Reviews

2018 Northern Lite 8-11 EX Dry Bath Review

Truck Camper Magazine reviews a 2018 Northern Lite 8-11 EX, the only hard-side, non-slide, dry bath truck camper for short bed trucks.  Does Northern Lite’s innovative all-fiberglass dry bath hit the mark, or is it all wet?

Northern Lite 8-11 EX Review

The Northern Lite debuted the 8-11 EX Dry Bath in Truck Camper Magazine on May 16th, 2017.  Beyond the dry bath, the biggest news about the Northern Lite 8-11 EX was that it was indeed a brand new truck camper.

Keith Donkin, General Manager for Northern Lite explained, “The 8-11 EX is a brand new addition to our line up with brand new top and bottom fiberglass molds.  We will be offering the 8-11 EX dry bath alongside our 8-11 wet bath.”

Nothern Lite AC Support

Above: Built-in roof reinforcement (center left) was added to the 8-11 EX molds to support the air conditioner

When asked about the differences between the 8-11 molds and the new 8-11 EX molds, Keith answered, “The new 8-11 EX molds have the built-in roof reinforcement for an air conditioner.  We also lowered the wings for a better truck fit and aesthetic, as well as a lower step-up into the dinette area and more headroom in the dinette seats.  Lowering the wings also allowed us to lower the kitchen counter height.  The kitchen counter is now the same length as our 9-6 camper.”

What hasn’t changed for the 8-11 EX is the interior layout.  “The dealers told me that the 8-11 is the best laid out camper of anything they sell,” explained Keith.  “Based on that feedback, we kept the existing layout and added the dry bath.”

Northern Lite 8-11 EX Driver's Side Back

Above: The 2018 Northern Lite 8-11 EX under review at D&H RV Center in Apex, North Carolina

Overall, the 8-11 EX is the same height as the standard 8-11, but the new molds are wider at 98-inches, and 4-inches longer at 9’3”.  When asked why the new camper wasn’t named the 9-3, Keith stated, “We’ve always designated our 8-series truck campers as our short box models.  Anything above 9-feet was a long box model.  To keep our short box model names consistent, we are calling the new camper the 8-11 EX.”

Northern Lite 8-11 EX Passenger's Side Front

The dry bath itself was also an all-new design.  Where the original Northern Lite 10-2 RR dry bath had a separate fiberglass shower stall, camper floor, and sink, the new 8-11 EX dry bath is formed by an upper and lower fiberglass mold, much as the camper itself.

The lower dry bath mold separates the toilet area from the sink and shower area with an 8-inch high lip.  With the shower curtain closed, this lip keeps the toilet area and floor dry.  “We actually made the 8-11 EX dry bath four inches taller than the dry bath in the 10-2 RR, so that it can be used in both the 10-2 RR dry bath and the new 8-11 EX,” explained Keith.  In other words, this is Northern Lite’s new dry bath, across the board.

Northern Lite Versus Northern Lite

Before digging into the 8-11 EX, we need to compare the new model to the existing 8-11.  The 8-11 EX is only available as a Special Edition where the 8-11 is available as a Special Edition, a Classic, or the more basic Classic Sportsman.  For the sake of this comparison, we are going to limit our remarks to the Special Editions only.

Northern Lite 8-11 EX Camper Inside

Above: The Northern Lite 8-11 EX interior – back to front

As Special Editions, these campers come loaded with nearly every available option.  This extensive list includes a 19-inch 12-volt HDTV, Bluetooth stereo and DVD player, 8-foot side awning, 7-foot rear awning, thermal pane windows, rear bumper step with patio, 95-watt solar panel system, Sapele wood interior, aluminum patio bumper step system, Heki skylight, and more.

Northern Lite Camper Sapele cabinetry

Above: The Sapele interior in the Northern Lite 8-11 EX kitchen area

The only available options are a 9200 BTU Coleman Mach 8 air conditioner, boat rack, camo graphics, Thetford cassette toilet, gas/electric hot water heater, dually brackets, microwave, U-shape dinette, and 7300 remote controlled Fantastic Fan.  Most of the Special Editions on dealer lots will have the air conditioner, gas/electric hot water heater, and microwave.  Needless to say, Northern Lite’s Special Editions campers come brimming with luxury features.

