2013 Lance 1172 Double-Slide Review
- Wednesday, March 20 2013 |
- Written by Gordon White
We’ve talked to hundreds of people about multi-slide truck campers and it always comes back to how much they want that sofa. In fact, I bet we could sell more multi-slide truck campers if we started calling them sofa campers. For a particular segment of the truck camper market, it’s go sofa, or go home.
About two years ago Lance Camper realized they had a sofa problem. Essentially, they didn’t have one. To address this opportunity, Lance had to rethink its long-standing, "not gonna do it" position on large multi-slide truck campers. Lance had been satisfied with the successful double-slide, wet bath, Lance 992, but that wasn’t going to cut it for the sofa crowd. To couch these customers, they needed to do something big, with a serious dry bath, a full-booth dinette, and an honest to goodness sofa.
The anticipation of the 2013 Lance 1172 double-slide sofa camper was all the buzz for the second half of 2012. When we finally saw the 1172 at the industry trade show in Louisville last December, it was clear that Lance had taken an already popular double-slide floor plan, and made it their own. The 2013 Lance 1172 was Lance’s interpretation of what the ultimate double-slide truck camper should be, with a sofa.
At the end of February, we visited Princess Craft Campers in Round Rock, Texas and spent a day really looking at the 1172. Here are our detailed impressions of Lance’s self-described flagship truck camper.
There’s a lot to take in when walking around the 2013 Lance 1172. Starting at the front, Lance has incorporated their new molded front nose cap. Made from the same material used for automotive bumpers, this high gloss thermoplastic cap was designed to improve the driving aerodynamics and weather seal.
Aesthetically, the new nose cap really sets the 2013 Lance Camper line-up apart from its predecessors. The new Lamilux 4000 fiberglass exterior also makes the camper brighter and glossier. Lance has kept the graphics bold for 2013. While some may find the big “Lance” logos a bit much, we’re quite fond of the new look.
The passenger side of the Lance 1172 features the side entry, furnace, external speakers, propane compartment with two 30 pound tanks, fresh water fill, winterizing and water pump access compartment, and the hot water heater.
We were most impressed with the winterizing and water pump access compartment which should make winterizing easy and potential water pump maintenance a snap. This is the kind of consumer-focused thinking we want to see more of throughout the industry. Nice work Lance.
We’re not crazy about the idea of having the weight of two 30 pound propane tanks in a truck camper, but it’s an increasingly common feature on larger truck campers. Two 20 pound tanks seem like more than enough. Since 20 and 30 pound tanks are the same diameter (12.2 inches), you could always switch to 20 pound tanks. Save even more weight by upgrading to 20 pound transparent fiberglass tanks. The good news is that Lance provides the owner with space for two 20 or two 30 pound tanks. The choice is yours.
The driver's side of the Lance 1172 features a full-wall slide-out with two exterior storage compartments. The driver's side skirt compartment contains the dump valves, drain valves, coax cable-satellite connection, battery disconnect, and exterior shower.
The rear “skirt” has several important features under the rear slide-out. From left to right these features are the optional Cummins Onan RV QG 2500LP propane generator, the sewer hose compartment, the battery compartment with room for two Group 27 batteries, and access to the slide-out controllers. Everything in this area is neatly presented and easy to access, especially if the rear slide-out is in.
Lance Camper has chosen to employ the new Lippert Components Schwintek in-wall slide system for the 1172. This innovative new system contains all of the slide motors and mechanicals inside the wall cavity and is significantly less weight than many competing slide-out systems. At Louisville we saw literally dozens of manufacturers using this system including Forest River, Jayco, Thor, Tiffen, and Winnebago. In the RV industry, the Schwintek slide is a hit.
From the outside, it’s easy to spot a Schwintek slide-out system by the four aluminum “worm rails” on the sides of the slide rooms. Underneath you can also see a series of white rollers that help to support and stabilize a Schwintek slide-out room.
On the passenger side rear of the 1172 is a compartment containing two Schwintek slide out controllers, one for each slide-out room. These controllers contain circuit boards designed to monitor and protect the slide motors and mechanisms from high voltage, low voltage, and short circuits. These “faults” are displayed as error codes by a series of blinking color LED lights on the controller. The controllers also have instructions printed on them on how to electronically override a slide should a slide-out become stuck. Again, we appreciate the easy access Lance has given these controllers.
With the 1172 being both a side entry and a full-wall slide-out model, visibility out of the back of the camper while driving is impossible without a backup camera. For anyone who is considering purchasing the 1172, or any large multi-slide camper for that matter, a backup camera is a must.
We had a funny initial reaction to the ladder on the Lance 1172. Out loud we asked, “How are you supposed to climb a ladder that close to the camper?”, as if someone from Lance was there to answer us. The ladder was almost flush against the driver’s side wall.
