SFR--Buying a Used Truck Camper.....

Vladimir Steblina

Retired Forester...now fishing instead of working
#1
Looking at buying a used Northland Polar 990 Truck Camper from a dealer. Any comments will be appreciated.

We already own a 5th wheel and tent trailer so are really looking for truck camper related comments. Unloading and loading, etc. Northland Polar specific comments particularly welcome.
 

zen leecher aka bill w

born to work, forced to fish
#2
Simulate a trip and make sure everything works.... and cycles through. Flush the toilet, check all faucets, run them for a while and check for standing water or drips. Run a/c, any heater, turn the fridge off and on, check the freezer, look in the corners of the camper for discolored wood, warped ceiling tiles. Check the jacks to see if all the bolts are seated and the jacks all point the same direction.

Have I missed anything?

Most issues are either leaks, inadequate winterizing or "bumps" to the camper.

Two previous truck campers had issues. One was named "a river runs through it" and the other had safety issues with jacks. The Lance I currently own is a good camper. It has had a broken line relating to winterizing.
 
#3
Have the dealer move it to where you can put a hose on it. Hit all the surfaces normally hit when driving with a hard jet. If they say no, walk away.
 

Jeff Dodd

Active Member
#4
The only leaks I have on my 1986 Lance come from underneath while driving on wet wet roads.

I also don't like having a window on the overhang. Seems like high risk for leaks!

Good luck with the new camper. Looks like I will be buying a used camp trailer in the next year. Another thing to figure out the hard way and spend money on. My wife looks every night on CL :)
 

IveofIone

Active Member
#5
You mention loading and unloading. Overhead campers are much higher off the ground than either fifth wheels or tent trailers. Normally the stairs are a fairly rickety affair that fold up and can be problematic as we ourselves get older and more rickety. Not fun to load and unload. I would much prefer a van based rig with a high roof but not so big a footprint as a truck w/camper.

Ive
 

Itchy Dog

Some call me Kirk Werner
#6
You may well be aware of this already, but it's easy to overload a truck with a camper of that size, so make sure the dry weight of the camper is well under the GVWR of your truck. Then factor in several hundred or more pounds for food, gear, propane, water, people etc. You might be surprised how fast it adds up. I know I was surprised even when I had an F350 dually, crew cab, diesel 4x4 and an 11' Camper! Torklift frame-mounted tie downs and rear air bags, plus good shocks will help with the ride stability. A dually truck would not be overkill.
 
#8
Given the choice, I would go with a camper that has electric jacks. We joke that having the electric jacks installed probably saved our marriage, but there is more than a little truth in that statement.

I also installed airbags and frame-mounted tie downs. Don't forget that you are going to need extended mirrors.

We still have our truck camper, but primarily use our motorhome. The camper is great for short trips to places that don't accommodate the motorhome.
 

Rick Todd

Active Member
#9
I have had a slide in camper for 15 years and it is great! I would also say electric jacks are the way to go! My camper weighs 3400 lbs and it definitely needs a 3500 dually to feel comfortable with on the road. I can load or unload my camper in under 15 minutes. It is great to pull into a campground, slide the camper off, and head out to fish in the truck. I also frequently tow my drift boat-something you can't do with a 5th wheel (at least in WA!) The ability to set up camp and have the truck free to fish with is something you can't get with a motor home unless you are pulling a second vehicle, and then you can't pull the drift boat. We have put thousands of miles on our camper all over Id, Mt, WY, OR, and CA. Had some great fishing trips! Even Scott Salzer, the minimalist had to admit it was nice to eat inside the camper with the forced air heat on one cold Lenice night! That said, we are headed to CA next week to pick up a used 30' Airstream so we can be more comfortable on long extended trips and I'm afraid I will never get my wife in the camper again! (still a guys camping trip would be in order!)
 
#10
Simulate a trip and make sure everything works.... and cycles through. Flush the toilet, check all faucets, run them for a while and check for standing water or drips. Run a/c, any heater, turn the fridge off and on, check the freezer, look in the corners of the camper for discolored wood, warped ceiling tiles. Check the jacks to see if all the bolts are seated and the jacks all point the same direction.

Have I missed anything?

Most issues are either leaks, inadequate winterizing or "bumps" to the camper.

Two previous truck campers had issues. One was named "a river runs through it" and the other had safety issues with jacks. The Lance I currently own is a good camper. It has had a broken line relating to winterizing.
Very good and thorough advice. I would caution that a camper frig takes a while to come to temp. Depending on how long you have the "test drive" you might not be able to adequately judge if it is functioning properly.

Steve
 
#11
Check the NADA values for used recreational vehicles and make sure you are actually getting a good deal dollar wise. I have just typed used truck camper prices into Google and gotten to the web page.
 

Peyton00

Active Member
#12
You mention loading and unloading. Overhead campers are much higher off the ground than either fifth wheels or tent trailers. Normally the stairs are a fairly rickety affair that fold up and can be problematic as we ourselves get older and more rickety. Not fun to load and unload. I would much prefer a van based rig with a high roof but not so big a footprint as a truck w/camper.

Ive
I did a 7 day fishing trip in a van. I am 6'4" and impressed with the space/ammenities inside. I could roam easily from the passenger seat thru the van. The gas mileage was very fair, driving in and out of places was easy, and plenty of storage space inside/outside the van.
I can see myself eventually moving to a van rig. Its only gonna happen when i am too fragile for the alpine lake scene and my car camping days outweigh my hike-in days.
 

Scott Salzer

previously micro brew
#13
R. Todd - except at Dry Falls with that soft dirt. Drove those jacks into the ground...... Took a few rocks down the hole (that sounds bad) to get it off.