2023 was a banner year for Kingstar with 2024 promising to be even better for the Michigan-based company. As a matter of fact, Kingstar’s flagship model, the Camino 88, was just chosen as the 2024 Truck Camper of the Year by Truck Camper Adventure. The award was and is well-deserved. One thing that has plagued the truck camper industry recently—and the RV industry as a whole—is the cookie-cutter approach to design and construction. If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all: stale floorplans, 1998 interior finishes, dated options, etc. Not every company is guilty of these faults, of course, but you get the general idea. When it comes to fresh ideas, some companies are unwilling to think outside of the box. Fortunately, several truck camper companies are raising the bar with new ideas and innovative truck camper designs. Kingstar is one such company, but the 2019 launch of the award-winning Camino 88 was only the beginning. Kingstar is offering so much more in 2024 as the company’s CEO, Marcus Niemela, tells us in the following interview.
Thanks, Marcus, for talking with us. What’s new at Kingstar for 2024?
Marcus Niemela: Thank you for asking, Mike, a lot! Kingstar is now offering a new “Expedition Series” called the KRUZR. This is a turn key, luxury truck coach offered as a slide-in or flatbed unit. For the pickup truck there will be two models, a KRUZR 6 for the short-bed and KRUZR 8 for the long-bed as well as two flatbed (5-inch wider in galley) versions, a CA 42 and CA 56. CA meaning cab to axle. Also, the Camino is now our “Adventure Series” and it’s offered in the short- and long-bed versions, Camino 66 and Camino 88 models respectively. Although it has all the build characteristics/quality of the KRUZR such as stainless steel roof, closed cell spray foam insulation (R-12) and thermo pane windows. It is toned-down in components and interior touches.
We are excited to hear about the Camino 66. Can you tell us more about it?
Marcus Niemela: Sure, it’s a Camino 88 with 15 inches taken off the rear. On the passenger side in the living area, and for example, the Lounger goes from 72 inches of seating in the Camino 88, to 57 inches in the Camino 66, while preserving the spacious bath room we are known for. On the driver side the hanger closet is reduced by 15 inches, but the kitchen counter remains the same as the Camino 88. It is offered in the east-west as well as a north-south with a residential queen bed and comes standard with manual jacks, one AGM battery and is pre-wired for solar, electric jacks, entertainment and 2,000 watt inverter. The rack rail and grey tank is optional equipment, making all the Accessories we offer available for both the Camino 66 and 88 as well as a 300 amp hour Battle Born lithium package with a Victron 2,000 watt inverter optional upgrade.
What is the floor length of the Camino 66/KRUZR 6 and what is the dry weight? Can you put it on a long-bed truck or is it solely for short-bed trucks?
Marcus Niemela: The floor length is 7 feet 11 inches with a dry weight very close the 3,000 pounds give or take. It is meant for a short-bed truck, but with a rack rail delete on the KRUZR and no grey tank, one could put it in a long-bed truck.
Will you be offering a north-south and east-west cabover for the Camino 66/KRUZR 6 like the larger Camino 88? How many layouts/floorplans will you be offering?
Marcus Niemela: Yes, it will be offered in both configurations. Due to the shortened living area, we are only offering the Open Range, Lounger and Couch/Bunk.
How large are the Camino 66/KRUZR 6’s holding tanks?
Marcus Niemela: It has a 25 gallon four season, fresh water tank with the available 25 gallons of three season auxiliary side-saddle tanks. Total of 50 gallons for a short-bed camper is something we are thrilled to offer our customers and a 20 gallon, 3.5 season grey tank and porta potti.
Nice! Will the Camino 66 have a complete wet-bath? What kind of toilet will be offered?
Marcus Niemela: Yes, the Camino 66 will have a wet-bath and will come standard with the Thetford porta potti.
How many batteries can the Camino 66/KRUZR 6 accommodate? Will you be offering a wall-mounted air conditioner and inverter like the larger Camino 88?
Marcus Niemela: Kingstar will offer three battery pack options for each line up. Camino comes standard with one AGM or 2,000 watt Victron inverter and three AGM or three 100 amp hour lithium Battle Born lithium options. The KRUZR comes standard with 300 amp hours of Battle Born Lithium and a 3,000 watt Victron Inverter as well as a 540 and 810 amp hour lithium option. Yes, all Camino’s and KRUZR’s come standard with the 8,000 BTU side mount air conditioner unit.
What kind of options will you be offering for solar?
Marcus Niemela: We offer several: 180 and 480 watt Zamp for the east-west and 300 and 600 watt Zamp for the north-south Camino’s and 200 and 600 for east-west and 400 and 800 for north-south KRUZR’s. All have the Victron MPPT charge controller.
What comes standard in the Camino 66?