Then we realized that the ladder unlocks with the removal of two pins and articulates down and out presenting a comfortable ladder position. Yeah, we knew that.
The ladder felt solid and easy to climb, which was good because I wanted to check out the roof. There I took pictures of the 1172 I was standing on, and an adjacent 1172.
On the front of the 1172 under me was an 95-watt solar panel, an insulated Heki skylight, satellite dish, HDTV antenna, air conditioner, bathroom vents, and the shower stall skylight. On the rear was another skylight, the kitchen vent, and a storage rack system. For those who won’t be satisfied with a single solar panel, there’s plenty of room for more.
After I descended the ladder, it quickly and fluidly pushed up and back into its travel position against the camper. Two pins later and the ladder was secure. Very cool.
We recommend connecting to shore power before putting out the side-slide as the shore power connection point on the 1172 is literally under the side-slide, and then under the camper rail wall. This isn’t necessarily a big deal, but it will be a lot easier to connect before the side slide goes out. Naturally, it will also be easier to disconnect once the side-slide goes back in.
The shore power cord on the 1172 is detachable. I like that detachable power cords can be replaced if they are damaged or if the owner wants a longer or shorter run. That said, the female cord ends are often a challenge to quickly line up to their male camper connection points (especially when the connection is vertical) and the circular seal doesn’t always take the screw right away. Maybe I’m just power cord challenged, but it takes a little practice to quickly connect and disconnect a detachable shore power cord.
The Lance 1172 we reviewed featured a Lance Camper Four Season Certification seal. For a Lance Camper to get Four Season Certification, it must be ordered with Lance’s All-Weather option package and dual-pane windows. Lance’s All-Weather option package includes heated basement tanks, extra under-bed insulation, insulation inside ventilated exterior compartments, a two-stage 15-22 BTU furnace, and roof vent covers.
By double-slide truck camper standards, the weight of the Lance 1172 is extremely competitive. This is the direct result of a number of key decisions made by the Lance team during the design of the 1172. The most important decision was to make the 1172 basement wheel-well height rather than truck-rail height. Not only did this decision pull a lot of material out of the camper, but it also lowered the overall height and the center of gravity.
Lance has also brought the full-force of their lightweight materials to bear on the 1172 including extensive use of Lance Lock aluminum framing, Azdel composites, and Lite-Ply plywood. Together with SolidWorks computer modeling a growing number of CNC routers, the Lance team was able to trim weight a little bit here and a little bit there to develop a camper that pushes the weight envelope for the multi-slide category.
That said, you still need to properly match any truck and camper, no matter if the camper is a small pop-up with a porta-potti, or a large multi-slide like the 1172. By keeping the weight down, Lance has broadened the trucks the 1172 can be properly matched to, but the responsibility is still yours to match this camper right. For more information on this important topic, please read our Newbie Corner.
Just inside the rear door is a convenient storage drawer. We had a similar drawer in our 2008 Lance 1055 and used it for everything from shoes, to small tools, to hoses and cords. You can also think of this drawer as a place to put things you might normally put in an outside storage compartment, but might want in a more secure location.
We are often asked if it’s possible to access the bathroom in a particular camper if the slide-out(s) are in. Well, the answer for the Lance 1172 is, “No”. Even with the rear slide pushed out, it’s still extremely tight with the second slide-out in.
If getting to the bathroom with the slide-out in is a priority, check out the Lance 1191, or put a porta-potti in the pull-out drawer in the stairs. Now that would be funny!
Putting the two slides out on the Lance 1172 takes about a minute. Once the slides are out, you’re greeted with an enormous amount of interior floorspace, the most ever seen in a Lance truck camper.
The floor space in the 1172 is awesome. It’s not as wide as the competitors who build their multi-slide floors above the bed rails, but it’s very impressive none the less. What you lose in floor space, you gain in lower weight and lower center of gravity.
The real star of the show is the rear sofa and slide. There it is, with room for two, and pop-out recliner extensions for the feet. The sofa back doesn’t recline, but come on, this is an honest to goodness sofa in a truck camper. And, I might add, it’s quite comfy.
We know quite a few folks who went multi-slide truck camper shopping and picked a camper based on the rear sofa. If that’s you, think of it as the most expensive sofa you’ll ever buy, but it comes with a free truck camper. What a deal!
The one quibble we have with the sofa is the considerable effort it takes to get the recliner extensions back into place. In all fairness, the sofa we tried was brand spanking new and might get easier to move once it’s been used for a while.
If Uncle Bob eats a lot of chili beans, then falls asleep with his feet up in the rear sofa, it could be challenging to get out of the camper should that chili begin to talk. Of course that’s why Lance installs a Fantastic Fan above the sofa in the 1172, right? In all seriousness, it is possible to get in or out of the camper with the sofa recliner extended, but it’s a little tight.
