Thank you to everyone who took the time to reply with such passion and vigor to my letter, “It’s Time To Fight”. Your feedback is a valuable glimpse into the perceptions and intentions of our community during these challenging times. I will urge the leaders of the truck camper industry to read your comments carefully.
Of course not everything was perfect. When I stated, “Politically, it would be wise to keep these words from the pages of Truck Camper Magazine,” I was referring to industry politics, not national politics. A few readers misunderstood me and sent in their national political standings. While I enjoyed these emails and identify with the fervor from which they came, I am keeping national politics out of this discussion.
By all means, please keep the feedback coming. This fight continues.
Here are your responses presented in the order in which they arrived:
“What a fantastic article and thank you for saying it. In general I’m against publications like this taking a political stand, but in this case I think it’s very appropriate. Your analysis of the current economic situation is spot on. Economic trends are cyclical and gas prices are not causing the sky to fall.
Technology will come on line in the future to reduce the demand on fuel, the housing market will come back, and the economy will improve. Market corrections are a reality and for very good reasons. So why not take advantage of the down economy and do as you say; save thousands on your next truck camper combination and reap the rewards of a soft economy. Thank you for being an advocate for the truck camper industry.” – Brian Stimits
“Gordon – Folks aren’t seeing any “Truck camper deals of a lifetime” out there. I haven’t seen any manufacturer rebates or anything else. My wife and I want to buy a new Lance 971. If there were some great deals out there, we would likely do something now.” – Brad W
“Thanks for your work on this information for truck campers. I always felt we were the forgotten campers in the RV world. Good job keep it up.” – Gordon Knight, Jr.
“Go Gordon! As a recently displaced sales manager, I personally appreciate your stand. I would encourage everyone to do the same. Thanks.” – Dewey Ulbright
“Glad you put your thoughts online. The truck camper industry is taking a hit like every other aspect of our life these days. Personally I think every industry and every user of fossil fuels has to rethink. Detroit is beginning to wake up. All of us in Michigan have felt the pain of the CEOs being asleep at the wheel.
There are plenty of ways to increase the miles per gallon of our trucks and cars. The housing industry, bankers, restaurants, schools, and families have had to find new and better ways of doing things. Maybe the truck camper is the new way. Let’s stop hauling half of what we own behind us in a long trailer or pushing it in a motorhome half the size of my house. Why not latch on to a functional, cozy truck camper? Put it in the bed of an efficient truck and visit a few places. Maybe boondocking overnight will bring us to our destination.
Let’s drive 55 to 60 miles per hour instead of the high speeds folks have become accustomed to. Let’s put out the solar panels and enjoy the campfires and stories instead of TV and DVD. It is possible to drive a day, eat your meals out of the camper, and spend a night boondocking for less than some of the folks driving cars, eating at restaurants, and staying at hotels. I can’t imagine Americans giving up travel completely.
I was only slightly joking when I told my husband that we should take our truck camper on the road for January and February and save money. I figure with our $300 a month budget for heating oil this season at our home, we can lower the thermostat to keep the water lines from freezing, head for a warmer climate in our truck camper, and save money! Keep the brain churning, Gordon!” – Michigan Marge
“Yes, Gordon. For heaven’s sake, keep on truckin’. My wife and I had never been able to experience the joy of RVing until we purchased our beloved used truck and camper two years ago. This rig has been a perfect way for us to get out and do the things that truck camper folks like to do. And believe me, we looked at all the other options.
The Chevy Silverado and Hallmark Ute fit us like a glove. We also were listening to the media and thinking about quitting or cutting back on our truck camper exploring. Then we figured we have gone through a lot of so called crises before. We pretty much ignored them and went on enjoying life.” – Alyn Wolf
“Gordon – I read your commentary about truck campers and the real economic factors that affect them. You are right to say that factors outside our control should not affect what we do. But there is more. From what I have seen, truck camper manufacturers also contribute to the slow down in selling. Many truck campers seem to be far more affordable than others. Where some will cost around $18,000, others with similar designs and equipment are costing two or three times that.
Many, and I am among them, do not see how a cost for the same item can cost so much more. They use the same appliances, the same exteriors, and the same basic framing. I will agree that some do more to make the camper stronger or more appealing to the marketplace, but two or three times the cost? The other factor that I see is the lack of a marketplace where anyone can see or purchase a truck camper if they decide they want one. Here in Las Vegas, there is one dealer selling truck campers. If I want another brand, the closest dealer to me is two-hundred miles away or more. That is not an inducement to go buy one, especially if I have never seen the model I think I might want.
