My wife Connie and I took delivery of a new Outfitter Apex 8 on April 19, 2011. The following summarizes our experiences to date with the camper on our 2007 GMC Classic 2500HD CC, D/A. Hopefully this information will be of interest to other truck campers or potential truck campers.
TRUCK: 2007 GMC Classic 2500HD SLT Crew Cab, 6.5 ft bed, LBZ Duramax (360 hp & 650 ft lb stock), 6 speed Allison.
TRUCK MODIFICATIONS: The following modifications were made to improve the truck’s ability to handle a heavy payload:
• Roadmaster RAS progressive coil overload springs (can be set to increase rear spring capacity by 20% to 40%). They also eliminate axle hop when the rear wheels spin on loose surfaces.
• Torklift Stable Loads.
• 5000# Airlift airbags with Load Controller II onboard air compressor (bags inflated separately). Bags inflated to 10psi w/o camper (keeps spring pack off of Stable Loads, 41.5” ride height ground to bottom of fender well) – very acceptable ride empty. Bags inflated to 62psi with camper on to bring rear ride height to 40.5”, which engages the Stable Loads.
• Cognito Motorsports 2”-3” front control arm leveling kit – allowed torsion bars to be adjusted to raise the front of the truck by 2.5” while maintaining stock alignment specs and repositioning upper suspension travel-stop to eliminating harsh ride at full suspension droop. Also much stronger than stock upper control arms. Gives a very plush, extremely well controlled ride.
• Cognito Motorsports Idler Arm support kit. HD GM IFS trucks quickly wear out idler arms without this modification.
• Cognito Motorsports Idler Pivot Assembly upgrade kit. Greatly strengthens GM IFS pivot linkage helping minimize tie rod end wear/breakage under high stress conditions.
TIRES AND WHEELS:
• 285/75 R16 LT Goodyear Wrangler Silent Armor tires, load range E (3750 lbs at 80psi)
• GM forged aluminum wheels.
• Banks Economind Power Tuner – 6 power settings. Banks claims up to 75 & 147 added rear wheel HP & TQ increases. Mine may be lower, since I did not upgrade to the 4” exhaust (didn’t want to chance increasing in-cab noise levels).
• Banks Speedbrake – an amazing exhaust brake system that controls the variable turbocharger vanes, torque converter, and transmission gears to either slow down the truck or hold a pre-set down hill speed with out applying the service brakes.
• Banks IQ – controls both the Tuner and Speedbrake, as well as displaying all of the OBDII engine & trans vitals, such as gear, boost, manifold temp, etc, as well as GPS corrected speed, EGT, performance data logging, DTC codes (and clears them), tuner/speedbrake diagnostics, etc. A very powerful tool.
• Banks large diameter (3.5”) turbo boost tube – claimed to give faster turbo spool up.
• AFE Pro Dry S air filter. This is a direct replacement that fits into the stock air filter housing. First upgrade I made, which by itself gave a day in day out documented one mpg increase in highway fuel economy at 65 mph (without camper).
• Firestone Level-Rite front air shocks (up to 2000 lbs capacity, with Bilstein B6 HD yellow shocks fitted). The Level-Rites will increase the front spring capacity to allow carrying my Mile Marker 12,000 lb receiver mounted winch on the front Hidden Hitch Receiver, with the camper loaded on the truck (but still keeping front end weight below the GFAWR).
• Rancho 9000XL rear shocks - stock shocks work very well with the camper loaded on the truck, but am looking for a little additional control, if possible.
CAMPER: Outfitter Mfg Apex 8 with the following options, accessories, and gear (incremental weights in parenthesis).
