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Author Topic: Vehicle choices for field trips - car & trailer?  (Read 60914 times)
Hank
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« Reply #60 on: January 20, 2008, 01:58:33 PM »
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WhatzanE1?

For comparison, a friend with a T-100 identical to yours pulled a newer, fairly light 18-foot travel trailer round trip from Seattle to visit us in Alaska.  Usual average MPG without the trailer- 18 MPG.  Logged average MPG for the trip- 11 MPG.  Third gear on most hills, second gear and 35 mph on the worst ones.  When he got home he kept the trailer but replaced the T-100 with a 3/4-ton diesel.
« Last Edit: January 20, 2008, 01:59:43 PM by Hank » Logged
Don Libby
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« Reply #61 on: January 20, 2008, 06:17:07 PM »
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Just saw this thread and thought Iíd add to it.

We used to have a Class A w/4 slides and MPG of about 5 while towing a Jeep Wrangler.  While we couldnít complain about the comfort we did have problems.  In researching places to go we also had to factor in where we could park the bus.  Good point is Moab.  The bus was too large to fit the National Campgrounds so the closest we could stay was in Moab.  Figure twice to three times expensive just for a place to park.  Then figure timing.  Sunrise is at 5 am and you are at least 1 hr from where you want to shoot, that means getting up around 3:30 to get there in time.  Tags for this beast were expensive in AZ to the tune of $4,000.  Did I mention the 5 MPG diesel?  Last trip was for several weeks (I believe it was close to 5) in 2006 driving to MT, WY, etc.  Again couldnít stay in the parks.  We spent our spare time on that trip seeking out an alterative to the bus.

Enter the Lance pickup camper.  We returned to Tucson early September 2006 and sold the bus.  We already had a 2007 Ford F350 shortbed and went to a Lance dealer and brought a slidein camper.  Best decision we ever made!  Fully loaded (diesel engine) we are averaging around 12 mpg (with the camper loaded) and the truck is just getting better (less than 24,000 miles on it).  Weíve taken this rig from AZ to FL staying the entire time in the camper and spending far less (in some cases nothing at all) on overnight stops.  But it gets better.  I went up to Moab shortly after we got the camper and stayed in the park.  Sunrise was at 530 and I didnít roll out of bed till 5, steped out the back of the camper and was right where I wanted to be for the first shot of the day.  Tags are cheaper as we only pay for the truck.  Weíve been more places and stayed longer than we ever did in the bus.  We plan on being on the road in the camper for just shy of 12 weeks this year as we drive up to Alaska.  We no longer need to tow an extra vehicle as we have the choice of either unloading the camper and driving around, or taking it with us.  I just returned from the South Rim early December and decided to keep the camper on the truck.  I had a ready made place for lunch all the while driving a pickup.

We wouldnít trade our current setup for anything.  BTW, we have a full queen size bed, nice size stove and oven and a refrigerator along with air and heat and a generator.  We had a microwave but removed it to make more storage.  I guess I need to add that my wife is 6-1 and Iím 6-9 Ė the interior of the Lance is 6-8 not a bad compromise at all.


don
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Hank
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« Reply #62 on: January 20, 2008, 10:23:40 PM »
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Sounds excellent Don!

I'll add a couple of fine tuning points based on the experience and strategies of friends we often travel with, who coincidentally have a Lance on a 1-ton diesel.  

Theirs has screw jacks at each corner, and they found just the right socket to fit, and they use a cordless drill to raise and lower the camper.  They can have the camper off and sitting on the ground in a couple of minutes, and reload it just about as fast.  

Another fine tuning point was a visit to a custom marine canvas shop.  The shop installed snaps around the underside of the cabover, then made a canvas curtain that snaps into place.  It rolls up relatively small when not in use, but snapped in place it creates a great little room they use in all sorts of ways.  Even without the canvas, that cabover makes a great sunshade, as you probably know already.

The final improvement was to buy one of those shower "tents" from Cabellas.  When we're dry camping they erect it next to the camper and attach a shower nozzle with a stop on the outside faucets of the camper.  Add a small wooden (duckboard, actually) platform to the bottom of the shower and you're feet are up out of the developing mud, much less sand or gravel.  When not in the shower, it's handy in front of the door for limiting tracked in dirt.

