Truck Camper Adventure had the pleasure of getting a tour recently of the Host Campers factory in Bend, Oregon. The tour was provided courtesy of Randall Pozzi, Host Industries General Manager, who showed us everything. It was apparent during our time there that Host takes great pride in producing some of the largest, most luxurious campers in today’s market. Host’s current catalog includes seven palatial models—the Mammoth 11.5, the Everest 11.5, the brand-new Yukon 11.5, the Cascade 10.5, the Rainer LB 9.5, the Rainer SB 9.5, and Tahoe SB 9.5—all of which feature either two or three slide-outs. During our tour we saw five campers in various stages of construction and took note of several things that makes Host Industries special compared to the rest of the industry. While it is true that most of these things are mentioned on Host’s website, some of them are not, at least not with the amount of detail that we like. This article aims to correct that with a summation of what’s great and unique about the company. So without further adieu, here are the top 10 reasons to buy an Host truck camper.
1. Host Value
Everyone knows that Host Industries makes one of the finest truck campers in the industry with a fit and finish that is second to none, but did you know that Host campers include a “host” of standard features that you normally have to pay extra for? These include a Dometic two-way 8-cubic-foot refrigerator, Reico Titan electric jacks with a wireless remote, a Progressive Dynamics 45 amp converter-charger, a 1,000 watt Go Power inverter, a Suburban three-burner propane cook top, adjustable bedroom reading lights, and a quality systems monitor and control panel. Other standards include molded “grani-coat” counter tops, slide-out awning toppers, skylight roof vents with screens, large J-rail rain gutters, a built-in, metal entry step, a bathroom power vent, a fresh water winterization system, and an exterior shower. All of these premium items, plus others, are provided at no extra cost. Couple these with the quality of construction that Host is known for, and you’ve got a camper that will last and hold its value for a long time.
2. Abundant Living Space
Host prides itself on the amount of living space found in its campers and they have every right to be. Indeed, Host’s largest models, like the Mammoth 11.5 and Everest 11.5, provide a whopping 180 square feet of living space, the equivalent of what you’ll find in a class C motorhome. All of this living space is a full-timer’s dream. How does Host do it? Two things, the 8-foot wide main floor, and the multiple slide-outs. Some companies are still stuck in the past producing campers with only 4-foot and 5-foot wide floors. And while most companies provide only a dinette where you can sit and relax, Host’s campers can be ordered with a number of custom, high-end features like a 6-foot, leather sofa with a high-low adjustable table that slides in and out, up and down, and sideways; a loveseat recliner; an electric fireplace with a mantel; and a 32-inch flat-screen TV. All of this luxury and space gives Host campers the feel of a high-end apartment rather than a truck camper.
3. Large Dry Baths
You won’t find a wet-bath in any Host camper. Why? Because the dry bath is far superior. Not surprising, Host builds not only the largest, but also the finest dry baths in the truck camper industry. As a result, the company’s bathrooms can be used by two people simultaneously—one can shower while the other uses the bathroom, or one person can use the toilet while the other uses the sink. You can’t do this in the tiny bathrooms made by most truck camper companies. Host’s dry baths also come with a number of conveniences and high-end touches not found in many other makes, including a two-door, mirrored cabinet; a large shower with plentiful amounts of elbow room; a large bathroom cabinet with a molded “grani-coat” countertop; and a porcelain toilet. Some Host floorplans, like the elephant-size Host Mammoth 11.5, even have two entryways, one from the living area, the other from the bedroom. You won’t find this kind of space and level of convenience in any other make of truck camper.
4. Host’s Robust Aluminum Frame
The frame in every Host camper is constructed entirely of aluminum using 3/4-inch x 1-1/2-inch aluminum tubing. While many manufacturers build their truck camper frames out of aluminum, few do it right. One difference is that Host uses aluminum studs in its walls. These studs can be found around every window, door, and hatch, providing a rock-solid installation for each. While it’s true that this extra framing results in a slightly heavier camper, it also results in a stronger, more durable camper that is less prone to leaks. And speaking of leaks, another feature not readily apparent when you first look at a Host camper is the 4-inch thick, insulated crowned roof. The benefit of having a crowned roof is that it prevents water from pooling on the roof and creating leaks. Moreover, the floor in every Host camper is 8-foot wide rather than the weaker stair-step/Z-pattern employed by other makes, which is only 4 or 5 feet wide. Host’s approach offers more strength and rigidity due to the truss-like design underneath.
5. Four-Season Quality
Many companies claim to build four-season campers, but Host really delivers on that promise. Host’s panels are vacuum-bonded and insulated using a 2-pound high-density foam with a high R-rating—an R-13 rating in the walls, an R-16 rating in the floor, and an R-20 rating in the roof. This 1-inch thick, high density foam insulates just as well as the 2-inch thick walls found in other makes, yet offers an additional 2-inches of elbow room inside the camper, always a bonus. Furthermore, the company uses double-wipe seals on its slide-outs, which keep cold air out and warm air in better than single wipe rubber seals. If you’ve ever winter-camped in a truck camper with slide-outs, you know how important this feature is. In order to keep the camper toasty warm, the Mammoth is heated with a Suburban high-efficiency 25,000 BTU furnace with full ducting throughout the camper. Moreover, the basement, which houses the battery compartment, all of the camper’s holding tanks, the storage tray, and a good portion of the camper’s plumbing, is also heated. Even the exterior doors and hatches are insulated to ensure that the camper stays toasty in winter.
