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Topic: My Aliner Experience

Posted By: hessp on 05/08/13 05:05pm

I have been lurking here since January researching Aliners and other Aframe campers. I know that others lurk here attempting to learn about these unique campers and would like to share our recent experience.

My husband and I purchased a 2013.5 Aliner Expedition Titanium Edition Front Dinette Rear Sofa with toilet and shower in February. We took it on a road trip to Florida spending 5 nights (2 nights going and 3 nights coming back). We never went off road and never intended to - we always planned to camp with water/electricity/sewer (for the grey water). We are retired and travel with our two small terriers.

Upon returning home we both decided that the Aliner was not for us. Problems: lack of storage, lack of a real bathroom, plumbing issues - in particular drainage and water pressure/sink, poor use of space (dinette too large, bathroom takes up too much of the available floor space), lack of good fit and finish, difficulty in setting up the bed and taking it back down, etc. Pluses: easy to tow, easy to hitch, and the cute factor.

While I believe the Aliner is a great idea in theory, it did not work out for us from a liveability/practicality stand point. On other RV forums the advice to buyers is always to buy the floorplan that most closely meets your needs. The Aliner seems to appeal to people that want to change the Aliner to meet their needs, i.e., people that want a project. This is not what my husband I wanted - we just weren't aware of this until we actually tried to use it. We have no tolerance for visual clutter and for trying to adapt ourselves to a camper. We
realized that we want the camper to suit us - not the other way around. We found out the hard way that we were unwilling to spend the kind of money we paid for the Expedition only to immediately have to tear it apart to make it suit us.

We traded in the Aliner yesterday on an Idea I15Q travel trailer with the Genius Package upgrade. We absorbed a significant financial loss but ended up with a 13,500 BTU roof mounted air conditioner, wardrobe closet, a real bathroom with a door, cherry cabinets, electric awning, wall mounted 19 inch television with a digital antenna, 30 gallon fresh, grey, and black water tanks, and the list goes on and on. All of this for less than the Aliner cost and the actual weight was
pretty close to the Expedition.

I still love the idea of the Aliner and am not trying to bash it at all - it just wasn't for us. In all of my research I didn't come across an analysis written by someone who actually experienced living in an Aliner. Most of what I read was either an overly critical commentary complaining about leaks, axles, etc. or a cheerleading one that made it sound like the greatest thing since sliced bread. Again, I'm not trying to be overly critical so no flames please! This is just my experience which I hope will be of some benefit to others down
the line. If you think that you want this type of camper you really need to do some soul-searching regarding what your expectations are and where your interests lie.

Hopefully our Tiny House will find a good home with someone who will love it and appreciate it for what it is and for what it offers. We clearly were not its forever home!


Posted By: robsouth on 05/08/13 05:17pm

hessp wrote:

a digital antenna


What is a digital antenna?


"Sometimes I just sit and think. Sometimes I just sit." "Great minds like a think."


Posted By: ScottG on 05/08/13 05:20pm

Very interesting insight, thanks for posting. We kind of had the same experience many years ago with a small PUP - it just didn't fit our needs.
You may not know this but it's kind a a crime here to announce you have a new trailer and not show us pics [emoticon] (hint, hint!)

Enjoy your new RV,

Scott


Posted By: hessp on 05/08/13 05:23pm

Sorry, I needed to be more specific. Our I15Q came with a HD TV Antenna with a Built-In Digital Signal Meter.


Posted By: naturist on 05/08/13 05:48pm

Thank you for sharing your experience, and I fully appreciate the nuances of your conclusion that you'd bought the wrong camper for YOU. And not that you meant to criticize the A-liner itself.

There are important lessons in there for selecting a camper or anything, actually.






Posted By: gheicher on 05/08/13 06:31pm

I have had an Aliner for the past 10 years. For me it is a "travel trailer" for two not a "family camping trailer". By that I mean it is great to tow behind my SUV, I almost never stay more than three days in one spot, and many times its just overnight and never unhooked. The quick setup makes it ideal for traveling but I will agree that the interior space is minimal, especially for more than two people. The hard sides provide some added security as well as no wet fabric to fold. So for me the Aliner is a specialty market, but I have seen a family of four camping at a state park in the smallest one, the Alite, and having a great time - Different strokes for different folks.

