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Lance 855S – Slide-Out Camper For Short Bed Trucks

TCM talks to Gary Conley, National Sales Manger for Lance Campers, about the Lance 855S.  As he explains, the 855S is much more than just an 855 with a slide.

The new 2012 Lance 855S for short bed trucks

With some new campers, one look at the floor plan and you can see exactly why that camper is different, or exciting.  Other campers take a much closer look.  Some even require a feature for feature study or comparison of their capacities, storage, and weight.

The new 2012 Lance 855S fits this latter description.  At first blush, it appears like a minor revision of the Lance 861 it replaces.  The floor plan is nearly identical with a few changes to the wet bath design, sink and counter area, and over cab storage.  No big deal.

Why would Lance bother to redesign a successful camper like the Lance 861 and make such seemingly small refinements?  The answer, as you’re about to read, is two fold.  First, those small refinements are not as small as they seem.  Some are down right weighty.  And second, all those small changes add up to some important distinctions between the 861 and 855S.  Here’s a hint; one camper is longer than the other.

We also get off-topic a bit with Gary and dive into the latest on Lance’s continuing implementation of CNC technologies as well as their new Four Season Certification.  Does he tease us about a new camper for Louisville?  We can’t really tell, but we sure hope so!

Thank you to Lance Campers for supplying the photography for this article. In 2013 Truck Camper Magazine did a video with their Chevy 3500 and Lance 855S camper.

Lance 855S floor plan

2012 Lance 855S Specifications:

The 2012 Lance 855S is a hard-side, wet bath, single-slide truck camper.  The interior floor length of the 2012 Lance 855S is 8’11” and the interior height is 81”.  Lance is reporting the dry weight of the 2012 Lance 855S at 2,620 pounds with standard features.  The tanks in the 2012 Lance 855S are 30 gallons fresh, 20 gallons gray, and 25 gallons black.  The camper accommodates two batteries and two twenty-pound propane tanks.  The MSRP for the 2012 Lance 855S is $24,787.

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The following is an interview with Gary Conley, National Sales Manager for Lance Camper, about the 2012 Lance 855S.

TCM: Does the 855S replace any existing models in the Lance line-up?

Gary: It replaces our Lance 861.  We reduced the weight of the 855S while actually increasing the length of the camper by three inches.  The 855S is 8’11′ versus the 861 which was 8’8”.  Lengthening the camper while reducing the weight and not moving the center of gravity was a huge benefit.  Plus, we lengthened the dinette/bed from 64” to 72”.

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TCM: How much lighter is the 855S than the 861 it replaces?

Gary: We were able reduce the dry weight of the 855S by 450 pounds from the dry weight of the 861.  Reducing the weight of our campers has been our number one goal for close to three years.  Equipment for equipment, feature for feature, we believe the 855S is the lightest short bed slide-out model on the market.

TCM: 450 pounds is a dramatic amount of weight to pull out of a camper.  Exactly how did you get the 855S to be 450 pounds less than the 861?

Gary: Every cabinet and partition wall in the 855S has been built with our Lite ply.  Lite ply is more expensive than conventional RV construction materials, but the weight reduction can be as much as a third.  The cabinet doors in the 855S are the same, but the cabinet material and construction has changed to remove a lot of weight.

Some of our Lance Lock extrusions have also been redesigned to reduce weight.  Additionally, we are using Azdel sub-straight in our exterior walls which saves up to forty pounds per wall, based on the length of camper.  As a thermoplastic composite, Azdel eliminates wood, adds R-value of R-2, will not rot or mold, uses no Formaldehyde, and is made in the USA.

TCM: How is Lance compensating for additional material costs?

Gary: Our margins are less to produce a product that is both lighter weight and price competitive.  To save more weight, we are importing some key components, like Norcold refrigerators, which increases our costs again.  Saving weight is not cheap.  With the increased volume from our travel trailer line, some of our material and component prices should eventually come down.

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