Hallmark RV debuts the Nevada side entry flatbed, a new and updated version of their flagship 8.5-foot pop-up truck camper for full-size trucks. Don’t miss the Tern Overland windows and stunning new interior.
If we’ve heard it once we’ve heard it a thousand times; truck camper enthusiasts extolling the obvious advantages of flatbed truck campers, and wondering why the camper industry doesn’t pursue this obvious choice, full stop.
Hallmark RV did just that in 2018 when they debuted the Hallmark Nevada Flatbed. The rear entry camper took everything Hallmark has learned since its groovy founding in 1969, and created one of the most impressive pop-up campers ever to roll around the earth. Right on.
And yet, the petulant pop-up camper peanut gallery still wasn’t satisfied. “Why don’t they just make a side-door full-size flatbed pop-up truck camper? That would be better for towing. And it would look totally rad!”
Now all of that is true, but it’s not that easy. First, Hallmark utilizes fiberglass molds for their exteriors. Fiberglass molds don’t come cheap, nor are they a finger-and-thumb-snap to design and manufacture. Second, moving the doorway would necessitate redesigning the floor plan, cabinetry, plumbing, electrical lines and more. Not to mention the prototype and testing bit.
Fortunately for all of us, the Hallmarkians found a very clever way forward. They blanked the Nevada molds.
They blanked… oh, never mind. They removed the features in the Nevada’s molds designed to accept the door, windows, and other items creating flat side and rear walls. With flat walls, they can cut in the door, windows, and whatever they please where ever they want. Want a rear entry door version? They cut the door in the rear. Want a side-entry version? They cut the door into the side. Simply brilliant.
This wall blanking has other benefits, like being able to move the location of windows, or use different windows, or different size windows. All of these benefits are on full display in the Nevada side entry.
Naturally, that’s not the whole story behind the Nevada Side Entry Flatbed. To get the details, we talked to Matt Ward of Hallmark RV.
Hallmark Nevada 8.5 Side-Entry Specifications:
The 2022 Hallmark Nevada 8.5 is a pop-up, wet bath truck camper with a side entry made for long flatbed trucks. The interior floor length of the Hallmark Nevada 8.5 is 107-inches, the interior height is 6.5-feet, and the center of gravity is 32-inches.
The Hallmark Nevada 8.5 side entry has one 37-gallon fresh tank, no grey capacity, a 4.75-gallon black tank, and a 4-gallon water heater. It can accommodate three batteries and two 20-pound propane tanks.
Hallmark is reporting the base weight of the 2022 Hallmark Nevada 8.5 to be 2,400-2,600 pounds wet depending on options. The base MSRP for the Hallmark Nevada 8.5 is $62,995. Click to get more information about the Hallmark Nevada and request a free Hallmark brochure.
Where did the concept for the side-entry Hallmark Nevada come from?
The flatbed pop-up camper market started heating up a few years ago. Flatbed models are nowhere near as popular as slide-in campers, but they have definitely taken off. Customers want the increased interior space and storage a flatbed approach provides.
Our first flatbed model was the rear-entry Nevada, but demand for side-entry floor plans has been growing. I was also interested in a side-entry model, drew up the required plans, and pushed the project forward.
Do you see the rear-entry and side-entry Nevadas becoming significant sellers for Hallmark, or are they more of a niche product?
I think our flatbed models will remain a niche, and the side-entry will be a smaller subset of that niche. I like the side-entry floor plan a lot. It feels bigger inside; like a studio apartment.
On the other hand, the rear-entry Nevada floor plan is a better use of space and allows for a larger refrigerator, larger holding tanks, more batteries, and propane. The side-entry requires an “L” in the floor plan. That takes away opportunities for plumbing, tanks, and a larger refrigerator.
So what’s the rationale for the side-entry model?
If you’re going to tow, a side-entry makes more sense. Instead of climbing around your trailer, boat, or Jeep, you can directly enter the side door.
Hallmark campers have always been non-basement designs. Are the Nevada models also non-basement?
Yes, they’re both still non-basement campers. Years ago we designed a basement camper prototype, but we didn’t like how it raised the center of gravity. Flatbed trucks also raise the center of gravity, so a flatbed basement model would be even higher. That’s not a direction we want to go in.
When we designed the Nevada, we actually lowered the front cabover nose and made it twice as thick. This avoids the gap you sometimes see between a flatbed truck cab and camper cabover. It looks aesthetically better.
