Tuesday, July 5, 2022

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RV Review: Lance 1985 Travel Trailer

Today we’re looking at the Lance 1985, a small travel trailer with a floor plan we’ve seen before. In fact, this is the floor plan that is my current favorite in smaller trailers—with the bed up front and a bathroom that takes up the entire width of the rear of the trailer. 

The most recent example of this that we’ve looked at is the Ember RV Overland 170MRB. But there are so many others, including the Rockwood Mini Lite 2109s. 

One of the things I want these reviews to do is to encourage you to evaluate what you’re looking for in a rig on so many levels and then look at how the different RV companies interpret that floor plan. There are only so many ways to arrange things, and it’s in the details where each company can really make a huge difference. 

Lance Camper

Lance has a well-deserved reputation as being a manufacturer of very high-quality RVs. In fact, I dare say that Lance has a very enviable reputation among the general RVing public that’s matched by only a few companies, one of those being Airstream. 

Like Airstream, a Lance camper is not an inexpensive proposition. But I can more easily justify a Lance than I could an Airstream in my own mind. That’s only because Airstreams are so expensive and yet I read so many complaints in the Airstream forums that I’m in about newer models. 

Highlights of the Lance 1985

The list of highlights in a camper of this size is considerable. I’ll start on the exterior, where you’ll find a compartment specifically for holding a generator, should you choose to bring one. That’s not something you often see in a smaller travel trailer. 

Also on the road side is a metal compartment for tools and whatnot. 

Lance does the battery storage in a lockable compartment on either side of the camper. This kind of secure storage makes far more sense when you think about your $1,000 lithium batteries that would be sitting out on the tongue of most travel trailers. 

Over on the camp side is another storage surprise: a very deep storage bay that sports a big metal sliding drawer mechanism so you can get whatever rolled “back there.” Brilliant. So, too, is the shelf above the drawer that holds the four-foot plastic table that comes with this trailer. 

No awning arms to bonk our heads on

Lastly, the awning on the trailer has no arms that extend down the sides. For all of us who have whacked our noggins on an awning arm and, after doing so multiple times have finally put a flag or a pool noodle on the bloody thing, this awning’s for us. 

Another thing you’ll find out here is what’s called a gear lock. It is essentially a 20-foot metal rope that can extend and keep your gear from being someone else’s gear. This is a nifty contraption I’ve seen on toy haulers but not on travel trailers, except here. But it sure makes sense. 

Interestingly, this trailer comes with a MORryde CRE 3000 suspension, and you can opt in shock absorbers. This is also something you may find in much larger trailers, but not typical of smaller ones like this. 

Oh. Get the shock absorbers. 

What’s inside the Lance 1985

Even just going inside you’re treated to a better experience with a door that has pockets on it. The window in the door actually comes with a shade, too. The screen is on a retractable mechanism sort of like an old-fashioned window shade. 

I can see some of you really liking this and some not, and I bet the feeling is generated by whether or not you have pets. I can imagine pets feeling some lack of barrier in this type of screen door. 

The most overwhelming feeling in this interior comes in the front, where Lance has a windshield and a huge window on either side. The side windows are new for 2022. This gives the space a giant, open feeling. 

Speaking of open, that’s what all three of these windows can do, being dual-pane Lexan windows that are hinged at the top. You can slightly open them even while they remain locked or open them almost a full 90 degrees. The windows themselves have integrated shades and screens, each of which roll over the space or into the frame to disappear. 

When I was considering building a cargo trailer I wanted these windows. They are Egg. Spen. Sive. So, including these kinds of upgraded features in the build is what justifies the price of these, in my eyes. 

Queen-sized bed or option in a couch in the Lance 1985

The standard issue is a queen-sized bed, but you can option in a couch. That makes the bed a foldable model. If you get that couch, behind it is a bendy bed mattress with the split almost right down the middle. I’ve been told these mattresses are better than most trailer mattresses, but a lot of folks just don’t like bendy beds. 

