Travel Lite cuts the cabover to create an entirely fresh truck camper product line. Half-ton trucks, meet the 2016 Travel Lite Rayzr, a hard side match that needs no payload apologies.
There has long been an empty space between the hard side truck camper category and the truck topper category. Both product types are designed to be loaded on the back of a pickup truck to provide shelter and storage, but the similarities end there.
The traditional truck topper (also called a truck cap, shell, or canopy) is essentially a rigid truck bed cover that follows the height and contours of the truck to minimize weight and wind resistance. While it is not unusual for folks to camp in truck toppers with an air mattress and a cooler, truck toppers are not considered to be RVs.
The traditional hard side truck camper (also called a pickup camper, slide-in camper, or cabover camper) features a cabover bedroom, RV-style cabinetry and storage, corner jacks, and other common RV amenities. These amenities often include a built-in propane heater, refrigerator, toilet, holding tanks, 12-volt battery bank, lighting, and outlets. With these features and amenities, truck campers are considered to be RVs.
Truck topper shoppers looking for something with RV amenities have long been out of luck. Hard side truck camper shoppers looking for something relatively light weight, affordable, and simple have also been out of luck. They could have something custom built, move up to a basic truck camper, or settle for a truck topper.
That is, until now.
“We are so excited about this. I’m emailing images to you now. Did you get it?”
This wasn’t the first time Dustin Johns, President of Travel Lite, has called us fired up to tell about his latest creation, but he was even more inspired than usual.
“Hold on Dustin, it’s not here yet… Oh, it’s here. Wow! That is different.”
Above: The rendering Dustin Johns sent us of the 2016 Travel Lite Rayzr
On our computer screen was the rendering of an all-new cabover-free truck camper, one of three cabover-free floor plans Travel Lite Campers was preparing to debut. With RV-style cabinetry, amenities, and corner jacks, it’s clearly not a truck topper. Without a cabover, it’s clearly not a traditional truck camper either. So what the heck is this?
Ladies and gentlemen, it’s a canaper; half truck camper, half topper. Introducing the 2016 Travel Lite Rayzr SS (Super Sleeper), FB (Front Bed), and FK (Full Kitchen).
2016 Travel Lite Rayzr SS Specifications
The 2016 Travel Lite Rayzr SS is a hard side, non-slide camper made for long or short bed trucks. The interior floor length of the 2016 Travel Lite Rayzr SS is 6′ and the interior height is 6’2”. The 2016 Travel Lite Rayzr SS has no fresh tank, no grey tank, and no black tank. It can accommodate one battery and has no propane tanks. Travel Lite is reporting the base weight of the Travel Lite Rayzr SS to be 885 pounds. The base MSRP for the 2016 Travel Lite Rayzr SS is $5,495.
2016 Travel Lite Rayzr FB Specifications
The 2016 Travel Lite Rayzr FB is a hard side, non-slide camper made for long or short bed trucks. The interior floor length of the 2016 Travel Lite Rayzr FB is 7’3″ and the interior height is 6’2”. The 2016 Travel Lite Rayzr FB has a 9 gallon fresh tank, no grey tank, and no black tank. It can accommodate one battery and has one twenty-pound propane tank. Travel Lite is reporting the base weight of the Travel Lite Rayzr FB to be 1,070 pounds. The base MSRP for the 2016 Travel Lite Rayzr FB is $6,995.
2016 Travel Lite Rayzr FK Specifications
The 2016 Travel Lite Rayzr FK is a hard side, non-slide camper made for long or short bed trucks. The interior floor length of the 2016 Travel Lite Rayzr FK is 6′ and the interior height is 6’2”. The 2016 Travel Lite Rayzr FK has a 9 gallon fresh tank, no grey tank, and an optional porta-potti. It can accommodate one battery and has a twenty-pound propane tank. Travel Lite is reporting the base weight of the Travel Lite Rayzr FK to be 1,075 pounds. The base MSRP for the 2016 Travel Lite Rayzr FK is $7,995.
