The 2023 Florida RV SuperShow was now two weeks ago, but I still have plenty of awesome campers to show you. One of the campers that surprised me the most wasn’t a towable or even a van, but a camper that slides into the bed of a pickup truck. At the show, I visited Host Campers, a company making campers so roomy that you might forget that you’re sitting on top of a truck.
Readers have been asking for more coverage on slide-in campers. Even though I’ve been writing about RVs for more than two years, few of them have been in this class. So, I’m excited to look into slide-in campers. I toured a lot of these types of units and Florida and I’ve come away impressed. These types of campers can pack a punch while being small enough to fit on a pickup, provided your truck is big enough for the job.
A Little History
Host Campers was founded in 2002 by Dave Hogue and Mark Storch, with consultation their fathers Jim Hogue and Frank Storch. Back in 1966, the elder Hogue and Storch opened up an RV manufacturing business in Corvallis, Oregon. In 1968, the men moved their operation to Bend, Oregon and named it Beaver Motorcoach Corporation. The company, which was named after the Oregon State University’s mascot, made its name building slide-in truck campers in the late 1960s.
In the 1970s, the company expanded into Class C motorhomes with a groovy aesthetic.
Going into the 1980s, Beaver moved into the Class A motorhome space. These stretched out to 36 feet long and sported a white and brown color scheme. The fun wouldn’t last, as the recession in the 1990s led to slow sales and eventually, bankruptcy. In 1994, Safari Motorcoach Corporation of Harrisburg, Oregon purchased the scraps and kept the Beaver name alive. Still, Beaver struggled from this point on and parent Safari got passed to Monaco Coach in 2002. Monaco kept producing Beaver coaches until 2009, when the Great Recession forced Monaco into its own bankruptcy.
As news publication The Bulletin writes, through much of this history, sons Dave Hogue and Mark Storch worked on the assembly line at Beaver before working for Safari. In 2000, the fathers passed the torch onto their sons as Dave and Mark opened up their own RV manufacturer. Host Campers started off much like Beaver, with truck slide-in campers before moving into the Class C space. The company even built travel trailers for a single year in 2004. Today, Host Campers focuses on just one type of camper, slide-ins, and at least to my eyes, these are impressive.
Mammoth Truck Campers
At the 2023 Florida RV SuperShow, Host brought three models representing the higher end of its line. There was a Cascade 10’6″, a Yukon 11’6″, and a Mammoth 11’6″. Let’s start by stepping into the Cascade, above.
My very first observation is that a truck camper sitting this high off of the ground may not be the best tool for the job if you have limited mobility. I watched a woman miss a step near the top of the Cascade though, thankfully, she was able to grab the huge rail. If she fell, it would have been a long fall with likely lots of pain. The steps were sturdy, just high off of the ground. The pictures don’t quite illustrate how high you feel stepping in.
Once you do get through the door, the interior of the Cascade is pretty cozy. There’s a sizable kitchen on your right, a full bath on your left, and a lounge immediately ahead of you. Later in the day, I toured competitors and they didn’t feel this roomy. This layout is helped by the fact that the Cascade has two slides, bumping up the interior space. Host says that this camper comes in at 18 feet, 5 inches.
That’s not a ton of camper, but at least in my short tour, Host does a good job maximizing the space so you don’t feel cramped.
The Cascade 10’6″ comes in at a starting empty weight of 3,498 pounds. It can carry 65 gallons of fresh water, 43 gallons of grey water, and 32 gallons for your waste. These capacities are better than a lot of the camper vans and travel trailers that I write about! The Cascade has a 100 percent aluminum structure with fiberglass panels. Vacuum-bonded foam insulated walls hold up the interior and Host says that it’s good for four-season camping.
Now let’s move to the Yukon 11’6″. This is the one that blew my mind with the room offered by its three slides.
Host Campers calls itself “the world’s ultimate triple-slide truck camper” and while I could not confirm that statement, I can definitely say that how Host uses its three slides creates a nice environment.
Stepping into the Yukon, I was first surprised by the island of sorts in the center of the camper. This island houses a television, controls for the camper’s sound system, and a couple of cabinets.
And that’s just the front of it! Move closer and you’ll find that the camper’s shower is cleverly hidden inside. From there, turn around and bask in loads of space.
In this Yukon, Host has placed the kitchen, the dining room, part of the bathroom, and the seating for the living room all on slides. To my eye, this arrangement allows for a nice open floor for you to walk around. I’ve been in countless travel trailers that didn’t even have this kind of room to stretch out. With room like this, for a brief moment, I forgot that I wasn’t walking through a travel trailer, but a unit meant to be strapped to a truck.