Yeah, we're leaning very closely toward the same rig for our own needs.  As you say, it's the right mix of comfort and convenience.
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tahoecharm
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« Reply #63 on: January 21, 2008, 08:01:11 PM »
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Hank-- thanks for the info.  The E1 is a pop-up type trailer made by Fleetwood that has a loaded weight of 3500 pounds.  that is about the max on what Toyota suggests.  I did not want to buy a newer truck if i do not have to.  I imagine if your friend towed an 18ft travel trailer, I should not have a problem with a seemingly lighter pop-up.  Thanks again for the information. Travis
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Hank
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« Reply #64 on: January 21, 2008, 10:11:12 PM »
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Is the Fleetwood E1 their "offroad" version with the larger tires, heavier frame and tapered bottom fore and aft for more ground clearance?  We've looked vary carefully at that particular model, and frankly we're impressed.  If we don't elect to upgrade trucks (ours is a V-8 Tundra with canopy, BTW) and add a camper, we're likely to go with the model I described, whether or not the E1.  We've seen several in campgrounds and out in the desert.  Conversations with the owners confirm out positive impressions.
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tahoecharm
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« Reply #65 on: January 22, 2008, 04:07:59 PM »
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Yes it is that one with the off road tires.  Looks like you can take it places you could not take anything else.  I am hoping it tows with a T-100.  I have seen people towing them with much larger trucks so I am a bit concerned that I will only be putting along, burning up my transmission and needing a new truck.  I like them because they seem to give you the "real" feeling of camping but alot more comfort than a tent.  I am glad to hear that you have heard good remarks about them.
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Hank
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« Reply #66 on: January 22, 2008, 05:12:10 PM »
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I bet you can tow it fine with a T-100, but deciding how much extra gear and water you can also lug will be a learned skill.  In the maritime world of vessel stability, there's a technical term called "load creap," the process by which additional weight is added slowly to a vessel (statistical average- 2%/annum) in the normal course of use, eventually accumulating to the point that the accumulated weight can compromise stability.  We've found the same to be true while camping five months a year in our Tundra.  I it will be true with the Fleetwood as well.

BTW-  Here's the most useful "mod" I've seen for serious offroad use of that model.  The owner replaced the hitch with a "pelican" setup, which is in common use on military trailers.  It's basically a heavy ring replacement for the conventional hitch on the trailer tongue and a locking hook on the truck to engage the ring.  A pelican allows much more freedom of movement for the trailer while twisting and turning over rough terrain.  We'll do the same with ours when and if we get it.

Edit-  

Okay, I guess "pelican" is more a local name, and "pintle hook" is the recognized technical name.  Here's a link that does a much better job of explaining it than I did.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2008, 05:18:08 PM by Hank » Logged
Bill Caulfeild-Browne
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« Reply #67 on: January 22, 2008, 09:20:25 PM »
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In light of the recent dramatic increase in fuel costs, and betting that it has not really ended, I would like to hear what others are using when they take off on landscape photo shoots lasting 2 to 5 weeks.

I'm currently driving a 2006 Ford F-250 crew cab 4x4 diesel towing a 22' Airstream Safari.  This is a great combination for comfort and campgrounds are substantially cheaper than hotels and get me closer to my subject matter.  But as far as keeping the fuel cost down of a long trip it's terrible.  Get about 10-11 mpg towing and 14 not towing (And yes, Ford has checked out my truck and says I'm getting the mileage that the vehicle was designed to get.).

Thus, a planned trip from Atlanta to Seattle would be about 5300 miles round trip, costing about $1,300 round trip in fuel if the average price for diesel runs about $2.90/gal.

I've been looking at the Toyota FJ Cruiser 4x4 and thinking of it towing a light camper (must have heat and A/C) but something like a small HiLo or other type of trailer with "hard sides".  (I prefer the hard sided trailers for the advantage of better protection of any gear left in the trailer - Coleman type fabric sides are just too easy to get into with a pocket knife.) 

Seems like the lost comfort in the much smaller trailer would be balanced with the fuel savings, thus I'll take off on more trips. 

I've talked with several folks locally that own the new FJ and I'm hearing they are getting 20-22 on the highway and about 16 around the city.  Figure towing a small camper it should get about 15 on the highway.  Thus on a trip to Seattle there would be a fuel savings of over $406.

This is enough savings to add up to a decent amount if a chap is taking 6 to 7 trips a year of any distance.
Due to the fuel cost I'm being forced to re-think my current approach.  So, some questions to resolve:
1.  Towing a trailer or using hotels, etc.
2.  If towing, what trailers have worked well for diverse climates - pop up; Airstream style; truck campers; etc.
3.  If towing, what tow vehicle and fuel mpg are you getting?  Burn regular fuel?
4.  Lenght of trip you usually take?
5.  Vehicle - 2 wheel drive or have you found it necessary to pay the premium for four wheel drive.