To cut right to the edge of the all-new 2016 Travel Lite Rayzr, we interviewed Dustin Johns, President of Travel Lite.
TCM: Where did the inspiration come from to build a cabover-less hard side truck camper line?
Dustin: The inspiration for this camper is 100% from the customers. I can’t begin to tell you how many phone calls I’ve taken over the years from people who want a basic shell camper. We literally get those requests all the time.
Above: The profile is reminiscent of a semi-truck sleeper – click to enlarge
The design and exterior profile of the Travel Lite Rayzr is reminiscent of a semi-truck sleeper. We are taking the concept of a semi-sleeper and making a comfortable hard-side sleeping and camping solution for a pickup truck. Best of all, the Rayzr works with long or short bed trucks, and half-tons. Without a doubt, it’s the most widely compatible truck camper available, and the most affordable.
Above: The Rayzr Super Sleeper, the smallest model, features a sofa – click to enlarge
TCM: What distinguishes the three models, the Rayzr SS, FB, and FK? And why did you design with these three configurations?
Dustin: The first Rayzr is our Super Sleeper, or the SS. Some people just want to get off the ground and out of the elements. The Rayzr SS has windows with screens for cross ventilation, and plenty of storage. It is based on people wanting a simple shell style unit to comfortably sleep in. The SS comes in at 885 pounds.
Above: The Rayzr Front Bed model features a full-size bed and underbed storage – click to enlarge
Above: The kitchen area in the FB – click to enlarge
The FB is our Front Bed model. It has a sink, a nine gallon fresh water tank, propane stove, and a propane heater. There’s space under the bed area to store a cooler. The FB would be perfect for a weekend trip. The FB is 1,070 pounds.
Above: The Rayzr FK has a dinette that turns into a bed – click to enlarge
The third model is the FK, or Full Kitchen. The FK floor plan is exactly like our 625 camper without the cabover. It’s a regular camper, but it’s for someone who is trying to avoid the extra weight of a cabover camper. The FK is great for a single person or a couple who wants some amenities and a comfortable place to sleep.
The Travel Lite Rayzr FK has a refrigerator, stove, lots of storage, optional water heater, propane heater, exterior shower, and porta-potti. The 72-inch dinette turns into a bed. There is lots of countertop space and a flip-up counter extension. The FK is a fully-functional camper in a small package. The FK is 1,075 pounds. That weight includes the refrigerator and propane.
Above: The FK floor plan is essentially the same as the Travel Lite 625
Above: The Rayzr Full Kitchen model – click to enlarge
TCM: So the FK design is essentially just the 625 with the cabover nose removed?
Dustin: That’s right. The Rayzr concept was out of the blue and completely new, but we did start with the successful floor plan from our 625. All we did was take out the front bed and change the cabinets slightly. Once we had that one done, we designed the SS and FB.
The FB turned out amazing. I’m amazed at how much room there is in that camper. It has a 6’2” interior height, 84” of interior width, and 7’3” in floor length. That’s probably my favorite Rayzr camper.
Above: The Travel Lite Rayzr on a Chevy Silverado – click to enlarge
TCM: Let’s talk about wind resistance. People are going to look at the Rayzr sticking up from the truck and wonder how it drives.
Dustin: When you think about the typical truck camper with a cabover, most of the wind goes past the top of the truck’s windshield, gets directed by the underside of the cabover, and then stuck in the area between your truck cab and the front wall of the camper. Driving down the road you can literally hear wind getting stuck in this area. That’s the loud whooshing sound you hear behind you on the highway.
Without a cabover, the Rayzr avoids this problem completely. There is no cabover underbelly trapping air like an open shoebox. There is no back wall trapping air. The wind simply goes over the truck windshield and then over the slant of the Rayzr. The cross-wind profile of the Rayzr is also dramatically less without a cabover.
I will go out on a limb and state that the Rayzr is the most aerodynamic truck camper on the market. I will also state that the Rayzr will get the best fuel mileage of any hard side truck camper. The Rayzr may even be more efficient than many cabover pop-up designs.