OPTIONS – 747 lbs total weight:
• Two 6 volt batteries with battery isolator (135 lbs - 130 lbs per Interstate specs plus 5 lbs wiring est)
• Cassette toilet with storage compartment (opens on side) in place of black water tank (15 lbs est)
• Two AT fuel can holders (16 lbs per AT specs)
• Electric camper jacks (28 lbs per Happi-jac specs)
• Rear scissor step (24 lbs per Outfitter)
• Additional overhead cabinet (35 lbs per Outfitter)
• 7.5 CF Nova Kool 12 volt compressor fridge/freezer (40 lbs est – Nova Kool weighs 86 lbs)
• 125 watt (7 amps) Carmanaha solar panel with Go Power PWM 25 amp controller (30 lbs - 27 lbs panel & controller per Go Power specs plus 3 lbs mounting brackets est)
• 80” extended cab-over bed with pull out drawer and power roof lift (225 lbs per Outfitter)
• Polar Cub air conditioner (99 lbs - 89 lbs roof unit plus 10 lbs ceiling unit per Manufacturer specs)
• Inverter ready pre-wire with Power-On-Board 1500/3000 watt inverter (27 lbs - 20 lbs inverter per Manufacturer specs plus 7 lbs wiring & mounting system est)
• Thule car top carrier slats (8 lbs per Manufacturer specs)
• Rear ladder to roof (12 lbs per Outfitter)
• Rival 700 watt microwave - can be operated from inverter (25 lbs - 23 lbs per Rival specs plus 2 lbs wiring est)
• TV mounting bracket with 12 volt 15” LCD TV/DVD (10 lbs actual weight)
• Insulated inside hatch covers (1 lb actual weight)
• Rear back-up/docking flood lights (6 lbs est)
• Two extra 120 volt outlets (one inside & one outside) and one extra 12 volt outlet (6 lbs est)
• Two extra outside patio lights - one on each side of camper (5 lbs est)
• Standard fiberglass composite roof
• Modified wet camper Center of Gravity to 33” measured from front of camper instead of std 26”
ACCESSORIES (Owner provided) - 184 lbs total weight:
• Honda 2000i generator (57 lbs actual weight wet)
• Thule 78” load bars with Coleman roof rack (37 lbs actual weight - bars 15 lbs, rack 22 lbs)
• Two Wedco 5 gal Jerry cans with diesel (90 lbs actual wt - each can is 10 lbs plus 35 lbs diesel X 2)
MAXIMUM AMOUNT OF GEAR TO BE CARRIED – 666 lbs total weight:
• Food (106 lbs actual weight - 35 lbs fridge, 71 lbs other places)
• Clothing, toiletries, coats/jackets, outdoor gear, shoes (86 lbs actual weight)
• Kitchen, cooking stuff (61 lbs actual weight)
• Computer, books, CD/DVD, maps, binoculars, GPS, Flashlights, etc. (42 lbs actual weight)
• Bedding, pillows, towels, 2.5” Queen size memory foam topper (64 lbs actual weight)
• Support gear, tools, extraction gear, air compressor/tire repair, lynx levelers, etc (146 lbs actual wt)
• Outdoor cooking gear, chairs, table, screen tent, 10 lb propane tank, etc (107 lbs actual weight)
• Fishing gear, fire arms (36 lbs actual weight)
• Coleman catalytic heaters & 5 X 1 lb propane bottles (18 lbs actual weight)
WEIGHT ANALYSIS (all weights in LBS):
A) TRUCK WEIGHT WITH TERRY & CONNIE, CAMPER WET WITH OPTIONS, INCLUDING ACCESSORIES, AND MAXIMUM GEAR = 11,230 (CAT SCALE)
B) TRUCK WEIGHT WITH TERRY & CONNIE, CAMPER WET WITH OPTIONS, WITHOUT ACCESSORIES AND MAXIMUM GEAR = 10,380 (CAT SCALE)
C) TRUCK WEIGHT WITH TERRY AND CONNIE, WITHOUT CAMPER; CAMPER-READY BASE WEIGHT = 7,465 (CAT SCALE)
D) ADVERTISED AND ESTIMATED WEIGHT OF CAMPER OPTIONS = 747
E) WET CAMPER WEIGHT - INCLUDING OPTIONS, ACCESSORIES, AND MAXIMUM GEAR = 3,765 (A - C)
F) WEIGHT OF MAXIMUM GEAR AND ACCESSORIES = 850 (A – B)
G) WET CAMPER WEIGHT INCLUDING OPTIONS, WITHOUT ACCESSORIES, AND MAXIMUM GEAR = 2915 (E – F)
J) DRY CAMPER WEIGHT, WITHOUT OPTIONS = 1,739 (I – D)
K) ADVERTISED DRY WT OF CAMPER = 1,430
ACTUAL DRY WT VARIANCE OF CAMPER = 309 LBS MORE (J - K)
What drew us to Outfitter was the following (in no particular order):
• “Lighter weight”, pop up camper that has most of the features (and some additional ones) of top-of-the-line hard sided campers, such as wet bath, generator storage compartment, cassette toilet with storage underneath, under bed storage and pull out drawer, composite counter top & table, power top lift system, Nova Kool fridge, solar panel, lots of in-camper storage, roof capable of lifting 400 lbs or more, heated pressurized water system, ducted furnace, AC, cooking & kitchen appliances, entertainment systems, etc.
