A Hawk in the Arctic

nobueno

Member

Only pic I have of the insulation. Sure works good. Doesn't win any beauty contests but cuts the furnace cycles in half during the night and easily 50% less condensation. Oh, and I light the camper with 4 led strips, you can see one in the pic, and the reflective helps with the lighting!
We do the same thing. Lots of people say reflectix doesn't have much r value or live up to it's claims but our furnace cycles less and the biggest thing for me is I don't feel the cold seeping through when I'm sleeping really close to it.
 

sourdough

Adventurer
We drive a 2015 F-150 with a FWC Hawk and just returned from a trip to Northern British Columbia, Yukon and North West Territories. In over a month we drove 10,000 km (6,200 miles), 30% on gravel. The trip took us all the way to Inuvik and we explored a lot off side roads and tracks in the North including the Canol Road. Despite the mostly cold and wet weather it was a fantastic trip with beautiful fall colors.
Although the truck is stock without any mods whatsoever we had no problems and it handled the roads and the mud well. Because of the relatively high payload of the Ford we were fully loaded with all tanks full and everything we (and especially my wife) thought we would need in the arctic still more than 100 lbs. below GVW.
The Hawk had no problems with the rough roads. But unfortunately it did not cope well with the cold and wet conditions. The first 2 weeks temperatures were mostly in the 30s and only occasionally got in the low 40s. It rained almost every day sometimes for hours. It became quite obvious that the Hawk is not designed for these conditions. We had very serious problems with condensation. Every morning we wiped all the wet surfaces and aired the camper. Whenever we were in the camper we ran the hot air heater using about 15 lbs. of propane in the process. It kept the camper reasonably warm but could not contain condensation. I have owned a few Westphalias before and was prepared for and accepted condensation on the soft walls. We have the Arctic Pack and it did nothing to reduce condensation but at least it provided some insulation and kept condensation away from us when we were sleeping in the alcove.
What I was not prepared for was the condensation on the hard walls, the roof of the camper and the floor of the alcove. When I looked a bit closer at the design of the Hawk I discovered that even apart from the soft walls it is essentially not insulated. The lower part is simply made of plywood, the aluminum frame in the upper part and the roof and the door and window frames have no insulation and the windows are single pane. All these areas were cold and moist or even wet.
After about a week the mattress felt very damp. Because it was raining we could not dry it and covered it with tarp to be able to sleep. A few days later we had a few hours of sunshine and we took the mattress out to dry. It was soaking wet on the underside and the tree sides where it touched the aluminum frame. This is not acceptable and the result of some serious design flaws. I own a second overland vehicle which we use in winter to drive the Panamericana. We usually spend more than 5 month in it and sometimes in conditions which are worse than those we encountered with our Hawk. In this other camper we never had condensation problems. This is because this camper is designed for bad weather. I learned that to avoid condensation especially in an alcove all the surfaces near the mattress have to be well insulated and the mattress should never touch an outside wall or floor. There should always be an air gap between outside walls and floor and the mattress to prevent moisture from seeping into the mattress. In the Hawk the mattress lies directly on the floor of the alcove, on three sides it touches the aluminum frame. There is absolutely no air circulation there. The floor is badly insulated if at all and the frame is not insulated. The carpeting on the frame provides no insulation it only stores moisture. When I checked both the floor and especially the frame were wet and very cold. I suspect that in addition to condensation water from the canvass trickles down onto the frame despite all efforts to wipe it dry. Besides it is impossible to really wipe the canvass behind the front panel. The mattress touches these wet surfaces and the foam soaks it up like a sponge. This is the worst possible design and FWC made every mistake they could.
Despite all efforts to dry the Hawk mold developed at the roof. This is only the mold I could see. I don´t even want to know how it looks inside the roof and the walls. As far as I can tell there is no effective vapor barrier in the roof paneling and the foam insulation does not seem to be bonded to the aluminum roof. There is most likely an air gap between the aluminum roof and the foam and condensation on the cold aluminum surface behind the foam. I can only hope that there is no mold. Again poor design.
In the years before we traveled in milder climates. After a cold night or a rainy day we would notice condensation and wipe it off. But after a day or two we would have dry and warm weather and the Hawk would dry out. On this trip we had a long period of lousy weather and it became obvious that the FWC campers are simply not designed for wet and cool conditions. Because they are light and sturdy they are perfect for trips to the Baja or the Moab. No amount of tinkering with Reflectix will make it a good camper for Canada´s North.
I don´t know how I will deal with these problems. I like lightweight pop up campers and I will certainly look at other products. T first glance they don´t seem to be much better or too heavy (Alaskan). An Alaskan style lightweight hard sided pop up build with modern composite materials would be my dream. I don´t think such a camper exists. Maybe I will have to build one. Alternatively I may find a way to insulate the floor of the alcove of my Hawk and provide an air gap between the floor, the frame and the mattress to keep at least our bed dry. Maybe there even is a solution to keep the roof dry. Any ideas would be welcome.
Stefan
Welcome to the world of RV’s. BTW, what did your loaded F150 weigh?
 

