Camper Beast

Lance Max Overhaul

Eric and Marisa of The Cummins Camper renovated a 2005 Lance 981 Max into a bright and modern mobile haven. The transformation of this nineteen year old camper is something to behold.

Lance Max Camper Overhaul

In 2005, Lance Campers debuted the Max series of slide-out campers. Lance had manufactured slide-out models up to that point including the successful Lance 1121, but the aluminum-framed Max series with its full wall slide-outs instantly made Lance Campers a leading force in the slide-out truck camper market.

Angela and I went to Chantilly, Virginia in 2005 and completely freaked out when we saw the all-new Lance 1181 Max. The full-wall slide-out completely transformed the floor plan in ways we didn’t know were possible in a truck camper. We eventually came to our financial senses and bought a used, non-slide Lance 1030, but that 1181 Max was a game changer.

Above: YouTube feature of Eric and Marisa’s on Tiny Home Tours

19 Years Later

It’s hard to believe it, but the shining Lance Max campers we saw in Virginia back in 2005 are 19 years old now; fresh campers in college. In truck camper years, not too many units last that long, at least not in a condition most of us would want. That doesn’t mean campers can’t last decades, but they require rigorous maintenance and care.

Lance 981 Renovated Kitchen

Above: The interior of the renovated Lance 981 Max; these photos are screen captures from the video above

Eric and Marisa have not only maintained and cared for their Lance 981 Max, but they have overhauled the aluminum-framed and laminated camper into a modern full-time living home. In fact, had I not been instantly familiar with the Lance Max floor plan and cabinetry layout, I may have struggled to know what camper they were in. Nearly every surface, material, and component has been updated.

Lance 981 Bedroom

First, their entire camper interior was painted white. That seems to be the starting point for nearly every RV renovation in the 2020s. For texture, color, and variation, they added backsplashes, warm wood countertops, a matching wood dinette table, curtain-style window treatments, re-upholstered dinette cushions, and an accent wall for more warmth and depth. The result is an open and inviting living space that no longer feels dated.

Microwave Out. Television In.

Lance 981 TV Space

The detail that instantly elevated this camper renovation to something Camper Beast worthy was the removal of the under-the-cooktop microwave and – in the same position – the addition of a pull-out television, with space for lithium batteries behind it. We are going to ask Eric and Marisa to enter this into our PowerMod contest so we can learn more about how it was done.

Lift Up Dinette Pantry

Under Dinette Pantry

Another TCM worthy mod is the lift-up pantry under the rear dinette seat. This alteration makes this space more accessible allowing Eric and Marissa to store more dry food and extend their off-grid time. With so many campers made with face-to-face dinette seating, this mod could make a meaningful storage impact in many campers.

Flush Toilet Out. Composting Toilet In.

Lance 981 Compositing Toilet

From the various changes they’ve made, it’s clear that Eric and Marissa have one foot in the traditional slide-out truck camper world, and another in the overland world. For example, they have removed their traditional RV flush toilet and replaced it with a composting toilet. This is a feature Lance would never put in their campers, but is quite popular in the overland community.

Realities of Living On The Road

Eric and Marisa live full-time in their Lance 981 and Ram 3500. Like so many who chose this lifestyle, they were burning out with their 9 to 5 jobs, wanted to see the world, and had the opportunity to work remotely.

To supplement their lifestyle, they manage and own AirBnB properties, manage others, and rent a Winnebago van on Outdoorsy. In addition, they take short-term employment opportunities in the towns and cities they visit.

Both Eric and Marisa love the amazing places and people they’ve met and have no intention of going back to a sticks and bricks home. They also describe what Angela and I call the ‘high-highs and low-lows’ of living full-time on the road.

When the rig breaks down, they can’t just get a tow truck and go home. They have to stop everything they are doing, figure out the situation, and find a solution right away. From our three year full-time experience on the road, we know exactly what that feels like.

The Cummins Camper

It’s fun to see a 19-year-old slide-out camper fully restored and given a new full-time life. To follow Eric and Marisa and their full-time truck camping adventures, follow them on Instagram as The Cummins Camper.


Truck Camper Chooser
To Top