Northern Lite surprises even Truck Camper Magazine with two new versions of their 9-6 and 8-11 molded fiberglass truck campers. Introducing the Sportsman Editions.
When Keith Donkin, General Manager for Northern Lite, contacted us to announce the 2012 Northern Lite 9-6 and 8-11 Sportsman Editions, I was a little confused at first. What exactly is a Sportsman Edition and what makes these campers, clearly based on exactly the same molds and floor plans as the existing 9-6 and 8-11 Northern Lite models, different enough to warrant the new camper designations? In fact, I was so confused by this that I didn’t have any other question ready for Keith when we interviewed him about the campers last week.
About half way through our interview, the light bulb finally went on for me. Northern Lite has experienced tremendous success with their Special Edition series. The problem with the Special Editions is that they are (a) relatively expensive and (b) loaded with high-end luxury features some people do not need, or want.
To reach a lower price point and satisfy the customer base looking for a more basic Northern Lite, Keith developed the Sportsman Editions. Now the only question is how much less in cost are the Sportsman Editions and what features have been changed or deleted to meet that new price point? For those details and more, we talked with Keith Donkin.
2012 Northern Lite Sportsman 8-11 Specifications:
The 2012 Northern Lite Sportsman 8-11 is a hard-side, non-slide, wet bath truck camper that is made for short bed trucks. The interior floor length of the 2012 Northern Lite Sportsman 8-11 is 104″ and the interior height is 6’4″.
Northern Lite is reporting the dry weight of the Northern Lite Sportsman 8-11 at 2,150 pounds with standard features. The tanks in the 2012 Northern Lite Sportsman 8-11 are 25 gallons fresh, 24 gallons gray, and 13 gallons black. The camper accommodates two batteries and two twenty-pound propane tanks. The MSRP for the Northern Lite Sportsman 8-11 is under $30,000.
2012 Northern Lite Sportsman 9-6 Specifications:
The 2012 Northern Lite Sportsman 9-6 is a hard-side, non-slide, wet bath truck camper that is made for long bed trucks. The interior floor length of the 2012 Northern Lite Sportsman 9-6 is 110″ and the interior height is 6’4″.
Northern Lite is reporting the dry weight of the Northern Lite Sportsman 9-6 at 2,250 pounds with standard features. The tanks in the 2012 Northern Lite Sportsman 9-6 are 25 gallons fresh, 24 gallons gray, and 13 gallons black. The camper accommodates two batteries and two twenty-pound propane tanks. The MSRP for the Northern Lite Sportsman 9-6 is under $30,000.
Above: The Northern Lite 9-6 Sportsman on a long bed truck
TCM: What exactly is a Sportsman Edition and what makes these campers, clearly based on exactly the same molds and floor plans as the existing 9-6 and 8-11 Northern Lite models, different enough to warrant the new camper designations?
Keith: The Sportsman Models are based on calls from customers and dealers. People are looking for used Northern Lites based on a price point. They want a light weight, two piece molded fiberglass camper, but at a lower price. The fully loaded Special Editions are out of their range.
The Sportsman models still have the insulation benefits and weight benefits with our two piece molded fiberglass, but have less bells and whistles. We’re also pricing it under $30,000 at a retail level.
They are going to be in addition to our 9-6 and 8-11 Special Editions, Classics, and Lite campers. Our regular Classics have the European windows and Heki skylights, among other features. Before, if someone wanted a basic Northern Lite camper like the new Sportsman Editions, they would have to special order it from our factory. Now, with the Sportsman Editions, basic Northern Lites can be on dealer lots all the time.
Above: Northern Lite 8-11 Sportsman looking from the back door to the overcab
TCM: What are some of the basic features of the Sportsman Models?
Keith: The Sportsman Models have glass windows, no valences over the windows, Oak instead of Sapele wood, a 5.5 cubic foot three-way refrigerator down from a 6.3 cubic foot refrigerator, mechanical jacks with a pre-wire for electric, and the bumper step is not included. People can add on five or six scissor steps and the regular bumper can be ordered.
Options like televisions, stereos, and LED lighting are not standard on the Sportsman Editions. The Sportsman Model comes with removable legs with your dinette table instead of the dream dinette and there’s no fancy clock. We also don’t have the Phat ladders on the Sportsman Models. There’s a more basic ladder. The Sportsman Editions will hold a portable Honda generator.
Above: The Northern Lite Sportsman Model taken from the overcab looking to the back door
TCM: Can you send us a list of what exactly comes standard and what the options are for the Sportsman Editions?
Keith: Yes, I’ll send them to you now.