The mere sight of a pull-out pantry makes some potential truck camper buyers down right giddy. We’ve actually seen people break out in smiles and happiness when a camper pantry rolls out. What can we say, pantries are people pleasers.
Just be mindful of the rear stairwell when you’re going for a midnight peanut butter run or that spoon in your mouth could wind up with your tonsils. The picture actually makes this look hairier than it really is, and owners are going to quickly get used to that stairwell’s location just as they do on many other truck camper designs. Let nothing come between you and your peanut butter!
The full-booth dinette offers room for four adults, good food, maybe a beer or five, and excellent conversation. This is a very social feeling truck camper. Party time!
We found a number of surprises when inspecting the dinette slide. First, there’s a household outlet and a 12-volt outlet on the base facing the sofa. This is a nice place to plug in a laptop or cell phone while working (or playing) in the dinette or lounging on the sofa.
The storage drawer under the rear dinette seat is enormous! Seriously, it’s almost comical how big this drawer is. The facing dinette seat also features an impressive amount of storage reaching all the way to the outside compartment door. While I have mixed feelings about outside compartments with carpeting, it is good to see generous interior and exterior storage opportunities in a truck camper.
Also on the dinette slide is a six-cubic foot three-way refrigerator.
The L-shaped kitchen in the Lance 1172 is a study of compact functionality; a careful balance of storage and counter space with some ideas that seem only possible from a company that designs their campers on computers and builds them with computer controlled routers.
The solid surface gel-coat fiberglass counter top, inset double sink, metallic back splash, tinted translucent side splash, and glazed cabinetry give the L-shaped kitchen in the Lance 1172 a modern aesthetic. And it’s hard to fault Lance for the exemplary fit, finish, and materials on display here. The tolerances are tight, the materials are solid, and everything looks and feels built to last.
Adding some much needed counter space is the counter extension just off the sink. It’s easy to pop into place and gives another surface for the chief cook and bottle washer. Keep in mind that the full-booth dinette table is just a few feet away should more counter space be needed.
The rear lower kitchen in the 1172 looks almost like Lance’s interpretation of R2-D2. Look at all the switches, knobs, ports, and handles! I’ve seen kid’s play kitchens with less things to do.
The Lance 1172 we looked at had a convection microwave option, but a propane oven is standard. There’s a never ending debate in the truck camper community about whether anyone actually needs a propane oven. We prefer a propane oven and separate microwave for Angela's camping cookies, boondock brownies, and delicious lasagna, but it’s good to see Lance offer the option.
It’s hard to make it out in this photograph, but there’s another space inside this upper kitchen cabinet; inside the right-side corner. Obviously you don’t want to put things you need everyday in this location, but it’s another space for stuff storage.
On the kitchen cabinetry facing into the camper is the system monitor panel, optional solar controller, and built-in generator controls. The system monitor panel tells you the fluid levels in the 42 gallon fresh, 35 gallon grey, and 35 gallon black holding tanks, the battery level, and turns on the water pump. This is an excellent location for these monitors and controls, basically eye-level in the middle of the camper.
While working the Austin RV Show last month, I had many opportunities to show off what I consider to be one of the core strengths of Lance Campers; SolidWorks design and the extensive use of CNC routers.
Every Lance Camper is modeled three-dimensionally on computers using SolidWorks. Once tested and approved, these models are fed to a battery of in-house CNC machines where everything from the sidewalls, to the cabinetry, to the closed cell foam insulation is precision cut by computer controlled routers. In fact, the pieces are so precisely cut that Lance claims it's virtually impossible to assemble these components incorrectly. They either fit perfectly, or not at all.
Evidence of this precision is everywhere in the Lance 1172. Look at the tolerances between the cabinetry and the camper sidewalls and ceiling. No gimp here. Open a drawer and look at the precision of the cuts and the tolerances. Lance is even using a more expensive, higher quality, and lighter weight Lite-Ply plywood because it works better with their CNC machines. You can see the quality of the plywood and the tight tolerances of the CNC routers in the photos above.
There’s only one catch to the CNC cabinetry. The CNC routers are so precise that the CNC cut cabinetry latch edges are actually a little sharp. The inside latch areas are also left unfinished which looks naked compared to the deep finish of the cabinet faces. This is truly a nit-pic, but I would like to see Lance sand and finish these inside latch areas and edges.
Lance has cleverly placed a 24” flat panel 12-volt HDTV in an open cabinet neatly containing the television wiring, swing-out arm, and securing straps. When put away and fastened for travel, the television is essentially flush against the bathroom wall. It’s a good looking solution that allows the television to swing out and become visible from a number of positions throughout the camper.
