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 > First impressions and first trip report with new camper.

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insp1505

Oregon

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Joined: 06/11/2010

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Posted: 07/23/13 09:20pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I finally made a decision on what camper to replace my AF 1150 with. Of all the things that were great about my Arctic Fox it was it’s length and the weight that helped make up my mind on which way to go. If I ever decide to live in a TC again it will be an AF and probably another 1150 but after 2 ½ years as my home it was time to say good-bye and welcome a new shorter and much lighter TC into my bed (of my pick-up that is, don’t want to get my GF upset with me [emoticon]

My choices were eventually narrowed down to a 990 AF and a Northern Lite 9.6. The price difference was setting my mind on another Arctic Fox but the weight of the Northern Lite was so appealing. I have plans of towing toys in the future so the lighter the TC the more toys I can take. Anyway I went back to my favorite RV dealer, Bish’s RV in Idaho Falls, and leaned on them a bit harder over the price discrepancy between the Arctic Fox and the Northern Lite.

They had already given me their best bottom dollar price as a repeat customer (I bought my AF 1150 from them 3 years ago) so they had no room to budge. The sales manager then called Northern Lite and told them they needed to help out so I wouldn’t go buy another Arctic Fox. Long story short the Northern Lite company stepped in when it counted and I was able to get the deal down to where I felt comfortable purchasing it. Bish’s RV also threw in 4 brand new shiny stainless-steel fast-guns, dually swing-out brackets, and four Bish’s RV hooded sweatshirts at no charge. That’s a sign of a great dealer to step in and do what it takes to keep a loyal customer.

Here are a couple pictures the day I loaded it up and brought it home. It’s a 2014 NL 9.6 Q Classic SE.


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And the left side after I unloaded it in my back yard because I didn’t get any pics from that side at the dealership.

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It compressed my suspension 1.75 inches when I loaded it. The overloads still engage because of the homemade stable-loads I installed for the Arctic Fox. It weighs 2550 according to the rear sticker compared to my 1150 that weighed 4469.

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I was always well over 5200 lbs. with the AF now I think I am in the low 3000 lb. range with the NL so my truck barely even knows it’s on there. Losing 1-ton of weight is very noticeable when stopping and pulling away from lights. I bet I’m even under my GVWR for the truck for a change but I’ll get some actual weight figures on it this fall when I go to Oregon to see my kids then I’ll know for sure.

Last week we took it camping for it’s maiden voyage. I don’t have a trailer yet so we had to put our Honda CRF 110 in the back seat of the truck with the Honda 2000 generator.

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We tried Meadow Lake but there were too way too many people cram camped in there for our liking. Even on Wednesday night there were only 4 spots left which I suppose is pretty good as that place fills up every weekend during the summer. Here is a picture I took when leaving Meadow Lake.

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So it was off to our favorite little high mountain lake where tents and TC’s go to get away from the crowds. Much to our surprise we had it all to ourselves the first couple of nights. Later in the week someone came and camped on the opposite end of the lake so it was very peaceful except for my son riding laps around camp trying to get comfortable on his new dirt bike. He did shut it down long enough to get in some fishing and to row his old man around on the lake so I could catch a few as well.


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My parents and my brother came camping with us too. My daughter had already gone back to Oregon so it was just my girlfriend, my son and I in our camper. My parents brought their camper and my brother brought his tent and his Honda CRF 250L. He is talking about toy haulers but maybe we can swing him into a TC as he already has a 2003 F-350 7.3 Powerstroke. We went for several motorcycle rides on the many trails around there.


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Here is my girlfriend climbing up the mountain on the CRF 110. The views from the top were amazing. In all the years I’ve camped here I never hiked up this mountain to see what’s there. Now with motorcycles I don’t have to hike . . . . . I must be getting old.

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The little white dot in the next picture is our camp. I zoomed in a bit for the next picture. I only had my Ipod as a camera and not my Nikon with its big zoom so it didn’t turn out as good.

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Friday we rode up to another lake much higher in the mountains than where we camped. We had to cross a few creeks and the trail was very rocky and slow going. My son rode behind me on the 250 and Karla rode the 110. We had to hike up the last ¾ mile as it got way too steep for our motorcycles to climb. There was even snow left over on the shoreline of the lake. The mosquitoes were bad up here so we didn’t stay too long. I didn’t even notice a single mosquito at the lower lake we camped at.


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My son and I posing for a picture by the creek.

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Temps got pleasantly warm but not hot at the nearly 8000’ elevation of camp. Nights cooled off nicely and we had to try out our new sweatshirts after the sun would go down and in the morning. The last two afternoons smoke rolled into our valley from distant forest fires. My brother brought his telescope to try out far from the city lights but the moon was so bright it didn’t work out so well for galaxies, nebulas and other things so we looked at the Apollo lunar landing site instead.

It turned out to be a great first trip for breaking in the new TC. We stayed 4 nights from Wednesday to Sunday. No problems with the camper operation, it really performed well and I know I will enjoy many years of camping in it.

