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Outfitter or Hallmark - help me decide!


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#1 kmehr

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Posted 15 August 2022 - 12:47 AM

Finally has come time to move on from our beloved Jayco sportster 7 and upgrade to something bigger and newer. Have a young son and another on the way, so main thing we’re after is more/better sleeping space. Where narrowed it down to either an Outfitter or Hallmark. Want some experience feedback on those.

So far the non-negotiable are: north/south bed, outside shower, solar, a third bed in addition to the cab over and dinette (ie the tent room of the Juno or a pull out bunk over the dinette).

We’re specifically looking at Apex/Juno/8ft Caribou or the Hallmark Guanella.

Main questions are:

1) is the wet bath worth it?

Currently our jayco doesn’t have a permanent stove as we usually cook outside or set the Coleman on the counter. We don’t have a water tank either and just use some reliance water jugs. Both of these work fine and I honestly imagine we will continue to largely cook outside and having the water jugs on the camp table will continue. All that to say a wet bath would be a huge upgrade for us. Definitely want the outside shower, but not sold on the toilet or inside shower.

On one hand, the shower and toilet would be nice for the late season elk hunts my dad and I do here in colorado and we could start using the camper instead of renting a cabin every year.

On the other, do the toilets stink? I grew up on a houseboat and the holding tanks always smelled. It was a constant battle keeping the poo stink down.

I imagine that snagging either an Apex or Juno without the wet bath would bring weight down a few hundred pounds, which is appealing.

2) is hallmark worth the price? It looks like $10-15l more for a comparable Hallmark. The construction seems very similar, so what sets Hallmark that much higher? Either are in my budget, but still, $15k is $15k…

3) can the weight of the significantly heavier Juno/apex really be “felt” on a 2500 cummins?

Previous truck was an 05 cummins 2500, and recently upgraded to a 22 cummins 2500. My jayco only weighs about 1,400lbs but the new truck handles it much better stock than my 05 did with full Thuren kit and Timbrens.

I have no issue using the Timbrens again or even airbags, and certainly don’t want to start a GVWR debate, just want to know how the heavier ones “feel”. Not going to take it on trails at Moab, but we do hit the forest service roads frequently.

Thanks in advance!
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2022 Ram 2500 CCSB Cummins

1983 Jayco Sportster 7

2023 Outfitter Juno 8.5 (on order!!!!!)


#2 Dadocut

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Posted 15 August 2022 - 07:11 AM

I have a 2015 Hallmark Guanella and it's worked great in the six years we've owned it.  We use it 1-2 mo/yr and do a lot of back country camping.  It works well and we have a ton of fun with it.

 

To answer your questions: We like the outside shower and water heater and use it regularly.  Our Guanella has a Thetford cassette toilet.  It works. No stink. Kinda amazing really.  How can all that crap not stink?

 

We have a 2013 F250 short bed crew cab diesel and it hauls everything just fine. Yours shouldn't have any troubles.  We have airbags and BFG KO2 all terrain tires, otherwise it's stock. The camper is heavy, Hallmark says 1600 lbs dry.  They apparently weigh the unit when they ship.  It creaks and groans and I have to go slow going over rocks but it all works.  I bought the truck & campter used before I really knew the pop up truck camper market.  In hindsight I'd prefer a 350 with an extended cab instead of the crew cab for a shorter wheelbase.  .  And maybe a flatbed for more space.  And a camper built on an aluminum frame instead of the Hallmark's wood frame.  But nonetheless, the Hallmark works and is a very comfortable camper.

 

We bought a very lightly used one year old model.  It was in great shape when we bought it but I ended up doing a fair bit of work and replaced a lot of the components, e.g.

  • waterproofed all the stitching in the soft side (don't they expect people to use these things in the rain?)
  • replaced the two big FLA batteries w/ a single LiFePO4 (both are 230Ahr, but the new one can be cycled deeper.  We can now go for days without any sun for charging.)
  • replaced the faulty surface mount solar, with normal, functional panels
  • added battery monitors,
  • added a circuit breaker panel (I like lots of breakers and the ability to isolate sub systems),
  • added a DC-DC converter for charging from the truck (I still need to improve the wiring from the truck battery, but the existing long 10 gauge is sorta good enough),
  • Fixed some of the wiring (Hallmark connected the fridge without going through the circuit breaker panel) and put in thicker wire from the battery to the existing circuit breaker panel)
  • added a latch for the vanity cabinet (rough roads were bouncing all the stuff in the vanity onto the floor!)
  • improved the storage areas (added dividers between the bottom cabinets and dividers under the sink and some of the drawers),
  • added dimmers to the under cabinet lights,
  • added USB outlets for charging,
  • replaced about half of the door latches when they break,
  • fixed the drawer slides,
  • added a small inverter,
  • added more outlets,
  • added a sight hole & light for the tank water level, (the provided full, 3/4, 1/2, 1/4 lights are pretty much useless, way better to just see the water level in the tank)
  • repaired the water tank (leaked from the useless water level sensor holes),
  • repaired a busted fitting in the cassette toilet,
  • replaced the "lip seal" in the cassette toilet,
  • added a surge tank to the water pump (less on/off cycling),
  • fixed the fridge door and added a second latch,
  • cable tied the fridge shelves to the fridge to keep them from falling out,
  • replaced the stoves inadequate sparker wires (insulation was too thin, it cracked and the spark would short to the stove's frame).
  • added 5 gal fuel storage on the back,
  • gave away the rooftop AC unit (we're rarely in RV parks with hookups)
  • replaced the front tie down brackets 
  • replaced the roof lift crank and kludgy adapters with a battery powered drill and a 3/8 drive socket
  • etc 