6.  Recommeded light weight campers that you have found to meet your needs.

In short, I like to hear what others are doing to control our costs when we take off on 2-5 week USA landscape adventures.

I've added an Excel spreadsheet that I use to plan trips and project expenses - let me know if you have any improvement to suggest.

Thanks,
Jack

http://www.shadowsdancing.com
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I use a GMC 2500HD (parts & repairs anywhere in N. America but a real gas guzzler) with a Lance truck camper on the bed. Good strong roof for shooting from, accessible from inside or out. Gives me a camera height of about 15-17 feet. Just have to be careful not to step on the solar panel!

4X4 means I can get off the beaten track. Capacities plus solar means I'm good for about three days before needing water, sewage dump etc. Great rig - has taken me from Newfoundland to BC to Texas to Florida, and the rear seat holds all my gear and fully extended tripod.

Bill
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Don Libby
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« Reply #68 on: January 22, 2008, 09:42:34 PM »
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Donít know what I was thinking of when I posted the original message but Billís message made me think of it.

The Lance has a very strong roof, capable of handling somewhere in the neighborhood of 4000 lbs., more than enough to fit me and my tripod on to get that extra reach in height!    What a great combo for photography!

Okay, end of commercial!

don
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Bill Caulfeild-Browne
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« Reply #69 on: January 23, 2008, 04:33:44 PM »
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Donít know what I was thinking of when I posted the original message but Billís message made me think of it.

The Lance has a very strong roof, capable of handling somewhere in the neighborhood of 4000 lbs., more than enough to fit me and my tripod on to get that extra reach in height!    What a great combo for photography!

Okay, end of commercial!

don
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If you're 6ft 9ins you hardly need the extra height.  ...but your original post was right on.

I moved from diesel to gas because the Ford 350 I had back in 1999 was just too noisy. People in campgrounds don't like being woken up by an early-bird photographer at 5 am - and the early birds all flew off too. The gas mileage for the GMC is 10 mpg (US gallon) thanks to the 8 litre engine but it was the only way to get the outstanding Allison transmission.

The Lance is a great quality camper.

Bill
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Marlyn
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« Reply #70 on: January 29, 2008, 11:52:59 PM »
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I'm in Australia, so our requirments may be different, but here is what we use.

Our setup has been designed for Long range touring, both by road, and off-road (desert, mountains etc), in Australia.  Its a big sparese country and at times it can be a long way between source of fuel and water.  Recently this setup took my wife and I 9,150km through central Aus,  where 4,500km of those was dirt road at best, and rough 4WD tracks or open desert.   4 weeks, and 5,500 photo's later

It was also designed to avoid having to tow anything, and be self sufficient for up to 4 weeks or so, in relative comfort.


Toyota 100 Series Landcruiser,  FZJ105R.  (Petrol, 6Cylinder 4.5ltr) Live Axle
Twin Wheel carrier (for 2 spares)
Roof Top Tent
60ltr Fridge
275 ltrs of Fuel
80 Ltrs of Water (60 in Stainless steel tank) inthe back, 20 emergency in Jerry cans).

We have pulled the rear seats out, replaced it with a shelf for storage. Fitted a Cargo barrier, 60ltr Water tank and Draw system at the back.

The other features are more for 4WD in Australia, such as Steel bullbar, steel sidesteps, twin diff-locks, 50mm suspension left and 33" Tyres.  Note this is not a vehicle that gets driven around town much, it pretty much only goes out for Trips.

Some Photo's attached.
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Regards

Mark.
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JohnKoerner
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« Reply #71 on: February 03, 2008, 02:28:25 PM »
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For location work as a landscape photographer, IMHO nothing beats a van.† Mini or maxi, it's the most cost-effective, photo-effective combination of transportation and accommodation.† I can't begin to list the incredible locations I *awakened at*, all because I choose to travel in a 1988 Astro.†† Last time I looked - 320,000 kms, $0.10 per km at about $.90 per liter fuel cost.

Motels just don't cut it.† They're too far from the pictures.† †
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I used to sell cars for a living and still have a lot of friends who buy/sell/wholesale vehicles (both new and used).


