Camper/RV thoughts/experiences/recommendations

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Camper/RV thoughts/experiences/recommendations

Postby bltdonahue » Mon 24 Mar 2014 9:36 am

I ask here, because most of y'all tend to think like I do...

I need advice from those of you who are RV campers.

My family had a bumper-pull trailer for almost 5 years. We loved going "camping" in that thing. I say "camping" because my original idea of camping had tents as optional. After some wild-life run-ins, the girls talked me into a camper. They really had to twist my arm off to sell me on the idea :)

Anyhow, we traded up for a different trailer late last spring.

Bad things happened. Long story, but not driver error. That trailer and my truck were totalled last labor day. No one in the family is interested in being anywhere near a vehicle towing anything ever again.

But we still have the "camping" bug. I've been considered a Class C RV, or possibly a truck camper. The rest of the family seems comfortable with this idea, so we're looking into it.

Any life experiences with one versus the other? Makes/models to avoid? Things to do, things not to do (other than "do not crash them")? Generally positive experiences?
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Re: Camper/RV thoughts/experiences/recommendations

Postby bagpiper » Mon 24 Mar 2014 10:30 am

Long time since I had any personal experience with campers. But, I have a couple of co-workers with campers. Sizes range from pop-up tent kind of units on mid-sized Toyotas, to very large, 4-season self-contained monsters on 1-ton+ duelies. The big advantage that a camper of any size has over a trailer is increased ability to get into locations than with a trailer. Obviously, a big self-contained camper is not going into as many places as a light-weight pop up on the back of a real off-road rig. But all else being equal, a camper seems to be easier to get into a given area than a trailer would be. The guys I know who have campers have them specifically for this reason. And it can be a really nice feature depending on where and how you like to "camp", but it sounds like being able to get a little more off the beaten path, or into smaller campgrounds might be appealing.

The other advantage, of course, is the ability to still pull a trailer as you might use to haul a boat, ATVs or other toys, wood, etc.

The downside is that it is much more difficult to leave your camper at a campsite while using your truck for transportation. Yes, the camper can be pulled off, but that is a lot more involved than unhitching a trailer.

For anyone doing any kind of RV camping, prices have gotten to the point on solar systems that especially for anyone at all handy, I think a nice solar system and proper battery pack (ie, something more than what comes stock) should be high on the list of considerations. Properly done you can really enjoy most comforts of home without the noise or hassle of running a generator.

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Re: Camper/RV thoughts/experiences/recommendations

Postby quychang » Mon 24 Mar 2014 12:29 pm

We have a reasonably large Lance camper on the back of a Chevy 3500 heavy duty. It drives nice, and pulls our two quads on a flatbed with no issues. We do have a generator, but it's not big enough to run the air conditioning unit, so we're giving some thought to that. My biggest complaints are the size of the bathroom, and climbing up into the over the cab queen sized bed. I'm working on both issues (losing some weight). The other thing is your fresh/grey/black water holding tanks. Generally the wife and I can get by for 3-4 days before we run into trouble, but that's being careful. Sponge baths only, no showers.

We are looking to move up to a class C motor home, me fairly seriously, the wife is interested but not in love with the idea. It will still pull the toys, most have larger bathrooms, and if you go to about the 29 ft range you can get a made down bed. The camper is okay, but can get a little crowded with both of us and the three dogs. Depending on the number of kids, making down the table bed every night would be kind of a pain, and obviously you haul outside chairs, etc. Might even want a screen tent and small table that will let people eat in less crowded conditions. We have both, but rarely take the screen tent for just the two of us.

Anyway, my vote is for a Class C motor home, but I don't hate the camper and it's served us well while we've had it. If we keep it, we're looking at solar options for at least charging the battery and possibly running a couple of fans to help when we can't run the air.

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Re: Camper/RV thoughts/experiences/recommendations

Postby FrankenHollow » Mon 24 Mar 2014 1:14 pm

:spit:
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Re: Camper/RV thoughts/experiences/recommendations

Postby quychang » Mon 24 Mar 2014 3:55 pm

Okay, Frankenhollow has some great points. I'll add that when we were younger and had kids, we tent camped a lot. Then moved up to a tent camper. It was heaven by comparison, but had it's own issues. No greywater tank, you carried an exterior plastic catch basin for grey water. Black water wasn't an issue because it had no toilet. We added a chemical porti potty. But it's a far cry from having a real bathroom.
Eventually the kids grew up and left, and as we (and the tent camper) got older, setting it up and taking it down got to be more and more of an issue. So, we made the decision to move back to tents. We bought high quality canvas tents from Kirkham's the Spring bar variety. We camped for awhile, and the kids still went along occasionally, so it was good, but then the kids had other interests, and being older, setting up and taking down camp became more of a chore than we wanted, and so we sold the tents at a great deal, to a family with young kids.