So it is the case of “the chicken or the egg”? Do the makers need to get into the marketplace more or do they wait until sales increase? With an economy indicating so much is wrong here, I am not surprised that people are putting off buying a truck camper. But then again, if they were more available to the people that want them, sales may increase. I don’t have an answer for that, but I cannot imagine any store wanting to sell an item and not having it available to the people that they want to reach. Would Dodge and Chrysler or Ford survive? I don’t think so. So it isn’t all the economy, nor the lack to willingness to buy. Fault also has to be had by the manufacturers. I hope they all find the answer while they have the ability to do so.
I have been an RVer for over forty years and do not like the prospect of that lifestyle taking a hit. I think more of a smoothing of price differences, more access, and a broader dealer spectrum would help. But I can only watch and wait. I hope the truck camper and RV buyers aren’t doing the same thing for much longer.” – Frank Drake, Las Vegas, Nevada
“Gordon – Your article is upbeat, but I think there are several other things manufacturers need to do to get many folks off the fence. One, build green. Two, lower formaldehyde levels significantly. Three, lower weight significantly by adapting new composite technology. Four, emphasize solar and other off-grid technologies.
Five, come up with more creative floor plans. For example, getting a high quality queen sofa-bed on the main level. Seniors and handicapped campers would flock to a plan where they don’t have to climb to get in bed and the overhead area would then make great storage area. Yes, it’s the economy, stupid. It’s a part of the equation, but it is far from all that could be done.” – Dennis J. Darr
“Hi Gordon – I think that the truck camper has a great future ahead of it. There is so much research being done in alternative energy that I think in about five years we will see the price of oil plummeting. Windmills are getting more efficient, generating up to five megawatts of energy. A company called Nanosolar has come out with a new technology that has dramatically reduced the cost of solar cells. Their production is sold out for the next year and they are trying to ramp up their production to meet the demand. Algae researchers have shown that they can produce 20,000 times more oil per acre than using corn.
Research has come up with a more efficient way to produce hydrogen for use in fuel cells and it has been shown that a new type of Lithium-Silicon battery can hold ten times the charge of the Lithium-Ion battery which Chevy plans to put into their new plug-in hybrid. That means we could potentially travel 400 miles just on battery power. I think this last development of the plug-in hybrid with a “super battery” is what is going to bring the oil prices down dramatically because oil will have to compete with electricity on a bigger scale in the transportation sector like never before.
I can see the “super batteries” and the lower cost solar panels being a boon for truck campers, especially the boondockers. We may not need generators in the future. We may have to tough it out for a while, but I believe a great renewal is on the horizon and I hope the truck camper manufacturers are looking over the horizon so they can take advantage of all the great technology that is headed our way. Keep on smiling, the future is going to be even better.” – John Bull
“Hey Gordon – That was quite a rant, but I guess as Publisher you’re allowed. Well I’m doing my part. With my wife and two dogs we have put 10,000 miles on our camper so far this year. And now that Labor Day has passed, we’re in the best part of the truck camping season. No crowds! We’ll be hitting the road again next week.” – Gary Monroe, Oregon
“I agree, Gordon. We bought our new Dodge dual rear wheel truck with $13,000 off the list price. I sold my drive-to-work Jeep and now drive the truck. The truck gets 15 to 16 miles per gallon driving in town, so the mileage is not that much different than my previous trucks. It’s the price off fuel.
We also got a good deal on our Arctic Fox by driving a few hundred miles to pick it up. We will camp when we have the chance, mostly closer to home. The price of diesel is directly affecting everything we do. I believe that most trucks used by truck campers, of coarse not all, but most, use diesel. The new requirements for diesel call for running the fuel through the refinery twice to get to the new clean diesel. I’m all for the environment, but they should not always have the final decisions. Drill here and drill now. Just my two cents.” – Jeepers
“Good letter. Thanks for the reassurance that I am on the right track. The way I figure, yes fuel is expensive. But when you think about it, a trip a few years ago may cost you $100 in fuel, where now it takes $200. Is that really such a problem that you don’t enjoy your time out?
People spend an extra $100 on a cell phone bill and think nothing of it, but cancel a fun trip and adventure because of fuel cost? Come on, think about it. Skip a restaurant meal while you’re out and there’s another half a tank of fuel. Hot dogs, pork, and beans and you are set!