Here are just a few comments of the good and bad things that we ran in to with the new camper.

First the bad:

1. Not enough room in any cabinet for a garbage can. The only cabinet it would fit in is the wardrobe by the back door or up in the cab-over section. Neither place made us happy so we put it on the step to the bed and we empty it a few times a day into a larger black bag out-side. The AF had a nice large cabinet under the sink that would hold garbage for a couple days before having to empty it.

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2. The bathroom is so much smaller than the dry-bath that we were use to. We knew this going in to it but it takes an act of contortion to twist around to grab off the TP roll from behind you when you’re done. We also found out that when the TP roll is less than ½ full it falls out of the holder and onto the wet shower stall ruining ½ a roll.

3. The bathroom floor is lower than the base of the toilet so I can barely reach the floor flat foot; Karla and my son are so short their feet dangle. Maybe a step stool, a relocation of the toilet paper holder and some way to retain the roll better till it’s empty will help us feel better in the bathroom.

So using the toilet isn’t as much fun as it was in the AF but that’s the trade off we (I really) were willing to make for having a camper that’s over 2’ shorter. Showering isn’t bad at all. The low floor works out to be an advantage and there is plenty of head room.


4. There's no door lock on the inside of the bathroom so either you’ll be offended or be the offender depending on which side of the door you're on if you don’t make some noise to let someone know you’re in there, especially if you forget to run the exhaust fan.

5. Holding tanks are less half what we were use to so we have to bring extra water for how long we stay out for now until I install a larger tank. I knew this was going to be an issue before I bought it though.

6. Water pump is much louder than in the AF. After inspecting it they just screwed it to an inner wall with no rubber insulation mounts like AF does. This should be an easy fix.

7. The oven is smaller than in the AF, had to leave our big pizza pan home as well as a few other pans.

8. The camper is too short to fit to the front of the truck bed all the way before it runs into the tail lights. This is more Dodge’s fault than NL though as the bed is really 8’3” long. All I had to do was put in a 2x8 in the front of the bed and that leaves plenty of room for the taillights on the truck. The CG is still 9” in front of the rear axle.


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9. Rear doors of the truck won’t open without running into the front camper jacks even with the camper moved back in the bed of the truck like it is to clear the tail lights. This is really more my fault as I’m sure NL didn’t intend anyone to put such a light camper on a dually truck, it’s the swing out brackets that move the jacks forward several inches. Not really a big issue most of the time as it’s just me and Karla and I just swing them out when we get to camp so we can access the back seat.



The good:

1. We really like the LED lighting, 12 Volt TV and other power saving appliances. I never had to run the generator in the 5 days we were there to recharge the batteries. No I don’t have solar and only have 2 group 24 batteries. The lowest it got was to the fair light on the battery monitor. Next time I’ll bring my voltmeter to see what “fair” really means as far as a voltage number.

2. The LED’s are fantastic. They are very bright which is especially nice on the two outside lights, the back porch and the right side under the awning, for lighting up the area around camp when needed. They didn’t skimp on lighting the inside either there are 7 of these double LED fixtures, one single in the bathroom and two LED reading lights at the front of the bed. You can really light it up in there and use less power doing so.

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There are only 3 lights on the entire camper that aren’t LED, NL purposely put a regular bulb in the sewer valve area to create heat when it’s cold (we’ll see how well that works out next winter) and the one in the fridge and the range hood light, neither of these are on much at all.

3. The furnace is much quieter running than what we were use to, we didn’t use it this trip but I turned it on to try it out in preparation for colder weather camping this fall and winter and was impressed.

4. The basement storage is massive. Much more room than we had in the last camper but I know that comes at a price of smaller holding tanks unfortunately. It has a tray that is over 7’ long and another area next to it that’s over 4’ long that I can store my 2-piece fly rod in, jack stands, 50’ of hose etc. In the pullout tray I keep a shovel, my gold sluice box, boat pump, boat oars, marshmallow roasting sticks, side awning tool, two 5’ boards for camper stand when off the truck etc.

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5. We really like the rear steps and handle for getting in and out. Feels much safer and you start out closer to the ground, not as big of a step up for the shorter people when it’s on the truck.

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I don’t know how I’ll have to modify that when I start towing though and it obscures the license plate on the truck so I am contemplating having to move that back and forth but having the extra steps outweighs any negative of moving plates if it comes to that.


6. It is quieter inside but I attribute that mostly to the dual pane windows versus the single pane windows of my AF. I know there was a recent thread about these Dometic windows but so far I like them. I also like the aluminized backing to the window shade for reflecting the sunlight keeping it cooler and darker inside, no more hanging black towels over the windows to be able to sleep in.

7. The skylight over the bed is cool too. I like looking up at the stars but this trip the moon was so bright we had to close the shade to sleep. It doesn’t use the struts and is a single push button to release the lock bar to raise it into 1 of 3 positions. So far I like it but it’s still early on though.