I do also have a semi-folding Starcraft hybrid for times when I plan to stay many days at one place rather than just travel. Much more spacious interior with a real bathroom and shower. My Campers.


Posted By: retired4fun2002 on 05/08/13 07:38pm

Thanks for sharing your ideas, recommendations, etc., it could help someone make a solid decision. I have friends with an ALiner, they have talked about the lack of storage, but I believe they try and carry way too much gear. Enjoy your new home, safe travels.


Posted By: ElBesoBlanco on 05/08/13 10:52pm

Sorry to read about your Aliner not working out for you. I felt the same shortly after I boufht my lite weight Jayco travel trailer. I bought it new, paid for it in full and kept it for 6 years before finally admitting to myself that I bought the wrong trailer for my needs. I commend you for not waiting as long as I did to realize it wasnt going to work for you. I didnt buy my A Frame to make changes - it works for me & anything I do to it is to personalize to my particular needs. Its definitely not designed for long term living nor are they designed for large families....singles or couples are ideal and weekend camping or use as a personal motel room roadtrips (save hotel/restraunt fees). People dont buy A frames for their storage compartments - if so theyd definitely be trading them in for something with "more".
Glad to read you found something that fits your needs better. Too bad a person couldnt rent the model they want to buy before a purchase is made....happy camping!!


Greetings from eastern Washington!
2012 Flagstaff T12SDTH (Hardsided Toyhauler Pop Up)


Posted By: Golden_HVAC on 05/09/13 03:32am

Hi,

I know some friends with a A-Liner. Not something I would want to buy.

Yes when I did buy a motorhome, the salesman admitted that they can not design the "Perfect RV" for everyone, and one that is ideal for one will not be ideal for someone in a different situation.

My friends do "some" dry camping, but would rather be in a campground that has showers and toilets, they actually camp close to them. I would rather not be in a campground, and especially not near the restrooms.

I spend more time dry camping, so the 100 gallon fresh water tank, 2,700 pound cargo rating, and space to store extra chairs, large bathroom, extra battery, and large space on the roof for the 400 watt solar system are the highlights of my RV. The dis-advantage is it only gets about 7.5 MPG, and is a dedicated motorhome, not a lower cost trailer that is towed by a daily driver. And if I wanted to go to dinner, I either have to bring along another car, or put everything away, and drive the 30' long motorhome out sightseeing, to the supermarket, or whatever.

It is so much easier to take a car than the RV. I have a Manx dune buggy, and a Ford Edge. Either is towed by the motorhome, and I could take one to certain locations, the other to the rest. Both are street legal, the buggy is only 1,500 pounds and gets way better mileage.

I can recall a co-worker who bought a Chevy truck and travel trailer. Traded them in on a 27' long class C. Decided that a travel trailer was acually better anyway, and traded back to another this time used GMC dually and another trailer. Did not like it either, and went back to the class C, kept it over 5 years.

Fred.


Posted By: slowp on 05/09/13 08:13am

I spent a week in my Chalet Alpine. I'll be doing that again. I didn't get it to live in, I got it to travel with and camp in. My camping experience has been from backpacking tent, to a bit larger tent, to a teardrop, and now the Alpine. It all depends on what you expect and want to do.

I don't need a TV--I keep and take books along. I've got a very small radio, and don't cook any fancy meals--I'm camping. WA and Oregon have very nice state parks in nice locations, and I have dry camped with it in a cattle pasture. There was a porta potty there.

Now I do think I have more storage space because my model was designed with bunk beds. There is a large space below a twin bed, which I use, and the space has room for plastic containers AND my Lab.
His bed takes up half that space.

I guess I think of it as a more luxurious tent with a sink, fridge, and heater.

I've just purchased a hammock to camp in on backpacking trips. That'll really make the pointy trailer seem very luxurious.


Posted By: smokedummy on 05/09/13 08:29am

Wow the i15Q is a VERY nice little travel trailer. I had no idea anyone made a small high-end trailer like that (other than little airstreams I guess). Enjoy!


2012 Skyline Mountain View Retro 140, 16'.



Posted By: happynow on 05/09/13 09:33am

Thank you for sharing your experience, your comments are helpful. We are tent campers figuring out our first RV purchase. Feel that a Hard Side Folding Pop Up meets our wants/needs best. Cost of these units is higher than anticipated so we decided to delay purchase, learn more in an effort to purchase our 2nd camper 1st! Everyone has different needs, this is a good example.

