Jefe and Jean's XTC search is over

Mundo4x4Casa

West slope, N. Ser. Nev.
Alright! The…die…is…cast. After a long gestation period, and looking 1st hand over dozens of small hardside truck campers, the search has ended.
We ordered a 2020 Northstar Laredo SC (self contained). After a good chat with Mike Smith @ Truck Camper Adventure and his bona fide experience with the exact model Laredo, and after agonizing over every little detail, we ordered the rig with these options: (which is above and beyond the great list of standard features)
Gray water tank hose
Glass top stainless steel sink
Dometic Glass top 2 burner stove with iron grate
Dometic 3.8 cu ft 12V compressor refer
4-season Insulation upgrade foil faced walls and roof
Permanent wrap around rear for short beds (the small storage boxes at the side/rear)
Dually swing out brackets with 3 inch extensions (to get around my super singles)
Electric Jacks which I will make removable with weather resistant quick plug soldered connectors
Snap insulated cover for the standard exit vent
240 Watt solar panels w/ Zamp controller (2 x 120W) placed on either side of the standard exit vent
2-AGM grp. 31 batteries
2-Propane tanks with option of one or two hooked up or even just one taken depending on length of outing
Not so many options ordered which keeps the weight down and those that we ordered are on or near the floor keeping the weight low; always a good thing. We'll be using a new set of Happyjac tie downs again, since they do not hang down and try to touch every passing boulder.
I’m not sure whether it was either a good thing or not that we knew from 2 decades of experience exactly what we wanted in a new TC.
We’ve always been happy with our ’98 Lance Lite and essentially wanted to replace it with a newer, better laid out model with the same not wide; not tall; not heavy footprint. Since Lance has changed their protocol to be storage free and increased the bling factor, we weren’t going there.
What did we want that we could not find in the competition? 1. Storage space. 2. trouble free, tried and true appliances. 3. Better use of solar power. 4. No basement. Why? It adds from 4 to 6 inches to the total height of the TC on the truck, and with the Laredo’s 41 gallon water tank in the living space and insulated enough to get us down into camping in the single digits, it’s good enough. About the weight of the 41 gal. tank: we will fill it with the amount of water we think we will use plus some extra to keep the overall weight down. 5. Going against the grain (there is a pun in there somewhere) we wanted a wood frame camper again, as they are slightly flexible and forgiving, whereas, welded aluminum is rigid and will eventually break if I’m driving. With the torture I've put the Lance 165-s through, it still amazes me how solid the camper box still is; especially for a wood frame camper that is 1x2" slats with corner blocking essentially industrial stapled together.
The delete list: TV, Air Conditioner, microwave oven, frame mounted tie downs, rear bumper, awnings, back up camera.
The big deal is Jeanie’s acceptance of the cassette toilet instead of a wet bath with black tank. Yess! I convinced her by saying, “I’ll be the rubber gloved one taking care of the dumping of the cassette”.
We will actually pick it up at the factory in Cedar Falls Iowa at the beginning of our fall color trek to the N.E.
Our bullet proof 2001 RAM Cummins H.O. short bed camper package with stuff will continue to be the beast of burden for the new acquisition.
I’m glad our quest is over. Let the 4-season travel begin....well, 3-season. We don't do summer in the box.
jefe
 
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Mundo4x4Casa

West slope, N. Ser. Nev.
RegCab, this is our bucket camper. It has everything we really need and none of the things we don't need. Every aspect has been carefully thought out and the company bends over backwards to join your wishes. The only thing I worry about is the possible period of adjustment after picking up the brand new TC at the factory. We'll be on the road for quite a while, so it will be tough to get any work done on errant items while traveling.
 

