What truck to buy for cabover camper?

I’m ready to begin the search for a good used 4x4 lwb truck. I plan to haul a cabover slide in camper which will weigh approx. 3000 lbs. loaded. Also, I will be towing a 17’ aluminum boat. My budget for the truck is in the range of $12-$15,000 which means I’m probably looking in the 2000-2003 year model categories. Is a diesel the way to go (considering the price of fuel is going up), or is gasoline the better option. I put a big emphasis on reliability. The truck will be used for everyday driving when not hauling and towing. What’s the best overall option?

I haven’t owned a pickup truck since my 1950 Chevrolet one ton pickup. However, I think you should look for at least a 3/4 ton (F-250 in the Ford series). I know that the F 250 won’t get the mileage of the F-150, but I think it would be safer with the camper you want to carry along with the canoe you want to tow.

The loaded weight of the camper makes the heavy 3/4 ton or 1 ton pickups necessary I believe. The 3/4 tons with 8 lug wheels are considerably stronger than those with 5 lugs. You might look at your local city and also utility companies in your area. They often sell such trucks every few years at bargain prices. I have bought a few from the telephone company in “as is” condition and made a few bucks repairing them and cleaning them up.

If you set your mind on a diesel, you may have to compromise in other areas. In the 12-15K range with a load weight of 3000 lbs., reliability may have to take a back seat to just finding something with that capacity. As far as the truck is concerned, carrying 3000 is much more demanding on more of it’s components than towing the same weight. You will need a beefed up 3/4 ton just to have some needed reserve.

I don’t envy you using it every day. I would rethink the slide in and consider a trailer if all you have is that amount of money to spend and still want something acceptable to use daily. Occasional use, a fixer upper telephone truck or the like may work as a second 3/4 ton vehicle. But; a decent half ton is more than adequate towing those weights. Your boat needs will then have to be re evaluated. The other alternative is a much smaller camper in the 1500lb range for a HD half ton…sorry;
Your wish list I feel, is a tad to long. :=)

Get a one ton, gas, and then don’t worry about any issues. Get largest engine you can. I got mine when the gas scare drove gas prices up and people were discounting Ford V10’s in a fairly big way. Make sure you get the full sized 8’ bed. It is difficult to amortize the diesel cost away, but you have a better chance since you are driving it daily.

I have a crew cab F350 camper combo that I purchased in 1995, and it has done me very well. Get camper or tow package if possible.

Can you spell
conundrum ?

The right truck for the hauling would be a poor daily driver.
A good daily driver would haul dagerously.

A one ton dually would be best with a nice wide footprint to handle the weight and size well.
A 3/4 ton in our shop had the sway issues fixed with a set of Bilstein shocks under all that house.

And you use yours daily when not camping ? I don’t think OP has a handle on operating cost of these things.

You can get a loaded 2004 F250 XLT for $12,000. If you want a diesel, add $4000. Get the gas engine.

3000 lbs loaded = a BIG load, up high, you’ll want a dually 1 ton.

No. If my commute were low, I would consider it, but I do about 50 miles per day. I was pointing out that the OP might stand a chance to retrieve the total diesel costs, but remain skeptical.

Best engine for towing seldom equates to good gas mileage.

A 3/4 ton Dodge (you said 4WD) set up properly will work. I would for sure choose a stick shift…This will be a dedicated unit. FORGET “everyday driving”…Putting that camper on and off is just too big a hassle…With a 10’ or 11’ camper, you will need a frame extension type hitch for your boat…These generally are custom made…

Hey guys, thanks for all the imput. You have given me a lot of good points to consider. All is appreciated.