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Author Topic: Vehicle choices for field trips - car & trailer?  (Read 61971 times)
John Camp
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« Reply #20 on: October 09, 2006, 02:21:47 PM »
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Sublime is exactly the right word.  Your tactics match mine exactly.

The Astro has served me well.  I can't afford a Dodge Sprinter (the PERFECT solution) <snip>:
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=79397\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

The Sprinter looks good until you decide you want to park it somewhere with a roof. Can't get into most public parking garages or even home garages, which makes it tough if you live anywhere in snow country. They are also not the most stable in windy country; I came up behind one on I-94 a couple of weeks ago with a fairly gusty SE wind, and the guy was all over the place.

JC
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ddolde
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« Reply #21 on: October 09, 2006, 07:13:00 PM »
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The guys at Go Westy always have restored Westfalias and sometimes Syncros for sale, of course at a price.

http://www.gowesty.com/forsale/saleindex.html
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Lust4Life
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« Reply #22 on: October 10, 2006, 06:47:20 AM »
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To all, some good suggestions and I appreciate them.

Here is where I'm at:
Given:  Long trips - 3-8 weeks at a time, all types of weather conditions including snow.  

Agree with drive to an area and stay rather than quick hits where you never find any of the "magic" spots.  It is far more productive to good images that you would miss if just "passing through".

Run down a LOT of Forest Service gravel roads, some just dirt/mud and in very rough condition.  Up in CO, like Engineer Pass and that type of terrain

At 60, I'd prefer to drive as far as I can to the site (gravel/dirt road) verse hike a long way toting my 4x5 on my back.  Yes, I'll hike when I must but prefer to get as close to the destination as possible on rolling wheels!  (Never drive off of a given path across a beautiful meadow!)

When home, I love to fish and any vehicle must be able to tow my Lund fishing boat - about 3,000 pounds loaded.

Solutions that won't work for me:
1.  VW Van - I've had two of these in the past - did a fine job until I got into rough terrane.  Plus you must stow everything before you go from a drive and then at the end of the day pull it all out again.  Also, they are not very mechanically sound!  The later model Eurovans are one of the very few vehicles Consumer Reports put on their Avoid List.  Plus it won't tow my Lund up any of the N. GA fishing ramps - steep!

2.  Mini-Van - ditto on the rought roads.  Idea of being stuck in the wilderness out of cell range is not real appealing to me.  The ground clearance is not what I need either.

What I seem to be concluding:
1.  Need 4x4 to go down the trails I'm currently taking my F-250 4x4.  Too many times I've put the F-250 into 4x4 mode to get out of a nasty trail.  Unfortunately, there are many spots that I had to quite exploring because the truck was just too big to get by rocks or trees, etc.  Thus, a smaller 4x4 but yet it must be big enough inside to carry my near 6'5" body!  And yes, I'll take a hit on selling the F-250 but that's just what I'll have to deal with.

The above has cut my choices down to the Nissan Xterra or Pathfinder and the Toyota FJ.  In researching the Nissan's on safety and reliability - they've failed my standards.  Drove the Honda Pilot and did not fit comfortably in it.

I've had several Jeeps in the past and found them not as reliable as I want and they get poor mileage.

FJ Crusier will tow 5,000 pounds, so no problem on pulling my "fish stalker"- note I said stalker rather than catcher!

On the FJ, I've stopped several owners and spoken to them about their rigs.  What I'm hearing is that in the 4x4 version folks are getting 17 around town and 20+ on the highway ONCE the rig hits 5,000+ miles.  Most folks are burning mid grade or regular gas and claim nil for difference in MPG.  I've spoken with two Toyota service managers and they have echoed the same claiming the 91 octane is a guideline that most folks ignor with no consequences.

Ok, I'll take the owners and managers at their word.

I've looked at the Dodge/MB Sprinter - must admit it's very seductive.  I have a friend who owns one and loves it.  However he said that for what I'm doing he would not recommend it.  On pondering his points, I'll agree.

Thus, I seem to be concluding that an FJ with two methods of location lodging will work:  FJ with Tent and campstove for the mild seasons is the ultimate and most economical solution.  However, I had health issue as a kid and my lungs do not take well to cold damp nights!  This is a serious health issue for me and has ruined prior trips when I was primative camping and had to head home to the doctor and antibiotics.  

