many sizes of truck campers, some weighing as little as 900 pounds and some that weigh in excess of 3500 pounds. No matter what the GVWR of your truck is you can find a camper that will be safe to haul and won’t put the financial security of your family in jeopardy.

Just my opinion and Ive been knocked before for expressing it. Check the tag on your truck.

BTW. I was looking at some You Tube vid's of the model your looking at. I noticed that the front jacks are swingouts. That COULD mean the unit was designed to be loaded onto a DRW truck.
Sailor Dave
Myai, if you need some assitance in finding your trucks curb weight and load capacity just ask. Lots of good help here. And you might want to take the campers center of gravity and your trucks cab to axle measurement into account as well.
Sailor Dave
Realizing I really didnt answer your question, thought I would put out another thought.

I dont have air bags and dont plan on installing them. Seems like there are two pretty evenly divided camps on this. Those that have them and love them and those that had them and removed them.

Torklift makes 2 products you might consider; Stableloads and Sway bars. According to Torklift the Stable loads should be installed first and if this doesnt improve sway and bounce, then add other products.

I ordered my 2012 F350 SD with the slide in camper package and it came with both front and rear sway bars.

My plan is to stay within the GVWR of my truck and see how it handles before adding any aftermarket items. I'm still in the process of finding out just how much of a camper the truck will handle.
Yes, I am concerned about the size/weight of this camper and will take that seriously. With towing, I've been taught to not go over half of what your vehicle is rated for.. I have many friends that pull their horse trailers with 1/2 ton trucks or even SUV's and I think they are nuts.. but they think I have way more truck than I "need" for my 4000lb fully loaded trailer. Better safe than sorry IMO. (and yes, my trailer has been weighed at a weigh station fully loaded with supplies and horses, we have lots of rock quarries here and they let you pull in, unhitch and weigh no problem)

When I first saw this trailer on Craigslist I didn't realize how huge it was, until I talked to the seller.. 3ft overhang on the back of an 8ft bed is just.. huge.

I am certainly not "set" on this particular camper by any means.. it has everything I want at the price I want, but I'm not going to risk going over my payload, etc, and was waiting until daylight to go pull the info off the door plate.

Since I am going hardshell for sure, I just want the extra support of something.. air bags, swaybars, stable loads. Just not sure what to start with. My 70's pop up didn't give me any problems with sway at all, but I know that sucker weighs a LOT less than a hardshell, especially one with a shower (that is a must for me, if I'm going to bother to upgrade.. horses, summertime, sweat.. I want a shower this time around and preferably an indoor one).

I can also of course look at horse trailers with living quarters, but I really like the ease of having the small trailer for short trips, and the truck camper for camping without horses.

Anyhoo.. plate info from my truck:

GVWR: 9200lbs
GAWR front: 4800lbs
GAWR rear: 6084 lbs

Nice.. trying to find the rest of the info in the manual, it said inside my glovebox is a sticker specifically for truck camper specs.. that's awful handy!

So that sticker says:
Truck camper load information. This info is furnished to indicate the manufacturer's recommendation regarding the use of a slide in camper with this truck as manufactured.

cargo weight rating = 3159 lbs
dimention "a" = 234cm/92in
dimention "b" = 102cm/40in

So.. I have to figure out what the heck that all means in regards to center of gravity, etc.

I think that 11ft Elkhorn is probably going to be very close in weight to my max, especially if I have any water in the tanks (granted, every place I go I can fill up when I get to the campground so there's no real need for me to fill anything until I arrive, and most have nearby dump stations if I actually use the toilet). Still.. I don't know, it will probably be over 3100 once I have all my supplies in it? I doubt the seller will let me load it up and take it to a scale, so if anyone has any solid info on what an 11ft 94 Elkhorn would weigh with supplies, I'd appreciate it.

Here is the actual ad for the camper:

Not sure what you mean about swing out jacks? They look normal to me, but I'm more familiar with the older tripod crank styles.

Will be back in a bit, going to try to figure out the whole center of gravity thing...
Still trying to find out actual weight and center of gravity of the camper.. seller is at a football party so can't check for me at the moment, I'm going to go out tomorrow night and look at it in person and see if there's a plate with the info.

Where would the plate be, by the door most likely or lp tank?

Also have an email into Fleetwood to see if they can look up the info for me.

I'm finding weights all over the board for 11ft campers.. from 2200-3500lbs, so I'm still really just not sure what to think.
Swing out brackets are located on the front jacks. They look like a hinge and will swing out to allow a dually truck with wider fenders to back under. My data plate is located on the back next to the door.
I see.. I can't tell from the photo if it has them or not. Will look in person. But it could be something the owner just added if he happened to have a dually, not necessarily meaning you need to use a dually to haul it around.
Sailor Dave
I just picked up my 2012 F350 and received the camper loading information sheet; probably because I ordered it with the Camper Package.