And you are so right about truck deals. Dealerships around here are advertising 50% off MSRP. Others are giving up to $17,000 rebates. To think what I could of bought my truck for right now makes me a little upset, but not enough to matter. My camper dealer gave me the sweetest deal you can imagine, with 2008 price on a 2009, and also $6,000 off MSRP. Plus get this, he threw in a complete Torklift set up, including hitch, extender, and frame mounted camper mounts. I did go with the Fastguns, which are the cats meow for sure, and well worth the few extra bucks. Bottom line, life is short. You had better make the best of it right now while you can, and the way to do that is to get out in your truck camper. Thanks,” – Robert Scherrer, 2009 Arctic Fox 990, 2007 Dodge Ram 3500
“Gordon – I love it. You have said publicly what our paid political leaders should be preaching.” – Nick Braun, Fun Time Campers
“The one thing I worry about is the manufacturer going our of business and leaving me with an orphan.” – Harold
“Dear Gordon – One, thank you for your magazine and for sharing your love of truck camping. Two, thank you and your bride for having the guts and willingness to live your dream by finding a way to support that dream through your magazine. Three, your challenge to buy a truck and camper is a worthwhile endeavor.
Four, could your magazine create a spreadsheet for your sponsors to list some of their major discounts in a single place; and likewise to list truck sale specials, or at least truck capacity comparisons to each camper category? Such a spreadsheet could save the consumer an enormous amount of time and make it worth one’s while to undertake a current purchase rather than saying it’s too much work to figure out where the good deals are.
I recognize the very substantial individualities within each camper line, let alone the competing brands. However there must be a starting point, and every sale becomes an individualized sale with options chosen as part of the purchase process anyway. What universal lending criteria might be available? There are national lenders who might like to participate with their information as well. Same for camper insurers. Without such an effort, each consumer, myself included, would have to spend many, many hours trying to determine what is comparable and what the deals are. This is magnified when trying to compare dealers against each other rather than have a centralized database from manufacturers. It might even lend itself to some news releases to be picked up by mass media as a further way to spread the word to potential fence sitting customers.
I really don’t have the time to seek out all of the special deals available, especially when they are only available through a tough individual negotiating session with an individual dealer, and then having to undergo the same effort with another for comparison. This is why GM, for example, extends its “employee pricing” to everyone seeking a new GM product. I simplifies the bartering and negotiating process enough to pull more customers into the showroom. Either may, good luck and thank you.” – Doug Slansky
“Gordon – I do not own a truck camper, but I do own two trailers, a 1995 Bigfoot bumper tow and a Bigfoot 5th wheel trailer. Last March I owned a 2002 Ford V10 pickup which I traded for a 2005 Toyota Tundra with a V8. We traveled last month to Edmonton, Alberta to purchase the 5th trailer. Fuel prices in Canada are higher than they are in the United States.
Most Canadian people drive big pickups, Ford, Dodge, GMC, Chevy, and Toyota, and fuel prices do not matter. Did you know for over 100 years every two barrels pumped in Canada one barrel comes to the United States? We get more fuel from Canada than we get from the middle east. I hate our media because they only rag on the stupid stuff. No one is mentioning the downsizing of everyday food containers found in grocery stores. The RV Industry should be damn mad how they have been treated by the media. We will never stay home because of gas prices. Good luck and thank you.” – Chuck Stillman
“You only live once no matter who you are! Truck camping is still the best way to see the country. It is cheaper than motels and the bigger RVs. We will still spend a month or so in Florida this winter. The 1,500 or so miles will add up, but it is something we love doing. Like I was once told, “You will not have any more money in the bank at the end of the year if you stay home and you will wonder, what if.” Enjoy yourself.” – Bill Millar
“Gordon – The only problem I see is that you are talking to the choir and we need to be talking to the public. We came back from a new Camping World opening at Roanoke, Virginia last weekend and people were signing contracts on RVs. Marylin and I went out and looked at the RVs and asked the salesman, “Where are the truck campers?” They didn’t have any.
We bought our truck camper from Charley’s Garage in North Carolina two years ago. They were the closest and only truck camper dealer close to Virginia at that time. We searched the internet and no one in Virginia said they sold any. Last year we went to Greensboro, North Carolina for a big camping show and guess what? Not a single truck camper to be seen even though the ad mentioned them as being there. This year we didn’t go because we were sure they wouldn’t be campers.
We have a Sunlite and in the Spring they let the shop foreman go and Charley’s rep was also let go. Both had almost twenty years with the company. So some are having a hard time.
