How to Mount a Truck Bed Camper

How to Mount a Truck Bed Camper

If you're wondering how to put a truck bed camper on your truck and what items you need to securely attach it, this article can help you. Here you will find a basic overview of how to mount a truck camper - also known as a slide-in or cab-over camper - on a pickup truck. You can also read about some of the items that you'll need to attach the camper and to make your trip safer and more enjoyable. For a closer look at these camper accessories, click on any of the labels in the image below.In this article, you will find information on:
Truck Bed Camper Labeled

Installing a Slide-In Camper

General instructions for mounting a truck bed camper in a pickup truck:1. Raise the camper until it is about 6" above the bed of your truck. Raise it in small increments of just a few inches at a time. Be sure to raise the front of the camper first, then raise the back to bring it level. Continue raising the camper until it is high enough for you to easily back your truck under it. Note: Never raise the back of the camper higher than the front - this could cause the camper to tip over.2. Back your truck under the camper. Make sure that the camper clears your truck's wheel wells. You'll also want to be careful to avoid hitting the camper's jacks.3. Before your truck is completely backed into place beneath the camper, connect any wiring. This is typically easier to do before the camper is installed.4. Continue slowly backing your truck up until the camper is at the front of your truck bed or the shims. Most campers can contact the front of your truck bed without causing any damage, but you want to make sure that the camper will not contact your truck's bumper or tail lights. 5. Lower the camper onto your truck bed. Lower the back of the camper first, then the front, working in increments of a few inches at a time until the camper is resting on your truck.6. Secure the camper to your truck's tie-downs with turnbuckles. Attach the turnbuckles to both the anchors on the camper and the tie-downs on your truck and then tighten them. Turnbuckles are usually tightened to about 300 ft-lbs. Some turnbuckles have built-in indicators that can help you adjust them to the correct torque. Too much tension can damage tie-downs or rip out anchors on the camper, which can be expensive to fix, so be careful not to overtighten the turnbuckles.Note: The front and rear turnbuckles should pull the camper in opposite directions to keep the camper more stable. This means that the tie-downs on the front of your truck should be located in front of the anchors on your camper so that they can pull the camper forward. And the tie-downs on the rear of your truck should then be located behind the rear anchors on your camper so that they can pull the camper rearward. If both the front and rear turnbuckles pull the camper in the same direction, the camper could shift to one end, causing the turnbuckles to loosen.

Camper Tie-Downs

You'll need to install tie-downs on your truck to provide anchor points for attaching your camper. Campers require 4 tie-down points, 2 at the front and 2 at the rear of your truck bed. Some tie-downs connect directly to a truck's bed; others connect to its frame. Frame-mounted tie-downs are stronger than bed-mounted because a truck's frame provides a stronger base than the weaker sheet metal of its bed. Because not all vehicles can be fitted with frame-mounted tie-downs, you can mix types if you need to, using frame-mounted tie-downs at one end of your camper and bed-mounted at the other.
Truck Bed-Mounted Camper Tie-Down

Bed-Mounted Tie-Downs

Bed-mounted tie-downs typically attach to the bed rails of your truck. Sometimes, the front tie-downs are designed to attach to the front wall of your truck bed. These tie-downs provide a more stable and secure connection than those that mount just to the bed rails. The types of tie-downs that attach to the bed rails either drop into stake pockets and bolt into place or they simply clamp onto the rails. Of the bed-rail-mounted tie-downs, the bolt-on types are more permanent, while the clamp-on tie-downs can be more easily removed when they are not in use.
Truck Bumper-Mounted Camper Tie-Down

Bumper-Mounted Tie-Downs

These rear tie-downs attach to your truck's bumper to provide permanent tie-down points for the rear of your camper. They can be paired with either bed-mounted or frame-mounted front tie-downs.
Frame-Mounted Tie-Down

Frame-Mounted Tie-Downs

Frame-mounted tie-downs provide the strongest base for securing a camper. They also have another advantage: they help to ensure that your setup won't be too top-heavy. This is because the tie-downs attach to your truck's frame, which is lower than its bed. The lower attachment point distributes weight better, so you get improved handling and a more stable rig.
Custom-Fit Tie Downs

Custom-Fit Tie-Downs

Custom-fit, frame-mounted tie-downs fit specific vehicles and bolt to your truck's frame in the front and to its frame or its hitch in the rear. TorkLift's frame-mounted tie-downs consist of 2 parts - the bracket that attaches to your vehicle and a removable insert that slips into the bracket. The insert is held in place with a pin and clip so that it can be installed and removed easily. When the insert is removed, the bracket stays tucked away, out of sight underneath your truck. When choosing tie-downs for the rear of your truck, consider whether you may ever want to tow a trailer with that truck, or if you'd like to carry a bike rack or cargo carrier. If you would like to tow, then you will need a trailer hitch. If your truck already has a hitch installed, then you will need to note this when searching for the correct rear tie-downs as they may be designed to attach to your hitch as opposed to the vehicle's frame.It's also important to understand that if you want to use your hitch while hauling a camper, you will need to use a hitch extender so that the receiver opening clears the camper. Most hitch extenders reduce your overall weight capacity by about half, so you'll have to keep this in mind when determining whether your setup can handle a trailer or a hitch-mounted accessory.
Recommended hitch + extender for towing with a truck bed camper:
TorkLift Trailer Hitch
The SuperHitch by TorkLift is a great choice for towing a trailer when a camper is installed on your truck. This hitch has a high GTW and TW and is designed to work with an extremely sturdy hitch extension - the SuperTruss.
Torklift SuperTruss Hitch Extender
The SuperTruss is an exclusive, heavy-duty hitch extender that maintains a high weight capacity for your towing setup.