• Low travel height for better handling both on-road and off-road.
• North south cab-over queen bed.
• Their willingness to modify the camper to meet our specific need for a modified Center of Gravity. Stock Apex 8 CG is 26” measured from the front of the camper, but because pre-2011 GM HD, D/A trucks have very little extra front axle weight capacity the camper CG needs to be 32” – 78” as measured from the front of the truck bed - calculated with GM’s “truck camper loading worksheet” (gmupfitter.com) using actual front and rear axle weights. Outfitter achieved a 33” CG.
• Fiberglass composite roof and fiberglass (Filon) exterior skin.
• Strength and durability of an aluminum framed, composite structure.
• Basement configuration providing lower vertical CG, heated water and holding tanks, almost full height entry door, insulated & heated floor.
• Four season capability.
• Willingness to make custom modifications to the camper and/or equipment, if possible.
• Solid reputation for good customer service.
• Customer oriented, nice people (Bob and Brian Ward and Staff) – always have time for the customer.
EXPERIENCE TO DATE:
Since taking delivery, we have been on two one week trips covering about 1,500 miles each through Southern Colorado and Southern Utah (we live in Utah). Overall our travel and camping experience has been excellent. All camping has been either dry camping or boondocking.
GMC 2500 HD TRUCK WITH CAMPER:
• The truck with camper is not dramatically affected by side or head winds. On our first trip, we experienced winds in the 20 to 30 mph range for several consecutive days with no sway or handling issues – except for reducing fuel economy somewhat.
• The truck with camper was well planted and handled well on all of the road surfaces we have driven to date, including some straight and flat, but mostly very curvey mountain highways (elevation changes from 2,000 to 5,000 ft were very common), with mild off-roading on BLM and Forest Service roads. Large ruts or off camber “frame twisters” do cause significant suspension articulation with some mild rocking, dictating slow (and slower) going. The tires and suspension seem to soak up bumpy roads pretty well, but again – slow going is best.
• Truck power is never an issue, with more always just a slight push of the gas pedal away.
• Braking is excellent with the EBC Yellow Stuff brake pads, despite the very heavy GVW – and seems to be as good with the camper loaded on the truck as with the truck empty. The Banks Speed Brake is a powerful tool for long steep highway descents – just set the desired speed to be held and take your foot off of the brake.
• The truck sits and travels level, with no lean side to side with properly adjusted air bags. No travel sway experienced to date and the truck with camper handles just fine driving around town.
• While driving you can feel the truck is carrying a load but it is never really is in your face. It is easy to forget you are carrying a heavy load, since the truck’s handling dynamics are not too different from unloaded.
• As all truck campers know, we were able to take the camper anywhere we could drive the truck, with the exception of height restriction obstacles – no serious 4-wheeling done to date.
• Although the truck with camper and gear significantly exceeds the advertised GVW, weight on both the front and rear axels is below advertised stock Gross Spring Weight. I should also point out that I am using 3500HD spring weights because of the many upgrades made to the truck (the only difference between GM 3500 and 2500 HDs is a greater rear spring capacity and one additional frame cross member, required for an 8 ft bed, the only bed available on 2007 GM 3500s, where as my truck bed is 6.5 ft an doesn't need the extra cross member).
