Home » I Toured Lance Camper’s New Overlanding Trailers And There’s A Lot To Like, But A Few Concerns

I Toured Lance Camper’s New Overlanding Trailers And There’s A Lot To Like, But A Few Concerns

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It seems like just about every company is getting into overlanding RVs. Even the big guys are wrapping their wares with off-road tires and targeting overlanders with their campers. Another company has joined the fray, and this one you might know best for its truck campers. Lance Camper recently launched its Enduro line of overlanding trailers, and I got to tour them at the RV Open House in Indiana. There seem to be some great ideas here, but I have a few concerns.

As you’ve almost certainly read before, the pandemic helped spark a major change in the RV industry. Many Americans discovered a new way of vacationing and scooped up hundreds of thousands of units from RV dealerships around the country. Concepts like #vanlife took off and many folks found themselves at the intersections of off-road adventuring and camping. It’s no surprise that out of the other side, we’ve been seeing manufacturers dipping their feet into unexplored waters. In this case, we have a manufacturer best known for truck slide-ins getting into overlanding travel trailers.

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Lance Camper Manufacturing Corporation has been working on this trailer for a while. Back in 2021, the camper manufacturer rolled into the SEMA show with a custom Volkswagen Atlas. Behind it was the Enduro concept trailer. Back then, Lance didn’t mention any pricing or even when the trailers would become available. Two years later, you can finally buy one of these campers, so let’s take a look at what you get for $68,080 and up.

Lance Camper Manufacturing Corporation

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Lance Camper

The Lance Camper Manufacturing Corporation was founded in 1965 when Richard Murray started M&M Trailer Supply in North Hollywood, California. Over time, Murray joined forces with Ron Mertes, who would handle sales as Murray took care of manufacturing. The company came to dominate the truck camper market in Southern California. Then, the economic struggles of the 1970s hit, and the brand, now called Lance, decided to sell the company to Jack Cole. Cole had been with Lance since he was a high schooler working at the manufacturer part-time.

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From there, Cole and his business partners would grow Lance into a truck camper juggernaut. Apparently, four out of every ten truck campers sold has Lance emblazoned on its walls. But, the camper manufacturer hasn’t just limited itself to truck campers. In the 1970s, Lance built Leisure Coach travel trailers and in the 1980s, the company introduced a fifth-wheel trailer. Today, you can still buy a Lance-branded travel trailer. Though, through all of this, truck campers have remained a core product.

In 2018, Lance Camper was acquired by REV Group, giving the brand new siblings such as Renegade RV, ENC (formerly ElDorado National), American Emergency Vehicles, Fleetwood Enterprises, and Holiday Rambler.

The Lance Enduro

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According to Lance Camper’s website, research for what would become the Enduro began in 2015. The brand took what it learned and turned it into a trailer:

We approached designing Enduro after extensive research into the adventure camping space after our first Overland Expo in 2015. We went through three prototypes, with testing and feedback at each stage, to arrive at the production models you see before you. Integration of key features and capabilities to allow for an extended experience seeking travel without sacrificing usability, quality, or comfort was mission critical.

The result is what we find to be the perfect blend of rugged refinement. Heavy-duty coin flooring, sustainably sourced lightweight bamboo table and counter tops, high-gloss gel-coated fiberglass, and our staple dura-leather-wrapped ultra-plush cushions with diamond stitch inlay. These fully enclosed, hard-sided, and trail-ready trailers bring Lance’s new next-generation exoskeleton frame design with isolator bushing to market- separating and cushioning the living space from the rigors of the road. It might be exactly what you are looking for to take you on your next sojourn. Complete with the additional suspension capabilities overlanders want and the added comforts and quality Lance is known for. All with dry weights of 3500 lbs. and below. All the amenities of home, as far away from home as you want to be.

As Lance’s paragraphs up there indicate, the trailers were designed for the kinds of people who want to camp where there are no hookups and where the campsite might require some serious off-roading to get there. At the RV Open House, Lance had its two existing Enduro models on display, plus the new Mini Enduro, which offers the general Enduro concepts and compacts them down.

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Each Enduro camper starts off with the company’s LanceLock exoskeleton frame. This frame is made out of aluminum and has isolator bushings to reduce the transfer of vibrations to the trailer’s body. This connects to the trailer’s chassis, which is made of steel. Lance says the walls are made of 1 3/8-inch fiber-reinforced plastic and they’re secured to the exoskeleton frame with extrusions instead of using welding or fasteners. Lance says the walls are slotted and slide into channels. These channels then help improve load transfer through the body. As a result, the trailer should be more durable. Lance also says each trailer is designed in SolidWorks 3D design software and most Enduro parts are CNC cut.

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Under the exoskeleton, you’ll find a Curt independent suspension. These appear to be competitors to Timbren’s axle-less suspension. While we’re under the body, Lance equips these trailers with ample aluminum skid plates to protect the trailer’s tanks and structure. Up front is a 360-degree hitch. Disappointingly, despite all of this focus on off-roading and even advertising features that increase departure angle and ground clearance, Lance does not specify any such angles or ground clearance numbers.

