Little Guy launches the 2016 Cirrus 800, a non-slide, hard side short bed truck camper with an opening front window, heated floors, seamless aluminum roof, Froli system, and much more.
It’s not every day that we get to announce a completely new truck camper brand and model. To make things even more interesting, Little Guy is bringing a truly fresh design, material, and manufacturing approach to the truck camper marketplace.
Want an example? How about an insulated front window system, that opens. Yes, the 2016 Cirrus 800 truck camper has an opening front window system. Are they nuts, or brilliant?
It goes on from there. We honestly had a difficult time keeping the questions for this interview to less than ten pages. In fact, it got so ridiculous that we cut the interview in half – Jim Belushi Samurai style. This is actually part two. If you missed part one, “Little Guy Announces Cirrus Truck Campers”, please start there, and then come back.
To dive into the 2016 Cirrus 800, we talked with Scott Hubble, CEO of Little Guy, and Allen Miller, Director of Research and Development for Pleasant Valley Trailers.
Above: The 2016 Cirrus 800 floor plan – click to enlarge
2016 Cirrus 800 Specifications:
The Cirrus 800 is a hard side, non-slide, wet bath truck camper for short bed trucks. The interior floor length of the Cirrus 800 is 8’3″ and the interior height is 6’5″. Little Guy Worldwide is reporting the base dry weight of the Cirrus 800 at 1,955 pounds and 2,490 pounds with standard features. It has a 26 gallon fresh water tank, a 16 gallon grey tank, and a 19 gallon black tank. The camper accommodates two batteries and one twenty-pound propane tank. The base price MSRP for the Cirrus 800 is $27,405.
Above: The 2016 Cirrus 800 – click to enlarge
TCM: This is the first time we’ve had a chance to talk with you Allen. Tell us how you got into the RV industry.
Allen: I am the Director of Research and Development for Pleasant Valley Trailers. Before working at Pleasant Valley, I worked in the furniture industry designing Colonial, Shaker, and Contemporary style furniture. Then I worked in what I call underground furniture; hard wood caskets. After that I started working at Pleasant Valley Trailers designing teardrop trailers.
Above: Exterior views of the 2016 Cirrus 800 – click to enlarge
TCM: Did you say you designed caskets?
Allen: Yes, I designed caskets. You know, one major benefit of designing caskets is that they have a very low return rate. We actually never had one brought back by an end user.
TCM: That’s funny, in a slightly morbid kind of way. The 2016 Cirrus 800 is a hard side, non-slide model. Why is the first Cirrus truck camper a hard side, non-slide model?
Scott: We specialize in hard side, non-slide, light weight products with our teardrop trailers. We don’t currently build things with movable parts, so that precluded a slide-out. We will keep our options open, but right now we are focused on light-weight campers.
I would be more interested in a smaller truck camper targeting the GMC Canyon. That would be a more logical direction for us after the 800.
Above: The interior of the Cirrus 800 – click to enlarge
TCM: How was the 2016 Cirrus 800 truck camper designed; paper, computers, physical prototypes?
Scott: Our design process is a mix of everything you mentioned. When we decide to put something on the drawing board, we actually start with a drawing board. Then we take pen to paper and sketch out our ideas. Those sketches are shared with the leadership and sales teams and adjusted with their input.
Once the 2016 Cirrus 800 was finalized on paper, the design was rendered on the computer with SolidWorks. That process helped to identify things that may not have worked. From that point, we built some physical prototypes and road tested them.
Finally, we had consumers go through the unit and give us their perspectives. With that feedback, and the road test results, we fine tuned the camper and produced the final product.
Above: The interior of the Cirrus 800 – click to enlarge
TCM: Is the Cirrus 800 a basement model?
Allen: The Cirrus 800 has a wheel well height basement. In that space we have the holding tanks and convectors for the Alde heating system. The convectors keep the fresh, grey, and black tanks warm, and heat the Cirrus 800 interior floor.