tdesanto

Expedition Leader

Only pic I have of the insulation. Sure works good. Doesn't win any beauty contests but cuts the furnace cycles in half during the night and easily 50% less condensation. Oh, and I light the camper with 4 led strips, you can see one in the pic, and the reflective helps with the lighting!
Thank you! I was thinking of using Reflectix in this manner, possibly behind the improperly named "Arctic Pack". This confirms it for me. Thank you, again.
 

nobueno

Member
Thank you! I was thinking of using Reflectix in this manner, possibly behind the improperly named "Arctic Pack". This confirms it for me. Thank you, again.
If you're saying reflectix between the softwall and Arctic pack, don't do that. It's value comes from reflecting heat not insulating and does best when there's an air gap between it and the outside surface. I just cut slits in ours to fit and it hangs loosely between us and the wall.
 

sg1

Adventurer
Just under 7000 lbs., all tanks full, my wife and myself and everything we and especially my wife thought we needed for 6 weeks in the Canadian arctic. Btw I have another RV with a hard sided cabin with composite panels and no condensation problems.
Stefan
 

Cruiser79

Observer
Why arent american builders using the cotton based canvas which is used by european builders? I think that material breathes more than the material used in FWC an AT campers. Ten Cate is a well known manufacturer in Holland and western europe.
A few years ago we visited Canada and rented a brand new northstar hard sided camper, and we had issues with condensation as well. It really depends on the weather and the climate!
 

tdesanto

Expedition Leader
Caution: Arctic Pack Tears Easily

Spent four days in Crested Butte last weekend. Lowest temps were high teens to low twenties at night, low to mid forties during the day. We had one of the roof vents cracked and two windows open at the corners for cross ventilation the entire time. Still got a ton of condensation. Wiped down the outer fabric and roof each day with large microfiber towels. At home on Monday afternoon, airing out the camper and doing a final wipe-down of the outer panels, and the velcro on the "Arctic Pack" grabbed onto the microfiber towel and it tore where they obviously sewed to separate strips of velcro around the window opening. $600 well spent...it has velcro at each end with no purpose. There's no method for securing the "Arctic Pack" at each end, other than just tucking it in behind the fiberglass support panels at each end, and it seems to allow 100% of the condensation through to the outer panel. Keep in mind, this was with two people in the camper in the evenings and night...gone during the day. And, I had two DampRid dehumidifiers hanging (one on each side near the bed) the entire time (one shown in the picture).

IMG_20170220_155451.jpgIMG_20170220_155115.jpg
 

bigskypylot

Explorer
The OP's post has opened my eyes in terms of FWC's ability to provide a comfortable camping experience in other than a warm, dry environment.
Although though having researched the crap out of the Granby, and knowing condensation was a reality, the amount of condensation highlighted in sg1's post is enough for me to give serious reconsideration to my FWC plans.

A most informative post - one that has highlighted the reality of a soft-sided AND uninsulated camper.
It made my decision very easy. Add to that the lack of customization, it's a no-deal. Seems FWC is just in the business to build as many as they can without regard to quality and function.
 

IdaSHO

IDACAMPER
That is a good read. And an interesting one. Thanks for posting it.
Looking at your user name, shall I assume you are a pilot? :sombrero:

So help me out... from where Im sitting that looks to be written in a way to alleviate moisture issues that exceed the capacity of the ECS.
Am I correct? I think it is odd that it does not reference it specifically.

Even agencies like the NCBI reference it with regards to relative humidity, and venting...

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK219009/
 

Super Doody

Explorer
As a builder of energy effecient homes I did not like the aluminum siding and frames found in FWC. This kind of construction results in extreme thermal bridging which (among other things) results in a lot of condensation when the conditions are right. Sine we live in the warm and humid south we chose Hallmark and so far have been very happy with how it performs.
They have versions for all size trucks but do weigh more than FWC's

I wonder if the fiber glass option FWC offers will make any difference.
 

dlh62c

Explorer
+1 on the DampRid packets.

I utilize them in my hard sided truck camper. It doesn't take long for water to appear in the bottom.
 
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