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Old 05-12-2009, 10:03 AM   #1
Join Date: Sep 2008
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Sportsmobile vs. Truck Camper

This question is for any of you that have owned both. Please comment on the advantages and disadvantages of each. After more than a year of research, I've narrowed it down to deciding between an EB-50 Sportsmobile and a Six-Pac S850 (8.5ft.) truck camper. BTW, I won't be doing any serious off-roading in either case.



Designing my first SMB.
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Old 05-12-2009, 11:09 AM   #2
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Re: Sportsmobile vs. Truck Camper

I apologize for chiming in here without having owned a truck camper myself....

If you don't have to worry about offroading-based vehicle size concerns, then the main advantage of a van that comes to my mind is: the convenience of always being in the living area, even while driving -- being able to fetch a cold drink or snacks from the fridge while driving, and not having to get out in the mud when camping for the night.

-- Geoff

2004 Ford, SMB 4x4, RB-50
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Old 05-12-2009, 01:17 PM   #3
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Re: Sportsmobile vs. Truck Camper

ppsssttt... Geoffff.... don't forget the potti .....
Greg in Austin
2008 Ford 6.0PSD EB/E-PH SMB 4X4 Aluminess f/r bumpers (13.5mpg avg, 15mpg hwy) 52k miles [Texas McBeast]
2006 Toyota Prius (48 to 68 mpg) 120k miles [Penelope]
2013 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon (15 to 18 mpg) [Johnnie]
2012 Mitsubishi MiEV (no gas required) ($.50/day in electricity) [Evie]
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Old 05-12-2009, 05:49 PM   #4
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Re: Sportsmobile vs. Truck Camper

We had a hard time deciding also. We finally settled on the SMB, but still wonder if it was the right choice. We were looking at a couple of popup truck campers (see links below) and planning to put them on 3/4 or 1 ton 4x4 trucks. Both of these are available with full queen size beds over the cab, and that would be nice compared to the full size foldup bed in our RB50. The van is a little easier to drive around town and parks releatively well in most parking spots. The truck campers stick out a little more on each side and the traveling height is also probably more than the vans 7' 8" height. I tend to forget how tall even it is and have done some minor tree trimming on low hanging branches. Comparing equally equipped rigs, you can probably do the truck camper for 15k less money also.

Another consideration, if you stop camping for a while, you could unload the truck camper and still have a pickup. In our case, we are able to park our SMB at our condo and use it for a second vehicle. That wouldn't have been possible with the truck camper due to association rules. I thought about unloading the truck camper and parking it in the garage, but we go somewhere almost every week, and that sounded like a lot of work. We have 4x4 on the van, but don't use it like some on the board do.

Good luck,

Deluxe, but heavier

Spartan, but lighter and lower profile
2008 Ford E-350 Quigley 4x4 V10 - 164,000 miles
RB50, PH Top, Dual AGM Group 27 Deka, 2000 Tripplite Inv., No Propane or Water Systems
Van Weight 8,100 pounds, added one rear leaf spring, BFG AT KO LT265/70R17 E Tire press 50psi.
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Old 05-12-2009, 05:59 PM   #5
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Re: Sportsmobile vs. Truck Camper

You can also sell just the camper and keep the truck. We have an RB50 and would not change. We like it for all the same as the other posts. We sometimes stealth camp, hard to do in a truck camper.
b & j
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Old 05-12-2009, 07:10 PM   #6
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Re: Sportsmobile vs. Truck Camper

Iíve had both but not a large camper (although I grew up with one). Here were my views.
Camper advantage:
>Overall cost might be cheaper.
>Same with insurance I would think.
>Same with DMV fees. OhÖOregon, do you pay vehicle fees?
>Warrantee work would be closer if you can find a center that will cover you locally.
SMB does let some RV shops do warrantee work but some must come back to SMB.
>A pickup is not conjoined to a camper. You can always upgrade the vehicle and keep
the camper for the next truck.
>A camper can be larger than a SMB in some areas depending on what make and size
you pick.

>Off roads better but youíre not concerned about that.
>Can be more compact around town.
>Generally a tougher build.
>you can haul more people comfortably than a cab and a half pickup.
>Because the front seats can swivel around, the room seems larger than a small camper.
>Way cooler lookingÖIím biased.

