After living in a truck camper full-time, we’ve come to appreciate the finer things in life like elbow room and storage space. In many truck campers being built today, these basics are lacking. Our camper is no different. As a result, we’ve had to be creative to find places to store things in our rig like in the truck bed and in the cab of our truck, but finding living space in our camper remains elusive. There simply isn’t a lot of room inside for basic things like lounging around and watching TV.
That’s why we were intrigued when we recently had the opportunity to take a closer look at a Host Mammoth 11.5 truck camper at a dealership in town, Tom’s Camperland. This long-bed truck camper not only impressed us with its luxury, size, and quality, but also had us seriously thinking about an upgrade. If a $65,000 camper has that kind of allure after a brief, 30 minute tour, you know it has to be good.
First things, first. The Host Mammoth 11.5 is big. The name fits because this camper is massive, even for a long-bed truck camper. Indeed, with a typical dry weight of 4,700 pounds, an overall length of 19 feet 3 inches, and a floor length of 11 feet 6 inches, it’s one of the largest slide-in truck campers in the industry. Part of what makes the Mammoth so big is that it features three slide-outs. Yep, you heard us right—three. These slide-outs create an enormous amount of living space—180 square feet to be exact—the equivalent of what you’ll find in an average size motorhome.
Of course, you’ll need a big truck to haul this camper. Depending on options and how much “stuff” you put in it, the Mammoth will probably weigh between 5,500 and 6,000 pounds, which means you’ll need a minimum of a 3500/F-350 dual rear wheel truck with a 5,500 pound payload to safely haul it. Some Mammoth owners have resorted to getting a 4500/F-450 or 5500/F-550 truck with an even larger payload to haul this elephant-size beast around.
Luxury is the word that comes to mind when you walk inside a Host Mammoth 11.5 truck camper. Inside, you’ll find a “host” of amenities and high-end touches not found in your typical truck camper like a leather sofa, an electric fireplace, a mantel with a 32-inch flat-screen TV, a large dry bath with a porcelain toilet and a large shower, a two-door 8 cubic foot refrigerator, molded counter tops, and a massive, four-door pantry in the kitchen. If that isn’t luxurious enough, options are also available for a king size bed, a 6 foot sofa with an adjustable high-low table, an outdoor entertainment center with a 24-inch flat screen TV, and a washer/dryer combo.
Truth be told, the lavish interior and attention to detail of the Host Mammoth camper resembles a high-end apartment more than a truck camper. The slide-outs, of course, are a large part of what makes the Mammoth so special. We were amazed at all of the elbow room, storage space, and amenities inside the camper. Full-timing in this thing would be a joy compared to the truck camper that we’re living in now.
“We’re the guys that build a camper with a comfortable living space that has more of a living room type of feel,” explained Randall Pozzi, General Manager of Host Campers based out of Bend, Oregon. “You walk in one of our campers you’ve got the two couches in there, its got the fireplace, the mantel with the TV above it, you’ve got the high-low table that goes up and down, side-to-side, and in and out, you can set it up like a coffee table, you can set it up like a dining table. Our campers make you feel like you’re in a living room set-up rather than your typical camper where the only place you have to sit is at the dinette. That’s what sets us apart from everybody else, our comfortable living space,” he added.
The Mammoth 11.5, like all Host Campers, is loaded with an impressive number of standard features. These include a Dometic two-way 8-cubic foot refrigerator, a Suburban 6 gallon DSI water heater, a Suburban 25,000 BTU propane fired furnace, a 1,000 watt inverter, and a Suburban thre-burner propane cook top with a folding cook top cover. The camper also comes standard with a U-shaped dinette, a loveseat, and a queen size bed. All of the cabinets in the Mammoth are high-end with shaker style doors and drawers with pocket screwed face frames.
Host offers two choices of colors for their interior cabinets, a lighter Pecan and a darker Smokey River. Consumers may have trouble choosing one over the other. Even though my wife typically likes lighter interiors, she actually prefers the darker Smokey interior better. The molded “grani-coat” counter tops, constructed of a beautiful fiberglass and stone composite, are durable, lightweight, and are a perfect complement to the colors of the interiors.
If you’re into boondocking or dry camping, you’ll really like what the Mammoth has to offer. The camper has the largest holding tanks in the industry—65 gallons fresh, 51 gallons grey, and 31 gallons black. We couldn’t find a larger fresh water or grey water holding tank in a slide-in truck camper being made today, even in the larger Eagle Cap models being made by ALP (Chalet RV used to produce a camper with a 66 gallon fresh water tank capacity, but that camper is no longer being made).
The Mammoth excels in other ways, too, with the camper capable of carrying 15 gallons of propane, a vented battery compartment large enough to house two group-31 batteries, and a 1,000 watt inverter with two dedicated AC outlets. The camper comes solar ready, but if you want Host offers three excellent Zamp solar power options that can be installed at the factory: a 160 watt, a 320 watt, and a 480 watt system. Many Mammoth owners also opt for the Onan 2500 generator to power the convection microwave, the electric fireplace, and the 11,000 BTU air conditioner while off-grid.