The Yukon is 19 feet, 3 inches, and has a starting dry weight of 3,955 pounds. With it, you get 65 gallons for fresh water, 51 gallons for grey, and 32 gallons for waste. The construction is the same as the Cascade, which also means that you’re getting a four-season camper with this one, too.
Host Campers offers an expansive options list. Its standard campers come with everything you need for a fine getaway, but the company will sell you a practically endless array of luxury extras. For starters, you can get different interior finishes to fit your style. For example, the Yukon was finished in the company’s Pecan interior, which gives you that sandy upholstery and trim.
Both of these campers come with queen beds, but you can upgrade them to king-size. Other options include synthetic leather, theater seating, wardrobes, automatic satellite dishes, exterior speakers, digital tank monitors, a generator, and even a keyless entry system. Host will also sell you an off-grid package that adds a 360 AH lithium house battery, up to 800W of solar, an up to 3000W inverter, and of course, the generator. Couple that with the hefty water capacities, and I could see staying out in the wilderness for a while in one of these.
Hauling The Goods
Now, there is a pretty huge elephant in the room, and it’s weight. Like I said before, the Yukon started off with a 3,955-lb dry weight, but its “as equipped” weight was 4,791-lb. The Cascade started off 3,498-lb, ballooning to 4,349-lb. All of these campers are designed to fit in long-bed trucks, too.
When it comes to hauling a slide-in camper, payload is king. Payload is calculated by taking a truck’s Gross Vehicle Weight Rating and subtracting curb weight from it. The resulting number is all of the weight that the truck itself could take before you start stressing components and perhaps making for a dangerous situation. Payload can vary wildly depending on trim level, options, and other options.
Just for an example, let’s take a look at this chart of payloads for 2023 Ford Super Duty trucks.
Technically, any F-250 with a long bed could haul a Cascade that doesn’t have any options. Let’s say you go to the dealership and pick up an F-250 with the 6.8-liter engine, 176-inch wheelbase, and rear-wheel-drive. This bad boy will be Crew Cab because you have to bring the family and the dog along, of course. Alright, so that 3,498-lb Cascade doesn’t take up all of your 4,135-lb payload, so you’re good, right? Well, you’re left with just 637 pounds for you, your family, the dog, your gear, and even your lunch. So a 250 isn’t going to work.
Payload includes anything that the truck is carrying that isn’t itself, so before you sign the dotted line on the new truck or camper, be sure that its capacities are what you need them to be. Two trucks in the same model family can have wildly varying numbers. Host recommends a 1-ton dually or larger for these campers, but again, check the numbers before buying.
Back to the campers, Host does not publish prices and these aren’t built in high quantities, so they are somewhat hard to find. The ones at the show were sold units being used for display. A dealership representative told me that the Mammoth and Yukon sell for around $90,000-$115,000 depending on options. I did happen to find a price sheet for the Cascade and that starts at $64,397 before options, and can easily rocket to $90,000 and above.
It’s not for everyone, but if you’re already buying a large truck it’s a nice alternative to an RV a camper.
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You know the more i read Mercedes stories about how great every crappy rv and camper she sees is great the more i wish she would describe me to attractive women she knows.
I’d be interested in hearing your pros/cons of this kind of setup vs. a bespoke travel trailer!
Nobody has mentioned it yet but loading these things is scary. Owned a small one briefly, used it once and sold it for more than I paid. At least with a manual getting it in was nerve wracking.
The main advantages I see are
More maneuverable the a truck and trailer
Like pickup_man says you can tow a trailer with other things while bringing a camper
Unlike a dedicated RV, you can unload the camper and have a useful truck when you don’t need it to be an RV
Unfortunately once you get to this size the first two get kinda debatable.
I’ve considered a truck camper on and off for some time, but I’m much more interested in the much lighter/smaller/cheaper popup models, which woudl retain all the advantages above at the sacrafice of comfort.
The big pro to these, and what I see a lot of people using them for, and the reason I want one, is that you can tow along a secondary activity. Bring the boat, bring the motorcycles/ATV’s/Snowmobiles. Drop the camper at the site and use the truck to run around for the week. Take it home and not have to deal with the extra maintenance and expense of a second vehicle you only use occasionally. Rules may be different per state but these aren’t trailers or vehicles so likely don’t need registration either.
I don’t know much about RVs, so I normally just scroll by these stories, but a few of the pictures caught my eye.
