Truck Camper Reviews
The typically sleepy truck camper segment has been remarkably busy of late. Innovations such as basement storage, all-aluminum construction, side entry ways, and single — and then double — slide-outs have kept potential buyers on their toes. Expect more of the same in 2006, as the RV builders in this marketplace continue to modify their products to generate the most livability and ease out of relatively modest dimensions.
While the truck camper segment appears to consist of virtually the same group of manufacturers as last year, we are starting to see some new names —armed with new ideas — emerge. That’s good news for consumers, as witnessed by the flurry of innovations the truck camper marketplace has undergone in the past several years.
Host Campers Yukon
While not necessarily a household name (yet), relative newcomer Host Campers is making strides in a number of innovative firsts. Last year, it offered the truck camper industry’s first double slide-out camper, a major coup considering there are numerous manufacturers still grappling with the challenge of installing even one. For 2006, the company set its sight on increasing dimensions with an expandable fold-out tent stretching out past the rear bumper of the Yukon model. Naturally, the change required moving the entry way to the side of the camper to best accommodate the tent. An electrical outlet and privacy door sequesters campers in this space from the rest of the interior. The rest of the Yukon ain’t too shabby, either, with a dinette slide-out and overall sleeping for up to six. An overhead dinette bunk is a great option.
The all-aluminum-framed camper (11-foot, 6-inch floor length) doesn’t leave other travelers in the lurch, though, not with a 60×80-inch queen-size cabover bed, and other conveniences such as a pull-out pantry, six-cubic-foot refrigerator, massive 60-gallon water tank (45-gallon gray and black tank), 30,000-BTU furnace and full bathroom.
Host Campers: 541/330-2328; hostcampers.com.
Western RV Alpenlite
Western RV started its long-going family enterprise with truck campers and still excels at building them with the same pride and commitment today. The Alpenlite series and its eight models, ranging from 16 to 20 feet, greet 2006 with numerous changes, both on the cosmetic and amenity fronts.
In the looks department come two brand new color choices (Cinnabark and Meadowlands), as well as a creative new exterior graphics package. Interior cabinetry has been upgraded to fawn maple, complete with solid maple cabinet doors and fronts. That is, assuming your Alpenlite model isn’t one of the ones receiving glass-front doors designed to lighten the interior space. Speaking of lights, things are looking brighter onboard thanks to the upgraded 45-amp PDI converter resulting in nearly 50 percent better illumination than last year’s models.
Improvements in storage also should have travelers smiling since truck campers aren’t necessarily known for their voluminous capacities. Alpenlite slide-out models (935, 950, and 1150) receive under-seat dinette storage. Moreover, hand-polished Karadon solid-surface countertops now grace every Alpenlite interior.
Western RV: 866/567-4133; wrv.com.
Lees-ure Lite ‘Lil Camper
Ideal for smaller-sized pickup trucks, Lees-ure Lite’s ‘Lil Camper fold-down truck camper is unbelievably lightweight and easy to own. Tipping the scales at a paltry 225 pounds, even the smallest pickup truck can handle this camper. Better still, your pickup’s overall gas mileage, acceleration, vehicle handling and stopping power should scarcely be affected with such a lightweight camper installed. And we doubt the mere moments it takes to deploy the unit when your destination is reached will test your patience, either.
Standard features include a sleeping area large enough for a queen-size mattress, screened entry and four screened-in windows, a portable dinette, and curtains. A portable toilet may be added, as well as a 7-foot awning and a secondary room.
Lees-ure Lite: 800/660-0933; tent-trailer.com.
General Coach Citation Supreme 1050
The Citation Supreme 1050 truck camper (10-foot, 5-inch floor length, 6-foot, 6-inch interior height) has not only undergone significant additions to its list of standards, but engineers went back to work to improve various construction aspects as well for 2006.
They began with the interior, which now counts an extra large 79-inch dinette and full-height fiberglass shower door (24×40 inches) among a list of comforts. A newly added 25,000-BTU furnace, dual 30-pound LP tanks, heated holding tanks, and added insulation to the roof and walls create a camper better able to tackle sinking temperatures. The kitchen adds a double stainless steel sink and Moen faucet to the galley, which still includes a six-cubic-foot refrigerator, knife block and pantry, among other features.
General Coach: 250/498-3471; generalcoach.bc.ca.