Turnbuckles

Turnbuckles are the devices that connect the anchors on your camper to the tie-downs on your truck. When choosing turnbuckles, there are certain things to keep in mind. First, you should check with your camper manufacturer to see if any specific type or brand of turnbuckles are best for your truck. You will need to know what type of tie-downs you have on your truck. This will determine the size of turnbuckle that you need because turnbuckles for frame-mounted tie-downs are typically longer than those designed for bed-mounted tie-downs. Also, if you are looking at cushioned turnbuckles versus spring-loaded ones, please note that spring-loaded turnbuckles can only be used with frame-mounted tie-downs. Once you narrow down your choices based on what will work with your setup, you can decide on turnbuckles based on the ease of use and the additional features. When you attempt to connect your turnbuckles, you may find that some part of your truck (like a fender on a dually) is in the way. To fix this problem, install a camper anchor relocation kit, which will change the mounting point on your camper and allow you to hook up your turnbuckle.
Truck Bed Campers

Basic Turnbuckles

Basic turnbuckles must be adjusted each time you put them on, so if you need to take off the turnbuckle (to reach your gas cap, for example), you'll have to twist the pieces back together again and readjust them to get the proper tension.

Turnbuckles with Tension Indicators

Turnbuckles with tension indicators make it easy to get the correct amount of torque. Most camper manufacturers recommend that turnbuckles be tightened to 300 ft-lbs. Overtightening can put too much stress on your camper's anchor points or on your truck's tie-downs, resulting in damage. Like basic turnbuckles, these types must be loosened to be removed and readjusted when reninstalled.

Lever-Action Turnbuckles

Turnbuckles with lever-action handles are the easiest to install and remove. Just pull the handle up to loosen the turnbuckle for fast, simple removal, perfect if it blocks your gas cap. To reattach the turnbuckle, just push the handle down again. These turnbuckles are spring-loaded to provide shock protection for your rig, and they have visible tension indicators so that you can easily tighten them to the correct torque. The tension on TorkLift's FastGun turnbuckles only needs to be set once. Unlike standard turnbuckles without handles, TorkLift's lever-action FastGun turnbuckles can be easily locked for extra security. You can purchase these turnbuckles with locks, or you can buy the locks separately.

Wiring

Campers that overhang the back of your truck will most likely block the view of your truck's tail lights. If this is the case, they'll have their own lights to provide the functions of your tail lights. And campers that don't block your lights may still have running lights that need to be powered. To power these lights, simply plug your camper's wiring harness into the 7-way trailer connector on your truck. Then when your truck's brake lights illuminate, your camper's brake lights will also light up. The same will occur with your turn signals. If your truck is wired for a fifth-wheel or gooseneck trailer, it probably has a plug already located in the bed. If you have a 7-way trailer connector at the back of your truck, you can get an extension that will run from the connector up to your camper's plug. If you don't have any kind of trailer connector on your truck, you'll have to add wiring and a connector.

Trailer Wiring Extensions

When you use a hitch extension to tow a trailer, your trailer wiring will most likely be too short to reach to your truck's connector. Wiring extensions are available to solve this problem. You can also get an extension that runs power to both your trailer and your camper.

Ways to Improve your Camper Hauling Experience

Consider the following items that can make your camper hauling experience safer and more convenient.
Suspension EnhancementIf your vehicle rides too low in the back when your camper is installed, or if you experience too much body roll with your vehicle while you're driving, you might consider giving your suspension a boost. Many types of suspension enhancements are available.
Truck Bed MatsA truck bed mat can help keep your camper from sliding while it's mounted. We recommend using a rubber bed mat rather than a plastic mat, since a hard plastic surface can cause your camper to bounce.
Additional Battery PowerTo help ensure your camper doesn't run out of power, you can add an extra battery with an under-vehicle battery mount. TorkLift makes a mount that clamps onto your truck's frame and offers protection for the battery by encasing it in a polymer box. The box includes a quick-disconnect connector so that you can easily install and remove the battery.
Updated on: 8/24/20

Questions and Comments about this Article



Departments

Towing

Sports and Recreation

Trailer Parts

Vehicle

What our customers are saying:

"Wow! We placed our order Sunday afternoon and it was here Wednesday at noon...Thanks for the terrific service!"

Doug
North East, PA

Popular Vehicles