Now what can truck camper owners do? Hold rallies in populated areas where more people can see them. Use synthetic oil in motor, transmission, and rear ends to get more mileage so they can travel farther per gallon. The truck camper industry needs to be at the camping shows. The truck camper dealers need to show up also. Many years ago I sold radio and newspaper advertising and many customers said, “We don’t need to advertise as everyone knows where we are”. Bull. The East Coast has not been a popular truck camper area like the West, but we can make it grow. Just a few ideas Gordon. Hopefully others will have better ones. Tell Harley hello for Maggie.” – John
“Gordon – I think you have laid out a very succinct and straight forward argument for why folks should enjoy getting out there and experience life. A truck camper is a perfect and relatively inexpensive means for doing that.
You’re right that the economic cycle is just that, a cycle and will turn positive again. Folks need to realize that while they may no longer feel comfortable buying a vacation home or taking expensive cruises or vacations, camping, specifically truck campers, are a very frugal means of enjoying some of that travel and relaxation without breaking the bank.
We are bullish on certain value driven segments of the RV market to return. Specifically, truck campers, lightweight towables, and other fuel efficient RVs. As you know, we are so confident that we are embarking on a new dealership endeavor aimed at that market.
I think your attitude and words of advice are mark on. I would encourage every manufacturer and dealer to join in the mantra of “Don’t let life pass you by. Enjoy it now!” In a Truck Camper.” – Brian Blais, President, CEO, Easy Street RV, Sebastian, Florida
“Hey Gordon – I just subscribed to your magazine. I have been an ardent RVer for many years having transitioned from a motorhome, to a 38-foot Raptor toy hauler, and now, a truck camper. We downsized because of what you and the rest of the truck camping world already know. It’s the ease of turning on the engine and heading out on the road. It’s being able to go where we were prohibited to before due to size.
My wife, daughter, and I just returned from our summer vacation. We had a ball. Every stop was an adventure. Fuel prices be damned. Life’s too short. I ascribe to, “Control that which I can and don’t waste energy on that outside of my control.” I can’t control fuel prices, but I can control my budget and making truck camping an annual priority. Thanks for your thoughts.” – Wayne Nishimura, Beaverton, Oregon
“Gordon – Very good letter with some very good points. I am happy to respond. I agree with most of your letter, “It’s time to fight”. And I am 70 and am wanting/needing to use my remaining mobile years to travel. But your concerns about the current situation, which has been developing since the year 2000 in my opinion, are fewer than my concerns. Yes, I am fully in agreement with your stated concerns. And those stated problems should be enough to make a person want to fight for change.
But, I have two more points of anger/concern. One, the broken dollar has made travel in Mexico, Canada, and Europe much more expensive. Two, the automobile industry with help from the EPA and ridiculously expensive tariffs on foreign imported trucks have conspired to limit the purchasing choices of American truck buyers (vans too) to the less fuel efficient models available in the United States.
In addition, the US auto industry and the US government have doggedly refused to change their focus off of big brawny gas guzzling vehicles. They have also refused to respond positively to the obvious desire of a significant portion of the vehicle buying public for more fuel-efficient vehicles. How do I know the desire exists for economically efficient vehicles? Check out the demand for hybrids.
So my problem is that I do not have a truck to put a camper in, and I refuse to buy a truck until efficiency improves. And I can’t see the point of buying a truck camper until I have a truck. I am waiting for a more fuel-efficient truck to appear. I will not give up searching for an efficient vehicle for camping and I hope the 2009s will be better.
Meanwhile, I am outfitting my Honda Odyssey and my 950-pound LiteHouse trailer. I will soon make a trip of about a month through all of the Four Corners states. It seems to me, Gordon, that to be concerned about the things you state in your “time to fight” letter are all good. But to me it is the combination of the things you state along with the collusive or inept actions of our government plus the auto industry that compounds the problem. High gas prices combined with bad fuel efficiency help to make people fear buying a truck/van until conditions are better. I am one of them. But I am going to fight.” – Raymond Keller, Illinois
“A point well made, Gordon. The general public often lets the media have too much control over our decisions to buy or wait for better times. What if these were the better times? How many of use have heard our fathers and grandfathers say, “I remember when you could buy a pickup for a quarter of what you pay today”? Well, all things considered, wages are four times of what they were back then and it’s much easier for the first time buyer to get into a new rig.
My philosophy, especially after having a near death experience a few years back, is as long as I can afford it, I’m going to get out and enjoy life. Don’t put off for tomorrow on what you can afford to do today. You only get one go around to enjoy things with your kids, family, friends, or spouse. There are no do-overs in this life and it’s short enough as it is without waiting for your ship to come in. So get out there and spend. Let’s get this economy rolling again in spite of what the nay sayers say.” – Glen Frence, AKA Fuelhauler/Tankeryanker (PS: It will also help keep me in a job – LOL)
“Gordon – Bullseye! Fear (totally misguided imagination) would make us save our money and live in an underground shelter. True, I have cut back on my long road trips fishing this summer, but I still go out every other week.
