Mid-size vs Full-size truck setup

jaywo

Active member
Can you help me choose?

Use case: couple, 1st kid on the way, 2nd kid within 2-3Y max. Many 3-season weekends in the Southwest, as well as two or three 7-10 days trips per year. Decent offroad capability is a must (the goal is NOT to offroad, but to camp in remote places anywhere from AZ, to CO, UT, CA, WA, ID, MT etc. Vehicle will be our only vehicle and daily.

Current setup: Bronco 4D + RTT nicely equipped (fridge, solar,…). Reasons for changing setup: The RTT is long to setup (not a hardshell), we have to remove it from the roof each trip, on the 7-10D trips we are screwed when there is a rainy day (cook outside only, wait in the tent), the bronco is full of gear (we climb, canyoneer, hike, praglide etc..) so there is no room for upcoming kid.

Upcoming setup: Alucab style camper built with a bench to sit and small kitchen so we can use that space when it’s raining. Also the cargo capacity would be much bigger than a Bronco (even on a short bed mid size).

Trucks considered:
Mid-sizes: 2024 Taco Trailhunter/Colorado ZR2/Ranger Raptor:
biggest advantage by far is the size (with the short bed) for daily driving, remember this will be our only vehicle and daily driver. 2nd biggest advantage is the price (except Trailhunter which might be well over 60K). The main cons is we don‘t know how doable it will be with child car seat. Not too concerned with Cargo because with the camper, cargo will be triple the Bronco. Full sizes: 2024 Tundra Limited Off-road / 2024 F-150 Tremor: test drove both. Liked the Tremor the best (huge flat floor at the rear, amazing seat comfort versus the hard Tundra seat). only reason Tundra is on the list is it’s $64K well equipped and $59K after dealer discount which crazily is less than a Tacoma Trailhunter. Tremor similarly equipped with high package is $78K (the new 2024. I missed the 2023s on sale for 65ish). Tundra will need 35s.
Main advantage for the Full sizes: the room of course. Main cons: the size for daily driving, and on tight trails.

Main question: for any of you who owned a mid size and/or a full size with a small child, and with a large aluminum camper such as the Alucab. What would you recommend? Is the full size fine as a daily or a PITA? Is the mid-size doable with kids or am I dreaming? Don’t forget, it will be our only vehicle, and used for grocery and errands during the week and overlanding on the weekend.

PS: they make mid sizes with long beds longer than full size trucks (6ft). Why not make Mid-sizes with a XLcab that has decent backseat room(in between a mid size and full size)?

Thanks!
 

roughbeat

Member
We are a family of 4 (now our girls are 8 and 6 year old) + wife and myself. My wife and I remote camped a lot before we had children so we were comfortable roughing it. Once we had kids, we started camping with them when they were around 8-10 months old at conventional campsites and then moved on to remote camping sites once we got more comfortable when they were around 1 years old and walking around. The truth is, it's actually easier to camp with your baby when they are younger, only feeding off milk (logistically speaking) and not walking and sleeping most of the time. Only thing to be mindful of is how rough roads could get so I'd recommend staying on easy trails in those early months if you and partner are that adventurous. You also will find yourself moving a lot slower once you have kids and having to deal with potty training, etc... and yes, they will have accidents and pee on your brand new carseats 🤣

Before you decide on picking a vehicle, I'd actually recommend thinking about your gear and payload. If you want to be remote camping in the winter, you gotta bring a lot of clothing and bedding and that weight starts adding up. Same goes with cooking and hauling all of the food and water. Also, consider what the packing out situation is going to be like. A family of four like us can generate quite a bit of trash and consume a lot of water with all of the dishes you will be going through. If you can plot all of these things out on a spreadsheet, it might really help guide you towards a type of setup that makes more sense for you guys.

But just so you know what our set ups is. We have a 2017 Land Rover Discovery with a AT Overland Chaser Trailer and an iKamper Skycamp 1.0 RTT on top. We usually carry 25 gallons of water an a spare 5 gal of fuel on the trailer. When the kids are really young, you'll want something that's easy to set up camp, unless you're okay with basecamping at one spot and just enjoy the scenery. But honestly, we have reached a point where we have outgrown this setup and I'm currently building a 2012 Ram 2500 with a 5.7 Hemi. The Ram is a decommissioned Oregon State Trooper truck that has a 2,700 lb payload. I opted to go the route of building something old and cheap because it's giving me more payload and budget to put on a camper in the back and focus more on things like power systems, water, cabinetry, etc.... I've been considering a Scout Kenai Camper, Total Composite Camper or Four Wheel Camper Hawk Shell.
 
