• RV alternative?

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  • I am in the market for RV-ish vehicle: a small camper I can sleep in and live on the road, but not a full-fledged RV.

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    Question by kevin kelly
    11/26/2012
Answer by 50thomas
11/26/2012

You should look at a Silver Shadow or other models made by Little Guy. We had a large trailer (25 x 20) and sold it to go with this.

The positives are that it's basically a well-insulated tent on wheels that can be pulled by almost any vehicle. It has a queen-size bed. Adequate storage inside. The only accessories we have are five gallons of water and a two burner stove.

Many people think they want an indoor toilet / shower and a heater. We typically camp is National Forest campgrounds, which have nice toilets. We don't understand why people want to carry a toilet with them. The camper is well-insulated — body heat keeps us warm enough. Our sleeping bag is rated to 45 degrees. We've camped in 40 degree temperature. It rarely gets to 50 inside and if it does, we're in our sleeping bags.

It has a tongue weight under 100 pounds and GVW under 1000 pounds. It costs about $7500 new.

Answer by jwmci
11/26/2012

A slide-in camper is the best all-round option inmy opinion. This is especially true if you plan to go off-road and camp in the woods/desert. The lightweight aluminum framed rigs are built for 4x4 use.

Answer by epistememe
11/26/2012

A slide-in camper is the best all-round option inmy opinion. This is especially true if you plan to go off-road and camp in the woods/desert. The lightweight aluminum framed rigs are built for 4x4 use.

Answer by epistememe
11/26/2012

I don't know what a slide-in camper is. ANd are there better makes and models?

Answer by kevin kelly
11/26/2012

If all you want is a place to sleep, any pickup with a camper shell, or a van or minivan or wagon will suffice. But that's obvious, so by your question I'm assuming you want a bit more than that.

My suggestion is that you take a look at the RVs that are built on Sprinter bodies. The Sprinter is a Dodge/Mercedes van that can be used as a cargo van or modified to be a camper van. It's 22 feet long and you can park it in a standard parking space. (It's the size of a full-size truck, e.g. a F/250 crew cab truck.) The Diesel engine model will get you 20-24 MPG in the real world. My dad lived in one full-time for 3 years as he traveled all over the US. It's cramped for full-time living, but it does have everything you need, a tiny bathroom, a tiny sink, a tiny stove, a dorm-size fridge, and a queen size bed.

Answer by jcdill
11/26/2012
Answer by jrh517
11/27/2012

I like the Toyota motor homes, they haven't been made since around the mid 80's but they are equipped with bullet proof Toyota engines and come in different configurations. I particularly like the Sunrader which is a fiberglass body and approx 20 ft. long. They come equipped with bathroom, shower, kitchen, air conditioner and also a walk thru from the cab to the back. The gas mileage seems to average at around 14-19 mpg. Keep in mind that these are a lot of systems to maintain but occasionally a Toyota with less than 50,000 miles shows up for sale as they are seldom used.

Answer by aisleofview
11/27/2012

This one looked nice it was on a tv show

http://www.crickettrailer.com

Answer by tke248
11/27/2012

A full size van could work for a single or a couple. a buddy of mine fitting out a van with a plywood bed, plastic dressers from Walmart, and a good inverter to run his electronics. he used to camp all summer out west in natl forest campgrounds and national parks, relying on their restrooms. if desired, you could add a five gal. tub/toilet.

Answer by raven397
11/27/2012
1 Favorites

VW Vanagon and Eurovan Westfalia ("Westy") pop-top campers are comfortable and efficient. They can carry, sleep, and dine up to four people. There is plenty of owner and vendor support, even for the older models.

Wiki: http://www.vanagonwiki.net/ Email List: http://gerry.vanagon.com/ Web Forum: http://www.thesamba.com/ My Westy: http://www.fuelly.com/driver/sbw/vanagon

Answer by sbw
11/28/2012
1 Favorites

The most versatile RV is a truck camper and is not a vehicle at all. If you currently have a pickup truck you are already halfway there. In addition to providing compact, comfortable accommodations on the road or about town, it can be easily removed from the truck and become a fully functional cabin at the site of your choice. Unlike vans and motorhomes, each part of the combination can be upgraded or replaced separately and in most states the camper is considered cargo and does not require registration. Sizes and styles are available from small pop ups and hardsides for one or two people to palatial units with multiple slideouts for a family. For the larger truck campers you will need a truck with considerable load capacity but the smaller units are made to work with full sized half tons and smaller trucks. Good deals can be had in the used market and if you are at all handy, a well selected fixer-upper can be a good value. For a wealth of one stop information visit truckcampermagazine.com.

