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?
The Northern Lite debuted the Northern Lite 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.”
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.”
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.”
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 Northern Lite Special Editions only.
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.