A camper startup says it has the solution to the heavy slide-in truck campers that weigh a ton and cost a fortune. Soaring Eagle Campers, a fresh face from a known name in the RV industry, wants to sell you its Adlar 6.5XL truck camper. It weighs 1,200 pounds, can fit in some trucks with a closed tailgate, starts at $19,500, and boasts an all-aluminum construction.
Readers have been asking for more coverage of the slide-in truck camper industry. Truck campers offer some versatility that you won’t find with a travel trailer. Hauling a camper in your pickup’s bed opens up your trailer hitch so you can tow a boat, a racecar, or other toys. Truck campers enjoy freedom from registration fees, lower maintenance, and better maneuverability. Plus, you can remove the camper from your truck so you can still use your truck for truck things. And unlike a motorhome, you aren’t necessarily married to whatever drivetrain is under your bed. I see the appeal.
Truck Campers Get Heavy
When I went to the Florida RV SuperShow this year, there were a few truck camper manufacturers present. I already showed you those gargantuan Host campers. But what if you don’t have the Ford F-350 or similar needed to carry such a heavy camper? So many Americans own trucks like a Ford F-150, Chevrolet Silverado 1500, and Ram 1500. Well, your choices aren’t as vast. For example, take a look at Lance’s lineup:
This is a popular company known for its truck campers. Yet, its lightest, the 2061-pound Lance 650, is realistically too heavy for some configurations of the 2023 Ford F-150, most configurations of the 2023 Ram 1500, and all configurations of the 2023 Silverado 1500.
When looking at truck campers, keep in mind that your payload isn’t just the camper, but you, your family, your gear, and even the tongue weight of the trailer you wish to tow. A Ram 1500 maxes out at 2,335 pounds for its payload. Throw that Lance on the back and you have just 274 pounds left to play with before you add anything to the camper or before you park your own butt in the driver seat. Palomino, another name in truck campers, offers a hard-sided truck camper as light as 1,561 pounds. In our example Ram, that means 774 pounds to play with. Depending on your situation, that might not be enough.
Light And Affordable
If weight is a huge concern for you, camper startup Soaring Eagle Campers says it has a potential solution for you. Its flagship camper, the Adlar 6.5XL, weighs just 1,200 pounds and starts at $19,500.
Right from the jump, part of why the Adlar 6.5 is so lightweight and costs so little has to do with the fact that it’s small and basic. The aforementioned Lance is 15.5 feet long. This? It’s 10.5 feet long. It also doesn’t have nearly as many features as the Lance. But there’s a reason for this.
This camper was first found by the folks of Truck Camper Magazine. As the publication reported, the founders of Soaring Eagle Campers are Scott Bradshaw, Scott Tuttle, and Troy Andrews. Tuttle has made a name for himself in the RV industry by being one of the founders of Heartland Recreational Vehicles and the founder of Livin Lite Recreational Vehicles. Tuttle also has his name on CampLite truck campers, truck campers with Ford branding, and he’s currently one of the owners of inTech Trailers.
Meanwhile, Andrews was also an owner at Livin Lite Recreational Vehicles, an Operations Manager at ShowHauler RV, and a manager at supplier Lippert Components. Bradshaw does not come from the RV industry, instead, he’s the owner of a construction company and a realty group.
The three of them seek to solve a number of problems in the RV industry. The pandemic sparked record RV sales, and the trio believes that RV manufacturers capitalized on it by cranking out units that were even more poorly built than usual. Further, the trio thinks that prices have gotten out of hand and people who are just getting into RVs are faced with buying expensive rigs. They believe that camper manufacturers are chasing wealthy buyers and leaving behind a void for cheap campers.
Thus, the men created Wakarusa, Indiana-based Soaring Eagle Campers, which made its debut late last year during the RV Open House. I didn’t see these campers when I went to the Open House, likely because of the show’s chaotic layout. Anyway, Soaring Eagle Campers is not targeting existing truck camper buyers, but people who are looking for their first unit and people who are currently sleeping in tents.
Soaring Eagle wants to entice buyers in three main ways. The first two are pricing and weight. Soaring Eagle’s campers could be carried by just about any half-ton pickup. The $19,500 Adlar 6.5XL featured here weighs a light 1,200 pounds, but if it’s too expensive or too heavy, Soaring Eagle has a smaller version called the Adlar 6.5 that weighs just 850 pounds and costs $15,300.