Those theater-style seats look awkward in this context — especially the black ones in the Cascade, which look like they were just plopped in there. They are very comfortable for sitting and watching a movie, but for a living space I think I’d rather have a small sofa instead.
The kitchen counter that juts out a bit probably provides some much appreciated extra work space while preparing a meal, but I banged my hip on the corner and got a black-and-blue mark just looking at the picture.
And that elevated toilet with NO DOOR just inches away from the dining table haunts my nightmares.
I was hoping there was some sort of collapsible divider/door there, just out of the frame.
> And that elevated toilet with NO DOOR just inches away from the dining table haunts my nightmares.
Uh, yep. I know the idiom “don’t shit where you eat” is usually meant figuratively, but it works in a completely literal sense too.
There is a door between dining and pooping spaces and an exhaust fan in the bathroom, but you are right that the proximity is unsettling, especially since the poo tank is mostly under the couch!
So $90k for the camper, another $80-90k for the heavy duty diesel truck you need to haul it around. You’re at $180k for a camping rig. That is solid “real RV” territory.
I can’t imagine it is easy to get this thing in and out of the truck.
And don’t split your truck in half like that guy did.
These are pretty specifically for people that like to tow and who hunt and fish. You have the benefit of high clearance and 4wd and the ability to tow a trailer with your boat or ATVs. It’s not a broad use case, and it might not be your use case, but that’s why these things exist.
You’re right, but these also are a lot nicer than most folks I know to do that want/need. And that adds tongue weight beyond the already heavy slide-in.
For that use case, you tend to want as light a slide-in you can find that will meet your needs.
Then again, some people like really fancy stuff.
Yes, I realize these are not for me, but they are interesting. My idea of camping is when the hotel room faces the woods.
I was thinking the same thing. These are very, very nice and I’m glad that they exist, even if I’ll never use one. But it seems as though the prices make it appeal to a far more limited audience. Someone who wants an RV-adjacent experience but doesn’t have the space or desire to deal with one. Someone who already owns a 3/4 or 1 ton truck (a contractor or someone in a heavy industry with a Section 179 deduction) who likes to travel when they’re laid off, or something like that. For most people, though, I see them using their existing 1/2 or 3/4 ton pickup to pull a nice 5th wheel camper or just going all in on an RV.
For that price I’ll put one in my backyard and rent it out ????
For that price I’ll buy a nice used pre-emissions class A diesel pusher.
For that price I will buy a small house in Costa Rica, and a used Suzuki Jimmy and have lots left over for flights home in the summer.
I have a 2016 Mammoth and F350 4×4 dually that I bought barely used for $100k. At the time my wife and I planned to be living in it roughly half the time, traveling for work. After owning basically every other style of RV (never had a class A), this combo still beats the pants off of every other option in my view. For way less $ than even a used camper van we have what feels like 10x the space, all the utility of a burly truck (I regularly tow big boats and other trailers around for my job), no extra vehicle to register with the DMV and pay taxes on, and both truck and camper will hold their value much better than any RV. If I didn’t need the truck it wouldn’t make nearly as much sense, of course, but if you need a reasonably roomy RV for two people and need to tow a sizeable trailer at the same time you can do it with this kind of setup.
I’ve always felt this kind of setup made the most sense. Have wanted to do it for years and tow my XJ to the trails with somewhere to camp built in.
Kudos for trying to offer something different, but…
A bit of constructive criticism? Your interiors are _way_ too busy. Mismatched or poorly matched materials. Too many different materials. The cabinetry is details and style is inconsistent between areas.
And the weight?? Ugh. I’ll take a reasonable truck (or suitable car) and a Safari Condo.
This is a perfect example of why you never pay attention to dry weights on campers. The only time in its life that it will ever weigh that is when it gets weighed at the factory. Then they re-install all the stuff they removed (propane tanks, tvs, any other optional feature) and by the time it gets to the buyer it weighs hundreds of pounds more than that. And that’s before the owner puts anything in it.
Props to them for fitting good sized water tanks though. That’s a trend I would like to see adopted by everyone in the industry.
LOL at the toilet placement.
I’ll take an E-RV Travel Trailer / Caravan. I saw it reviewed on Fully Charged Show on YouTube. looks cool.
Alas their website is slower than this one used to be and won’t load for me
Thanks Mercedes for great stuff! Been thinking about all sorts of “alternatives” to lodging on the road for many years. Very little of the choices on the current market seem like a wise use of my limited funds.
As mentioned above I think the answer is a tow behind camper.
I never quite get the finishing for these things. For the price, I expect more space efficient fixtures vs things anyone can get from big box DIY stores.
