I'm trying to figure out the optimal size: small enough for off pavement mobility, yet large enough for a family of four (currently a 1.5 yr old and expecting #2 Oct 1) to ruff it in. My wife thinks this box is a bit too small for us and two little girls. (And she is more of a tent camper/backpacker than I)
I've posted some pics to show it's intended use; you'll see why I want small and nimble, and light.
The van will remain my solo camper, daily driver, mountain bike/kayak/moto shuttle vehicle, and general all round sport utility van, so I'd prefer to add an inexpensive pup to the mix rahter than moving into a bigger van like a Sportsmobile.
We also often ferry out to the islands to camp and have to pay overheight charges for kayaks on the roof, so a pup with racked kayaks would keep us from being overheight, therefore the price to bring the pup would be the same as overheight charges, so that's more "camp vehicle" for the same price.
My questions for you veterans are:
When rained in for a weekend, there is no real room for the chitlins to move around inside; they either have to be in the beds or seated at the dinnette. But for the mild 4x4 roads/trails I'd tow it on, I don't want anything much bigger if at all. Do you think the next size bigger would be better?
Personally, I think an awning room would solve that problem on the rare occassion that it happens.
Without knowing the footage, does it look like it's too small to remodel the cabinet into a useable shower?
I like the idea of older/cheaper so I feel ok with tiral and error prototype projects and add ons for it. I'm sure you know what I mean.
Is there a major difference in how the older models will deal with storms compared to any newer models with any newer technology, so to speak? (We are in the pacific northwest and certainly can get some weather)
I'd prefer a pop up tent trailer as oppossed to the full off road trailers with a roof top tent on them like this http://www.adventuretrailers.com/chaser.html: My adventures are not that extreme and also the fam needs to be able to stand up and spread out a bit in shelter from the elements.
My version would be a bit lower with tires and wheels matched to my TV so spares can be shared etc.
Backroads 1 was the same size,about 8'.It was used mostly on gravel logging roads,as extreme as your crossditch.Size wise we didn't have any issues,two boys and a lab.
How often does it rain ? Rain gear can be fun,remember the McDonalds ommercial? If that's the case,it would be good you helped in the wipe down.An awning is handy,since most cooking should be done outside,and if you're smart, by you. A Coleman stove rigged for propane is much better than any other gas stove. I ended up building a stove shelf that hung off the side.I tied into the main tank,Backroad 3,a Creekside 20FQ (Nash) TT,even came from the factory so equiped.
Trailer Sub Frame has two uses 1) to lift 2) it gives solid jacking point,those jacks are not stablizers. We've had to dig in one side and build rock pyramids on the other. With a tent trailer you can sleep anywhere in comfort,nothing,not a tent,not a camper,not even a camping trailer, can give you that kind of flexablity. Backroads 2,a 10 1/2' Starcraft was high enough,but the frame noodled when I tried to level with the stablizers. The answer are scissor jacks,with slide in pockets and a good frame.
Furnace,fridge,and lights. A furnace is nice,it dries out stuff,but the new ones need 12 volt power for the fan,maybe three nights a battery.I have a 1000watt Kipor for my trolling motor battery and use it now on the TT double batteries.Our first trailer just had a cooler instead of a fridge,we used two good steel chest coolers. On the second one,the fridge ran on propane and the beer cooler on block ice,you need both in a tent trailer.The lights don't use that much power,I ran a Coleman lattern off the main propane tank.
I've seen a couple of OLD tent trailers, that were built for this kind of travel. They were the ones that that the top/cover was in two pieces and each flipped out sideways over the wheels. the 'Bows' of the tent were affixed to the canvas, so when you flipped the sides the tent popped up. They really were 'tent trailers'.
The trailers had 14" wheels IIRC, and they had solid axles with leaf springs and shocks maybe. But the tops and the box were sheet metal construction, so fairly heavy I suspect. The ones I looked at were way old, predating the era of the Coleman PUPs. A bit of a PITA to take to a modern CG I'd think as they expanded sideways instead of lengthways. Size wise they were probably 6' x 6' plus the tongue. So when they expanded they were 12' x 6' I'd guess. Closed they looked much like a 'stepside' PU box with a 5 or 6" lid on it, and a tongue added.
Looked to be at least as capable as a "normal" 4x4 PU for off road use. The hitch probably being the limiting factor, since they used a standard ball hitch. If you see one on CL, you might want to take a look at it, for reference purposes if nothing else. The 'tent' if torn and tattered could be redone by a tent and awning shop, with modern fabrics.
Here's a link to a more modern one but same principal. Looks to have smaller wheels and be lighter built.
Width wise on the newer campers (PUPs), a friend of mine who's taller than most, found the Viking was the widest one on the market i.e., a longer bunk for taller people. So depending on the width of the trails you travel, you might want to avoid the Viking because of it's width?
I've seen of course the new Off Raod PUPs, they seem to be basically a Landscaper type trailer with a PUP dropped on the back over the axle. Piece of cake depending on the size of box you want/need. You can also switch to a larger/heavier axle, with correspondingly larger tires and wheels. There's plenty of that type of stuff available both new and on the secondary market.
