I’m really grateful for the readers of RVTravel. Not only do you read these articles but I get quite a bit of responses in the form we link at the bottom of them. And there are times when you show me something new, or draw my attention to something I should have been looking at. Take the Lance 1985 travel trailer as an example, as suggested by Sumner S.
Lance really made their name in pickup campers and we’re going to look at a new one shortly. But they stepped aboard the travel trailer market when the economy took a dive in 2008 and got a huge following in this field.
The company has an enviable reputation for building good products. While all RVs are hand made in a big hurry, Lance has been one of those brands that seems to really earn long-time repeat customers. That says something about how they’re built.
This past weekend I used my travel trailer as the show headquarters for a car show and a lot of people wanted to tour the trailer, which was odd with all the great cars to see. Trailers are hot.
My trailer is a shortie and has a Murphy bed and that was such a deal breaker for some folks. The Lance 1985 also has a Murphy bed, sort of. There’s a folding mattress in the nose of the trailer and then a folding couch. To get to the bed you drop down the couch and fold over the mattress.
I didn’t get a chance to sleep test the mattress but I’m always wary of a folding mattress. The fold seems to be about mid-torso from my guesstimate. It would seem that having it at your hips might be less comfortable but, again, I didn’t test it myself.
You’d think a company that is in the high desert of Southern California wouldn’t know diddly squat about insulation. But, actually, Lance is one of the few smaller travel trailer brands that really does a great job in this respect. While this is a lightweight camper, for sure, it features things like dual-pane windows, and heated and enclosed underbelly so that you can camp in colder climates with this rig. The baggage doors are thicker than you’d expect in a lightweight smaller camper, as well.
You can surmise that insulating a camper well for winter also means it’s better insulated when the thermometer goes the other direction. Having been in Lancaster, California, that thermometer sticks to the high side pretty well.
The walls are not only vacuum laminated but also feature an Azdel substrate material which is a made-made material that’s waterproof. Essentially, even if water gets into the walls it still is not likely to delaminate the structure. Of course, any RV owner should pay attention to the seals on the outside of their coach.
Clever features in Lance campers
Some of the features I’ve seen on all Lance campers include the fact that the battery compartment is within the body of the camper behind doors. That means that if you do choose the optional lithium batteries, you won’t be as worried about someone else getting free lithium batteries that are just out there on the tongue of the trailer. No worries, these compartments are well ventilated, if you choose traditional batteries. There’s also a tray, so battery maintenance is made easier.
On the subject of trays, you can also get one in the front storage compartment. This would be a good option to have. You know whatever you want it’s “way back there.” The tray eliminates the neighbors having a good laugh at you trying to reach it.
I also like the various choices of interior with this trailer, including some that feel rather ritzy to me. But the choices are different enough that you will definitely find preferences. I only wish they offered the blue upholstery that is available in some other models, but that’s just me. The existing choices are fine.
Front window with several uses
The front windshield in this trailer is what Lance refers to as a Stargazer window. It’s now a Lexan window that can be opened. The big front windshield has four latches. Flip those and the window can be raised up (it’s hinged at the top). There is a screen that can be raised to cover this space and a shade that can be lowered. But this offers the secondary benefit of being big enough that I think I could even get out in an emergency. So there’s safety as well as ventilation.
Below the sink there’s a cabinet door that hides three plastic trays that serve as the drawers. These can be pulled all the way out and taken into your house for loading/unloading. While these are plastic, I don’t think they detract from the interior – which feels high quality.
Lance also includes a shower on a height-adjustable mount. One of the first things I usually change on an RV is the shower head. That wouldn’t be the case here.
You can also get one or two 190-watt solar panels as well as lithium batteries with this trailer. There is also a 1500-watt inverter available. I would say with my off-grid camping habits this would work well. But you won’t be using the AC or the microwave with this system.
There are 45 gallons of fresh water. That would work for about four days of boondocking for my wife and me, assuming one shower per person per day. Substitute Venture Wipes for a shower and you can be out longer.
The 32” TV on this rig is a 12-volt model, so you could watch TV off-grid without having to use an inverter. Smart. 12-volt TVs should be how all RVs are made, in my opinion.
There’s also a cabinet specifically to hold a smaller portable generator on the road side that’s vented. I was told you shouldn’t run the generator in here but you can store it in here. That would really serve us well.
This camper has a large U-shaped dinette in a slide room. While really thin folks could squeeze by the slide room to the bathroom for a mid-journey visit, I don’t know if everyone could. You can also open the refrigerator door a bit with the slide in but, again, not much access. However, you can put the bed down with the slide room in. So you can at least take a nap without having to put the slide out.
I write about this quite a bit, but one of the biggest factors in towing a travel trailer is wind resistance. People are obsessed with what vehicle manufacturers state that a vehicle can tow. But, really, tongue weight and wind resistance are truly critical factors in your towing experience.
These Lance trailers actually sit lower to the ground, which means the roof height is also lower. Combine that with a dry weight of 4,245 pounds and I think this trailer could be safely towed by a pretty wide swath of vehicles. Now, you’re still going to want to pay attention to your vehicle’s cargo carrying capacity and know what your trailer really does weigh. But I would sooner recommend towing this trailer than some taller ones.
That being written, you can also opt for a lift kit which raises the whole rig 2 5/8 inches. You now have a choice to make.
On the subject of suspension, Lance uses a torsion axle suspension rather than cheap leaf springs. Another plus.
Options galore in the Lance 1985
There are a lot of options on this trailer including three different air conditioners: a 10,000 BTU model, a 13,500 BTU model and a 15,000 BTU model. You can also get this without an AC unit.
Lance trailers use one key to operate all the doors and baggage compartments. You can also get a keyless entry. Do that. You can also get a rack on the roof for cargo. That shows how strong the roofs of Lance trailers are.
Your cooking choices include a real 22” oven if you choose, but you can also get a convection microwave in its place. The regular microwave is also an option and that occupies the space above the stove. If you choose the convection model, it sits in the space the propane oven would otherwise occupy below the stove top.
What’s not to like
If I were to buy a camper like this, the first thing I’d ask the dealer to replace is that Dometic thermostat. These are very common and I can’t tell you how many of these I had to replace under warranty at the dealership. Fortunately, most thermostats are wired the same so you can take this one to the shooting range. If you’re not angry with it at first, trust me, that’ll change.
I have also seen versions of this trailer with a different thermostat.
I was surprised just how many features there were on this trailer, considering the size. I also like the different suspension and AC options available. I’m also a big fan of the fact that this has either traditional folding steps or upgraded folding steps but does not have those “stable steps.” Those are cool but I know a few folks who have those and can’t open the steps when they’re parked in their storage lot.
Lance products are not inexpensive but they are one of my favorites. For a lot of really useful features in a small package, this is a tough one to beat.
Tony comes to RVTravel having worked at an RV dealership and been a life long RV enthusiast. He also has written the syndicated Curbside column about cars. You can find his writing here and at StressLessCamping where he also has a podcast about the RV life with his wife.
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.
Got an RV we need to look at? Contact us today and let us know in the form below – thank you!