Above: The Alde system’s convectors are heat radiators
Allen: Convectors are essentially radiators, aluminum pipes with metal fins that radiate heat. The Alde heating system consists of a control panel, compact boiler unit, circulation pump, and convectors to heat the basement, lower floor, and cabover in the Cirrus. The Alde compact boiler and pumps run heated fluid – usually Ethylene glycol antifreeze – through the convectors.
Scott: The Alde system is what’s called a hydronic heating system. The Alde system replaces both a traditional RV furnace and hot water heater, and works better, with significantly better efficiency, than those appliances.
We have been successfully using the Alde system in our trailer line for some time. It’s a very popular system in Europe, but no travel trailer or truck camper manufacturer is currently using it in the United States. I believe the Alde system in the Cirrus will be revolutionary for the truck camper market.
Allen: What I like about the Alde system is that it’s totally silent. You can be inside the camper and you simply can’t hear the heating system. Even better, the heat the Alde system generates is radiant. You feel the heat everywhere, not just from blowing vents. It’s based on natural air circulation, so there are no fans blowing dry air.
Above: The Alde system convectors close up
TCM: The Alde system sounds like a potential game changer. How is it powered electrically?
Scott: It runs on 110-volt power when you’re plugged in, or propane when you’re off-grid. When off-grid, the system pulls a minute amount of 12-volt power from the battery bank. It’s a very low amp draw, similar to what a two or three-way refrigerator draws when running on propane.
Above: The fold down sink gives you more room in the bathroom
TCM: The Alde system sounds like something we will have to experience to truly understand and appreciate. The wet bath in the Cirrus 800 features a fold-down sink. How does that work?
Allen: That’s another Cirrus element we sourced from Europe. When folded down, the sink reveals the faucet in the back. The fold down sink model we selected is being used throughout the European caravan market.
TCM: It seems that a majority of your materials and appliances are sourced from Europe.
Allen: Our product design for the past few years has been heavily influenced by the European market. Two years ago we attended the Caravan Salon in Dusseldorf, Germany, the largest RV show in Europe. We are attending again this year. Everything over there is driven by weight, aerodynamics, and forward-thinking design.
We are connected with European vendors and visited their factories last summer. Many of our materials and appliances are made in the Republic of Slovenia, a European country of just over two million people bordering Italy, Austria, Croatia, and Hungary. The quality of their products is outstanding, far and above what we can source from RV suppliers in the United States.
Above: The base of the wet bath’s shower is ABS and manufactured in the USA. Note the fold-down sink is folded up against the rear wall.
TCM: The European influence certainly shows in the Cirrus. What materials did you use to build the wet bath?
Allen: The base of the shower is ABS, which is manufactured locally. The shower component with the radiator panel is also ABS. The sides and ceiling are lite ply covered with vinyl.
TCM: Almost every RV manufacturer builds their roofs with TPO. Why did you choose a seamless aluminum roof for the Cirrus?
Allen: We started with aluminum roofs when designing the [email protected] trailer for the teardrop market. Teardrops have more curves and radiuses than typical trailers have. A seamless aluminum roof allows us to contour to those curves and radiuses and maintain a flowing, aerodynamic aesthetic.
Scott: We went with a seamless aluminum roof for the Cirrus because we are familiar with the material, and it’s been a great success for our teardrop products.
TCM: Is it a full walk-on roof?
Allen: Yes, the Cirrus has a full walk-on roof. The aluminum is fastened on the outer edges and then floats. Vents and other features are clamped and screwed from the inside.
TCM: From the inside? Don’t you screw your roof features from the exterior of the roof into the camper?
Allen: No, we do not. Everything is butyl taped, clamped, and then screwed from inside the camper. We do not put unnecessary holes into our roof.
TCM: How does the end user maintain the aluminum roof?
Allen: Like all RVs, the roof seals are something you need to check and maintain. We have kept the roof seals to a minimum, so the maintenance should be very minimal.