Marcus Niemela: The Camino 66 has all the amenities, it will keep you warm, cool and give you a nice hot shower! Comes standard with one AGM battery, suburban hot water heater and 20,000 BTU furnace, air conditioner, 3.2 cubic foot fridge, black out shades, wet bath, Thetford porta potti, stainless vanity/mirror, lithium/AGM charger, microwave, three-burner cooktop, stainless roof system, closed cell spray foam insulated and thermal pane windows. It’s a camper that is ready for adventure and can built up overtime due to its extensive pre wiring of additional options as time allows or needs require!
What about Camino 66 options? Can the Truma Combi be ordered?
Marcus Niemela: Good question! The aforementioned KRUZR line is where the Truma Combi will be found as standard equipment along with very robust lithium packages. The Camino line up is Suburban appliances only.
Congratulations again on the Kingstar Camino 88 winning the 2024 Truck Camper of the Year. What’s new for the Camino 88 in 2024?
Marcus Niemela: Thank you! The Camino 88 is exactly like the Camino 66 with the exception of its size. The standard builds, options and accessories are the same.
What are the primary differences between the Camino 88 Adventure Series and KRUZR Expedition Series of campers?
Marcus Niemela: Although we offer a 300 amp hour Battle Born lithium package for the Camino line up, one of the defining separations between the two are the power capabilities. The KRUZR 6 and 8 will come standard with a 3,000 watt Victron inverter and 300 amp hours of Battle Born lithium and an available 540 or 810 amp hour Game Changer package. Another defining separation between the two lines is the Truma Combi. It’s only available (standard equipment) in the KRUZR and with the Truma Combi the 5 cubic foot fridge comes standard as well.
The KRUZR is built for an expedition. It’s a turn-key, four-season luxury coach with lots of capacity in solar (up to 800 watts) water (up to 60 gallons) and up to 810 amp hour of battery power. Its interior touches of stainless steel, standard dry bath, communication package as well as high end Fusion (marine) sound system, invite a couple for a full time lifestyle, to a summer long Alaskan adventure, whereas the Camino, can do all the above, but is consider more of the weekend Adventure camper that packs, literally and figuratively, a truck load of value and fun! For $39,960 a couple can be enjoying weekends in all four seasons and continually upgrade/build the camper as the need arises or budget allows, due to the fact that it is pre-wired for solar, electric jacks, entertainment and 2,000 watt inverter.
Can you tell us more about the cab-to-axle flat-bed series?
Marcus Niemela: The “CA” term is used to describe the measurement from cab to axle, most typically in cab and chassis or “incomplete” vehicles that manufactures list. The CA series will be 5 inches wider (8 feet vs 7 feet 7 inches exterior) in the galley because we have the real estate on a flat-bed. So, a KRUZR CA 42 is actually a KRUZR 6 that is widened 5 inches and KRUZR CA 56 is a widened KRUZR 8. Not only does this offer an amazing amount of floor space in the galley, it allows the customer to opt for a king-size bed. The trade-off for a king-size bed are the cabinets in the sleeper bunk are not as large as the standard queen-sized build.
Last time we met, you were still tweaking on the design of the pull-out toilet. Has that design been settled?
Marcus Niemela: Yes. It’s patent pending and it’s a game changer! It’s super easy to use and maximizes space that was once wasted.
Speaking of toilets, what options will you be offering in 2024?
Marcus Niemela: The Thetford cassette with swivel head is for the dry bath (KRUZR only), the Thetford porta potti for the KRUZR and Camino in wet bath only.
Can somebody get a Thetford C402C bench-style cassette toilet if they wanted it?
Marcus Niemela: We are looking into that…possibly.
We know that the Thetford C224 swivel cassette toilet can’t be offered, but if somebody really wanted it, can the rear accessories on the camper be deleted in order to get it?
Marcus Niemela: Yes, that would be a custom feature we would do.
The Command Center layout is the newest offering for the Camino 88? How popular has it been since you introduced it over the summer 2023?
Marcus Niemela: Very popular! Especially with folks that don’t necessarily want it for a digital nomad lifestyle. As the pictures illustrate on our website, it is a very nice alternative to consider over the typical dinette!
What is the most popular layout for the Camino 88?
Marcus Niemela: To date, it is the Lounger, but the Command Center appears to be on its heels.
What is the current backlog for a Kingstar camper if somebody wanted to order one today?
Marcus Niemela: On orders taken now, we are looking into June for completion.
Thanks, Marcus. Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?
Marcus Niemela: Yes! I’d like to thank Truck Camper Adventure again for the truck camper of the year award and we look forward to seeing everyone at the Truck Camper Adventure Quartzsite Rally this coming February! Also, we will kick-off the 2024 show circuit at the Tampa RV show in January. Come see us if you can!