anybody that dry camps or boondocks a lot, should have 2 batteries already.
this reduces the time you need to use the generator to recharge.
we dry camp all the time and i just added a 400w inverter for the tv and dvd. also to recharge electronic things.
Anyone who "boondocks a lot" should have AT LEAST two batteries and, as smkettner said, solar charging capacity.
Members of our astronomy club travel to many, remote, dark sky sites in a variety of motor homes and travel trailers. We all have solar and use it to charge not only our RV batteries but also batteries to power our telescope mounts, computers, and imaging equipment. You'd be amazed at how much better the boondocking experience is without the constant hum and fumes from generator(s).
Coachmen is manufactured by Forest River, so the "new" Coachmen is very different then some of the legacy products they made. I found the Freelander to be very well equipped for the price. The new Redhawk is a slightly de-contented Greyhawk. One thing I found, the Jayco had better cabinetry and the structure felt more robust. The Jayco also features a longer warranty.
If it were my money I'd buy the Jayco. Give the Sunseeker line a look, very nice units for the price.
Coachmen is not "manufactured" by Forest River. Coachmen is owned by Forest River but has it's own manufacturing facilities, workforce, and independent management of it's division.
I own a 2005 Coachmen Freelander 3150SS. When the purchase of Coachmen by Forest River was in the works, and after, I had extensive contact with employees of the the "old" and "new" Coachmen since I was concerned I'd have an "orphaned" product. I was, and still am, impressed with their dedication to their product and customer service.
Coachmen did not get sold to Forest River because they "failed", they were sold because they became a drain on their parent corporation which instead has focused on modular housing and commercial/emergency vehicles. Unfortunately, and just as the economy and RV market as a whole was tanking, Coachmen was provided with faulty sidewall materials with the net result that they had expensive warranty obligations to replace and repair them. In the sale to Forest River, escrow accounts were established to cover these repairs. The parent corporation sued the manufacturer of the sidewall materials, prevailed in court and was given an extensive award, and the defendant/supplier promptly declared bankruptcy.
I have not had a single major "coach" related problem with my Coachmen RV. No leaks, no structural problems, no large repairs. For that matter, I haven't had a single system fail or require above normal maintenance. I've replaced batteries, tires, and the TriMark entry lock only. The rubber roof was cleaned and treated annually and the edges, protrusions, (vents, vent pipes, etc.,) checked and sealed with Dicor as necessary. Though it has relatively low mileage for a 2005, currently at 41,792, most of that has been "rough mileage" with frequent trips to remote mountain and desert "dark sky" sites with our astronomy club much of it on unimproved roads.
It has served us very well and I take it anywhere with confidence. We love our Coachmen, and I'd buy another. That's the end of my "First Person" review.
BTW, those who say the Jayco Redhawk has a fiberglass roof are wrong. Per the "Standards and Options" page, under "Standard Exterior Equipment" it says, "Seamless one-piece rubber roof"...and "Fiberglass front cap and wings" only.
I don't run a set of passenger car tires more than six years...and I certainly don't advise it with an RV. This is especially true with Michelins. We had only run 32,000 miles on the Michelin "Cross Terrain"s, that were installed in November of 2006, on our Expedition. These tires had a 65,000 mile tread wear warranty on them and they only looked about half worn out but were developing some small cracks in the sidewall (mostly right where the tread meet the sidewall).
A week ago Saturday I went out in the morning and right front was flat. I noticed that one of the cracks was a little bigger and extended further into the sidewall. I thought, "Surely that's not why it went flat?" I aired it up, sprayed some soapy water on the crack, and sure enough bubbles came foaming out right where the tread met the sidewall. This vehicle doesn't get a lot of mileage put on it but we had driven it when we went out of town the night before due to the threat that snowfall would close our highway pass. Personally, I think we came darn close to having a catastrophic failure on the highway.
The thought of such a failure is scary enough in a light truck, scarier still in a Class-C motor home. I never let the motor home go that long, and will never let a passenger car go that long again...regardless of tread wear.