“I like the side-entry floor plan a lot. It feels bigger inside; like a studio apartment.”
What trucks are the Nevada models designed for?
One-ton full-size trucks. We’ve had customers mount them on three-quarter tons, but we don’t recommend it. The payload numbers may work out, but the coil springs on three-quarter tons aren’t ideal.
The main challenge with flatbed rigs is the bed’s height. One might assume that flatbed heights are all identical, but they are all over the place. Even with an aluminum Hillsboro 2000 (a popular flatbed), the installer in Colorado might mount it differently than an installer in Kansas or Montana. I regularly warn customers to be vigilant about how their flatbeds are mounted.
What advice do you have so that a customer doesn’t wind up with a flatbed mounting issue?
If possible, call us before starting down a flatbed path. I have measurements for what works well. For example, we like a 36-inch deck height. That’s measuring down from the top of the cab.
We’re also in the process of working with a local flatbed company that we hope to recommend. The work I’ve seen is impressive, but we are still evaluating them at this time. Ideally, we would have a local Colorado vendor that our customers could use. That’s where we’re headed.
Above: Matt’s original graph paper floor plan for the Hallmark Nevada side entry model.
That makes sense. Is the side-entry Nevada basically an adapted version of the rear entry Nevada?
Yes. I drew up the floor plan on graph paper, taped it off on our showroom’s floor, and built a mock-up with framing, cabinets, and the works. Then we played with the design until it was right.
The trick to designing a new Hallmark is starting with our lift system. Our lift system is proven and wonderful, but it has some design restrictions. Once that’s resolved, the final camper is usually a quarter-inch to a half-inch from my graph paper drawing.
It’s fascinating how camper design is often built around a single feature. In hard side campers, it’s usually the refrigerator. What did you use for framing for the side-entry Nevada?
I used our preferred wood framing and molded composite walls. We still offer aluminum and composite framing, but 90-percent of the time I recommend wood.
Wood frames are superior to aluminum and composite frames for thermal transfer, screw holding, and flexing. The idea that aluminum or composite is lighter than wood is a sales pitch. Inch for inch, wood framing is lighter. And if you want a frame that’s as strong as a wood frame, you need thicker aluminum. There’s really no gain.
What about customers who are concerned about wood rot?
That is why we don’t use aluminum or fiberglass skins. Our composite walls keep the water out.
We build the flatbed Nevada models the same way we build our slide-in campers. We use the same construction approach because our campers are proven. We want to keep the strength and reliability that Hallmark is known for.
The windows on the side-entry Nevada are different than what Hallmark has typically used. What are they?
They’re Tern Overland acrylic insulated windows. We blanked our Nevada mold to allow us to cut in the door and windows anywhere we want. It’s a blank sheet.
Previously the molds had pre-designated locations for the door and windows. We’re actually in the process of blanking our other molds to allow us similar flexibility. We also offer our traditional glass windows.
The side-entry door looks extraordinary. Where is that from?
It’s a Tern Overland Wildlands door. We’ve had a number of customers ask us about this door and we thought the side-entry model would be a great place to try it.
I don’t want to discount it, but we’re still evaluating the Wildlands door. The screen system is amazing, but the insulation is minimal. The door is only about 1/8-inch thick. We’ve also had some challenges with the locking mechanism. At first, the Wildlands seemed robust, but it’s too complicated and fragile. For now, we prefer our proven Dexter door.
Complicated and fragile aren’t exactly big selling features in the truck camper and overland communities. What step system are you using for the side-entry Nevada?
Torklift International worked with us to develop an 18-inch wide version of their GlowStep system. The GlowStep system stays inside the entry door when traveling, or you can put it into one of the truck boxes on your flatbed. That’s another reason we wanted 18-inch steps. They fit into a truck box.
Did you need to make a new roof mold for the Nevada side-entry?
The Nevada uses the same one-piece molded fiberglass roof as our Ute and Everest (for an East-West bed) or Cuchara (for a North-South bed).
Our roof is the most important part of our camper. We use directional fiberglass, not chopper gun fiberglass. Directional fiberglass is more like shirt fabric with a grid pattern. It provides strength and requires less material, so it’s lighter in weight.
Our roof molds also contain elevated features for vent holes and rack systems, and to prevent water from pooling. As one-piece, there are no seals to maintain.