Northern Lite 8-11 EX camper kitchen and dinette

Above: Northern Lite 8-11 EX interior – front to back

The main differences between these two campers is (a) dry bath versus wet bath, (b) some additional counter space and storage afforded by the longer 8-11 EX molds, and (c) a better truck fit and aesthetic also built into the new 8-11 EX molds.  Other than the dry bath versus wet bath, most of these differences might not be obvious unless the two campers were literally side-by-side, and someone pointed them out.

The 8-11 EX is 125 pounds heavier and 4-inches longer than the 8-11.  This is probably not enough weight or length to tip someone one way or the other, unless their truck is right there with the payload.  Sometimes 125 pounds can make the difference between a good match, and one that’s over.

As a reviewer, I want to make more of the differences between these two models, but that’s essentially it.  The 8-11 was already a highly refined truck camper, so it’s hard to fault Northern Lite for maintaining what works so well in the new 8-11 EX model.  The layout is identical.  The materials are identical.  If all you saw was the main interior space of these two units, it would be darn near impossible to tell them apart.

So the 8-11 versus 8-11 EX battle really comes down to the 8-11 wet bath design versus 8-11 EX dry bath design.  If you’re looking at these two models, I can almost 100-percent guarantee your decision will be made depending on which of these two bathrooms you prefer.

Floor Plan Evaluation

Northern Lite 8-11 floor plan 2

Immediately inside the rear entry door is the battery disconnect switch.  This is the perfect location for this vital feature.

Northern Lite 8-11 EX Entrance Way Battery Disconnect

Together with the standard 95-watt solar panel, the battery disconnect allows you to preserve the batteries when the camper is not being used.  As long as the solar panel has sufficient sunlight, your batteries should be ready to camp.

While we’re here, we should all be checking the status of our fire extinguishers.  The fire extinguisher shown in this photo is exactly the same make and model that’s in our 2004 Alpenlite truck camper.  The date on our original extinguisher reads 2003.  According to the experts we have talked to, extinguishers need to be replaced every 12 years, or sooner.  We are over due and ordering a new one now.

Northern Lite 8-11 EX entrance way solar and switches

Right above the battery disconnect switch is the standard Enerwatt EWC-30 solar controller, a light switch, and the power awning rocker.  Again, the locations for these features is excellent, as is the quality of the installation.  The black components are well matched, lined up, and solidly mounted.  Even the bottom of the closet doors above are perfectly lined up and installed.  This is the kind of quality and precision we have come to expect – and love – from Northern Lite.

Northern Lite 8-11 EX entrance way

The back door has a lower window (shown here with the black out privacy shade closed).  With the shade open, this window lines up with the pass-through window on the front wall, which lines up with the rear view mirror of your truck.  When driving, you can literally see straight through the camper to the traffic behind you.

In the days before rear view cameras and slide-outs, this is how folks saw out the back of their truck camper rigs.  We first experienced this feature in a 2004 Lance 1030.  From the driver’s seat we could see cars behind our unit, and headlights at night.  This is another reason why we still prefer non-slide truck camper designs.

Northern Lite 8-11 Dry Bath Sliding Door

Directly across from the battery disconnect and solar controller is the all-new dry bath.  The bathroom sliding door is smooth and solid in operation.  The door is fully trapped preventing it from becoming unhinged during travel or use.  It’s easy to overlook something as simple as a door or how it is installed, but this is exactly the kind of quality of design, material, and execution that makes a camper a pleasure to own.

Northern Lite 8-11 EX Dry Bath with sink

In the article, “Picking the Perfect Truck Camper”, we go through the various decisions every consumer needs to consider while selecting the right truck camper for them.  In the wet bath versus dry bath section of that article, we explain, “A wet bath is essentially a shower stall that contains a sink and toilet.  In a wet bath, the entire bathroom is contained in the shower stall.  In contrast, a dry bath is very similar in concept to what many of us have in our residential homes; a room with a toilet, sink, and a separate shower stall.”

From that description, it appears that the 8-11 EX dry bath (shown above) is actually a wet bath.  The entire bathroom is, “contained in the shower stall” – right?  Well, yes, and no.