FUEL ECONOMY – WITHOUT CAMPER:
• Pre-upgrades: 19 to 20 mpg - Documented over-all average mileage (mostly highway) on several 1000 to 3000 mile trips.
• Post-upgrades: 20 to 21 mpg - Again documented over-all average mileage on several additional 1000 to 3000 mile trips.
• Typical highway speed 65 to 70 mph.
• All economy numbers were measured by hand (the trip computer is inaccurate), with the fuel level brought right up to the top of the filler neck each fill-up. Miles traveled per fill-up are GPS corrected to compensate for a low reading odometer (reads 5% low because of big tires).
FUEL ECONOMY – WITH CAMPER:
• 14 to 15 mpg over-all average mileage, as measured on the two 1,500 mile trips we have taken to date.
• Worst tank was 13.4 mpg and the best tank was 17.7 mpg, with trip averages of 14.7 mpg and 14.9 mpg.
• I always drive for best fuel economy. Slower average speeds give the best gas mileage. Highway speed was kept between 60 and 63 mph, slowing down to as low as 40 mph on steep grades 8% and higher – a very light throttle pedal was used at all times.
• As always, all economy numbers were measured by hand.
APEX 8 CAMPER:
• The camper layout works perfectly for just the two of us, with meals prepared and eaten comfortably.
• The bed is great and we love all of the bedside and under bed storage. We use the slide out drawer for all of our clothes storage, as suggested by Bob Ward. We did, however, add a 2.5” memory foam topper to the bed, because we like a more compliant sleeping surface.
• The wet bath works great, with showering easily done standing up.
• The Cassette toilet works wonderfully and is easily emptied – no worry about dump stations ever. Grey water goes into the weeds, when possible…
• Raising and lowering the top is painless with the remote control and fantastic fan (lowering), with the interior kitchen (not the stove) and toilet facilities accessible with the top down.
• The camper stays acceptably warm without added heat from either the furnace or catalytic heaters. We experienced 19 F one night at Red Canyon just below Bryce NP and the interior camper temp did not go below 38 F. Night time temps below freezing were the rule. We have not used the furnace to date, other than to verify that it works.
• As expected, without furnace usage, propane consumption has been minimal. I did, however, install a 6 ft propane pigtail to allow us to hook up our back-up 10 lb tank to the camper, if needed.
• The inverter easily powers the microwave, and we use it often to reheat food.
• The batteries (two 6V GC, 217 AH, which are easily accessible under the rear dinette seat in the basement) to date seem to have stayed charged from the solar panel (125W, 7A) even with the 4.4A ongoing draw of the Nova Kool fridge. Our average daily usage, off set by day time input from the solar, drops the batteries down to 75% to 70% of capacity each morning as measured by the Go Power Charge Controller. We are frugal with power consumption, using lighting only as needed (plan to upgrade to LED light bulbs), with average water pump (5A) usage, but do run the TV/DVD (4A) for a couple of hours at night, and no furnace (8.5A) usage to date, which could consume an additional 25 AH or so and drop our percentage usage into the high 50%’s . Also, since most of our trips involve driving every day or two, the truck also keeps the batteries fully charged. I also keep the truck running with alternator input into the house batteries while raising the top, if the camper voltage is above 12.7. The battery isolator and Progressive Dynamics Converter have preformed flawlessly. Of course, we always have the Honda 2000i, if needed.
• We have camped in moderate rain and wind with no issues, although I did seam seal the Weblon soft wall as some have suggested.
• We love the way the white interior surface of the Weblon soft wall reflects light through out the camper, day or night, as well as ventilating the unit.
• We haven’t used the AC yet (its been too cold and rainy), but have been assured that the Honda 2000i will start and run it, when not on shore power.
• The camper design maximizes storage and we use almost all of it, but do have some capacity left under the front dinette seat. The storage below the cassette toilet is also very handy, as is the outside plumbing access space for small items. We use the outside storage access in front of the wheel wells for extraction gear that doesn’t mind if it gets a little wet. Some of our gear is bulky and will not fit inside of the camper. Since I prefer to minimize wind resistance, this gear is carried in the folded down back seat area of the truck cab instead of on the roof rack. We treat the back seat as an easily accessible storage area like in a station wagon.