Thus, in any type of cold weather, I'm opting for a small pull behind trailer that is very light weight.  At this point I'm drawn to the Chalet with the Off Road Package and the ALiner units with the Expedition Package.  This would allow me to park the Chalet at the camp site and take off in the FJ to explore, not having to put anything away in the camper!  Just come back at night exhausted and fall into the unmade bed!

Conclusion:  FJ with Chalet rig (weight about 1300 pounds).  Has AC/heat pump  and porta potty for the 4AM urges that being 60 brings.

I can find fault with every solution I've heard or pondered on my own.  

Unfortunately, like much in life it's an issue of compromise rather than ideal solution.

This is my thinking at the moment, but I reserve the right to alter my direction without notice or reason!  

Best,
Jack

Update from above post:
Yesterday afternoon after posting the above, I talked my wife into joining me to visit dealers and try to come to a conclusion on this issue.  Here is what I found:
Dodge Sprinter - looks great; drove it on the local roads - ok; drove it on the highway - hated it!  Wind and any passing vehicle of size has an un-nerving feeling on the steering.  This was on a calm day as far as the weather went - I can only imagine trying to keep it on the road in the SW when the wind kicks up.  
Rejected!

ALiner camper - poorly made and over priced for what you get.  Other than that it would do the job if you were not going into cold climates to photograph.  No insulation to speak of in reality.
Chalet camper - ditto.
I way very disappointed by both of these units - far cheaper than I expected them to be in quality.

TrailManor camper - great room inside; heavy for towing;  expensive!;  they way the seams are encased is just with vinly - anyone of small statue could push the vinly aside and gain entry to your unit and thus any stowed photo gear!

Truck Camper - Lance.
Excellent looking - very nicely finished and laid out.  Completely self contained and some have generators.  Expensive but I found later substantial saving from some internet dealers.
Need to give this venue a closer look.
Anyone have one who can report on the impact of having one of these mammoths on the back of your truck as it relates to driving and MPG??

Money is still in the bank - no final decision yet.
« Last Edit: October 11, 2006, 06:47:23 AM by Lust4Life » Logged

Hank
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« Reply #23 on: October 11, 2006, 09:29:02 AM »
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The truck camper will have similar effects on mileage as a trailer of the same weight.  My problem with them is the need to clean up and organize every time you want to drive the truck.


UNLESS....................


Friends found solutions, and they really work.  Make sure the model you select has 4 jack stands.  Our friend found a bolt that fit into the inset for the jack handle or crank, then clamped that into a rechargeable drill.  He can raise and lower the camper effortlessly in seconds.  That frees your truck up for casual use without the camper, whether overnight or for days on end.

Another interesting inovation:  He went to a boat shop and had snaps installed around the edges of the cab-over portion, with corresponding snaps in a piece of custom canvas.  With the camper off the truck he can enclose any or all of that space for a small, windproof "privacy" room.  They lay a piece of IO carpet on the ground beneath and frequently use it for a sun or rain shelter, snapping into place all or part of the canvas as a wind block.  Also a great place for stowing things out of sight and out of the way when the camper is off the truck.

Final convenience-  They got one of the outdoor shower "tents" from Cabelas (as I recall).  When needed they erect this close to the camper and run hoses from the external hot/cold water ports for a convenient outdoor shower.  Very, very handy!
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aross007
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« Reply #24 on: October 17, 2006, 04:10:23 PM »
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I have some ideas on this topic that might be of interest.  Our current rig is a Chevy 1 ton diesel, pulling a 28 ft fifth wheel.  Our most recent trip in it was several weeks up through Idaho into BC and back down the coast to home (central California.)  As you might expect, fuel was costly - I'll post  the amount if anyone is really interested in details.  On the other hand, we're just back from an extended trip to the midwest where we flew to Chicago, drove a rental car around, and stayed some in motels.  The cheapest was a Super 8 in a small town in Michigan, and it was $76 for the night - I suspect that those $50 rooms are going to be hard to find in any area that is close to the great pictures.

