Factory Tours

Soaring Eagle Campers Factory Tour

Truck Camper Magazine lands at the Soaring Eagle factory in Wakarusa, Indiana to experience how their welded aluminum and composite campers are made. Here’s how you build a truck camper structure without a stick of wood. Not a splinter!

Soaring Eagle Campers Factory Tour

In April of 2023, Soaring Eagle launched in Truck Camper Magazine with a laser focus on lightweight and affordable hard side and pop-up truck campers. Targeting both half-ton trucks and first-time buyers, Soaring Eagle aimed to put units on dealer lots at price and weight points rarely seen.

After the announcement, we explored Soaring Eagle Campers at Princess Craft RV in Round Rock, Texas. That experience egged our interest in visiting the Soaring Eagle factory and meeting the team behind these unique campers. Spending time at a factory is the only true way to learn about a build process and absorb the culture that makes a company and its campers what they are. Want to really know a bird? You have to visit the nest.

As is our shop squatting custom, we pulled into Soaring Eagle Campers, parked our rig, walked into the factory, asked endless questions, took tons of pictures, and attempted not to cause too much of a flap for two days. That’s who we are. That’s what we do. Put your seats back and tray tables away. Let’s dig in.

Soaring Eagle Factory Exterior Campers 1

There’s something awesome about completed and ready-to-ship truck campers lined up outside a factory. After all, here are the final results of the team’s design vision and production efforts, awaiting transport to dealers and fellow truck campers across the continent. Another dozen units were behind me when I took this photo totaling a couple dozen Soaring Eagles prepped for takeoff.

Shortly after the first runs of Soaring Eagle Adlar units, the company debuted a platinum grey fiberglass exterior and monotone Soaring Eagle logo and mountain graphics (shown above). The look is decidedly more subtle and modern, and gives customers a choice other than white.

Soaring Eagle Factory Welded Frames 6

Inside the building on the opposite end of the camper yard is where units begin at Soaring Eagle. Here, on multi-level industrial shelving, we discovered the welded tubular aluminum framing that’s at the core of everything Soaring Eagle manufactures.

Soaring Eagle Factory Welded Frames 3

The welded aluminum sidewall, floor, and roof frames are made by L&W Engineering in Middlebury, Indiana; approximately 21 miles from Soaring Eagle. By outsourcing the framing to a local vendor, Soaring Eagle can dedicate more of its factory and crew to the production line.

Soaring Eagle Factory Welded Frames 1

Soaring Eagle’s welded tubular aluminum frames are based on a decade and a half of experience and evolution at Livin’ Lite. Founded in 2003, Livin’ Lite was a camper manufacturer based on this exact same Wakarusa, Indiana campus and a leading pioneer of all-aluminum and composite RV construction.

Livin’ Lite was acquired by Thor Industries in 2013 and put out to pasture in 2018. With Soaring Eagle, the core leadership and production team behind Livin’ Lite has brought back their signature all-aluminum and composite campers without missing a beat.

Evidence of the immensely successful Livin’ Lite history and manufacturing acumen are everywhere at Soaring Eagle. For example, note the frame-to-frame uniformity, aluminum front nose curve, corner gussets, cross braces, and use of different aluminum extrusions for strength and/or weight savings. Livin’ Lite camper frames had many of these attributes, but Soaring Eagle frames represent a significant step forward.

Soaring Eagle Factory Welded Frames 2

The Soaring Eagle OV-X pop-up sidewall frames are based on the same methodology as the Adlar frames, but utilize thicker aluminum extrusions to achieve the required strength for the pop-up topper.

Soaring Eagle Factory Foam Core Table Counter Tops

The focus on striking a keen balance between strength and weight is found throughout the Soaring Eagle factory. Here we see cross sections of Soaring Eagle’s laminated foam core table tops. These are remarkably light in the hands. They’re also quite strong due to their laminated construction.

The dinette table top in our own camper is made from MDF (medium density fiberboard) and easily weighs twice or maybe even three times what these tables weigh. It’s an unmistakable difference.

Soaring Eagle Factory OVX Lower Shell Completion 1

Soaring Eagle Adlar hard sides and OV-X pop-up campers are made on opposite sides of the Soaring Eagle factory by dedicated teams. The Adlar has a more traditional multi-station production line with one or two people at each station. The OV-X has a smaller team of three and requires only two stations. Between the two camper production lines are materials and equipment shared by both teams.

In the photo above, Terry Waller installs the Rieco-Titan jack brackets on an upside-down OV-X. Camper production often starts upside down for access to lower facets and components before being turned right side up to complete the manufacturing process.

Soaring Eagle Factory OVX Lower Shell Completion 2

While Terry installed the jack brackets, Trent Wogomon installed the black diamond plate to the underside of the cabover. Again, this step is easier to accomplish with the camper upside down.

The blue film helps to protect the exterior aluminum during manufacturing. Eliminating accidental blemishes from the manufacturing process is a challenge we see at every camper factory we visit.

