By Tony Barthel
In finding RVs to look at here, I’ve been coming across more independent manufacturers than I had initially thought were out there. I’m impressed with some of these smaller companies and I’m enjoying looking at some of their nifty products! One of those companies is Northern Lite in Kelowna, B.C., Canada. Today I’m taking a look at their 8-11 Limited Edition Truck Camper.
Northern Lite – They know snow & mo’
Northern Lite makes some interesting campers and one of the first things that intrigued me is a very, very long warranty. In fact, the company offers a six-year warranty on the exterior of their units. How do they pull this off?
The exterior of the camper is essentially two big fiberglass pieces. Think Casita or Oliver travel trailer, for example. So instead of being made up of flat walls that have seams right at the edges, a critical stress point, each half of this thing is essentially a large fiberglass tub.
Then all the exterior screws are made of stainless steel. Yes, the marker lights, baggage doors, you name it. They’re all stainless steel.
The company has mounted the four power jacks that come with their camper to the underside of the camper rather than just the sidewalls.
The campers are certified independently for four-season use. Hey, they get some serious winters in Canada so these folks know from cold climate. Part of that is the dual-pane European-style awning windows, of course. But they also duct heat into the cabinet where all the water connections are so they won’t freeze.
Attention to detail
There are other signs that there’s significant attention to detail here, including the fact that even the interior of the refrigerator compartment is finished rather than just being bare wood.
The steps at the back of the camper remind me of the swim platform on a boat. The steps are two-sided in that you can use them flipped up to walk into the camper when it’s on the ground, or you can flip them down when your camper’s in the truck to gain access. If you have a taller truck then there’s yet another extension built into them for added height.
While we’re back here, let’s peer over towards the side and look at the compartment just ahead, which can house a generator and happens to be right by the 30-amp plug. Someone had their thinking cap on when they designed this. You can order this with an Onan 2500 generator, but give me a Honda any day. The company says that a 2,000-watt generator will run everything but the microwave in this rig.
One more stop on the outside, as we examine the propane – tanks which are two 20-pound tanks mounted on a sliding drawer-type arrangement. It has become very obvious to me which RV company’s designers actually take the time to go RVing and who spends too much time polishing the frames of their diplomas to do so.
While the outside of these are nice, there’s much to love once you’re inside as well. One of the things that surprised me is that you can get a wet bath in a camper designed for a short-bed truck.
The cabinets are probably the most striking when you first step inside. They’re nine-ply Russian birch. Even the table is wood and has a nice recessed edge carved into the surface.
The bed is an actual queen-sized residential mattress – no RV-sized nonsense. On either side of the bed are cabinets that you can drop things down into. Overhead there’s a skylight that opens up for air and features both a privacy shade and a screen shade. Combine that with the high-performance fan with remote control and you’ve got a nice breeze flowing.
If you’re planning to catch something on the TV you’ll be able to do so even off the grid as the TV is a 12-volt model.
For added space in the kitchen, a nice cutting board almost snaps onto the stainless steel sink as a cover. Those feet that are used to hold it into the sink just happen to be the perfect size so this can also sit on top of the glass folding stove top if you want to use it there.
Up on the roof, there are a few things to see, including the fact that the roof is part of the upper tub so doesn’t have one of those rubber surfaces. It’s a good thing.
You’ll also notice two 185-watt solar panels up here that can charge the two batteries, also in a compartment, down below.
The few things I saw that I didn’t like almost have to be a component of this design. For example, the mattress is a “north-south” arrangement and is almost in a well, for lack of a better description. I don’t see a way around this and I would just go get an RV Super Bag instead of trying to wrestle with sheets. That’s how we’ve done our own camper.
This also uses the smaller oven, but you’re not trying to feed a lot of people in a pickup camper so it’s not as big a deal, to me, as it would be in a bunkhouse trailer.
Overall I’d say Northern Lite has a good product here that’s clearly the result of real people who actually use their products rather than some designer in a studio who’s never been camping. Those real people also have an appreciation for nice woods and useful features…
These RV reviews are written based on information provided by the manufacturers along with our writer’s own research. We receive no money or other financial benefits from these reviews. They are intended only as a brief overview of the vehicle, not a comprehensive critique, which would require a thorough inspection and/or test drive.
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Just got a 2022 8-11ex limited. Pump broke upon first trip, no black tank flush, drawers keep opening while traveling, no 110v outlets in bed area, only USB, heat only goes to main unit and valve area underneath driver side storage, so hot water heater and pump under dinette depends on extremely warm main cabin to keep it just above freezing in 30 degree temps outside
Hi Tony, I like your reviews but not your scoring system. The three items that you rate vary from unit to unit but in the case above you are giving equal weight to bed-making difficulty, overall design and build quality. Since the design of the bed/mattress is part of design, and a lesser issue, it doesn’t seem fair for it to have such an effect on the overall score. This camper ends up with a 76% rating when, bed aside, not only could you not find faults, you raved about everything else, including the unheard-of six year warranty.
Perhaps change to fixed features to rate on every unit or just give an overall score, with a pet peeve or Con also mentioned.
I think there was some miscommunication somewhere, because there is no reason a 2000-watt generator shouldn’t be able to run a microwave.
We have had a NL 9-6 for three years and love it.
Seems like a nice camper. How is the quality on Canadian campers? Does canada regulate the manufacture that would make the put out a better and safer product?
Depends on the size of the microwave. My 2000 watt Yamaha will not run my microwave either.
There are a lot of variables in this but my 2000 watt inverter generator will not run my 1300 watt microwave.
As to Bob M’ comment, it seems that the quality of the products from smaller manufacturers like this seems to be pretty good. I was really impressed with how this was made.