Adventurer Manufacturing debuts a significantly updated 2015 Eagle Cap 850. A full-wall slide tops the list, followed by plenty of tweaks to make a popular camper even better.
As the old saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” In the truck camper world, this roughly translates to, “If there’s a popular floor plan that’s selling, copy it if you haven’t already, and don’t change it if you have.”
That is, unless, if you are driven to push aging designs, challenge old materials, test new technologies, and seek out cutting-edge appliances. When it comes to innovation, most of us want our truck camper manufacturers to have one foot in the time-tested, proven, and reliable past, and another foot seeking out exciting innovation for the future.
Taking a step back, I am concerned that the invention of slide-outs and AutoCAD have some designers ignoring or, worse, forgetting the brilliant floor plans – born of blood, sweat, tears – of the truck camper industry and community that came before us.
Just because it’s possible on a computer doesn’t mean it’s a smart camper design. Just because it’s a floor plan that’s been around forever, doesn’t mean you should throw it out the window.
In sharp relief from these concerns, the team at Adventurer has been very careful to maintain the proven and popular qualities of the long-standing Eagle Cap 850, while pushing the specific elements that consumers have asked for.
The Adventurer team has also taken advantage of the model year change to make small adjustments throughout the camper to improve the function and flow of the unit. Add the brand-wide 2015 updates for Eagle Cap announced in July, and we’re looking at an exciting new 850.
One foot in the past, one foot in the future. Introducing the 2015 Eagle Cap 850.
Above: The floor plan for the 2015 Eagle Cap 850, with new full-wall slide-out
2015 Eagle Cap 850 Specifications
The 2015 Eagle Cap 850 is a hard side, single-slide, wet bath truck camper made for short or long bed trucks. The interior floor length of the 2015 Eagle Cap 850 is 8’11”, the interior height is 78” and the center of gravity is 40”. The 2015 Eagle Cap 850 has a 49 gallon fresh tank, a 26 gallon grey tank, a 22 gallon black tank, and a 6 gallon hot water heater. It can accommodate two batteries and has two twenty-pound propane tanks. Adventurer is reporting the base weight of the Eagle Cap 850 to be 3,367 pounds with standard build options. The base MSRP for the 2015 Eagle Cap 850 is $34,895.
Above: The redesigned 2015 Eagle Cap 850. All photography supplied by Adventurer Manufacturing LP.
The following is an interview with Greg Tucknies, National Sales Manager for Adventurer Manufacturing, on the Eagle Cap 850.
TCM: Does the new Eagle Cap 850 replace any older models in the Eagle Cap line?
Greg: No, it doesn’t. The Eagle Cap 850 is a long-standing and highly-successful floor plan for Eagle Cap. The 2015 edition incorporates a full-wall slide, and all of the 2015 Eagle Cap updates we announced in July. In many ways, we reworked the camper from the ground up.
Sales of the 850 have always been strong, so we were initially hesitant to touch it. That said, the industry trend is toward full-wall slides. The full-wall slide opens up the floor plan of the 850, even more. I think people will be very surprised at how open and spacious this camper feels inside. It feels like a nine or ten-foot camper.
Above: The full-wall slide-out is on the passenger’s side
TCM: What distinguishes the 2015 Eagle Cap 850 in the Eagle Cap product line?
Greg: The Eagle Cap 850 is designed for the customer who wants to tow. As an 8’11” camper, it doesn’t have a large overhang allowing the owner to tow, in many cases, without an extension, or only a short extension.
The Eagle Cap 850 also fits a long bed or short bed truck. It’s the only Eagle Cap that fits a short bed, but prospective owners will need to be especially careful about payload matching if they go short bed.
Above: The new modular furniture and refrigerator on the slide-out
TCM: Two years ago, we matched a short bed slide-out truck camper and truck, but it was a challenge. I like the idea of this being a “tow camper”, especially for long bed trucks that offer the appropriate payload and towing capacity.
Was there any consideration to not putting the refrigerator on the slide? The side ventilation may cause the refrigerator to produce fan noise.
Greg: Given the strong customer demand for a full-wall slide, we decided the small trade-off was warranted. Most slide-out mounted refrigerators require a fan. Having the refrigerator on the slide gives the interior fourteen more inches of additional width.
In fact, the only thing we thought the 850 really needed, other than our 2015 Eagle Cap updates, was the addition of a full-wall slide. It’s a dramatic difference inside the camper.
