Truck Camper Adventure is proud to present another truck camper review written by a guest author. In this insightful and informative piece, Ryan Melvin provides us with his thoughts on the 2015 Arctic Fox 811, a hard-side, single-slide truck camper made for one-ton trucks.
I had considered a truck camper purchase for about 18 months and had done quite a lot of research on buying the right truck and the right truck camper. I decided to buy my truck first, a 2015 Chevrolet Silverado 3500HD short-bed pickup with the excellent 6.6L Duramax diesel and the Allison transmission. Buying a truck camper, however, proved a bit more difficult. Initially, I decided to buy a used 2013 or 2014 Lance 855s. Unfortunately, I came up short on several attempts to buy one and quickly realized that people who own Lance campers don’t understand that campers depreciate in value (joke, sort of). After more research, I realized that I could purchase a brand new Arctic Fox 811 for about the same price as a used Lance 855s. Buying a new camper was music to my wife’s ears and in hindsight pleased me as well.
We purchased our 2015 Arctic Fox 811 truck camper from Boardman RV in Pueblo, CO. I was definitely jumping in to the truck camper world with both feet and truly realized it on the day we took delivery. The wife and I were both surprised at the size of the coach when we first stood next to it. During our orientation we were very pleased with the interior space and amenities that our new toy offered, yet we were equally intimidated by the complexities of operating it. After all the homework I had done over the last 18 months, I was still overwhelmed. Much of those feelings, I realize now, were coming from the fact that I had just written a $31,500 check and there was no turning back. Now on to the review.
Loading and driving with the Arctic Fox 811 for the first time was overwhelming. The Arctic Fox 811 is a large and very heavy camper with a dry weight of 3,500 pounds. Indeed, the height of the camper mounted on our truck was much more than I expected. Hauling it took some getting use to and was completely different from any experience that I had hauling regular cargo in the past. The way my truck leaned on corners and the rocking it did from front to back on bumps or dips in the road was completely new to me, but I am sure was similar to what all novice truck camper owners go through in the beginning.
Aside from the size and weight of the camper, my overall impression of the Arctic Fox 811 is very favorable. The interior and exterior color schemes are modern and stylish. The interior cabinets have an appealing dark, cherry wood finish and are accented nicely with stainless steel appliances. The windows are nicely covered with cloth pull-down blinds and the carpeted ceiling adds additional warmth to an already warm and attractive interior.
As far as camping goes, we like that the kitchen offers more than what we expected or will probably ever need. The three burner stove works well, is easy to light, and equally easy to clean. There is adequate dry good storage in the pantry that features a well-built, two tier, wire rack system. The three-way, two door, 6 cubic foot refrigerator and freezer has more room than we have needed and has kept our food and beverages icy cold even during long drives through the 100+ degree temps in the Southern Nevada and Utah deserts.
As for the microwave, we have yet to use it. I’ve come to realize that we probably never will. On my next camper I would prefer the extra storage space over a heavy, space-eating microwave. Our Arctic Fox 811 is also equipped with an excellent Kenwood entertainment system (bluetooth, USB, and iPod ready) with indoor and outdoor marine-grade speakers.
The slide-out dinette is comfortable and fits my family of four well (wife and two kids, ages 7 and 11). It is a bit snug, but that is fine; we are camping after all. The dinette table slides down and converts into a bed that fits my two kids perfectly. The table quality seems decent, though I noticed on our most recent trip that it has become increasingly wobbly from the nuts and screws loosening up during travel. Not a big deal, but still annoying for a fairly new $31,000 camper.
To be honest, the size of the wetbath has exceeded my expectations. There’s plenty of elbow room for me to shower in comfortably (I’m 5 feet 9 inches tall and weight 170 pounds). The single piece molded wetbath features both a sink and a counter top. The counter top is large and has enough room to place all of my toiletries on it, i.e. soap, tooth brushes, tooth paste, etc. There is also a mirrored medicine cabinet that provides additional storage.
The Arctic Fox 811 is equipped with two 12 volt fans: an exhaust fan in the bathroom and a Fan-tastic Vent Fan over the bed. The ceiling in the camper also features two skylights, including one in the bathroom.
The cabover is spacious and has a TruRest queen-size mattress with wardrobe cabinets on either side. The cabinets are large and offer more than enough storage for our clothing, sheets, towels, etc. The TruRest mattress is very comfortable for an RV mattress and we have slept well on it. The bedroom also features screened windows on either side that have helped keep the camper well-ventilated and cool during warm summer nights.
The exterior comes standard with an electric rear awning that is easy to use and four sturdy Reico Titan electric jacks with a wireless remote. The 811 also comes with two 7 gallon propane tanks, a feature for which I was very excited, but I’ve come to realize after four trips that it is far more than what we need–we have yet to empty a single tank. Our camper also came with a 2500 watt LP Onan Generator that we have used less than 1 hour and a Coleman 11,000 air conditioner that we have yet to use. One of the standard features that I have most appreciated is that the camper is equipped with both interior and exterior LED lights.
The Arctic Fox 811 comes with a slide-out storage tray where I store my fishing rods. The storage tray, which mounts in the basement, is about 4 feet long, 10 inches wide, and a few inches deep. Unfortunately, the tray is awkward to use because of its unusual size. Not only that, but very few things will fit in it (overall wasted space in my opinion).