Have researched the "livability" factor of the Hard Sided Folding Pop Up units, experience based info is minimal. Share the full bathroom concern. Chalet 1938 is a similar HSFPU and Trailmanor 2720 unit offers a low profile camper to meet that need.

We truly enjoy the outdoors and camping experience, will do long distance trips but not Full Timing.We are not looking for a second home. A small towable is our compromise to getting older and wanting basic comforts while traveling.

Appreciate your insights on clutter (I have no tolerance) and the dinette size as I have thought dinettes too large in some units, have paused when looking at models without a dinette and offers a couch with side tables instead. You have given me new aspects to consider. Thank you!


happynow

Steve and Carol


Posted By: hokeypokey on 05/16/13 06:20pm

In our A liner, we removed all cushions and the table. In it's place, we put a good mattress for a futon and leave the bed made up all the time. Handy husband built in cupboards with sliding doors at the front and we modified the dinette seats to 2/3 size to allow the cupboard. We use lap trays to eat, if we eat indoors. He also made a counter on legs which sits over the sink so I have more counter space. As you said, you didn't wish to modify your camper but we did. We've been on a 5 week trip to Alaska and a 3 week trip to the West Coast. No complaints. You learn to do with much less and it works for just the two of us.


Posted By: Lowsuv on 05/20/13 09:56pm

to the OP , thank you for your experiences .
i had no idea that the aliner was so confining.
the obvious advantage of the aliner to me is that you can get buy with a minimal tow rig .
what is your tow vehicle, please ?
is that same tv adequate for your new trailer ?


Posted By: gerrym51 on 05/21/13 01:28pm

sounds to me that a trailmanor would have been a better choice.


Posted By: hessp on 05/22/13 04:06am

Lowsuv wrote:

to the OP , thank you for your experiences .
i had no idea that the aliner was so confining.
the obvious advantage of the aliner to me is that you can get buy with a minimal tow rig .
what is your tow vehicle, please ?
is that same tv adequate for your new trailer ?


Our tow vehicle is a Jeep Grand Cherokee 6 cylinder 3.7L engine with the factory tow package (includes a transmission fluid cooler). The Aliner had a dry weight of 2020 lbs and our new Idea i15Q's dry weight is 2585. We do not carry any water and only a few lawn chairs, hoses, food for 2-3 days, minimal clothes so I estimate that we carry a few hundred pounds extra. The tow capacity rating for the Jeep is 3500 lbs and we have had no trouble pulling both the Aliner and the Idea.

Our reasons for initially selecting the Aliner were ease of towing (low wind resistance and good visibility), simplicity of systems (easy to fix ourselves and lack of complexity/things to go wrong), and ease of storage. We discovered that sometimes simplicity just makes things more complicated!


Posted By: hessp on 05/22/13 04:13am

gerrym51 wrote:

sounds to me that a trailmanor would have been a better choice.


We looked at Trailmanors but did not like the floorplans (too much unneeded sleeping area, lack of a dedicated eating space in the smaller floorplans, time to setup, and the somewhat primitive nature of the bathroom). Their availability was also very limited in Virginia (only one dealer) and we did not want to have to drive hundreds of miles for warranty or dealer repair work.

We are very happy with our Idea i15Q and only wish that we purchased it first.


Posted By: gerrym51 on 05/23/13 11:02am

hessp wrote:

gerrym51 wrote:

sounds to me that a trailmanor would have been a better choice.


We looked at Trailmanors but did not like the floorplans (too much unneeded sleeping area, lack of a dedicated eating space in the smaller floorplans, time to setup, and the somewhat primitive nature of the bathroom). Their availability was also very limited in Virginia (only one dealer) and we did not want to have to drive hundreds of miles for warranty or dealer repair work.

