Shut the tailgate! Travel Lite introduces the 2016 Travel Lite 625, a lightweight truck camper for short or long bed trucks. Go with a long bed, and get the bonus deck.
Maybe there was something in the water. Perhaps a secret ingredient in Captain Crunch is to blame. With my father at 5’7”, and my mother standing at 5’2”, I’ll never quite figured how I grew to to 6’3”. Perhaps it was the mail man.
Whatever my true lineage may be, one thing is certain, if I laid on the floor of Travel Lite’s all-new 625, my feet would almost dangle out the back. With a 6’2” floor length, the 625 isn’t quite the shortest hard side truck camper, but it certainly belongs in that group.
Why would anyone want a camper this short? How about these three reasons; low price, low weight, forward center of gravity, easy towing, and (in many circumstances) half-ton truck compatibility. Okay, that’s actually five reasons.
Some folks just want a simple hard side, and nothing more. They don’t want your stinking slide-outs. They don’t need a bathroom. All they need is a dry place with heat, a comfortable place to sit, a comfortable place to sleep, a sink, stove top, and storage. For these folks, a lightweight truck camper is happiness in a truck bed.
The deeper question is, why did Travel Lite build the 625? To find out, we talked to Dustin Johns, President of Travel Lite.
Above: Click the Travel Lite 625 floor plan above to enlarge it
2016 Travel Lite 625 Specifications
The 2016 Travel Lite 625 is a hard side, non-slide camper made for long or short bed trucks. The interior floor length of the 2016 Travel Lite 625 is 6’2″, the interior height is 6’6”, and the center of gravity is 29″. The 2016 Travel Lite 625 has a 9 gallon fresh tank and a porta-potti. It can accommodate one battery and has one twenty pound propane tank. Travel Lite is reporting the base weight of the Travel Lite 625 to be 1,285 pounds. The base MSRP for the 2016 Travel Lite 625 is $10,495.
Click here for TCM’s Travel Lite 625 Super Lite Review.
Above: The Travel Lite 625 lightweight truck camper mounted on a half ton. For truck and camper matching information, read “How To Match a Truck and Camper“. All photos provided by Travel Lite.
TCM: Why did Travel Lite decide to build the 625?
Dustin: The majority of trucks sold in the United States are half ton short beds. Our customers and dealers have wanted a half ton short bed camper that would allow the tailgate to be kept up, offer plenty of interior room, and feature basic amenities including a stove, sink, and refrigerator. I was asked to build this camper many, many times.
The floor plan for the 625 has been on my mind for some time. It will fit a standard 6’6” short bed truck with the tailgate closed. If your truck features a rear view camera in the tailgate, you can use it with the 625.
This lightweight truck camper is perfect for towing. With the entire camper in the bed of the truck, there’s no need for an extension hitch. That means your turning radius is excellent.
The spacious interior of the 625 is going to surprise people. I raised the interior height and designed the 625 with flat roof giving the cabover bed area more headroom. I also put a lot of windows in this camper. It really feels open and spacious inside.
Above: The tailgate closed on a short bed truck
TCM: You don’t see many truck camper rigs with closed tailgates. In fact, they’re extremely rare. Is this really something you think folks are looking for?
Dustin: Yes, absolutely. For customers with a standard short bed truck, the ability to leave the tailgate up is a big deal.
When they’re camping, they can put the tailgate down and use it like a deck. The tailgate becomes an instant place to sit and hang out. Having the tailgate open as a deck gives the camper a different feel. It’s really nice.
Above: The Travel Lite 625 on a long bed truck with the tailgate closed
Above: Side profile of the Travel Lite 625 on a long bed truck
TCM: The photographs you sent show the 625 on a long bed truck. It’s neat that the 625 can be loaded in this way, but why would anyone do that?
Dustin: If you load the 625 on a long bed truck, you have almost four feet of rear deck. That space is extremely useful if you’re tailgating. It’s also space to store secured toys, gear, extra water, firewood; you name it.
TCM: What about center of gravity with long versus short bed trucks?
Dustin: Long bed or short, the center of gravity is really forward with the 625. That means the weight is well distributed across all four wheels. Also, at 1,285 pounds dry, it is a lightweight truck camper that works with almost any half ton truck.