Soaring Eagle Factory OVX Lower Shell Completion 3

Soaring Eagle offers a removable jack option that, as the same implies, allows you to easily and quickly remove your Rieco-Titan manual jacks and either store them at home or in your rig. Removing the jacks allows for better off-road performance, improved departure angles, and better fuel mileage.

Soaring Eagle Factory OVX 3M VHB 1

Soaring Eagle employs 3M VHB Commercial Vehicle tape to adhere the OV-X interior composite wall board to the welded aluminum frame. 3M VHB is a widely used, high-strength, double-sided, acrylic foam tape that fastens to aluminum, steel, glass, plastics, and even painted and power-coated surfaces.

Outside of RV manufacturing, 3M VHB tape is used in a myriad of applications including public transportation (bus manufacturing), construction (high-rise building exterior panels), electronics (your phone), and appliances (washing machines). Chances are, there’s a lot of 3M’s remarkable VHB tape in your life.

Soaring Eagle Factory OVX 3M VHB 2

Over the years we’ve seen a number of camper and RV factories employing 3M VHB for its unique qualities. Especially important for truck campers, 3M VHB tape eliminates the need for screws, is weather, heat, and cold resistant, and is FDA approved for indirect food contact. After all, humans will be camping in these campers.

Above, Trent is installing the interior Azdel composite panels with the 3M VHB tape. This interior composite panel completes the aluminum exterior skin, welded aluminum frame, and closed-cell foam insulation of the OV-X lower shell.

Soaring Eagle Factory OVX Roof 3

Once the OV-X lower half was completed, the team put the final touches on an OV-X aluminum and composite roof. In the image above, Scott Newcomer installs a roof vent. After the roof vent is screwed down, self-leveling sealant will be applied.

Soaring Eagle Factory OVX Roof 2

Next Scott and Trent installed the OV-X soft wall to the perimeter of the roof. This was somewhat akin to putting on a fitted bed sheet; the soft wall material had to be precisely oriented and carefully aligned.

Soaring Eagle Factory OVX Roof 1

Once the soft wall was installed, the team added the aluminum roof trim. This trim is designed to not only protect the edges and corners of the roof, but also help guide rain away from the soft wall material and camper. You will also note an upside down 200-watt solar panel (center right above) that will be wired and installed on the OV-X roof.

Soaring Eagle Factory OVX Soft Wall Install 2

When the top side of the OV-X roof was completed, the roof was picked up with a Vermett Lift allowing the OV-X team to inspect and work on the underside interior of the roof. Above right, Trent is installing the interior trim on a roof vent.

Soaring Eagle Factory OVX Soft Wall Install 3

The roof was then rolled over its matching lower half and maneuvered into position. With the camper raised on its Rieco-Titan jacks, the legs of the Vermett Lift can roll underneath the lower half and safely hold the roof in the right location.

Soaring Eagle Factory OVX Soft Wall Install 4

Getting the soft wall perfectly aligned took a few adjustments.

Soaring Eagle Factory OVX Soft Wall Install 5

Trent and Scott installed and then verified the alignment and function of the lift system before securing the soft wall to the lower half. Soaring Eagle Campers uses a proprietary tubular aluminum lift mechanism with exterior gas struts to assist the process of lifting and lowering. This lift system not only serves as the method the roof is lifted and lowered, but also provides the structural attachment points that connect the roof and lower shell.

Soaring Eagle Factory Installing Side Walls

On the opposite side of the building from the OV-X production area is the Adlar hard side production line.

In the above image, Martin Sarabia Garcia is installing a sidewall aluminum frame and Azdel composite interior panels for an Adlar 6.5. The aluminum floor, front wall, side walls, rear wall, and roof are screwed together to create the camper form. The assembled frames are then welded to each other for strength and durability.

Soaring Eagle Factory Closed Cell Foam 2

Between the OV-X and Adlar production lines is a table saw dedicated to cutting closed-cell foam for both camper products. Using a table saw, the closed cell foam can be cut precisely to pressure fit between the aluminum framing.

Soaring Eagle Factory Closed Cell Foam 3

Roof assembly and wiring are also located between the two production areas. In this image, Joe Parkhurst is using a vertical jig to lay up an aluminum and composite roof, pressure fit the closed-cell foam insulation, and install the wiring for lights and fans.

Soaring Eagle Factory Closed Cell Foam 1

Back on the Adlar line, Martin was pressure-fitting the closed-cell foam insulation into every square and rectangular frame space. The closed cell foam fits so tight that Martin sometimes needed to trim it a hair or give it a swift whack to seat it in place. This is exactly what you want to see for air-tight insulation.

Soaring Eagle Factory Welding 4

With the closed cell foam insulation installed, the next step is to weld the aluminum back wall, front wall, side walls, wing walls, and roof frames together. This process completes the welded aluminum cage Soaring Eagle is known for and creates some of the strongest truck camper structures in the business.

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Soaring Eagle Factory Welding 1
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Soaring Eagle Factory Welding 2
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Soaring Eagle Factory Welding 5

Behind the welding helmet is Brock Tuttle. What amazed me about Brock’s work is that the aluminum frames could be welded standing up, and that doing so didn’t burn the closed cell foam or Azdel composite panels. This was a testament to Brock’s skill and physical flexibility as he struck many a pose to steady himself and his welding.