Northern Lite 8-11 EX Dry Bath Or Wet Bath

Northern Lite has taken the concept of a dry bath – a room with a toilet, sink, and a separate shower stall – and created it inside a two-piece molded fiberglass shell.  They take the same approach to building their truck camper structures.  Where other manufacturers create floors, walls, and roofs, Northern Lite uses an elegant two-piece molded fiberglass shell.  I am fully convinced that this approach is the highest quality way to build an RV of any type – as long as you’re okay with the inherent design limitations – no slide-outs, and limited floor plans.

Northern Lite Dry Bath 8-inch lip in the lower fiberglass shell

So how is this a dry bath?  The shower stall and sink are separated from the toilet and toilet floor area by an 8-inch lip in the lower fiberglass shell and a shower curtain.  The fiberglass lip and shower curtain prevent the toilet and toilet floor area from getting wet when you shower.  Unlike in a wet bath, the toilet and toilet floor area stay dry.

Northern Lite Dry Bath Shower Area

In most dry baths, the sink is not part of the shower area and stays dry.  In the Northern Lite 8-11 EX, the sink gets wet when you shower.  A long time reader suggested this makes the 8-11 EX a dry toilet, not a true dry bath.

Northern Lite Dry Bath Sink Area

With the sink set inside the shower area, you will need to dry the shower area to use the sink.  Many folks dry their dry bath stalls routinely to avoid leaving moisture inside their units (we do), but some leave their dry shower stalls wet to air dry.  This is something to consider when evaluating the 8-11 EX dry bath.

Northern Lite Dry Bath Mirror and Storage

The sink area features a tall and slender mirror and a simple wire basket.  The wire basket is particularly important as the sink itself has minimal surface area to put things down like toothbrushes, hair brushes, and razors.

Northern Lite Dry Bath Shower Rod Extended

The Extend-A-Shower curtain rod helps to create a larger shower area by extending the upper part of the shower curtain into the dry toilet area.  The lower part of the shower curtain stays inside the shower area keeping the dry toilet area from getting wet.

When reviewing a unit, I sit the toilet to check out the arm and leg room, and generally imagine what it would be like to do business in this space.  Well, after imagining, I looked for the toilet paper.  I looked left, I looked right, forward, and back – no toilet paper!  Then I looked up.

Northern Lite Dry Bath Toilet Paper Holder

There about a foot above my head was the toilet paper.  From the toilet seat, I could reach up and back to get to it.  This was an awkward motion, but owners would likely become accustomed to this quickly.

Beyond the wet sink, I believe what’s really missing from Northern Lite’s new dry bath design is the traditional look of a dry bath.  The 8-11 EX dry bath looks like a wet bath.  That’s okay, but dry bath customers generally expect to see a finished floor, standard camper walls, and wood cabinetry.  I can see folks at RV shows saying, “Where’s the dry bath in this dry bath?”

One idea to meet this expectation would be to add a finished floor insert into the dry floor area, and possibly around the base of the toilet.  Another idea would be to integrate some of that beautiful Sapele wood into the dry half of the bathroom; maybe a Sapele wall, toilet paper holder, and towel rack.  Give folks a more traditional dry bath presentation and this innovative new approach to dry bath design would be an even bigger hit.

Northern Lite 8-11 Refrigerator

Moving forward into the unit, the next major feature is 6-cubic foot, 3-way, mirrored refrigerator on the passenger’s side.  We have lived full-time with 6-cubic foot refrigerators for months at a time.  It’s actually the same size refrigerator that’s in our truck camper now.  For the two of us, 6-cubic feet is enough cold storage for about a week of food, or more.

The mirror finish on the refrigerator goes well with the stainless and glass top appliances in the kitchen, creates a greater sense of space in the unit, and makes the refrigerator double as a place to check yourself before heading out.  Hey gorgeous!

Northern Lite 8-11 EX kitchen

The 8-11 EX kitchen is concise, neatly presented, and intuitive.

Northern Lite 8-11 EX kitchen sink area

The single bowl stainless steel sink is the right size for washing camper-sized pots, pans, and dishes.

Northern Lite 8-11 EX kitchen counter space

And there’s just enough counter space for basic cooking and daily dish washing.  It’s tight, but definitely workable.

