Home » This $10,800 Truck Camper Weighs Just 600 Pounds, So Even A Toyota Tacoma Can Haul It

This $10,800 Truck Camper Weighs Just 600 Pounds, So Even A Toyota Tacoma Can Haul It

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If you own a midsize or smaller truck and want to take it on an adventure, weight can be a huge concern. After all, the camper you haul, the people you put in your cab, and the tongue weight of the trailer you have on back all subtract from your truck’s payload. One way to get an upper hand is by going with a compact, lightweight camper to begin with. Wisconsin-based TCTeardrops has a potential solution with its TCTruckCamper, a wee little guy that weighs just 600 pounds and starts at $10,800. Even better, this camper is custom-built to fit different trucks, so you could haul it in the back of your Toyota Tacoma if you wanted to.

Overland Expo West now seems like a distant memory, but I came home with a pile of photos of campers that impressed me. We’re now nearing the end of all of the cool stuff I saw out there. I think that goes to show just how awesome Overland Expo is if you’re even slightly interested in overlanding or camping. The variety of rigs out there was far grander than an RV show and everyone had a story to tell. If you get the chance to go to an Overland Expo, I’d recommend it!

Vidframe Min Top
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Anyway, nestled between six-figure vans, vendor displays, and gargantuan two-story expedition trucks sat TCTeardrops. At its display, there was an awesome twin-axle teardrop capable of carrying a heavy motorcycle. Beside it was this, the TCTruckCamper, and I like what I see here.

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TCTeardrops

TCTeardrops

This Wisconsin-based company is one of the many independents out there trying to make a name for itself. The “TC” in TCTeardrops stands for Todd and Carol, the minds behind the company. The couple says that their inspiration came after being frustrated about setting up and tearing down their pop-up camper. As their site explains, setting up the pop-up was annoying enough, but tearing it down when it was wet from a rainy weekend was also a pain. The pair felt that there had to be a better way.

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TCTeardrops

That’s when Todd and Carol found themselves watching an episode of RV Crazy featuring retro teardrops. Like a lightbulb flickering on, the pair knew exactly what to do, build their own vintage-styled teardrop! TCTeardrops opened its doors in 2008, just in time for the Great Recession. The financial crisis killed off a lot of businesses and was a horrifying time for many. For TCTeardrops, the Recession was a case of unintentionally good timing. People began to downsize. This wasn’t just for homes and cars, but for campers, too. People who couldn’t afford their large coaches downsized to smaller rigs, a perfect opportunity for TCTeardrops.

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The company started in a garage and bedroom but has since moved to a real facility. But the campers are still built by hand today.

The TCTruckCamper

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Since 2008, TCTeardrops’ bread and butter has been capable teardrop trailers. The company offers everything from a basic kammback teardrop to an overland teardrop with two axles and enough carrying capability to haul your Ural with you. I saw the latter at Overland Expo West this year!

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A newer addition to the TCTeardrops lineup is the TCTruckCamper. It’s made to be durable like the company’s teardrops, but its trick is being just 600 pounds dry, making it able to be hauled by an expansive number of pickup trucks. The goal behind this truck camper is to offer an off-road camping experience that doesn’t load down your truck or break the bank.

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The TCTruckCamper starts with a composite structure with an aluminum skin. No flimsy plywood to be found here! TCTeardrops says that this shell is built-to-order to fit in your specific truck’s bed. Thus, you should be able to get one of these regardless if you’re driving a 20-year-old Ford Ranger or a brand-new Toyota Tacoma. The box sits on a deck system in your truck’s bed and TCTeardrops recommends getting a deck drawer system from Decked. The deck system does add some cost. For example, the Decked system for a Toyota Tacoma costs $1,500.

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The company doesn’t provide exact measurements for the camper, but that’s because your camper will vary in size based on the truck you’ll be hauling it with. But to give you an idea of what to expect, the camper is designed to fit snugly in your bed, leaving just enough space for you to close your tailgate. It also doesn’t have a space that hangs over the truck’s cab or walls that hang over the truck’s bedsides. So, basically, the space provided by your bed is the space you get in your TCTruckCamper.

Inside, things are pretty basic.

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The base $10,800 model comes with a single bed for one person. For $12,000, you get a bed for two. Standard features include an aluminum insulated roof, a door with a window, passive air vents, and two side windows. That’s it. This camper does not come with a microwave, countertops, or cabinets. What you get is essentially something that’s more substantial than a truck bed topper, but lighter and cheaper than a full-on truck slide-in camper.

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TCTeardrops

That said, there are some options to give the TCTruckCamper a bit more luxury. Options include a 180-degree awning, a shower room, an on-demand water heater, a 5-gallon water tank, a bracket for propane, a port for a diesel heater, and more. In terms of cooking, the camper doesn’t offer anything. However, you can fill up the drawers of the Decked system with cooking equipment.

What I see here is a good starting point for a DIYer. TCTeardrops handled the hard part of building a sturdy camper, now you fill it up and customize it as you please. Go ahead and put an air-conditioner where that vent is and a diesel heater on the back.