My frustration with our rig isn't the cost of fuel as much as the idea that the campgrounds I am comfortable taking the 28 ft trailer into are still a long way from the places where I'd like to be at dawn.  My solution was to purchase a truck camper that pop's up.  i.e. the roof is only six inches above the cab when driving, and extends with canvas sides to full height when parked.  The particular model I bought is made by Four Wheel Campers (another manufacturer I considered is Hallmark,) and only weighs about 1200 lbs, with air conditioner, cassette toilet, furnace, refridgerator, etc.  Most recent test was 19 mpg on the highway with the truck empty, 16.5 with the camper on the back, and I regularly get 10.5 towing the fifth wheel.  Disadvantage compared to the Lance, - you have to pop the roof up, and it's considerably more spartan.  Advantage - much lighter and less top heavy for better road manners and mileage.  In the interest of full disclosure, we haven't camped in this rig yet, so I'll have to file a follow-on about things like comfort and convenience, and what my wife really thinks - she doesn't like "camping" at all, but is very comfortable "RVing."  My long term dream would be to trade the fifth wheel for a pull-behind trailer, take both rigs on the 6 to 8 week trips, and use the trailer as a base camp in some area, with the pop-up for weekends and "being there at dawn."

Jack, - You started this thread with the justification that the high cost of fuel was driving you to consider smaller, lighter, less comfortable rigs in order to save money.  Unspoken, but relatively obvious, is a desire on your part for a new rig.  I fully support the idea of new rigs (read between the lines of my previous paragraph,)  but don't deceive yourself about the cost effectiveness of your solution.  I'd love to own a hybrid car, but the $6000 premium over the identical model with a gas engine means I have to drive it 200,000 to 300,000 miles in order to justify it economically.

For Dobson, who couldn't understand how to get to good areas by bus or train, you live in Montana, Anon E Mouse is in Japan!

JMHO,
Alan
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Lust4Life
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« Reply #25 on: October 18, 2006, 07:07:08 AM »
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Alan,

Interesting comments.  
I have found your experience with the cost of hotels to be correct.  We recently went to Asheville, NC and towed the Lund to do some fishing in the area.  Spent two nights in one of the more reasonable hotels in the area and the cost by time you put in all of the taxes was over $90/night.  Campground by the hotel was $30.

First, no to the idea of just wanting a change in gear - I sincerely like the Airstream trailer - great construction and so comfortable!  Unfortunately the cost of moving it has put me in a mindset that I've skipped a few long trips that I should have taken.

FYI - my 2006 F-250 diesel, 4x4 crew cab, short bed got at best 16.8MPG on flat highway.  9.4MPG to 11MPG towing either my 2006 22' Airstream Safari or my Lund Sport Angler 18.5' boat on alum. trailer.  Every day driving around the Atlanta area gave 12.6MPG.

Took it to Ford and they said the truck was in spec on MPG.  Doubt that I had a lemon.  I previously had a 2005 Chevy 2500 4x4 diesel and it was worse.

That started the process of pondering the best method of dealing with my passion to be "out there".

Last Saturday morning I sold my F-250 and put the Airstream up for sale.  Immediately on selling the truck I purchased a new Toyota FJ Cruiser 4x4.  Took it into the GA mountains and worked it hard this past Sunday.  Miles of Forestry Service "roads" and up and down two lane mountain paved road.  Did 70-80 MPH getting to Blue Ridge, GA.  Filled up the first tank full on my return and averaged 20.02MPG on Mid-Grade - I had topped off the tank myself before we left to remove any element of error.

I've run the truck down the same roads (Swinging Bridge hiking trail near Blue Ridge, GA) and averaged in the area of 12MPG diesel.  Diesel in my part of the world is currently selling for at least 30 cents a gallon more than midgrade gas.

I'm now pondering the following:
Given - the FJ can take me anywhere I want to go and safely - top rating in crash test and side airbags.
Fuel usage/cost is substantially less than the F-250 diesel!
Due to past health issues, I am very prone to lung/sinus infections - thus the idea of sleeping in a cold damp tent is out of the question.

Solutions currently in the running:
ALiner or Chalet trailer -
Pros:  Very light weight for towing, about 1200# empty;  30 second setup; Cost is "reasonable" compared to an Airstream.  Has A/C, heater, range, portable toilet.
Cons:  It's cheap in it's construction compared to an Airstream!

Fleetwood Evolution E-2 -
Pros:  Very roomy compared to the ALiner.  Has a deck on the front to carry a 4 wheeler or better yet a small trail motorcycle with camera container on rear.  Full A/C, heater, etc.
Cons:  Dry weight is about 2545# - double that of the ALiner.  This should have a measurable impact on the MPG from the FJ Cruiser (tow rating limit on the FJ is 5,000#)

T@B Teardrop trailer:
Pros: really cool looking, but that won't help the quality of my negatives!
Cons:  Seems to have a very negative impact on the fuel economy of the tow vehicle.  I've been reading the posts on the Yahoo T@B site and they take a big hit.
Also, I'm just short of 6' 5" and the T@B interior height is 5' 10" - so for Cool you stoop!    