Northern Lite 8-11 EX kitchen upper cabintry open

The upper cabinetry is generously sized and seems made to hold dishes, cups, and dry food.  The upper cabinets feature metal struts that firmly hold the cabinet doors wide open when you’re putting the aforementioned items away.

Northern Lite 8-11 EX kitchen lower drawers

The lower cabinetry has significantly less storage opportunities (the exterior propane compartment occupies the left side) but has two pull-out drawers and a two-door cabinet.

The drawer size under the stove is very impressive and seems well suited for pans and/or more dry food.  The height of this drawer would not accommodate taller pans and pots, but most of us store taller pots and pans in the oven anyway.

Northern Lite 8-11 EX kitchen lower cabinet

The two-door cabinet under the sink is a good place for a trash container.  We have admitted many times to using an empty 12-bottle beer box in our camper for this purpose.  A 12-bottle beer box fits a standard plastic grocery bag perfectly and should fit into this area.  If our solution is too tacky for your camper, you can try a small Sterilite trash can or other plastic container.

Northern Lite 8-11 EX kitchen range top down

The Atwood glass top for the range is very attractive.  Even better, it was easy to lift open and fold back.

Northern Lite 8-11 EX kitchen range top open

I have wrestled with many a metal cooktop cover over the years that got jammed, popped lose, or otherwise made me nuts.  This cooktop is practically an ergonomic work of art in comparison.  I only wish it fit tighter to the stove’s width like the metal covers do.  Hey Atwood, make it happen!

Northern Lite 8-11 EX kitchen stereo

The forward wall in the kitchen area features a Jensen audio/video system with Bluetooth, DVD/CD player, USB and 1/8-inch audio input.  The Jensen is a nice unit (we have used it before) but the location could be awkward when watching movies in the cabover.  This is clearly a nitpick.

Northern Lite 8-11 EX kitchen HDTV

The 12-volt, 19-inch Jensen HDTV does swivel into the main living area for viewing from the dinette or kitchen.  Now the Jensen audio/video system is in the right spot.

Northern Lite 8-11 EX kitchen USB and 12-volt outlets

Under the Jensen audio/video system are two USB outlets, one 12-volt, and a 110-volt outlet.  Together with the kitchen counter, this creates a charging station for smartphones, tablets, computers, camera equipment, and other devices.

Northern Lite 8-11 EX kitchen water heater switch

Under the counter top in this same area is where the lighted water heater switch is located.  On more than one occasion we have forgotten to turn on the water heater in the morning, or turn it off at night (which we do when it’s on propane).  Having this switch lit and mid-ship is perfect.

Northern Lite 8-11 Dinette and Bed areas

Turning around towards the driver’s side, the optional U-shape dinette (also available as a standard full-booth dinette – shown below) offers seating for at least three adults, possibly five.

Northern Lite 8-11 EX Full Booth Dinette

Above: This is a full-booth dinette in a 2018 Northern Lite 8-11 EX.  This photo was taken at Truck Camper Warehouse a few days after the review unit was photographed.

Northern Lite 8-11 EX dinette

The trick with U-shape dinettes is where to put your legs and feet, so be sure to try this arrangement before you buy – if you can.

Northern Lite 8-11 EX dinette into bed

I was able to change the dinette into a bed in about two minutes.  Most of that time was figuring out how to remove the table and what cushion went where.  If I had to do it again, it would take no more than a minute.  Very straight forward and simple.

Northern Lite 8-11 EX Table Leg

The post and pedestal system is one we had not seen before, and it is quite sturdy and stout as far as camper posts and pedestals go.  The trick was getting the black plastic buttons (see top and bottom of the post) to fully push-in and release.  They took a little more pressure than I would have preferred, but they were also brand new.  An owner would quickly learn how much pressure to apply, and the buttons would likely become easier to push with use.

Northern Lite 8-11 EX Table

The U-shape dinette table itself was a real surprise.  At first I couldn’t figure out why it was moving when I was attempting to pull the table from the post and pedestal.  When I looked up from underneath, I discovered an ingenious design that allows the table top to move forward, back, and turn to a wide range of positions.