What is a Hallmark underside made from?
We use a 1/2-inch marine plywood deck, 3/4-inch insulation, and a cap of Azdel composite, but our campers don’t sit on the Azdel. On the bottom, we add a sacrificial build of 3/4-inch treated lumber. That way the camper is never sitting in a pool of water in your truck bed. The sacrificial build also allows us to adjust the camper’s height to fit different trucks.
The sacrificial build makes a lot of sense. What’s in the compartments on the exterior of the side-entry Nevada?
That’s actually a hinge-down composite table on the passenger’s side. I like the idea of being able to set things down like cooktops or tools. It’s a great option.
The compartment on the rear of the camper is for the cassette toilet system. And the two compartments on the driver’s side are for two 20-pound propane tanks and refrigerator access.
What pop-up lift mechanism are you using in the Hallmark Nevada?
We are using our Super Manual lift system. It’s like our discontinued electric lift system, but without the electric motor. Instead of using a built-in electric motor, customers use a portable electric drill to raise their roof. It’s quick and efficient and avoids the issue of an electric motor failing after a decade of use.
If your drill wears out, you can buy another one at a hardware store. Our Super Manual lift system can also work with a traditional hand crank. In an emergency, you can always get your roof up or down.
That’s key for Hallmark owners who camp far from the reaches of civilization. Have you made any changes to your soft wall materials or construction?
We’re still building one of the best soft walls on the market with three layers and a fourth stitching layer. The first exterior layer is Image Tech with a very high thread count. Then there’s a layer of closed-cell foam insulation. Then, there’s a third inner layer of Image Tech. Anywhere there’s stitching we add a layer of cotton backing for strength and wicking.
The interior design of the side-entry Hallmark Nevada is truly stunning. Who designed the interior?
The stainless steel behind the kitchen wall is in all Hallmarks. The rest of the design was done by my wife, Molly. We had a lot of positive feedback on the interior design at the Overland Expo.
Bamboo is one of our main staples. It’s strong and wears well. The grey cabinets are made from the same high-pressure laminate you’ll find in modern high-end homes and $1.5-million Earthroamers. It’s well made, easy to clean, and doesn’t need to be sealed. The grey walls are a different laminate that is better suited for flexing. The flooring is rubber coined. It’s extremely tough, looks good, and comes in black, grey, and brown.
Could someone order the “Molly Edition” and get this interior?
Yes, absolutely. We do offer a few interior options. For the same price, we can do light and dark bamboo, grey and white high-pressure laminates, and a few fabric color options. Beyond that, we may need to charge more.
Is the bathroom standard or optional in the Nevada units?
A bathroom is standard with a shower stall. I was able to use the same bathroom from the rear entry Nevada in the side-entry floor plan.
I had to make a few adjustments, but it worked out well.
What make and model of cassette toilet system are you using for the Nevada?
It’s a Thetford C200 with a 5-gallon cassette.
Can a customer opt for a traditional RV toilet or a composting toilet?
We can build a traditional black tank on a rear-entry Nevada, but the side-entry requires a cassette. There’s no room for a holding tank.
As for composting toilets, we’ve been installing them for a long time. I try to talk people out of them for a wet bath install. Composting toilets need to stay dry or they don’t really work. If you want a composting toilet, I recommend not having a shower.
If we opened the various lower cabinets, would we find storage or are there components behind any of the doors?
The upper cabinets are open storage areas. Down below there is less storage because of the propane space, water heater, and plumbing.
As a flatbed, components that were up higher are now lower, but they still consume space. Then again, moving the components lower does help with the center of gravity.
What refrigerator comes standard in the side-entry Nevada?
We use two makes and models; Nova Cool R4500 and IsoTherm Cruise 130. With the current supply shortages, it often comes down to what we can get.
Both units are 12-volt compressor models. Unless a customer forgoes the bathroom, we can’t fit a larger refrigerator in the side entry units.
What heating system are you using in the side-entry Nevada?
Hallmark has transferred to Truma VarioHeat heating systems across the board. They are now standard. If you prefer a Dometic Mojave, that is also available.
What’s in the step-up area to the cabover?
That’s the battery compartment. There’s room for up to 300 Ah of lithium batteries. The Nevada comes standard with 200 Ah AGM batteries. I let the customers decide what they prefer.