Just last week, I discovered Delaney Butte lakes in Northwest Colorado. It’s by Walden, Colorado and holds five to ten pound trout (browns, cutthroats, rainbows, and cut-bows). It’s truly a fly-fishing heaven.
I am continually researching the bio-diesel solution, which I think is just right around the corner. I would gladly pay $2,000 to $3,000 to convert my Cummins diesel to burn veggie fuel (palm, soy, algae, etc.) when strict standards are enforced. I also think it is time the federal government start subsidizing the cost of diesel until we have an alternative fuel solution. Our trucking industry is suffering tremendously, and we consumers are paying the price with all the goods and food that we consume.
I talked with Matt and Bill Ward often (Hallmark’s Owners), and they say they are very busy. Lots of potential truck camper owners are looking for lightweight and low profile units that will work on smaller trucks. Keep up the good work!” – Gerald T. Kato, Aurora, Colorado
“Hi Gordon – I just read your article. “It’s Time To Fight” and I couldn’t agree with you more. Your article hit the nail right on the head.
Your article came at a good time for me. We have recently gotten back into truck camping over the last five years. My wife and I truck camped in the early 80s before we were married . We had a 1976 three-quarter ton Chevrolet truck with and old Dreamer camper we had bought used from my uncle. Then we got married and it seemed like we got so busy trying to make a living that we never used the truck camper. So we sold it.
In 2003 we bought a Toyota Tundra and then I found a used 1983 Viking slide-in pop-up camper. That’s what got us started back into truck camping and my wife and I wonder why we ever stopped. About two years ago, we found a used 1992 9 1/2’ Shadow Cruiser truck camper. We installed air bags on the Tundra and added oversize 10-ply tires only to find that when we put the Tundra on the scales with the Shadow Cruiser that we were over weight.
Last Thursday night we picked up our new 2008 Dodge 3500 Diesel from New Holland Dodge In New Holland, Pennsylvania for over $12,000 off MSRP with dealer discount and rebates. The salesperson was very helpful and the dealer was willing to negotiate.
You’re right, it is a buyer’s market out there and I don’t think there’s been a better time to buy. I know I’m glad to be getting into a truck that is capable of hauling pretty much any camper I want to put on it. Next month we’re heading out to see my brother who lives 1,200 miles away and it’s going to be nice to take our truck camper and our own bed with us. With all the hassles that come with flying and the hassles of driving motel to motel, I’m looking forward to this trip with our truck camper. As soon as were able to, we’re going to start looking for a new truck camper. For us truck camping is the only way to go.
Thanks for TCM. Keep up the good work, and stay safe on the road. Hope to see you at next year’s Mid Atlantic Truck Camper Rally.” – Don
“Gordon – I read your article and I agree with you 100%, but there is one thing I think you missed. My wife and I bought our first camper ten years ago as a 25th anniversary gift to ourselves. At the time I gave my wife a choice of a truck and a camper or a cruise. She did not hesitate on selecting the truck camper.
We had been talking about getting a camper for several years and had already done all of the research, but we were considering waiting until we retired before we made the purchase. The more we thought about it, the more we thought it was time to start enjoying it. And that way the camper would be paid for when we retired. So we took the plunge.
We have not regretted our decision. As a matter of fact, two years ago we upgraded to a truck camper with a slide-out and fiberglass sides. We have talked to many people who waited to do what they wanted to do when they retired only to have one of them become disabled or die weeks or months after they got their dream.
It is just like the boat we bought two years ago. Should we use it this year with fuel as high as it is? Needless to say, we took the boat and camper and used it like we had planned when we purchased them. We decided we bought them to enjoy and not to just sit and look at. We could be dead next year.
Yes, I think one has to keep the economy in mind. But through all the time one spends at work and at home, one needs to relax. That is what I think it is all about, a way to get away from the everyday grind and unwind. We are still waiting to take that cruise but we can do that any time.” – Lanny
“Good letter. I totally agree, but I didn’t see anything political about it, unless you read between the lines. I made my second trip to Alaska this year and yes, the fuel prices are up. But my thought is they are not going to go down so you may as well hit the road. Keep Truck Camper Magazine going. I enjoy reading many of the articles.” – B. Lawhorn
“Hello Gordon – Great letter. I agree with you. Life is short. It was nice to see that you addressed the state of affairs in the truck camper industry because I thought it was kind of kept quiet. And that’s coming from me, a novice and new to all this truck camper stuff.
