Everything I Wish I Knew Before Buying a Slide-On Camper

Like other types of RVs, slide-on campers also come in various brands and sizes. In Australia, it is also called as tray-on campers. It still gives you the convenience of having personal space when you’re camping but it comes in a smaller package.

Slide-on or tray-on campers are detachable RVs with a body which slides on and is secured onto the bed of a pick-up truck or other vehicles. These come in 2WD or 4WD UTEs such as Holden Commodores, Falcons, Toyota Hilux. There are also mid-range models like the Toyota Landcruiser, Nissan Patrol, and the Ford F series.

With so many models to choose from, we bet that choosing the perfect slide-on camper is not an easy task. In this blog, we have fleshed out everything that you need to know and what to look out for when you decide to take the plunge and buy a slide-on camper. So, read more to find out!

What Are The Features of a Slide-On Camper?

Various models of slide-on campers come with insulated solid walls or a pop-top roof. They also commonly have either an aluminum or fibreglass exterior. Slide-on campers may also have to wind up legs which can be either be operated hydraulically or mechanically. 

Most slide-on campers provide standard comforts such as a double bed, shower/toilet, 12/240V, earth leakage & circuit breaker, gas bottle, kitchen with 3-way refrigerator, lounge/dinette, stovetop cooker, and sink. However, one major downside of the slide-on camper is the lack of space in the interior. There is little to no room to walk through inside the cabin of the RV.

How Many Types of Slide-On Campers Are There?

There are two types of slide-on campers. One is called the tray or flat-deck while the other is called a tub or style-side camper. The tray style slide-on camper is more common than the former. The slide-on camper got its name from this type because it slides onto the deck of the utility vehicle. Meanwhile, the tub style is commonly used on pick up trucks and it slides into the tub through the tailgate.

What Is A Class 1 Slide-On Camper?

The Class 1 slide-on camper is made from sturdy materials like galvanised steel or aluminum. It can also be used to set-up rooftop tents. It also has room to host much of the features that were mentioned earlier.

As for the cost, they usual range from AUD $5,000-25,000 depending on the material on which the camper was built and the accompanying features. This type of camper is considered as entry-level and the features are very basic. You can have a small space for storage, a slide-out outdoor kitchen, and limited equipment for cooking or entertainment.

What Is A Class 2 Slide-On Camper?

Compared to Class 1 campers, this type can add much more comfort when you are travelling. Class 2 slide-on campers are made specifically for being put on a tray. They have greater interior space for shelter, add more seats for passengers, and have a dedicated indoor/outdoor cooking area. This is done through the use of canvas to create more space. However, it is much more expensive compared to a Class 1 slide-on campers. They cost around AUD $30,000-45,000 depending on brand and additional features.

What Are the Advantages of Owning A Slide-On Camper?

There are a lot of advantages when you choose to go with a slide-on camper. These advantages include:

  • No on-road cost;
  • Nothing to tow (you can tow a bot, horse float, jet ski, or motorbike instead of a trailer);
  • Easy to park;
  • Low centre of gravity;
  • Can be easily removed when you arrive at your destination;
  • You can save money if you own a pickup or utility vehicle because you won’t need to purchase another towing vehicle; and
  • Less room needed for storage when not in use.

What Are the Disadvantages of Owning A Slide-On Camper?

Slide-on campers are not perfect. They also have inherent flaws that can put you off. So, here are some of its disadvantages:

  • Small size;
  • Cannot accommodate a large group of people; and
  • Can add a lot of extra weight on your vehicle’s axles.

Which Brand of Slide-On Campers Should I Get?

Compared to other types of RVs, there are various makes and models of slide-on campers in Australia. This may be attributed to the rough terrain and the long distance between towns when travelling across the country. So, here are some of the best brands:

  • Tommy Campers S6: this slide-on can be easily set-up. Its body is made from 3mm chromate-dipped aluminum. It also has a pop-top roof to increase the headroom. It is also personalized to better suit your needs. Its tent is made from PVC (exterior) and felt inner lining which helps to improve insulation inside the camper. It is also waterproof so the interior won’t be wet during bad weather.
  • Active Campers Vantage 2.4: this slide-on camper is one of the most feature-packed models in this list. It has a built-in queen size bed, slide-out table for 2, stainless steel 3 burner gas range & sink with glass lid, front door compressor fridge, 2 50L freshwater tanks with 12V water pump and water gauge, electronic 12V actuators to open & close the roof, electric and gas hot water system for the shower & sink, cassette toilet, side sunroof, various storage hatches in the interior & exterior, and a 30L greywater system.
  • Northstar 700SS: this slide-on camper comes with almost the same features as the one from Active Campers. However, it only has a 2-burner stove, 76L freshwater tank, and a manually controlled pop-top roof. Aside from that, much of the features are identical.



Which Accessories/Options Should I Get For My Slide-On Camper?

There’s a whole lot of accessories you can get for your slide-on camper. Here is just a few of what we like to use when traveling on ours:

  • Awning
  • Radio/CD player
  • Solar panels
  • Solar regulator
  • Compressor refrigerator
  • Deep cycle batteries
  • Water tanks
  • Water filters
  • Hot water service
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Storage hatches
  • Outside tap suitable for shower

Related Questions

Can A Half Ton Truck Carry A Camper?

The answer is, yes, but with several caveats. It depends on the truck, the truck’s rated payload, and the size and weight of the camper you have in mind. Most half-ton pickup trucks out there, however, have much less payload, usually around 1,600 pounds.

Can You Sleep in An RV While Driving?

No, you cannot sleep in an RV camper while driving. The only exception to this is if you can sleep sitting up. If you’re one of those lucky people who can sit in the passenger seat and sleep, then go for it. If not, wait until you’ve stopped to rest and then take a nap in the back.

What Qualifies as an RV?

An RV or camper are generic terms. When people refer to RVs (Recreational Vehicles), they usually mean either a motor vehicle or trailer equipped with some of the amenities of home. Motorhomes refer to motorized units that usually have beds, a kitchen, bathroom and living quarters while away from your fixed home.

Is It Legal to Live in a Camper?

It’s not illegal to live in an RV. However, that doesn’t mean that you can park the RV you are living in anywhere you want. However, there a very few places where you can just buy or rent a plot of land in town and live on it in an RV full time. Even most remote rural areas have county laws prohibiting it.

Is It Cheaper to Rent an RV Or Stay in A Hotel?

Generally, the savings of using an RV over hotels are significant. But some budget travelers expect the RV option to be far cheaper than it is, perhaps because they associate it with “roughing it.” If you typically rent more than one hotel room for your family, your savings could be greater.

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James Mitchell

Hi, I’m Jimmy Mitchell and I love exploring this great country with my wife and two boys. I have a 2015 Sterling LX that is the Mitchell Family camping machine. Lets Getaway is the website where I share things about my trailer as I learn them, and help other camper owners to enjoy their RV even more.

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