Summary:
Going over today to inspect a Fleetwood Evolution E-2.  This will help me decide what direction I'm going.

Frankly, the ideal in my mind is the FJ Cruiser with a tent, camp stove, etc. in the back of the FJ.  That is what I used to do when I was younger and had a Jeep CJ Golden Eagle.  

However, I've not been able to find an insulated tent that offers any room and could keep me from having to deal with the serious infections I get if I sleep in a cold damp environment.  I had hoped to put a cat heater in an insulated tent and go that route.
(Fact of note:  Would have a hard time getting my wife to find pleasure in the tent idea at this point in our life.  She'd do it BUT.........)

Jack
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aross007
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« Reply #26 on: October 18, 2006, 11:34:52 AM »
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Jack,

How heavy is the Airstream?  Will the FJ Cruiser tow it?  Might be interesting to find out what the mpg is if it can.

alan
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Lust4Life
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« Reply #27 on: October 21, 2006, 06:22:47 AM »
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Jack,

How heavy is the Airstream?  Will the FJ Cruiser tow it?  Might be interesting to find out what the mpg is if it can.

alan
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=81022\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


Alan,

The Airstream weight is about 4,200# empty.  Put gear in it and it's just too close to the tow limit of the Toyota FJ Cruiser, which is 5,000#.  Plus, I just don't need all of that room and luxury.
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Jay Kaplan
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« Reply #28 on: October 21, 2006, 09:07:14 AM »
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Alan,

The Airstream weight is about 4,200# empty.  Put gear in it and it's just too close to the tow limit of the Toyota FJ Cruiser, which is 5,000#.  Plus, I just don't need all of that room and luxury.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=81489\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Have you considered the VW Tourag? It has a towing capacity of ~7,000 #s and they are bringing back the V10 diesel which will provide more umph with better mileage than the V8.
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Lust4Life
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« Reply #29 on: October 26, 2006, 07:28:55 AM »
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Thanks to all for you comments.  Here is an update on my post with my final decision.

I bought a Toyota FJ Cruiser - so far with less than 1000 miles on it I've averaged 19.8MPG on mid grade fuel in every day driving.  I drive with a light foot and don't hot rod it.  Took out the Toyota 100,000 mile bumper to bumper warranty - done so I just don't have to worry about it needing an expensive repair because I was using it for what it's intended to be used for - off road/gravel & mud roads.  

Yesterday I tested it towing my fishing boat and it tows my Lund fishing boat with ease.  Oddly got better fuel economy than the 2006 Ford F-250 4x4 diesel did!  And it's burning mid grade rather than the 40 cent a gallon more for diesel we are paying for in GA.

I have plenty of room in it and it is great off road and on gravel/mud Forest Service roads.  Really pleased with the FJ so far.

On the issue of sleeping quarters, there is NO totally right solution.  As with life, the ability to compromise and accept that fact is critical.  

Thus, I just purchased a Fleetwood Evolution E1 pop up trailer.

Decision was based on weight - about 2,200# empty, towability, comfort features and able to stand up in it, ability to dry camp, ability to haul down forest service road and take a beating, A/C and furnace, refrig, price, etc.

In the next couple of weekends I'll do a short test camp in the local area to be sure all is working properly.  Then heading to Great Smokies National Park for my first real trip.  Then down to the GA coast to shoot some marsh scenes.

Again, thanks to all for your comments.
Jack
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theophilus
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« Reply #30 on: October 31, 2006, 01:20:03 PM »
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Hi Jack,

Please update when you get back from your trip, I'm contemplating a similar solution to yours.
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elkhornsun
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« Reply #31 on: December 13, 2006, 06:08:43 PM »
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I have had the best experience using a one ton 4x4 crew cap pickup with a cabover camper. The extended versions have a small combination head/shower.  If I was getting a new one I would get a diesel version and try to use biodiesel fuel whenever possible.

The rear of the crew cab is where I put everything for quick access that I expect to use during the day. I stow excess baggage and gear in the cab-over section of the camper during the day and at night this is the sleeping space.

With a 5 gal propane tank I have heated the camper and cooked food for two for several weeks at a time in Alaska in the winters. The small refer helps with food options.

