by Bob Ashley
December 3, 2013
Filed under Trucks For Towing
Have the freedom to roam off the beaten path and camp wherever your sense of adventure takes you
You may not see as many truck campers in RV parks as you do traditional travel trailers and fifth-wheels, but these RVs that you load onto the back of a pickup are popular among tens of thousands of people nationwide. Typically, truck campers are purchased by RVers who also like to get off the beaten path.
‘’There’s a freedom in not having to pull anything behind you if you don’t want to and, still, you’re in an RV,’’ said Dustin Johns, president of Travel Lite Inc., of New Paris, Indiana. ‘’People with truck campers can just get up and go wherever they want. There are no restrictions.’’
Truck campers have other attributes, notes Mark Hovanec, marketing director for Lancaster, California-based Lance Camper Manufacturing Inc. ‘’A truck camper is the most versatile RV on the planet for a couple of reasons,’’ said Hovanec. ‘’You can take the camper off when you camp so that you can run errands. There’s still a process when unloading, so this works best when you’ll be camped in one spot for several days. The other thing is you can tow a trailer behind the truck with your sporting gear, be it quads, motorcycles, a boat or whatever. And you also have the choice of the truck you want, high-end or something more utilitarian.’’
Truck camper manufacturers have found a variety of ways to modify their products to make living in small quarters (the largest have a box length of around 12 feet and overall measure about 18 feet long from stem to stern) more comfortable. Some have as many as three or even four standard (albeit, small) slideouts to increase the livable area (via bell source). On the fuel-saving front, Four Wheel Pop-up Campers, of Woodland, California, has paid attention to aerodynamics by engineering a roof that lowers vertically to approximately 10-12 inches above the truck cab to reduce wind drag.
Truck campers are particularly popular in the Western states, where RVs can be sited next to a wilderness stream or lake on U.S. Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management property. ‘’In the Northwest, you have a lot of mountains and open areas,’’ said Doug Karr, national training manager for Northwood Manufacturing Inc. ‘’With a truck camper, you can get back on the backroads. Wherever the truck can go, your camper goes with it.’’
Although not standard on all models, four-season packages are offered by most truck camper manufacturers with features such as heated and enclosed tanks, extra insulation, dual-pane windows and furnaces with higher Btu ratings.
Here’s a look at some of the more popular truck campers for 2014 that you’ll see on America’s highways and byways.
Adventurer LP, of Yakima, Washington, has introduced a double-slide truck camper for 2014 with optional theater seating featuring wall-hugging dual recliners. The 11-foot 6-inch Adventurer 116DS, intended to be hauled on a one-ton dually pickup, is equipped with a driver-side dinette slide and a 14-inch-deep galley slide that extends from the rear of the unit and contains a refrigerator and three-burner stovetop. The interior of the 116DS, one of nine Adventurer floorplans, can be accessed to reach storage with both slides closed. With maple interior colors and leather-style accents, the gelcoat fiberglass camper features a 72-by-84-inch California king bed in the cabover,
a peninsula rear kitchen and plentiful storage inside and out.
ALP/Adventurer Truck Campers
509-895-7064 | www.amlrv.com
Bigfoot Industries 2010
Bigfoot Industries 2010 in British Columbia, Canada, offers seven floorplans in the company’s 1500 and 2500 series truck campers. They’re available in 8- to 101/2-foot configurations in its Bigfoot model camper series, including two 9-footers that are said to be suitable for either long- or shortbed pickups. Built marine-style with top and bottom molded fiberglass shells, Bigfoot truck campers contain no framing, which eliminates heat transfer. Bigfoot campers are outfitted for four-season living with heated-and-enclosed tanks, dual-pane windows, double-pane skylights and 30,000-Btu ducted furnaces. Inside standards include laminate countertops, hardwood maple cabinet doors, commercial-grade vinyl flooring and LED lights. A full molded fiberglass shower is available in some models.
MSRPs start at $31,500.
250-546-2155 | www.bigfootrv.com
Chalet RV of Albany, Oregon, includes many features in its Chalet series that typically aren’t found in truck campers, including as many as four slideouts, radiant heated floors — the temperature of which can be adjusted — and on-demand hot water. Chalet RV features four basic 20-foot floorplans, all of which can be equipped according to the customer’s wishes. A popular choice is the triple-slideout TS116 front-bath floorplan that features a rear-extending sofa slide. The TS116 also can be equipped with an optional fourth wardrobe slideout in the cabover. Standard amenities on the aluminum-and-high-gloss-fiberglass Chalet include dry baths, hardwood cabinet doors, crown molding, wood-grain vinyl flooring, LED exterior lighting, two 7-gallon LP-gas cylinders and remote-controlled electric jacks.
Base MSRP: $49,474.
541-791-4610 | www.chaletrv.com
Four Wheel Pop-up Campers
Going down the road, Four Wheel truck campers from Four Wheel Pop-up Campers of Woodland, California, have the advantage of excellent aerodynamics due to a roof that drops by 30 inches to lower the profile. In fact, when traveling, the cabover is only 10 inches higher than the roof of the truck. That circumstance is accomplished by articulated lifts with spring-loaded piano hinges that raise and lower closely fitted, tent-like upper side panels. Built on welded aluminum frames, Four Wheel campers come in lengths of 5 feet 10 inches for shortbed trucks and up to 9 feet for standard pickups. Standard with aluminum lower side panels, fiberglass panels are optional. Three interior lighting styles — incandescent, fluorescent and LED — also are available, depending on a customer preference.
Average MSRP: $13,995.
