Truck Camper Reviews

Hotomobil Gladiator First Look

Truck Camper Magazine explores a 2024 Hotomobil Gladiator LB at San Juan Vans. Is this European-manufactured camper ready to compete in the USA? Ready or not, the Hotomobil Gladiator has some seriously impressive build and design chops.

Hotomobil Camper Gladiator Review First Look

Few truck campers in recent memory have triggered more intrigue than the Hotomobil Gladiator. Based in Germany, manufactured in Turkey, and imported into the United States, the Gladiator displays European sensibilities from stem to stern.

We first caught a glimpse of a Hotomobil Gladiator at Overland Expo this past May. Immediately following that event, we drove to San Juan Vans in Bayfield, Colorado—Hotomobil USA’s first domestic dealership. There we were able to do an extended dive into a Gladiator LB; aka Hotomobil’s long bed model.

Hotomobil Exterior Front Profile

There are several important facets of the Hotomobil design approach that must be addressed up front. First, where are the jacks? Well, Hotomobil uses the same attachment points utilized for their tie-down system—detailed later—to attach their own jack system. Once the camper is loaded, the jacks are removed. You can bring them with you or leave them at home. I would advise the former as you never know when you’ll need to unload for service or repair.

Second, the campers are what Hotomobil terms a one-piece fiberglass design. That means there are no body seams to be found on the exterior. There are seams around windows, vents, clearance lights and other exterior features, but none where the body walls, roof, or uprights meet.

Hotomobil Exterior Front Driver Three Quarters

We have received numerous emails from readers asking how a one-piece fiberglass camper is possible. The short answer is there are technically two pieces with the second piece being the rear wall. The rest of the camper—including the front nose, side walls, roof, and floor—is made with a single fiberglass mold. The rear wall is physically attached as a separate fiberglass component and then adhered to the main body to create a ‘one-piece’ seamless body shell.

Hotomobil Camper Exterior Driver Profile

Beyond the European design and origins, this is by far the most important aspect of Hotomobil truck campers. In person, it’s odd to see a camper with no body seams. It’s almost as if the camper body is carved from a solid block of aluminum, or 3D printed. Look at the photos and note there’s no trim or molding to hide seams and screws. In the above photo, our camper is on the far left and has well over a hundred feet of body seams we have to caulk and seal regularly. That’s no exaggeration and typical of most traditionally built truck campers.

Hotomobil Exterior Rear Driver Three Quarters

Beyond the seamless body, the Hotomobil Gladiator looks like no other camper we’ve ever seen. Note the boat transom-like shape of the front nose, roof, and wing walls. These angles are made possible with Hotomobil’s molded fiberglass approach. It’s likely that these angles also improve aerodynamics allowing for Hotomobil rigs to achieve better fuel mileage and handling.

We’ve been informed by Hotomobil USA that the split door shown on this particular unit is being replaced with a solid door. In use we found the split door to be a bit tricky to use.

To the left of the door is the access panel for the Thetford cassette toilet system. Above this panel is the outdoor shower, fresh water fill, and a jerrycan with a lockable Hotomobil branded carrier. The jerrycan holds 10L (2.6 gallons) of diesel for the diesel water heater. Everything on the outside of the unit is well-marked and easy to understand.

Hotomobil Exterior Rear Passenger Side Three Quarters

Focusing on the accouterments, the nose-mounted shovel and axe should be on the rear wall where they won’t catch tree limbs and are more accessible for off-road and recovery situations.

Rather than opting for a traditional tie-down and turnbuckle setup, Hotomobil uses ratchet straps. This approach saves weight, but the size and weight of the Gladiator is beyond what we’ve seen ratchet straps used for in the truck camper marketplace. It will be interesting to see how this proves out as customers take Hotomobil rigs off-road.

The externally mounted propane tank is another unusual feature for a production hard side truck camper. This is a five pound propane tank; a common size in the United States, but relatively uncommon in the RV and truck camper world.

Hotomobil Campers Have A Bathroom

The first thing that really caught my attention inside the Hotomobil Gladiator was the driver’s side bathroom. Walled bathrooms with built-in toilets, sinks, and showers are becoming increasingly rare in new camper introductions. Behold, a fully functional bathroom in a new truck camper. Bathroom users rejoice.

And what a fascinating bathroom it is with a European flair and a surprising amount of storage. The above counter design and modern faucet are distinctly Hotomobil. I also appreciated the countertop area—just enough for a toothbrush, razor, and hair brush. In a truck camper this size, this is a very generously proportioned wet bath.

Hotomobil Camper Bathroom

And it is a wet bath. The sink faucet pulls up to become your shower nozzle and there’s a drain under the grate in the standing area. Presumably, there’s a shower curtain that protects the bathroom cabinetry while you shower. As we haven’t yet had the opportunity to camp and shower in a Hotomobil, maybe the company can get back to us on that point.