I did not like the way I had to climb in a smaller camper and didnít like most table/couch arrangements. But Iím by myself and thatís why I went for the 50 model. I looked at Lance campers closely (they have a pop out version) but wanted off road capabilities. I did like the outfitter camper. Actually I was after an Earthromer but freaked at the cost. After living with a big camper growing up as a kid, I swore any camper put on the back of a truck would stay there and never be taken off. Overall I feel my van is just right; not too big, not too small. But thatís me. YMMV
2006 Ford 6.0PSD EB-50/E-PH SMB 4X4 Rock Crawler Trailer

Sportsmobile 4X4 Adventures..........On and off road adventures
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Old 05-12-2009, 09:27 PM   #7
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Re: Sportsmobile vs. Truck Camper

Geoff covered what I consider the main advantages of a SMB over a pickup camper. We have never done the pickup camper thing nor did we ever even consider an RV due to the need for 4WD to get to the places we want to camp. So, when we first saw a Sportsmobile at a outdoor show, we were blown away....we ordered ours about 2 months later.

The main advantage we see with an SMB is the fact that the seating area of a pickup is incorporated into the living area of the van. This is a big deal. If it is cold or raining when you pull into a campsite, you don't need to get out except to turn on the propane. Likewise, in the morning, you get out only to turn it off. If my wife wants to lay down during a drive, she gets up and lays down on the couch (with a seat belt on) and takes a nap or reads a book. When we get to a campsite, we turn the passenger seat around and it becomes my seat while we prepare dinner. (While some owners like to spend a lot of time outdoors cooking and sitting around a campfire at night, we try to minimize cooking and never have campfires.) If it is nice outside, we might still sit inside but open both side doors and enjoy the fresh air. Being able to pop the top and enjoy the view is also very nice...that may not be a big deal when the weather is nice but we enjoyed a tremendous lighting show and rainstorm in southern Nevada once, completely dry but watching the spectacle for an hour or so as being fascinated by the small creeks of rainwater which nearly flooded the campsite.
'01 Ford EB50p Quigley 4WD
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Old 05-13-2009, 11:59 PM   #8
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Re: Sportsmobile vs. Truck Camper

I had a F-350 with a 9' Lance camper before I bought my SMB. The pros and cons have already been talked about above. I liked the extra room of the Lance camper but with it on the truck it drove poorly. The wind would blow me all over the road and I could barely take it off road. I still like the idea of the 4wheel drive pop up campers with a pickup truck but I would not trade them for my SMB. I usually travel by myself and the SMB is perfect for me.
2007 Sportsmobile EB-50 4X4 6.0 Diesel with extras
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Old 05-14-2009, 09:37 PM   #9
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Re: Sportsmobile vs. Truck Camper

We went from tents to VW Eurovan to pickup/poptop slidein to SMB.
Sleeping on the ground and crawling out of a warm sleeping bag on a cold AM is OK when you're young, but not at 60+.
The Eurovan was OK, but pretty small, and no indoor "facilities".
The pickup/camper seemed like a good idea, but we hated it.
1. Since most of the heavy stuff (refrig, stove, etc.) was above the sides of the pickup bed, it REALLY wallowed down the road. Mary Anne wouldn't drive it.
2. It took me about 45 minutes to load the camper with everything lined up correctly, so semi spontaneous outings didn't happen.
3. Going from the travelling to the living area involved either slithering through the link and tumbling into the destination (see above about being 60+) or pulling over, stopping, getting out, walking around the back, opening the door, unfolding the stairs, climbing in, and either using the potti, getting a snack, or whatever, and repeating the whole process in reverse. In a van based unit, it involves getting out of the front seats and walking to the back.
4. The seating in the living area in the camper consisted of the dinette or the dinette, with vertical seat backs with no adjustment, which made early evening activities like reading, watching a video, or just hanging out pretty uncomfortable. Swivelling the van's shotgun seat around is almost like my recliner at home, and the other SMB seating is a lot more comfortable than any dinette I've experienced.

I do miss having a pickup, however, when I want to haul something that either won't fit into or will trash the interior of our SMB.
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Old 05-15-2009, 11:11 AM   #10
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Re: Sportsmobile vs. Truck Camper

The one reason I'd prefer a pickup/camper combination over my SMB setup is having a Ford or Dodge pickup, engine and engine compartment over a van-based engine and engine compartment. For everything else, I prefer the van-based camper.


SMB-less as of 02/04/2012. Our savings account is richer, but our adventures are poorer.
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