Cirrus Campers announces the second generation Cirrus 820. Based on the outgoing 800, the 820 features a major cabinetry redesign, a new face-to-face dinette, dramatic tank size increases, and much more. Are those drawers?
As a magazine, part of our mission is to help the truck camper industry stay in tune with what the marketplace wants. For example, we conduct a semi-annual survey on exactly what our readers are looking for in their next truck camper. The extensive consumer survey is specific about nearly every element of truck camper design and has directly influenced many industry product decisions over the past half-decade.
After Cirrus Campers debuted in June of 2015, the Cirrus leadership team invited us to their factory in Sugarcreek, Ohio to get our first look at the Cirrus 800. On our way back east from a multi-month truck camping trek, we stopped by and spent the better part of a day meeting the crew, studying the production line, and giving the designers feedback on the new camper. What a privilege.
During our conversations about the Cirrus 800, we learned that the Cirrus team had solicited feedback from a number of sources; dealers, consumers, vendors, and almost anyone who walked in the door interested in truck campers. The culture at Cirrus was wide open to feedback.
Fast forward almost ten months. Cirrus Campers has taken to heart your survey responses, evaluated dealer comments, absorbed customer suggestions, considered our list of recommendations, and emerged with what can only be called Cirrus Generation 2. The Cirrus 820 shares the same floor plan as the Cirrus 800, but so much has been updated that the Cirrus team gave it a new model number.
To find out exactly what’s new in the 2017 Cirrus 820, we talked to Scott Hubble, CEO and Allen Miller, the Director of Research and Development of Cirrus Campers.
2017 Cirrus 820 Specifications:
The Cirrus 820 is a hard side, non-slide, wet bath truck camper for short bed trucks. The interior floor length of the Cirrus 820 is 8’3″ and the interior height is 6’5″. Cirrus is reporting the base dry weight of the Cirrus 820 at 2,080 pounds and 2,540 pounds with standard features. It has a 38 gallon fresh water tank, a 32 gallon grey tank, and a 18 gallon black tank. The camper accommodates two batteries and two twenty-pound propane tanks. The base price MSRP for the Cirrus 820 is $33,952.
Above: The exterior of the Cirrus 820. All photography provided by Cirrus Campers.
TCM: Before we get to the Cirrus 820, tell us about the response you had to the first generation of Cirrus truck campers.
Scott: As we expected with an all-new product, the initial reaction to the Cirrus 800 was not mixed. People either loved the Cirrus 800, or didn’t.
Overall, we are happy with the way Cirrus launched and are excited about the resulting feedback and changes. We are confident that we have squashed the objections and made the 2017 Cirrus 820 a much stronger competitor. Several key elements of the Cirrus 800 have been either overhauled or fine tuned.
Above: The interior of the Cirrus 820
TCM: Was there a consensus about what was right about the first generation of Cirrus campers, and what needed to be changed?
Scott: Yes, there was. The initial feedback said that the camper was innovative, but there were some fundamentals that had been overlooked.
The biggest things were all function related. For example, the unit needed more internal storage, two propane tanks, dual batteries, and larger holding tanks. Customers wanted more storage and capacity to camp off-the-grid longer.
TCM: Tell us about the process of designing the second generation product. Was it just a matter of compiling everyone’s wish list and working things in, or was there more to it?
Allen: It was an extensive redesign, not so much structurally, but certainly with the new cabover cabinetry, full-booth dinette, kitchen drawers, battery compartment, propane compartment, and basement configuration.
Scott: The footprint of the Cirrus 820 is unchanged, but we reconfigured within the footprint. The largest change is in the kitchen.
Above: Two kitchen drawers are now below the refrigerator
The overhead cabinetry has been raised up, the countertop has been extended, and we have added a series of drawers on the far right hand side and below the refrigerator.
Above: The countertop has been extended with more food prep space
All of these changes played into a major design update.
Above: The Cirrus 820 has a diamond plate bumper design
TCM: Not too long after the first generation Cirrus 800 launched, the rear ABS bumper was changed to a new diamond plate design. What bumper is standard for 2017?
Scott: We built two dozen units with the ABS bumper. With feedback, further testing, and research, we decided to move to the diamond plate bumper design. We even retrofitted the Cirrus campers in our yard and on many dealer lots with the diamond plate bumpers. There are now fewer than ten Cirrus campers with the original ABS bumpers.
The second generation continues with the diamond plate bumpers. It’s a strong design that’s been well received.
TCM: Are the Torklift International GlowSteps standard for 2017, or an option?