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8. I can fit 4 1-gallon gas jugs on each side between the camper and the bed of the truck in front of the wheel well for a total of 8 gallons. I was worried where I’d be able to store extra bike and generator fuel as the outside storage is limited compared to what I was use to. I wanted to keep this out of the truck cab and the interior of the camper if I could so I was very pleased to see the floor of the NL sits up above the bed rail of the truck high enough that I can put a can in sideways and turn it down and set it on the floor of the bed.


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9. Even though it’s smaller inside I have more counter space for cooking than with the AF unless I took the time to dig out the extra counter the AF had but that was a hassle so it rarely saw the light of day. The sink although only a single basin is much larger making it easier to clean larger pans.

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10. We like the mirrors on the fridge and bathroom door that makes it feel much larger inside and gives Karla a place to do her girly rituals without having to stand in a wet bath.

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11. I like the roll out carpet on the main floor to keep the linoleum in nice shape. It’s easy to roll up and take outside for a good shake.


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12. I really like the power rear awning compared to the manual one we had on the AF. The manual one took too much time and fiddling around to set up that I didn't use it much because I always knew I was going to have to roll it back up when I left camp for a hike or fishing. This new power one is nice just push a button out and another push button to bring it back in. No digging for tools or pinching fingers like the last awning.


One last thing, who can tell me what this is for? It’s a piece of nicely finished wood with slightly beveled corners stained to match the interior wood in the camper.

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Our best guess is it goes here to block the bathroom door closed to trap an unsuspecting guest inside but can’t for the life think why anyone would do that when it has a great lock on the outside of the door for travel.

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Well that’s about it for the first impressions and first trip report with our new Northern Lite. Happy camping everyone!

noxinnhoj

vancouver

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Joined: 07/31/2011

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Posted: 07/23/13 09:54pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

great tc report,I wish the northern lite has more headroom,I am 6 foot 6....


1995 silverado dually,2005 lance 915 lite

the tc life

colbert wa.

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Posted: 07/23/13 09:59pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

very nice report indeed. the pictures with a child grinning from ear to ear are always the ones that I think are best. its always so great to get the next generation out there in my opinion.


2010 adventurer 810ws
1999 c3500 dually 12' flatbed

THE TC LIFE


mcc272

CT & Miami

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Posted: 07/23/13 10:05pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Nice write up. You are correct regarding the piece of wood that matches the interior. It goes in the track behind the bathroom sliding door so that when you are on the road, even if the road bumps cause the other latch to come undone, the bathroom door will not slide open and closed.


mcc272
2013 F350, Crew, 4x4, Diesel, DRW
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jimh425

Western MT

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Posted: 07/23/13 10:19pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Man, that's a drastic change. I'm glad you like it, and great pics.


'10 Ford F-450, 6.4, 4.30, 4x4, 14,500 GVWR, '06 Host Rainer 950 Dbl Slide, Torklift Talon tiedowns, Glow Steps, and Fastguns. Bilstein 4600s, Firestone Air Bags, Hankook DH-01 225/19.5 Fs, Curt front hitch, Energy Suspension bump stops.


louiskathy

Oregon (presently)

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Posted: 07/23/13 10:19pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Nice trip report! Loved the pics!

On the wastepaper basket... we bought a flimsy plastic waste basket and put it under the sink... by securing a plastic basket on the inside of the cabinet door that the wastepaper basket nests into.
It's the right size to utilize plastic grocery bags...and the bag folds over the top with the excess tucked down into the sides of the secured basket.
It works well and no, I don't have pictures of that. Sorry.

on the single kitchen sink... find a plastic container to use as a dish pan that is a little taller than the sides of your sink (helps to hold down the splashes) and a little narrower (let's you pour liquids down the sink along side the dish pan) and then you can toss the water outside instead of letting it go down the drain. (Better yet, recycle that dish pan water... wash the windshield... or pour it into an old large size dish soap bottle and use that instead of using your fresh water to flush the toilet.


Kathy

Scott16

Planing to buy. Research in progress

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Posted: 07/23/13 10:29pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Great tour of your new NL 9.6 Q Classic SE.
Looks like a nice smaller camper. Should have good times camping.
Scott


US Navy Retired IC1(SW)USS Fletcher DD-992

Sheriffdoug

Western Australia

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Posted: 07/24/13 01:05am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Great report. Love the piece of wood for the bathroom door.
I don't know about the US, but when home sliding aluminium windows were invented here in the 60's, people use to cut wooden broom handles and sit in window slide track, as an added security measure for locking windows, some people still do it.
Doug


2012 Ram 4x4 Crew Laramie LB 3500 HO Auto diesel
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Jeepers92

Stockbridge, GA USA

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Posted: 07/24/13 05:52am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Nice, informative report.


B.Pettitt
Dodge, lwb, drw, 6.7, no mods
Arctic Fox 811
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Art Schlangen

INDIANAPOLIS,IN

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Posted: 07/24/13 06:21am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I use that wood piece to hold open the bathroom door if not level when cleaning and such. also place it where you had it when traveling just in case latch came loose. Have fun with your new camper, I have a 10.2 2006 and it looks like brand new. Well built, ART

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