From its unique (to the RV industry) construction process, one might believe that Bigfoot is in the boat business. The top and bottom sections of its truck campers are fit together much like that of a deck to a hull of a boat. The result is a solid and weatherproof design, with only a single overlapping seam to safeguard.
Bigfoot’s new 25C9.4 camper, available in both long- and short-box models, comes equipped with basement storage, enclosed holding tanks (38 gallons fresh, 32 gray, 22 black), massive 30,000-BTU furnace, and 6 feet, 4 inches worth of interior height. The floorplan features a queen-size bed (60×74 inches), upfront bench-style dinette, and galley with six-cubic-foot refrigerator, as well as a toilet, sink and shower. The hallmark of the interior is the numerous storage compartments.
Bigfoot: 250/546-2155; bigfootrv.com.
Northwood Silver Fox
With Northwood’s move toward all-aluminum construction in its Arctic Fox line came a name change. Now the company produces Silver Fox editions of the Arctic Fox campers.
The company also recently unveiled a new floorplan in the Silver Fox line-up: the 811, which features a larger bathroom and a full rear bumper. The dinette booth is now a full 70 inches in length. The 811 captures the trend of expanding campers with a dinette slide-out room.
Backwoods travelers should also appreciate the 811’s commercial-grade linoleum flooring and diamond-plated entry. And with a choice of either a high-pressure exterior wash station or full wet bath (sink, shower and toilet), there’s no shortage of places to wash the dirt off after a day well spent outside.
Northwood Mfg.: 541/962-6274; northwoodmfg.com.
At 13 feet, 3 inches in length (9-foot, 3-inch floor length), the Starcraft Starmate is the largest model in the company’s Pine Mountain series. Fortunately, with a base weight of 1695 pounds, almost any truck can handle the job. We’re also confident you can handle the gaucho and double bed that can sleep up to four, the multiple storage compartments (including underneath the bed), some of which can be accessed from outside the truck, and the Starmate’s marine toilet. The galley offers a three-burner stove and three-way (three-cubic-foot) refrigerator. A pedestal table rounds out the floorplan.
The Starmate’s Aqualon soft top expands with Starcraft’s lifter system to carve out precious extra height upon arrival, while staying low during travel to preserve much needed aerodynamics.
Starcraft RV: 800/945-4787; starcraftrv.com.
Northstar 8.5 Arrow
Despite the modest base weight of 1900 pounds, Northstar Camper’s side dinette version of its 8.5 Arrow camper (also currently available as a rear dinette version) yields some impressive dimensions. How does an interior height of 6 feet, 8 inches and nearly 9 feet of floor space grab ya? Moreover, the bedding is honestly queen-size (60×80 inches), with buyers getting the option of adding a fold-out bunk. Standards inside include a three-burner stove, three-way refrigerator, double 20-pound LPG tanks, window valances, magazine rack and bathroom skylight.
Northstar would also like people to notice two often overlooked aspects of its campers. One is the availability of insulated windows, offered on Northstar campers for nearly 20 years. The European design comes equipped with a built-in shade and screen, with engineers utilizing a plastic frame with an argon-gas filled pane to provide the maximum in insulation with no obscured views. The company’s insulated HEKI vent remedies the problem of the cold-air infusion often coming from the cabover escape hatch. The technology is similar to the insulated windows, with gas-filled panes drowning out the noise while keeping temperatures stable onboard.
Northstar Campers: 319/233-3461; northstarcampers.com.
There’s been some big developments in the Lance camper series for 2006. The entire brand underwent a complete redesign, with the 951 model now counted among the many floorplans. With a useable floor length of 9 feet, 11 inches and a slide-out dinette/refrigerator “room,” the 951 hopes to deliver occupants the maximum amount of space. We’re sure buyers won’t mind lofty interior heights of 6 feet, 8 inches, either. (The cabover height comes in at 44 inches.) Add to this the sub-floor basement and such interior storage nooks as a pair of wardrobe closets, pantry, and overhead cabinetry, and travelers will be pleased to know they can also tote along a bevy of essentials as well.
Upgraded holding tanks are another noteworthy feature of this new unit, with 30 gallons worth of fresh and gray water paired with a 40-gallon black-water tank. Other significant features include a six-cubic-foot (three-way) refrigerator, double sink and 20,000-BTU furnace.
Lance Camper: 661/949-3322; lancecamper.com.