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Question Of The Week

Camper Tech Gets Checked

This week’s question on technology in truck campers triggered an incredible reader response.  Every truck camper manufacturer, gear company, and dealer needs to read this clear and vehement community feedback.

After reading all 118 responses, there can be no doubt that the truck camper industry needs to tread carefully as they push forward with technology in their products.

This week’s Question of the Week was, “Do you want more and more technology integrated into truck campers, or should truck campers be a minimal technology zone?”

“We go camping to get away from the city and people.  We also want to get away from technology, including television.  I wouldn’t mind some basic tech, like battery and tank monitors, but I don’t need the rest.  We keep it very old school.  We don’t even have a hot water tank.” – Melissa Malejko, 2002 Chevy Silverado 2500HD, 1981 Okanagan

“It would be nice to know the actual levels in all tanks.” – Peter Reynolds, 2007 Silverado 2500, 2005 Arctic Fox 900

“I was reading the question of the week on my phone and then the touch screen locked up!  No tech for me.  Sometimes programmers can get carried away with the gee whizz stuff and make simple tasks complicated or not intuitive.” – Charles Phy, 2011 Dodge 5500, 2010 Eagle Cap 1160

“Being older, I remember working on my pre-computer cars.  Working on today’s cars is not an option.  I don’t want to be out in the boonies without the option of possibly fixing a problem.  Besides, I don’t have a smartphone.” – Bryce Dillree, 2007 GMC 2500HD, 2013 Wolf Creek 850

“No, no, no!  If you read manuals on computers, they all say not to install in areas of high humidity, dust, and vibrations.

After 35 years as a mechanic, I have seen computers invade the auto industry to the point that diagnoses of these systems is almost impossible.  Mechanics are becoming a parts changer, rather than a mechanic.

There are some basic computers already in RVs causing trouble such as refrigerators, converter/chargers, and some thermostats.  These computers are cheap to make for manufacturers, but they are very costly to diagnose and replace. I say, “No, no, no!”  Enough is enough.  There is a place for these devices, but not in an RV.” – Clifford DeVine, 2004 Dodge 2500, 1995 Lance Squire 185

“Maximize mechanical technologies with materials and engineering.  Computerizing makes it hard for the owner to repair and maintain.  I am not totally against computerization because it can provide convenience, but it should have mechanical redundancy on important equipment.

My wife and I are admittedly biased toward dry camping.  We have been tent campers for all our lives.  Now in our mid 60s, we own or first slide-in, and love it!  We have not abandoned our knowledge of living light.  Getting home is as important as going out in the countryside.  If my camper greeted me, I might have to shoot it.” – Pete Memmer, 2015 Ram 2500, 2016 Northstar 850SC

“I want the most simple equipment possible on my truck and camper.  When overlanding or camping remotely, I want to be able to repair things with basic hand tools and logical reasoning, not with a computer that may loose power and diagnostic functions.” – Randy Erwin

“On my Arctic Fox, I have everything; thermostat, solar, tank levels, battery condition, and switches all in one convenient location.  I don’t need no stinking flat screen that controls everything.  The only thing truck camper manufacturers need to do is make a truck camper less prone to leaks and moisture damage.” – George Visconti, GMC 3500HD, 2016 Arctic Fox 990

“Yes, this is 2016, not the stone age.  We can always turn stuff off if we don’t want it.

A major gripe for me is a place to plug in a laptop or tablet at the dinette table.  There should be USB charging, 12-volt DC, and inverted AC, all accessible under or at the end of the table.  I added these features because I needed them..

It still seems that very few people who design and build RVs actually use them.” – Robert Nelson, 2015 GMC 3500, 2013 Arctic Fox 1140

“I like truck campers more basic.  Less technology in them means that less things to go wrong.” – Rodney Tucker, 2016 Chevy Silverado 2500HD, 2005 StarCraft Pine Mountain Roadster II

“I want minimal technology.  The more electronics, the more headaches and expense when the equipment starts to fail.” – Mike Moran, 2016 Ford F150, Four Wheel Hawk

“No to more unnecessary electronics.  However, do make the switch plate in something other than black and with larger, more easy to read wording.  Maybe not placing it almost on the floor would also help!” – Jim M, 2003 Dodge, 2013 Lance 855

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