• The water tank fills quickly, but the input flow rate must be monitored, or the water pressure will slightly bulge the top of the tank, which sends a lot of water back out the vent.
• The grey tank (16 gal) empties easily and quickly, but the water tank (44 gal) is drained by a 0.5” valve and takes 40 to 45 minutes to empty. Also to ensure the tanks are fully drained the truck should be parked on a slight incline with the front end uphill and it is best if the rear end slants slightly to the passenger side.
• Our camper has the oak interior and the fabric scheme we chose (Bear Run BER11) works very well with the oak woodwork and the earth tone vinyl flooring Outfitter installed.
• We did end up installing a ladder up into the cab-over, rather than use the counter top as a step.
• We also installed a battery powered smoke detector in the camper and an additional fire extinguisher in the cab-over.
APEX 8 CAMPER DELIVERY PUNCH LIST AND ISSUES:
We have had a good experience to date with our Apex 8 and really enjoy it. Overall it has met our expectations. The actual weight of the camper being significantly greater than advertised weight did surprise us, however. We also had some punch list items that I fixed at home, after discussion with Bob and Brian.
• After getting the camper home, using the same CAT scale on the same day, I weighed the truck and camper wet: a) fully loaded, b) without any gear, and c) the truck only, camper ready. The bottom line is that by my measurements the camper weights 309 lbs more than its advertised weight (see “Weight Analysis” above). It is possible that I have under estimated the weight of some of the options, but not by much, and certainly not 300 lbs worth. Also the CAT scale tolerance / accuracy could push the numbers a little either way, but, again, not by 300 lbs. Supporting the accuracy of the CAT scale is the fact that the calculated camper ready weight of the truck, using factory GVW and payload data, is very close (within 12 lbs) to the actual CAT scale weight.
• The hot water heater, as installed, allowed rain water to leak into the under sink area through the lower right hand corner attachment tab. This was easily fixed by re-caulking the water heater mounting flange and attachment tabs.
• Several attachment screws on the roof lift mounting pads were not fully seated. Again easily fixed by tightening them fully.
• Probably being fussy, but I also put fiberglass bat insulation inside the camper around the outside shower box and also around the piping located in the outside plumbing access space. I also plan to glue foam insulation inside the camper to the sheet metal box that holds the LPG tank. Just trying to increase the overall R-factor.
• The fresh water tank (I’m told by Outfitter that it is polyethylene) continues to have a significant plastic taste. It has been flushed 6 times and also, on the advice of Bob Ward, I have treated the tank with baking soda, which did reduce the intensity of the plastic taste. Brian Ward told me the taste never really goes away entirely. I’m not sure what to do next, because the water is currently almost unpalatable. I don’t have this issue with my toy hauler trailer water tank. This is a big problem. I have bought a carbon / particulate water filter assembly that snaps onto the sink faucet (PUR brand, $18 at Walmart), but haven’t installed it yet. Hopefully this will solve the taste issue…
• We have found the finish and craftsmanship on all of the oak wooden doors and drawers to not be up to expectation, with incomplete finish and rough and chipped surfaces. Also some of the wood grain trim tape is lifting. The woodwork should be much better for a camper of this quality. I will either refinish or remake these parts in my wood shop. Additionally I will install “hold-open hinges” on the overhead cabinet doors, since the doors have to be held up (open) by hand with the current hinges – a big pain.
• The one other significant workmanship issue we found deals with the mounting of the solar panel. When drilling through the roof to bring the wiring into the camper, the hole (0.5”) was first drilled in the wrong place, which could have been easily repaired before finishing the installation. This wasn’t done and the hole was left unrepaired and open to the elements, which allowed rain to leak into the cab over area. No damage done and everything dried out fine. I ended up repairing the hole by fitting a snug fitting dowel and sealing with Dicor sealant. At the same time, several areas of roof top caulking that looked like they could use a little more Dicor (but presented no performance issues) were touched up. The repair is invisible and completely solved the problem.
