Pop-up versus hard-side height and fuel economy survey

Ram 2500 Cummins on 35 toyo at3 with AT habitat sits just under 8 ft high. Avg 17-18 mixed city/ highway. Haven't gone on any real highway trips yet. With my RTT I was getting about 20-21 highway mounted at cab height. My mixed driving is a loss of about .5-1 mpg with the habitat compared to RTT. I did thin some wt out of the back also.
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2008 Tundra DC 5.7l in CO, I try to keep my speed on highways/freeways between 65 and 70mph. No camper and bed cover 18-19 mpg (got 20 once!). With ATC Cougar (similar to FWC Granby) I get 14-15mpg. I am certain a tall hard-sided camper would mean even less mpg. Some hard side campers have an aerodynamic nose, but you still have a huge negative pressure bubble behind the vehicle creating drag. A strong head-wind or cross-wind will drive your mpg into single digits with a tall camper. I am going to try the Jethro Bodine gas pill next:)

Update: I just finished a trip from Denver to Fruita CO and back. 16 mpg with ATC Cougar camper on. I kept it at 65mph and there was only light wind (rare). Best mpg I ever got with the camper on there.
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"Lies, damned lies, and statistics" to quote Mr. Twain and I'll add "self-reported fuel mileage". Just too many variables.

A thought:

Consider the cost of fuel over say 1000 miles. Fuel price of $4.00. At 12 MPG the cost is $333. At 15 MPG it would be $266. A difference of less than $70.

Based on the costs of our typical trucks, camping rig, gear and other direct expenses it just seems to me that having great concern over such relative minor running cost differentials is a fools errand. I'd proffer that a better real-world return on any such effort would be to focus on critical rig selection aspects such as matching your specific needs to the capabilities of your rig and being mindful of ensuring your build is not overweight.


To Infinity and Beyond!
IF the cost of fuel is that big a deal to you nothing will ever make you happy.

Whether you have a pop-up or a hard side camper is the least of your problems.

Time to find another hobby!


Going from our FWC Hawk to the OEV Camp-x we saw a decease in MPGs over 65mph. The OEV is a couple inches taller and the cab over is farther forward over the cab. Before 65mph it isn't noticable but over 65 it's 1.5 MPGs. So 10.5mpg instead of 12mpg at 75 mph. Both those numbers are bad. Dropping to 65 we get 13-14 which isn't much worse than the truck was with stock size tires and no camper.

If MPGs are important drive slower.
I live in an apartment so I can't take the camper off when not using it. Also, it's my daily driver and stays on year-round thus - YES...fuel economy is a concern for me. Even if it's just a couple extra MPGs lost like the above example that would be $70/month at just 1000 miles.

I consider myself, generally, a pretty 'happy' person. I have a job I love and take trips with my pop-up camper on my Tacoma whenever I can(I have over 50k miles in just 2.5 years ownership). I don't think it's unreasonable to at least THINK about fuel economy. Did I consider how a hard-side camper would look on my Taco? You bet, but if it can also save me money(not just at the pump, but in initial purchase price)...

I drive like a grandpa anyways and won't put AT tires on just for that 1% of the time I'm on gravel or dirt. I have easily averaged over 20 MPG with this set-up even though it makes me a miserable, sad person :p


New member
There are so many variables that go into this. My F350 with the 6.2 gets different mileage if I'm going over hills or depending on whether I'm fighting the wind. I'd say overall average it gets 4-5mpg less with the Scout Kenai on top of it. But the mpg's can vary a lot with the camper. I've gotten almost 15mpgs with the wind behind me and as low as about 8mpgs with it in my face. The average is somewhere between those two points.


As others have said...so many variables. That being said, I have a 2018 Nissan Titan with an AT Summit. I can say that I have not seen a noticeable difference in my mpg. Maybe it has decreased by 1 mpg in my normal driving. I used to get 17-18 mpg combined and now get 16-17 mpg combined. But I also don't drive like a bat out of hell. Usually it's the speed limit for me and I normally keep my BFGs at 40-45 psi. I also do not have an entire campsite worth of gear hanging off every part of the topper for all to see an for the wind to catch. The topper has an awning on it and the rest is kept smooth and clean. The Summit also is contoured to the trucks profile so it does not extend out from the sides. I'm sure that makes a difference as well.


2016 Tundra DC 8' bed, 5.7L, 35x13 tires, 2" front lift. Stock gears.

3 trips from Ruidoso NM to Gila Hotsprings and back, about 550 miles round trip. About half freeway (70-80 mph), half secondary roads. 4-8k ft with lots of elevation change. Wind was pretty benign on all 3 trips, which is to say no real gain or loss from it.

First two trips without camper, 17.8 and 17.7 mpg. 3rd trip with camper was 16.1 mpg.



Well-known member
I just got back from a trip with my home built. The tires are oversized so I only get 17.5 with them at about 75 mph. It is a 2018 F150 3.5L. With the camper on I only got 13.5. This was on what I would describe as flat to hilly highways. Without the camper the truck is about 6' 7" and with the camper it is about 7' 7".


Pacific Northwest yetti

Expedition Medic
If it’s on all the time, and your daily driver.

Just parking with a pop up or hard side would be a bigger issue (for me) than the MPG change. Especially if it’s in the city. AND on a smaller truck anyway. As well as how it handles and affects visibility. I’d go pop up, but that’s me.

Camp more, worry less?


To Infinity and Beyond!
2001 Chevrolet Express 3500 4WD Van Quigley conversion former ATF Bomber van.

8.1 (496 CI) Gas, 480LE Automatic with 4.10 gears.

65MPH 12 MPG
75MPH 10 MPG
Pulling a car trailer loaded with a car no matter what speed. 10 MPG

Depending upon your vehicle your fuel mileage can be greatly affected by the speed you drive. I see 2 MPG increase in fuel mileage on the interstate just by driving 10 MPH SLOWER than the normal 75 MPH.

That's the same situation with all of my vehicles.

Speed On Brother Hell Ain't Half Full!


Well-known member
Lightweight DIY Fiberglass pop top camper. It only adds 350 lbs fully loaded to the truck.

Reduced mileage is mainly from my 38" tires and lift and not the camper. Without the camper, the mileage doesn't change. The tires are great at 4 wheeling but terrible for High-way mileage.

EPA stated mileage on new Gladiator is 17/22

Around town driving I still get 17 MPG

Highway MPG drops significantly as speed increases
70 MPH equals 15 MPG
80 MPH equals 10 MPG


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