This well-recognized builder offers its biggest camper with two slides and plenty of room for adventures off the beaten path
Lance Camper will be celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2015 and over the course of those five decades, the company has become a recognized leader in the manufacturing of pickup campers that are contemporary and well built. At the top of its versatile model lineup, the 1172 provides the most interior space thanks to two slideouts and an amazing number of amenities within its 11-foot 11-inch box length. Since truck campers are a great way to explore the roads less traveled, we decided to venture out for 10 days and test Lance’s flagship camper.
The 4,144-pound (wet weight) test camper was placed on a Ford F-450 Super Duty diesel, which made an ideal combo for our “let’s take this road and see where we end up” itinerary. With our crew of five people and one dog, we utilized every inch of space in the camper, yet we felt like there was still lots of room for storage and to move around. The rear slide with reclining couch pops out almost 2 feet, while the streetside slide with dinette extends 2 feet 4 inches.
During daylight hours, the inside of the Lance stayed bright, thanks to the galley’s three large windows, as well as a smaller kitchen window. Also shedding extra light was the optional Fan-Tastic powered roof vent ($215) in the galley. The bedroom has windows on either side and there’s a large skylight/escape hatch over the bed. At night, LED lighting throughout the interior keeps it bright. When it’s time to sleep, the day/night shades do an admirable job of blocking out light.
The galley’s gloss-finished hardwood framed cabinets with raised panels and the leaf-motif Rain Forest/solid pattern on the cushions (three decors available) give an overall classy and homey feel. The vinyl floor, which looks like tile, is the same that’s used in all Lance models. The light-colored flooring with a multi-pattern is a nice contrast to the darker cabinets, plus it did a good job hiding dirt, despite the fact that five people and a dog did their best to track in mud whenever possible.
The steps in and out of the entry door are steep; an interior handrail adds an element of safety. The bottom interior step had excellent nonskid grip (now standard), which we discovered when coming in out of the rain. In our opinion, the swing-out entry-assist handle ($41) is a must-have. On that same wall are light switches and a holding pocket for the remote to operate the slideouts and jacks — it’s the perfect place, and all within reach.
The drawback to this floorplan is that you have to open the rear slide to get into the camper, then you have access only to the incline sofa and back pantry (a good place to pack snacks you want to get to more easily). Likewise, if you need to get to the refrigerator or to the bathroom, you’ll need to open the other slide because when it’s closed, the dinette is almost flush with the kitchen. The upside to this arrangement was that boxes stored under the dinette stayed firmly in place, as did blankets and pillows stacked on the couch, while under way.
In the L-shaped kitchen, there’s enough floor space to move from the sink to the three-burner range and oven without feeling crowded. The stove’s backsplash and tinted splash guard keep stovetop schmutz contained, plus grease and grime off the stairwell and handrail below. A countertop extension flips up/folds down and adds needed space to the laminate countertop. It has a raised lip on its edge — great for preventing liquids from dripping onto the floor — and it’s conveniently located next to the sink with a pullout faucet so veggies/food can be rinsed off and transferred to a close-by work surface. There’s even enough room for a person to squeeze by between the dinette and countertop extension.
There’s ample cabinet and smooth-rolling drawer space for storing food and kitchen items. An optional slide-out rack ($254) in the pantry is very convenient, but we learned not to fill it to the brim with heavy canned items because the rack came off during driving (easily put back on the track). Also, you’ll have to watch your step when going into the pantry, as it’s located by the second stair in the entryway. Over the sink is a deep cabinet with adjustable shelves. During transit, cups and coffee rolled off the top shelf and into the right corner. Smaller people will have trouble retrieving items that roll into the cabinet’s far recesses. On this same cabinet, facing the dinette and at eye level, is the systems monitor panel showing fluid levels and controls for the (optional) built-in LP-gas generator and solar panel.
Across the way, and convenient for serving food from the kitchen, is the step-up dinette that seats four comfortably, and moves out on a slide with the refrigerator. There is lots of room at the table for four place settings, plus food, and also plenty of elbowroom for lively card games of Speed. Below the seating are large rollout storage drawers — the one adjacent to the refrigerator passes through to the outside. The dinette folds down to make a bed that’s just a bit more than 5 feet in length — too short for two 6-foot teenage boys to sleep, but fine for children.
The rear sofa has 21-inch seat cushions that are cushy and firm, as are the 17-inch-high back cushions. The sofa has dual footrest extensions; however, since the backrest is fixed, you end up sitting upright with legs extended — or trying to slouch down to get situated. The jury is still out on how comfortable this really was, but shorter people found the footrests the most comfortable.
