When we arrived home, my wife asked if I had ever loaded or unloaded a truck camper before. My reply was quick and enthusiastic: “No, but I’m about to learn!” How hard could it be? Just jack it up and drive away to unload or jack it up and drive under it to load. Not quite. Learning curve number two: loading and unloading.
I watched a few YouTube videos on this topic prior to taking delivery, so I felt I had a good idea of what I was doing. However, it’s one thing to watch someone else do it and another to do it yourself. The first time I went to unload our camper I forgot to disconnect the tie-downs. Luckily I noticed before any damage was done. Once the camper is lifted off the truck bed, you have to make sure your electrical pigtail is disconnected. It is a tight fit, so to better access it I find it easiest to pull forward about two feet then stop, get out and disconnect, then continue pulling away slowly. When the camper is lifted that high, it is a bit wobbly and wouldn’t recommend getting under it or even in it by any means. Some people lower theirs down onto a wood support structure such as sawhorses to take all the weight off the jacks, but we just lower ours all the way down which takes all the wiggle out of the campers legs. Either way, you want to be sure that the ground is solid so that it doesn’t sink into the ground and get off balance.
Ours sits on a concrete slab, but we do carry jack pads that distribute the weight over a larger surface area if we ever need to unload on dirt or grass. It would be a bad day if you were to unload on a soft surface and it sank down far enough that you couldn’t get the truck back under to load it. Speaking of loading, this is where practice comes in. The first time I attempted to load our camper I had my wife on one side and another family member on the other, and it took 30 minutes. A little more this way, too far that way, you are crooked. I thought more eyes would make it go faster. Not so much. I find that doing it on my own using the wheel wells in the truck bed as a guide makes the process more efficient and timely.
I also became much less picky about how even it was aligned. Initially I was trying to make it perfect. Now I get it within the width of a finger or two and call it good. You do have to take your time as the tolerances are small, and don’t forget to hook up the electrical while you still have room to get your arm back there to plug it in. After that, it’s just a matter of retracting the jacks and securing the tie-downs and you are almost ready to hit the road.