Scott: Torklift International GlowSteps are a new option for the 2017 Cirrus 820. Cirrus dealers and customers asked us to find a step solution for taller trucks and the GlowSteps are perfect for that requirement.
The quality of the GlowStep system is superior to any other scissor steps on the market and they eliminate any potential drop from the Cirrus bumper to the ground. Customers can even add or delete steps to adjust the GlowStep system to the height of their truck.
Above: The Cirrus bumper with the pull-out step system is standard
TCM: Is the pull-out step system still available?
Scott: Yes, the pull-out step we used on the Cirrus 800 is standard on the 820.
The Torklift International GlowStep option is available from Cirrus dealers. If you need a taller step system with your truck, the GlowSteps integrate well with the Cirrus 820.
TCM: The first thing we noticed on your updates was the dramatic increases in holding tank sizes. The fresh tank increased from 26 gallons to 38 gallons, or 46%. The grey tank increased from 19 gallons to 32 gallons or 68%. And the black tank increased from 17 gallons to 18 gallons. Why did you make these considerable tank size changes?
Allen: For a new product design we usually start with existing holding tank sizes. That approach worked well for the first generation Cirrus 800, but dealer and consumer feedback indicated we needed much larger holding tanks for the second generation. To make this happen, we had larger holding tanks designed and manufactured for the 2017 Cirrus 820.
We also had some grey tank plumbing running into the black tank on the first generation campers. For the 2017 model, the grey and black to run into separate tanks.
Above: The grey and black tanks are in the base of the camper, the black tank is in the back
TCM: Why did you decide on 38 gallons fresh, 32 gallons grey, and 18 gallons black?
Allen: We researched the holding tank capacities of other short bed, hard side truck campers and modeled our tank capacities to be competitive, if not superior. We originally wanted our fresh tank to be 40 gallons, but we were only able to fit a 38 gallon tank.
TCM: With the larger and heavier tank capacities, are you embracing a higher weight point and truck requirement for the Cirrus 820?
Scott: Yes. When the 2017 Cirrus is wet and loaded with gear, you will need at least 3,000 pounds of payload.
TCM: With the way GVWR and payload vary between trucks, that’s likely a late model three-quarter ton truck. If the customer is towing, or has plans to upgrade campers in the future, TCM would recommend a one ton with the Cirrus.
Scott: We designed, built, and appointed the Cirrus 820 the way customers want it. Recognizing that customer needs and desires are paramount, we were able to modify our design for what’s best. The 2017 Cirrus 820 is a very functional three-quarter ton truck camper.
Above: There are five access panels on the underbelly of the camper
TCM: What are the individualized sub-floor access panels?
Allen: On the generation one Cirrus 800, the exterior underside of the camper is a single panel that can be dropped to access tanks and conduct repairs.
For the second generation, we have divided this panel into five lighter weight panels that can be removed individually to make repairs. The new panels are laminated composite and foam insulation and weigh about a pound each. They’re really lightweight and easy to handle.
Above: The control panel with black and grey valves, drain valves, and external shower
TCM: That kind of access is invaluable for future owners. In your email to us about the updates, you describe the 2017 Cirrus 820 as being a “true four season camper”. What changes have been made to make the Cirrus more four-season capable?
Allen: The biggest change was a new control panel where your black and grey valves, drain valves, and external shower are now located, sealed, and insulated.
Above: The Rieco-Titan control panel for the jacks and the water control panel are on the driver’s side rear of the camper
The grey and black tank valves are also now under the sub-floor with the heating convectors. Everything else about the first generation was four-season ready, but these changes were needed.
Above: The Cirrus 820 has a dual battery compartment on the passenger’s side rear of the camper
TCM: When we were at the factory last summer, we suggested the Cirrus 800 needed a dual battery compartment and space for two propane tanks. How did you make this a reality without sacrificing interior storage?
Allen: On the first generation, the propane and battery compartments were side-by-side on the driver’s side of the unit. To make the change, we moved the battery compartment and extended the propane compartment. The batteries are now in the bumper area. No internal storage was lost.
Actually, we gained a significant amount of interior storage for the 2017 update.
Above: Two twenty-pound vertical propane tanks are on the driver’s side
TCM: What size propane tanks and batteries does the Cirrus 820 now accommodate?
Allen: The Cirrus 820 now accommodates two 20-pound vertical propane tanks. We designed our own bracket. It offers good protection for the tank, and features a 2-inch nylon tank strap that’s easy to work with.
Scott: With a battery tray footprint of 13 ¾” deep x 12 ¾” wide x 10 ¾” tall, it will easily fit two Group 27 and the vast majority of Group 31 batteries. If you want to have two Group 31 batteries, we recommend measuring the batteries prior to installation.