The camper comes with very large holding tanks: a 50 gallon fresh water, a 23 gallon black, and a 38 gallon gray. The tanks are more than big enough for my family and my only critique would be that they should switch the black to 38 gallons and the gray to 23 gallons. Dumping the tanks is simple and quick as the sewage hose storage is in the rear bumper right next to the sewer connection.
After four trips and two months of ownership I’m pleased with the Arctic Fox 811’s quality. That being said, I’ve come to realize that I bought more camper than we need and would gladly trade some of the amenities for a lighter camper with less height. We have been deep into the woods a few times including on steep and uneven roads and have found the height and weight of the rig a burden. Indeed, we found the leaning and rocking of the top-heavy rig to be very unnerving. I would trade out the basement storage for a lower profile truck camper. I would also shave off a few inches from the interior height which would allow for a lower profile unit as well.
Overall, Northwood Manufacturing did their homework and built a great rig. Most of my complaints would only relate to my personal preferences and to things that I’m learning from owning my first truck camper. What I didn’t know, I didn’t know, and would only be able to learn along the way. I would highly recommend this camper to people who like to get off-the-grid a bit, but is more suitable for less rugged areas. This camper is very roomy, is very comfortable, and is very well-built. However, if you’re someone who likes to engage the four-wheel drive on rough roads and go deeper in the woods then I would recommend looking for a lighter, lower profile rig.
My wife and I purchased an arctic fox 811 in September 2015 we put it on our 2014 ram 3500 short bed with a Cummins diesel and drove it north into Canada from Pasco Washington by the time we got within 100 miles of Banff British Columbia we realized that we had too much camper for the truck and we drove straight down to Dave Smith in Kellogg Idaho and purchased a 2015 ram 3500 Dually mega cab short bed. That solved the problems of swaying too much (we already had a bigwig sway bar installed on the 2014 model and airbags), So we installed the same configuration on the Dooley and found it to be superstable and we’ve enjoyed it for the last 10,000 miles cross country and have not regretted getting the Dually.
Hi Barry- I am glad you figured out how to enjoy the roads better with your 811. So far I am very happy with the 811 but I love my truck more. Between the two, if I had to make a switch it would be to a lighter camper. I am going to get a few of these mods done before my weekend trip (going to the Grand Canyon) and see how it goes. This weekend should be a good tester as well, as it is supposed to be fairly windy.
Enjoy your travels-
Ryan, Anymore updates to how your truck handles the camper? I just bought a 2016 Chevy CC D/A but I have a longbed. Thanks.
Back in December I ordered both Torklift Stable Loads and a Hellwig Sway Bar. Both got to my house the same day and with the recommendation from other TC owners on this site, they recommended install one at a time. With that being said, I installed the Stable Loads, for the simple fact that they were easier to install and also a lot lighter than the Sway Bar. That same weekend we got to test out the Stable Loads on a windy, winter camping trip to the Grand Canyon. I was amazed on the difference that it made handling and was so pleased that I returned the Sway Bar. The Stable Loads far exceeded my expectations. With that being said, I am going to sell my 811 and get something a bit narrower and lower profile. Is your longbed a 2500 or a 3500?
Hi Ryan; liked your review of your AF811. Nice truck too. I have the Chevy 3500 and haul an Adventurer 89RB. Your dry weight is about 400 pounds more than mine. Several things can be done to improve your ride, Stable Loads, Timbren Stops and Air Bags. I use air bags and I add just enough air pressure to raise the truck to the point the upper overloads are just touching the pads. This gives you a smooth ride and the overloads will come into play whenever the truck encounters uneven pavement (like bridges) or you pull into service stations or fast food places where you crossover the transistions at an angle. With airbags set the rear of my truck settles about 1.5 inches, which really makes the truck level.
Hi Thomas- I am glad you liked the review. The timing for your recommendation is appreciated as we are heading to the Grand Canyon this weekend for some winter camping. Yeah, I already have air bags and tomorrow a Hellwig Sway Bar will arrive, but I just looked at a good YouTube video about the Torklift Stable Load it seemed that those added could get me to where I need to be. What’s your opinion, should I install both the rear sway bar and the Stable Load or just go for the Stable Load?
Yes, you certainly can use both Stable-loads and Air Bags. Using both you might be able to reduce air pressure a little to achieve same ride comfort.
Ryan, congratulations on your new rig. I also purchased a Chevy Silverado 3500 last month.
I noticed you mentioned the dry weight of the camper is 3,500 lbs. I know my Chevy has a cargo weight rating of 3000 lbs and max overall payload of 3800 lbs. With everything you’re packing, water, food, etc., your truck could very well be overloaded.
Thanks, we are really enjoying it so far. Yes, there is no doubt we are pushing the cargo weight rating. Not the ideal scenario, but the reality of buying a TC with a slide. What we have done so far is travel with the tanks empty and fill up the fresh water once we get closer to our destination. Many gas stations in Southern Utah, where we typically go, are camper friendly so it is pretty convenient for us to make our pit stop there. I will be to the scales in the coming weeks and report back with my numbers. What I have realized is that my family’s perfect camping set would be a lighter TC and then pulling fairly small (4X8 single axle) trailer for gear and mountain bikes.