However, it is a consequence of wanting a smaller trailer while still wanting to have all the features. Something about cake and eating it too. And you can just get one without the couch if you prefer. 

Otherwise, there’s a single slide room here that houses a larger U-shaped dinette that makes into a 54” X 74” bed. Under the dinette are larger drawers, which is no surprise. But I like the positive latches on the drawers so they don’t go flying open when you round a bend. 

Nice galley with a big oven

On the camp side is the galley wherein you’ll find a three-burner stove top with (drum roll, please) a 22” oven. At initial glance you don’t see a microwave. But there actually is one—it’s just up in a cabinet above the stove. Pretty fancy. 

Also, Lance not only puts a backsplash behind the stove, there’s also a side splash next to it. Again, this is an example of how things should always be in RVs. Period. 

The TV and sound system is against the back bulkhead. The TV is a 12-volt model—again, a nod to boondocking. There’s a built-in sound system but there are no outdoor speakers. Yes. There is a camper god. But there is an included JBL portable Bluetooth speaker. This, folks, is how it’s done. 

Lastly, the bathroom spans the entire width of the rear of this coach. There’s a decent amount of drawer and cabinet space on one side and a nice shower on the other. The shower includes a Showermiiser water-saving feature along with a shower head on a mechanism that lets you raise and lower the shower head. Nice. 

The shower door is not glass, but is a flexible plastic material. I also like this. 

Is it perfect?

Nope. Nothing is. For example, the fresh water fill is over on the camp side, whereas most campgrounds put the spigot on the road side. Not a big deal, but still odd.

There will be some who don’t like the step-up of the slide room and dinette. This was done to make the roof lower overall. That’s a good thing from an aerodynamic standpoint. Again, not a big deal to many travelers, but it may be to some.

Also, while there is a high-performance fan in the main cabin, the one in the bathroom itself is a four-inch mini fan. I’d think it would be better to have the high-performance fan here because … well, you know … Taco Tuesday.

Boondocking and travel access

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any examples of this trailer locked up for travel. So I’m going to have to guess whether you can use the bathroom or not with the slide room in, and my guess is that you can’t. I literally opened the floor plan in my graphics editing software and moved the virtual slide in and out and it seemed that the bathroom door and refrigerator were pretty tough to get to.

Otherwise, there are solar options plus the ability to tote a generator in that specific compartment. The amount of water this unit can carry is decent, and the holding tanks are good sized at 40 gallons each.

In summary

I’m not sure if it’s obvious, but I really, really like this trailer. Those wonderful windows beside the bed make that optional couch almost a must-have feature. The details inside and out—including the generator compartment, that big sliding drawer, lockable battery storage and just Lance’s overall reputation for building good stuff—make this a very, very worthy contender as we move closer to replacing our own trailer. 

One more thing, as Steve Jobs was credited with saying. This trailer has optional steps called Revolution® Entry Steps. I wish these were standard instead of the “stable steps” that are so common and have to block the doorway of an RV when folded in. Instead, these Revolution steps fold under the trailer when stowed and then have feet that rest on the ground. These are, to me, the very best entry steps in travel trailers.

Is the price justifiable in the Lance 1985?

So what’s your opinion—couch or no couch? And do you feel that Lance’s reputation and all these details justify a price that is, admittedly, higher than most? 

I would love to read your comments and suggestions over on our new forums, where you can weigh in and start or join a discussion about all things RV. Here’s a link to my RV Reviews Forum.

Tony comes to RVtravel.com having worked at an RV dealership and been a lifelong 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.

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Judy
2 months ago

I don’t like the clothes closet next to the toilet.

Larry
2 months ago

I’ll stick with the multi armed awning. I can tilt it in the rain and keep my camping gear safe and dry.

