As your trusted truck camper industry news source, Truck Camper Adventure reached out to Indiana-based Travel Lite RV (TLRV). We’re glad we did. In a Truck Camper Adventure exclusive, Travel Lite has just revealed that its overhauling its truck camper lineup, which will include two new brands called the Atom and Up Country. To learn more about these new brands and other changes, Keith Lessner, Travel Lite National Sales Manager, was kind enough to answer a few questions.
Thank you for talking with us, Keith. Travel Lite operations were in a state of flux a few years ago. What is the current status of the company?
Keith Lessner: Travel Lite is currently up and running. A couple years ago our suspension of operations was to make the necessary changes to get Travel Lite pointed in the right direction again. Since then, we have completely revamped our product line including truck campers, the new models of which are just launching now.
Where are your campers made and what products are you producing today?
Keith Lessner: All of our campers are made onsite at our Syracuse, Indiana plant. We currently offer ultra light weight travel trailers, toy haulers and our full lineup of truck campers. From here on out, every camper we make will have a laminated structure with aluminum framing instead of the more traditional wood build. We have also recently made big strides on our EV truck camper lineup that is coming very soon. There are a lot of exciting things happening at Travel Lite right now.
How many units have you been producing per year? How many dealerships are selling Travel Lite campers?
Keith Lessner: TLRV produces approximately 1,500 units per year which we are looking to increase and currently serve 85 dealers and counting. There has been a recent spike in new dealer interest and we anticipate being well over 100 dealers by the end of the year.
With regard to the new Travel Lite truck camper brands, will you be retaining the Extended Stay and Super Lite brands you produced before?
Keith Lessner: The Extended Stay and Super Lite truck campers were great for us, but that moniker has been retired. When we moved away from wood construction to our new laminated construction, we wanted to let everyone know how different the structure is and felt it was an appropriate time to make a name change. Our mid-size truck camper line is called the Atom and our full-size truck camper line is now called Up Country. The first Atom’s should be arriving at dealer lots now and the Up Country not far behind. Also, by moving from wood construction to lamination, not only have we increased strength, but we have also made our campers lighter.
What trends and feedback in the marketplace drove these changes?
Keith Lessner: Like most things, there are trends in truck campers and it is always changing. In the truck camper world especially, there are only so many ways you can arrange items in a small space so there tends to be some common layouts. We have taken a hard look at what customers are buying and they seem to gravitate towards a few, more popular layouts and that is where we are starting our focus on our new lines of truck campers. Our initial plans are calling for six floorplans but we want to be flexible and keep with trends when necessary.
How many models and floorplans will be in your initial launch?
Keith Lessner: Three. The Up Country 650 and 775, and the Atom 400.
How will your new campers be constructed? Will you be offering different interior finishes in your campers?
Keith Lessner: Our previous generations of truck campers were built from wood and served us well for many years. Our new laminated construction features our Hydro-Lite sidewalls that have aluminum framing with foam laminated between Azdel and fiberglass. The only pieces of the structure of the camper that aren’t laminated are the roof, which has aluminum trusses, and the cap, which has laminated interior panels. This gives us increased strength and rigidity while helping decrease weight. In an effort to simplify our ordering process and keep our pricing down, we have a single interior color.
Can you tell us more about the single interior color you just mentioned?
Keith Lessner: The name of our interior color is Somlyn, it is a lighter wood grain for cabinetry and trim with off-white walls and a multicolor countertop that looks like coarse beach sand and each (Atom and Up Country) has curtains that coordinate with the exterior graphic (Green for Up Country and Blue for Atom).
What colors will you be using on the exterior of your campers?
Keith Lessner: The exterior of the Atom is gray and the exterior of the Up Country is white, while both of them have a darker earthy gray front cap and wire/wind channel.
The windows and roof are key components in any truck camper build? Can you explain how the new Travel Lite brands will be approaching and constructing each?
Keith Lessner: Our roof is aluminum trussed with a TPO membrane. The aluminum trusses give us a ton of strength being that they are welded and the TPO membrane is long lasting and has just the right amount of flexibility for going down the road. In regards to windows, we use the Lippert 8800 series windows, in part, because of how well they perform against water intrusion but the tinted glass and sleek design are nice additional benefits. When selecting any component we consider efficiency, ease of use, and utility, among other characteristics, to try and select the best components for our campers.