The problem I have had with vans is the lack of storage space and very narrow aisles. The lack of ground clearance also is a limitation to accessing many areas, and with a 4x4 I can get out of most spots without worrying about needing a tow truck.

There are a number of companies that provide rentals of very low mileage units as they change out their fleets every year so all their vehicles are always under factory warranties. Cheaper to fly to Alaska or Colorado and rent a vehicle for several weeks, especially during the low seasons, than to drive there and also lose precious time in transit. There are disounted rates for second and third weeks as the companies don't have to do but a single cleanup of the rig. These are also good companies to buy a vehicle (RV or 4x4 truck/camper with a about 10K miles at a reasonable price.

Gas mileage is not bad if you are willing to drive at 65mph. The wind resistance of any car goes up with the square of the speed so going 50% faster requires twice the horsepower which is reflected in the vehicle's gas consumption.  

If I wanted to do so it would be easy to add a platform to the top of the camper and use it for a camera and tripod platform ala Ansel Adam's famous Cadillac.
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howiesmith
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« Reply #32 on: December 13, 2006, 06:54:08 PM »
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Sublime is exactly the right word.  Your tactics match mine exactly.

The Asstro has served me well.  I can't afford a Dodge Sprinter (the PERFECT solution) so until then, it has to be this:
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=79397\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Second happiest day of my life was the day I got my 1982 VW camper.  You can guess the happiest day.

I now have a 2002 VW Winnebago camper.  It is great.  Enough power to go down the road and water cooled.  Only problem is I have to pack up to go anywhere in the van.
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davidh4976
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« Reply #33 on: December 15, 2006, 04:33:01 PM »
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Anyone know of a place in Las Vegas where I can rent a 4x4 truck with camper?

All of the places I have found only rent RVs.
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mahleu
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« Reply #34 on: December 16, 2006, 03:39:00 AM »
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(the PERFECT solution) so until then, it has to be this:
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=79397\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I'd agree with that. You can set it up with a bed in the back as well as a fridge etc. They're also incredibly good for shooting from, in places such as game reserves as you can shoot from any side quite easily. If you get the right model, you can even open the front windows.
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« Reply #35 on: December 16, 2006, 01:00:00 PM »
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Second happiest day of my life was the day I got my 1982 VW camper.  You can guess the happiest day.
Uh oh.  Trubbles with the bus?  I must admit, I worry about the idea of visiting some of the more remote spots on the continent in a 30 year old vehicle,       even if it is relatively low mileage. (50K mi)
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wheatridger
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« Reply #36 on: December 19, 2006, 01:00:08 AM »
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This is a fun, thoughtful and very relevant discussion. I enjoyed the guy from Montana who was puzzled over how anonymous got to "every wilderness area in the country" on public transportation. Maybe he didn't see the signature -- the country was Japan.

Two years ago I found my own solution to the same problem. Of course, I think it's best, but I don't write to convince anyone. I just want to inform you about my compact travel trailer of choice, which you'll never see on any RV lot. It's the same length as my small SUV, but can sleep up to four. It's warm, convenient, economical and cool-looking, too. It's relatively thief- and bear-proof, virtually indestructable, and cost me less than a new pro DSLR body.

It's a Scamp, a fiberglass "egg"shaped trailer. Much like your Airstream Bambi, except half the weight and price. I pull it over the Colorado Rockies (and more importantly, I control it on the downhills) with a Subaru Forester. That's good for 18 mpg towing at 60-70 mph on Interstates, and the car gets 25+ mpg unhitched. And it tows like a dream, with nary a white-knuckled moment in over 5000 miles. For me, that's great all-round performance. It's been a marriage-saver; my wife wants to camp again. We get out more and enjoy it better.

Two manufacturers are making these still: Scamp in Minn., and Casita in Texas. They're available in 13-foot lengths (10 feet long insidel) and 16-footers, like mine. Empty and unoptioned, they tend to weigh 100 lbs per foot, plus cargo and options. Mine has a propane cooktop, a 12v system and AC hookups & outlets, two bunk and a dinette that converts to a full-sized bed. You can add bathrooms, furnaces, water heaters, refrigerators and air conditioners as you wish, or leave it lightweight, spacious and simple, like mine. I paid $2,500 for my 1985 model. All it needed was replacement tires and a $20 hand water pump, but I added a big exhaust fan and a few extras.

