Randy Hunter, Engineering Product Development Manager, at Lance Camper is the third industry leader to complete our Triple-Dog truck camping dare. Here’s his in-depth dare report, photography and perspectives on a 2020 Lance 855S. Well done, Lance!
From September 20-23, 2019, Randy Hunter went out camping to a county park on the Kern River in The Altimeter, a 2020 Lance 855S on a 2019 Ford F-350 truck. His wife, Lisa, went along with him.
Here is the report from Randy:
Randy Hunter’s RVing Experiences
Lisa and I could not have had a more awesome weekend spending time in the Lance 855S Altimeter.
I want to begin by providing Truck Camper Magazine readers a little personal history. Both my sister, Lori, and I were raised around camping and the great outdoors. Growing up, my parents owned several RVs. We started out in a tent, graduated to a few travel trailers and lastly, had a Weekender truck camper.
My fondest memories were those in our truck camper. Lori and I loved being up in the cabover looking out the front window as we traveled down the highway to our next camping destination.
From this, my passion for the RV lifestyle blossomed. Back in 1973, I was studying Architectural Engineering in college when a drafting position in Fleetwood RV’s trailer division became available. I jumped on it immediately.
Through the years, I never lost focus of my childhood days spending so many vacations and weekend outings in our family’s truck camper. Every time there was an RV Show in town, I would pack the family in the truck and drag them to the Lance Camper display. Lance was the Cadillac of truck campers in the industry and we would spend hours climbing in and out of every model.
I worked my way up through the corporate ladder at Fleetwood, pushing and pushing for Fleetwood to venture into the truck camper arena.
One summer, I got a bug. Having access to all the necessary material, I built a custom 8-foot truck camper from the ground up in our driveway. Once completed, I took her to work and the entire Fleetwood management team reviewed the finished project in awe. She was a beauty.
Finally, the day came in 1990 when I was given the responsibility of
developing the Fleetwood Caribou truck camper. Shortly thereafter, the product line expanded to include the Fleetwood Elkhorn and Angler truck camper products.
Then the Great Recession of struck in 2008. Sadly, Fleetwood and so many other RV manufacturers and dealers came crashing down like a house of cards.
Through the economic turmoil, Lance Camper remained strong. They were the king and I always dreamt of one day being a part of that great team. I admired and respected Lance for their product design, engineering and ingenuity. In June of 2012, I was given the opportunity to join the Lance Camper team. My dream had come true.
Over my career of 43-years in this industry, my passion for the RV lifestyle remains unchanged. As a team, we meet weekly and review and strategize our product planning efforts and new model development. Our goal is to continually provide new and innovative products and features into the marketplace.
We listen to our customers through the customer surveys and social media. Our ears are always open, and our minds never closed.
Randy Hunter’s Dare Trip Report
The Altimeter Lance 855S performed flawlessly and got quite a bit of attention traveling up Route 58 to our campground with many thumbs ups by passing travelers. We also got a few once we arrived. It drew quite a lot of attention. Many campers over the weekend stopped by our site and asked if they could take a peek inside. I also handed out a few Lance brochures.
Lisa and I spent an awesome weekend on the Kern River in a beautiful county park adjacent to Lake Ming. There were no hook-ups so I was able to utilize our product in a truly self-contained environment.
We arrived on Friday afternoon.
First things first; a cool beverage before setting up. We had a beautiful site at the river’s edge.
The site was very level. When accompanied with The Altimeter’s aftermarket truck suspension, we only used the rear truck camper jacks to stabilize the rear of the camper. Putting the rear jacks down ensures smooth operation of the dinette’s slide-out.
There is an increasing consumer interest in regards to lithium battery technology, multiple solar panels, inverter and battery monitoring packages. Prior to our trip, The Altimeter was equipped with four Battle Born 100ah lithium batteries and a 3,000-watt inverter. This was accompanied by a pair of 100-watt Go Power solar panels.
And I am here to tell you, we put this system to the test.
With this package, we were able to fire up the air conditioner to cool down the camper after the camper was closed-up during the day.
Lisa and I spent time with a few racing friends at the NJBA (National Jet Boat Association) Mike Fry Fall Classic at Lake Ming.
With this off-the-grid set-up, we were also able to run the microwave to warm up Lisa’s breakfast quiche and run her hair dryer after showering.
We prepared breakfast both Saturday and Sunday mornings and thanks to the Battle Born, the 3,000-watt inverter and the sun from Mother Nature, we enjoyed a pork roast Saturday afternoon when we returned from the races. The leftovers made for great sandwiches on Sunday.
We ran the refrigerator on 12-volt power while traveling and switched to gas while camping. All of our food and drinks remained nice and cool.
The 30-gallons of onboard fresh water when accompanied with the Truma AquaGo instant water heater providing 120-degree water, made showering very pleasant on those brisk mornings.
While on the topic of brisk, although the daytime temperatures were in the high 80s, the evening temperatures dipped down into the low 50s.
The Altimeter is equipped with Truma’s new VarioHeat furnace which we are evaluating on several models. The product performed flawlessly, and the best part is that there is no more Jet Airplane Engine noise with ignition of the burner. The VarioHeat product operates in a whisper mode. At times you have to ask yourself if she is even running. But yes, she is running and providing all the heat one could ask for.
Lisa was all snug as a bug.
Prior to heading home on Sunday afternoon, we had to do the fun stuff; dumping the holding tanks. All went as planned. I drained, flushed and sanitized. We left it clean and hosed down for the next fellow camper to use the dump facility.
Randy’s Evaluation of The Camper
There were some areas for improvement and attention that I brought back to Lance Camper.
On Saturday morning, I pulled out our coffee maker only to find that the cord would not reach the inverter’s galley-area receptacle. I had to use the appliance box to elevate the coffee maker. Rut row.
Although we do a great job at providing charging ports at key areas in the camper including the dinette and cabover, I feel we need additional locations at each side of bed for greater accessibility.
In all the RV products I have camped in at different times throughout my career, the air conditioner is one thing that has not changed. Time and time again I have told myself that I need to do something about that part of the RV experience, but haven’t.
Oh my God… shame on me! Even as little as we used the air conditioning, the industry is in need of a quieter next-generation air conditioning system. The models the industry uses are very loud and annoying in a non-ducted ceiling application.
Huh? Can you hear me now?
The generator could also use a little sound deadening as well. Fortunately, the boys at Onan are hard at work on that.
Here are a few pictures of friends from the weekend battling on the liquid quarter mile.
All in all, we had a great weekend. We had perfect weather, a perfect campsite, the perfect camper and fun with friends.
The only downer, was upon return to our campsite on Saturday afternoon. After the day at the races, someone walked off with our firewood. LOL.
Really? Lisa was looking so forward to her s’mores that evening. I guess someone else needed it more than we did. All is good. Look at the calories we did not consume.
Thank you, Gordon, Angela and Harley and all the Truck Camper Magazine readers for your continued support and love of the truck camper lifestyle.
Live. Lance. Life.