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The two bigger trailers measure 20 feet, 5 inches in overall length with an interior floor length of 12 feet. Their interiors offer 6.6 feet of headroom and sleeping for two. Dry weight is also a reasonable 3,500 pounds. Also at the show was the Lance Mini Enduro. The company has not released any specs on this brand-new unit, but says it’ll come with some of the best features of its larger siblings. More on that later.

The Lance Enduro 1200 EK

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Lance is pretty straightforward with its naming. The 1200 EK apparently translates to “Exterior Kitchen” and as it says on the tin, the back of the trailer is an outdoor kitchen. Lance says putting the kitchen outside maximizes your interior space and the shape of this unit was inspired by a teardrop trailer.

Inside of the 1200 EK, you get a dining and sleeping area toward the front of the trailer, the bathroom in the middle, and the kitchen right out of the back. If you open the camper’s large acrylic windows and back hatch, you get an open-air experience from the kitchen through the sleeping area.

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One notable feature of both larger Enduro trailers is the sizable bathroom. Lance equips both of the larger models with a wet bath with a high ceiling height. The idea here is you’ll enjoy taking your morning showers rather than fighting a curtain or the ceiling like you would in a typical camper. The shower is fed hot water from a Truma Combi Eco Plus furnace/water heater system. The Truma Combi can run from electricity or from a single 1- to 5-gallon propane tank.

Unfortunately, none of the Enduros have a black tank. Instead, you get a 5-gallon cassette toilet. In terms of holding tanks, both larger Enduros get a 40-gallon fresh tank and a 26-gallon grey tank. The interior walls of the Enduro trailers are fiberglass with a gel coat. Both trailers apparently come with enough insulation that reportedly on some cold nights all you’ll need is body heat to raise the temperature.

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In the galley kitchen out back you get a two-burner propane stove, a powered cooler, and a stainless steel sink. You also get a television if you aren’t that interested in looking at nature while you cook.

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Something I appreciate about these designs is the steps that actually reach the ground. A lot of campers still come with steps that just hang from the trailer and, given these steps that touch the ground, I don’t know why manufacturers keep equipping the old-school ones. These feel sturdy, a feeling I’ve never gotten with hanging steps.

The Lance Enduro 1200 IK

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As you can probably guess by now, the Lance Enduro 1200 IK stands for “Inside Kitchen” and the idea behind this camper is to contain all of your necessities inside. After all, you may not want to cook outside when there’s snow on the ground. Of the two larger Enduros, this one is my favorite. The bathroom gets relocated to where the kitchen would be on the 1200 EK and in its place is a kitchen with a bamboo countertop. Moving the kitchen inside means you get an induction cooktop instead of a two-burner propane stove, but the setup is otherwise similar to what you get with the Exterior Kitchen model.

If you haven’t noticed, regardless of your choice of Enduro, you get lots of MOLLE panels all over to hang different bits and bobs. This also includes the exterior exoskeleton, where you can attach a storage rack that can hold up to 300 pounds. You can also bolt on off-road lights or whatever you want.

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In terms of power, both of the bigger Enduros have a 190W solar panel mounted over the large front storage closet. There’s an option to get a second panel as well. These panels charge one or two 100Ah lithium batteries, depending on how you option the trailer. This is fed through a 1,500W inverter. The trailer’s electrical system includes LED lighting, 120V wall plugs, and USB ports. All of this is controlled with an array of panels located where the kitchen is.

The Lance Mini Enduro

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The last of the trio is the Lance Mini Enduro. Sadly, Lance provides no real specs for the little guy but says:

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The trailer has many similar features as the larger floorplans, but in a more compact and lighter package. Features include an adjustable bed that turns into a sofa for an inside seating area and a porta potty. The exterior includes a portable kitchen, a pull-out Truma cooler refrigerator, and shower facilities. Versatile storage is provided by a 52”x54” Morryde roll-out storage tray, which is accessible from the interior or exterior of the trailer.

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Looking inside, it’s a basic off-road trailer, featuring a sofa that converts into a bed and a sort of hidden cassette toilet up front. It’s not a lot different from the Off-Grid Trailers Pando 2.0 I tested earlier this year. But, like the bigger trailers, I spot the same exoskeleton design, skid plates, and even MOLLE panels.

Great Ideas, Mostly Solid Execution

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So, I love a lot of the ideas at work here. The exoskeletons look beefy enough and instead of wood framing, the walls are made out of some really thick FRP material. In theory, this setup should last longer than your typical camper.

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I also love the skid plates. A lot of manufacturers will market their trailers as off-roaders or overlanders, but leave their underbodies open with all sorts of pieces that can get caught up and make your day terrible. Nobody wants their tanks bleeding out on a trail! I love the solid steps and the interiors seem cozy enough for someone going off-grid. These trailers can also be personalized thanks to the MOLLE panels and exoskeleton.