The following is the list of standard features that Keith sent us for the Northern Lite Sportsman Editions:
26″x26″ escape hatch, thirty amp power cord, white mechanical jacks, pre-wired for electric jacks, folding assist handle, face-to-face dinette, queen-size bed (60″W x 80″L x 6″D), high density foam mattress, ten inches of basement storage, heated and insulated tanks, extra large stainless steel sink, dual battery box, outside shower, ladder, two piece molded fiberglass construction, one inch R-6 block foam insulation, 5.5 cubic foot three-way fridge, 18,000 BTU auto light furnace, power range hood, three burner stove top that comes with a cover, two twenty-pound propane cylinders, forty-five amp converter that comes with a battery charger, six-gallon hot water tank, bathroom with shower, fresh water toilet, Oak doors and trim packages, Oak veneer paneling, Venetian blinds, marine headliner, large radius glass tinted windows, screen door, twelve volt bathroom fan, and monitor panel
The following are the available options for the Northern Lite Sportsman Editions:
Air conditioning, eight foot side awning, awning over back door (factory order only), sliding basement tray, bedspread package, boat rack, removable carpet, Fantastic Fan, Heki exit vent (thermal pane), Happijac electric jack motors, LED interior lights, LCD television and antenna, microwave, privacy drape, rear bumper step, five or six step scissor step, and stereo system.
Above: The Northern Lite Sportsman wet bath
TCM: There are some important features that jumped from the standard list to the available options list. How did you decide what features to include and what to make optional?
Keith: We’ve found that some people don’t want all those extras. They are camping and don’t want to have things like stereos and televisions because they are not going to use them. The new Sportsman Editions are the best compromise possible to satisfy the need for a more basic and lower price point Northern Lite.
TCM: Other than changing the standards and options lists, were there any other compromises made to the Sportsman Editions to hit the lower price point?
Keith: There are no structural changes between the Sportsman Editions and any other Northern Lite models. These campers still have solid hardwood cabinetry, it’s just Oak instead of Sapele. There are no photo finish woods in our campers. The drawers are still Russian Birch plywood. The Special Editions and the Sportsman Editions are basically the same except for the few bells and whistles that are held back for the Sportsman Editions. The quality and fit and finish on the Sportsman Editions is identical to our Special Editions.
Above: The Northern Lite Sportsman model’s interior, notice the Ozite ceiling, the fabric, and Oak paneling
TCM: How about the interior fabrics and the Ozite ceilings?
Keith: The Sportsman Editions are available with the same fabrics as the Special Editions, the same cabinet hardware, and the same stainless steel sinks. We’ve also kept the Ozite ceilings and the assist handles in our Sportsman Models.
We’re using the new taller molds as the other 9-6 and 8-11 campers, so these campers also have the additional headroom of three inches in the bathroom and one and a half inches in the gally, and don’t require a lift kit.
The Sportsman Models have full winter packages and the full basement, so fresh, grey, and black tank sizes are the same. They also have the same battery and propane capacities. Plus, all of our models come with our six year structural warranty.
TCM: Are there any areas in which you gain space or amenities because it’s a Sportsman Model?
Keith: You actually gain an extra cabinet above the refrigerator because the refrigerator is smaller. The windows in the Sportsman Editions are sliding glass windows that are slightly larger than the insulated Dometics we use in the Special Editions, and slightly lighter.
The options that you are missing in the Sportsman, that you can add if you wish are awnings, televisions, carpet, electric jacks, Dometic windows, and bumper step.
TCM: Will the Sportsman Models be offered as a 10-2?
Keith: The Northern Lite 10-2 will not be offered as a Sportsman model. It does not seem to be as much in demand. Plus, one of our considerations is weight. People are becoming more and more weight conscious and we’re finding that they are putting these campers on late model three-quarter ton trucks.
Above: The Northern Lite 8-11 Sportsman is for a short bed truck
TCM: What is the dry weight?
Keith: The 2012 Northern Lite 8-11 Sportsman Editions are coming in around 2,150 pounds (versus 2,525 pounds for the 8-11 Special Edition). The 2012 Northern Lite 9-6 Sportsman Editions are coming in around 2,250 pounds (versus 2,625 for the 9-6 Special Edition).
TCM: What is the MSRP for the Sportsman Models?
Keith: This camper is priced under $30,000. The Sportsman Models and Special Editions are approximately $5,000 different in price, which is about the price of a two year old used Northern Lite.
TCM: When will they be at dealerships for people to see?
Keith: They are there now at O’Connor in Chillwack, Voyager RV in Kelowna, and Fraserway in Edmonton. We will have one at Louisville that will be going to Webb’s in Bangor, Maine.
TCM: Speaking of Louisville, what are you planning on bringing to the show?
Keith: We’ll be bringing the new 2012 Northern Lite 10-2RR dry bath, a 2012 8-11 Northern Lite Special Edition, a 2012 Northern Lite 6-10 Lite, a 2012 Northern Lite 8-5 Queen Lite, and a 2012 Northern Lite 9-6 Sportsman.
TCM: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Keith: The Sportsman Models are campers in which you still have all the benefits of Northern Lite’s design with a reduced price and weight.