After a year and a half with a Prime Time Tracer 3150BHD travel trailer, we've come to the realization that we're more interested in 'camping' as opposed to 'RVing'. In the days BK (before kids) the DW and I were into long backpacking trips and such. We're just not happy being packed into campgrounds and now would like to sell the Tracer and purchase a much smaller trailer that will allow us to camp in state forest rustic and primitive campgrounds. I've been researching popups (like the Somerset Niagara and E3 pups), and also looking at some hybrids. I'm leaning towards a hybrid at this time, but I'm a bit concerned about being able to take it off-road and fitting into some of the sites. I'm hoping some of you can give me some advice.
Tow vehicle is a 2011 F350 CC diesel - the weight police can take this thread off! I don't anticipate any serious off-roading, but some of the 2 tracks/dirt roads into the state forest campgrounds can get a bit rough so ground clearance may be an issue.
I like the layout of the Jayco X23F, but I'm concerned with the lengthg (24 feet 7 inches per Jayco's website). We have a 7 year old son and a 3 year daughter, it would be best if they didn't have to share a bed and this floor plan allows them to have their own space. I've also read that the Jayco hybrids don't have much ground clearance so that may be an issue.
Also, the Jayco X20E seems like it would do better getting into the smaller sites at under 22' length (the same travel length as the Somerset E3 off-road PUP).
We'd also like to be able to go a few days without hookups (including electrical) - any thoughts on this would be appreciated.
Any suggestions, models, or other information would be greatly appreciated!
i don't think many hybrids are up to "off-roading".
Jaycos are famous for their lack of clearance, so you should really look at that first.
KZ used to make a couple of hybrids built for being off-road, with higher clearance and bigger tires.
dirt roads are fine for most hybrids but if the road gets nasty, they aren't built for a lot of abuse.
we dry camp almost all the time, but haven't boondocked yet.
we have two 12v deep cycle batteries and a Honda 2000 and a blue tote tank for gray water.
also have a little inverter for the tv if we want it.
Dan- Firefighter, Shawn- Musician/Entrepreneur, Zoe- Faithful Golden Retriever(RIP), 2007 Chevrolet Avalanche LS, 2007 Rockwood Roo 23SS w/Equalizer and Prodigy, and 5 Mtn. bikes and 2 Road bikes
My trailer is 20' tip to tip, fits in most sites but find many of the better (to us) more rustic areas are tent and pop-up only so we are excluded. The truck and trailer combined are 40+ foot so even though it's a small trailer we still need a pretty big site. While our Starcraft has pretty good clearance the rough roads we've gone down are hard on the trailer, doors tend to open and items fly. You do however learn fairly quickly the proper way to pack it to keep things in place. Overhead clearance is an issue too, cost me a fridge vent cover in Michigan a couple years ago. Looks to me like a properly equiped pop-up is more compatable with boondocking and small sites, but you of course lose the convienience of the hybrid. Like usual, there's no perfect choice. How about keeping the Prime Time for extended vacations and either a popup TC or trailer for the boondocking.
Bob & Deb
12 F150 HD SCAB EcoBoost LB 4x4
06 Starcraft 18SB
The Rockwood 233S may be up your alley. Yes, some 6 volts batteries and/or a generator will get you camping just about anywhere. The 233 model is about 30' opened up so you should not have issues fitting into spots. All three beds are queens and the tires are 14" and ground clearance is higher than the Jayco.
Thanks for the input everyone. Right now, I'm leaning more towards a hybrid rather than a popup - spent some time online researching some of the sites I was hoping to camp at, and many of them list a maximum camper length of 16 feet. The Somerset E3 popup is almost 22 feet closed, so even that would be tough. My truck is about 22 feet long as well. I'm considering one of the 3 bunk floorplans such as the Jayco X18D and X23F along with the Roo 233S. As usual, finding an RV is all about compromise, what are we willing to sacrifice...
Mr Beebo - you mentioned the better ground clearance on your Roo, what is the clearance on it?