I preferred to sit lengthwise on the sofa and scoot my back up to the wall, which gave me a view out the big window. Also, the footrest
closest to the door blocks foot traffic into and out of the camper, and it did take some effort to push them back down. Lance has replaced that sofa with a 68-inch jack-knife counterpart that sleeps one … assuming that person is 5 feet 8 inches or less or doesn’t mind sleeping with his/her feet hanging off. Updated cabinet hardware is also on the short list of changes.
For a decidedly more comfortable place to stretch out and get a good night’s sleep, head toward the front and step up into the 60-by-80-inch pillow-top queen bed over the truck cab. Bed-to-ceiling space offered enough headroom for my 6-foot-4-inch husband to sit up without grazing the ceiling. The escape hatch/skylight with three-way height adjustability is 34 inches from the top of the mattress. It’s well located so that you could lift yourself out in an emergency. One evening, the 16-by-23-inch-wide escape hatch became a safari hatch when three deer wandered into our campsite and I watched them undetected from my rooftop observation point.
There’s a good amount of storage on either side of the bed, including cabinets on the streetside, a mirrored wardrobe for hanging clothes on the curbside and cubbies flush with the bed. One of the cubbies, which Lance calls a hamper, is 19 inches wide by 38 inches long. It’s shallow enough that all the contents in it were on display, and was a storage area for everything we readily wanted to get to including magazines, camera equipment, DVDs, water bottles and a flashlight. An interior light would be welcome (hence the flashlight) because when the cubby door is tilted open, it blocks the window, cutting off outside light. In the evening, one of the super-bright LED reading lights directed a mini spotlight onto the pages of my book.
The mirrored wardrobe makes the already good-sized cabover area appear even larger. The bonus of the mirrored door is that it allows one person to primp if the bathroom (and mirror) is occupied by your spouse. One little complaint here — the small valance at the top of the wardrobe door, adhered by double-stick tape, kept coming off.
An AM/FM/DVD/iPod-compatible stereo (with interior and exterior speakers that can be set for specific zones) is housed above the bed. The outdoor speakers work very well for those who like to take the party outdoors. The optional 24-inch TV ($595), set flush in an open cabinet on the wall between the lav and kitchen, is on a swing-out arm. The TV can be swiveled around for viewing from pretty much anywhere in the camper, whether you’re sitting on the back sofa, at the dinette or lying in bed — or even from the bathroom, if you so desire.
Sunlight pours into the dry bath thanks to a power roof vent and a skylight in the shower that serves double-duty by providing extra headroom that allowed a 6-foot 4-incher plenty of space to stand upright. The shower pan is 191/4 by 21 inches, and there’s also a seat. An expanding shower curtain rod (bends at two points to swing in or out) adds elbowroom, plus it placed the shower curtain out far enough that it didn’t stick to our bodies. A removable clothes rod in the shower sets up in a second for drip-drying bathing suits, towels, etc.
The bathroom’s laminate countertop is roomy and there’s generous storage with a large pullout drawer, some space inside the vanity and a good-sized medicine cabinet. With 16 inches of floor space between the shower and toilet, standing room is a little tight. While facing the mirror, left-handers should watch out to not whack an elbow on the medicine cabinet when brushing their teeth or shaving. The same goes for leaning forward to towel dry your hair when stepping from the shower, a lesson learned the one and only time!
It rained and hailed on us several times. We’d left the vents open about halfway and the skylight/escape hatch over the bed open on the first setting when we took off for a hike. Upon entering the camper later after a sudden downpour, we expected at least a puddle, but we’re happy to report there was no soaked bed! Speaking of inclement weather, the standard 1172 is not considered four-season. However, the 4 Season All Weather Package with dual-pane windows and other options can be ordered to enhance insulation. The holding tanks and plumbing already have the benefit of heat circulation provided by ducting surrounding the water and sanitation components.
Outside, a large storage area in the back has doors that swing wide to allow easy access. The downside is that if the rear slide is open (and it would be if you want to get inside the camper), you’ll need to crawl under the slide to reach that area. In fact, the same is true for the streetside slide, when connecting to shorepower. We recommend hooking to power (if available) before deploying the slide, otherwise you’ll be scrambling around underneath it. Also on this side are an exterior shower, storage compartments and the dump valves. Housed on the curbside (where the entry door is located) are compartments for the two 7-gallon LP-gas cylinders and access to the furnace and hot-water tank service doors. An 11-foot awning is optional ($529).
There was little to complain about after taking the Lance 1172 on our adventure trip to California’s Eastern Sierra. It certainly lived up to our expectations, together with the Ford F-450, taking us off the beaten path to out-of-the-way campsites up to almost 8,000 feet in elevation. It provided comfortable seating for five people, an efficient kitchen and enough room for our family and a large dog to sprawl out.