* This post was
edited 07/09/12 05:53am by rehoppe *
I'll take a poke at the aspect of rain and living indoors. Anything is going to feel small when you're stuck inside with little people - even if there aren't little people. Taking an older PUP and redoing the interior floor plan is a good idea. Get rid of things you don't want or won't use. Storage is going to always be a struggle, so keep an eye out for how to maximize that. In my first PUP, I opened up compartments that the manufacturer had sealed off because they contained the water heater, electrical or the lift system. I built barriers around those components to protect them but turned the rest of the compartment into usable storage. Don't get boxed in, so to speak.
You're on the right idea of adding external rooms to expand your base. I have the standard awning on my PUP and have a tarp specifically sized to make a wall on one of the sides. I also have a FirstUP canopy (EZup clone) from Walmart with the solid wall add-on to turn it into a floorless tent, basically. I put the FirstUP right up next to the edge of the awning and I have a LOT of room outdoors that is relatively weather-protected. This helps immensely.
So, I would say this allows you to stay in the smaller sized PUPs and just work on extending outward. I only deploy these things as needed. I rarely use the awning but almost always put up the FirstUP whenever camping, since I can move it around the campsite wherever it's needed. The really nice thing about the FirstUP versus some of the other canopies is that the sqaure frame legs go straight down, instead of outward at an angle. This lets me bungee them to the awning's support legs as well to keep everything stable and together. A bungee at the top, one at the bottom and stakes in the ground to keep it from moving or getting blown around. If you've got winds, you've got a bigger problem - get those things down quickly.
We take along a container of toys and games that we try to stay away from until it's needed. There's much more outdoors we'd rather be doing, but for times when we're stuck inside, this helps a lot. We ban the DVD player from the campsite (stays in the TV until road time) and any other electronics...that's just us.
You must take care of the ladies, so work that cassette or portapotti in there somehow. You could do a separate portable shower shelter outside with a porta potti in it and not use up PUP interior space.
I've used that on a few trips. Don't get the one with the sectional tent poles but instead get the one like the picture that has the wire in it that you twist around to collapse it. I had the tent pole variety and it took forever to set it up. I like fast and simple, as I'm not usually camping just for the experience of setting up equipment.
"Storage is going to always be a struggle, so keep an eye out for how to maximize that. In my first PUP, I opened up compartments that the manufacturer had sealed off because they contained the water heater, electrical or the lift system. I built barriers around those components to protect them but turned the rest of the compartment into usable storage. Don't get boxed in, so to speak."
I did the same,and will do that again on the new TT.
I used 13"s,steel belted radials of course. The departure angle was good enough for where we went,but 14"s would have been better.
Axel,Backroads 1 was a '76 Bonair, I replaced the first #1500 axel right after I got it home with a #2000(2" tube). That one got bent,just one side,chuckle,and was replaced with a #3500 with full size brakes.Most older PUPs seem to have bent axels,so you'll likely be replacing it any way. I would strongly recommend shocks as well as a #3500(3" tube) with brakes.S-10 fronts are a good size and common.
Tents,the newer ones are vinyl and velcro,the older ones are canvas, zippers,and inserts.Go with the newer ones,they are so much easier and more rot resistant.
Check the roof my sister,after camping with us in her tent, bought a new Dutchman. Within a year the roof rotted,our sister-in-law got it replaced. I have built roof for a tent trailer,it was a lot of work. Building a frame is easy.And I work much better in wood than steel.
Dust.Everything was in bins and plastic bags.Strange,the wife did the same for the TT.
T.Low,I'm just bit north of you, in Abbotsford. From most of your trails, it looked like eastern Wa.
PAThwacker,you might be right,the newer ones are chipboard and particle board,not the most vibration resistant fastener holding materials.But,even before I lifted the trailer and more by wrong turns,I took it down roads like those.
I've spent a lot of time driviing thru Timmy's at the Abbottsford crossing ont he way to go paddling the Chiliwack, and the Chehalis is as beautiful as any river I've ever been on. Used to go to Chiliwack to the old barn to watch Matt Butcher play for the Chiefs, and the first year in the new building.
The pics are southeast Oregon, central Cascades, and the cross ditch is actually Rainy Rd out of Port Mellon, BC.
We'd like to take the kids to Owyhee River Canyon, the Sunshine Coast, thru the Cascades, etc.
This is a route down from one of our favorite spots, but I'm not sure a trailer can follow.
What is going to fall apart, the wall/floor joints? The fold out sections, the mechanisms? Is it not just a case of needing to be reinforced?
My wife stopped by Burlington Camping World today and checked out an E3 Toy Hauler pup. The slideout is nice, but I'm figuring that has to be a candidate for failure on any type of off pavement situation.
I don't want anything that long anyway, of course. It was just for a point of reference.
One reason I'd like to get an older one is so it doesn't really matter if i cut it up and modify it here and there.