Trailer Review: Lance Sportscamper
Truck campers are incredibly versatile. Like travel trailers, they can be disconnected from the vehicle (pickup truck in this case) for storage, while you use the truck as a daily commuter. They can also be set up and stand alone for long-term camping, allowing you to use your pickup for touring duties during extended trips. With a four-wheel-drive pickup underneath, the truck camper becomes a highly maneuverable and dirt-road-capable backcountry RV, getting you into camps no motorhome or travel trailer can reach.
Because you can tow (boat, horse, cargo, motorcycle, ATV, snowmobile) with it, a truck camper also easily supports your many diverse activities, without having to deal with the increased dimensions of a larger motorhome. Now Lance has taken that inherent nature of the truck camper one step further and designed its new line, the SportsCamper, to offer even greater versatility.
There are two models in the new Lance SportsCamper line as of this report–the 8SCS (the unit we tested) and 9SC. By mid-year, two more models will be added to the line and then all four models will receive new designations. All models will feature the same design philosophy, focusing on details that make the SportsCamper ideal for the camping sportsman. Something as simple as altering the cabinet directly above the convertible dinette to more easily accommodate fishing rods and rifles makes a big difference. Then Lance secured the single-door cabinet with dual locking latches for security and safety.
The sleeping configuration of the new SportsCamper line was altered to better fit the sporting crowd, too. Most truck campers are set up with a queen or double mattress in the cabover (and some align the bed laterally so the inside sleeper has to climb over his partner to get to the bathroom at night). Instead, the Lance SportsCamper offers two twin innerspring mattresses aligned longitudinally, separated by a small removable nightstand cabinet. The twins can be zipped together to form a single super-queen sleeping mattress, when so desired. This makes the SportsCamper work for fishing with a buddy, or camping with the wife. And tall folks will sleep easy with 80 inches of sleeping length offered in the cabover section.
Both models also carry a “woodland” décor on the exterior treatment and interior styling, to further the camper’s sporting image. We learned early on that the SportsCamper can serve the outdoor enthusiast well, regardless of his pursuits-fishing and hunting, or biking, canoeing and hiking. We spent a weekend in the smaller of the two models – the 8SCS – and this is what we learned about the Lance SportsCamper.
The 8SCS is specifically designed for extended-cab, short-bed pickup trucks (the 9SC is designed for long-bed pickups), and considering its dry weight of nearly 2400 pounds, the 8SCS model is best placed on at least a 3/4-ton-rated pickup. Our test unit was loaded into a Chevy 2500 HD Extended-Cab short-bed 4×4, and the rig handled the load pretty well.
Exterior dressing consists of a polar white Filon fiberglass laminated outer skin for a sleek look and easy clean up. Aluminum framing is used throughout-in the floor, bed and ceiling. Block foam insulation is cut and placed in all the voids between frame members, and there’s additional insulation in the cabover bed section. The battery and propane compartments are also insulated to keep their contents from freezing. On top of the camper we found a one-piece thermoplastic polyolefin roof covering.
Access to the backside of the furnace is through a hatch on the camper’s street side. Lockers housing other major system components such as the outside shower (hot and cold water) and camp power cord are positioned on the street side of the camper; the twin propane tanks and backside of the refrigerator/freezer are accessed from the curb side of the camper. Generously sized rollout awnings shaded the rear entry, as well as the dinette window. Up top, our test unit came supplied with an optional solar panel, TV antenna, and Coleman 13,500-BTU air conditioning unit with ceiling control, as well as a Maggie roof rack that can accommodate a storage pod.
Two lockers on the backside hold a space for a compact portable generator (curbside) and the water tank drains and sewage outlet. (streetside). The generator locker can hold an optional genset, or one of the smaller hand-carried compact generators if you choose to not have a genset installed, and is accessed by folding up the hinged, lower section of the Phat roof ladder.
One of our favorite exterior equipment accessories was the optional remote-control electric camper jack system-it’s a must for this camper. If you’ve ever spent a half-hour hand-cranking camper jacks to full extension, you’ll love this remote-control electric system. And the unit came with swing-out jacks on the front end to accommodate loading the Lance on to a dual-rear-wheel pickup.
Also a big hit with us was the optional exterior wash station/sink that can be attached to the side of the camper for cleaning fish and handling other messy clean-up chores that are best done outside. We were also impressed with the 8SCS’ abundant and powerful exterior lighting. Two docking lights are mounted facing downward in the small overhang at the top-rear lip of the camper-ideal for launching or retrieving a trailered boat before dawn or after dusk. Three (rear and both sides) huge “scare” lights (that’s what they’re called in the manufacturer’s literature) are mounted on the camper’s exterior to illuminate the entire area around the 8SCS. These large lights are so bright that they will literally scare non-human intruders away from the camper; they’re pretty good as general-purpose area lamps, too, bathing the Lance’s surroundings in bright light.