TCM: Talk to us about how the Cirrus is insulated: roof, walls, and floor.
Scott: For the roof, floor, and sidewalls, we use one inch closed cell styrofoam insulation sandwiched between two layers of Azdel composite. The Azdel really magnifies the insulation factor, which is why we use the same process and materials for the roof, floor, and sidewalls.
Allen: The placement of our aluminum framing gives our wall panels and floors their required strength and stability. There is no floor area larger than 40×40 that does not have an aluminum frame member running through it. Many are 12-inches center to center.
Above: The Froli sleep system lifts the mattress for air flow
TCM: Talk to us about the Froli sleep system.
Scott: The Froli system is a series of modular square plastic springs/foils that connect to a frame. The whole Froli system in the Cirrus probably weighs eight pounds. It’s very light weight.
Allen: Froli is not only a superb sleep system, but it also lifts the mattress for air flow allowing the Alde system to heat the cabover and mattress. We have Alde system convectors on both sides of the cabover and one on the front of the cabover.
Above: The cabover bedroom in the 2016 Cirrus 800 – click to enlarge
TCM: What mattress do you install in the Cirrus 800?
Scott: Our mattresses are produced locally to our specifications. We have the bedding company use high ILD foam for more density, longer lasting durability, and lighter weight. Together with the Froli system, the sleep system in the Cirrus is extremely high quality, much better than we could get at a RV mattress warehouse.
Above: Custom insulated windows are manufactured specifically for the Cirrus 800. The windows feature both black out shades and screens.
TCM: We have seen Dometic thermoplastic windows in the truck camper industry for many years. Are the windows in the Cirrus Dometic thermoplastic windows?
Allen: We buy our windows directly from Plastiform in Slovenia, the same company that manufactures the windows for Dometic. Buying in volume direct from the manufacturer obviously saves us a lot of money. While the overall design of the windows is standard, Plastiform builds the windows to our specifications.
Above: The rear entry door has a unique side screen system
The shades we use are from the Netherlands. We buy those directly from the manufacturer as well. Again, they will be familiar to anyone who has used a Dometic shade system. They have both black out shades and screens. Black out screens are very important in the European market.
Above: The HDTV flat panel television and DVD audio-video system
TCM: The pull-out television cabinet is very impressive. Where did that idea come from?
Allen: We looked at how televisions are currently mounted in truck campers and decided on a fresh approach. We designed a cabinet that hinges and brings out the entire monitor and audio-video system. This not only makes for better viewing in both the cabover and dinette areas, but it makes for a more refined presentation in the open and closed position.
Above: The single leg table base is sourced from FAWO in Denmark
TCM: Tell us about the table leg. We haven’t seen anything like that before.
Scott: The table base comes from a company based in Denmark called FAWO. There are several key benefits of this table over a pole or scissor-style base. First and foremost, it is strong and durable, meaning you won’t have any rocking issues and wear and tear is minimal. Second, and no less important is the ease of use. The hydraulic lift makes the table effortless in setting up. To set up for the bed, lift the lever, apply some force from the top and lock the lever back into place when completely recessed.
Above: Interior and exterior LED lighting comes standard
TCM: Does the Cirrus feature all-LED lighting inside and out?
Allen: Yes it does, but the interior lighting we are using is not standard RV lighting. We used a European style of LED lighting called Dream Lighting. The design, style, and light color of Dream Lighting works well with our European influenced interior.
Above: Inset LED lighting around the kitchen window, behind the kitchen counter top, and sink – click to enlarge
We also have inset LED lighting around the kitchen window, behind the kitchen counter top, and sink. This ambient lighting is placed in the air flow space created for the Alde heating system. It gives the interior an even more sophisticated European look.
I should mention that the LED lighting above the dinette has three level settings; high, medium, and low. It also has a blue night light built in.
Above: The stove, sink, and a photograph of the dinette and kitchen area
TCM: That’s a great idea. Sometimes all we need is a little ambient lighting to get around the camper at night. How did you decide on an opening front window for the Cirrus? Many folks are going to think you’re completely nuts for having an opening front window.