Will any of the Atom and Up Country floorplans feature a wet-bath?
Keith Lessner: On launch, the Up Country 775 will have a wet-bath and also two future units will get the wet-bath, a sibling to the Atom and a larger Up Country, both still in development.
What will your new Atom and Up Country truck campers retail for?
Keith Lessner: Our MSRP’s for the truck campers range from the mid $20,000’s to the mid to upper $30,000’s, and trailers range from the mid $20,000’s while the toy haulers can have an MSRP starting under $50,000. Of course, it can vary by options and model.
Lithium batteries, inverters, and solar power are three very popular options right now in the truck camper marketplace. Will you be offering all three?
Keith Lessner: Funny you should ask. We are developing a lineup of EV models that will be coming soon. While we have solar panels standard on all of our truck camper and trailer models, our new EV lineup with utilize lithium batteries, inverters, and more solar charging capability and eliminate the need for propane. The cool thing about the way we took on EV, is that all of our truck camper models can be an EV, we didn’t pick and choose like some manufacturers. If you like one of our floorplans, but want an EV, you’re in luck.
Low amperage, low profile air conditioners are another popular option. Will you be offering one?
Keith Lessner: We have done some digging into the low amperage, low profile air conditioners and haven’t found a solution we are satisfied with yet, but we are still looking.
The Ford F150 is America’s most popular vehicle and pickup truck. Which Travel Lite campers will be light enough and will fit on this and other half-ton trucks?
Keith Lessner: The Ford F-150 has a huge advantage over most other half-tons in its class because of the F-150’s aluminum alloy body. The weight that is saves in body panels, is added to the payload. Our first three models of our new laminated truck camper line (Atom 400, Up Country 650 and Up Country 775) are all made to fit in half-ton trucks (the Atom 400 is made for mid-size trucks, but can be carried by full-size trucks due to the quick disconnect power jacks and attached mounting point that is wider to accommodate full size trucks). Always check with your pickup manufacturer for the specific payload capacity of your truck as well as any other potential risks.
So the Atom is made fit mid-size trucks like the Toyota Tacoma and Ford Ranger?
Keith Lessner: Yes, that is correct. The Atom is made specifically for mid-size trucks such as the Tacoma Tacoma, Ford Ranger, Chevy Colorado, Jeep Gladiator and others. Always check with your pickup manufacturer for the specific payload capacity of your truck as well as any other potential risks.
What floorplans/models will you be offering with your new Atom and Up Country brands?
Keith Lessner: There are plans for a second Atom with a bathroom and a larger Up Country model we took from our old Extended Stay line, with a few tweaks, of course. From there, we’ll look to our dealers to see what feedback they are getting and work from there. Like I mentioned before, we are always working on improving the product whether that be content or layout. In smaller spaces like truck campers, a small adjustment can make a big difference.
Will there be any features or options that will distinguish Travel Lite truck campers from the competition?
Keith Lessner: Our quick disconnect jack brackets are different than what is being used by other manufacturers right now and ours are standard power jacks with the quick disconnect, which no one else is doing. We are also utilizing Jet Boil Genesis camp stoves in some floorplans to help manage counter space and cooking flexibility. Let’s not forget about our new EV lineup, which eliminates propane while being completely self-contained.
Can you tell us more about the new EV lineup? Will these be stand-alone lithium campers or will they be compatible with the new Ford Lightning and Tesla Cybertruck getting their power only from the electric trucks?
Keith Lessner: Our EV models will be completely stand alone. While you will still have the ability to plug them into shore power, the multiple large solar panels, high capacity inverter and lithium batteries make it so the camper can power itself and it’s electric components such as electric heater and water heater.
When will your website be updated to reflect all of these changes?
Keith Lessner: We have been working with our web team on updating the entire site updated and adding the information for new campers. Pending any unforeseen delays or technical issues, I would expect to have the updates and new information to be up and running within the next few weeks.
Nice! Thanks again for talking with us, Trevor. Are there any plans to release anything new in the future?
Keith Lessner: Thank you for having me, Mike. It has been a pleasure getting to share our exciting new products with you. With regard to future plans, we are always looking to improve our product and include new, innovative ideas and components in our campers. Our next project is a more rugged, essentials only truck camper, but you’ll have to keep an eye on Travel Lite for all of our updates and new products.