Above: The galley features the Smart Tile backsplash and one-piece molded fiberglass countertops
When the unit was completed, I took it out for photography and a walk-through video. Walking into the unit, I immediately noticed the additional room. It’s evident that we have gone to the next level. There is definitely an upscale feel to this unit.
A lot of that upscale feel is from the 2015 Eagle Cap changes. One example I noticed right away was the Smart Tile backsplash. It really adds pop to the interior, something that’s even more dramatic when comparing photographs of last year’s 850 to the 2015 Eagle Cap 850. It’s night and day difference. You’ll see it right away in the pictures and video.
Above: The overcab bedroom area with the now-standard Heki skylight
TCM: Did you make any changes to the structure that aren’t visible by looking at the finished camper?
Greg: Yes, we did. In our total camper review, we started with the basement. Then we adjusted the framing and structure.
TCM: What was changed?
Greg: We improved the design and flow of the plumbing, wiring, and ducting. By making these small adjustments, we were able to add more room inside the unit, and a slide-out storage tray.
We kept the layout nearly identical because we liked all the storage the tried and true floor plan offers. The 2015 Eagle Cap 850 has the same big pantry, adjustable shelving, and four kitchen drawers. The storage opportunities are incredible in this camper.
TCM: Were there any changes made to the frame?
Greg: Yes, we took out some of the unneeded structural framing.
TCM: Unneeded structural framing?
Greg: When we first took over the Eagle Cap brand three years ago, customers and dealers were concerned that we would change the way Eagle Cap was manufactured. To address this concern, we built Eagle Cap almost exactly like the previous company, right down to the materials and frame design.
Since then, we have been making small improvements to the construction techniques, materials, and overall quality of Eagle Cap truck campers. Customers and dealers have responded positively to our changes, and the time has finally come for us to take Eagle Cap out of the past, and into the future.
Our Eagle Cap campers have been very well received in 2014. I like to say that we received a good report on our report card. At the same time, customers have asked us to do some of the things we currently do for our Adventurer brand, specifically our proprietary True Composite Construction, or TCC.
The bonding of TCC is the key to our three year structural warranty. With the old Eagle Cap construction technique, we could only offer a one year structural warranty. Since we’ve gone to TCC, we are proud to offer our full three-year structural warranty for Eagle Cap campers.
Before 2014, Eagle Cap campers were built with the previous manufacturer’s techniques. This technique put all of the structural integrity into the aluminum frame. With our proprietary TCC hot glue lamination, the lamination itself provides the structural strength and integrity. With this approach, we no longer need all of the framing of the old Eagle Cap design. In fact, the new Eagle Cap campers are now significantly stronger than the older Eagle Caps.
For 2015, we optimized the TCC and framing for the Eagle Cap 850. As a direct result, the structure is lighter, and stronger, than ever before.
Above: New Eagle Cap one-piece cabover nose for 2015
TCM: For the record, there were no changes to the floor length, total exterior length, or overhang of the 2015 Eagle Cap 850?
Greg: That’s correct. All of the dimensions are the same as the previous 850.
TCM: Were there any adjustments after the first prototype came off the line?
Greg: The camper was about twenty-seven pounds heavier than we had anticipated from the CAD (computer aided design) program. On the positive side, we were an inch further forward with center of gravity, which was very good. If you compare apples to apples, from last year to this year, the overall camper is 131 pounds less and that includes the new standard features and the full-wall slide.
I was actually thinking we would have lost more weight out of this camper because of the new aerodynamic nose caps and rear caps. But, the new modular dinette furniture, where you can put in a dinette, theater seating, or a sofa, is heavier. We gained eighty pounds with the modular furniture.
Above: For 2015, Eagle Cap is exclusively using Schwintek aluminum slide mechanisms
TCM: What slide mechanism does the Eagle Cap 850 use?
Greg: That’s another area where we improved the camper, and saved additional weight. For 2015, we have moved all of our slide-outs to the lighter and better aluminum Schwintek slide mechanism.
Above: The frameless window, Schwintek slide mechanism, slide topper awning, and side-vented refrigertor on the full-wall slide-out
TCM: The early days of the Schwintek slide mechanisms were a little rough. How did you decide to go 100% Schwintek for Eagle Cap in 2015?
Greg: We experienced those early hiccups with Schwintek, but they have done a remarkable job of fixing and fine-tuning their motors, controllers, programming, tolerances, and quality control. The addition of rollers was another key improvement.
