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Author Topic: Vehicle choices for field trips - car & trailer?  (Read 60913 times)
Hank
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« Reply #80 on: May 11, 2008, 07:32:41 PM »
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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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I just spent three weeks in NM and AZ, driving with my wife in our 2001 Tundra with canopy.  We camped all the way.  On the few nights that we were in campgrounds rather than dry camping, the fee was never more than $20.  We ate well and cheap because we did it ourselves rather than eating out, as would be the case if we were hoteling it.  I call $20 or less a night for a bedroom and less than $20 a day for food a pretty fair tradeoff for 20mpg rather than 45mpg.  Considering that we spent lots of time right at remote locations rather than driving miles to a hotel, I bet we even came out ahead on gas, too.  And of course the high clearance and 4WD let us access lots of places way off the beaten path, then stay right there overnight.  

Each of us has to find our own solutions and economies, and the point is to be happy about how we do it.  We're darned happy and wouldn't give up our Tundra for a 45mpg car.  The sacrifices for better gas mileage would cost us more in the long run without a doubt.
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vandevanterSH
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« Reply #81 on: May 11, 2008, 09:25:41 PM »
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"Each of us has to find our own solutions and economies, and the point is to be happy about how we do it."

I am finishing up a 3k+ miles swing through NM, AZ, UT, NV, TX in a two seat car..whatever works...*g*
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Hank
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« Reply #82 on: May 15, 2008, 08:51:26 AM »
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I just finished doing the bookkeeping on our trip.  I thought some folks would be interested.

In 77 days we logged a little over 12,000 miles hitting destinations in Washington, Oregon, California, Montana, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico.  We averaged a fraction shy of 20 mpg in our 2001 Tundra and spent $2100 plus a bit on gas.  That's an average of pennies over $27/day.  

Mostly camping and prepping our own meals, we spent an average of $24/day on life support, including a few meals out, a few nights in cheap hotels, and a few nights in formal campgrounds.

Those figures are all rounded to the nearest $, but our trip cost work out to $51 a day for transportation, beds and meals for two people.  

No our digs weren't fancy, and sometimes they weren't all that comfortable.  But we ate very well (try stuffing fresh aneheim chilis with cheese, wrapping them in bacon and grilling them over the fire, eg), and we had good wine most nights.  Gotta love the cheap case prices in California, but I'm sure the three cases in our truck cut our mileage.  Some tradeoffs I'm willing to make.

And that's the bottom line for most folks I know who camp.  If you do your own cooking too, you can usually cover all your gas, bed and food costs (including good wine) for what you spend for a very moderate hotel alone without the camping gear, and still have to buy gas and eat.  If you're driving you're own rig rather than renting, costs drop even more.  We could cut the costs even further by driving something cheaper, but at the cost of comforts in camp including cases of wine.  

For most people I know, the tradeoffs boil down more to comfort choices than money savings.  Hotels and restaurants are more expensive than camping, but free you of a lot of housekeeping.  Large camping setups are more expensive to support than small ones, but offer a whole lot more comfort in exchange.  

I'd have cut costs a bunch if I was driving a 40+ mpg sedan and camping light, but a lot of those cost savings would have occurred because my wife would have stayed home.  That's a compromise I'm unwilling to make.
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Adam Schallau
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« Reply #83 on: May 15, 2008, 10:18:17 AM »
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Hank,
Thanks for sharing that info. It looks like you have developed a great travel system.

My wife and I gave up on motels and camp out of the back of our 2001 Nissan Frontier when were on photo trips.  With over 120,000 miles on the truck we still average about 22mpg. Like you we found that what we gave up on fuel economy was made up with less driving between motels and shooting locations, and it's less stressful being right there for the shoot.
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Adam Schallau
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photographing the landscape, culture and people of the American West
Lust4Life
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« Reply #84 on: October 05, 2011, 09:48:11 AM »
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Wanted to get an update on how we landscape photographers are coping with the cost of getting "out there" to capture our images.
I started this post back in 2006 and times were quite different then.