I bought your 2007 Truck Camper Magazine Yearbook a couple months ago and have learned so much. I really thank you for that. I hope to see the truck camper industry go green as a result of the economy and the things you mentioned in your fight letter. They can do things to make truck campers more economical for the owner. They can design the cabover to be more aerodynamic. They can sell and talk up more solar technology. They can offer more energy efficient appliances such as strictly 12-volt Dometic refrigerators, energy efficient windows, narrower width floorplans, better solar options, etc.
Thank you for your zeal concerning truck campers. I hope to purchase my first one within a year. There are so many truck campers to choose from. It is mind boggling some times. The competition is fierce. I really like some of Okanagan eight-foot campers and was sorry to hear the bad news concerning them. Hopefully it will be temporary. I would think that the pop-up truck campers are more enticing with the better fuel economy they offer. I’m considering them for sure. Eventually GM and the others will find ways for their trucks to get better gas mileage. God Bless You.” – Dave Klein (PS: I love cats, too)
“Great article, Gordon! If you have the money, don’t let the media scare you out buying because you become part of the problem.” – Scott Bisenius, Eagle Cap Campers, Inc.
“In response to your letter; you go boy. Too may people listen to the media and assume it’s fact. It’s not. Most of it is pumped up with media drivel and opinion. Too many people are expressing their opinions through national media and are sending the wrong message.
Anyway, we bought our Northstar last year from East End Campers and love it. We like going on two to four day trips and we’ve done so this year also, despite the gas prices and all the other who-ha.
Listen, at 50 years old, I’m not going to deprive myself of things I want to do because of some nitwit on TV or in the news cast. It’s unfortunate that these truck camper companies are shutting down, but I guess the market is forcing it. I just hope that other people keep the remaining businesses in business and operating. All I can say is go out and get your truck and truck camper and keep this interest alive.” – Name Withheld
“You said, “save $1,000 on a combo truck and camper”. Heck, GM is selling everyone of their 2008 trucks for approximately $10,000 off list price. Figure that one out for gas savings!” – Stan Johnson
“Last November I bought a new Snowriver camper. Snowriver is now the latest in a series of causalities in the RV industry, due largely to rising fuel prices, and in the case of Canadian companies, a stronger Canadian dollar. I have asked myself that had I known Snowriver would close, would I still purchase my camper? The answer is yes. It fit my needs and I believe it was one of the best, if not the best, constructed campers on the market.
I am currently in week seven of a two-month road trip. The fuel prices hurt, but what else am I supposed to do? I am retired. I don’t want to spend my retirement years sitting in a one room watching TV. So, I look for things to cut back on to offset fuel prices. I also take shorter, closer to home, trips. If I take a longer trip, I go for a longer period, and offset some of the fuel with the occasional night in a Walmart parking lot.
One big advantage of a truck camper is the ability to camp in more remote areas, forestry sites, etc. All of these cut down on your overnight fees and help offset fuel. I have noticed a considerable drop in the number of RVs on the road and in campgrounds this summer. What has not dropped is the number of Europeans in rental RVs. They still consider North America a cheap RVing paradise. It is all a matter of perspective.
I have friends ask me why I just don’t fly somewhere. Well, the crisis in the air industry has not played itself out yet. I believe flying may once again become the prerogative of the wealthy as it was in the 40s and 50s. That industry is even more vulnerable to high fuel prices than RVing. We have become spoiled in North America since the 60s. We have had the ability to do what we want, when we want, for a relatively cheap cost. Our parents never had those options. They prioritized what they wanted, and we will likely have to do the same. Is that really so bad? That may mean not going out to dinner as often, or postponing the new electronic toy, or telling your kids they can’t have a PlayStation 3.
I think once people come to realize just how important taking a vacation is in comparison with all that, the industry will adjust to high fuel prices and rebound.” – Paul Beddows, Past President, North American Truck Camper Owners Association
“Very interesting letter you have put out. I really don’t think you could have said it any better. In my opinion, this is the only way to travel. I have had travel trailers, fifth wheels, class Cs. What a joy to have a truck camper. I can get in and out of large cities.
I searched and searched for the model that would suit me. The end result was a Northern Lite 10-2000CD. It has everything I need and then some. I have a 1995 Dodge Ram Quad Cab. I get 18 miles per gallon. Your site is great. It gets me excited all the time. Keep up the great work. The only thing we can continue to do is keep on keeping on!” – Ed Torchia, Pennsylvania
“Hey Gordon – You struck a note with that letter. I totally agree with your thoughts. I purchased a new truck camper in January of 2007 and bought a used F250 to haul it on. The total cost of investment was $14,000 for the truck and $8,000 for the camper. That’s $22,000 for the time of your life.