About the only exterior aspect we weren’t excited about was the size of the dinette window – we would have liked a bigger window for a better view, and it would help make the interior seem larger and brighter. But considering the available space between the top of the dinette seat back along the wall and the storage locker directly above the dinette, there isn’t much room for a much larger window.
Truck campers are notoriously compact inside and can be great examples of how to engineer a lot of stuff into a small space. Lance does a good job here, starting with the fair-sized convertible dinette and 30-1/4×23-1/4-inch table. The dinette area easily transforms from being a place where you can squeeze four persons in for a meal, to a well-cushioned platform (72×40-1/2 inches) for sleeping that will hold two young kids or a small adult. Storage underneath the forward bench seat is available.
Across the aisle from the dinette is the bathroom. Lance has delivered a large, self-contained, wet bath with a lavvy sink, full-size flush toilet, and decent-sized medicine cabinet with mirror door. On the inside of the bathroom door are towel hangers. The toilet paper roll is mounted on the inside of a hatch door on the sink pedestal so that when it’s shut, the paper is protected from your shower spray. A heater vent blows right onto the toilet’s occupant-no more trips to a cold lavvy at night. When the dinette is down for sleeping the bathroom door is partially blocked, but it can still swing to provide a 16-1/2-inch-wide opening to the head.
The galley area is compact, but well conceived. A high-output three-burner range with a lighted and vented hood takes up most of the left-hand side of the galley counter. There’s about 25×17 inches of open counter between the stove and the single-bowl, 13-1/2×11-inch sink with a high-rise faucet. To make some more room for chopping veggies, a small removable section of laminated table top that’s normally stored in the hanging wardrobe can be set between the sink and the four-cubic-foot, three-way-power refrigerator/freezer, opposite the sink.
Interior lighting was everywhere we needed it: Reading lamps were positioned at the head of the twin beds; area lamps were placed over the galley counter, dinette, and cabover section; and there were even little lights inside the cabinets actuated by opening the cupboard doors. Power outlets for 120-volt AC and 12-volt DC were plentiful and placed right, too. We found a 120-volt outlet under the galley’s overhead cabinet-just right for powering kitchen appliances. A 12-volt DC power point was available near the foot of the streetside twin mattress to power a portable 12-volt TV. A removable, 14×12-inch TV stand can also be placed on the board at the foot of the streetside twin mattress.
We spent the better part of a long weekend living in the Lance SportsCamper 8SCS and found it much to our liking. It’s really best suited for supporting the activities of a two-person party, but in a pinch, you can squeeze two kids, a small adult or your trusty retriever into the dinette. The ‘fridge/freezer is large enough to hold plenty of food for a long outing. At 6-feet, 2-inches tall, I could stand in the shower only because of the skylight, so sitting on the commode was the only easy way to get a full shower. Nonetheless, the bathroom was roomy enough to never seem cramped. Interior storage capacity is liberal for a mid-sized camper and included a large hanging wardrobe for bulky items such as thick coats. There were lots of cabinets for pantry and kitchen items, and long, 57-1/2-inch shelves running lengthwise above the twin mattresses in the cabover.
We learned that even though the SportsCamper is targeted at the “fish and hunt” sportsman, the innate versatility of a truck camper makes this model a good choice for any outdoor enthusiast. Your passions can range from turkeys to trekking.
Major Standard Features: Super-queen that unzips into two twin innerspring mattresses in cabover, three-burner range, six-gallon auto-relight hot water tank, dual five-gallon LPG tanks, outside shower, heavy-duty roof rack and ladder, 110V AC/12V DC/45-amp power converter with battery charger, insulated vent and skylight covers, heated holding tank compartment, insulated battery and propane compartments, extra bed insulation, switched scare lights
Major Optional Features: Gas oven with three-burner stove, microwave, Onan 2500W generator, 80W/12V solar panel, remote-control electric jacks, AM/FM/CD stereo system, TV antenna, Fan-Tastic roof vent, air conditioner with ceiling control, rear and side awnings, roof-rack system with storage pod, portable exterior sink, outside BBQ, carpet kit, removable thermal windows.
Lance 8SCS Truck Camper
Base MSRP: $19,733
Price as Tested: $22,209
Interior Floor Length: 8′ 6″
Interior Height: 6′ 8″
Cabover Headroom: 34″
Height From Truck Bed Floor: 90.5″
Exterior Width: 93″
Overall Exterior Height: 102.5″
Dry Weight (w/o options): 2378 lbs.
Fresh Water: 30 gals.
Grey Water: 13 gals.
Black Water: 19 gals.
LPG: (2) 5 gals.
Sleeping Capacity: 2 adults, 2 children
Lance Camper Mfg. Corp.
43120 Venture Street
Lancaster, CA 93535