At that point we got the truck Camper. Everything Frankenhollow has to say about maintenance is true on the truck camper as well. Hard to get to, expensive to replace, and packed in like a transistor radio. We've replaced the refrigerator, the AC inverter, several faucets, batteries, etc. We tried to do the fridge ourselves. BAH with that, ended up taking to the shop and having that done, plus several other niggling things and added roof air. So we mostly take it places with power if given a choice. We do pull our quads, and the towns we visit are quad friendly. You can drive them basically anywhere in town, and so dragging a tow vehicle isn't a problem. Putting the camper on and taking it off are a pain, and require some pretty precision driving. Oh, and even though it's not the size of a class C, (we did, by the way, own half interest in one for a couple of years) you still have issues with width and length. We've replaced a hydraulic jack and had the camper repaired because it was jack knifed into a trailer we were pulling.

Bottom line is, there are problems associated with all the options. And honestly we're still at the "will we use it enough to justify, and or save us money over a hotel? We want it primarily for dog triailing, so we could park at the venue of the show and camp without paying extra room fees for the dogs, and to reduce the travel time and make things more comfortable for all of us. So.. we're not there yet, But most likely in the next year or two I'll convince the wife, since she's already about half sold.

And remind me in April, NOT to buy Frankenhollow's class c that's been taken off road and abused. I could, however, tell stories about hunting with my wife's dad in his class A. It's amazing where they'll go.

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Re: Camper/RV thoughts/experiences/recommendations

Postby dewittdj » Mon 24 Mar 2014 4:08 pm

:agree:
I agree with Frankenhollow... especially the maintenance and towed vehicle issues...

Wow! Finally, something I know a little bit about!

I was a full-timer RV'er from 1985-2008. I started out with a 24' Winnebago Class C that I bought brand new. I put over 400K on it before trading it in on a 5th wheeler. There is little to NO privacy in a Class C.

It was a GAS HOG! Whenever it needed servicing (engine / transmission) it had to go to someplace that could handle RVs, which usually meant a trip to a full service Camping World or RV dealership.

I rigged up a complete solar package with panels, backup batteries, inverter, converter, and wind turbine. I was completely off-grid anywhere I went in SoCal or the western desert states. No electricity bill for almost 30 years!!!
:dancing:

Needless to say, disconnecting a lot of that just to take it in for servicing was a PAIN. The batteries alone where over 800 lbs.

They are high profile vehicles and very much subject to high winds, especially crosswinds.

I now own a 37' RLR Marathon 5th Wheeler with 3 slide outs. The difference is like night and day when you compare the amount of room. I like the 5th wheeler over the class C but it is something that you have to tow and have a good tow vehicle, in order to enjoy. So you probably wouldn't consider it as an option. I'll never go back to a Class C or even a Class A.
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Re: Camper/RV thoughts/experiences/recommendations

Postby quychang » Mon 24 Mar 2014 5:58 pm

dewittdj wrote::agree:
I agree with Frankenhollow... especially the maintenance and towed vehicle issues...

Wow! Finally, something I know a little bit about!

I was a full-timer RV'er from 1985-2008. I started out with a 24' Winnebago Class C that I bought brand new. I put over 400K on it before trading it in on a 5th wheeler. There is little to NO privacy in a Class C.

It was a GAS HOG! Whenever it needed servicing (engine / transmission) it had to go to someplace that could handle RVs, which usually meant a trip to a full service Camping World or RV dealership.

I rigged up a complete solar package with panels, backup batteries, inverter, converter, and wind turbine. I was completely off-grid anywhere I went in SoCal or the western desert states. No electricity bill for almost 30 years!!!
:dancing:

Needless to say, disconnecting a lot of that just to take it in for servicing was a PAIN. The batteries alone where over 800 lbs.

