We’ve got Wildsnow HQ here in Carbondale. We’ve got WildSnow HQ in Austria. Now, WildSnow mobile HQ will fill in the gaps!
We decided a few weeks ago to do the adventure drive to Alaska and back for our Wildsnow Denali expedition. That’ll make for some great backcountry skiing travel blogging, with perhaps a few ski descents along the way. Problem was, my older 2002 Silverado was getting rather long of the tooth. Plan was to upgrade next summer, so in view of the big AK trip I went ahead and pushed the upgrade up a few months. Replacement is a 2009 Silverado 2500 Duramax (more on that later, when ALL the mods are done).
We’d also been planning for a while to acquire some sort of RV for backcountry skiing and other adventures, either a sport van, smaller motor home, or slide-in pickup camper. Every RV has it’s pluses and minuses for backcountry trailhead use. Perhaps most importantly, most don’t come in 4-wheel-drive without expensive conversions. Even so, I briefly considered a 4×4 Sportsmobile conversion van. But the cost of a dedicated RV combined with eventually upgrading my truck anyway (I always need a truck) was too much, as was the budget burden of owning yet another vehicle requiring insurance, yearly registration, upkeep, and more.
So, as is the solution for bubbas worldwide, our chosen RV option is the big white box that slides into the bed of the ubiquitous pickup truck.
Since we tow our jeep or snowmobile trailer, I wanted a camper that rested flush with the end of a full-length 8-foot bed (which is what we bought the truck with). That way we wouldn’t have to contend with the camper overhanging the rear of the truck, necessitating using a “stinger” hitch extension and other stuff that would just add ever more details and junk to my life.
Though they exist, campers that exactly fit an 8-foot bed are not that common at dealerships. Yet as fortune would have it, one 8 foot long unit was sitting on a lot down in Grand Junction, and it was nearly exactly what we wanted. Check it out:
At 1,760 lbs estimated wet weight for the Eagle Cap 711,our Silverado 2500 longbed supports the camper with almost no sag, and nearly zilch excess sway while driving. I’ll still upgrade to adjustable shocks, but that’s optional. By the way, a good exposition of the Eagle Cap is here.
There you go, a first look at the new cab-over Eagle Cap. One we get it set up and finish the initial mods, I’ll file another post. Till then, on the powder road we go!
Update: I’ve blogged elsewhere about the series of problems we’ve had with this Eagle Cap camper. Here is a list in case you land on this blog post.
- Shore power cord box detached from camper wall.
- Partition under refrigerator was loose.
- Converter box (charge controller etc.) turned out to be a defective cheapo that failed during our dream Alaska trip.
- Bathroom vent pipe was not sealed at roof opening, so the holding tank odor was being recirculated back into the camper. Took over a year to figure this one out, what a relief.
- Front bulkhead appears to be weak, outer skin warps and ripples depending on if the camper is supported by the truck bed or on storage jacks.
- Heater fan is incredibly noisy, obviously a poorly designed, low quality unit.
- No roof ladder and no wall reinforcement for installation of ladder.
- Exterior skin cracked next to door, hidden under decorative decal.
- Refrigerator door panel fell out.
- Head liner appears to be gradually detaching from the ceiling.
- Overall fit, finish and interior trim is poorly executed.
A few of the above problems we’re fixed during a painfully delayed (by the dealership) warranty repair process. But most were discovered after warranty expired or else fixed by us due to our lack of faith in the dealership and the problem of them being some distance from our home. We did notice some of the cosmetic problems but the size of the camper was exactly what we wanted, so we figured we’d deal with them once we were owners. We did not anticipate the deeper quality issues. At this point, with most things fixed the unit is functional, though the apparent weakness of the front bulkhead is a concern and something we’re not certain is reparable without major surgery.