Also, does anyone have a 2013 Jayco X23B? It's not a 3 bunk floorplan, but the overall length shown on Jayco's website and brochure is 20'-11, but online dealers show the actual length 24'-5. Can anyone confirm the actual length, ball to bumper?
We have been very successful camping off the power grid using our Startcraft 14RT OFF-ROAD POPUP trailer.
This trailer has great ground cleance, large 15-inch tires, and all the modern 120VAC and 12VDC appliances inside including the shower/cassett pottie setup.
With kids however this would be a big challenge for you. Of course most of the time the little guys would rather tent camp next your setup and we have done that several times with our bunch.
Camping off the power grid is not as easy as one would think and will require some planning if you want to be "successful" just adding a second battery and getting by for a couple of nights is not my way of thinking to being successful.
You will need at least the two batteries with a minumum of 220AHs the more the better. You will need a 2KW Honda type generator. Your converter/charger system has to be updated to a three mode smart mode charging system, you will need to replace all of he incandescent automotive type bulbs for LED BOARDS, need to update the battery cables to larger size to use the new converter/charger smart mode system, will need to add PSW Inverter to run most of your 120VAC appliances and home entertainment center, all 120VAC bulbs will need to be changed to CFL bulbs, all outside lighting needs to be changed to LED or CFL bulbs, and then your game plan is to run what you want to run in the one day/night camping period from your properly sized battery bank. The next morning during breakfast you then can connect your trailer shore power cable to your 2KW Generator using a RV30A-15A Adapter (WALMART) and re-charge your battery bank back to its 90% charge state in a three hour hour generator run time period. This will allow you to do this all over again for the next day/night camping. If you are located in a place where generator run time restrictions are in place which is just about everywhere these days, then you may only get to run the generator for two hours in the morning and then again for three hours in the early evening but you will have enough time to re-charge your battery bank back up to its 90% charge state using the smart-mode converter/charging techniques.
We do this all the time and run just about everything we run at a regular electric camp site with the exception of the air conditioning. The National Broadcast HDTV is available almost everywhere we go and we can pick up 6-36 HDTV digital stations routinely here on the east side of the US. Kind neat to watch full blown full screen pure high def TV camping off the power grid using the trailer OTA BATWING antenna.
food for thought for using the OFF-ROAD type TENT TRAILERS...
We have been running the camping off the power grid now for the last five years in the off-road popup and many years prior to that tent camping with our trusty ole Jeep pulling a utility trailer all over everywhere.
We still like going to the regular camp grounds as well especially the Natl Forest camp grounds up around the Blue Ridge mtns and the Smoky Mtn near Gatlingburg... The north ALA-GA-NC-SC-TN mountain country is full of these type of camp grounds. DESOTA State park in ALA and CLOUDLAND CANYON State Park in GA rank among the best for us..
Don't like crowded camp sites either... Some reminds us of truck stops with all the trailer lined up in rolls.
I would think any smaller trailer in the 19-24 foot length would get you to almost any of the places you might be thinking about. I always thought the hybrid idea of the outside folding down tent beds was a neat idea as it didn't take up any of your inside room during travel. But then you may have to worry about leaks with all the extra doors... We also fell in love with JAYCO X213 model with the rear large bed slide but never got away form our OFF-ROAD POPUP campingover the years. Our Truck pulling our popup gets excellent gas mileage and does even know the 4200LB POPUP is behind it.
I have no problem at all getting up inside the Natl Forest roads with it and camp in the exotic way back places up on a mtn ridge with a mtn stream close by...
The folks that stop for breakfast are very friendly...
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My Posts are IMHO based on my experiences - PM me Roy and Carolyn
RETIRED DOAF/DON/DOD/CONTR RADIO TECH (42yrs)
K9PHT (Since 1957) 146.52M
2010 F150, 5.4,3:73 Gears,SCab
2008 Starcraft 14RT EU2000i GEN
2005 Flagstaff 8528RESS