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mangymarmot

Adventurer
I believe you two will be happy with your purchase. We haven't pushed any of our previous campers or current Laredo camper as far as you have with your Lance, but definitely pleased with it's above average build quality and solid feel. Can't wait to see where you'll take the new camper. Congrats!
 

redthies

Renaissance Redneck
Nice choice Jeff(e). I’m going to throw a cat amongst the pigeons here, but if you spend time on tighter forest service roads, be VERY aware of branches on the polycarbonate windows. I’ve had two break on my camper, and they scratch REALLY easily. The awning style opening, and no mullions are nice though. We also noticed that bugs can get past the screens quite easily (assuming Seitz is still using the same style of screen/blind they used in 2017). The screens and blinds are on rollers, and if the bugs walk up/down the screen, they can just walk around the roller and come in through the little vent lines in the window frame. I have no idea why those vent lines are there... Some clear silicone or similar would fill them in though. I’ve posted two pics below and hopefully you get the window that has the rolls in a solid “tube” looking thing. Mine are the other style. Your choice of sink/stove is great. I’m not usually a fan of that style, but their other option (also pictured) gives absolutely zero prep area. That’s nuts!515512515513515514515515515516
 

Mundo4x4Casa

West slope, N. Ser. Nev.
Red, thanks for the run down on the potential woes of the Laredo. We were in AK in June of 2003 with the Lance, our first long trip, and the state birds found their way through a tiny separation in the escape hatch screen and ate us alive. We were parked on a sandbar in the Stikine River, so we were asking for it. By 1 a.m. it got so bad we pulled on our shoes, folded up the steps and high tailed it to higher ground. At that time of year it was still light. I just couldn't find the opening from whence they were coming in. Finally, after crawling around in bed i spied the .4mm slit those kamkaze's were slithering through. Camping in the West and not in summer has the added bonus of fewer bugs and especially fewer mosquitoes. This is aided by having the windows open sparingly and when in darkness, not having the bug attracting lights visible outside.
I was worried about scratching the windows. Our old Lance glass windows have had plenty of go-rounds with passing trees and bushes to no detriment.
Yes, we noticed the lack of counter space on the stovetop/sink side with the 3 burner and large sink taking up all the space. With the 2-burner with glass top, and glass top sink at least there is some operating room.
The Northstar Laredo in its 3-forms still checks more boxes than any camper at which we carefully looked. The only thing I've read that is not the right choice is the converter. We absolutely love the 45amp P.D. 4645V with charge wizard we installed a few years ago in the Lance. I'm going to see if we can get a change order to install one of these in the new Laredo. EDIT: The mfgr. was happy to switch converters for us for a few more bucks. This will get us much faster solar feed into the battery bank. EDIT OFF.
I've been following the Cirrus camper facebook page and it looks like several other newer German RV technology items have some serious flaws (like elevation and glycol issues) that need to be addressed. This is what I meant when I mentioned we wanted, 'tried and true' technology, not a mobile test facility with locking differentials.
Open this drop box link to see one of our go-rounds slipping and sliding in UT mud on our foiled attempt at Beef Basin and Bobby's Hole. The problem was not as much the mud, but my True Trac diffs. If the pigs feel no difference in side to side resistance, then the automatically go into a 'spool' set up, locked all the way across. Imagine how this would be with T.T.'s on both ends. You'll be looking at the result. This was actually a hoot, but not so good for the newly graded road.
 
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redthies

Renaissance Redneck
You hopefully won’t have too many woes. You and I think alike in the “less is more” department. I would have loved to pare mine down a little more, but my wife works out of it 5 months of the year, so her comfort after a long day in the salt mines played a roll in our final choices. We looked at a lot of different campers too. The big selling point for me was the fibreglass shell and resale value on the NL. It’s a lot smaller than our last one, so a step in the right direction. The quality of the materials in Northern Lites is as good as it gets too.
 

