By Tony Barthel
At last year’s Quartzsite RV show I got to spend time with Janine Pettit, of Girl Camper, who was using a Lance truck camper on an F-150 to test out for the event. Honestly, I had never really thought about truck campers much even though they’ve been in my circle most of my life.
Here on the West Coast one of the big dogs in the truck camper market has been Lance. In fact, they’ve been building this configuration since 1965. In those years, they have earned a reputation for building a very high-quality product and some of their manufacturing processes are really a step above, including the way they wire their campers. One of the things Janine demonstrated was the fact that you can simply leave the pickup camper in place and then head out in a pickup truck. The more I looked, the more I was intrigued. We spent a good amount of time hanging out in the camper talking about podcasting and RVing. It was pretty cool.
So I looked at Lance’s website and found a model that really intrigues me – the Lance 975. This is a model that checks a lot of boxes – it’s got a dry bath, features a large slide room on the driver side, a full-sized refrigerator, dinette, and a decent amount of cabinet and drawer space. Given all that, though, it isn’t ridiculously heavy. It weighs under 4,000 lbs.
In fact, this model is available with a propane generator and solar along with storage for two batteries.
There is a remote-controlled lift mechanism so you can lift the camper right off the back of the truck. In addition, Lance products are really well-suited to camping in a variety of weather situations – these aren’t just fair-weather machines.
If you’re thinking you have to give up comfort features if you choose a truck camper, that’s just not the case with these. True, the entire space has to fit into a pickup bed, and this one is designed specifically for long-bed trucks. That means you’re not going to find recliners in them, but there is still much more space and many more features than you might guess.
Part of the reason Lance has earned such a reputation for quality is their vacuum-bonded aluminum-framed walls with an Azdel waterproof substrate. Even the floor and roof in these are laminated construction with block foam insulation, and that roof is a one-piece design.
Speaking of Quartzsite, I also parked next to another Lance and thought it was slick that they had ordered theirs with the optional awning at the back to go with the one at the side. Lance uses Carefree awnings that don’t have the head-whacking arms (don’t ask how I know this).
As mentioned in my review of Lance’s 2075 travel trailer, I also appreciate that you can get the interiors in colors other than brown, and the same blue upholstery I was in love with on that model is available here as well.
While lots of folks appreciate smaller trailers for their maneuverability, it’s tough to be an all-in-one vehicle – and when the RV portion is easily removable, it makes a great deal of sense. Considering that the full-sized pickup is the most popular vehicle in America by far, having a full-sized truck means maintenance and repairs are also easily accomplished – another advantage.
While I suspect that a lot of people haven’t even considered a pickup camper, this may actually be a configuration that could be the best solution in some cases, especially those for whom backing a trailer is a huge concern. With Lance’s reputation for quality and the very usable features in the 975, it bears consideration as a very logical alternative to a travel trailer or even a smaller motorhome.
These RV reviews are written based on information provided by the manufacturers along with my own research and represent the most accurate information and opinion at the time of writing. Your experience is always encouraged.