One of the things that makes Truck Camper Adventure different from the competition is the preference for owner reviews. This approach helps ensure that our reviews aren’t bought and paid for. The latest owner review comes from Steve Stracke who has written several travel pieces for us and is a frequent attendee at our annual rally in Quartzsite. In his review of the Lance 855s, Steve pulls no punches in what he likes and doesn’t like with the camper. We hope you enjoy it.
After retirement, Rita and I purchased our first RV and began exploring the western United States. We bought a new 2019 F-350 SRW Lariat equipped with 4WD, a 6.7L diesel and a crew cab for extra seating. Initially, we purchased a new 2019 Lance 825 which worked well for us, but was somewhat challenging when our German Shepherd was added to the mix.
After a few trips we returned to our Lance dealer, Richard’s RV in Lancaster, California, and traded in our 825 for a new 2019 Lance 855s. Richard treated us well during both transactions. We enjoyed our 825, specifically the lighter weight, smaller profile and the lack of a slide-out. However, it turns out our 855s is a better fit for our adventures, largely due to the more generous floor space provided by the slide-out, the spacious headroom in the cabover, and the larger refrigerator and holding tanks.
Due to our affinity for somewhat remote locations, 4WD is important to us. We also outfitted our Jeep Rubicon for flat-towing, which we use for additional storage while traveling and transportation to trailheads as we enjoy hiking. After researching various truck campers we believe our rig provides an outstanding combination of relatively light weight, convenience, quality and the ability to access remote locations.
The Lance 855s is a short-bed, single-slide truck camper with a floor length of 8 feet, 11 inches. It’s rated for four-season use, has a fully equipped kitchen including stove and microwave, a Onan 2500 propane-fired generator, and a three-way 5 cubic foot refrigerator. The official dry weight is 3,000 pounds with a wet weight of approximately 3,400 pounds. Fully loaded, the camper weighs about 4,100 pounds, meaning you will need a one-ton truck at a minimum to haul it.. The 855s has an excellent molded, fiberglass wet-bath with a sink and storage tank capacities of 30 gallons fresh, 20 gallons gray and 25 gallons black. If our boondocking trip requires more freshwater, we can carry an additional 28 gallons in the Jeep.
The fit and finish of our 855s is exceptional as Lance uses CAD engineering along with CNC machinery to manufacture their products to tight tolerances. All Lance products utilize an aluminum-framed superstructure along with products designed to minimize mold and mildew. The exterior features a high gloss Lamilux 4000 fiberglass along with Lance’s well-designed, aerodynamic TPO nose cap.
Our Lance 855s has conveniently located storage, key hooks, light switches, a fire extinguisher, and a remote just inside the rear door. With skylights and LED lighting throughout, the camper is well lit. The kitchen has limited counter space so we use a cutting board over the large basin as we don’t need two sinks. We enjoy using the full-size dinette coupled with pullout drawers for easy storage access. However, the 110 volt, 12 volt and USB outlets located under the dinette are poorly placed in the aisle. A much better location would be the wall adjacent to the dinette or even under the table. The fuse panel and breakers are conveniently located under the main step to the cabover.
We enjoy the full-size cabover. However, access would be improved with a well-placed assist handle. The north-south queen-size bed and ample headroom are appreciated as are the USB reading lights on either side of the bed. The driver’s side accommodates the TV as well as shelf-storage along with a small drawer and well-placed 110 volt, 12 volt and USB outlets. The passenger side features a good-size hamper and a large closet for hanging shirts and coats. Our 855s is equipped with a large 500×700 Heki vent, which lets in a lot of light, but has well-documented maintenance issues here on this website. Our preference instead would be a standard 14×14 Fantastic Vent Fan like the one we had in our Lance 825.
The Lance 855s features two 5 gallon propane tanks providing plenty of fuel for moderate generator use, cooking and running the refrigerator for a month while boondocking. We have recently upgraded our AGM batteries, installing two 100 amp hour lithium batteries along with a Victron 30 amp DC to DC charger and Victron BMV-712 battery monitor. We also updated our solar controller to facilitate lithium (LiFePO4) battery charging.
We couldn’t be more pleased with the lithium battery upgrade. We can now accurately monitor our batteries condition via Bluetooth and charge our batteries while driving. During our recent trips to the Mojave National Preserve and the Chuckwalla Mountains Wilderness, our batteries never were less than 90 percent charged. Running the Onan 2500 for about 10 minutes in the morning while making breakfast charged the batteries fully. We currently have a 100 watt fixed solar panel on the roof and a 200 watt solar suitcase. The outstanding Easy Charge battery storage station is standard equipment on all Lance models, providing access via an exterior hinged door, making it a breeze to hook up our solar suitcase with alligator clips. That being said, with our new lithium battery set up it won’t be necessary to bring our solar suitcase for all trips.
As we all know deciding which RV to purchase involves multiple trade-offs. We are happy with our decision as our 4WD-equipped truck allows us to camp in all but the most remote locations in comfort. With a GVWR of 11,500 pounds and a payload of 3,681 pounds, the our Ford F-350 handles the weight of the Lance 855s exceptionally well. Fortunately, we initially purchased the F-350, so we didn’t have to update our truck when we purchased the 855s.
Other than purchasing fuel, we are able to store all the provisions we need for a month of boondocking, utilizing the storage in our camper, truck and Jeep. Of course we will welcome the opportunity to discuss the pros and cons of various configurations at a future Truck Camper Adventure Quartzsite Rally if you happen to run into us. See you on the road.
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Steve – Our experiences are nearly the same! I had a 2016 825 and ended up with a 2019 855S and like you I swapped out the batteries to two lithium ones and never have to worry about power. I am impressed with the quality because other than a couple latches that needed replacement I have had no issues with my unit. I have mine on a 2014 F350 which handles the camper just fine but I do have one design complaint on the TC which is weight distribution. Having the refrigerator, extra weight of the slide and the generator all on one side makes me scratch my head. I ended up installing airbags just so the passenger side sits at the same height of the drivers side. I did also install upper and lower stableloads as well and love the way it handles. Enjoy your travels!
Nice write up. It sounds like Lance has done a great job on the 855S. I
was wondering if you have taken it to a Cat scale? You say the camper is around 4100 lbs loaded, and later say your payload is 3681 lbs. Have you done any mods to the truck or tires?