Mark Monrean
2 months ago

We had one of these on order after owning a smaller Lance 1475. We were so impressed with the quality and features of that trailer we decided to get a bigger one. The trailer actually showed up on time but had two price increases and in the end we passed because of the price and the fact the couch was not as comfortable as we hoped and are going to keep looking. But the features, the nice windows, the slide out storage tray and table, the no-head-knock awning (never had any wind issues with our other Lance) the nice sized bath and just overall build quality will be hard to beat. But you get what you pay for – usually.

Steve
2 months ago

Our 2012 Rockwood ML 2109S had a corner bath, as do the current ones. So do all the other “shorter” Mini Lites until the 2511S, which has a full-width bath, theater seats, entertainment center with fireplace, full-size queen, but no bath or fridge access on the roadside without opening the slides or to the bed in a Flying J RV parking space. Access to the fridge in a Walmart parking lot, IMMEDIATE access to the toilet on the roadside (we’re OLD!), and a bed that was usable without opening the slide were non-negotiable for us. So, we have only shopped for RVs with those capabilities.

Bob M
2 months ago

No room for garbage can under sink. Has the cheap uninsulated outdoor shower door. Looks like it has the problematic Schwintek Slide.

Spike
2 months ago

“No awning arms to bonk our heads on” Be careful what you wish for. I can tell you from experience that no awning arms mean FAR less support in wind. My Girards are nothing more than giant sails. Only plan on having that awning out under no to quite low wind conditions and when you are actually sitting out there to watch it. “No arm” awnings are the weaklings of the awning family.

Also…I tried looking up some pictures of this unit to see the front exterior to verify if that big front window has a travel cover. Didn’t see one, but maybe I missed it? Seems like an issue if there isn’t one.

Finally, do they offer any interior color choice or is “Total Grey Morning Fog” the only option? 😉

Last edited 2 months ago by Spike
Duane R
2 months ago
Reply to  Spike

Spike, I have the sister model of the 1985, the Lance 1995.

There is no window cover from Lance, but one is available from a couple of vendors. I bought one as soon as I got my 2017 model 1995. It is easy to install, and easy to use.

As far as the awnings, I took care of that by purchasing the support legs and straps from CareFree of Colorado, the awning manufacturer. I can keep my awning out in the same winds as awnings with arms. Not a problem.

As Tony said, no trailer is perfect. But, most of us can overcome the perceived deficiencies in most trailers, except for sloppy workmanship. I feel most Lance trailers and truck campers are far superior in build quality to most other brands, based on looking at hundreds of trailers at RV shows. Love our Lance!

Rebecca
2 months ago

So, Tony, I’m curious. You say this is a strong contender for your personal travel trailer, but I count at least three things you have objected to in other trailers: a windshield on a travel trailer, a slide room, and lack of access to the bathroom while in travel mode. So do you feel the positive features outweigh all that?

Kiki
2 months ago

I sold the trailer I had with euro-style windows. As a woman traveling alone, I would never buy another trailer with those windows. They can be easily opened from the outside. They just aren’t safe. In addition, the screen/shade combo was constantly breaking. They have all sorts of strings and seem delicate. This was a problem for me and others on the Facebook forum. For the record, the trailer I had was not a lance but it was as expensive and supposedly “top of the line.” The windows were only one reason I sold it. Never again will I take a salesman’s word for what’s top of the line, it’s reviews, forums, and Facebook groups.

Richard Lake
2 months ago

The problem with Lance is you can’t get one. We just canceled our order for a brand new 2022 model because we have been waiting almost a year for delivery

Tommy Molnar
2 months ago

This trailer is reminiscent of our old 1997 Nash 25S, though we didn’t have a slide in that one. Nice simple usable layout. The colors in the Lance are bright and cheery. I too like the stairs and think this should become an industry standard. The sliding storage thing looks cool in theory, but it actually limits storage space. It takes up room! I have something on this order in the bed of my pickup and it’s a “double edged sword”.

Bob p
2 months ago

At twice the price of ours I guess I’ll have to pass on the great windows and 22” oven. Lol

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