The third way that Soaring Eagle differentiates itself is with its all-aluminum construction for all of its campers. Soaring Eagle’s campers are built from top to bottom with welded tubular aluminum. In fact, you won’t find any wood at all in the walls of a Soaring Eagle. The walls are aluminum with voids filled with block foam insulation. The exterior covering is fiberglass and there’s a wall on the inside. Soaring Eagle says that by avoiding wood, these campers should last a very long time.
From my eyes, I like the lack of wooden walls. Even if the roof started leaking, there’s just less to fix. Soaring Eagle even makes the floor out of aluminum.
Another way that Soaring Eagle differentiates itself from the pack is by offering fewer things to break. Here’s what you get, from Soaring Eagle Campers:
There is a nice sized dinette (30” wide) for enjoying meals, games or work, which also quickly converts to a second sleeping area. A large wardrobe offers great storage for clothes and other gear, while additional storage can be found in the dinette bases as well as the a passenger-side overhead cabinet which also houses a microwave oven. There is a ton of countertop space on either side of the coach, while a portable toilet is housed in a cabinet with hinged lid, providing even more countertop space. A popular option in the ADLAR 6.5XL is our North-South pull-out bed which expands the main bed to 80” in length! The battery box is designed into the dinette floor compartment and is easily accessible from inside the coach.
Popular options include a ceiling mounted, low-amperage draw air conditioner, MaxxAir fan with rain sensor, Blackstone Griddle, roof solar packages, lithium batteries, a Dometic powered cooler, electric jacks, quick-detach jacks and more.
It’s not often that I could just direct quote a manufacturer on features, but that’s what you’re getting with a Soaring Eagle camper. You do not get a sink or a shower. In fact, there’s no running water at all in this camper. Thankfully, a cassette toilet is an option, as is a Dometic cooler and the roof solar goes up to 320 Watts. Seriously, that’s it. The options list is tiny with this little guy.
The 850-lb Adlar 6.5 has the same small list of features and the big difference between the two is the fact that the Adlar 6.5XL is 6.9 feet tall while the Adlar 6.5 (below) is just 5.75 feet tall.
Here’s the Adlar 6.5’s interior:
The smaller Adlar is also 8.5 feet long. Regardless of your choice of the small or big Adlar, Soaring Eagle says that they’ll fit in a 5.5-foot bed with the tailgate down, a 6.5-foot bed with the tailgate up, and an 8-foot bed with room for an auxiliary fuel tank and a toolbox. Both campers are made for a single rear wheel truck.
Who Is This For?
So, we’ve landed back at the question of “Who is this for?” Personally, I like my campers to have running water and it’s something that my wife needs. We often go camping in places where there simply isn’t clean water or places to take a shower. Well, Soaring Eagle’s founders say that we aren’t really the demographic that they’re looking for. Instead, Soaring Eagle is looking to get people out of tents and into the pickup trucks they likely already own. They’re also looking for first-time camper buyers who are looking for something easy to use and take care of. That’s why the founders designed campers without running water and without a heating system, from the Truck Camper Magazine report:
We are going after the 64 million people who went tent camping in North America last year (according to the 2022 North American Camping Report). They would just like to get off the ground and enjoy a more comfortable night’s sleep. The people I talk to at shows do not see not having those systems as a detriment.
It will be interesting to see how this concept works out for Soaring Eagle Campers. Something like this is a big step up, at least in price, from a tent. You could buy a nice used camper for this price. But, I think I can see the founders’ line of thinking here. You probably already own a pickup truck, so why not plop one of these in the back?
As far as future campers go, Soaring Eagle Campers says it’s working on smaller truck campers for trucks like Ford Rangers and Chevrolet Colorados. Then, eventually, it’ll start offering larger units. I hope those larger units keep with the same theme of light weight and inexpensive price, but also add a few things like a sink or a shower.
If you’re perhaps in the target market for this startup camper company, Soaring Eagle will sell you an Adlar 6.5XL for $19,500 and the smaller Adlar 6.5 for $15,300. Even if you don’t buy one of these, definitely be sure to know what your truck can haul before you slide a camper into its bed. Subtract your truck’s gross vehicle weight rating from its curb weight and that’ll give you the number you’re looking for.
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I’ll buy one if they make the Pink Panther visible in the finished product
https://fourwheelcampers.com/ these people have been making light weight truck campers for 50+ years.
Have a camper, still prefer a tent (my wife on the other hand only prefers a tent when the weather is in a 5 degree range, hence camper). Lots of people do. I think most people would be better served with a tent, which are really easy to put up nowadays, a rooftop tent if they want something ‘extra’ or a camper shell with built in cots, slide outs, etc. In my eyes the market for this is single people who want van life lite, to break up long drives to Yellowstone with stealth camping, or refuse to buy a trailer but have strong aversions to pooping in public toilets. To those people I say I’m glad you have an option
Very cool, and these RV pieces by Mercedes are great reads.