They are high profile vehicles and very much subject to high winds, especially crosswinds.

I now own a 37' RLR Marathon 5th Wheeler with 3 slide outs. The difference is like night and day when you compare the amount of room. I like the 5th wheeler over the class C but it is something that you have to tow and have a good tow vehicle, in order to enjoy. So you probably wouldn't consider it as an option. I'll never go back to a Class C or even a Class A.


I'm with you on the fifth wheeler Dave, it would be my first choice as well, but for some reason the wife has it in her head that they're harder to pull. I can't seem to convince her otherwise, even with articles on the subject, etc. The other issue is the quads. We don't really want to pull a second trailer, or pull the quads with the Highlander and take two vehicles. We've looked at the Toy Haulers, and have pretty well decided that having the smell of gasoline, etc. in your living quarters is kind of a pain as well. So, we'll probably end up with a class C, or an older used class A that's low mileage. We shall see, I keep dragging her through fifth wheelers at shows, but she always has arguments. Doesn't want a hitch in her truck bed, doesn't want to learn to tow one, what about the quads..../sigh.

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Re: Camper/RV thoughts/experiences/recommendations

Postby DaKnife » Mon 24 Mar 2014 7:20 pm

quychang wrote:We've looked at the Toy Haulers, and have pretty well decided that having the smell of gasoline, etc. in your living quarters is kind of a pain as well.
My parents have a toy hauler, and I have never smelled gasoline inside it. But rather it has it's own fuel tank to use for fueling the toys, so if you are worried, just use a bare minimum of fuel to get them loaded or even use a pull-along to load them up with no fuel in the tanks. Then unload them at your destination and fuel em up there. Outside the trailer so no fumes or smells.

In contrast, once you get to your camp site, you have a large bed for additional campers to use, or keep the bed raised up out of the way and you have a nice open area inside for if weather turns bad and you want to pack a bunch of people inside to stay dry and or warm. That parking spot is also great to let little ones play in when you don't want them outside. I'm likely to get a toy hauler before I get any toys to haul in it for those reasons alone.

edited to fix the quote, it somehow identified dewittdj as the quote source even though I'd selected the text from Mel's post.
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Re: Camper/RV thoughts/experiences/recommendations

Postby dewittdj » Mon 24 Mar 2014 7:21 pm

DaKnife wrote:
dewittdj wrote:We've looked at the Toy Haulers, and have pretty well decided that having the smell of gasoline, etc. in your living quarters is kind of a pain as well.
My parents have a toy hauler, and I have never smelled gasoline inside it. But rather it has it's own fuel tank to use for fueling the toys, so if you are worried, just use a bare minimum of fuel to get them loaded or even use a pull-along to load them up with no fuel in the tanks. Then unload them at your destination and fuel em up there. Outside the trailer so no fumes or smells.

In contrast, once you get to your camp site, you have a large bed for additional campers to use, or keep the bed raised up out of the way and you have a nice open area inside for if weather turns bad and you want to pack a bunch of people inside to stay dry and or warm. That parking spot is also great to let little ones play in when you don't want them outside. I'm likely to get a toy hauler before I get any toys to haul in it for those reasons alone.

MIsquoted!!! That is Mel's toy hauler reference to gas fumes!

Ahhhh... not a toy hauler as much as a rugrat corral!
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Re: Camper/RV thoughts/experiences/recommendations

Postby DaKnife » Mon 24 Mar 2014 7:23 pm

You are right, weird as I highlighted the text in his post but it tagged it as your quote. I'll edit it.

And when you've got rugrats, or rugrats in the family you look for such features. My youngest is just out of that stage, but there are more cousins behind him.
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Re: Camper/RV thoughts/experiences/recommendations

Postby FrankenHollow » Mon 24 Mar 2014 7:32 pm

The weight of the wind-driven snow plastered all over the trees meant we had to cut our way out for 2.5 miles,
And it has 7 spare tires! :wink:
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Re: Camper/RV thoughts/experiences/recommendations

Postby gravedancer » Mon 24 Mar 2014 10:08 pm

bltdonahue wrote:I ask here, because most of y'all tend to think like I do...

I need advice from those of you who are RV campers.

My family had a bumper-pull trailer for almost 5 years. We loved going "camping" in that thing. I say "camping" because my original idea of camping had tents as optional. After some wild-life run-ins, the girls talked me into a camper. They really had to twist my arm off to sell me on the idea :)

Anyhow, we traded up for a different trailer late last spring.