I am considering a 100-mile GoPro video fuel test between the Travel Lite Rayzr FK and the Travel Lite 625. They share the same floor plan, but the Rayzr FK lacks the cabover. After 100-miles mounted on the same truck, we would show how much fuel was used for both campers.
Above: Flexible nets are used instead of cabinet doors to save weight. The Rayzr SS is pictured above. Click to enlarge.
TCM: That would be a very interesting test. If you do it, let us know and well publish the video and results in Truck Camper Magazine. Does the Rayzr have the same physical construction and materials as your other Travel Lite truck campers?
Dustin: 100% of the frame material in the Rayzr line is Banak, the same wood we use in our Super Lite series. We use flexible nets instead of cabinet doors to cut down on weight. We kept the Rayzr simple and didn’t design in anything extra. We didn’t want overcomplicate this product.
Above: The same cherry style wood and two tone fabrics are used in the Rayzr. The SS model is shown above. Click to enlarge.
We have cherry style wood cabinetry with two tone fabric interiors. We are using the same appliances and materials that we use for our other campers. Keeping the weight down was our main goal. Designing the camper without a cabover made it super light weight.
TCM: What type of windows are standard; single, thermal pane, or Dometic acrylic?
Dustin: Every window is single-pane, tinted, and a slider. Having the windows across from each other gives the Rayzr great cross-ventilation. Also, a Fantastic fan can be optioned in on any of the Rayzr floor plans.
Above: The optional 5,000 BTU air conditioner in the FK model. Click to enlarge.
On the FK you can get an optional 5,000 BTU air conditioner. The air conditioner is installed in an interior cabinet with vents to the outside. Using an internally-mounted air conditioner allows us to keep the roof with minimal holes and potential airflow obstructions.
From front to back, the Rayzr roof is one piece fiberglass. There is no front roof seam. The roof is easy to clean and pretty much leak proof.
TCM: The 5,000 BTU air conditioner sounds like a great idea for a small camper. Can it run on a portable Honda EU2000i generator?
Dustin: Absolutely. Since the air conditioner is only 5000 BTU, so it will run on a Honda generator.
TCM: Is the Travel Lite Rayzr a basement model?
Dustin: There is no basement in the Rayzr series. It features the same three and a half inch sandwich floor as our other truck camper models. Lessening the height of the floor would have made the camper cheaper to build, but we do not want any floor flex. The Rayzr is still a Travel Lite and we don’t want to compromise quality just because it’s a small camper.
Above: Rayzr campers can be used off the truck – click to enlarge
TCM: Can the Rayzr series of campers be used off the truck?
Dustin: Yes, they can be used off the truck. The Travel Lite Rayzr models have the same structure as our other campers. We just designed them without an cabover.
TCM: Do the Rayzr SS, FS, and FK have holding tanks?
Dustin: The SS has no holding tanks. The FB and FK have nine gallon fresh tanks. There are no grey tanks in these campers. Grey water is captured in a container outside of the unit.
The FK can have a water heater and an outside shower. With the hot water heater, the FK has hot and cold water for the outside shower. The FK also has a porta-potti in a cabinet under the dinette. Just like the 625, it comes in the cabinet if you option it in.
Above: The fresh water tank and batteries in the FB are under the full-size bed – click to enlarge
TCM: How many batteries does the Travel Lite Rayzr have, and where are they located?
Dustin: The Rayzr models will fit one Group 27 deep cycle battery. A Group 31 AGM battery would also fit in that compartment.
The battery is located in the step area, or under the bed, depending on the model. The step is where we put our water pump, batteries, and converters in all of our campers, so we kept those items there for the Rayzr. The step also gives you an extra place to sit.
If you boondock for extended periods, we offer a portable solar panel for the Rayzr.
TCM: What are the propane tank sizes for the Rayzr series?
Dustin: The SS does not have a propane tank. The FB and FK both have one twenty-pound tank.
Above: A battery disconnect switch is standard in the Rayzr, FK model shown above – click to enlarge
TCM: What considerations are given for winterization?