Scott: We are a little bit crazy. It takes a little crazy to take the next step forward. We see the opening front window as something that needed to be done. It adds a dimension to the Cirrus interior that would otherwise be impossible. If you want a cool breeze in the camper, and don’t want to run the air conditioner, the opening front window is an amazing feature.
Above: The front window opens and has a black out screen and shade – click to enlarge
TCM: Is it insulated?
Scott: Yes, the front window is a dual pane insulated window. It’s also sourced from Plastiform.
Allen: The front window also has the same shade system, with screen and black out, as the other windows. There is also an upholstered panel that covers up the shade system for installation. All of this was specifically sourced for the Cirrus.
The window is acrylic. The curve and insulation would not be possible with glass. It would also weigh significantly more if it were glass. The front windows are installed with rubber seals that do not allow for leakage. We use similar front windows on our teardrop trailers and have not had any issues.
TCM: Tell us about the size of the holding tanks in the Cirrus.
Allen: The Cirrus 800 holds twenty-six gallons of fresh, sixteen gallons of grey, and nineteen gallons of black.
TCM: Does the Alde system hold any hot water?
Allen: About a gallon. It’s not an on demand hot water heater, but it offers an equivalent of six gallons of hot water before the temperature drops.
Above: The exterior battery compartment is ready for two Group 24 batteries
TCM: How many batteries does the Cirrus have, and where are they located?
Scott: The Cirrus 800 is outfitted for two Group 24 batteries. The batteries are located in a dedicated external compartment on the passenger’s side.
TCM: Could you fit two Group 27 batteries in that compartment?
Scott: Yes, two Group 27 batteries will fit.
Above: One twenty-pound vertical propane tank fits in the Cirrus 800
TCM: What are the propane tank sizes in the Cirrus 800, and where are they located?
Scott: There’s one twenty-pound vertical tank on the driver’s side front. It also has a dedicated compartment.
Above: The cabinetry is Lite Ply with a hardwood core and a vinyl finish
TCM: Tell us about the cabinetry and counter tops in the Cirrus.
Scott: We use a light weight counter top material that’s used throughout the European RV industry. Our cabinetry and counter tops are manufactured in Italy to our specifications.
The counter top and cabinetry are much higher in quality than traditional RV counter tops and cabinetry. The modern aesthetic and quality we needed was really only available from Italy.
The panels themselves are lite ply with a hardwood core and vinyl finishes. There are no edge bands or glue seams. Our cabinetry is precise, seamless, and perfect. It’s way above the standard in the RV industry.
Allen: By not having a mix of hardwood and vinyl laminate, we avoid the color changes that often happen overtime. Hardwood changes colors as it ages, but vinyl does not. Our cabinetry is 100% vinyl, so the color will never change and mismatch.
Above: The dinette bunk and storage area – click to enlarge
TCM: Is the Italian cabinetry as strong as hard wood cabinetry?
Allen: The durability is excellent. It’s a very thick and robust vinyl exterior and lite ply core. With normal use, you really don’t need to worry about scratches.
TCM: In the photographs, the interior fabric is a lime green. While we like the lime green, are there other available fabric choices?
Scott: Yes, there are five colors available; lime green, soft blue, cranberry, clay, and orange. Some of these colors are loud, but others are more subdued, like the clay.
Allen: The fabric is a polyester, and it is sourced locally.
TCM: What considerations were given for winterization?
Allen: There’s a battery disconnect located in the battery compartment. There are low point drains accessible at the sewer area. There are bypass valves on the inside near the Alde system. Those are easy to access as well.
TCM: How do you winterize the Alde system?
Scott: Drainage of the hot water is all that is mandatory. To be safe, flushing the water system with RV antifreeze is suggested as well. There is nothing you need to do with the system itself to winterize.
TCM: What air conditioner are you using for the Cirrus?