[span style=\'font-size:14pt;line-height:100%\']Part I[/span]
Peter, your observations about the Chevy Astro Van are spot-on. As far as economy of driving goes, they get about 20mpg hwy, and the interior cargo room (with the rear seats taken out) can't be beat for the money. As far as price to get in goes, in the year 2000, I purchased a used 1986 Astro van for $3,000 that had 112,000 miles on it. It served me well up until 325,000 miles, including trips made back-n-forth from Nashville to Atlanta more than 10x. Went from California to Florida and back twice. That was a lot of service I got ... for just 3 grand  

Further, the 4.3 motor in the Astro van is the best motor Chevy ever made. Ward's Auto World is the industry leader in evaluating motors, and Chevy's 4.3 motor is one of the Top 10 V-6 designs ever built. Engines are rated on power-per-cc, fuel economy, low emissions, and low need for maintenance/repairs, and the 4.3 motor excels in all categories.

Therefore, if "saving money" is the true motivating force here for travel, buying a used Astro van with a clean history would cost the least to get in, it would get great fuel economy, and it would very likely outlast almost any vehicle choice listed, engine-wise. Another thing about the Astro is the fact it is the ONLY minivan in America with rear-wheel drive. Many vans come with all-wheel drive (AWD) but that is not true 4x4 capability. What this means is that, while other vans can only tow about 3000 lb, the Astro van can tow 6,500 lb, beating most light- and medium-duty trucks.

However, that said, the rear-wheel "strength" of the Astro in its towing capacity ... is also its weakness for all-weather travel; these vans are simply miserable on snow or other severely-inclement weather. You absolutely WILL get stuck in deep snow or damp ground, if a rear tire sinks in there.

The bottom line is for summer travel there is no more economical choice than an Astro van, if fuel economy and not much damage to your wallet to get into one are the truly motivating factors. However, if inclement weather and rough terrain are factors you will be facing, then the Astro van simply will not cut it here. Which brings us to ...


[span style=\'font-size:14pt;line-height:100%\']Part II[/span]
The Nissan Pathfinder (2005-beyond). Nobody has mentioned this vehicle, but the 4x4 Nissan Pathfinder, post-2005 (with Hill Start Assist and Hill Descent Control), offers more bang-for-the-buck than any other 4x4 out there.

First off all, the 2004 and earlier Pathfinders were completely different vehicles. They did not have true truck frames, nor true 4x4 capabilities. They were glorified "grocery-grabbers," basically.

But the 2005 Pathfinders have true 4x4 capability, and in fact more of them than any other 4x4 under $60,000 ... and yet they are only about $38,000 to get in (and if you get a used one, you can get in for about $25K-28K). These vehicles will cost less to get in than the big Toyota, cost less in gas mileage, they will cover any 4x4 situation equal-to or better-than, and they are smaller and narrower to boot. And, finally, the VQ design in Nissan's V-6 motors have won more awards than any other V-6 engine design in automotive history, and are the ONLY engine that has been on Ward's Autoworld's "Top 10" list all 14 years Ward's Auto World has been rating motors ... and the Pathfinder's engine is the best and most powerful VQ motor Nissan has ever designed, out-performing many V8s in its class ...

Further, the Pathfinder's rear seats all fold completely flat, thereby maximizing the usable space in the back, and tow-wise the newer Pathfinders can drag about 6,500 lb also.

Finally, take it from an ex car guy with friends all over the business, and that is buying "a new car" is the single WORST investment (rather waste) of your money you can do. BUY USED INSTEAD. Why? In the first 3 years of car ownership, your vehicle depreciates the greatest. But after 3 years the depreciation begins to level out. An extreme example: a fellow traded in his Mercedes 500SL in our dealership. He paid $88,000 for it new, and yet in 3 short years that same car was only worth $31K. That man just lost $57,000 in a mere 3 years. BUT >>>> the fellow who picked it up and bought that trade-in for $35,000 got a beautiful vehilce at about a $50,000 discount from the original sticker price

And, even though Toyota holds its value better than a Mercedes, don't think you're going to buy a new $50,000 vehicle and have "saved money" after 3 years. You will have LOST at least $12,000 in depreciation, minimum, after 3 years of driving ... and that's over and above the difference you paid to get into it. (And that is also if it is "low mileage" after 3 years ... the fact is you will probably lose between $15,000 to $18,000 in depreciation if you are running-up your mileage with cross-country driving during those same 3 years.)