I am in my mid 50s and have been married to a great gal for thirty-seven years. We are not rich. We both work full time and we have two adult kids. We are buying the last portion of our family farm. I am active in local politics, active in our church, and volunteer for several organizations.
I do not believe that this country is on the brink of a disaster as the news media would have us think. We are leaving for Colorado next week. It will be about a 2,500 mile journey to central Colorado and back to Iowa. We work hard and look forward to our vacations. I lost a brother in law this year at age 65. All he could talk about for the last year was what he was going to do when he retired. That didn’t work for him.
I am not going to wait until I retire to go camping with our truck camper. We would like to take a trip to Alaska when we retire, but we are going to see a lot more of this great country before that time comes. With the economics of truck camping life, we can afford to go when others balk at high prices for fuel, food, etc.
My wife and I don’t have any expensive habits. We eat at home mostly, we heat our home with wood from our timberland, and I repair most everything that breaks. We have moderate needs. So there you have it Gordon, we are not going to let the biased news media prevent us from going on the road with our truck camper. Look out, here we come! Truck campers rock!” – Dan and Bonnie Forry, Clarksville, Iowa
“Gordon – First off I want to tell you that I haven’t missed an article in Truck Camper Magazine since you started. I want to thank you for providing such a wonderful accumulation of useful information for fellow truck campers and potential new truck campers.
I totally agree with you and thank you for making the stand. I for one am not going to put anything off due to high fuel costs. My father and I recently went to Nipigon, Ontario for a hunting trip from southeast Iowa. We could have driven the car and tent camped to save on fuel costs, but instead we took the truck camper, spent the money on gas, and had a blast! When the guys that were tenting camping froze their butts off at night, we just crawled into our truck camper, turned on the heat for a few minutes, and enjoyed drifting off to sleep in comfort.” – Matt Mullahy
“Hi Gordon – We bought a new truck and camper last October at pretty good deal, but too late in the season to use them. We spent all winter getting ready and anticipating wpring’s arrival to go truck camping. When it finally arrived gas prices were way up, the economy was way down, and our own financial situation was iffy, mostly because of our large purchase last Fall. However, we still went out and took some short trips, mostly to lower priced campgrounds and to visit relatives.
I recently added up our gas cost and figured what it might have been at $3.00 a gallon instead of $4.00. It came to about $200. I asked Connie if we should have stayed home to save $200. The answer was a definite no! Now we are planning a longer trip this month, so we are coping and enjoying, not staying home and complaining. I don’t know about the truck camper industry as a whole, but our dealer recently told me that his truck camper sales are dead. Lots of lookers but no buyers. Keep up the good work.” – Jack Provencher
“Gordon – I wanted to respond to your editorial comments in TCM. Your analysis and position were well reasoned and expertly presented. As a student of economic cycles and an avid truck camper, I want to thank you for your concerns and your efforts.” – Bill Evans
“Here, here. I’m completely with you on this. I just bought a fully optioned Lance 981 for $10,000 less than the sticker price. That’s a lot of gas. We’re headed for the northeast states for a couple of weeks to enjoy it.” – Dave Dye
“Gordon – I agree. The economy sucks, plain and simple. But I did not buy a truck camper to let it sit. I have taken five weeks this summer so far and camped in many state and local parks within a days drive, about 300 miles.
As I write this, my wife is loading her clothes in the camper and we are leaving for a three-week trip into the Badlands and Yellowstone areas. Fuel cost sure beats the cost of airfare, hotel, rental car, etc. A campsite costs $0 to maybe $35. And as far as food, well I still eat at home so eating costs is not even worth figuring in.
Besides, the mental break from the economy, work, politics, and mowing the lawn is well worth it. How many other people can pick up and go away for a few days for a relatively cheap vacation? Anyway, that’s my two cents and I need to finish packing.” – Jim P., Somewhere in the Midwest
“Well said Gordon! I’m with you. I think the best time to get the truck camper loaded up and on the road is right now!” – Buzz Merchlewitz
“Your heart is in the right place, but you advocate a fight by purchasing a camper, or truck, or both . You say, “I have made my stand. Where do you stand? Tell me what your thoughts are on the current economic threat and what we should do about it.”
There is nothing we can do about it. The economic situation is worldwide, way bigger than the camping industry. The best most of us can do is hang on, wait for this to blow over, and use our resources wisely in the interim. Some may be in a position to take advantage of the deals out there. Some may not. But these times definitely warrant careful consideration.