TCM: We bought our current Group 31 AGM batteries at an Interstate battery store. That allowed us to try to fit the Group 31 batteries prior to purchase. Are you still sourcing the Cirrus 820 cabinets from Italy?
Scott: Yes, we are still sourcing the cabinets from our Italian partner. The cabinetry is light ply, modern, and features the same aesthetic and composition as seen in the first generation Cirrus.
Above: More bedroom storage in the Cirrus 820; hampers, front penguins, headboard storage, and high cabinets
TCM: What changes have been made to the cabover?
Allen: The first generation of Cirrus campers had an oversized queen bed, but hardly any cabover storage. The new cabover has a true 60-inch by 80-inch queen-size bed.
That change gave us extra storage cabinetry on either side. We also added more width to the side storage and installed a hamper lid that’s hinged for additional storage.
Above: Front storage in the very front of the cabover nose
In the front bulkhead there was no storage in generation one. Now there is a removable lid with storage and access to the Alde convectors.
Above: Front cabinets with a middle shelf
On each side of the bulkhead you also have a front cabinets with a shelf. We eliminated the open shelf in favor of the more useful front cabinets. The open shelf is the only cabover element that was eliminated. The reading lights are now installed on the side of the front cabinets.
TCM: Tell us more about the side hampers. With the Alde system convectors being located there, how much storage do you realistically have?
Allen: The side hampers are approximately 6-inches high, 50-inches long, and 8-inches wide. It’s a nice area for socks, underwear, and clothing that you can fold up. The hampers have provided a nice area for storage.
TCM: Do the hampers trap the heat from the Alde convectors?
Allen: No. The convector is installed against the side wall, which is good. There are slots along the back side for the air to flow up and around the hamper. As part of the redesign, we also decreased the space the convector was using. Finally, under the mattress we have the Froli system for air flow.
The new hamper design created a nice storage space and made for better air flow with the heating system.
TCM: For the 2017 model year, you have gone to a traditional face-to-face booth dinette instead of the U-shape dinette in the first generation. Why did you make this change?
Scott: Two reasons. There was very little usable surface area with the U-shape dinette table. So, to get more table and working space, we enlarged the table to the side wall. The table is now double the size for working, eating, and living space.
TCM: That’s awesome. As two people who work on laptops in camper dinettes all the time, that space is just perfect. It will also be better for meals, cards, and maps.
Scott: The other reason we moved to a face-to-face dinette is because the Cirrus 820 is mainly designed for two people.
TCM: Talk about how you designed the height of the seats, table, and overall ergonomics of the dinette.
Allen: We raised the height of the seats and increased the depth for comfort. We based the height and depth on what looked and felt right given the space limitations. The goal was to make the dinette more comfortable.
TCM: Tell us about the new rail system table.
Allen: The FAWO rail system table mounts to the side and has a leg for stability. The table can be attached and then reattached at a lower position to make the dinette bed.
The table is lightweight making it easy to convert into a bed.
We also have an upholstered panel that attaches to the side so you can relax and lean into the corner.
TCM: We enjoy sitting across the dinette seats and leaning into the corner as you describe. Tell us about the redesigned bunk and why you redesigned it from the first generation.
Scott: The bunk redesign is subtle. The new bunk is focused more on storage and less on being a bunk for children to sleep.
Above: The new dinette bunk latch system
It’s still highly functional, but we moved the latches to be less visible, shortened the height, and made the overall design simpler and cleaner.
TCM: What did you do with the wall in-between the cabover and dinette?
Allen: The wall is still there, but it is cut down significantly. Now the wall does not obstruct the person on the passenger’s side from getting out of the cabover.
He/she will not need to climb over the other person. This was part of the bunk redesign.
TCM: That change should really open up the camper. How did you make the kitchen countertop larger?
Allen: By moving the tank monitors off the side of the refrigerator cabinet, and removing a section of the refrigerator cabinet, we gained a full four inches of counter space.
The tank monitor and switches are now on the wall, along the back of the sink, beside the lighted panel.
Above: Metal roller bearing guide drawers in the kitchen
TCM: Another feedback item on the first generation was the lack of drawers. Now you have five drawers in the kitchen area. How did you do that?
Scott: We had three big cabinet doors on the generation one Cirrus campers. We decided to make one of those big cabinets a series of three drawers. So, now we have two large cabinets and a set of three drawers under the cook top.
Above: Five drawers have been added to the kitchen area; three under the stove and two under the refrigerator
When we were moving things around, we discovered another storage opportunity under the refrigerator. This area was previously occupied by the converter, which we have since moved under the cabover step. Under the refrigerator are now two additional drawers.