With this and the truck how many nice hotel rooms or airbnbs you can get with that kind of money? and campsites are not cheap unless one goes off grid. But to each their own.
Your not wrong, these (as with most campers) only make sense if you are using full time or regularly stay someplace where other lodging isn’t an option.
Hey, finally a subject I’m an expert in! I’ve owned three truck campers over the years. My current setup is a 2020 F250 4×4 crewcab short bed with a 2016 Livin Light / Camp Light 8.4s like this one: https://www.truckcampermagazine.com/news/tcm-exclusive-2015-camplite-8-4/
My use case is a need for four wheel drive and comfortable accommodations for surf and ski trips while still being able to use my truck for truck stuff when needed. Both of the wood framed campers (from Adventurer and Lance) literally rotted and fell apart after several years of use even with careful maintenance and handling. I’m convinced wood is not a great structural material for a camper that’s going to be in the back of an off-road vehicle.
Enter the Livin’ Lite – terrible name, great camper. All aluminum and composite construction, super light), and absolutely bulletproof interior (if utilitarian). I bought it used for $18,000 three years ago.
Unfortunately the word is out and because Livin Lite was purchased then killed off by a competing manufacturer (story here: https://www.truckcampermagazine.com/news/the-rise-and-fall-of-camplite-and-ford-truck-campers/ ), these units have become fairly expensive on the second hand market when you can find one.
If you can find a used one, I highly recommend them, mines been across the county multiple times, used in blizzards and 100+ degree days and still looks and functions as new (possibly better with the addition of solar and lithium batteries). If you have the budget, the closest you can probably get to the quality now is the all fiberglass Northern Light or the offroad-centric Four Wheels Campers.
Thor is a pox on the RV world. Go figure, a company with actual quality construction is bought up and wound down by these jerks. It’s a perfect fit that they’re indirectly owned by the Vulture Capitalists, Berkshire Hathaway and their ignominious leader, Warren Buffett. His legacy will be scorched earth, dilapidated RVs, and ruined lives.
Thanks for confirming my thoughts. Except for a fire, wood has little to no business in any RV. It shows us that very few builders have “progressed” as the tech as the last few decades. “we can equip it with ANYTHING you want, except for a decent frame.” WTF? Lazy, cheap, and typical American bullshit quality of construction. What’s not to like? S/!
Don’t even get me started on “metal” exteriors.
And although these look nice and decent, the cost is damn near prohibitive for most. Especially for cash/income challenged folks like my ass.
This reminded me of some of those suggested posts on FB (generally related to Ford or Chevy fanbois) where there’s a picture of a Ram with a cracked frame and the bed/camper combo looking like a dog dragging its ass across a rug.
Does a door or something close or is that toilet really just in the middle of the living space?
Thanks for this! I’ve been one of the people asking for more coverage on these. These are some impressive campers and more roomy than I imagined, take any of those and replace the theater chairs with a fold out couch and a drop down bunk above and it would work perfect for what I’d want.
The big benefit of these slide ins is being able to tow along a secondary activity, and while I’ve seen smaller, lighter pop up style slide-ins the reality of it is that if you’re going to go this route an HD truck is probably required. It would be fun to see those lighter compact options but I can’t imagine there are a lot of them at these types of shows.
Slide in campers have gone so far astray of where they started as to be unrecognizable. As a kid my family of 5 had an ’82 Toyota with a Scamper pop-up slide in. Parents slept up top, sisters below, I slept on the bench seat. Couldn’t gave weighed more than 6 or 700lbs.
What’s insane is that none of the current monstrosities uses a tag axle. They were a thing on slide-ins decades ago (one of my friends has restored one) and it allows it to be a usable size without the hassle of slide outs or breaking frames
I am impressed by the amount of space and amenities offered by these slide in RV’s.
However, I think at these prices they are going to be a hard sell.
So, what is the story with weight and rearward balance, especially after some recent articles on truck frames splitting in half on Mexican vacations?
Otherwise, surprisingly roomy looking. But also top-heavy.
From what I could tell, that truck may not have been the right configuration for the camper that it was hauling. That whole situation is something that I want to look into in the near future!
Oh, it was definitely not. A couple articles pointed out that no 4×4 3500s met the payload requirements needed, despite the owner’s claims. 4500 or 5500 is a necessity for these bloated things, which is ridiculous.
My brother-in-law referred to his cab over slide in camper as “the tippy box”. He’s trading it in on a toy hauler. Attaching a trailer behind his 8’ box Ram 250 was a bit dicey, as he had to have a 3’ or so extension on the hitch receiver.