Even better, Schwintek slides offer taller head room in the dinette, and lower floor height. The system also has better sealing properties, much better then the previous system we were using.
We’ve had the same experience with all of our campers built in 2015 so far including three runs of 2015 Eagle Cap 1165 triple-slides. Down the line, the Schwintek slide mechanism has been flawless. We are very happy with it.
We were talking about the frame earlier. Around the slide-outs on our Eagle Cap truck campers we use 2×4 and 2×2 boxed aluminum. The slide-out is double-framed along the perimeter. This is very important because the big slide-out opening is where campers need the strongest framing and structure.
Above: Thermal pane frameless windows are standard on 2015 Eagle Cap campers
TCM: A decade ago there were still folks saying slide-outs in truck campers would remove too much structural integrity. They didn’t account for the continuous improvements in framing, lamination, and computer-based design and modeling. Tell us about how the new frameless windows are being received in the marketplace.
Greg: Overall, it’s been very positive. We’ve had almost entirely positive feedback on the appearance of the windows. The Eagle Cap buyer wants a top-of-the-line product that looks different than everything else out there. Frameless windows give them that high-end look, and distinction.
More importantly, we’ve had absolutely no issues with leaks or breaks. Warranty wise there have been no issues.
There is a perception that they don’t open out enough for proper ventilation. The actual experience with the windows is that they allow for an amazing amount of air flow. Any concerns of air flow will be quickly blown away, literally, when a customer opens a window and turns on the Fantastic Vent fan.
There’s another benefit that’s surprised us. Customers have told us that they like how frameless windows operate as they deter break-ins. The way frameless windows open is simply not as accessible for breaking into the camper. Customers have told us they like the added security of the design.
Above: The slide-out switch is just inside the rear entry door for easy access
TCM: Can you access the bathroom with the slide-out in on the 2015 Eagle Cap 850?
Greg: You can, Gordon, but I can’t.
Above: The wet bath in the 2015 Eagle Cap 850
TCM: Why Greg, what do you mean?
Greg: You’re skinny, and might be able to squeeze through, but most folks will need to slide the slide-out a few inches to get and use the bathroom. To make this as easy as possible, the slide switch is just inside the back door, and the bathroom door is a slider. It takes maybe three or four seconds for the slide out to go out six-inches.
Above: The dinette with the modular furniture system with the Mystic fabric – click to enlarge
TCM: That’s fast. I see that there is a cushion in one of your dinette photos next to the wall. What’s that about?
Greg: That is part of the modular furniture system we are using for 2015. You can make a standard face-to-face dinette into a U-shape dinette using this system. That’s why there’s cushion on the wall.
Customers have also asked for a cushion on the wall for the standard face-to-face dinette. It allows the customer to sit length-wise and lean on the wall, lounge-style.
TCM: I totally do that. And I totally hate when there’s window treatment hardware that knives into your back in that location. The lounge-back cushion is a great idea.
Greg: The slide-out area is also designed for theater seating, or a sofa. You could really put anything in that space. We had a customer put in a free standing table and chairs. We had another customer put a desk in that space.
Above: Outside compartment service center
TCM: I think the modular furniture system could be a big hit for Eagle Cap. Tell us about the size of the holding tanks and why you made the tanks that size.
Greg: The tanks are the same size for 2015; 49 gallons fresh, 28 gallons grey, and 25 gallons black. We did redesign the basement and gave considerable thought to changing the tank sizes, but ultimately decided they were right.
The basement redesign did allow us to improve the layout of the basement making it easier to service and utilize. For example, the Happijac jack controller, Schwintek slide controller, dump valves, and winterization access is all in the same location. We believe that small adjustments make for big improvements to the overall ownership experience.
Above: The battery compartment fits two batteries and is on the passenger side
TCM: How many batteries does the Eagle Cap 850 have, and where are they located?
Greg: Two batteries will fit into the battery compartment. We wanted as big of a battery compartment as possible. Our engineering team worked very hard on exactly that challenge after exterior wall space was taken away by the full-wall slide. In the end, the battery area has room for two six-volt batteries.
Going to a full-wall slide took away some places we could put compartments and components, like hot water tanks. All of those areas had to be revisited. Darrell Mclean worked on the systems in this unit, making sure that everything was easily accessible and on the correct side of the camper.