Given the economy, the prices fuel has been to and will be returning to as the economy strengthens, the need to hold on to as much of our cash as possible given the uncertain economic times, what seems to be the best method of getting out there to capture our images?

FYI - Over the years, I've tried several alternative and must admit Life is built on Compromise!
My History:
Volkswagen camper - was great for it's time.  No longer made and I'd like more comfort and features now that I've "matured".  Also, never like the lack of an engine in front of the drivers seat - you were going to be the first on the scene of an accident, but it sure served it purpose when I was back in my 20's.

40' diesel pusher towing a Jeep = great comfort and Jeep takes you down any trail once you get to destination.  But at 7MPG diesel the cost of the trip beat my wallet to death!  Imagine driving 700 miles at 7MPG and fueling up needing 100 gallons of diesel back when the prices were higher than they are now.

Toyota FJ Cruiser with Fleetwood Pop Up camper - FJ has a very small fuel tank and got really poor mileage towing the Pop Up - about 11mpg.
In shot, won't do that again.

Mercedes ML 320 CDI/diesel towing Airstream Bambi 16' CCD trailer - fuel economy was not great and cost of entry was a bit high.  Storage between the MB and Bambi was quite adequate and we put kayaks on top of the ML.  Bambi only has a 21 gallon combo gray/black water holding tank so every 3 days you must take the rig to the dump station and empty.  Gets to be a real pain on long trips.  Was nice that we would drop the Bambi at the camp site and take off down any road/trail in the ML.

Roadtrek Agile - this rig was very nice - about 22MPG on the highway burning diesel.  Storage is a bit on the lean side and there are many gravel forest service roads that you wouldn't dare take it down.  But it was a fairly good solution - just missed running a vehicle like the Toyota FJ Cruiser/Jeep down the gravel and dirt roads seeking that illusive scene.

From the above you can see that I've tried quite a few alternatives.  Being that I'm now 65 years I'm over the past primitive camping yet want to preserve as much of my savings as possible - hate wasting cash on fuel - I've never received a Xmas card from Saudi Arabia! 

At this time in life, I'll will be taking 4-6 week trips with wife and our cat.  Based out of Naples, FL and traveling all of USA and Canada is the plan.  Three to four trips per year with 4 day weekend trips around Florida between the long adventures.

Would like to hear an update on how others are moving over the planet that have like agendas.

Jack
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Peter McLennan
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« Reply #85 on: October 05, 2011, 10:46:11 PM »
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Five years since I first posted on this thread. Shocked  Even then, I was lusting after a Mercedes Sprinter.  Turns out, I was right. I bought one sight unseen off eBay.   Huh

For me, it's the perfect vehicle for solo travelling and photographing.  25 mpusg at 70 mph and 30 mpusg if I baby it.  I can easily do 600 miles on a tank of diesel - something that comes in very handy in the wide open spaces.  Standup headroom in the rear can't be underestimated, nor can the fabulous view out that windshield.  You're over six feet off the pavement.  And, oh yes, often as not, you can sleep at the photo location.  No motels, please.  Ever again.

For a look at how the Sprinter performs as The Ultimate Camera Assistant, head over to:

http://sprinter-source.com/forum/showthread.php?t=15640

*warning* Very picture-heavy posting on a Sprinter forum.  Bandwidth hog.  Two sets of pix, separated by other forum members' postings.
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wildlightphoto
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« Reply #86 on: October 06, 2011, 09:22:32 AM »
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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.

Up until a few months ago (sold to a friend) I owned a Boler, the trailer that the Scamp was based on.  Mine was a 13' model, purchased originally by my family in 1972.  My tow vehicle is total overkill for this trailer, a Dodge 2500 diesel.  The truck is intended more for towing a horse trailer, and in that capacity it's much more than adequate.

