Burk: We use wood and aluminum framing in the 86FB. There’s wood stuffed aluminum in certain areas. We’re also using composites which drive the weight down and the strength up. It’s a hybrid approach where we put the right materials in the right place.
We are still using our Tru-Composite laminated construction. We use aluminum framing in areas where we think we should for strength and weight. We also use strips of steel in walls, ceilings, and floors for additional strength when attaching cabinetry.
There’s another facet that needs to be discussed here, value. We look at the parts and material list for a camper and work to drive down our costs. Labor hours are another critical area where we can drive down costs to produce a camper that’s more in line with consumer expectations. As an industry, we need to move the price of truck campers to be more in line with the price of travel trailers. Without being price proximate with other similar RV types, often times we lose an opportunity to demonstrate the value a truck camper offers.
Dave: Each material we use has a specific application. The wood allows for superior mechanical fastening, the aluminum is light weight, and the composites are very light weight. We know these materials and their properties and put the best material in the best spot. We also have to look at where the loads and stresses are. With the 86FB, we don’t have the stress of a slide-out, so we can design it accordingly. It was all driven on what material fit the bill the best.
TCM: Were there any surprises during the design and construction of the Adventurer 86FB?
Dave: Every process has surprises. This one went pretty cleanly. We had a solid model to start with and knew what floor plan we wanted. We always have challenges to make sure we are code compliant. This camper went through straight to production without an issue.
TCM: Other than the floor plan, what distinguishes the 86FB from the Adventurer 810WS?
Burk: For the past few weeks, I’ve been selling all of our floor plans side-by-side at RV shows. All of them feature different price points and attract different buyers. It really comes down to floor plan preferences. For example, the 86FB has a forward bath and the 810WS has a rear bath. The 810WS has a traditional U-shape dinette where the 86FB has a facing booth style dinette. That’s why those two campers can co-exist in our camper line.
It also comes down to the size of the holding tanks. In the Adventurer 86FB, you have 38 gallon fresh, 31 gallon grey, and 31 gallon black tanks. The 810WS has 34 gallon fresh, 24 gallon grey, and 18 gallon black. Obviously, the new 86FB is a real improvement in tank capacities.
For weight, the base 810WS is about 130 pounds heavier than the 86FB, but it’s also 4” longer. Both campers continue to sell very well.
TCM: Does the 86FB feature the exterior service center that is also designed into the new 980RDS?
Burk: Yes, there is an exterior service center in the Adventurer 86FB. It’s a little different in configuration and a little smaller in size. The service center in the 86FB has an outside shower, the fresh water fill, city water connection, and a 110-volt cord that’s permanently attached.
The 86FB also has a dual side-by-side battery compartment instead of a front-to-back compartment on a slide-out tray. The batteries are now much easier to access and take up less space on the inside of the camper, which gives you more interior storage.
TCM: Can you get the Comfort Step bumper on the Adventurer 86FB?
Burk: The Comfort Step is available for the 86FB as an option. We left it as an option because some people want to tow and won’t want the longer hitch extension that would be necessary with the Comfort Step.
Another improvement with the 86FB is the access to the optional exterior propane Bar-B-Que quick disconnect. It’s mounted at chest level for easier access and is less susceptible to being coated with road grime than when it is mounted low near the rear of the camper. The 86FB also has heated basement storage, even though the basement is a bit narrower from top to bottom than other models.
TCM: Tell us about the 12-volt awning shown in the photographs.
Burk: The Adventurer 86FB has an optional 12-volt power awning. It’s currently the only camper in production from any manufacturer that has this option. To roll out the awning, you push a button. You don’t have to fiddle around with a handle, reach up to grab a strap, yank something out, and adjust the legs. It’s all automatic.
The awning also features a rain dump using gas struts. On a normal pull out awning, if you leave your rear awning open in the rain, the fabric will drop and fill with water. With the 12 volt awing, the water will get to a particular point where the side will collapse, dump the water, and go back into shape.