TCM talks to Rick Barna of LivinLite to introduce the all-new 2015 CampLite 8.4, a hard side, short bed, slide-out truck camper made entirely from aluminum and composites.
In the RV industry, most new products are directly inspired by what’s already selling well in the marketplace and what customers are asking for. If the competition is doing well with a particular floor plan, chances are that floor plan will be copied, again, and again. This should be self-evident to anyone who has given even a cursory look through the floor plans in our Buyers Guide. It’s just part of the business.
What cannot be easily copied is a company’s manufacturing process, expertise, and culture. It’s often impossible, or simply not feasible, to copy every aspect of manufacturing and material employed by the competition. Besides, building in a unique way is what often distinguishes one manufacturer from the next. If every company built their campers with identical manufacturing processes and materials, RVs would become a commodity product. We see this very situation in some parts of the travel trailer business.
LivinLite surveyed this environment a few years ago and went where no one else dared; wood-free, all-aluminum and composite construction. Just mentioning this construction method can sell some RV prospects at thirty-paces. Never mind what the product looks like inside or out, they want a wood-free RV, and they want it now. As far as they’re concerned, everything else is rotten.
The good news is that LivinLite has managed to make their 100% aluminum and composite campers more and more aesthetically pleasing with each generation of product. They are now at the point where they can “borrow” a popular floor plan from the marketplace, apply their wood-free construction process, and have a truly unique and competitive camper.
With that, we introduce the 2015 CampLite 8.4, LivinLite’s wood-free take on an already popular floor plan. To take us through the camper, we talked to Rick Barna, Vice President of Dealer Relations for LivinLite.
2015 CampLite 8.4 Specifications:
The 2015 CampLite 8.4 is a hard side, single-slide, wet bath truck camper made for short bed trucks. The interior floor length of the 2015 CampLite 8.4 is 8’1” and the interior height is 6’8″. The 2015 CampLite 8.4 has a 30.5 gallon fresh tank, a 17 gallon grey tank, a 13 gallon black tank, and a 6 gallon hot water heater. It can accommodate one battery and has two twenty-pound propane tanks. LivinLite is reporting the base weight of the CampLite 8.4 to be 2,750 pounds. The base MSRP for the 2015 CampLite 8.4 is $27,019.
Above: The exterior of the CampLite 8.4 – click to enlarge the photos
The 2015 CampLite 8.4 above is shown on a truck for demonstration purposes only. For proper truck and camper matching, read “Matching a Truck and Camper“.
TCM: Does the new 2015 CampLite 8.4 replace any older models in the CampLite line?
Rick: No. The CampLite 8.4 is actually a totally new model for our 2015 truck camper line. Ever since we introduced our 100% wood-free, all-aluminum and composite truck campers back in 2010, customers have been asking us to build a slide-out model for short bed trucks. Short bed slide-out models also sell very well in the marketplace. With our lightweight, no rot construction methods, we are certain that the CampLite 8.4 is going to be a strong seller.
Above: The CampLite 8.4 is a short bed, slide-out model. This photograph shows the dinette slide-out and diamond plate step and lift-up storage area.
TCM: Tell us about the design and development of this camper. Napkins or computers?
Rick: The 8.4 got started when I asked Gary Peters, Engineer for LivinLite, to design a short bed slide out model. From there, Gary modeled the floor plan on his computer. Gary is an excellent engineer and does all of our floor plan modeling.
Once the floor plan was complete and approved, we built a prototype. We build our prototypes off the production line until we feel confident that they’re right. Once the prototype is approved, we will start a run down the production line.
Above: Standing at the back door looking towards the front of the unit
TCM: Were there any changes to the 8.4 after building the prototype?
Rick: There were some minor adjustments, but honestly the camper was ready for the production line right away. Everything came out right the first time.
Above: The rounded orbit front nose is new for 2014 CampLite campers
TCM: Did you update the interior or exterior, or change the construction method or materials for the CampLite 8.4?
Rick: We have made some important changes to our entire truck camper line over the past year. These changes are now featured in the 8.4.
For starters, we now feature a rounded orbit front nose instead of a squared-off overcab. That change made a big difference aesthetically, and likely will help with the aerodynamics. Further improving the overall look of our campers, we updated and refined the exterior graphics back in December. Customers can also option for side and rear awnings, something we didn’t offer before. A CampLite truck camper coming off the line today looks a lot more modern than the CampLite campers from just a year ago.
Above: Cherry cabinets in the kitchen area of the CampLite 8.4
On the interior we went from aluminum cabinets to Azdel composite in Maple or Cherry. We also went from aluminum corner trim to a black polycarbonate outer trim. On the floor we now use a high-traffic vinyl flooring material on top of our trademark aluminum floor. An optional Heki skylight is also available for the overcab and seven cubic foot refrigerators are available for our larger models. These updates and options help make the interior look much more inviting.
One of the most important things we offer now is a Winterization Package for our basement models; the 6.8, 8.4, 8.6, 10.0, and 11.0. The Winterization Package includes ducted heating in the basement, and 12-volt heating pads on the fresh, grey, and black tanks. Those two changes help to ensure your tanks and plumbing will not freeze.
Additionally, we added another layer of Azdel on the roof and exterior walls during lamination. That adds approximately another layer of R3 insulation factor with the winterization package.
With CampLite product, there is not a sliver of wood in the unit. Everything is aluminum or some form of composite, which makes the whole unit impervious to rot. There is no steel, except for the screws. There will be no rot or rust issues with a CampLite product.