Soaring Eagle Factory Roof Adhesive 2

Like the front, side, and rear walls, the aluminum welded Adlar roofs are also pressure fit with closed cell foam insulation. Here, Martin is applying adhesive to the aluminum roof framing in preparation for installing the one-piece fiberglass roof skin.

Soaring Eagle Factory Install Window

With the Adlar aluminum frame and shell completed, the windows and interior are installed at the next station. Soaring Eagle uses time-tested and proven single-pane glass windows. In the above photo, Troy Andrews has placed the window into the window opening from the outside. Then Kevin Coblentz positions the window trim of the camper and screws the window tight to the camper structure from the inside out. This is how glass windows have been installed in RVs and campers for decades.

Soaring Eagle Prototype Factory

Above: Terry and Gordon taking a look at the first Adlar 6.5XLS

Ideally, I would have photographed Soaring Eagle interiors being installed, but the interior team was working on a prototype and the limited space inside that unit was definitely tight for pictures. This is part of the reality of visiting factories when our schedule and theirs align. As Mic Jagger reminds us, you can’t always get what you want.

Soaring Eagle Factory Trim Work 1

Tyler Bradshaw is the trim expert at Soaring Eagle. This is painstaking and detail-oriented work that requires a painstaking and detail-oriented team member.

Soaring Eagle Factory Trim Work 2

The aluminum trim comes in standard lengths that need to be cut and fit to the campers. Most of these cuts are routine lengths, but there can be small variations between campers that require the aforementioned eye for detail. Sometimes a section of trim itself needs a bit of trimming to get the fit and finish perfect.

Soaring Eagle Factory Trim Work 3

The cut aluminum trim is sharp – note Tyler’s gloves – and requires a balance of technical skill and artistry to set properly. Tyler was in-the-zone and focused on his work.

Soaring Eagle Factory Sealant

After Tyler completed the trim work, Kristin Cipov applied silicone sealant. Even though the entire exterior, frame, and structure are aluminum and composite, Soaring Eagle Campers still need to be sealed to keep out the elements.

The big difference with the all-aluminum and composite approach is how a Soaring Eagle Camper should stand up to the test of time. Imagine finding a 2024 Soaring Eagle in 2055 being used as Uncle Bob’s chicken coup. That 31-year-old camper could be hosed out, cleaned up, resealed, and used as a truck camper again. That’s the ‘multi-generation’ material and build quality that started with Livin’ Lite, and continues today with Soaring Eagle Campers.

Soaring Eagle Factory Line Moving

Towards the end of our visit, we watched the team move a nearly completed unit to the end of the production line. The next day the camper would get its clearance lights, exterior graphics, and interior components installed. After that, it’s on to final finishing, quality control inspections, and out to the camper yard.

Soaring Eagle Factory Exterior Moving Units 2

Speaking of finished campers, this Adlar 6.5 was ready to go.

Soaring Eagle Factory Exterior Moving Units 1

Behind the forklift wheel is Troy Andrews. We were excited to see all three Soaring Eagle Partners – Scott Tuttle, Scott Bradshaw, and Troy Andrews – on-site and hands-on every day.

Scott Bradshaw and Troy Andrews are often found in the factory working with the production team. Scott Tuttle works in an adjacent building on marketing and sales. All three were on the Soaring Eagle production line several times a day talking with the team and working on various product and efficiency improvements.

Soaring Eagle Camper Factory Group Shot

You can’t really see it in the photo, but it was starting to rain when we gathered up the Soaring Eagle crew for a group shot. Another thing you can’t see is the relaxed camaraderie of this team. Many of them worked together at Livin’ Lite and have known each other for decades. That creates an atmosphere of trust and friendship that was on full display during our two days at Soaring Eagle. I’m sure it’s not that way all day every day, but it sure helps when you have a team that understands the mission and works together well.

More Soaring Announcements Ahead

Every factory tour experience is different. Some leadership teams let us in the door, point us to the factory floor, and let us do our thing. Others sit us down and pick our brains about industry and marketplace trends before setting us loose. A few rush us through everything in a day, while others practically invite us to set up camp, pick up tools, and get to work.

Scott, Scott, and Troy – three of the Partners of Soaring Eagle Campers – took another route. After showing us the factory and letting us do our magazine thing, they each approached us at different times asking us specific questions about their campers and future projects they were working on. What was most refreshing was the spirit in which these questions were asked. This leadership team is truly focused on making their campers better, and giving the truck camper community what they want and need in an affordable, lightweight camper. They’re in business to do well, but they’re determined to have fun and make one heck of a truck camper while doing it.

On that note, I can say without reservation that Soaring Eagle has some interesting projects in development. I’m not at liberty to explain what these projects are, but you can look forward to some exciting announcements from Wakarusa, Indiana – perhaps sooner than later.

For more information on Soaring Eagle Campers, visit their website at soaringeaglecampers.com. Click here to request a free Soaring Eagle brochure.


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