c.traveler2

New member
Alright! The…die…is…cast. After a long gestation period, and looking 1st hand over dozens of small hardside truck campers, the search has ended.
We ordered a 2020 Northstar Laredo SC (self contained). After a good chat with Mike Smith @ Truck Camper Adventure and his bona fide experience with the exact model Laredo, and after agonizing over every little detail, we ordered the rig with these options: (which is above and beyond the great list of standard features)
Gray water tank hose
Glass top stainless steel sink
Dometic Glass top 2 burner stove with iron grate
Dometic 3.8 cu ft 12V compressor refer
4-season Insulation upgrade foil faced walls and roof
Permanent wrap around rear for short beds (the small storage boxes at the side/rear)
Dually swing out brackets with 3 inch extensions (to get around my super singles)
Electric Jacks which I will make removable with weather resistant quick plug soldered connectors
Snap insulated cover for the standard exit vent
240 Watt solar panels w/ Zamp controller (2 x 120W) placed on either side of the standard exit vent
2-AGM grp. 31 batteries
2-Propane tanks with option of one or two hooked up or even just one taken depending on length of outing
Not so many options ordered which keeps the weight down and those that we ordered are on or near the floor keeping the weight low; always a good thing. We'll be using a new set of Happyjac tie downs again, since they do not hang down and try to touch every passing boulder.
I’m not sure whether it was either a good thing or not that we knew from 2 decades of experience exactly what we wanted in a new TC.
We’ve always been happy with our ’98 Lance Lite and essentially wanted to replace it with a newer, better laid out model with the same not wide; not tall; not heavy footprint. Since Lance has changed their protocol to be storage free and increased the bling factor, we weren’t going there.
What did we want that we could not find in the competition? 1. Storage space. 2. trouble free, tried and true appliances. 3. Better use of solar power. 4. No basement. Why? It adds from 4 to 6 inches to the total height of the TC on the truck, and with the Laredo’s 41 gallon water tank in the living space and insulated enough to get us down into camping in the single digits, it’s good enough. About the weight of the 41 gal. tank: we will fill it with the amount of water we think we will use plus some extra to keep the overall weight down. 5. Going against the grain (there is a pun in there somewhere) we wanted a wood frame camper again, as they are slightly flexible and forgiving, whereas, welded aluminum is rigid and will eventually break if I’m driving. With the torture I've put the Lance 165-s through, it still amazes me how solid the camper box still is; especially for a wood frame camper that is 1x2" slats with corner blocking essentially industrial stapled together.
The delete list: TV, Air Conditioner, microwave oven, frame mounted tie downs, rear bumper, awnings, back up camera.
The big deal is Jeanie’s acceptance of the cassette toilet instead of a wet bath with black tank. Yess! I convinced her by saying, “I’ll be the rubber gloved one taking care of the dumping of the cassette”.
We will actually pick it up at the factory in Cedar Falls Iowa at the beginning of our fall color trek to the N.E.
Our bullet proof 2001 RAM Cummins H.O. short bed camper package with stuff will continue to be the beast of burden for the new acquisition.
I’m glad our quest is over. Let the 4-season travel begin....well, 3-season. We don't do summer in the box.
jefe
Moving on to a new TC is some endeavor and saying good by to your former Lance 165s is like a old friend leaving never to be seen again. The memories you and Jean have made with that old friend will still be around for many years to come while you are making new ones with a new friend. I noted that one of your feature on the 2020 Northstar is the Dometic 3.8 cu,ft. 12Vdc compressor refrer. I'm guessing that it's the CR1110 model (3.8 cu.ft.) which is what I have. This unit is very durable and can take a good beating, the cold control can at times get a little touche' but seems to do it's job. Looking toward your Moab TCTR. ...Alex
 

Mundo4x4Casa

West slope, N. Ser. Nev.
Northstar has agreed to substitute a PD-4546V for their stock component and add the slight difference to our tab.
After riding in her brother's new Ford pickup, Jeanie now wants to keep the old Lance 165-s/Dodge Cummins for the really gnarly trips and buy a new(er) 350/3500 pickup with auto trans to go under the new Northstar for longer term touring. Who am I to complain? One woe is there is only room for one TC in the shed:

The shed (actually a pole barn with no floor/no power) is 10'Wx22'Lx11'H (to clear) in order to meet the 'no permits needed' requirements of the county building dept. My tractor resides in here during the summer and TC/truck during the winter. The tractor with rear pull snow blower is at the ready outside during winter

jefe
 
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c.traveler2

New member
Mundo4x4Casa, are you by chance considering going with lithium batteries, I've been looking in that direction myself.
 
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