The Thetford cassette toilet has become something of a standard in the lightweight hard side market. The 4.75 gallon capacity is fantastic for weekend campers, or folks who cold weather camp in areas where dump stations close in the winter.

Hotomobil Kitchen In The Camper

Across from the wet bath is a compact kitchen. Again, the Hotomobil design team has included a good amount of storage. The compartment and drawer handles include a push button lock that makes sure nothing flies open while you drive. In our twenty-year-old camper, we are constantly battling drawers and cabinets that open from old-school cabinet latches. Hotomobil’s approach is much more robust.

Hotomobil Kitchen Cooktop Open

Hotomobil has included a slender two-burner propane cooktop and sink. The glass flush mount lids allow for one side or the other to be used as counter space. This was a good decision as the Gladiator’s kitchen is a little tight for food prep and dishwashing. Owners are advised to choose one activity or the other at any given time.

Hotomobil Kitchen Upper Cabinetry

Hotomobil USA informed us that the combination tank and control monitor—shown top right—are actively being changed. The control monitor itself was not one we had encountered before and looked modern and complete, but we’ll withhold further comment until the new monitor and panels are installed.

There was an interesting yellow sticker to the left of the control panel that had a number of warnings including, “Do not use the battery charge rate below 30%”, “Do not use 12v output over 10A” and, “Do not use the diesel cable heater when the fuel tank level is 25%”. While we see warning labels posted throughout all RVs, it was interesting to see a list of specific posted warnings next to the control monitor.

Hotomobil Kitchen Refrigerator Open

The slender 90L (3.2 cubic feet) Thetford T2090 12-volt refrigerator was specifically designed for the RV market and includes integrated ventilation. The manufacturer also claims a noise level of only 32 dB, and has a night mode of only 29 dB. For anyone who’s lived with an RV refrigerator fan all summer, that should be welcome news.

Hotomobil Camper Dinette Table Closed

Turning toward the center of the camper is where you’ll find a large U-shape dinette.

The dinette area is bathed in light from two huge windows on either side of the camper. This helps the Hotomobil interior to feel bright and open in person.

Hotomobil Campers Dinette Table Open

The star feature of this dinette is the table. Note how it opens to double its size. The downside of this arrangement is that the table leaf on the passenger’s side needs to be up to enter the dinette and access the cabover.

Hotomobil Campers Dinette Table Pedestal

The pedestal features a gas piston that can be released—via a latch on top of the table—and pushed down to create the dinette bed platform. While we are at this angle, note the ambient lighting under the seating. This same ambient lighting is also found in the kitchen and adds a welcome function and aesthetic to the camper.

Hotomobil Truck Camper Dinette Wide

Here’s the table after pushing the pedestal down. To make the bed platform, you open the table leaves.

Hotomobil Camper Dinette Into A Bed

Here’s the dinette converted into a bed. I didn’t measure the bed dimensions, but this is a huge bed for a dinette bed conversion.

Hotomobil Truck Cabover

The Hotomobil Gladiator East-West cabover is simple and elegant. Both sides feature gooseneck reading lights and USB-A, USB-C, and 110-volt outlets. These outlets are perfect for charging phones and tablets at night, and the 110 volt is well suited for C-Pap machines—if you’re plugged into shore power, or have enough battery bank to run through the night.

The odd thing about this arrangement is that—as an East-West cabover—the reading lights and outlets are positioned only for the person sleeping toward the dinette. The person sleeping in the front nose does not have a light or outlets nearby.

Establishing A New Brand

It’s not easy to introduce a camper brand that’s not only from a new company, but from a foreign country with a completely different approach to manufacturing, materials, and design. After announcing Hotomobil in the United States this past January, the company acquired its first domestic dealership in May, and is now importing additional campers. It’s been a tough road, but that’s what it takes to establish a new camper brand—in this economy, or any other.

Based on our first in-person experiences with Hotomobil at Overland Expo West and at their first dealership—San Juan Vans—it’s clear that Hotomobil is a product worth paying attention to. They are still fine-tuning their campers for the US market, but they’re on the right track. In many ways the campers are ahead of the pack and ready to present some serious Stateside competition.

If you’re in the market for a high-end, low-weight, hard side truck camper, a trip to San Juan Vans to check out Hotomobil truck campers is highly recommended. I guarantee you’ll experience a unique and modern build concept and design that you won’t find anywhere on this side of the Atlantic. And that may be exactly what you’re looking for.

For more information on Hotomobil truck campers, visit Hotomobil USA website at  Click here to request more information about the Hotomobil Campers.


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