In this category, 98% of campers choose pop-up tent trailers. I guess they do have some advantages. Your pop-up will probably be roomier, when set up, because the beds are outside the chassis. You can still see out your rear window when driving, can't you? And it must be nice to sit there enjoying the breezes under that netting on balmy, buggy evenings.

But when the weather turns bad quickly, as it will in the mountains, I'm glad my trailer's rigid walls won't flap in the wind. I'm even gladder I can park and go inside right away, with zero setup. And leaks? Hey, they make boats of this stuff. Convenience is a big factor for me. Every item of gear inside my trailer is accessible immediately. I can stop and use the porta-potty. I can make a hot meal while I sit out a thundershower. It has real insulation in the walls, so not much heater is required- I've heard the furnaces on nearby pop-ups blasting long into the night, while I needed only a down bag.

I thought Aliners looked nice, but they have so many folding seams and moving parts that I can't imagine them giving decades of service. This Scamp looks like it could ride for a hundred years, with a little service now and then.

I could go on and on, or you could consult the leading blog in the field, www.fiberglassrv.com for many more satisfied owners' accounts. I feel lucky I discovered this option before I bought something else. But plenty of other eggers have come from owning Airstreams and pop-ups. These trailers are little-known because they don't advertise, and they don't sell them off dealers lots. If you spot one of these at a campground, act friendly. We're used to giving tours. Thet's how I decided I wanted one.
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« Reply #37 on: December 19, 2006, 06:06:22 PM »
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Hi Jack,

By the time you downsize and retool, you could by several cross country trips...

We have a Toyota 4Runner 4wd and pull a 17 foot Casita. The Casita is similar in shape to your Airstream and has all the amenities (bath-shower-fridge-heat-air) but all in a much smaller and lighter package. It isn't much wider than my 4Runner.

I looked at motorhomes-they cost big $$, have another motor to feed $$, need general liability insurance $$, cost a fortune to license in California, and then you still have to pack-up to drive away. Parking and storage were other issues and if I had another vehicle, I most likely forget something in my 4Runner and need to duplicate it in the other rig.

A tent trailer requires assembly as do the hard-side pop-ups. Thus, a small towable was the answer. With the Toyota, my choices were limited to a maximum weight of about 3000-4000 pounds. I wanted something not too tall and not too long and the Casita was what we settled on.

I looked at the Scamps, the other US-made fiberglass trailer, but they were just a bit shorter and not quite as tall on the inside. Casita makes a 13, 16 and 17 footer with the 17 having the most interior room and head space.

We just got finished driving for the last two months-from California to South Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana and home, about 9000 and 60 DVDs full of images. Fuel cost for that trip was less than $1300 and average was about 14-15 mpg. The 4Runner is a V6 and both it and the Casita are third-hand. We use regular and the Toyota thrives on 85-86 octane, especially if it isn't the California Designer gas.

We've put on more than 13,000 miles over 90 days this year alone and have had the Casita since 2002. Motels were just too much a drag and took too much time to unpack and pack daily. We would be out shooting till after dark, then need to find a motel and diner for shelter and food and that sometimes took hours...

The Casita has more than paid for itself in time, lodging and meals. It's been to Alaska and all over the west and many narrow and steep back roads that anything longer or wider couldn't maneuver.

We have a power inverter and generator and is all we need for nightly downloads of the digital cameras, battery charging, etc. As to keeping the place cool, we seldom use the a/c any more since we have a power vent in the roof, thus the generator is used minimally.

We've probably have lived in the Casita since its purchase about six-eight months and traveled at least 60,000 miles. A usual trip is at least a week to ten days and many times two-four weeks and we cover anywhere from two to three thousand miles and many times more.

It's not an Airstream as far as the luxury and the interior space, but at night when we are asleep, it looks just the same;-)

Because we are so short (34 feet total length), we can park in a standard two-car Walmart space and in many campgrounds in rural areas were length is an issue.

The Casita is pretty low maintenance, just like your Safari, and all but the graywater tank and outlets are enclosed within the fiberglass shell.

You would probably not know you were towing with your Crewcab if you were to downsize, but at the cost of the vast interior space of your present rig.

There is a pretty good website for support of the Casita at casitaclub.com.

If you want to see our rig, it's on my site at angier-fox.com/images/03-casita-tt/casita.htm

Hope this gives you another option.
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Larry Angier
ASMP, NAPP, ACT, and many more!

