Even though I now have a kitchen in my tent trailer, I am still obsessed with camp kitchens and chuck boxes. I believe Springtime designed by Bloondesign is an ingenious idea. It’s a picnic basket, a picnic table and stores your food and utensils.
Gem is right! Camping not only has beautiful rewards in the form of sunsets, forests, mountains and deserts, but it has beautiful rewards in the form of family memories and exciting venues. The next time you’re feeling like life is ugly, plan a weekend trip camping and enjoy it. You’ll come back feeling as if at least one thing in the world is beautiful.
Compact, 17-ft. Quantum 5 fifth-wheel trailer from Contempo (left) is designed for towing by small pickups. It sleeps four and has fully galley and bath. Price is $9,200.
When you account for inflation, $9,200 in 1981 is the same as $22,410 today, which seems incredibly pricey for a trailer that can barely sleep four. Despite its initial cost, it looks like a cute and efficient design.
If you are in love with the old canned ham styled trailers, then you’ll be happy to know that Riverside RV has a line of brand new travel trailers that look like they are straight out of the Fifties. Here is what the Riverside Retro 130 looks like:
If that wasn’t cool enough, there is one other feature that will make your life easier… (Continue Reading…)
When we were camping in Buckskin Mountain State Park last month, I was struck with the difference in size between our tent trailer and the motorcoach next to us. It made me wonder how my experience at the park compared with theirs and what each of us had to do to get there. So I made a comparison of my tent trailer to what I imagine for the motorcoach next to me. (Continue Reading…)
Motorhomes can range from anything to a van conversion to a massive motor coach. I was shocked the first time I arrived in Quartzsite because I thought only movie stars and musicians toured the country in huge motorhomes, but ordinary people all over this nation own HUGE motorhomes.
I’ve seen motorhomes in our classifieds for as low as $3,000, but they seldom have a running engine at that price. I appears that you have to spend at least $5,000 to get one that runs and more if you want any hope of it continuing to run. The new motorhomes are HORRENDOUSLY expensive with prices in the $200,000 to $500,000 range. I’ve even seen them as high as $1,000,000.
Fortunately, that’s where the expense ends. You don’t need a heavy-duty tow vehicle because a motorhome HAS an engine. You might want to tow your car behind the huge motorhome, which might cost you in the gear to make that happen, but once you’ve bought your motorhome and it runs properly, you don’t need another vehicle.
If you are a brilliant mechanic, then the thought of an old motorhome probably doesn’t frighten you, but to me, it’s terrifying. I much prefer to have my camping in a vehicle that doesn’t have an engine attached. Then, I can change my tow vehicle when the engine fails or change the camping vehicle when it gets old, leaky or worn out. I prefer my RVs to be interchangeable that way.
Just like a travel trailer and fifth-wheel, a motorhome would need a large piece of land for storage or a spot at an RV facility for $100-$120 a month. Very few motorhomes would fit under the low door clearances of a garage, not even this van conversion motorhome.
This is the worst of them all. Last year, at Quartzsite, I asked what mileage those big motorcoaches got and not one person answered higher than 7 mpg. The lowest was 2 mpg, but he had a glint in his eye when he told me and I don’t know if he was pulling my leg or not. The smaller motorhomes can get 12-15 mpg regularly, but you really have to watch the weight in your coach, drive 55 mph and keep your engine fine-tuned to get that good of mileage.
Motorhome sleeping capacity is as vast as the sizes of motorhomes. The tiny vans usually only sleep two, whereas this tiny Toyota Dolphin Motorhome can sleep six. The huge motorcoaches can sleep as many people as the biggest of the tent trailers.
Just as with the sleeping capacity, the comfort levels can be spartan or luxurious. Most motorhomes have propane heaters. Some of them even have A/C. Since they are all hard-sided, they will definitely be warmer to sleep in than tent trailers, so those cold nights in the Utah mountains will be easily slept through in a motorhome.
Additionally, you have the comforts of your motorhome while you’re driving. Your spouse or children can wander the motorhome, getting food, playing with their toys or even sleeping while you drive. If you’re stuck in traffic, you can even switch drivers quickly. And the luxury of a restroom onboard would allow for fewer stops along the way if you didn’t have to refill the gas tank so often.
I imagine that setting up a motorhome at the campsite would be the easiest of all, especially if you’re not towing an additional vehicle behind you. I would think that parking and leveling would be all that you needed before you could drop into your pre-made bed to sleep.
The small van conversions might not have restrooms, but even some of them have them. I love the thought of having a restroom in a motorhome. I imagine Mike would be driving and I could just get out of my seat and use the bathroom while we were still going. It’s a luxury I can’t stop thinking about when considering a motorhome.
I have NO idea how people drive these huge motorhomes. We don’t hear about motorhomes getting blown over by huge winds on I-15 every year, but they do get into accidents quite frequently. I can’t even fathom how to drive them, but here is a video about how to drive.
I’m more partial to the smaller RVs just because I imagine they’d be easier to drive, but I really have no experience with them.