• The only other issue we found deals with the Happi-jac turnbuckles that Outfitter installs and is not really Outfitter’s issue. First let me say I really like the Happi-jac system and a fix is pretty easy. The issue is that the front passenger side turnbuckle can not be acceptably tightened before running out of adjustment thread. I have spoken to Happi-jac and they have volunteered to exchange the front turnbuckle barrels for shorter ones at no charge. The Happi-jac tie downs have worked great to date, although there is a heavy duty rubber bed mat under the camper.
We are very satisfied with the purchase of our Outfitter Apex 8. The purchase price was in line with other high end pop ups, such as Hallmark and Phoenix, with similar features and capabilities. Delivery time after receipt of order was acceptable at 8 weeks. Although we did have a couple of punch list items, they were easily fixed. Although the camper weighs more than predicted, we have had no issues traveling with it on our modified truck. As everyone knows, the real test of any purchase is time-in-service, and our expectation is that this camper should be durable and reliable, with some comfort given by the extended warantees on major structural components – time will tell. In conclusion, we firmly recommend this camper to any who may be looking for the features and capabilities it offers. Also our experience working with Bob and Brian at Outfitter was top notch.
Holy Toledo Terry, I can't imagine a more detailed account of a truck and camper. I hope you don't mind if I print this out for future reference on both. I dig all your truck mods and am impressed with the detail of weights and camper specs. The pictures didn't show up but there's an easy fix for that posted here I hope you'll have as much fun with yours as we've had, and that you'll post some trip reports! Thanks Terry...
Great report. Looks like you had more leakage problems than we had. We also seem to be significantly heavier than I expected. Did your camper come with a nameplate and total weight? Mine had neither. I couldn't figure where the tab you referred to on the water heater is. We had a leak under the sink that I thought was coming through the roof where the solar panel leads entered the roof. They only calked half way around the hole, but there was only one, I think, maybe I should look again I also had the same experience with the finish quality. Does you roof go up evenly? The right corner on the back of the roof is up about 4 inches before the left starts to lift. Also, the roof lifting mechanism keeps slipping, making the sound it makes when fully raised, as it goes up. Does yours do that?
1992 Airstream B-190 van
1989 Airstream 25' Excella Trailer
Outfitter Apex 9.5 Truck Camper Ford F-350 Diesel 4x4
One of the most detailed reports that I have ever seen on the Apex 8. I could not disagree with anthing written and the detail used is extrodinary and very accurate. Anyone contemplating the purchase of a new Apex 8 would do well to review this report.
Welcome to "The Clan" Terry & Connie!! You will go VERY far with that rig.
Ben & Tory
* This post was
edited 05/28/11 09:12am by Nemo667 *
2007 F-350 SRW 6.0L CC SB 4X4
2006 Outfitter Apex 8, 220W Solar and 3 AGM's
2008 Jeep Rubicon
Our water tank had a bit of a taste for the first few weeks; five or six times I filled it completely, adding two cups of bleach to the tank, and let it sit all day in warm weather. I would then drain about one third of the water and drive the truck for thirty minutes, making sure that I drove "erratically" enough to really slosh the water in the tank. After twice doing that, the taste was gone, but I did it a few more times for good measure. We also always drained the tank coming home after a trip or before going out again - I never let water sit in it.
Good luck with your unit - I hope it gives you many years of excellent service.
Please let me know what you use to hold open the upper cabinet doors. I tried one product made by RV designers but wasn't impressed. Found some hardware at Rocklers that might work better but haven't pursued it yet.
Another question. On the lower rear right side of the camper, but still in the truck bed portion. Do you have an openable access panel or do you have a filon cover screwed on?
I drain the water tank on the driveway incline.
I thought there was minimum finish on the cabinet doors. If you sand some of the rougher sections, the finish is lacquer and easily re-coated.
I only got the 95 watt panel, wish I knew the 125 watt was an option for me. I am glad we got the LED lights though.