We maneuvered the television swing arm into the best positions possible for the three areas it could possibly face; the rear sofa, the dinette, and the cabover bedroom. From each location, the television was visible, but it seemed most appropriately located for the dinette.
From both the sofa and the cabover, the television seemed a bit distant and small by today’s standards. The television is also hard to see from the far passenger side of the overcab bedroom and is angled for indirect viewing only from the kitchen.
Of course this is all completely ridiculous when you realize that we’re complaining about the size of the high-definition television in a double-slide truck camper with a sofa. Next we’ll be whining about a pea under the bed. Our truck camping forefathers would be ashamed of us. They were happy with ice chests and gas lamps in their truck campers. We can’t survive without satellite HDTV viewable from every possible position? Is this what’s become of us?
For those who will cry about the size and position of the television in the 1172, Lance has provided a second location for a television in the over cab bedroom. That takes care of television viewing there. As for the sofa and kitchen areas, the television size and location Lance has provided is perfectly adequate. Want bigger? Buy a video projector and throw, “Gold Rush” on the Fifth Wheel, WalMart, or mountain side out the window.
If you’ve seen the bathroom in the Lance 1181, you’ve basically seen the bathroom in the 1172. It’s almost exactly the same. That’s certainly not a criticism as the 1181 bathroom has been a success since its debut in 2005 and has undergone many design and material upgrades in that time. You get plenty of floor space, counter space, storage space, and shower room.
The shower stall is large and can actually serve as a small tub for soaking feet, giving small children a bath, or washing the cat.
Bathroom storage is excellent with a deep pull-out drawer, a medicine cabinet over the toilet, and a some usable storage space under the sink.
Big guys like to talk to us at RV shows about how they (a) can’t comfortably sit on the toilet in their campers and (b) get the shower curtain stuck to their butt when they’re showering. These are the moments when we wish we were not visually oriented people.
Well big guys, fear not. Unless you’re a power forward in the NBA, the toilet area in the 1172 (and 1181) has plenty of room for your knees. You can pee freely, and go about your business.
Even better, the shower stall height is adequate for me at 6’3” and I really like Lance’s new transforming shower curtain rod. The shower curtain rod quickly “bends” in two locations to make the curtain convex or concave, depending on which part of the bathroom you’re using.
When you’re in the main bathroom area, the shower curtain rod pulls the curtain into the shower stall making the bathroom feel bigger. When you’re in the shower, the curtain rod pushes out giving you a lot more elbow room. As a tall guy who has showered in literally dozens of truck campers, this is fantastic. Nice addition Lance.
Entry into the over cab bedroom area features a step up from the camper floor and is about the same height as most regular basement-style over cabs.
The cab over bedroom feels open and spacious with two side windows, a large Heki insulated skylight, and a mirrored wardrobe. On the passenger side, storage mostly consists of this wardrobe, an open space above the wardrobe, and a small hamper under the window. The driver’s side gets two cabinets and the space between the mattress and sidewall. Overall, storage in the over cab is very good.
Also above the cabover wardrobe are the previously mentioned facilities to connect a second television including coax connections, a 12-volt outlet, and a standard household power outlet. I can see us charging our laptops, phones, and other devices overnight in this location.
For 2013, Lance went to 100% LED lighting inside and out. The reading lights in the over cab are directional and can be pushed into position. The on and off switch is the round white button located in the center in the fixture.
This button clicks the light on and off. Don’t be fooled by the yellow color of the bulbs as they give off a white light when turned on. Compared to traditional incandescent RV reading lights, these LED reading lights are brighter, much cooler in temperature, and draw significantly less power.
Wrap It Up
Don’t even think about the Lance 1172 if you’re not prepared to match it with a late model one-ton dual rear wheel truck, preferably one with 5,000 pounds of payload, or more. Finding a one-ton dual rear wheel truck with over 5,000 pounds of payload is as easy as going to your preferred local truck dealer and saying, “I need a one-ton dual rear wheel truck with over 5,000 pounds of payload, or more”. There are also plenty of money-saving used trucks with payloads in the 5,000 pound plus category, but you have to search with that goal in mind. We had a 2005 Chevy 3500 dually with well over 5,000 pounds of payload. They’re out there.
We really like the overall feel of the Lance 1172 and continue to be impressed with Lance’s materials and industry-leading SolidWorks+CNC construction tolerances. Will Lance’s interpretation of the double-slide truck camper with a sofa find success in the marketplace? Only time will tell, but feedback from the Lance dealers and customers we talk to strongly point to yes. We’re sure it won’t be long before we start seeing Lance 1172’s invading our favorite truck camper rallies.
For more information on the Lance 1172, visit their website at www.lancecamper.com.