We are very happy with our Idea i15Q and only wish that we purchased it first.


and the aliner had a non-primitive bathroom. i will agree that trailmanors are expensive and don't have a lot of dealers. i looked at them and set one up at a dealer- really not a long time however i ended not buying any rv


Posted By: sushidog on 05/23/13 06:10pm

Congrats on your new camper! BTW, what do you pull your Travellite with and what kind of MPG do you get? Yes, an Aliner is a specialty camper that is not right for most people. On the bright side, I'm sure someone will now get a good deal on a slightly used Aliner - like we did.[emoticon]

We customized ours extensively to make it suit our needs. Most Aliner owners do. We rarely use our dinette, and couch. Instead, we leave it made into a king bed which gives us very little room to move around inside, but with just the 2 of us camping we're fine with the intimacy. But frankly, what other full-featured (king bed, shower/cassette toilet, fridge/freezer, microware stove, air conditioner, etc.) hard sided camper can you pull with a 4 cyl car and get 22-25mpg towing, and still have a 30+ mpg vehicle to tour the area when unhooked? Of course if you don't travel much and can afford a big dedicated fuel hungry TV then this may not be important. For us, the great gas mileage is less important than the expense of buying, insuring, maintaining, etc. a dedicated TV. We now have over 230,000 miles on our little Chevy Cobalt (about 30k miles towing) and it still runs great, towing our 1,700lb (loaded) Aliner up and down the steepest grades at the legal speed limit (up to 75mph across Texas 2 weeks ago).

We easily live with the cramped space inside. This forces us to spend more time outside when we camp. If you like to stay inside a lot, then you would probably go stir crazy in one. If we're just over-nighting, we often don't unhook, (perfect for those 700+ mile days) like we did a couple week ago at a visitor's center, like this.
[image]

If we plan on staying a while then out comes the screen room, awning and all the goodies, like this:
[image]

Different strokes for different folks. I hope your new camper suits your needs as well as our Aliner suits ours.

Chip


1999 National Tropical
Triton V10, Ford F53 Chassis



Posted By: gheicher on 05/23/13 07:44pm

hessp wrote:

We are very happy with our Idea i15Q and only wish that we purchased it first.


Very similar to Starcraft AR-One 14RB except instead of the sofa the Idea i15Q has a dining area. Having the always down bed and a separate dining area is a nice feature. I have a Starcraft AR-One 15RB (hybrid) which is similar to the Idea i16. I needed the extra sleeping space for when my daughter goes along.

Your 3.7L Jeep should have no problem towing. I have a 4.2 Ford Explorer and it does well with the 15RB. I also have an Aliner Classic and the V8 Ford hardly knows it is back there.


Posted By: bondebond on 05/23/13 11:26pm

sushidog, you bring your pet bird along?? At least where I live and have lived, I would keep a close eye on the sky for anything looking to make a meal of your friend. Too many raptors cruising.

Otherwise, quite the set up you've got there. Is the awning from the factory, 3rd party or personally made?


This space left intentionally.

2006 Fleetwood Sequoia and mods...one of the tallest highwall pop-ups on the planet after flipping the axle.



Posted By: sushidog on 05/24/13 05:53am

bondebond wrote:

sushidog, you bring your pet bird along?? At least where I live and have lived, I would keep a close eye on the sky for anything looking to make a meal of your friend. Too many raptors cruising.

Otherwise, quite the set up you've got there. Is the awning from the factory, 3rd party or personally made?


Yes, I've had my sun conure for 27 years. We always take her camping with us. She's fully fledged and can fly back to the camper or more often, fly under my shirt if she feels threatened. She always comes when called. Raptors are my biggest fear, so we both keep a sharp eye out. She likes to hike the trails too, sometimes visiting nearby trees. Occasionally visitors will ask: Aren't youn afraid she will fly off? I always reply, if you had a dog for 27 years would you be afraid that it would run off some day? Of course not, we couldn't get rid of her if we wanted to.

[image]
This is what we look out for. This eagle was at land between the lakes on the Ky/Tn border.

[image]
Sunny at Horsetrough Falls Near Helen Georgia.

[image]
For some reason she liked this tree, making for a beautiful shot.

[image]
A close-up of her enjoying a mountain stream in the smokies. She actually wanted to get down in it and take a bath in the babbling brook! Ihen I brought her to the edge at a safe spot, she touched the ice cold water and would have none of it, running back up my arm to snuggle next to my neck.

Sorry for the hijack. [emoticon]

Chip


Posted By: sushidog on 05/24/13 05:56am

BTW, the awning is a home made design. I wanted a small awning for my Aliner, but couldn't find any design I liked, so I went to the drawing board and designed my own.