Above: The driver’s side – note the frameless windows and new front nose cap
Darrell had a heck of a time figuring this out. For example, at first the black tank flush and the power cord were going to be on the passenger’s side. He took time to make sure that he could make it work on the driver’s side. He did a good job of getting it redesigned. It was an engineering challenge to change the 850, even though the layout didn’t really change.
TCM: What considerations are given for winterization; battery access, ease of battery removal, battery disconnect, hot water heater access, hot water heater bypass, low water drain?
Greg: We’ve always had easy winterization in our Eagle Cap campers. All of the winterizing components are in the service center. From the picture it looks like it is really cramped, but that area flows and you can access things easily.
The batteries are also easy to access, and remove if necessary. The battery disconnect is in the service center. Winterizing this camper is a snap for the customer.
Above: Adventurer’s Comfort Step is a very popular option
Above: The sewer hose compartment is under the Comfort Step
TCM: Tell us about the standard bumper and entry step system for the 2015 Eagle Cap 850.
Greg: The Super Step is standard, and the Comfort Step is an optional upgrade. Last year between both Eagle Cap and Adventurer we sold seven campers with Super Step bumpers. In other words, 99% of our campers are being made with the Comfort Step.
Above: The grabber catches are a new standard feature for 2015
Above: The slam latches are a new standard feature for 2015
Above: The Winegard Razor Digital amplified concealed TV Antenna is a new standard feature for 2015
Above: A Fantastic Vent fan is now standard for 2015
Above: Heki skylights are now standard for 2015
TCM: Are there any new options that are available for the 2015 Eagle Cap 850?
Greg: There are no new options other than the options that have been added across all Eagle Cap campers for 2015. Several options went standard in 2015 including countertop extensions, Heki skylight, Fantastic Fan, an upgraded TV antenna with interior mount, and the grabber latches. There have been a lot of upgrades for the entire Eagle Cap Camper line.
Above: The 2015 Eagle Cap 850 being put on a fulcrum to measure center of gravity
TCM: Was there a weight and center of gravity target for the Eagle Cap 850?
Greg: The target has always been to be forward of the rear axle. We’re one of the few manufacturers who weighs every camper coming down the line at the factory. We also measure the center of gravity. We have the fulcrum right on our scale, so we can get the weight and the center of gravity.
Above: The Eagle Cap 850’s center of gravity being measured – 40” from the front of the truck bed
We first figure out the center of gravity on our 3D CAD program. That program usually gives us a center of gravity that’s within an inch or an inch and a half of what it winds up being on the scale. Usually the center of gravity winds up being further forward.
The Eagle Cap 850 is designed to fit on a short bed truck, so it’s critical that the center of gravity is as far forward as possible. We moved the battery compartments and propane tanks an inch or two forward with this redesign. Every change we made resulted in slightly improved center of gravity.
TCM: What is the center of gravity of the 2015 Eagle Cap 850?
Greg: The center of gravity on the 2015 Eagle Cap 850 is 40” from the front of the truck bed. It has moved one inch forward from last year.
Above: Adventurer and Eagle Cap campers are weighed at the end of the assembly line. This photograph shows a 850 being weighed
TCM: And the weight?
Greg: The 850 we just weighed was 3,370 pounds. That was without a generator, but with an air conditioner. Basically, it was a standard options build. A generator would add 110 pounds.
TCM: Can you get a generator with the short or long bed versions?
Greg: Unfortunately, no. The generator is only available for short bed versions. We wanted to make it possible to have a generator with the long bed configuration, but there wasn’t any way with the slide out.
TCM: What is the MSRP for the 2015 Eagle Cap 850 with standard build features?
Greg: The MSRP is $34,895 with standard build features, which is very nicely equipped.
TCM: What is the warranty for the 2015 Eagle Cap 850?
Greg: We have a three-year structural warranty, a one year bumper-to-bumper warranty, and the individual components have their own warranties.
TCM: When will the 2015 Eagle Cap 850 be available?
Greg: The 850s are coming off line right now. In fact, units are already shipping. Fraserway is getting them now.
TCM: Is there anything else that you would like to add?
Greg: We had record sales this year. Right now we’re up over 32%. We have increased production this year by 30% and plan on increasing production to another 35% for 2015.
We are also working on the Eagle Cap 960, which is being completed in engineering as we speak. Those will be coming off line in mid-October. A teaser for that camper is that it will have the first king size bed in an Eagle Cap.