Above: An over-the-range microwave is standard on the Cirrus 820
TCM: In your email to us you stated that a Samsung microwave with hood is now standard. Is that correct?
Allen: Yes, it’s an over-the-range microwave with venting on the bottom, just like many of us have at home. Like many amenities, the microwave is standard on the 2017 Cirrus 820.
TCM: For 2017, Cirrus is switching from Atwood to Rieco-Titan jacks. Why are you making this change?
Allen: There were several reasons for that change. First, the Atwood dually swing-out brackets needed to be mounted on the side of the camper. This design was difficult and impractical on the Cirrus 800.
Above: Rieco-Titan Jacks are mounted on the Cirrus 820
By switching to Rieco-Titan, the drive motor is on the side allowing the jacks to be mounted in the front.
Second, the control panel with Atwood is open and Rieco-Titan has everything closed with a nice cover. And third, Atwood only offers black jacks as a special order. Rieco-Titan offers black jacks as a standard color.
Above: The Alde system is now located under the dinette seating area
TCM: The Alde system brought some challenges to the design of the Cirrus 800. For example, it took up a lot of the under sink kitchen storage. Did you move the Alde system for the 2017 update?
Allen: Yes. By raising the dinette seating, we opened up an area to move the Alde heating system. The Also system is now under the dinette seat closet to the cabover.
TCM: Do you worry about it getting too hot for the person sitting in the dinette?
Scott: We have been mounting the Alde system under the dinette seats in our T@b trailers for years. Unlike a typical furnace, the nature of the Alde system technology is that the unit will get warm, but not hot.
Allen: If you touch a running Alde system, you will barely recognize that it’s on. The reason is that the unit itself is insulated within the Alde shroud. As such, the only area emitting heat would be the brass fitting on the check valve.
Above: The Cirrus 820 wet bath features the fold down sink from the 800
TCM: Are you still incorporating the other leading edge design elements and features of the original model; opening front window, heated floors, seamless aluminum roof, fold-down bathroom sink, etc.?
Scott: Absolutely. Those are signature Cirrus features and things that we want identified with Cirrus as a company. There is always a balance between aesthetics and function. Function needs to win that battle more times than not, but we need to keep that balance. We weren’t willing to sacrifice any of those elements for the Cirrus 820.
TCM: How about the bathroom? Have there been any changes there?
Scott: Under the floor there have been some plumbing changes, so there was a slight raise in the floor.
Allen: With your eyes you won’t be able to notice anything different in the bathroom. We refined and improved the function, but not the aesthetic.
TCM: When will the 2017 Cirrus 820 be available at dealerships?
Scott: The 2017 Cirrus 820s have just been made available to dealers and will start showing up on dealers’ lots in relative short order.
TCM: How about weight? How has that changed?
Scott: The weight of a 2017 Cirrus 820 that just went out the door with almost every option, including the rear camera system, Maggie roof rack, and solar kit was 2,580 pounds.
Above: The Cirrus 820 comes standard with a Fiamma motorized awning and keyless entry
The standard unit weight comes in at 2,540 pounds and includes the Fiamma motorized awning and ladder, electric jacks, keyless entry, air conditioner, Alde central heat and hot water system, Samsung microwave oven, overhead bunk, HDTV television, entertainment center, and Sensar IV HD antenna.
TCM: Have you increased the $33,952 base MSRP?
Scott: No. We have left the MSRP the same. The price of the Cirrus 820 is not going up.
We’re basically selling the Cirrus 820 campers with everything on them. The only options are a rear awning, Maggie rack, rear camera, 160-watt solar kit, swing out brackets, pass-through window, and the mattress for the bunk.
TCM: So items like the keyless entry, cabover entry door windows, air conditioner, and See Level gauges are all included in a standard build?
Scott: Yes, and all of that is included in the above stated weight and base MSRP.
TCM: Is there anything else about the next generation 2017 Cirrus 820 that you would like to add?
Scott: We’re currently in the beginning stages of creating a light weight Cirrus, which will be designed for half-ton trucks. There is an opportunity for a high-end half-ton truck camper and we’d like to step into that batter’s box and take a swing.
TCM: That’s very exciting news. What weight target are you swinging for?
Scott: We want to come to the plate at 1,700 pounds loaded with awesome features.
TCM: Will it have a bathroom?
Scott: Yes, it will have a bathroom.
TCM: Where are you now with this new model?
Scott: We are in extreme research and development with the prototype. When it’s ready, we will debut it right here in Truck Camper Magazine.