This kind of camper was all over the place when I was a kid in the 70’s. One family in my neighborhood had one, and also had two teenage girls who liked to entertain their boyfriends in it. I bet a lot of the boys in town lost their virginity in that camper.
I’ve never much thought about this segment of the american camper market.I guess it’s not surprising that almost everything is at the big end of the spectrum.
Well done Soaring Eagle for giving a light option
These may pencil out with a new truck but a lot of older “half ton” trucks have rated payload of only 1200-1500 lbs so even with all the aluminum goodness your truck is still maxed out. My old F150 has 1250lb payload, and an 8′ bed so slide in campers are a non-starter. On the positive side I can tow a substantial trailer which leaves the bed free for kayaks, bikes and other light but bulky stuff.
I do see a lot of Tacoma crew cabs with pop up campers in the bed and wonder whether those trucks are overloaded and how they perform. It appears that a typical 4 Wheel Camper slide in weighs 1200lb fully equipped, plus people, fuel , water etc. you’re at least 500lb overweight since Tacoma payload is 1000-1400 lbs.
I was going to mention Four Wheel Campers when I read this article. I feel like they already cover the demographic the Soaring Eagle is aimed at.
Even the vast majority of the new half ton PUs only have a 1200- 1500 payload capacity. Since most PU buyers really only need a car. Still this is a nice option for “campers”.
It’s not even new vs old. It’s trim levels and packages. Ford in particular likes to give payload numbers that include the very rare Heavy Duty Payload Package, but the truth is the vast majority of the ones on the road are in the same 1200-1800lb range as other half-tons. The rest aren’t quite as dramatic, but have the same general problem: good luck finding a RAM that actually has a 2000lb payload. Even a stripped-down 2WD is more like 1900lbs at best.
I’m totally with you on the water thing, but there are ways around that.
I do have to say these look to be extremely well constructed. Way above the average crap.
That not a bad price honestly for something like this. The only thing lighter might be a Project M from four wheel campers
And cheaper…but you get literally nothing but a shell and the pop top tent.
I didn’t realize these types of campers couldn’t be hauled by the half tons most people have, that makes this brilliant. I guess you can target tent campers, but I’d be trying to appeal to the masses that already own these trucks. Here’s a camper your truck can haul that you don’t have to tow.
This is the best argument yet for overpriced rooftop tents.
“Truck campers enjoy freedom from registration fees…”
That depends on the jurisdiction. I was born and raised in Oregon and now live in Washington, both of which do require campers to be independently titled and registered, so I was surprised to learn that most states do not:
That’s actually ridiculous. Where do they draw the line between camper shells and slide in campers? When you get into homemade redneck stuff, there is an entire continuum.
In Washington the distinction is that a camper, unlike a shell, has its own floor. It also must be at least five feet long and at least five feet high (when extended, if applicable) and “designed… to provide facilities for human habitation” which is potentially a bit subjective but does exclude utility boxes and the like from the requirement.
Ha! Finally something I’m an expert in. I own a Livin Light truck camper and it’s one of my favorite things in the world. I’ve traveled the entire US with it on the back of my F250. It’s driven miles of beaches in four wheel drive on the outer banks of Carolina and climbed over passes in the front range of colorado. I’ve camped in 110 degree days and -30 degree nights (heated tanks). in 2021 I lived and worked out of it for two months. It has a full shower and bath, fridge and freezer, queen size bed, furnace and AC, Solar, Starlink, two battleborn lithium batteries, and a 3000 watt inverter. It also has a slideout and a 6’7″ ceiling height. It’s also all aluminum and weighs 2120 lbs dry and there’s zero wood to rot. It’s great to see the Livin Light guys back at it, there’s simply not a comparable product on the market right now. I bought mine in 2018 and thought it was expensive at 17K. When you can find them now they are 40-50K, so I’d guess there is a market for a stripped down smaller/cheaper unit with the same quality. We’ll be camping in it this weeked near a large lake where theres an open water swim / race we’re doing and have a nice breakfast and a warm place to suit up without having to get up at 4am, drive to the venue and change into a wetsuit in 30 degree weather. Also it has a water heater, so Hot showers after the swim!
Sounds like your camper actually has camper things, and at a reasonable price!
It sounds like you got a great deal on a really well-made, just about perfect, camper!