Answer by larrybluhm
11/28/2012

We bought a conversion van by GTRV which has been great. It's a Dodge mini-van which has a pop top added like the VW westfalias. The interior has been renovated with a fridge, stove, mini sink, and even a furnace. The rear seat folds down into a bed and the pop top has a bed as well. It's very discreet. Ours is a 1997 with 200,000 miles and its still going strong, getting about 21-22 MPG. We drove across the country and back last summer with no issues. The company does conversions like this to a couple of models of minivans and full size vans as well. I suggest you take a look at these.

Answer by topher
11/29/2012

I used to own a 1975 VW camper bus, man was it fun! But again it was an old vehicle and did not drive it in cold snowy weather. I've been thinking of getting something more modern like the 1995+ VW eurovan camper conversions. These look great but are quite expensive for late model versions.

The Samba classifieds

Fleetwood makes a few neat looking popup campers such as the scorpion, evolution and element series. The element series Neon is so small and lightweight it can be easily towed with a small car.

Fleetwood trailers

Answer by patfur
11/29/2012

This may be kind of late, but Kevin Kelly asked what is a slie-in camper. I guess there are few of them in Silicon Valley. this is a unit carried in the bed of a pickup, typically with aluminum hull and a section which fits over the cab. the size and weight vary. some are 8 feet long, thus lighter. longer ones extend past the back of the truck and require a pickup with much greater weight capacity. most have a toilet, some add a shower. most have a propane fridge and stove unit.

Answer by raven397
11/29/2012
1 Favorites

I've had a few RVs and traveled from one side of the US to the other in various vehicles. In my experience the best RV is the smallest one you can be comfortable in.

Towing anything is a PITA and limiting -- it restricts where you can park and backing up, even after you get good at it, is still no fun at all.

A slide-in camper for a truck is nice (like these: http://www.lancecamper.com/truck-campers.php) but often very heavy and require a stout truck. A camper "shell" for a pickup is basically just a fiberglass cover and I can tell you from experience they can get very cold at night! But if you fix it up right this is a great way to go.

If your needs are simple (i.e. just sleeping and don't need a bathroom/shower) a van might be your best bet. In William Least Heat Moon's book "Blue Highways" he just used a simple workman's van with a cot in the back. That's a good approach, but nowadays I'd recommend a minivan instead. They're safer, get better milage and so numerous on the road you're essentially invisible.

Answer by mike sisk
12/01/2012

Depending on your needs and your DIY skills there are a bunch of options. The Sprinter has already been mentioned and is probably at the upper end of the size and comfort range (for a small RV-ish vehicle). It can be outfitted with a shower so you can be really self-contained. Down from that are van conversions (generally subtract the shower) and the Vanagon has already been mentioned there. Camper slide-ins are also possibilities, but they generally require a substantial truck (excepting the more Euro-style ones that can be dropped on to many smaller trucks). Again, they've been mentioned as well.

If you're solo, probably the smallest option is to look at a Ford Transit Connect camper conversion. They're tiny, can come with a portapotty, and have great gas mileage. If you're comfortable living that close together (and don't come in the large, economy size), two people can travel in one of these.

If you're considering trailers, just about the smallest is one of the teardrop trailers. Again, no shower (and frequently no potty), but they can be towed by nearly anything.

If you're looking for something larger and have good (bordering on great) DIY skills, picking up your own vehicle and converting it will work. Any of the aforementioned vehicles are great candidates. Also worth considering are used box trucks. They're common, easy to work on, and the box on the back is just begging for a cool conversion unit.

Answer by kws103
12/01/2012
1 Favorites

www.livinlite.com/camplite-overview.php has both campers (from 11' to 16') and slide in truck units. We own a 16' travel trailer with all the amenities and enjoy it immensely. All aluminum construction means it will last, and their towed campers are light enough, in some cases, to be pulled by a large range of vehicles.

Answer by g503600
12/01/2012

A lot depends on your budget and your aptitude for mechanical and handyperson stuff. The Sprinter-based RVs are great if you have a budget of $50-60k. Toward the low end of the budget spectrum the Toyota-based RVs are a good suggestion, and a look a eBay suggests that a nice one should be available around $8k and below. In between, the VW Rialta might be worth looking at (usually around $16-22k), and maybe also the Winnebago Lesharo.

Beyond that, you can always watch used C-class RVs on eBay or RVTrader, and postings on Craigslist. I have seen quite a few appealing RVs sell for low prices. Good luck!

Answer by captobvus
12/01/2012

For a small trailer with good accommodations take a look at Aliner campers. I have one and swear by it.

Answer by arthurh
12/02/2012
1 Favorites

I’ve been van camping for a year now, in the western U.S., and I wrote a book about putting my little camper together. I took a “casual” approach to the interior, so it’s not so much “house-like” as it is practical and reasonably priced: http://roger-steen.squarespace.com Roger

Answer by rogersteen
05/30/2014

I don’t write any book on camping but have lots of good and bad experiences to share with all. I am not sure all people like my views here but i always like to tell truth. seoexpertsindia.com reviews

Answer by markjonson
06/24/2015
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