Northern Lite 10-2, Real-Lite 1604 Top Selling Truck Campers

In spite of a worldwide pandemic, it’s no secret that the RV industry did well in 2020. RV Dealerships, in particular, did exceptionally well with most recording record sales. One such dealership is AC Nelsen RV. The dealership opened its doors in 1919 and is the oldest family owned dealership in the world. Headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska, the dealership has two other locations in Shakopee, Minnesota, a suburb of Minneapolis, and also a small location in Atlantic, Iowa.

“We experienced huge growth in 2020 due to the pandemic and expect that trend to continue this year,” said Bob Fielder, AC Nelsen RV General Manager. “We are the largest Forest River Cherokee dealer in the nation and are the only dealership to offer the Patriot Edition Travel Trailers. Consistently, we are in the top 10 dealers nationwide and closed 2020 in sixth place. We pride ourselves on offering the best selection and the most competitive prices available. Every week we sell to locations from 1,000 to 2,000 miles away. We have holding lots in Elkhart Indiana, and Omaha, as well as Shakopee to store our huge inventory. Typically we stock over 1,000 towable RV’s and truck campers.”

When it comes to truck campers, AC Nelsen RV offers one of the best selections of truck campers in the country. The dealership sells Forest River Palomino Real Lite and Backpack truck campers, including the popular Palomino Rogue. They’re also a top dealership for the Eagle Cap, Adventurer, Northern Lite, and Travel Lite brands.

Keeping inventory levels high has been a challenge during the pandemic as the level of interest in RVs—and truck campers in particular—has never been higher. The current inventory of new truck campers at AC Nelsen RV sits at 13, but the dealership usually has two to three times that number. RV suppliers have and remain the holdup for many RV manufacturers as backlogs delay essential deliveries of refrigerators, jacks, roofing, aluminum and fiberglass siding, and air conditioners. So what’s the bottom line? If you see a camper you like on the lot, don’t wait. It probably won’t be there for long.

So what are the best selling truck campers at AC Nelsen RV? According to Fielder, the best selling model is the Real-Lite 1604, a lightweight pop-up for half-ton trucks, while the best selling hard-side is the Northern Lite 10-2, a long-bed camper made for one-ton trucks. Neither comes as a real surprise. The Real-Lite 1604 is an excellent, entry-level camper, a perfect match for most half-ton trucks including those with the 5-foot bed, while the Northern Lite 10-2 is one of the best-made, best-looking long-bed campers in today’s market.

Lineup of current Real Lite models.
Palomino Real Lite 1604 Interior

According to Bill Budd, Sales Manager at the Shokopee location, the Real-Lite 1604 is a popular choice with fishermen and hunters who live in the upper Midwest. Real-Lite construction features a welded aluminum frame, high density block foam insulation, overlayed with either a white fiberglass or gel coat exterior. The camper’s 7-foot-long floorplan features a kitchenette with a sink and two-burner cooktop and a Dometic 2.7 cubic foot three-way refrigerator on the driver side, a U-shaped dinette on the passenger side, and a north-south 60×80-inch bed flanked with “coffin-style” storage lockers.

Features of the Real-Lite 1604 include attractive hard wood cabinets, LED lighting, a 15-gallon fresh water holding tank, and a 20-pound propane tank. An excellent Badlands optional package is also offered, which provides customers with a Thule roof rack, a 110 watt solar power system, and a second battery tray for a dual battery configuration for extended off-grid adventures. The camper is perfect fit for most half-ton trucks with a dry weight of only 1,594 pounds.

The Northern Lite 10-2 is one of our personal favorites. A big reason is the camper’s superb “clam-shell” fiberglass exterior. The molded fiberglass design produces not only a superior, aerodynamic structure, but also one that is stronger and doesn’t leak like typical campers. The camper’s 10-foot 9-inch floorplan features a north-south queen-size bed, a roomy wet-bath, a face-to-face dinette, loads of storage, and a large kitchenette. Features include all-wood cabinets with beautiful sapele veneer paneling; a mirrored, three-way 6.3-cubic foot refrigerator; a 6-gallon DSI water heater; a dual battery compartment, Seitz windows, and a three-burner propane cooktop.

As you’d expect for anything built by our Canadian friends to the north, the Northern Lite 10-2 is an excellent four-season camper. It features R-7 insulation throughout, a 20,000 BTU furnace, two 20-pound propane tanks, a 9,200 BTU air conditioner, two 185-watt solar panels, a 45-amp Progressive Dynamics converter/charger, LED lighting, and side and rear awnings. The tank sizes in the Northern Lite 10-2 are excellent, too, with 36 gallons fresh, 40 gallons grey, and 18 gallons black, great for boondocking.

Northern Lite 10-2 with slate grey interior

We are also told that the AC Nelsen RV will soon be receiving a shipment of the Palomino Rogue. This relatively new, wedge-style pop-up was designed with the overland adventurer in mind and targets a younger demographic. But don’t look for a lot of amenities in this entry-level camper. With a dry weight varying between 1,402 pounds for the EA-1 and EB-1 models and 1,243 pounds for the EA-2 and EB-2 models, the Rogue was built for mid-size and half-ton trucks with small payload ratings. Features include an electric roof lift system, a 20,000 BTU furnace, a two-way refrigerator, a two-burner cooktop, an 8-gallon fresh water holding tank, and a dome skylight, and that’s it. There’s no bathroom. The Rogue provides a comfortable place to sleep, sit, and cook and that’s about it, but for those who’ve camped exclusively in tents before, the Rogue is pure luxury.

Interestingly, Bill Budd and Palomino have a history that goes way back. The dealership in Shakopee, Minnesota that AC Nelsen RV purchased a few years ago was formerly Vern Landeys RV. If you look on the Palomino website you will see the story regarding Vern Landey and the fact that he started Palomino in Minnesota in 1968 and sold it to Forest River in 1998. Bill Budd is the current sales manager at the Shakopee location and was one of Palomino’s original owners.

While AC Nelsen RV has made its mark by selling RVs in three states—Nebraska, Minnesota, and Iowa—another thing that sets AC Nelsen RV from most dealerships is its willingness to sell world-wide.

“We sell our products world-wide and are able to ship directly to the customers location, and of course we service everything we sell. We also offer a huge inventory selection of RV parts to fit any need. AC Nelsen RV is always looking for growth opportunities and we strive to keep our customers coming back and happy,” Fielder said.

About Mello Mike 729 Articles
Mello Mike is an Arizona native, author, and the founder of Truck Camper Adventure. He's been RV'ing since 2002, is a certified RVIA Level 1 RV Technician, and has restored several Airstream travel trailers. A communications expert and licensed ham radio operator, he retired from the U.S. Navy in 2004 as a CWO3 after 24 years, worked in project management, and now runs Truck Camper Adventure full-time. He also does some RV consulting, repairs, and inspections on the side. He currently rolls in a 4WD Ram 3500 outfitted with a SherpTek truck bed with a Bundutec Roadrunner mounted on top. - KK7TCA

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