This was my design criteria:

1. It must be quick and easy to set-up (like the Aliner) with only 1 person.
2. It must be simple, with few parts, lightweight, yet durable (no rust or corrosion).
3. It must be easy to build and inexpensive, no rope, cables or turnbuckles, and it must take up very little space when stored.
4. Though built primarily for shade, it must be waterproof and sturdy enough to take mild weather. If hit by a heavy gust of wind it should give way rather than act as a sail and tip the camper.

Let's see how I did:

1. Moving at a normal pace, I can erect the Aliner with my new awning (from its normal travel configuration with awning disassembled and stored under the sofa area) in less than 3 minutes (timed by DW to keep me honest).
2. There are only 6 pieces to assemble the frame and attach the awning (not counting the 3 threaded sockets permanently attached to the camper). My goal was to keep it under 10lbs. It actually weighs less than 5 lbs!
3. The frame is made of three pieces 1/2" schedule 40 PVC pipe with both screw and push fittings. The awning is made from a 10mil woven plastic tarp (twice the weight of the typical 5mil blue tarps) for durability. I chose this material as it is lightweight, waterproof and extremely durable. When cut, the ends don't fray and unravel (so no stitching around the edges is needed.) It's also easy to repair and cheap to replace if it gets damaged. Not counting the Velcro and the plastic pipe glue, which I already had, I built it for under $20 thanks to Lowes!
4. I used Velcro to attach it to the frame and camper - no ropes or clamps. Not only is this simple, fast and easy, but if the wind load exceeds the strength of the Velcro, the awning will come loose and spill the wind before it rips or overturns the camper.

Here's some pics:

Awning Album

Chip


Posted By: xteacher on 05/29/13 06:29pm

I'm sorry you didn't have a good Aliner experience. We bought our Aliner Classic in 2012, and so far, we're enjoying it. We haven't made too many modifications, but we've bought several things to make the experience more enjoyable. At first, we were overwhelmed with the lack of space, but we've become used to it and now enjoy figuring out ways to make the most of the small space.

*We bought an REI camp kitchen to keep all paper goods, cooking gear, coffee maker, toaster oven etc. in outside (no food though); the 2 burner stove fits on a bracket on the side of the camper (with a propane hookup), or it can be used inside, if necessary.
* We bought a Trekker porta-potty shelter for our porta-potty is great for those night time emergencies, or when we're too far from a restroom to make it.
*We've also bought several slide out drawers that stack on a counter (dry foods/towels/foldable clothes/dog stuff) for storage - they work great, and they store under the table and bed during transit.
*In addition, we have an Easy-Up in the place of an awning, which we love! It's 12x12, so we actually like it better than the awning we used to have on our TT.
*We use the back of our Pathfinder as our hanging closet (we have a hanging rod across the back end for hanging shirts and pants), to avoid junking up the camper with all of our clothes.
*We have an x-pen for the dogs to hang out in outside, along with folding dog camp beds - spoiled? Yes!
*We put a bike carrier on the back of our Pathfinder. We load one bike, then hitch up, then load the second bike - works great!
*We have an air mattress/memory foam topper for our queen sized bed

Would we love a bigger camper? You bet! However, we enjoy being able to store the camper in our garage (saves us $50/mo. storage fee), and we enjoy the ability to have a "normal" tow vehicle with decent mileage (21 +/- mpg non-towing; 15-18 mpg towing, depending on speed/grade). This beats the 8-10 mpg (along with a hefty monthly payment!) of our former truck we towed our 31 foot camper with. Insurance, tag fees - everything - is cheaper with our Aliner.

We're becoming very resourceful in making our Aliner work for us. We even take our dogs with us - our 60 lb. boxer sleeps under our slide out queen couch/bed (which we leave in a permanent bed configuration) - yes, he crawls under there on his elbows - LOL,and the little dogs sleep on one of the dinette cushions on their beds(sorry, no dogs in bed with us...).

Yes, it takes more effort in planning to camp in an Aliner, but the ease/cost of travel and set up is worth it to us.

OP, I'm glad that you found a camper that fits your needs better.

[image]
[image]

* This post was edited 05/29/13 06:37pm by xteacher *


Beth and Joe
Camping Buddies: Maddie (maltese/westie?), Kramer (chi/terrier?), and Lido (yellow lab)

2017 Keystone Bullet 248RKS
2014 Aliner Expedition Off Road
2013 Ram 1500 HEMI


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