Dimension "A" and Dimension "B" are measurement taken from the rear edge of the truck bed. The center of gravity of the camper must fall between these two measurements.

I can tell you that an 11.5 foot Arctic Fox, which weighs around 3400 pounds dry, has a center of gravity of 55 inches. So if you measure 55 inches back from the front of the truck box, it should fall between the "A" and "B" dimensions.

Now my information sheet states that the maximum cargo weight rating printed on the sheet already subtracts passenger weight. It states that this is computed at 150 pounds for each seating position. In other words the printed maximum cargo weight rating is 900 pounds differant because I have seating capacity for 6. So while the maximum cargo capacity on the sheet stated around 5100 pounds, its closer to 6000 when I add back in the 900 pounds they took out for passengers. BUT that may not be what your sheet states. You will have to read it very carefully.

You could double check your load capacity by weighing your truck at a truck scale with a full tank of gas and nothing else in the vehicle (except yourself). You would then subtract your body weight from the truck weight (if you were in it when it's weighed) this will give you your "curb weight". Subtract that from your GVWR, which is 9200 pounds in your case, and you'll have your load capacity. This should compare very close to the load capacity listed on the camper tag you found in the glove box.

I checked my load capacity 3 different ways:
1. Using the camper loading guide that came with the truck.
2. The maximum cargo load rating as stated on the tag attached to the drivers door frame.
3. By taking the truck to a CAT scale and subtracting the curb weight from the GVWR

The lowest cargo capacity was 5985, the highest was 6040 and the 3rd was between these two. I have no idea why there is a 50 pound variance between the 3 but then again this isn’t rocket science.

Remember that the weight of the camper shown on the campers tag is the weight without any options that were ordered with the unit or any "add ons" installed by previous owners. This has changed in the past few years and some truck camper manufactures are now weighing the units after they install the options so it's closer to a true dry weight.

It’s a learning curve for sure, but well worth the effort.

Sailor Dave
And its good to remember that you do have to include the weight of the camper, passengers (including yourself), and any additional gear into the mix. You might want to figure 500 pounds for gear plus your body weight, plus any passenger weight, water, propane, et. Add all this up and subtract it from your maxmium load rating and see what you have left for the camper.

It can be an eye opener!
Yes, it all sure is.

I've checked around and figure I'll aim for a 9, 9.5 footer max. There seem to be a few of those out there with showers.

I know I could go with a popup again, but after this last experience I don't want to deal with it. Too many parts to break, too much canvas/screen that gets ripped, have to deal with putting it up and down and wind makes that really fun (sarcasm). Oh and the bats. For whatever reason, bats are extremely attracted to my pop up. All night you hear them squeaking and climbing the canvas, the morning I want to leave, I have to shoo them out into the daylight so I can put the top down. Poor little buggars. And poor me getting no sleep!

I love the airflow.. but just don't want to deal with one again.
Sailor Dave
Yep, I'm still in the process of finding out exactly how much of a camper my truck will carry. Had the new service body installed and took it to the CAT Scale. Found I gained about 300 pounds of curb weight. Next step is to load all my gear into the truck and have it weighed again. Then I can finally make the choice of which Arctic Fox TC I can get and stay within my GVWR.

It's been a long road getting to this point but when I'm done I know I will have a good truck to camper match. Plan on going full time and want to to do it as safely as possible.

I am using timbern helpers on the rear of my 01 2500. I love them. They are virtually not there when empty and work great going down the road.

I have a lighter 2500 than you(8600 gvw). It is also an ecsb.

I run right at 5935lbs with two people and a full tank of gas. So that only gave me about 2700lbs to play with.

My truck and camper together weigh right at 7486 lbs.

With my trailer and jeep and gear in the camper/trailer my rig sets at 8300lbs.

I am right at the limit really so I run a popup.

Also just becuse the tag says it's XXX lbs don't beleiev it 100%. My tag says 1280 lbs and it's closer to 1500 lbs.
Yup, I'm in a similar boat. Truck with two people is 7600 pounds, rear axle weight no problem but with GVWR at 9200 and wanting a hard side.......Time for a bigger truck.
I think the diesel and the 4wd are pushing me over the edge...

Hey Sailor that you from Cruising Oupost?
Sailor Dave
"Hey Sailor that you from Cruising Oupost?".....

Nope, not me. Its a pretty common wed handle.

Just a bit of advice. Find your camper first and then find a truck that will haul it.

Thanks for opening up such a post as it really seems tedious to ascertain exactly which truck camper one needs, as all it technicalities do seem to be more confusing of sorts, it will be really gr8 if some one comes up with explanatory chart or something.
Sailor Dave
This may help you out. You will need to know your truck ratings as well as your current weights. You can change the weight of the camper entry until you find one that fits your truck.
That said, there are many sizes of truck campers, some weighing as little as 900 pounds and some that weigh in excess of 3500 pounds. No matter what the GVWR of your truck is you can find a camper that will be safe to haul and won’t put the financial security of your family in jeopardy.
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