So folks, whatever you like, and whatever you do in your purchase decision, DO NOT BUY A NEW vehicle if "saving money" is your strategy. "Buying New" and "Saving Money" are simply an oxymoron when you are talking about depreciating vehicles. If you just want a new car, then buy it. But don't think for a minute you have saved anything, what you have done is thrown away your money on impulse.

Instead, if saving money is your true goal, while still getting something nice, then let depreciation work FOR YOU ... and buy your vehicles right at about the 3-year-old range. Why? Because the most major fall in the depreciation curve of vehicle value levels-out at about the 3-year mark, on top of which the vehicles are still relatively new at that age, and finally because 3-year-old vehicles will usually still come with a sizeable balance on their warranties  

So if you follow an ex car guy's advice, you can take all that money you saved listening to me ... and put it into better gear, a better trip, and to sleeping better at night.

Jack
« Last Edit: February 03, 2008, 03:04:37 PM by JohnKoerner » Logged
gdanmitchell
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« Reply #72 on: February 03, 2008, 11:01:16 PM »
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You Americans are funny!

Enjoy it while you can and shoot enviromentalists on sight! 
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I'll buy the "you Americans are funny" part, but back off on "shoot[ing] environmentalists on sight," OK.  
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G Dan Mitchell
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jpjespersen
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« Reply #73 on: February 04, 2008, 04:21:41 PM »
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My Honda Element Camper.  Running water; cabinets; lots of gear storage; pantry; folding bench/bed; and compressor fridge/freezer.  20-30 MPG
http://jpjespersen.blogspot.com/2006/12/ta...st-lots-of.html
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folivier
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« Reply #74 on: February 18, 2008, 05:59:52 PM »
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How about this:  http://www.tigermotorhomes.com/pricing.htm

Or if you have big bucks to spend:  http://www.earthroamer.com/
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jpjespersen
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« Reply #75 on: February 18, 2008, 06:03:43 PM »
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Oh yeah.  i've been dreaming of those Tiger campers for a while.  I would paint in grey.

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How about this:  http://www.tigermotorhomes.com/pricing.htm

Or if you have big bucks to spend:  http://www.earthroamer.com/
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JeffKohn
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« Reply #76 on: February 18, 2008, 11:14:14 PM »
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Or if you have big bucks to spend: http://www.earthroamer.com/
Wow, those Earth Roamers look pretty sweet. Too bad they cost more than my house...
« Last Edit: February 18, 2008, 11:14:32 PM by JeffKohn » Logged

fike
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« Reply #77 on: February 28, 2008, 01:18:26 PM »
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These rooftop tents look very cool.  They could be put on top of almost any vehicle with a roofrack.  I am considering one for the top of my go anywhere Jeep Liberty.  I like the fact that they have a decent mattress and that the bedding is stored in place.  Pop it up and bed down.  On the other hand, there aren't any cooking or toilet facilities, but that stuff can be stored separately.  

AutoHome US

...then, if you need more storage, couple it with one of these little trailers and a yakima box.  I could carry my kayaks and a box on the trailer and a rooftop tent on the car....all with a pretty modest vehicle. I am considering moving to something like a subaru forester for this approach.

http://www.rackandroll.com/
« Last Edit: February 28, 2008, 01:23:15 PM by fike » Logged

Fike, Trailpixie, or Marc Shaffer
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TrailPixie.net

I carry an M43 ILC, a couple of good lenses, and a tripod.
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« Reply #78 on: May 07, 2008, 11:17:28 AM »
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Forget about a trailer, and gas guzzling V8 truck.  This is 2008, and that old model has not worked since 2002.  

I would get a small car, like what I drive; 2007 Toyota Yaris.  Stay in mid-tier hotels.  I get 45 mpg by driving 65-70 on highways.  This car is big enough for all my gear, me, and a 2nd person, no problem.

Life is way too short to pi$$ away big $ on gas.

I'm taking a driving tour of the state of New Mexico (from California) first two weeks of June, and I'm following my own advise, and feel pretty happy about my set up.
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After composition, everything else is secondary--Alfred Steiglitz, NYC, 1927.

I'm not afraid of death.  I just don't want to be there when it happens--Woody Allen, Annie Hall, '70s
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« Reply #79 on: May 07, 2008, 10:40:50 PM »
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I would get a small car, like what I drive; 2007 Toyota Yaris.  Stay in mid-tier hotels.
Life is way too short to pi$$ away big $ on gas.
You'll spend close to $100 per night at a motel.  I can travel 500 miles on that $100 and I get to sleep where the pictures are - not always, but often enough to make a BIG difference in my photographs.
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