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Northstar American Hero Flatbed Truck Camper

Northstar Campers debuts the first production full-size flatbed truck camper.  Look out wheel wells!  Here comes the Northstar American Hero flatbed camper.

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If American soul music singer Edwin Starr had been a truck camper, perhaps his #1 1970 Motown hit, ‘War’ would have had slightly different lyrics…

“Wheel wells – huh, yeah!  What are they good for?  Absolutely nothing!”

Rex Willett, Vice President of Northstar Campers, would probably agree.  Two years ago, Northstar debuted the Escape Pod, a fully self-contained flatbed truck camper designed specifically for the Chevrolet Colorado with an aluminum Ute flatbed.

We were at Louisville in 2008 when this brand new concept met the RV industry.  Rex brought the Escape Pod and a Colorado to the show and raised interest and eyebrows for three days straight.  Unfortunately, the Escape Pod was making it’s debut in the middle of the worst recession any of us had ever seen.  Maybe the Escape Pod was ahead of it’s time.  Perhaps it was just not the right time.  Whatever the case may be, the Escape Pod did not sell as well as Rex had hoped, at least not in the United States.

Australia is a whole different story.  Down under the Escape Pod had been a hit for many years and sold like pancakes straight through the recession.  We even featured a 2008 Escape Pod exploring the Blue Mountains of New South Wales, Australia in our 2009 Truck Camper Magazine Calendar.  In fact, it was the run away success of the Escape Pod in Australia that spurred Rex to debut the camper here in the United States.  If it was good enough for Oz, shouldn’t it be good enough for US?

Recession aside, the domestic feedback Rex received on the Escape Pod was clear.  People loved the concept of a flatbed, but Americans wanted a bigger camper on a bigger truck.  Through the recession, Rex gathered notes, drew on napkins, and made plans for what we’re debuting today.  Two years in the making, here’s what Rex believes you’ve been asking for.  Meet the American Hero.

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2011 Northstar American Hero Specifications

The 2011 Northstar American Hero flatbed is a hard side, non-slide, rear wet bath truck camper.  The interior floor length of the 2011 Northstar American Hero is 9’ and the interior height is 6’ 8”.  Northstar is reporting the dry weight of the camper at 2,460 pounds without options.  The tanks in the 2011 Northstar American Hero are 30 gallons fresh, 14 gallons gray, and 5 gallons black (cassette toilet).  The camper accommodates two batteries and two twenty-pound propane tanks.  The MSRP for the 2011 Northstar American Hero is $22,470.

The following is an interview with Rex Willett, President of Northstar Campers, on the Northstar American Hero.

TCM: Before we talk about the Northstar American Hero, let’s talk about the Escape Pod, Northstar’s first domestic flatbed camper.  What has Northstar learned from bringing the Escape Pod to market?

Rex: We learned rapidly that people liked the concept of the Escape Pod, but wanted a bigger version.  Customer call after customer call came to us asking, “Will you build us a bigger Escape Pod?”  Well, I don’t have to be asked too many times.  That’s the direction we are going.  Through our research and development, we arrived at something that’s wider than any other Northstar camper that we’ve ever produced, the American Hero.

TCM: When we were at the Northstar factory this past June, there was an Escape Pod 900 being framed.  Is the Escape Pod 900 related to the American Hero?

Rex: They are most definitely related.  The American Hero is blown up a little bit in size with a 7’10” width and a 6’8” interior height.  It has a taller side wall which allows for a larger refrigerator and more overhead storage in the cabover above the side windows.  The American Hero also has taller shower compartments.  There are a lot of tall people in the United States, in fact I’m talking to one right now.

We use Celotex R7 extruded foam insulation for the whole body of the American Hero.  In the roof, we have the Celotex fitted and then overlay AstroFoil, a reflective radiant foil insulation, before we deck the roof in 5/8” lite ply plywood.  We offer that on all our campers now.

Just a little while ago I had a customer clapping his hands and jumping up and down at the insulation factor of his new camper.  He was like a cheerleader who got exactly what he wanted.  It felt really good.  That’s the great thing about our product.  The customer can take it wherever they want to take it, hot or cold.

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TCM: Why do you believe the domestic market is finally ready for flatbed campers?

Rex: The US market is still in the learning phase with flat bed campers.  One of the biggest consumer misperceptions is that flatbeds are expensive.  With Ute Limited flat beds, you can get an aluminum flat bed at a very reasonable price.  You can even order one direct from a GM dealer.  Best of all, the Ute Limited aluminum flatbeds offer storage and side panels that are very easy to install and remove.

TCM: How would someone who’s interested in a Northstar flatbed camper find out what size flatbed they should get?

Rex: They need to contact us first.  There are flat bed makers everywhere.  I recently talked to a guy at a flatbed company called Dieselwerx in Washington.  He called me because two people who wanted flat bed Northstar campers had contacted him.

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