Webmaster, RANGE magazine
Editor emeritus, NorCal Quarterly

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wheatridger
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« Reply #38 on: December 20, 2006, 01:11:14 AM »
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Well said, langier. And what a well-documented site on your Casita. We eggers are an evangelical lot, aren't we? More than any other trailer owners, we believe we're in on a dandy secret that we're obliged to share. This is a different kind of product, with very little advertising and zero dealership presence. Word of mouth has kept these two small family businesses thriving for decades, but now the internet is fueling the fascination. Scamp and Casita maintain months of waiting lists for new trailers, while used buyers happily drive across continents to pick up their prize. Like Airstreams, streamlined these trailers have retro charisma, plus even more rarity. On my first two fuel stops of my cross-country trip, I spent five minutes answering questions. Everyone who camps has seen a Scamp or Casita, but few realize they're still made, or what great deals they make as used vehicles. Even older units from dead manufacturers like Burro and U-Haul can be restored pretty easily.

I do wish you luck with your pop-up tent trailer, Lust4Life. You put out your good money and you deserve a good long period of pride of ownership. I might choose one too, if I knew it wouldn't get too hot or too cold where I was going, or if I needed to sleep six in a small footprint. But for a solo or duo expedition into changable weather, a small fiberglass trailer just makes sense. It's the same for hot weather. I bought mine when the family planned a long drive to Kentucky in (choke) August. Tent camping was out of the question, though I did see some air conditioned tents there.  I plugged in and ran a window A/C in a cabinet, as stayed cool as I wanted. One muggy morning, already in the nineties, I was parked next to a big tent trailer. With slideouts and rooftop air, it weighed 1000 pounds more than my Scamp, the owner confirmed. I watched as he toiled continuously for a half hour to fold the sides and roof, mount the bikes on top, hitch up , unplug and drive away. Meanwhile, I made tea, read a book, and went out for a minute every five to perform my short pre-tow checklist (pack items needed in car, turn off propane, raise stabilizer jacks, dump graywater tank, hitch, and last of all, unplug the AC). We finished about the same time, but he was soaked in sweat and I was rested and ready.

Whatever trailer you choose, there are real advantages over a single-unit camping rig like a pickup camper or motorhome. It's great to be able to unhitch and scout remote roads or urban street in the car, while you get the best mileage. And over the long haul, it's easier and cheaper to maintain a simple trailer with a few appliances than a complete vehicle and its all running gear. I'd hesitate to drive into the hinterlands behind a 20-year-old engine and transmission, but my 20-year-old Scamp really has no mission-critical systems as long as the wheels don't fall off. The car that tows it gets steadyuse and regular maintenance, so if it's going to break, it probably will break between vacations, where it's easier to fix. The original poster already knows this, as a trailer owner, of course.

Let us know how you like your pop-up, L4L. If you're ever in Denver, drop by for a ten-minute tiny trailer tour.
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lb311
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« Reply #39 on: December 20, 2006, 09:48:27 AM »
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I traded my popup for a T@B trailer this past summer and couldn't be happier.  T@B is made by Thor which also makes Airstreams.   My T@B has a queen-sized bed, A/C, heat, fridge, potti, 3 huge windows that flip out (I can photograph from inside the trailer in a downpour if I wish and not get wet!).  The T@B has an amazing independent suspension & braking system that prevents sway problems of traditional trailer/popup frames and allows it to travel well on all kinds of roads.  All this in a 1700 lb package that can be towed by a 4 cyl Subaru (likely to be my next vehichle for better MPG).

I considered the Chalet/A-Liners, but really liked the convenience, thicker insulation, and quality/style of the T@B better.  I've camped in sub-freezing temps in the T@B and it is much more LP-efficient than my popup ever was.  

I also wanted a trailer I could actually USE while traveling across country-- like being able to pull over at a scenic vista in the middle of nowhere and have my own personal "instant rest stop", or being able to pull into a Wal-Mart or highway stop at night for a quick sleep without having to locate or pay for a CG site.

The Casitas and Scamps looked very nice as well, but as the previous poster mentioned, they have extrememely limited production/distribution and I couldn't find one to buy.

Lots of T@B owners congregate on a Yahoo group forum where there are pics of all kinds of tow vehicle/T@B combinations.  The FJ is becoming a very popular tow vehicle as the 2 look extremely stylish together, but anything that can tow 2000 lbs or over can tow a T@B well.

It's a great travel photographer's hotel on wheels!
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