This allows the table to be pushed toward one person or another, pulled in or out from the dinette area, or turned.  The table top is trapped, but slides around freely.  This is a very clever table design that we haven’t seen anywhere else.

Northern Lite 8-11 EX table different positions

The only possible criticism is that the table might move around when people push on it or lean into it.  Ideally there would be some way to lock it into position, much like Northern Lite’s full-booth dinette can be locked down.  This might be part of the existing design, but I could not see it.  Northern Lite is welcome to submit a Manufacturer’s Response if I missed this feature.

Northern Lite 8-11 EX dinette 110-volt power

The dinette area has one 110-volt outlet, but we did not see a 12-volt or USB outlet in this area.  As previously shown, there are the two USB outlets and one 12-volt outlet in the kitchen area immediately across from this location, but it would be nice to see these outlets in the dinette as well.

Northern Lite 8-11 EX dinette lower shoe area

Under the dinette’s pedestal is an area that seems made for out-of-the-way shoe storage.

Northern Lite 8-11 EX dinette lower drawers

Under the forward facing dinette seat are two drawers.  The top drawer is much deeper than the lower drawer, presumably due to plumbing and electrical behind this location.  You can also see the stainless steel roller bearing guides that are standard for all Northern Lite products.

Northern Lite 8-11 EX dinette seat underneath

During the process of making the dinette into a bed, we noticed finger hole pulls on two of the the dinette seat floors.  When we pulled the floor from the forward most seat we discovered the water heater, water pump (bottom center) and rear of the fuse box and converter (lower right corner).

Northern Lite 8-11 EX plumbing and wiring

The plumbing and wiring work on display here is truly first rate.  Everything here is nearly laid out, the PEX plumbing fittings are solid and clean, and the wires are neatly dressed and tied.  I would be a little concerned about changing the water pump in this relatively tight space, but it’s very accessible.  Overall, this is some of the best plumbing and wiring work I’ve seen in a camper.

Northern Lite 8-11 EX fuse panel

The converter and fuse box are located on the opposite side in the step up area for the cabover.  This is an excellent and comfortable location for the fuses, which are often the culprit for any number of system and/or electrical problems.  From experience, always check your fuses before assuming something more serious is wrong with your electrical system.  And always carry spare fuses!

Northern Lite 8-11 EX dinette hidden area

The other finger hole had another neat surprise; a hidden storage area.  When made into a dinette, this space will be concealed by the table, and covered by the dinette seat cushion.  This would be a great place to store things you don’t need day to day, and a clever nook for anything you want hidden.  Put a false floor in here and you’ve really got a hiding space!

Northern Lite 8-11 EX clock

Over the past decade or so, Northern Lite has had a wide variety of multi-function clocks.  In comparison to past Northern Lite clocks, this one is a bit plain.  To be fair, most truck camper companies don’t even ship with clocks, much less multi-function clocks with the date, day, and temperature displayed.

Under the time piece is where the tank monitor, water pump switch, and digital thermostat are located.  The thermostat didn’t get the memo about the black tie affair, but is otherwise a great step-up from the previous analog thermostat.  Perhaps the next step-up would be a digital tank monitor from SeeLevel or Digi-Level.  That would make a fantastic upgrade for Northern Lite in 2019.

Northern Lite 8-11 EX step up drawer empty

Under the step to the cabover is a wide, long, and shallow drawer.

Northern Lite 8-11 EX step up silverware drawer

Northern Lite intends this space to be used as a silverware drawer and even supplies a plastic silverware tray that fits into this space.  Some folks will be delighted that Northern Lite has provided a purpose for this drawer.

I like to celebrate when the right storage is put in the right place, but this feels like an odd spot for silverware.  If you leave this drawer open, you might step into it causing damage.  It’s also quite a bend down to access this drawer.  I would prefer to find a silverware tray (or improvise one) that fits into the upper kitchen drawer under the sink and leave this drawer for things I’m not accessing three times a day, or more.

Northern Lite 8-11 EX Hypervent under bed

Before we entered the cabover we lifted the mattress to see if the kitchen sink insert was there.  It was, and so was yet another surprise.  Under the foam mattress was what appeared to be Hypervent condensation prevention matting.

It’s not uncommon for condensation to build up under a mattress potentially causing mold and damaging your mattress.  In a few campers over the years we have noticed this condensation after a particularly cold evening.

Hypervent is designed to prevent this problem by suspending the mattress with bonded polymer spun into a breathable pad.  The spun polymer allows air to flow under the mattress stopping the condensation.

I am impressed that Northern Lite has made this feature standard.  Hidden under the mattress, it’s not an initially visible upgrade, or one that most people would even know to ask for.  Nevertheless, Hypervent will improve the experience of owning a Northern Lite product.  Very impressive.

Northern Lite 8-11 EX Cabover in Blue

The cabovers in Northern Lite truck campers always steal my heart.  First, they are nearly 100-percent equal with storage opportunities on both sides.  Second, they’re beautiful, inviting, and well laid out.  Just looking at this cabover made me want to climb in, and take a nap.

Northern Lite 8-11 EX Cabover HDTV

On the passenger’s side is where the HDTV is mounted on a locking swing arm.  Under the HDTV is a small table top that could be used as a nightstand.

Northern Lite 8-11 EX Cabover Open Compartment

Inside the cabinet under the HDTV and nightstand is where the rear of the Jensen stereo, USB and 12-volt outlets, 110-volt outlet, and Winegard antenna system are found.  Again, I’m impressed with the neatness of this installation.

Northern Lite 8-11 EX Cabover Inside Cabinet Wiring

I would like to see a false wall installed here to protect these electronics from anything stored in this cabinet.  For example, owners might store blue jeans, T-shirts, and sweatshirts here.  These items should not be in contact with the back of electrical outlets, or preventing the stereo from proper ventilation.

If folks put heavier items in this area, they could damage these components during a hard stop.  An easily removable false wall would fix this potential issue.

Northern Lite 8-11 EX Cabover Hampers for Clothes

The hampers are deep and wide with steel hardware and that gorgeous Sapele finish reminding you everyday that this is a top-notch luxury truck camper.

Northern Lite 8-11 EX Cabover Driver's Side

The driver’s side the cabover features a deep hanging closet that extends below the mattress line, and two more hampers.

Northern Lite 8-11 EX Cabover Headliner

Last October I reviewed a 2017 Northern Lite 10-2 CD Special Edition.  One of the only criticisms I was able to find in that camper was a ceiling liner that was not fully applied in the cabover.  In a few areas, the liner appeared to be not fully adhered to the underlying insulation and fiberglass shell.

I’m very happy to report that the ceiling liner in the 8-11 EX was absolutely perfect.  I could find no ripples in the liner as we did in the 10-2 last year.  The ceiling liner in this camper was tight and flawless.

Northern Lite 8-11 EX gimp

I do want to encourage Northern Lite to stop using gimp throughout their campers.  While I understand that gimp is a very efficient way to hide seams, there has to be way to rid this material from what is otherwise a high-end furniture grade aesthetic and quality.  Don’t rest on your laurels Northern Lite.  Keep setting the bar.

Capacities

Capacities
Fresh 33 gallons
Grey 24 gallons
Black 12 gallons
Water Heater 6 gallons
Propane Tanks 2x 20 pounds
Batteries Two Batteries

The holding tank capacities for the 8-11 EX are 33 gallons fresh, 24 gallons grey, and 12 gallons black.  The only difference here between the 8-11 EX and 8-11 is the black tank.  The 8-11 EX black tank is one gallon less than the 8-11 due to design adjustments for the dry bath.

Northern Lite 8-11 EX dump valves

Above: The dump valve and low water drain compartment features a LED light

From experience, the 33 gallon fresh tank and 24 gallon grey tank would last us (two adults) about 5 to 6 days of short navy showers and careful water conservation.  The 12 gallon black tank would last us between 4 and 5 days.  As such, the black tank would be the limiting factor.

Northern Lite 8-11 EX shower and fresh water fill

The 6-gallon hot water heater, two 20-pound propane tanks, and two batteries are the perfect balance of capacity for a luxury short bed truck camper.  If we were in charge, all full-size hard side truck campers would have exactly this set of amenities.

Northern Lite 8-11 propane compartment

The 20-pound propane tanks can be exchanged just about anywhere coast-to-coast including big box hardware stores, gas stations, and grocery stores.  We particularly appreciate how 20-pound tanks are relatively easy to lift and position, unlike their 30-pound cousins.

Northern Lite 8-11 EX batteries

Together with the all-LED lighting and standard 95-watt solar panel, the two batteries in the 8-11 EX make for a very respectful electrical system.  Those who need or want more power could add an additional solar panel, and/or upgrade to the best Group 27 AGMs for additional charging and amp hours.  We have had Interstate AGMs for two and a half years and love their performance.

Specifications

Specifications
Dry Weight 2,650 pounds
Wet Weight* 3,645 pounds
Floor Length 9’3″
Overall Length 195″
Width 98″
Interior Height 6’4″
Exterior Height 94″
Center of Gravity 39.5″
Truck Type Short Bed

Given the sheer number of standard features on the 2018 Northern Lite 8-11 EX, some may question the validity of the stated 2,650 pound dry weight.  We can put those concerns to rest.  I personally have witnessed a half dozen or more Northern Lite truck campers get weighed at the factory over the past decade and their dry weights are 100-percent accurate.

Northern Lite 8-11 EX exterior weight sticker

The exterior weight sticker on the 8-11 EX under review states the dry weight at 2,650 pounds.  The 8-11 EX model is only available as a Special Edition, so this weight includes an extensive list of premium features including the HDTV, audio/video system, two awnings, thermal pane windows, 95-watt solar panel, and more.

Northern Lite 8-11 EX camper weight sticker inside

The interior weight sticker on the 8-11 EX is located on the back wall of the rear closet.  That sticker read 2,740 pounds reflecting the addition of a 90-pound Coleman Mach 8 air conditioner.  Again Northern Lite’s weight integrity is beyond reproach.

Northern Lite 8-11 EX Driver's Side

The overall length of the 8-11 EX is 195-inches.  That’s 4-inches longer than the 8-11 at 191-inches.

The width, interior height, and exterior height are identical between the 8-11 EX and 8-11.  The center of gravity moves back two inches for the 8-11 EX due to the additional 4-inches of overall length.  Finally, the 8-11 EX is short bed only.  If you need a long bed Northern Lite, there’s the 9-6 and 10-2 models.

Wet Weight Calculation

Let’s run the wet weight number on the 8-11 EX using Truck Camper Magazine’s standardized wet weight calculation.

Base Dry Weight – option-loaded as standard

Northern Lite 8-11 EX: dry weight, 2,650 pounds + 25 gallons fresh, 275.2 pounds + 6 gallon full hot water heater, 50 pounds + 2x 20-pound propane tanks, 40 pounds + 2 batteries, 130 pounds + stuff, 500 pounds = 3,645.2 pounds

Dry Weight As Reviewed – With Optional Air Conditioner

Northern Lite 8-11 EX: dry weight, 2,740 pounds + 25 gallons fresh, 275.2 pounds + 6 gallon full hot water heater, 50 pounds + 2x 20-pound propane tanks, 40 pounds + 2 batteries, 130 pounds + stuff, 500 pounds = 3,735.2 pounds

Truck Recommendations

I often have to sit down and really think about what trucks to recommend for a specific camper.  Wet weights can put units right on the line between a three-quarter ton and a one ton, or a single rear wheel and a dually.  My job is to make a conservative truck recommendation that will create a safe truck and camper match, not walk the notorious, “You’ll be fine” line.

I had none of these concerns for the Northern Lite 8-11 EX.  The wet weight for a fully wet and loaded 8-11 EX are square in the one-ton short bed sweet spot.  For example, we owned a 2013 Chevy Silverado 3500 short bed with 4,013 pounds of payload.  That truck with a Northern Lite 8-11 EX would be a dream truck and camper match.

If you have your heart set on a Northern Lite 8-11 (wet bath or dry), I would strongly recommend reading the article that debuted our 2013 Chevy 3500, and all the choices we made for that custom order.  You should be able to start with Ford, Chevy, or RAM, follow our build choices, and end up with a payload matched rig.  Of course check with your dealer about your payload requirements before placing the order.

Many folks want truck features, options, and upgrades that add weight and subtract payload.  If you have to have a diesel engine, or can’t live without all the luxury bells and whistles, you will have a harder time finding or ordering a payload appropriate truck.