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K9LTW

Active member
A) Full-size
B) Not an Alu-Cab (assuming you mean something like their full shell...and not that you're going to be removing it like you are on the Bronco).
C) I'll second? third? considering a trailer; particularly as this will be your daily.

A) The comforts, capabilities, and payload of a full-size with a family of 3-4 are impossible to ignore. And with the growing physical size of mid-sizes it's not like you're really gaining a lot of maneuverability on trails.

B) I, my wife, and our two dogs (60 & 70 lbs) travel for up to a month at a stint in our RAM 2500 TradeWagon. When I first saw the AluCabin at Expo East in '22, I was enamored. Ready to cut a check on the spot! Buuuuuuuut after a couple REM cycles, I realized while it was fantastic for solo, or a couple...that's where it ended for us taking our dogs everywhere (and would translate to bipedal kids, too). We camp throughout the year and bad weather is just an inevitability. With the Alu-Cab (or any, similar, wedge topper...GFC, etc.) there's simply no room for more than two bodies to chill out in the truck bed for any period of time once you add a fridge, storage, etc. With the bed deployed, you can, theoretically, have some bodies "upstairs", but those in the bed are going to be hunched over. Nope.

For similar cost, I'd strongly suggest full pop-tops with a cabover like the AT Atlas, OVRLND Camper (that we have and enjoy), Tune, etc. You can now have space to chill out on the cabover AND the entire truck bed in inclimate weather. There's no either or. This came to light as we waited out a gnarly storm on Mt. Marston in MT last summer. High winds and horizontal rain for the entire evening just after dinner, and for nearly 48 hours after. We've also spent several icy days inside listening to the tick-tick-ticking of sleet bouncing off the walls as we, comfortably, read books, played games, and napped in our warm space with everyone having their space.

C) You'd still have to ditch the Bronco and it's pathetic towing, but yeah...there's no substitute!
 
I agree that a small trailer would be a good choice over using an expe rig as a daily driver. I recently went from full size to mid size and I honestly don't see any advantage to mid beyond initial cost. Only a couple of mpg difference, much smaller fuel tank and the interior space of a full size crew cab is amazing.
 

Todd n Natalie

OverCamper
Of the ones you listed, I'd go Tundra because of the price difference. Is a Tremor required or would a regular F150 w/ 4x4 work? You can run 35x11.5' on a regular F150 with a 2.5" level. Might save you some bucks. I'd lean toward full size as the interior of most midsizes will be tight with a rear facing baby seat.
It's crazy how much the prices of trucks has risen in the past couple years. If I were to buy my '22 F150 today it would be 15K more and I'd get less equipment as some of the packages aren't offered anymore.
 

Ozarker

Pontoon Admiral
Full size, like an F 150 is the minimum for a "camping/overlanding/cruising" truck, IMO.

Loved my Dodge Dakota/318 v8, 4x4 extended cab, it pulled a 5000 boat out of the lake with little effort and it had a 6' bed. BUT, the cab was still small for a days driving on trips, mpg wasn't any better than a full size and payload was lacking. That truck drove me to F-150s.

Get a trailer!
 

TexasSixSeven

Observer
There’s no way I’d consider anything other than a full size with a family camping out of the bed. If y’all are minimalist and not carrying any extra recreational gear you can get away with a half ton. However you’re still very likely to be over payload without it.
 

TexasSixSeven

Observer
Also get over the fancy package BS. You don’t need the high grade electronics and fancy butt massagers. Spend $55K on an XLT or SR5 Tundra, and spend $15K on a daily driver that gets good mileage and doesn’t wear out your high dollar rig so quickly. I’ve got a similar setup F250 with in bed wedge camper, but I drive it only for adventures or work that pays me far more than enough to justify the mileage. The rest of the time I’m driving a Tundra or 4Runner. Not the rig with 40K aftermarket in it.
 

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