Allen: We are using the 9200 BTU Coleman Mach 8. It is very efficient and can run off a Honda EU2000i portable generator.
Above: The pull-out RV step system
Above: The rear entry bumper on the Cirrus 800 – click to enlarge
TCM: Tell us about the standard bumper and entry step system for the Cirrus.
Allen: Our rear entry bumper is an aluminum structure with TPO. Below the bumper we have a pull-out RV step system.
Above: The Fiamma ladder is a standard build feature on the Cirrus 800
TCM: Little Guy has debuted some extremely creative exterior color combinations and wraps for its teardrop lines. Are there some interesting exterior color choices available for the Cirrus 800?
Scott: Yes. You can stay mild with your exterior color choices, or you can go loud. The trim kits that are available for the [email protected] are also available for the Cirrus truck camper; black, white, red, blue, and yellow. The rear bumper and over the door wrap are available in those five colors in TPO trim kits.
Above: The exterior trim and door wrap comes in a variety of colors
You can get the exterior walls in white or silver. One of the two exterior accent graphics will be tied to your TPO trim kit color, and the other is available in a wide variety of colors. We made the first few Cirrus 800 truck campers with black TPO, black main graphics, and lime green accent graphics. The idea was to make these campers loud and different, but not too loud.
Above: A variety of exterior color packages are available including the lime green and black shown.
TCM: The lime green certainly gets your attention. Tell us about the available options for Cirrus truck campers.
Scott: The most exciting option is a heat exchanger for the Alde system. The heat exchanger brings coolant from your truck’s engine and uses it to heat your camper. It literally keeps your camper toasty as you drive down the road. Then the same system can keep your truck engine warm when you’re using the camper.
Allen: The Alde heat exchanger is only seven inches long, by four inches deep, by two inches wide. It’s really compact for what it does.
Scott: We’re also going to offer a keyless entry system, an adult-sized bunk, rear door awning, and a back-up camera. We’re also working on a roof rack system.
TCM: What does the 2016 Cirrus 800 truck camper weigh with standard build features?
Scott: Outfitted with all of the features we discussed, it weighs approximately 2,400 pounds dry.
TCM: Where is the center of gravity on the Cirrus?
Allen: It’s 36-inches from the front wall.
TCM: Tell us about the warranty term for Cirrus truck campers.
Scott: Cirrus will come with a one year warranty from the time of purchase. That said, we are very easy to work with because of our company values. If you’ve had a camper for fifteen months and something goes wrong, we’re going to fix it. It’s the right thing to do.
Above: The Fiamma awning, assist handle, and exterior shower
TCM: What is the MSRP for the Cirrus truck camper with standard build features?
Scott: $27,405 is for the base camper which includes the ALDE, Atwood electric jacks, FROLI bedding system, FAWO hydraulic table base, Monster picture window, the front window, Fantastic Fan, Bluetooth stereo, and 100% LED Lighting.
$31,995 is our standard build complete with roof air conditioner, an adult sized bunk, television and theater style entertainment center, Fiamma awning and ladder, microwave/convection oven, and Sensar IV antenna.
$34,895 is our tricked out Cirrus. This adds the keyless entry, rear door awning, roof rack, back up camera with wireless remote and cabover/entry door windows.
TCM: When will Cirrus truck campers be available at dealerships?
Scott: The first dozen will be shipped in June. From there will implement a production schedule that slowly ramps up Cirrus production, maintaining quality as we go. I think you’ll see a 2016 Cirrus 800 truck camper or two at Princess Craft Campers in June.
TCM: Is there anything else about the 2016 Cirrus 800 you want to add?
Scott: When we designed and built the Cirrus, one of our primary goals was to manufacture something that maintained who we are. The 2016 Cirrus 800 successfully carries our identity, quality, craftsmanship, modern forward-thinking design, and lightweight focus. We kept all of those things front and center. We are very excited for you to see it.
For more information on the Cirrus 800, visit their website at cirrus-truckcamper.com.