Back in 2010 I shared some time with a Swiss couple traveling in Mexico.
Wonderful time getting to know them. They had shipped their small truck camper sized motorhome from Europe to South America. Then spent 10 months traveling South America. By the time I met them they were heading north for the US and more travel in North America.
Both Swiss couples do not want bigger rigs. Their idea of the perfect rig is the smallest that would do.
Very thought provoking for my average American bigger is better mind set.
But maybe I was already in that small can be better mindset when we bought our rig.
Our 2004 model Lance Lite 915 has been just right. It has room where we need it headroom is 82 inches, but no extra, floor length is only 9 and 1/2 feet long.
We've looked but have found nothing we like better.
Our camper has been from Key West to Fairbanks, but not far at all when compared to the Swiss couples.
Anyone else feel the smallest that will do can be better?
"Camping" is the common thread that brings us to a forum like this. From there, the commonality ends. Everyone has a different style that suits them and some have multiple styles. When I ultimately grow up, I want a smaller is better unit and another as big as my stick house. Each will have their place.
Truck: 2006 Dodge 3500 Dually
Camper: 2007 Eagle Cap 850
Boat: 2003 Jetcraft 2125 - Yamaha 150 HP & 8 HP Kicker
The key phrase her is 'would do'. I could go smaller, but it wouldn't have 2 propane tanks, wouldn't have a shower, wouldn't have enough seating. If I couldn't take a shower inside on a dark cold windy evening, well that just 'wouldn't do'. That would describe my first camper, and one of the things I most appreciate about my current camper.
I wish I could get a camper that has the same amenities in a smaller lighter cheaper camper, but that would fairly well defy the laws of physics.
2006 Bigfoot 9.4 LB 2500 series. Rides on a 2007 Ford F350 6.0 SRW Torqshift
Here's some background on our RV history befor I throw in my two cents:
We started out in a short bed pickup with a camper shell (cap). We would camp at state parks cooking over an open fire and sleeping in the back of the truck. We were in our early 20s.
We moved up to a 10ft camper and started bringing other couples along because we had the room. With this camper bad weather was not a problem. We could play games or cards inside and stay warm and dry.
Next we got a 23ft Travel Trailer. Now we invited friends with kids because we could sleep up to 8 and had a great bathroom area. Air conditioner meant even hot weather was no longer a problem so we could camp when and where ever we wanted. We had this TT through our mid 20s up until our late 40s.
Since our late 40s we have a 37ft 5th wheel with slideouts. It's 364 sq feet of comfort. We have had dinners with 10 for Thanksgiving in the 5th wheel. We never feel cramped. There is a place for everything we need so we don't have to move several items to get to another item. We actually go camping in bad weather just so we can sit inside and listen to the rain and watch the storm as it goes by.
So here's my two cents. When we were young we were willing to put up with hardship and our bodies were able to cope with the struggle.
As we get older, I'm headed toward 60, it's not as easy to recover from the struggle. I look for ways to stay comfortable. I don't want to climb up into the back of a pickup bed to go to sleep and then have to get out several times during the night to visit the facilities. I don't want to pack and unpack stuff just to get to the stuff I need.
If the weather is bad, I want to be out of the rain and cold.
I like having a recliner, big screen TV, Satellite box and my computer plus other creature comforts.
We don't do as much hiking, biking,water sports or other activities as we did in our 20s & 30s. It's time to stretch out and relax in comfort. We now have 364sq ft of paradise that we can take to whatever spot strikes our fancy.
I do say to each their own....if a small RV works for you that's great and it's your piece of paradise. It's just that my paradise is bigger than yours...LOL
That's one of the reasons we have both. When we need room, haul toys or camp with a larger group we take the 5th TH. When we want to get away on the spur of the moment or travel lite we take the TC. The best of both worlds IMHO.
Leaving out purchase and diesel cost, the size of the camper is often related to the space in the environment you are operating it in. If you are driving off-road in the US to the extent that Whazoo does then you aren't going to be able to cope with a large motorhome or triple-slide truck camper on a long bed double-cab DRW F450. But generally in the US roads, parking, camp grounds, etc. are large enough to not cause you too much pain with a large RV.
If on the other hand you travel in other parts of the world (especially the UK as many have seen from my trip reports) even a small motorhome means you are struggling to find anywhere to park (UK parking spaces are a tight fit for a compact car like my Honda Civic). I can just about fit my truck and camper into such spaces. Plus I spend a lot of my travel time squeezing down roads where the scenery is brushing either side of the camper. Even a size upgrade to an F250 short bed would make my life more difficult.
So in summary it is all a matter of context.
'07 Ford Ranger XLT Supercab diesel + '91 Shadow Cruiser - Sky Cruiser 1
'92 Suzuki Samurai 4x4 1.6
'09 Fiat Panda 1.2
'10 Citroen DS3 1.6 turbo
I thnk everyone has an idea of what it takes to make them comforatable, and hence what "will do".
Honestly, I believe there are a group of folks that are willing to not be comfortable. Or they are comfortable with not being comfortable. I know some folks that are so tight with their money they squeak when they walk and they would definitely rather be uncomfortable than spend the money to be comfortable.
Approaching retirement, SIMPLICITY is my goal. Everything I own from a vehicle to a rusting hand tool demands my attention. I am tired of it. For me, it is not big or small or "making do," it is simplifying my life to focus on what is most important. Usually that does mean smaller, but not always.
One of the greatest discoveries from using our former 23 foot motor home to our planned small truck camper is not figuring out what I think I NEED to bring along. Instead, I relish finding out how many things I DON'T NEED. Everything I leave behind is one less thing to store, unpack, repack, fix, insure, clean and so on. To me THAT brings me far more comfort than an extra couple feet of leg room and space for more toys.
Finally, I don't really "camp" much. I travel and explore. All I need at night is a place to relax, write in a journal and sleep. Often this means boondocking in a field, truck stop or Walmart until the next day's adventure dawns.
That is why I am working hard to assemble a simple, comfortable truck camper on a half ton F-150 heavy duty base. I travel to escape all the "things" that control so much of my life. The smaller and simpler the better for me. I know that to be comfortable, others want to take along a lot of toys and creature comforts. Both styles and everything in between works, but only IF you come home happy and relaxed.