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That said, if there’s anything I didn’t like, it’s that the camper isn’t tall enough to stand in. It looks really tall, but some of that height is because of the truck deck. I can see why TCTeardrops did it like this. The company just has to build a cube to sit on the bed deck, it doesn’t have to worry about wheel well intrusions.

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I love what I saw with the camper at Overland Expo. The price is pretty rock-bottom for anything new in the RV industry, especially something not built out of the thinnest plywood available. I’m all for getting more people camping for less money. However, the camper is extremely bare-bones. For some, that’s probably a non-starter, but for others, it just means fewer things to break and a blank slate to create.

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The low 600-pound weight is a good thing, too. If you’re working with a truck that doesn’t have a lot of payload to play with, this camper could translate to being able to camp and tow your trailer, which is great.

If you’re interested in one of these, TCTeardrops is taking orders right now. As I said before, $10,800 gets you the TCTruckCamper with a single bed. Getting room for two will cost you $12,000.

(Images: Author, unless otherwise noted.)

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pizzaman09
pizzaman09
10 months ago

What is the typical payload of trucks like this? My Jeep Comanche, considered a small to midsized truck in it’s day can carry a bit over 1500lbs without the upgraded metric ton package that boosts payload to 2200lbs.

Are these modern midsized trucks down on payload due to their higher weight and smaller beds?

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
11 months ago

So a lighter camper so you can haul more people and supplies but a camper that will only fit one of those people? And you cant stand up or lay our flat? Seems i remember several vietnam war movies and King of the Hill episodes where POWs were housed in boxes this size.

Avalanche Tremor
Avalanche Tremor
11 months ago

So the maximum sleeping bed length is going to be at least several inches if not up to a foot less than the truck bed length, right? This seems problematic for the typical 5.5’ bed on trucks for even an average size person, let alone someone taller, and the bed doesn’t really seem wide enough for the diagonal to help out. I think there is often a good reason other campers/toppers extend over the cab or over the tailgate. I like the concept overall and I can see it working for some folks, but you still have to travel light and be small to make it work on a typical midsize or even full size.

No Kids, Just Bikes
No Kids, Just Bikes
11 months ago

I couldn’t stop thinking about that. At a very average 5’10” I can’t lay down in a typical truck bed, and this would be shorter than that to allow for the walls. Weird that it wasn’t mentioned in the article.

Gary Lynch
Gary Lynch
11 months ago

Me thinks it’s pretty much an aerodynamic disaster. Will be hell in a crosswind. Adding some sort of overhang on top of the cab will smooth the airflow, and likely really both gas mileage and handling characteristics.

TXJeepGuy
TXJeepGuy
11 months ago

I’ll stick to setting up a tent. Don’t love the height of this for tighter trails.

Taargus Taargus
Taargus Taargus
11 months ago

Does it come with a free TC Tugger shirt so that I can finally stop wrecking my shirts?

GreatFallsGreen
GreatFallsGreen
11 months ago

Came to the comments looking specifically for this, was not disappointed.

Taargus Taargus
Taargus Taargus
11 months ago

I’m just glad someone got it, lol.

Crank Shaft
Crank Shaft
11 months ago

I think it’s brilliant. Prices for all RVs are crazy since COVID, so I’m sure there’s a healthy profit margin in there, but building anything out of aluminium is going to cost a pretty penny no matter what. I think the price is quite fair.

Bug Out Box was my first impression.

MH7
MH7
11 months ago

I’m not quite seeing the point of this type of camper-doesn’t look tall enough to stand in, no amenities like built in AC and fridge, and you have to pull it out of the truck after every use. It’s just a slightly tall topper, but costs 3x as much and can’t be left on. I’ve seen some cool topper builds with slide out storage and folding cots that’d get my cash. That said, there must be a market if these guys have been around 15 years. Maybe if you can’t use tools and have more money than time?

Funny you mention the taco. I actually really like the current generation (or certain aspects anyways) and spent some time on auto trader out of curiosity. Found a reasonably priced TRD off-road with a picture of the payload sticker-990 pounds. I’m not one for the truck wars but that’s just not enough. Put on a topper, which I’d need with that small bed, and a weekend family tent camping trip could easily have this guy overloaded. While still getting the same gas mileage as my v8 f150, despite a notoriously weak engine. It’s just mind boggling given the hilux’s reputation.

Forbestheweirdo
Forbestheweirdo
11 months ago
Reply to  MH7

Yeah my father in law was going to get a Tacoma, had been talking about it for years, then borrowed one to pick up rocks to landscape his yard and the rock company made him do one rock at a time to not overload the truck. He finally realized they suck and now has an F-150.

Rabob Rabob
Rabob Rabob
11 months ago

So your father-in-law spend 10k+ extra to save $200 delivery fee on landscaping materials that were already delivered?