 

These campers look really nice from the factory but I felt it needed a bit of customizing and repairs after our first few trips.   All that said, the hallmark is a lot of fun to go camping in.  Can't wait to get out in September.  We're heading back to SE Utah, Bears Ears this time.

 

Kmehr, I think your best bet is just to buy one or the other, fix what breaks and improve what you can.  But most importantly, get out and enjoy using it!  Whichever way you go you'll ending up having good trips (and maybe wonder if the other one would have been better).


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#3 kmehr

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Posted 15 August 2022 - 12:33 PM

Thank you for this feedback! I’m surprised to hear that about the casette toilet.

We have loved our Jayco and had a lot of great adventures in it, it’s just too small for 4 people and a dog. The cab over bed is not quite a double and is east west. I’m 6’3 so it’s not a lot of extra room to start with. Add a thrashing toddler into the mix and it’s a recipe for no sleep. He needs his own sleeping space and his soon to arrive little brother will too.

I think for a while we were going to move to a travel trailer with bunks but after our last outing, we got rid of that idea and determined we wanted to stay truck camper people. Way better campsite access And less headache.

I’m not far from the factory for both and a visit is in the works.
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2022 Ram 2500 CCSB Cummins

1983 Jayco Sportster 7

2023 Outfitter Juno 8.5 (on order!!!!!)


#4 Cottonww

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Posted 15 August 2022 - 12:47 PM

I have a 2017 Hallmark Milner. The advantage of Hallmark is the cabinetry and fridge/stove/furnace are all first rate, better than any camper(at least a dozen) I have had over the years. Moreover you can't beat their service. I'd go with the cassette. With our smaller Milner we just use a portapotti.

 

Bill


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#5 michelle_east_county

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Posted 18 August 2022 - 04:56 AM

Check knee room and head room in wet bath of whatever you’re thinking of buying. I’m 5’9” and in our Hallmark Ute it seems like anyone over 6’ would struggle to use it. I don’t know dimensions of other makes and models.
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#6 kmcintyre

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Posted 18 August 2022 - 12:17 PM

I would take a road trip and visit each factory.  Seeing them would really help you decide.


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#7 kmehr

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Posted 18 August 2022 - 12:46 PM

I would take a road trip and visit each factory. Seeing them would really help you decide.


Hoping to do this in the next couple of weeks. They’re about an hour and a half from me. The bummer I found out about Hallmark is we’d be looking at a 14-18 month build time…I don’t think I’m that patient!
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2022 Ram 2500 CCSB Cummins

1983 Jayco Sportster 7

2023 Outfitter Juno 8.5 (on order!!!!!)


#8 michelle_east_county

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Posted 18 August 2022 - 01:25 PM

If you buy used, some Outfitters did have some build quality issues but I don’t know from what time period that would be. The company was founded by a member of the Ward family, which founded Hallmark, and I think I recall that the first ones were built in a corner of a previous Hallmark facility. Since then, they’ve had their own facilities and later the company was bought by someone else and I haven’t tracked them. BTW, check Hallmark website for used ones as they do come up. I think some are trade-ins and some are just postings for private sales elsewhere.

Edited by michelle_east_county, 18 August 2022 - 01:27 PM.

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#9 kmehr

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Posted 25 August 2022 - 11:58 PM

Toured outfitter today was really impressed. Going to order as soon as I decide which model. Leaning heavily toward a heavily optioned caribou 8.
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2022 Ram 2500 CCSB Cummins

1983 Jayco Sportster 7

2023 Outfitter Juno 8.5 (on order!!!!!)


#10 kmehr

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Posted 30 August 2022 - 07:50 PM

We’ll we did it, pulled the trigger and put a deposit on a Juno 8.5. Build date should be late next spring, can’t wait! Will certainly post tons of updates as the process moves along.
  • 0

2022 Ram 2500 CCSB Cummins

1983 Jayco Sportster 7

2023 Outfitter Juno 8.5 (on order!!!!!)





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