First Impressions of the 2017 NuCamp Cirrus 800 Truck Camper

A year and a half ago we decided to buy our first truck camper, a NuCamp Cirrus 800. It took us a while to make that decision after looking at various types of RV’s. Suffice it to say, none of the RV’s we looked at met our needs. They were either too big, too wide, too small, or too narrow. After looking at several, we began to realize that a lot of our reasons for being turned-off by them had to do with our image of who we were and what we wanted to do with our lives.

The truck camper seemed liked the best fit. I wanted a four-wheel drive and envisioned us spending time off pavement and wanted a pop-up truck camper that I could easily load our two kayaks on. My wife, Nancy, wanted a hard-side with one or two slide-outs, a microwave, and an air conditioner. We both wanted a toilet and a shower, a refrigerator, a sink, an eating area, and a large bed. I liked the idea of being able to use the truck for farm and construction work. Nancy liked the idea of using the camper for babysitting.

And speaking of babysitting. We were anticipating the birth of our first grandchild, an event that helped Nancy make the tough decision to retire. I was already retired, and had fully rehabilitated from a life-threatening stroke. No one could see that I was any different from before. But inside, I had changed.  “Life is too short,” had become my modus operandi.

About that time our family minivan died leaving me with an old Toyota truck, which was on its last legs.  We looked at three truck campers: a Wolf Creek, a Northstar and a Lance and started to compromise. I gave up pop-ups, she gave up slide-outs. Then we saw and found a truck camper that was very different from the other truck campers we had been looking at. The Cirrus was definitely not our grandpa’s camper! Its smooth curves, large windows, and Euro design and craftsmanship made it really stand out in a parking lot and its inside features were innovative.

After another month of deliberation, we bought a RAM one-ton 4×4 with an extended cab and then the Cirrus 800 to go with it. Immediately we began taking trips to do wine tasting and wildflower viewing. As part of my rehab from the stroke, I had written a couple of books, (In the Company of Redwoods and Take Me to the Tide Pools) and had done Campfire talks and Nature walks based on them for a few summers in a dozen state parks in Northern California. It turned out that the Cirrus truck camper was great for that. I could pull into a campsite, slip on a backpack with the materials I needed, and be ready to make a presentation in a matter of minutes. Afterwards I could fix a late dinner, take a shower, and sleep on a super comfortable mattress.

The only thing I missed from back home was watching the stars from our hot tub, but lying beneath a warm down quilt and looking up through the large skylight is a pretty great alternative. If the bugs and weather cooperate, I can open the skylight to a full vertical (and even climb out onto the camper roof!) but if not, the combination bug screen and block-out shade and the noise-silencing double-pane thermal windows provide a good combination of options.

Another thing that we really like about our Cirrus camper is that it uses the Alde hydronic heating system. This space-saving heating system efficiently provides both heated air and hot water. It is used in many European caravans and camper vans. American RV manufacturers are starting to use it, too, including Roadtech and Winnebago. We are big fans of the system and love the silent radiant heat and hot water that it provides.

But the skylight and innovative heating system are just a couple of things that make the Cirrus stand out. We also like the pocket-like sliding screen door; the folding bathroom sink, the acrylic thermal-pane windows with built-in slide bug screen and light block-out screen (another European import); the dual batteries; the multiple USB charging stations; all LED lighting; the large, 5-cubic foot refrigerator; the airline style cabinet latches; the oversized aluminum bumper/platform with built-in steps; and the comfortable Froli mattress.

Still, as with all campers, there are several things I added. So far, my mods have included a new medicine cabinet, a composting toilet (we now can go a week or more on the 26 gallons of fresh water the Cirrus holds), a spice rack, a magazine rack, an 80-watt fixed solar power system with a 100-watt portable solar panel, and a rack to haul bikes and kayaks.

The Cirrus has proved to be a good compromise for our first RV. By the time you read this we will be off on our longest truck camper outing, a seven-week trip from California to Alaska and back. It was Nancy who came up with the idea of spending a night at a Walmart when I was planning out the first couple of days. Day one and we will already have checked that item off our “must do” list!

Since we bought our Cirrus 800, the folks at nuCamp have incorporated many user comments into the Cirrus 820, which came out last year. They have also just announced that they will be releasing the Cirrus 920 for long-bed trucks. Their camper factory is in Ohio and the skill of their (largely Amish) assembly crew is excellent.

If you see our rig on the road this summer, give us a Truck Camper wave!

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

About David Casterson 1 Article
David Casterson taught High School Biology and Nature Photography for 34 years with an emphasis on ecology and botany. He loves backpacking, bicycling, kayaking, and truck camping. He also enjoys writing, woodworking growing his own food, and retirement.

14 Comments

  1. Thank you for taking time to describe your experience with this Cirrus rig. We are considering buying either the 820 model or the 920. We are waiting to buy a truck until we figure out which camper to buy. Truck Camper Magazine seems to indicate a 1 Ton truck is enough for the Cirrus 800/820 but your RAM 3500 is sagging under the load…what is the problem? Thanks for your time.

    • Yes, the sag is there. Should probably install air bags to deal with unbalanced weight distribution. I mounted a pop.up Northstar on it and unit was level with no sag. I like pop ups for other reasons (better clearance, easier to load/unload kayaks, less affected by wind when traveling) and may be purchasing a pop up camper in the future.

  2. How is the dinette space? I read that it is 5.5 feet from back of one bench to the other, is that enough for 4 people to sit for dinner? Is it diesel fuel for the hydroponics system? Do you have a separate tank? Do you use propane for cooking?

  3. The first photo post in this made me wonder about the weight of your camper and looking at the specs from their website it appears that your 3500 should handle the weight OK. So I was wondering as to why the rear was drooping so much, COG wasn’t listed on Cirrus website do you have that information?
    Adding up the dry weight, water and two propane tanks is appox. 2896 LBS before adding all the other creature comforts, this definitely puts it out of the 3/4 ton truck class.
    It is a nice looking rig and I look forward to a follow up article sometime in the future.

  4. Thank yo for the informative narrative. Was wondering about the RAM payload (I have a 2500 Cummins myself). Several of the photos appear to suggest that the truck has some rear-end squatting going on. Is it an illusion? If not, are you not concerned about the headlamp illumination being directly in oncoming traffic’s eyes?
    Safe travels!

  5. The compostable toilet I installed is made by Nature’s Head (http://natureshead.net/road). You can get the dimensions from
    their site and view the installation and use video there. I first followed their directions, making modifications to make it fit into the space in my Cirrus wet bath space but in the end discovered a simpler, better method.
    1: Remove the original conventional toilet (which I had never used), and seal open end of the black water pipe in the floor
    2: Lay down a 1 inch industrial thick rubber rubber mat, the kind dime sized drainage holes all over it and cut it to fit your space
    3: Place the Nature’s Head on top of it and follow their directions to install the included mini 12 volt computer fan and venting pipe.

    When needing to turn the agitator to mix solid matter with the coconut husk fiber, just slide the toilet out from the tight space a few inches and spin the handle. Even on bumpy roads my toilet never moves on its own, really! On our 7 week trip to Alaska, I dumped the solids chamber just 1 time. The two of us filled the urine chamber every 2-3 days.

      • I used a hole saw bit in my electric drill to cut the epventakation hole. I nstalled the spider style crank and the industrial rubber mat described above. I pull the toilet out of the opening a bit epto give me enough clearance to turn the crank or to remove the urine container for dumping, (which you really need to do ever other day to avoid smell). We will probably go with a cassette toilet in our next camper.

Leave a Reply