Just like with the travel trailers and fifth-wheels, there are some campsites in our national and state parks that are too short for the longest of the motorhomes. You’ll be safe as long as your motorhome is less than 25 feet, but most sites can accommodate motorhomes that are 25 feet or less.
If you are in a luxury motorcoach, you won’t have any problems with elitism at luxury RV resorts like I have with my tiny tent trailer. I suspect if I had a tiny Toyota Dolphin motorhome, however, the people at that luxury resort would have put me in the back with tent trailers.
Depending on your motorhome, you might attract a crowd. I suspect that the older your motorhome is, the more likely you are to have strangers come to your campsite to talk to you and ask to see the inside.
The Walmart Factor
The Walmart overnight parking benefits were MADE for motorhomes. They expect you to have engine trouble and need parts at their store and they would love you to stay there and spend your money. One note, however, is that it’s polite to not put down your stabilizers and leveling jacks.
I’ve never owned a motorhome, so my viewpoint might be a little off on these RVs. They may be harder to set up or easier to drive than I imagined. I’d be interested in using one for a few months to see how that would change my viewpoint, but at this juncture, it’s just not within my price range.
Here are links to the other entries in this series:
Fifth-wheel trailers look like travel trailers, but they have a large gooseneck at the front that attaches to a huge hitch on the bed of a pickup.
Used fifth-wheels can be found in the classifieds for as low at $800, but a good one will probably cost you about $2,000. New, they can go for as much as $50,000, so they can be very pricey if you want a brand new one.
Another cost you have to plan for is a pickup. You MUST have a pickup to tow a fifth-wheel. An SUV with a high towing capacity won’t work for you because you need to have the pickup bed to attach the trailer to your vehicle. If you already own a pickup and plan to continue owning one, then you’re set, but if you prefer any other car, you cannot tow a fifth-wheel with it.
Just like the travel trailers, a fifth-wheel trailers can’t just be easily stored in your garage. They are very high and won’t fit under a garage door. They won’t even fit under a drive-thru roof, as shown in this video (BTW the driver and his son escaped unscathed).
You’ll have to find a huge spot on your property to store it out in the elements or store it at an RV storage facility at $100-$120 a month.
My mom owns a fifth-wheel and a Toyota diesel truck. The truck gets 18 mpg when it’s not towing and 12 mpg when it is. You can assume it will take about 6-7 miles per gallon off your usual mpg.
As huge as fifth-wheel trailers are, they don’t seem to sleep much more than tent trailers. My eight-foot tent trailer can sleep six, whereas my mom’s fifth-wheel can sleep six people. The difference is that there is a lot more room to move about in her trailer than there is in mine. Considering that their trailer is THIRTY feet long, I’m surprised that there isn’t sleeping capacity for twenty people in that thing. If fifth-wheel manufacturers used their square footage as efficiently as truck camper and tent trailer manufacturers, they WOULD be able to sleep twenty per trailer.
Fifth-wheel trailers are the epitome of comfort. Not only is there heat and A/C. There are refrigerators, microwaves and a plethora of other amenities. If you plan on living in your RV full-time or even half the year, a tent trailer would be a hardship. A fifth-wheel, on the other hand, would be like living at home.
Every time my mom and Reed go camping with us, I’m surprised at how long it takes them to set up. They don’t have to pull out bunk ends or raise the roof, but it usually takes them just as long to get their fifth-wheel into its spot, leveled and ready to go. I don’t know if that is added complexity on my mom’s part or if fifth-wheels are REALLY that time consuming to get into a campsite. Just watching this video from RV101 about how to hitch up a fifth-wheel makes me break out in a cold sweat.
Yes, yes, a thousand times, yes! This is one place where fifth-wheel trailers really shine. I’ve seen the most beautiful bathrooms in fifth-wheel trailers that make the bathroom in my own house blush with inadequacy.
Fifth-wheel trailers are supposed to be safer to tow than bumper pull travel trailers, but they are BOTH very susceptible to wind. Every year in Utah, we have several fifth-wheels overturned on I-15 because of heavy winds. Considering that I’ve driven in wind storms such as these with my tent trailer and had NO problem, I’m very reluctant to trade it in for a trailer that is harder to tow under those conditions.
Additionally, the law doesn’t require RV owners to take any special classes to learn how to drive their monstrous vehicles. If you want to drive a fifth-wheel, you basically have to teach yourself how to drive a vehicle that’s as big as an 18 Wheeler. If that doesn’t scare you, then you’re a far better driver than I am.
In the national and state parks, you could run into troubles with some campsites not being long enough for your fifth-wheel. Many of them list their limitations, for example, 25 foot, on their websites, but sometimes you might show up at a campground, hoping you could stay there and find that your 30 foot fifth-wheel just doesn’t fit.
Additionally, a campsite might be long enough to fit your huge fifth-wheel, but getting it into its spot might be a geometrical nightmare. Trying to make your long trailer fit into your campsite might be possible, but only if you are a master driver.