If you’re a must-have-diesel guy, or love-the-luxuries girl, start with our 2013 Chevy 3500 truck choices, and then ask your preferred truck dealer (Ford, GM, or RAM) to help you add your desired features without going under 3,800 pounds of payload needed for a wet and loaded 8-11 EX.  With today’s trucks achieving higher and higher payloads, it might very well be possible.  Just don’t be surprised if the package with the air conditioned seats puts you over.  Truck options are heavy.

The Verdict

There has been quite a buzz around the Northern Lite 8-11 EX since it debuted in Truck Camper Magazine and started arriving on dealer lots.

Northern Lite 8-11 EX Passenger's Side

The great majority of this attention is focused on the new dry bath, a design that challenges the very definition and accepted aesthetic of a dry bath.  Due to this focus, the decision for many about the 8-11 EX will be based entirely on their reaction to this dry bath design.

Here’s how I see it: the 8-11 EX bathroom – as a reader suggested – is a dry toilet bathroom.  Not having to dry the toilet and toilet floor is a huge benefit.  The need to dry the shower stall and sink is half the work of drying an entire wet bath.  The all-new 8-11 EX dry bath design saves considerable time and effort compared to a wet bath, and leaves the toilet and toilet floor area dry.  From this perspective, the new dry bath is a nice upgrade.

What’s really missing with the 8-11 EX is the dry bath aesthetic, and storage.  Folks expect to see a finished floor in a dry bath, along with wood cabinetry and counter top space.  The 8-11 EX dry bath offers none of these features or visual cues, and looks – for all the world – like a wet bath.

The rest of the 2018 Northern Lite 8-11 EX is simply stunning.  The dual clamshell fiberglass construction is second to none in the entire RV marketplace for quality, durability, and longevity.  The floor plan, materials, build, and overall interior finish is as refined as anything in a luxury car.  This is RV industry-leading quality folks, pure and simple.  Ask Northern Lite owners about their campers.  They’ll tell you.

Northern Lite 8-11 EX Truck Camper For Short Bed Trucks

If you’re in the market for a non-slide short bed truck camper, the 8-11 EX or the wet bath 8-11 should absolutely be on your short list.  Match a Northern Lite 8-11 EX with a truck like our previous 2013 Chevy Silverado 3500 short bed (or similarly specified Ford or RAM) and you will have one heck of an awesome luxury truck camping rig.

Pros
All-new dry bath keeps toilet and floor dry in a compact space
Outstanding build quality, materials, finish, and a 6-year structural warranty
Two-piece clam shell fiberglass structure
Stunningly beautiful interior and highly refined interior design
Special Edition comes loaded with almost every option
New EX molds add 4-inches of length, more dinette headroom, and a better truck fit

Cons
The $41,940 MSRP is a premium price for a short bed non-slide truck camper
Dry bath looks like a wet bath, and doesn’t keep the sink dry
Dry bath lacks storage and offers minimal sink/counter space for toiletries
Dry bath toilet paper holder is in an awkward position
12-gallon black tank is the limiting holding tank capacity
Cabover cabinet needs a false wall to protect back of electronics

Model Information:
2018 Northern Lite 8-11 EX Dry Bath Special Edition
MSRP: $41,940 US
Warranty: 6-year structural warranty

Northern Lite Manufacturing, Ltd.
322 Totom Court
Kelowna, BC, Canada
V1X 5W6
Phone: 1-800-887-5342
Request a Northern Lite Brochure
Web: northern-lite.com

Quality, Customer Service, and Long-Term Reliability

Truck Camper Magazine inspects all reviewed truck campers for design, material, and quality issues and reports what we find.  However, since Truck Camper Magazine reviews only brand new truck campers, our reviews do not address long-term quality, customer service, or reliability.

To learn about a brand’s long-term quality, customer service, and reliability, Truck Camper Magazine recommends talking directly with truck camper owners at truck camper rallies and online via truck camper forums and truck camper owners groups.

Please be sure to balance your gathered feedback across multiple sources including direct correspondence with the truck camper manufacturers and your closest truck camper dealers.

If you are new to truck campers, start here.

 

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