6. Large Basements
Nobody offers a larger truck camper basement than Host. But the company’s basement is more than just a large void where the holding tanks are stored, it’s also a functional storage space, featuring an 80-inch-long basement storage tray capable of supporting up to 1,000 pounds of gear (the Cascade has an even long tray at 90 inches). This pull-out tray, mounted on two ball-bearing tracks, provides an enormous amount of storage that would be the envy of any RV owner, let alone the owner of a truck camper. The heated basement is also where you can find things like the water pump, electrical boxes, batteries, inverters, and other items that are often found topside. The advantage of doing this, of course, is that it frees-up storage in the living spaces where it’s really needed. We often say that “storage is always at a premium in a truck camper, you can never have enough,” but when it comes to Host, you get a camper that comes pretty darn close.
7. Power Gear Slide-out Mechanisms
A big concern for many consumers shopping for a truck camper with multiple slide-outs is the reliability of the supporting slide-out mechanisms. While some truck camper companies have had problems with their slide-outs, Host hasn’t had any issues at all. Why? Because Host uses Power Gear slide-out mechanisms in its campers. These heavy-duty steel mechanisms are mounted underneath each slide-out rather than Schwintek’s which are mounted on the side. Power Gear’s design not only offers more support, but also a more robust rolling assembly that simply doesn’t fail. Yes, these assemblies are heavier than those found in other makes of truck campers, but they hold up better over time. When you consider where most of us like to take our truck campers—off-road excursions on rough forest roads and rutted desert trails are the norm—it makes a lot of sense to have a stronger, more robust slide-out assembly rather than having something that is lighter and more prone to failure.
8. Host Customization
Everyone offers options, but Host Campers takes it several steps further by offering an amazing 43 custom line item options. This customization includes everything from queen-size and king-size beds with several bedroom closet and window options to different living room seating configurations, including dinettes, sofas, and theater seating. The company even offers spacious kitchens with massive floor-to-ceiling pantries and options for different cook tops, microwaves, and refrigerators, plus the ability to add things like rear wardrobes, laundry centers, solar glass, and an outside entertainment center. Most companies will tell you no or give you “the hand” if you ask for most of these things. All 43 custom line items can be found on here on Host’s website.
9. Boondocking Ready
If you’re into boondocking and dry camping, you’ll really like what Host has to offer with 65 gallons fresh, 52 gallons grey (40 gallons in the Cascade), and 32 gallons black—the largest holding tanks in the industry. This means less time at the dump station and more time for camping, always a good thing in our book. Host excels in other ways, too, with all of its campers capable of carrying 15 gallons of propane, a vented battery compartment large enough to house two group-31 batteries, and a 1,000 watt inverter with two dedicated AC outlets. Moreover, all Host campers come solar ready for DIY’ers, but if you like Host can install four excellent Zamp solar power options at the factory—a 170 watt, a 340 watt, a 510 watt, and a 680 watt system. Many customers also opt for the Onan 2500 generator to power the convection microwave, the electric fireplace, and the 11,000 BTU air conditioner while off-grid. Want more? See #10 below.
10. Lithium Off-Grid Packages
Host Industries has embraced the latest advances in lithium-ion (LiFePO4) battery technology by offering three optional off-grid packages that can only be described as ground breaking. Host’s “Basic” off-grid package consists of two Expion360 VPR lithium batteries (240 amp hours total), two 170 watt solar panels (340 watts total), and a 2,000 watt fully integrated power inverter, meaning all of the AC outlets are connected to the inverted power when the unit is powered up. The “Extreme” off-grid package features four Expion360 VPR lithium batteries (480 amp hours total), three 170 watt solar panels (510 watt total), and a 3,000 watt inverter, while the “Extreme Plus” off-grid package comes with six Expion 360 VPR lithium batteries (720 amp hours total), four 170 watt solar panels (680 watts total), and a 3,000 watt inverter. These larger off-grid packages provide the owner with the ability to run 110 volt items like an air conditioner without having to be plugged in to shore power or running a noisy and smelly generator.
After touring the Host facility in Bend last spring plus meeting the Host team, I was so impressed, my wife and I put an order in for a 2020 Cascade.
I picked up my new Host along with a new Ram 3500 dually in Sept and the very next day, did a cross-country trip from Portland, OR to my new home in North Carolina.
The camper exceeded my expectations. As a newbie in the camper world I had a few questions during my trek that both the dealer and Host responded quickly. We’ve taken the camper out a few times in both warm and freezing temps with no issues but will do more after this virus thing subsides. Everyone that walks into our camper is blown away with the layout along with the quality/workmanship. These Host campers are not old truck campers of yesterday.
I would highly recommend the Cascade for it’s fit and function, and also recommend suspension air bags and sway bar as well since this camper is heavy fully loaded!!
Couple of points in your Host piece worthy of additional comment. Speaking from the point of view of a retired Master Certified RV Technician, few folks focus on the mechanicals as the industry well knows looks are what sells campers.
With that in mind and having worked on dozens (maybe hundreds) of RV slides, the Power Gear components that Host uses under their slides are top notch, always consistent quality, easy to repair, and good factory support. What I think few folks might realize is the iterations that hang on the camper sidewalls were designed to simplify manufacturing. In my opinion, they were not designed for durability or reliability.
Second the double wiper seals. Sounds trivial right? Ask a working tech how much time they spend rebuilding the floor on each side of the slide-out or how much delam is due to seals not sealing. When you punch a hole in a sidewall, you automatically have created a potential leak point, pure and simple. There are incredible differences in seal design, some of which will probably be leaking by the time the RV leaves the factory. Double wipers are far and away the best in my opinion and should be an industry standard.
No I don’t own a Host, but I still remember when they first came out and I saw them at the annual industry show in Louisville years ago. I am glad to see, in my opinion, they are continuing along the same lines that first impressed me with their build quality. 🙂
Thank you for your comments, Ardvark. Your points really help reinforce two things that really stood out about Host when we visited the factory.