What brand of lithium batteries do you prefer?
I like LiFeBlue low temperature heated lithium batteries.
Above: Note the under bed storage area in the cabover
The cabover features Hallmark’s signature fiberglass under-bed storage area. Is there anything else about the cabover that’s unique?
By lowering and thickening the cabover nose we added more headroom. You can get even more height if you choose the 3-inch versus the 5-inch mattress. I personally prefer the 5-inch mattress, but it’s an option if cabover height is important.
We get asked about cabover height now and then. What’s the height of the cabover with the 3-inch or 5-inch mattresses?
It’s 31-inches for the 3-inch mattress and 29-inches for the 5-inch mattress.
We see the Lagun table leg system in use for the two-top dinette. Does the dinette make into a bed?
Yes, it does. The tabletop becomes the insert for the dinette bed.
We use the Lagun as our go-to table system of choice, but we also offer a push-down strut-style system and traditional pedestal systems.
What size is the fresh tank in the side-entry Nevada?
There’s a 37-gallon fresh tank in the side-entry Nevada. In the rear entry Nevada, we can fit two 24-gallon tanks for a total of 48-gallons. The rear entry can also fit a 14-gallon shower grey tank and a 12-gallon kitchen grey tank. We could squeeze in a small grey tank in the kitchen for the side-entry model, but we’re very limited. What we recommend for side-entry Nevada customers is to build a grey tank into the flatbed.
That’s an interesting solution. Is an air conditioner available for the side-entry Nevada?
Yes. We offer air conditioners for all of our campers. We can use a Mach 8, but supply for that model is getting harder to find. We are awaiting delivery of the new Truma air conditioner. We’re also interested in the new Dometic DC air conditioner.
What does the side-entry Hallmark Nevada weigh with standard build features?
The wet weight with water, batteries, and propane is between 2,400 and 2,600 pounds, depending on options. With optional awnings, roof rack system, extra lights, gas can mounts, bike mounts it can get to that 2,600-pound wet weight number. Without those options, much closer to 2,400-pounds wet.
Where is the center of gravity on the side-entry Nevada?
The center of gravity is 32-inches measured back from the front wall. There’s really nothing in the back of the camper, and it’s a long bed design. Almost everything including the fresh tank, batteries, and refrigerator is forward.
What is the MSRP for the 2022 Hallmark Nevada with standard build features?
As shown in the photos, it’s $62,995.
What is the warranty for the 2022 Hallmark Nevada?
All Hallmarks have a five-year structural warranty. The components have their own warranties.
When will the 2022 Hallmark Nevada side-entry be available?
We’re taking orders now. I’m not ready to let this particular camper go as we need something in our showroom and for the upcoming Overland Expo West in Flagstaff, Arizona later this month.
What’s the current lead time for a Hallmark order?
If you order a camper today, it’s a 12-14 month wait. To order a camper, just call us at 303-659-5572 or email us at [email protected].
Come see the Hallmark Nevada side entry at Overland Expo West in Flagstaff, Arizona from September 24 – 26, 2021.
Is there anything about the 2022 Hallmark Nevada side-entry that you would like to add?
Flatbeds are a whole new animal. Assembling a flatbed truck and camper is a commitment. With a traditional slide-in, you can buy a truck, buy a camper, and go. Flatbed rigs need to be carefully planned and executed to successfully come together.
It all hinges on the flatbed design, and who installs it. Flatbeds are incredible, but you need to commit to the process and take it seriously. Make sure you get the right flatbed and have it installed correctly with the proper mounting hardware.
We’re here to help you with that process, and we recommend calling us before purchasing a truck or flatbed. We have local flatbed installers that we are vetting that should make the process much easier, so make sure you contact us.
“We’re here to help you with that process, and we recommend calling us before purchasing a truck or flatbed.”
Are there any other new model announcements coming from Hallmark Camper in 2021?
There is another new Hallmark model in the pipeline. The Victor is an old Hallmark model designed back in the 1960s. The current Guanella was actually based on the Victor.
We’re bringing back the Victor’s front dinette floor plan, adding Tern Overland windows, a Redarc Manager 30, and a number of other important upgrades. The floor is already built, so the Victor is on its way to a return.
For more information about Hallmark Campers visit their website at hallmarkrv.com. Click here to request more information about Hallmark’s flatbed campers.