When you first lay eyes on the exterior of a Host Mammoth camper, “wow!” is the first word that usually comes to mind. The smooth, fiberglass exterior of the camper, tastefully accented with Host’s traditional graphics package, presents a muscular yet elegant appearance. One feature not readily apparent when you first look at the camper is the Mammoth’s crowned TPO roof. The benefit of having this feature is that it prevents water from pooling on the roof and creating leaks. We also liked the rear folding ladder, the recessed LED automotive style tail lights, and the toppers fitted above each slide-out, which keep moisture and leaves out of the camper when the slide-outs are retracted. But the one feature that really brought a smile to our faces was the basement storage tray. This easy, pull-out tray provides an enormous amount of storage that would be the envy of any RV owner, let alone a truck camper owner.
Like most of the truck camper’s being built today, the Mammoth’s frame is constructed entirely of aluminum. While many manufacturers build their truck camper frames out of aluminum, few do it right. “What really sets us apart in our framing is our walls,” Pozzi says, “we use studs throughout our walls, and every window, every door, every hatch is an actual framed-in opening, so if you took the window out of one of our campers you’d see aluminum there. Where most of the manufacturers if you take a window out of the wall, you’d see nothing there but foam. So over time the foam starts to compress and now you’ve got a compression ring window that’s squeezing nothing so you have a much higher potential for leakers.”
Frame issues have plagued some truck camper makes with multiple slide-outs, but not at Host. Most manufacturers are building campers with 4- and 5-foot wide floors below the bed rails of the truck. This approach employs the standard stair-step pattern or Z-pattern that is difficult to make strong enough to carry big slides because of the wings and the narrower floor. Host uses a better, completely different approach and backs it up with a three-year structural warranty.
“Our floor is 8-foot wide,” Pozzi explains, “the floor is above the bed rails of the truck, so now you have structure running all the way through, from side-to-side, on your entire floor. And then you have these two big panels running vertically underneath it that go down into the basement and then the basement floor and its that kind of truss-like design that gives you the structural strength to carry the big slides and still keep it lightweight. That’s what sets us apart from what everybody else does.”
The Host Mammoth is a true, four-season camper. Even though the exterior walls are only 1-inch thick, Pozzi explains that the walls are insulated with a 2-pound high density foam with a high R-rating. This higher density foam insulates just as well as the 2-inch thick walls found in other high-end truck campers. In order to keep the camper toasty warm, the Mammoth is heated with a Suburban high-efficiency 25,000 BTU furnace with full ducting throughout the camper. Most campers have only one vent for the furnace, which is a common complaint we hear hear at Truck Camper Adventure. Moreover, the basement, which houses the battery compartment, all of the camper’s holding tanks, the storage tray, and a good portion of the camper’s plumbing, is also heated. Even the exterior doors and hatches are insulated to ensure that the camper stays warm in winter.
A big concern for many consumers shopping for a truck camper with multiple slide-outs is the slide-out reliability. While some truck camper companies have been having problems with these mechanisms, Host hasn’t had any issues at all. The reason is Host uses Power Gear heavy-duty steel mounting hardware underneath their slide-outs rather than the less reliable Schwintek aluminum hardware, which is mounted on the side. Host’s Power Gear slide-out mechanisms have robust rolling assemblies that simply don’t fail. Yes, these assemblies are heavier than those found in other makes of truck campers, but they hold up better over time. When you consider where most of us like to take our truck campers—off-road excursions on rough forest roads and rutted desert trails are the norm—it makes a lot of sense to have a stronger, more robust slide-out assembly. Who wants to have a breakdown on an outing? We sure as heck wouldn’t.
Another concern that many have with such a large camper is how it will handle on and off pavement. With three slide-outs and the floor mounted above the bed rails of the truck, you’d think that there would be issues, but that hasn’t been the case. The Mammoth actually handles exceptionally well on a one-ton dually with the requisite payload.
“If you look at the design, where the axles hit and you look at what’s forward of the axle, our fresh water tank, our grey water tank, our black water tank, our pantry, our refrigerator, everything that’s really heavy that you’re going to load into this camper, your food, your water and all of these kind of things is all forward of the axle where so many campers are designed where you’re loading the back-end and that’s why the Mammoth drives so well for a big camper because it’s designed to be loaded front-end,” Pozzi explained.
The Host Mammoth 11.5 appears to have everything that one would want in a truck camper. Pozzi tells us that the Mammoth is by far the best-selling camper at Host. That’s no surprise, but because of its size the Host Mammoth isn’t for everybody. If you’re looking for an extreme 4×4 truck camper to take off-road, this elephant-size beast isn’t it. But if you’re looking for a camper to travel in or to use as a base camp to use your other toys, then the Mammoth will fill that need rather nicely. At $65,000 for the base model, there are certainly cheaper options, but they aren’t necessarily better. The high quality frame and slide-out mechanisms, not to mention the lavish, high end features of the interior provide ample evidence of that fact. There’s no doubt about it, the Host Mammoth 11.5 is the undisputed king of the mountain when it comes to the multiple slide-out truck camper market. It doesn’t appear likely that the Mammoth will be pushed off its lofty perch anytime soon.