The camper dad had built for our ’64 F100 crewcab (extended overcabs didn’t exist then) and we had an icebox, a sink, and a shelf above the sink. we had a container of water on the shelf. That’s it. Worked really well. I wish I still had that camper. It was a Safari brand, which is so-far impossible to research with those very common keywords.
As for existing campers, I purchased a ’95 Lance extended overcab camper and hauled it home on my F250 single cab 4wd truck. It was a very scary ride. I purchased a ’91 F350 longbed dually crewcab which made for a much better ride.
I wonder if they’ll be making one for the Ford Maverick.
It may be lighter, but it’s probably still an aerodynamic nightmare, and you can ask Robert at Aging Wheels how his similarly sized and built half ton truck camper went (spoiler alert it sucked and he disassembled it after untold hours making it)
I have a truck camper. It does kill gas mileage, but no more than towing a camper.
But a towed camper can be dropped off at the camp site and your mileage will improve. I’m not saying there’s not a use case, but it’s pretty limited for most people unless it does better than towing a camper and/or is light enough you can also hitch a trailer without too much worry about the tongue weight.
Can’t you just put the legs down and drive out from under it?
Makes sense that one of the co-founders is a former co-owner of Livin’Lite, this really fits the same philosophy – no wood, all durable materials, light weight. Shame Thor bought them out just to shut them down, I think the brand was just too different from the rest of their businesses for them to know what to do with it, like Saab.
Now that’s mighty nice! We’ve gotten used to having a range, toilet and hot/cold running water, but I’ve always wanted something that was built for lightness and wouldn’t rot.
And thank you for the truck camper coverage! They’re one of the best options for hunters, backwoods folks and horse-y people, since they let you use a 4WD heavy-duty pickup as your base chassis.
I was all set to hate on it but that interior looks amazingly livable.
Simplify and Add Lightness.
They picked the wrong name for this, what is an Adlar. They should have went with the Tartis. Because that interior certainly looks to big to fit in the back of a pickup. But it does. How? I am for all the creature comforts one can afford and for me this is a bit pricey but seeing the quality and what some of the competition sells for I think this passes for affordable. I am surprised none of the manufacturers ever seems to look at the aftermarket. I saw Ant on some car show take an old Dodge van, a beer keg, hose and a small pump use the vans coolant system to create a shower for the surf van. Take a propane coleman stove and heater you get heat and kitchen. Then an AC up front all the amenities in a small space.
“Because that interior certainly looks too big to fit in the back of a pickup. But it does. How?”
How? The same way realtors do. Ultra-wide-angle lenses.
One thing I can see is they are using the space above the bed sides. So for example when you’re sitting at the table you have almost the entire bed width to work with. I have a Crew Cab super short Ram 1500, but to get stuff in the bed I have to crawl in under the tonneau sometimes, and the bed is shorter than I am tall!
I get the feeling that there’s a reason small slide ins are not very common. Especially with the tiny Ranger/Colorado ones mentioned, it seems like you’re getting something maybe 2x as good as a tent, but for literally 100x the price of a tent.
They do make small light pop up or teardrop trailers very suitable for smaller pickups. Which prevents you from towing your dirt bike trailer, but then you can put the dirt bikes in the bed.
They are not common because you have to have a pretty capable rig with some customizations to use one properly, and they tend to be expensive. That said, There’s no better rig for my lifestyle – I require 4×4, something I can live comfortably in (mine is considerably nicer than these, but more expensive – see my description above), and have a small footprint. If there’s another option that ticks all those boxes, I’d be open to it.
Ehh, not having water isn’t the biggest deal. My Aliner has a very basic water system with a 10 gallon tank, sink, water heater and outside shower. This empties into a 5 gallon outside gray tank. Mainly to spare having to haul dirty dishes a quarter mile to the designated dish washing sink. Gray water disposal is done with the gray tank every few days.
Camping without running water and using water from jugs or using paper plates isn’t terrible. Having running water is nice but it’s one more system to maintain. Not having a black tank to empty on the way out and skipping the line of giants waiting to empty their black tanks is a little slice of luxury.
I’m in the target audience for a camper of this sort: retiring soon; have camped in tents or out in the open for 60 years; want to explore the west for months on end. Right now it looks like a Scout camper is my first choice for a future purchase–lightweight and built-up from the factory with the features I want.
These Soaring Eagle campers seem like a good first try, but they’re lacking some critical items: a heater, a sink (even one that just empties to the ground), storage accessible from the outside, and a water container. Also the listed Dometic refrigerator is tiny at only 35 liters.
I had to do a double take on the first pic of the soaring eagle because I thought it was a USPS vehicle!
(The color scheme and the presence of an eagle)