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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