Above: The CampLite 8.4 countertops in chocolate granite
TCM: What are the available interior fabric and countertop choices?
Rick: Our countertops have a chocolate granite look. We do offer an upgraded Living Package that includes leatherette seating and cushions. And of course you can choose between Maple and Cherry Azdel interior cabinet colors.
Above: CampLite uses Schwintech slide mechanisms for their slide-out campers. The 2015 CampLite 8.4 above is shown on a truck for demonstration purposes only. For proper truck and camper matching, read “Matching a Truck and Camper“.
TCM: What slide mechanism does the 2015 CampLite 8.4 use?
Rick: We use the Schwintech slide mechanism. If we’ve had problems with the Schwintech, they’ve been so minor that I have not heard about them. It’s been a good system for us.
Above: The passenger side slide-out shown in the “in” position through the open rear door.
TCM: Can you access the bathroom with the slide in?
Rick: No. There is no access to the bathroom with the slide-out in.
TCM: What type of windows are standard; single or thermal pane?
Rick: The standard windows are single pane. Dual pane thermal windows come with the Winterization Package.
TCM: What are the holding tank sizes?
Rick: The fresh tank is 30.5 gallons, the grey tank is 17 gallons, and the black tank is 13 gallons. There is also a six gallon hot water heater.
Above: The single battery compartment in the CampLite 8.4
TCM: How many batteries does the 2015 CampLite 8.4 have, and where are they located?
Rick: We have room for one battery in this camper. They are located on the driver’s side sidewall on a pull-out tray.
Above: The CampLite 8.4 features two twenty-pound propane tanks
TCM: What are the propane tank sizes?
Rick: There are two twenty-pound tanks on the driver’s side.
TCM: Can the optional air conditioner run on a portable Honda EU2000i generator?
Rick: Yes. We’re using 9.2 Polar Cub that can be used with a Honda EU2000i generator. We also have the option for a 13.5 Penguin air conditioner. We recommend everyone gets the 9.2 Polar Cub because it runs off a portable generator. I lived in a CampLite truck camper last year and traveled all over the country in extreme heat. The 9.2 Polar Cub does really well.
TCM: Tell us about the standard bumper and entry step system for the 2015 CampLite 8.4.
Rick: The 8.4 has the same aluminum storage bumper and the same entry step as the CampLite 10.0 and 11.0 have.
Above: The overcab of the CampLite 8.4 – click to enlarge the photos
TCM: Are there any new options that are available for the 2015 CampLite 8.4?
Rick: Everything on our other campers is available as an option the 8.4. Options include an air conditioner, fold down bunk over the dinette, a 19” flat screen television with swivel bracket and outlet, electric camper jacks, pre-wiring for electric jacks, a digital television antenna, the black exterior trim package, removable carpet mats, and a high powered fan.
We are trying to build the lightest camper possible. If our customers want more options, they need to understand that those options add weight to the camper.
TCM: Is the center of gravity marked on the 2015 CampLite 8.4?
Rick: No. We don’t mark the center of gravity on our campers. That’s something we would like to do in the future.
TCM: Where is the center of gravity on the 2015 CampLite 8.4?
Rick: The center of gravity is 48” from front wall. We measure the center of gravity by taking a three inch round steel pipe and balancing a unit on the pipe. This works very well and yields accurate results.
TCM: How do you weigh your campers?
Rick: We weigh each model once. On the camper then gets a sticker with the dry weight, including an air conditioner and standard equipment. Even with options, CampLite offers one of the lightest weight units in the industry.
TCM: What does the 2015 CampLite 8.4 weigh with standard build features?
Rick: The 2015 CampLite 8.4 weighs 2,930 pounds.
TCM: What is the MSRP for the 2015 CampLite 8.4 with standard build features?
Rick: The CampLite 8.4 with standard build features is $27,019. That includes a convection microwave and furnace.
TCM: What is the warranty for the 2015 CampLite 8.4?
Rick: The warranty is three years on the structure, and one year for the appliances.
TCM: When will the 2015 CampLite 8.4 be available?
Rick: They’re being built and shipped now. D&H RV Center in North Carolina is getting our first load of 2015 CampLite 8.4 campers.
TCM: Have there been any changes at LivinLite / CampLite since the company was purchased by Thor Industries?
Rick: We are still standalone company and Scott Tuttle, President of LivinLite, runs LivinLite the same as before Thor acquired the company. Nothing has changed other than Thor owning the company. Our buying power has increased dramatically, so we can buy materials and appliances at lower prices. There has been no interruption in how we do things.
TCM: Are there any other new model announcements coming from CampLite in 2014?
Rick: We may add another floor plan or two. I have to do more research. Sales are getting stronger and stronger every day. We are excited about the CampLite 8.4 and our 2015 campers.
TCM: Is there anything about the 2015 CampLite 8.4 that you would like to add?
Rick: I think we have the best built camper. It’s never going to rot or have a structural failure because of rot. The campers are welded. There are no staples. We build strong, durable campers.
Our company also builds a pull behind camper for Jeep. It has the coveted Trail Rating badge. Our truck camper construction is nearly identical to what we build for Jeep. In our opinion, our campers have a better chance going off-road and surviving better than any other hard-side truck camper on the market. We build tough, rough, and sensible products.
Here we are in our fifth year building more truck campers every year. Our acceptance in the community has been getting better and better. Our owners are praising our products.
For more information on the CampLite 8.4 and other CampLite campers, visit their website at www.livinlite.com.