Forbestheweirdo
Forbestheweirdo
11 months ago
Reply to  Rabob Rabob

He does a ton of wood working and quite frequently hauls 1k lbs plus in the truck, so he spent an extra $10k to get a truck he can actually use as a truck

MH7
MH7
11 months ago

I wanted one for years (and still do) but, as I started researching to buy, it just didn’t add up for me. The most shocking bit was that the mpg is about identical to the lovely 5.0 in my f150, but that v6/auto in the Tacoma is generally regarded as frustrating at best.

Geekycop .
Geekycop .
11 months ago
Reply to  MH7

The v6 and auto in the tacos burned up quicker than any vehicle we used as security trucks when I worked at my state’s prison. The ’07 ranger on the other hand was unkillable. No idea why but the power ranger always ran but there were always at least two tacos out of commission at any given time.

Rabob Rabob
Rabob Rabob
11 months ago
Reply to  MH7

Then buy an F-150? An F-150 is $11,000 more. And before you just compare base MSRP, you can only get a single cab F-150 for $6,000 more (if you can even get one) so good luck putting your family in that or even finding one. I’m comparing base access cab to access cab and that’s putting the V6 in the F-150.

“WHY IS CHEAP TRUCK INFERIOR TO EXPENSIVE TRUCK???” – comments on this site

MH7
MH7
11 months ago
Reply to  Rabob Rabob

I bring it up because the Tacoma was mentioned as a candidate for this, and is popular for overlanding builds, but that payload rating still seems like a crazy low ceiling.

It doesn’t make sense when a ranger fx4 has a payload around 1500 lbs, which should never be an issue, and I think the international hilux is relatively high too. Hell, even a maverick has a payload around 1500 lbs. So not a knock on cheaper trucks, just this one (which I still inexplicably want).

Rabob Rabob
Rabob Rabob
11 months ago
Reply to  MH7

2023 Tacoma payload maxes out at 1685lbs. As far as I know they haven’t revealed the new one.

And if hauling a camper and your 10 person family, then buy something else? I’m so tired of the endless boomer “light truck can’t do what a Ram 3500 does so why bother?” It’s a commuter truck for hauling mountain bikes.

Last edited 11 months ago by Rabob Rabob
MH7
MH7
11 months ago
Reply to  Rabob Rabob

I merely pointed out that that the most common configuration of this truck doesn’t leave much room for gear or a second person when equipped with this camper, which is directly relevant to the topic at hand. It’s odd given the competition and the fact that readily anticipated uses can hit that number. There’s no need for condescension.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
11 months ago
Reply to  MH7

Doesnt need capacity for a 2nd person because the sweat box only fits 1 person at most.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
11 months ago
Reply to  Rabob Rabob

Well if you read what experienced truck owners and campers wrote you would have had an answer years ago. But scrolling past comments to yell at clouds isnt an answer. Saving $7,000 isnt saving if the truck doesnt do the job. Okay you got that?

Jblues
Jblues
11 months ago

My eyes literally cannot solve the puzzle regarding that truck camper. It’s like one of those AI generated images that your brain tries to make sense of but it’s really just random stuff.

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
11 months ago
Reply to  Jblues

I was getting the same vibe from the pictures. Like a junk drawer removed from its cubby and all it’s contents hot glued to it’s frame.

Bizness Comma Nunya
Bizness Comma Nunya
11 months ago

Sure doesn’t look like $10k worth of value here.

Pat Rich
Pat Rich
11 months ago

definitely feels like it should be in the 4 digits given the lack of even basic amenities like a kitchen.

But thats about the going rate for similar bare bones camper.
https://fourwheelcampers.com/model/project-m/

Last edited 11 months ago by Pat Rich
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
11 months ago

Spec’d for a missionary, priced for an “influencer”. Somewhere between those two is a very small demographic to target.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
11 months ago

But it has a $1500 junk drawer added to it.

Pat Rich
Pat Rich
11 months ago

I like it. keep the weight down but have a huge volume of super easy interior space.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
11 months ago
Reply to  Pat Rich

Huge volume of interior space? You cant stand up you cant lie down room for one no sc no baggage.

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
11 months ago

I like the canopy design with what looks like fold out supports. I don’t love that it’s only as tall as the roof of the cab though.
What is that 71” high? So I can’t stand up straight in the camper or under the awning.
Tall people loose again.

Usernametaken
Usernametaken
11 months ago

Have you tried being less broke so you can travel in mild comfort?

It hasn’t panned out for me (having buxx), but I think that’s probably the best approach.

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
11 months ago
Reply to  Usernametaken

Closest I’ve gotten is having rich girlfriends. I’ve rubbed elbows and clinked my share of snifters with some fine folks from tax brackets I will never achieve.
I’ve sat, stunned, as a significant others father wrote a check for her brand new A3 without batting an eye. Like he was paying a dinner tab.
(She barely ever drove it, I did!)
Let the rich have their riches. It’s not necessarily a better life, just a different one than mine.
I’m a proletariat at heart. Always have been, always will be, and that’s fine.
Society needs us as much as it needs them.
So long as I get to drive some great and sometimes terrible (but still fun) cars along the way, I’ll be a happy ghost when I get to the end.
Hell, I’ve always got one thing people like old Musky will never have.
Enough.

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