Above: The graphics feature hunter orange and green camouflage
TCM: Who are you imagining will be the customer for the 625?
Dustin: Hunters and fisherman are our primary target. We gave the 625 a natural-feel graphics package. You can see the leaf in the graphics. Then we highlighted it with a hunter orange, and accented it with camouflage.
Above: Porta-potti cabinet in the 625
We designed the 625 with a built-in porta-potti cabinet. A porta-potti fits into the cabinet, and the cabinet door shuts. The cabinet doesn’t have a bottom style, so the porta-potti can easily slide on the floor. You don’t have to see it, until you use it.
The porta-potti is an option on the 625, but we haven’t sold one yet without it. Even if you only use it once in a while, you’ll be glad you have it.
Above: The interior of the Travel Lite 625 – click to enlarge
TCM: Was the Travel Lite 625 based on another camper, or a completely new design?
Dustin: The 625 is a brand new lightweight truck camper for Travel Lite. We call it the 770’s little brother. The 770 Super Lite is our top seller. We are responding to that success with the 625.
The Travel Lite 770 has the same exterior width (84-inches), the same profile, and the same materials as the 625. Both the 770 and 625 are built with ultra-light materials and techniques. We want to make campers as light as possible because of the popularity of half ton trucks and towing.
For the 625, I focused on weight, the length of the floor, and the interior height in the cabover. I didn’t want a closed-in feel, so I put in wrap around windows.
Above: The dinette and picture window
The dinette is six foot long inside with a four foot by 22-inch picture sliding window right next to it. The back wall has a 22-inch matching window. Then there’s the screen door, passenger window, and egress window.
Above: The three cubic foot refrigerator and storage in the 2016 Travel Lite 625
I also wanted a big six-foot dinette. I was also able to put in a three cubic foot refrigerator because it gives you a freezer. Like I said, people are going to be surprised at how spacious and open this camper is.
TCM: Why did you go with aluminum siding for the 625?
Dustin: Manufacturers like to go with aluminum or fiberglass exclusively. It’s cheaper and more efficient to make that decision across the board, but neither aluminum or fiberglass is right for all applications. Believe me, I have been asked to go exclusively with fiberglass by our purchasing and production teams.
The problem is that fiberglass adds 10% additional weight and $1,000 to the cost of a truck camper. In other words, fiberglass would add 130 pounds to a 1,300 pound camper, and $1,000 cost to the customer. For our ultra-light line, it’s a no-brainer to go with aluminum siding. It’s silly to push fiberglass for a half ton camper.
TCM: Other than aluminum siding, what does Travel Lite do with the 770 and 625 to make them lightweight campers?
Dustin: For the 770 and 625 Super Lites, we don’t use Grade A lumber. To keep them lightweight, use banak wood from South America. Banak is kiln dried further than most woods. That elimination of moisture makes banak approximately 40% lighter than Grade A lumber, saving a significant amount of wood weight from the Super Lite build.
People are often sold on aluminum framing to save weight, but most truck camper manufacturers are forced to stuff their aluminum framing with Grade A lumber. Otherwise they couldn’t get screws to securely bite into their aluminum framing. Now they have the weight of the aluminum, which weighs more than banak wood, and the Grade A lumber, which also weighs more than banak wood. That makes no sense.
Going with banak wood – and not aluminum or Grade A lumber – is another no-brainer for our Super Lite series. We use banak for the framing and cabinetry in the Super Lites. In fact, everything on the Super Lites is done in banak wood, except the cabinet faces. The cabinet faces are done in Cherry wood.
TCM: How about the roof and the floor?
Dustin: The floor is made with 4×8 plywood sheets. I can’t get banak in sheets that big, so we use real plywood.
We do not use OSB (oriented strand board) because it’s heavier from the resin, it breaks easier than real plywood. You also can’t pull a screw out of real plywood. Screws can be pulled straight out of OSB.
I should add that our roofs are bowed truss roofs. Bowed truss construction adds strength from the bowed shape and, again from the bowed shape, water falls off the edges of the camper and into the gutter system. We have bowed truss roofs on all of our truck campers and travel trailers.
Above: Flexible netting is used instead of cabinet doors to save weight
TCM: Any other details that help to lightweight the Super Lite series?