Dustin: Battery access is under the dinette. The battery disconnect is in the same area. For the Rayzr models that have the features, there is a hot water heater bypass and low water drains. Everything you’re used to in a Travel Lite truck camper is in the Rayzr.
TCM: Tell us about the standard bumper and entry step system for the 2016 Travel Lite Rayzr series.
Dustin: The Rayzr does not have a bumper or an entry step system. We recommend an $11.99 step from Walmart.
Above: The Rayzr campers will fit on either a short or long bed pickup truck – click to enlarge
TCM: What trucks were you targeting for the Rayzr series?
Dustin: The Rayzr campers fit on all long bed trucks, and the SS and FK will fit on a standard short bed with the tailgate it up. With the FB, you could have the tailgate down, or you could take it off completely.
The SS and FK have a floor length of 6’3”. The FB has a floor length of 7’5”. So all of the Rayzr campers are ready for short or long bed trucks. All of them have a flat floor so no tanks would be crushed if you left the tailgate on the truck.
With the Rayzr, we are targeting half ton short bed trucks. Every model will match the payload capacity of a half-ton. By the Rayzr being both short and long bed compatible, and extremely light weight, it will work with almost anything the customer already has. Even better, a customer can change trucks and know their Rayzr will work with their new truck.
TCM: Are there any new options that are available for the 2016 Travel Lite Rayzr?
Dustin: You can option in an air conditioner, CD player with a radio, inside and outside speakers, and electric jacks on the FB and FK.
Even though we have aluminum siding in the pictures, you can get fiberglass siding. The Fantastic Fan is an option in all Rayzr models. The porta-potti, water heater, and outside shower are options on the FK.
Above: The 2016 Travel Lite Rayzr front profile – click to enlarge
TCM: What is the MSRP for the 2016 Travel Lite Rayzr series?
Dustin: The base MSRP for the 2016 Travel Lite Rayzr SS is $5,495. The base MSRP for the 2016 Travel Lite Rayzr FB is $6,995. The base MSRP for the 2016 Travel Lite Rayzr FK is $7,995.
TCM: That’s an impressive MSRP for the Rayzr SS, and about $5,000 less than the next least expensive hard side truck camper, your own 2016 Travel Lite 625 ($10,405). It’s almost a full $10,000 less than the next cheapest hard side from a competitor. What is the warranty for the 2016 Travel Lite Rayzr?
Dustin: From the day you pick it up from the dealer, it is fully warrantied by Travel Lite for one year. The individual warranties for the components, including the optional refrigerator, hot water heater, are longer.
TCM: When will the 2016 Travel Lite Rayzr be available?
Dustin: We’re shipping right now. We’ve expanded our fleet to five trucks and trailers and we have seven delivery trucks. Travel Lite is in control of its own shipping. Our drivers also receive bonuses when the campers arrive at the dealerships in perfect condition.
Also, a typical standard three camper run cross-country from Indiana to California costs $2,300 per camper in freight. With the Rayzr we can fit seven campers on the truck. That’s about $1,000 in freight per unit. The customer can save up to $1,300 dollars in freight with a Rayzr.
TCM: Seven per load is amazing. Please send us a picture of a seven load when it goes out the door. Is there any other news from Travel Lite that you would like to share?
Dustin: Just in the first seven months of 2015, we have gained 192 campers of market share. We want to be the number one manufacturer of truck campers volume wise. In the next 18 to 24 months that’s our goal.
I now have my brother-in-law working with us at Travel Lite as our Production Manager. He is now a 10% owner of Travel Lite. He helped us implement a mid-line testing station that has improved our quality control. We make sure everything is 100% correct there before a unit continues down the line. Everything is quality control checked again at the final finishing area. We are very proud of what we’re doing right now.
We are bringing back Travel Lite pop-up truck campers. We are excited about the 2016 Rayzrs, pop-ups, and cabover campers. We are also looking to manufacturer an Illusion double slide next year. Stay tuned!