When the SURV (aka “toy hauler”) craze hit the RV industry, the first designs were simple travel trailers and fifth-wheels with cargo space in the rear and living quarters up front. Then, having exhausted virtually every idea, convenience and amenity in trailers, imaginative minds moved on to motorhomes. And now, just about the time you think you’ve seen it all, comes the first sport-utility truck camper (SUTC), from Western Recreational Vehicles.
“A camper is a go-anywhere, do-anything RV,” says Beau Durkee, director of WRV’s camper division. “But one of its biggest drawbacks has always been that you can’t always take all of your toys with you, whether it’s motorcycles or just the kid’s bikes. An RV is a tool that you use to go and do the things that you really enjoy, so I thought a camper that would let you bring active lifestyle items with you would be a winning combination.”
Indeed, but a camper is different from other RVs in that it doesn’t carry the weight of your stowed items — the truck does. Given that fully self-contained campers are often extra-heavy as it is, WRV had to do some homework to produce a product that wouldn’t overload the truck when the toys were brought on board. To that end, WRV’s first SUTC, the model 1180, weighs in at 2,800 pounds dry (claimed), and employs what Durkee calls “weight-forward engineering” to offset loads placed in the rear. “All the heavy items have been moved to the forward half, including the holding tanks and the kitchen,” Durkee explains. “This moves the center of gravity forward. Most camper manufacturers try to get the weight as close to the rear axle of the truck as possible, but in many cases, it’s behind. In this camper, it’s between the axle and the cab. So even though it’s an 11 1/2-foot camper, it feels and handles like an 8 1/2-foot camper.”
The 1180 works like a traditional SURV trailer in that it features a dinette and sofa that fold up against the interior walls of the camper, accommodating up to two quads loaded end to end, one snowmobile or any number of other toys. These photos are of the first prototype, which utilizes rear double doors, but Durkee reports that production models will be equipped with a rear wall that rises up like a giant hatch to make loading easier. At the same time, the hatch will also have a standard access door with screen in its middle so it can be entered like a standard camper when closed.
Another feature Durkee wanted from the SUTC was the ability to accommodate several campers on an extended stay, so the 1180 can sleep six standard (available options push that number to eight), and has extra-large 50-gallon holding tanks.
Two more 8 1/2-foot models will follow the 1180: the 880 (longbed) and the 890 (shortbed), which should be available by the time you read this.
Western Recreational Vehicles Inc., (800) 777-4133, www.wrv.com