Dustin: The overhead cabinets use flexible netting instead of cabinet doors. We have four or five nets in the 625. We also have an open concept in the floor plan and don’t overstuff our campers with things.
Above: The flip-up counter gives you more counterspace
TCM: Tell us about the counter tops in the Travel Lite 625.
Dustin: We use a laminate, nothing crazy. We did add a flip-up counter top. That’s something we have never done before, and we’re really excited to see what the response is.
TCM: What type of windows are standard; single or thermal pane?
Dustin: We use single pane windows in the 770 and 625 because of weight and price.
Above: The cabover of the 625 features east-west sleeping
TCM: Why not put windows on either side of the cabover?
Dustin: Good question. That window is $125 retail and I didn’t feel it was worth it. You get a four foot window on the passenger side and an egress window. With how open the 625 camper already is, I didn’t want to add the additional cost to the consumer of another window.
TCM: What are the holding tank sizes?
Dustin: There is a nine gallon fresh tank in the 625. There is no grey or blank tank. The grey water is collected outside of the camper. The size of the holding tanks practically make themselves because of the available space. We maximize what’s possible, within that available space.
TCM: How many batteries does the Travel Lite 625 have, and where are they located?
Dustin: This camper will fit one deep cycle battery. The battery space is located in the step-up to the cabover in an enclosed case with an external vent.
The 625 has a battery disconnect under the step with the battery.
TCM: What are the propane tank sizes?
Dustin: The 625 features one 20-pound propane tank. We always design for one 20-pound propane tank on our smaller truck campers.
There is a winterizing bypass for the water heater and we optioned the 625 with a water heater and exterior shower. There’s a door under the cabinet and you can bypass the water heater instantly. The water pump is located under the step up to the cabover for future service.
TCM: Tell us about the standard bumper and entry step system for the Travel Lite 625. The camper only reaches the tail gate area, so how do you get in and out?
Dustin: The entry door to the 625 is essentially the same as the height of the truck bed. Scissor steps may not be applicable. My recommendation is for a plastic step stool from Walmart. Why spend the money on an expensive scissor step system when an inexpensive and lighter weight plastic step stool will do the job?
TCM: What options that are available for the 2016 Travel Lite 625?
Dustin: You can get any option we offer, except for an inside shower. You can get a solar panel system, electric remote-controlled Rieco-Titan jacks, roof rack, ladder, and an awning. If you order these options from the factory they’ll be under warranty and installed right.
TCM: What does the 2016 Travel Lite 625 weigh with standard build features?
Dustin: It weighs 1,285 pounds without options. That weight includes includes the refrigerator, sink, stove, fresh water tank, converter, and manual Rieco-Titan jacks.
TCM: Is the center of gravity marked on the side of the camper?
Dustin: It is in the photos, but I’m getting away from marking the center of gravity on Travel Lite truck campers.
TCM: As a magazine, we believe center of gravity is an important safety consideration. Why are you not marking center of gravity on your campers?
Dustin: Anything you put into your camper makes the center of gravity move, sometimes significantly – like when you add water and option weight. When you load you camper with your stuff – including clothing, food, and gear – that center of gravity moves again.
For this reason, I have decided to stop posting center of gravity. I think it’s confusing for the customers, and mis-represents where the true loaded and wet center of gravity is.
TCM: It’s a fair point, and one that needs to be addressed industry-wide.
Dustin: On the 625, the center of gravity is going to be forward of the rear axle, and thus well distributed, no matter what. Load it on a long bed and it’s really forward. I have loaded and driven the 625 with short and long bed configurations. It sits great, rides great, and doesn’t squat too much. People are going to love this lightweight truck camper.
TCM: What is the MSRP for the 2016 Travel Lite 625 with standard build features?
Dustin: It’s $10,495 with standard build options. Again that includes includes the refrigerator, sink, stove, fresh water tank, converter, and manual Rieco-Titan jacks.
TCM: What is the warranty for the 2016 Travel Lite 625?
Dustin: Our warranty is a full year from the day you pick it up at the dealership.
TCM: When will the 2016 Travel Lite 625 be available?
Dustin: It’s being delivered to Travel Lite dealerships right now.