Bad things happened. Long story, but not driver error. That trailer and my truck were totalled last labor day. No one in the family is interested in being anywhere near a vehicle towing anything ever again.

But we still have the "camping" bug. I've been considered a Class C RV, or possibly a truck camper. The rest of the family seems comfortable with this idea, so we're looking into it.

Any life experiences with one versus the other? Makes/models to avoid? Things to do, things not to do (other than "do not crash them")? Generally positive experiences?



Have you considered something smaller and easier to pull like a tent-trailer ? I had one for a while and it was great. It was so light you could barely tell you were towing it at all, and it wasnt heavy enough to influence where the truck was going even in high winds, or bad road conditions. You still get the "feel" of tent camping, but you have some basic conveniences like a fridge, sink, and possibly shower/toilet depending on the model.
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Re: Camper/RV thoughts/experiences/recommendations

Postby Luv10mm » Tue 25 Mar 2014 2:29 pm

Interesting to hear everyone's experiences.

I grew up with tent camping, and for long trips we would take a popup truck camper and a 21 ft hard side trailer. This allowed the kids to be put in the camper at night while my parents got the trailer. We would often go for two full weeks away from all hookups/facilities/stores, so my dad would pack the trailer to the brim.

The camper and trailer are long gone, but my dad decided to get a Class C RV in his retirement. As others have mentioned, working on it is a pain, and they have had to put some $ into it to make it even usable. I think it's a '98, but it could be a '93. For their purposes, it works since it's only the two of them now, and they don't go exploring much once they have set up camp. But it is a bit of a money pit.

For me, I'm encouraged to hear good experiences from people who have used tent trailers. That concept has always appealed to me, but I don't have any direct experience to say whether they actually are worth it. They seem like a decent compromise. I guess it depends a lot on what your expectations/limitations are.
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Re: Camper/RV thoughts/experiences/recommendations

Postby sypher » Tue 25 Mar 2014 3:54 pm

I love our pop up tent trailer. We bought a used one off of ksl for about $1000 almost 4 yrs ago. It is an older model, but it's in great condition.
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Re: Camper/RV thoughts/experiences/recommendations

Postby gravedancer » Tue 25 Mar 2014 8:27 pm

Luv10mm wrote:Interesting to hear everyone's experiences.

I grew up with tent camping, and for long trips we would take a popup truck camper and a 21 ft hard side trailer. This allowed the kids to be put in the camper at night while my parents got the trailer. We would often go for two full weeks away from all hookups/facilities/stores, so my dad would pack the trailer to the brim.

The camper and trailer are long gone, but my dad decided to get a Class C RV in his retirement. As others have mentioned, working on it is a pain, and they have had to put some $ into it to make it even usable. I think it's a '98, but it could be a '93. For their purposes, it works since it's only the two of them now, and they don't go exploring much once they have set up camp. But it is a bit of a money pit.

For me, I'm encouraged to hear good experiences from people who have used tent trailers. That concept has always appealed to me, but I don't have any direct experience to say whether they actually are worth it. They seem like a decent compromise. I guess it depends a lot on what your expectations/limitations are.



Ive had a lot of experience with all the types of campers. Tent trailer overall is my favorite, both to transport, and to actually use, since its easy to set up/take down and it still gives you the feel of tent camping but with some convenience options.

When I was a little kid, we tent camped everywhere from texas to california. Back then my dad used to always say that even using a tent meant you were less of a man, and we should just sleep under the stars. Then, when I was a teenager, he bought a Class C motorhome because for some reason the tents werent comfortable enough for him anymore :)

Then, when I was in my late teens/early 20s, he bought a Class A motorhome, but he and i both hated it, for many of the reasons already outlined. That was soon traded in on a large bumper pull trailer, which was nice, but even with swaybars tended to have its way with the tow vehicle a bit. He later traded up to a 5th wheel and has had one ever since. His is literally a house on wheels. Its about 40 ft long, has 3 slide outs, the thing is a monster. But its surprisingly easy to tow, even in high winds. Unfortunately its a pain in the arse to set up though.

Thats why I liked my pop up tent trailer. Super easy to set up and take down, and I still feel like im camping, not living in a mobile home park.
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