Four Wheel Pop-up Campers
800-242-1442 | www.fourwheelcampers.com
Host RV of Bend, Oregon, is a niche builder of single-, double- and triple- slideout campers and four-wheel-drive expedition vehicles. The company offers six camper models ranging from 8-foot 6-inch to 11-foot 6-inch designs. All Host models have an 8-foot-wide floor and are 100 percent aluminum framed with vacuum-bonded construction. Host’s newest model, the Mammoth 11.5 Triple Slide, features two hallways into the bedroom for access to either side of the bed, three wardrobes, spacious kitchen with a 12.5-cubic-foot floor-to-ceiling pantry, a bathroom, a simulated fireplace and 44.75 cubic feet of basement storage. Host builds its campers to order so custom features can be added.
541-330-2328 | www.hostcampers.com
Lance Camper Manufacturing of Lancaster, California, for 2014 offers a double-slideout truck camper floorplan that includes a 25-inch rear-extending sofa/pantry extension. The 11-foot 11-inch Lance 1172 — one of 10 in the Lance truck camper series — has a 3,690-pound dry weight due to the extensive use of lightweight Azdel and Liteply panels along with Schwintek lightweight slideouts. The Lance lineup features high-gloss fiberglass exteriors, one-piece front caps, one-piece molded countertops and raised-panel cabinet doors. Centered between the wheel wells to provide a lower center of gravity, Lance camper’s other amenities include backup cameras, dual-pane windows, four-season insulation, interior LED lighting, propane generators and custom-design molded holding tanks to provide maximum capacity per floorplan.
Lance Camper Manufacturing Corp.
661-949-3322 | www.lancecamper.com
Making heavy use of Azdel composite materials, Livin’ Lite Recreational Vehicles’ aluminum-on-tubular-aluminum 18-foot Camplite 11.0 truck camper has a dry weight of 2,595 pounds, making it suitable to be mounted on three-quarter-ton pickups.
The 11.0 is equipped with a convertible dinette slideout, dry bath with separate shower, wood-grain composite cabinets, chocolate granite countertops, three-way refrigerator, two-burner range, electric jacks and storage cabinets on each side of a north/south queen bed in the cabover. Options include a low-profile air conditioner and four-season package that includes insulated and heated storage and dual-pane windows. Because of Livin’ Lite’s use of metallic automotive colors, the Camplite camper can be painted to match most pickups.
Livin’ Lite Recreational Vehicles
574-862-2228 | www.livinlite.com
There’s no need to worry about water leaks in the Northern Lite truck camper from Northern Lite Manufacturing Ltd., Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada, because it’s built with a two-piece molded fiberglass shell in fashion similar to a boat. An added benefit is that it’s lightweight because Northern Lites require no interior frame. For instance, the 6-foot 10-inch Northern Lite floorplan for midsized pickups like the Toyota Tacoma and Ford Ranger has a dry weight of 1,050 pounds. The four-season camper — available in 12 floorplans for larger trucks in 8-foot 5-inch to 10-foot 2-inch lengths — is also heavily insulated. Northern Lite claims that its 10-2RR, with a base weight of 2,400 pounds, is the lightest dry bath truck camper on the market. The camper is equipped with a standard 95-watt solar panel installed on the roof. Other features include solid hardwood cabinets and paneling, along with LED lighting inside and out.
Base MSRP: $25,000.
800-887-5342 | www.northern-lite.com
Five windows in Northwood Manufacturing’s Arctic Fox 992 truck camper floorplan provide a panoramic view from inside the spacious 10-foot-2-inch-long layout that features a 26-inch-deep, 9-foot 7-inch ‘’super’’ slideout. The 992 is among eight Arctic Fox floorplans in 8-foot 11-inch to 11-foot 6-inch lengths, all of which have heated and enclosed holding tanks. The 992 also features Northwood’s ‘’Fox Landing’’ foldup step to assist entry into the camper. With a queen bed in the cabover and a convertible 43-by-76-inch dinette, the rear-kitchen Arctic Fox 992 can comfortably sleep four people. Amenities include a separate shower and toilet, three-burner range with 22-inch oven, optional air conditioner and Onan 2500 kW generator.
Arctic Fox 992 MSRP: $36,500.
800-766-6274 | www.northwoodmfg.com
Forest River’s Palomino RV division in Colon, Michigan, has introduced the Backpack truck camper for 2014, a rebranded and combined version of its Bronco and Maverick series. The rebranding includes the all-season Backpack Hardside Max 2910, a 10-foot camper with heavy-duty furnaces, heated holding tanks, additional insulation and insulated windows. A unique feature in the 2910 is a full-wall slideout, containing a 40-by-69-inch dinette, which can be optioned with an overhead fold-down bunk that doubles as storage. With a 3,140-pound dry weight, the Max 2910 is designed to be carried by a one-ton truck. Equipped with a wet bath, the aluminum-and-fiberglass Max 2910 amenities include solid-surface kitchen and bath countertops, glazed maple cabinets and stainless-steel flush-mounted sinks.
269-432-3271 | www.palominorv.com
New Paris, Indiana-based Travel Lite’s most popular floorplan is the 7-foot 7-inch 770 Super Lite, which is designed to be loaded onto short- or longbed half-ton pickups without modifications. Featuring an 82-inch-long bed in the cabover and another of the same size in a convertible dinette, the compact Travel Lite 770 Super Lite, with a 1,335-pound dry weight, can sleep up to four people. With a lavatory equipped with a portable toilet that can be removed for additional storage, the wood-and-aluminum 770 Super Lite has cherry cabinet doors, a 2-cubic-foot three-way refrigerator, two-burner stainless-steel stovetop and laminate countertops.
855-831-3525 | www.travellitecampers.com