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Then there are parts that concern me. According to the build stickers on each of the Lance Enduros, all three trailers were built within about a month of the show. While the Mini Enduro was a prototype, the two larger Enduros are production models. Upon close inspection, all three units were rough around the edges.

Here’s the storage area for the cassette toilet in the Mini Enduro, which looks like it took a beating:

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Check out the fit and finish inside of the 1200 IK:

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To describe what you’re seeing here, that’s a crack in the wall’s finish that I could put my fingernails through.  The trim on the thin bathroom door also had areas where it was already lifting:

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Elsewhere in the trailers, I found dings and other lighter damage to the walls. Overall finish I thought was ok. There was nothing that felt nasty to the touch, but the materials did feel a little on the cheaper side.

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Now, to Lance’s credit, these trailers were at a trade show where countless people have probably been in and out of them. But, given the rugged nature of these rigs, I expected a little bit more resistance. My advice here is if you want a Lance Enduro, check it out before handing over cash.

Something I was also a bit disappointed by how the trailer’s features seem to limit its capabilities. You’re not getting much solar or a lot of propane. GearJunkie reviewed a prototype of these trailers and I was surprised that the site’s reviewer, Evan Williams, just avoided using the furnace at all in a bid to conserve propane. Some of this trailer’s competition carries twice the fuel.

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If you can work around that, the larger Lance Enduro trailers start at $68,080 and go up as you add an air-conditioner, second solar panel, or second battery. However, don’t expect to pay that much as the trailers are already seeing steep discounts at dealerships. Here’s a 1200 EK for $49,980 and another 1200 EK for $53,999 with a free rooftop tent. After seeing how fun these types of trailers can be, I’d love to take one of these deep somewhere another trailer can’t, and then tell you how it holds up.

(Images: Author, unless otherwise noted.)

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Crank Shaft
Crank Shaft
1 month ago

These prices are just getting insane. Of course there will be steep discounts, as it seems like there’s about 8,000% profit margin in the MSRPs.

Goshen build quality at German luxury pricing. Surely a formula for success.

Allen Lloyd
Allen Lloyd
1 month ago

Alternative is to just buy a shitty old camper and not worry about it getting banged up. We bought a 1980’s camper so we could “overland” without worry. If it fell off my vehicle, I would go get a few things and go buy another old camper.

Oldskool
Oldskool
1 month ago
Reply to  Allen Lloyd

Lots of people flip the axle(s) for more ground clearance too.

Another plus of an older camper is I’d likely have a permanent shitter and black tank.

Allen Lloyd
Allen Lloyd
1 month ago
Reply to  Oldskool

Funny enough last weekend we were camping with a group of others and someone in a fancy new camper who flipped the axel to get more clearance had his leaf spring snap after trying to back over a rather large rock. Much McGeivering later he was able to limp home, but it was hilarious to see a modern camper made to go off road break on something my shitty old camper ran over with no issues.

Captain Muppet
Captain Muppet
2 months ago

If I were buying a trailer for the same money as 70 weeks in a hotel (or over a hundred weeks in the cabin in the woods I rent every year on my MTB holiday) I’d want to know why the bit I have to squeeze inside is a couple of feet narrower that the overall width of the trailer.

Is being cramped a feature? I can’t see any benefit in having the accommodation so much narrower than the trailer or the tow vehicle. I’m not the target audience though, I live in a tiny country full of buildings to sleep in.

Cody
Cody
2 months ago

Alternatively, tents exist and probably last longer than modern trailer campers.

3WiperB
3WiperB
2 months ago

I’m enjoying seeing these smaller campers. It’s disappointing to see the quality issues. I always saw Lance as one of the higher quality brands, but maybe this is changing. These look well designed and the wet bath actually looks very useable for such a small trailer. The price is still insane though, but, as you mention, MSRP’s on trailers shouldn’t be anywhere near what you pay in real life. It’s not uncommon to get 25-35% off the MSRP, and sometimes more. They are still in Airstream Basecamp 20 territory though with that pricing, and more than a 16′ Basecamp, and I think both of those would give you much more interior space.

Pat Rich
Pat Rich
2 months ago

For $54-68 grand…you can get a lot more trailer. You need to review MDC.

OverlandingSprinter
OverlandingSprinter
2 months ago

Insightful review. Thank you.

This Lance line gets close to what I would design and build if I had unlimited time, tools and access to materials. Overlanding trailers need to withstand washboard roads, and the interior materials do not seem up to the task.

It’s too bad the industry can’t move away from slap-dash construction. If a trailer can’t handle a trade show crowd then it’s not suited for overlanding.

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
2 months ago

Hmm. Lot of useful attributes here, but these trailers look like homeless persons’ shopping carts on steroids.

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