Anyway, regarding the trailer... I towed it from Sacramento to Wisconsin and back last year, at typical speeds of 75 MPH on the interstates, and averaged 18 MPG.  Same trip last month, same truck but without wife & trailer, 21.4 MPG.  Something was wrong with that Ford.

The Boler was great on good roads.  The truck hardly notices it, even my old Dakota pickup hardly notices the Boler, but rough roads were another story.  I sold the trailer because it doesn't handle rough roads gracefully.  I-80 over Donner Summit is rutted and cratered and the trailer requires significant repair after driving that route.  Same story for washboarded dirt roads, which is where I tend to travel most often.  I'll probably replace the trailer with something like a 4 Wheel truck camper, or the similar All Terrain camper.  For now the bed of the truck with a cap suits me fine.
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Lust4Life
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« Reply #87 on: October 09, 2011, 09:04:45 PM »
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We traveled to Fort Lauderdale, Sarasota and Tampa over the last week to inspect Airstream trailers as well as RoadTrek, Great West, Pleasure Way and Airstream Mercedes Sprinter based rigs.

The Sprinter based rigs have a distinct advantage in that:
1.  Excellent mpg performance.
2.  Always have your "house" with you as compared to the trailer is back at the camp site and you are ready for a meal, restroom or just a Nap after a long mornings hike.
3.  Self contained with generator so you can dry camp anywhere.
4.  Never have to un-hook and hook up to the tow vehicle.
5.  I would be more comfortable with my wife driving it verse towing a trailer.

Trailer has a few advantages but the main one I can think of it you could have a much more agile vehicle to run down dirt roads with in the National and State forests.
As I'm ageing, the closer I can get to the scene I want to shoot via wheels, the better.

Now pondering the advantages of the 19.5' rig like the RoadTrek Agile verse the 22' Great West. 
22' give you more storage and room BUT it seems like the 19.5 Agile would be more nimble at running down the dirt roads.

Anyone give this issue thought?

Jack
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bretedge
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« Reply #88 on: October 31, 2011, 02:54:42 AM »
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I've been driving an FJ Cruiser for 5 years and I've never put premium gas in it, even though it is recommended.  It runs just fine on the "cheap" stuff.  Mine has a 3" lift with 33" BFG KM2's and a Maggiolina rooftop tent on the rack and I average 15 MPG.  My trips aren't typically longer than 14 days but I thoroughly enjoy living out of the rooftop tent.  On a 14 day trip I'll either get a cheap hotel room a couple nights (primarily for the shower) or I'll just buy a shower somewhere.

The advantages to traveling this way are better mileage, no restrictions on where you can drive the rig (the FJ is a beast and will go damn near anywhere you point it), less to worry about and just pure simplicity. 
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Lust4Life
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« Reply #89 on: October 31, 2011, 04:48:47 AM »
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Bought a new 2011 RoadTrek Agile for the aforesaid reasons.
At 65 years of age, I also like the idea that after driving to a remote site, hiking in the morning for several hours, I can come back to the trailhead and take a nap!
Don't have to return to a trailer at a distant park. 
As to the tent idea, done that when I had hair on my head - now I want a bed off the ground to sleep in.

A time and a place for everything.
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dreed
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« Reply #90 on: October 31, 2011, 10:06:10 AM »
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Bought a new 2011 RoadTrek Agile for the aforesaid reasons.
At 65 years of age, I also like the idea that after driving to a remote site, hiking in the morning for several hours, I can come back to the trailhead and take a nap!
Don't have to return to a trailer at a distant park.

I've often have a short siesta in my car. I've never been questioned by anyone, plus, what are they going to say if you say that you were too tired to drive safely?

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As to the tent idea, done that when I had hair on my head - now I want a bed off the ground to sleep in.

A time and a place for everything.

A hot shower at the end of the day is priceless. For everything else there's Mastercard.

Camping might be nice and remote but I hate the feeling of being all sweating and dirty from walking/climbing all day and going to bed like that, not to mention how you feel the morning after.
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