Let’s not forget, irresponsible spending by American consumers in the housing market was the catalyst for the mess we all enjoy today. As far as how I am dealing with the economy, a reduced cash flow begets reduced spending. I eat out less and try to waste less. I’m fortunate that I have funds left over to enjoy my truck camper. But my dream of a trip to the Southwest may be put on hold for awhile. I’m lucky. My camper is still new enough for me that I enjoy trips out that are close to home. Hopefully things turn around before I get bored with the local spots.” – Steve
“Gordon – My thoughts on this subject are as follows, life is short. In 2006, our lives changed and not for the best. The loss of our 33 year old son and two major surgeries for me did it. We decided that we would not wait to retire to travel. In 2007, we purchased a new truck. In January, we bought a 9.5′ Bigfoot. Even with the price of gas and all the economic problems, we made our second trip to Alaska. It was a 9,500 mile round trip and five weeks. The winter will take us to Arizona to see friends. Next summer it will be the Northwestern United States.
In 2010, we will travel to the northeast as far as we can go. We might have to do without some of the extras for gas, but it will be worth it. I know some people have money issues so you do not have to make long trips. Short ones are just as good. The idea is just do it. This thing with the economy will not last forever and things will change for the better. My last thought is, life is short. No one has ever promised you a tomorrow. So pack the truck camper and head out. I hope to see my truck camper friends on the road.” – Roger Scherr, Illinois
“Hello Gordon – Like yourself my first truck camper excursion was into Canada. I owned a Class A motorhome, sold it, and got my new 2005 Lance 820. I fish bass tournaments in a circuit in northeast Ohio. Therefore pulling my Ranger bass boat is a breeze. I also camp with my wife and take a grandchild, one at a time, with me.
I have used my camper about ten weeks so far. In the month of June I spent $1,000 on gas for my V-10 Ford. This Sunday I am going to Dayton Wright Patterson AFB for a few days. They have a campground right on base. I am a disabled veteran so I have military privileges.
I do not let the economy stop me as long as I spend my money in the United States. I hope anyone that can afford it goes on business as usual. Maybe then we would not hear about the dismal economy. You are right on in your letter. Come on folks, let’s help spur the economy! A loyal but usually silent reader. Good job, Gordon.” – Name Withheld
“Good morning, Gordon. Your article entitled, “It’s Time to Fight” contains many truths and covers the reasons that our industry is in the midst of heavy-duty change. I have been in the RV industry for thirty-seven years. During that span, the industry has seen a couple of gas shortages, a couple of periods of high interest rates, some recession times, low employment, etc.
My experience has been that, given enough time, the industry rights itself. And that will happen again. Each time, though, there have been changes in manufacturing companies, their owners, and their product.
I especially liked the section on purchasing now as many very good deals may be there for the customer. Now, indeed, is the time to buy and save money. Most dealers are open to inventory reduction promotions as well as trades in good condition.
Someone once told me that nothing happens until someone sells something. The other way to look at this is that nothing happens until someone buys something. So, Gordon, your point is well taken. The prime way for things to improve is for RV folks to take a good look at finding a way to save money. I know that not everyone is able at this moment to take advantage of low pricing right now, but customers could begin to make plans on how to make a purchase work. In doing so, they will not only save money in the long run, they will also help the RV industry recover from some very trying times. Keep up the ‘fight’, Gordon.” – Al Fentiman, Sales Representative, West Coast Leisure Homes/Okanagan
“Hi Gordon – Kudos to you. I read your articles regularly. Thank you for your magazine. I am an avid truck camper and bass fisherman. My wife and I usually take a three to four day trip a month to camp and fish. All is not lost. Let your readers know that there are ways to conserve and still get on the road and have fun. I have a Ford F-250. When hauling, I get 10 miles per gallon. When the truck is empty, if I keep my highway speed at 60 mph, have slow take offs, and brake slowly, I can usually get 14 to 15 miles per gallon. That’s a 40 to 50 percent increase in gas mileage. It may take a few minutes longer to get somewhere, and yes, I drive my truck twenty-two miles one way to work every day.
Also, keep the weight down in your campers. Only bring necessary items. And instead of going long distances, see what’s twenty-five to fifty miles from home. I bet a lot of your readers would be surprised. You are right. The economy will get better. We all have to hang in there. Conserve where we can. Keep up the good work. Thanks.” – Bill, Tournament Tackle, Taunton, Massachusetts
“Gordon – Great article. That certainly prods us to think about the future and taking action now. I thank you for the update in the industry in regards to several of the manufacturers and the truck camper business in general.” – Chet Manuel