At the luxury RV resorts, however, you won’t have that kind of problem. The resorts that specialize in pull-through sites and have beautiful landscaping will gladly welcome your fifth-wheel and maybe even put you in their lovely premium sites just because your camper is that nice.
No one will think your fifth-wheel is weird. They won’t think it’s cool or come over and ask what it looks like inside. Since they are so commonplace, you will be camping in obscurity every time. You will have to make MAJOR modifications to your fifth-wheel or tow it with a strange tow vehicle to get any attention.
The Walmart Factor
When Walmart offered to let campers stay overnight in their parking lots, fifth-wheels are the exact campers they had in mind. The only time a fifth-wheel trailer has been turned away is when the Walmart doesn’t allow overnight camping at all.
I’ve never owned a fifth-wheel trailer, so my viewpoint might be a little off on these RVs. They may be harder to level or easier to hitch up than I imagined. I’d be interested in using one for a few months to see how that would change my viewpoint, but at this time, I don’t have a vehicle to tow one nor the space to store it.
Here are links to the other entries in this series:
If you like the idea of a hard-sided travel trailer, but want to be able to store your camper in a garage, an A-Frame camper might be your best bet. They fold up flat like a tent trailer and lift up to a cute little cabin-style camper.
These kind of trailers are available from the following manufacturers:
Finding A-Frame campers used is almost impossible. When I do find them used, they aren’t amazing deals like I find with a tent trailer. They usually range in price from $6,000 to $25,000, which is almost as much as they cost new. They usually settle in the range of $10,000 to $15,000 for used.
The benefit of the A-Frame trailers is that you can tow them with smaller cars than travel trailers. We couldn’t quite tow one with our Prius, but most mini-vans and other six cylinder vehicles could handle them.
Just like a tent trailer, you can roll it into the garage for storage. Depending on the height, you might even be able to deploy it in the garage, like a tent trailer. If you don’t have space in your garage or on your property, then you’ll have to pay to store it at a facility for about $65-$100.
When I was towing a 2500 lb. pop up trailer with my Mazda B4000 I got 15 or 16 MPG towing and 19 or 20 running empty. Don’t know if this helps much or not but that’s about as good as I can do I would expect you’d find something similar (losing something like four or five MPG towing depending on the actual weight.
A-Frame trailers sleep far less people than comparably sized tent trailers. Most of them only sleep two people. Some of the floorplans can sleep four people if you fold down the dinette. If you want to sleep two adults and a child, but need some place for one of the adults to sit while the other and child sleep, then you are out of luck.
The beauty of the A-Frame trailers is that almost all of them come with propane heat and A/C. The hard-sided walls keep in the heat WAY better than a tent trailer. Some people add Reflectix on the windows to insulate against the sun in the hot weather. I suspect that also works well in the winter to keep the heat escaping out the windows.
Unlike a tent trailer, their setup is hilariously easy. Here is a quick video showing you how they work.
Some of them are more elaborate with dormers, so they take slightly more time to set up, but on the whole, you can get your A-Frame camper up and ready within five minutes.
A-Frame trailer bathrooms tend to be just like tent trailer bathrooms, where the toilet is out in the open unless you pull the paper-thin curtain for what acts as privacy. The only exception is Chalet, who has an origami bathroom that folds up nicely with a real door. Here is a video showing the setup of that trailer.
The Chalet XL 1938 is the only A-Frame trailer with a full sized bathroom with a real door. Here’s the floor plan.
Here’s a video showing one that was for sale. She has some trouble with her camera, so you’ll have to turn your head to the side to see parts of it, but it gives you a good idea.
Towing an A-Frame trailer is probably just as easy as towing a tent trailer. It is UNAFFECTED by strong winds and you can see over it out the rear window. Despite being slightly heavier than tent trailers, I suspect they are just as safe to tow.
Just like tent trailers, A-Frame trailers can fit into almost any campsite with no trouble. And I doubt you would run into any of the elitism that tent trailers experience at campgrounds because they are so unique that campgrounds will want to put them in the premium spots.
A-Frame campers are so new and rare, I suspect you’d have just as many people wanting to see it as I did with the teardrop camper. Additionally, I’d bet that setting up and breaking camp would become a source of entertainment to anyone in the campground just because everyone would want to see how they worked.
The marketing for A-Liner says, “It takes 30 seconds to set up and 30 minutes to answer all the questions from the other campers.” If you like this sort of attention, then an A-Frame is for you. If not, having one would be an embarrassing trip every time you camped.
The Walmart Factor
Even though they have to pop-up, I bet you would have no trouble at Walmart with an A-Frame. They are hard-sided, so I suspect it would be easy to sleep. The only problem I could see is with the units that don’t have restrooms. You would have to stay at a 24 Hour Walmart or hold your bladder until they open up in the morning.
I’ve never owned an A-Frame camper, so my viewpoint might be a little off on these RVs. Their sleeping capacity is slightly smaller than I’d like and finding them used is rather difficult. I’d be interested in using one for a few months to see how that would change my viewpoint, but at this juncture, I don’t think an A-Frame is right for us.
Here are links to the other entries in this series: