Dream Camping Vacation-Your Input Pls

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Grandmotherbear, Mar 1, 2004.

  1. Grandmotherbear

    Grandmotherbear Well-Known Member Supporter

    May 14, 2002
    Fl Zones 11
    I'm posting this here because I had a dream that I had done so, and my VR buddies here have never steered me wrong. Grandfatherbear and I are talking about semi retiring, and now that he has a bionic hip he is open to thoughts of camping again. We are discussing the possibility of a lengthy trip (North country, including Canada and Alaska) before moving to our cabin on the lake - (ETA 2006ish) I am a ultra lightweight fanatic who doesn't mind roughing it, but he does need to be comfortable in his sleeping and sitting arrangements. We don't have a van, our 2 cars are compact and lightweight. I saw a motorcycle pulling a small camper once at a campground, so I have done some internet research and will post the links. I would appreciate your well thought out comments, and/or actual experiences.

    1. www.trailmasterinc.com - The Aspen compact. For an actual video of the 7 second set up, see the video at www.leesurelite.com (which is similar but apparently doesn't have a sewn in floor)

    2. www.cozycruiser.com ; the trailer, not the truckbed.

    There are smaller models at Quicksilver, but they are verging on claustrophobia for me.

    We are of course on a budget, but with a long lead time we can look for gently used etc. Also, on 12V appliances, can I haul an ordinary 12 V battery and recharge at campsites with electric, or must I use the car battery via the cig lighter and how do I keep from running the charge down too low??.

    Thanks for any comments.
  2. Rather than use the auto battery, I would suggest you get a battery isolater and install a second deep cycle battery. An isolater costs about $15 from J.C. Whitney, and will allow you to use the same charging system as the vehicle. It will isolate the vehicle battery so that it never runs down.

    I don't know what 12 volt appliances you had in mind, but I would suggest that you get 110 volt ones and purchase an invertor to convert the 12 volts to 110. Vector makes a number of models, one around $100-$125 should work fine. If you get a larger one you would probably just deplete your battery too quickly.

    I used to motorcycle camp and just used a cargo trailer to haul a good tent and supplies. Others that I motorcycled with did get the fancy fold out models, but I'm not sure the extra price would be worth it.

    My trailer was a Shoreline brand and of fiberglass. It pulled like a dream. Even loaded you hardly knew it was back there. I also pulled it behind my Triumph Spitfire on occassion. They were both a burgundy so looked made for each other. I finally sold it so as to have more space in my garage.

    I carried a 12 volt battery on the tongue frame just in front of the trailer body. I also mounted and carried a 10# LPG cylinder to use for my 3 burner camp stove and small gas grill.

    To get even more information on what small trailers are available, you might want to buy a touring motorcycle magazine and see what they have to offer. There is a nostalgic movement toward the teardrop trailers such as the Cosy Cruiser you pictured. There are rallies across the US for them. Easy to build as a do it yourself project.

    Have great fun and stay safe.

  3. stickinthemud

    stickinthemud Well-Known Member Supporter

    Sep 10, 2003
    SW PA
    Once upon a time when I was a kid (1967-on our way to Expo 67 in Montreal) we were camped at a site along the St Lawrence River thinking the four of us were stuffed into our VW Beetle. Then a couple rode in on a motorcycle. They had a tent, sleeping bags,. cooking utensils, and even a couple of small birch logs for their campfire. They have always been my role models...

    Are you planning a road trip where you stay at a different place most every night? If you are considering a trailer, borrow or rent one for a short trip before you decide. Once when I was a kid we took along a small boat trailer (behind the underpowered VW Campmobile that replaced the Beetle). It was a pain. With a trailer you can't just stop anywhere- parking is a hassle, backing up is an art form, even moderate wind is dangerous, tolls are higher, forget about using a parking garage. Just stopping for a greaseburger becomes a hunting expedition when you have to find trailer parking.

    We took our Dream Camping Vacation in 1999. Our family of five (kids then 16, 13 & 10) spent July driving across the USA in our Dodge Caravan. We camped with our tent about half the nights, spent a week with friends in California, and stayed in motels/cabins the other nights. We didn't take a trailer or roof rack. We all survived & even enjoyed the trip.

    So my recommendation would be find a mini-van. A camper conversion would be ideal, but a Grand Caravan is long enough to put a futon or daybed mattress in if you remove the rear seats. It will fit in parking garages and looks & insures like an ordinary car ( I hear RVs have a high rate of break-ins.) Compare buying or renting one to the price of a trailer (include insurance).

    Whatever you decide to do- good luck and have a great trip.
  4. gobug

    gobug Well-Known Member Supporter

    Dec 9, 2003
    In addition to the isolater, inverter, and deep cycle battery, consider a small solar panel. You can buy a panel for $50 at Harbor Freight ($40 on sale). Its about the size of legal sheet of paper. The panel is a common addition to motor homes and acts as a trickle charger for the battery set-up. It lessens the load on the car electrical system and gives a longer camp time without discharge worries. By adding the panel, you can increase the size of the inverter. With 2 deep cycle batteries you could use a 1000 watt inverter. Thats sufficient to run multiple 110 volt devices at once.

    Popup trailers are comfortable. I'd prefer small because they take less effort to set up or tow.

    I've camped all over CO and would be glad to share some of my secret spots if you are interested. I used to rough it - backpack into the wilderness. Now I favor established campsites next to wilderness areas for the comfort and convenience. These sites provide toilets, water, fire pits, and picnic tables. I like having the extra stuff that can't be carried on your back in the wilderness, yet still being able to pack a lunch and take a hike. To make my favorite list, they must provide privacy from other campers and a stream.
  5. seraphima

    seraphima Active Member

    Feb 13, 2004
    We live in Alaska, and have done a fair amount of camping here, towing our small pop-up camper. 6 years ago we also drove across the whole Lower 48 with a different, but also small camper.

    Alaska has some challenges. You will pretty much have to stay on the road system, unless you are going to fly or boat into areas without roads. (20 % of the villages, towns, or cities in Alaska are on the road system.) Mainland Alaska has a lot of mosquitoes during the warm month of July- by midAugust the frosts are killing them. Many campgrounds are at the foot of glaciers, and therefore very cold at night. Think at least 0 degree bags, or combination bags and fleece blankets. Think hats at night! the camping and fishing are great, but there are also a lot of bears, moose, etc. Hitting a moose on the road will most likely total a small car, but not the moose, which may be annoyed. I would strongly urge a bit larger car with a higher suspension and 4-wheel drive. If you are going north off the beaten path, you will need a car rack to carry extra jerry cans of gas and water.

    On the plus side, people are scarce enough up here that they will stop and help you if you get in trouble. The scenery is just unbelievably beautiful!!!! It is truly awesome. The drive either way from Glenallen to Fairbanks, or Glenallen to Palmer, are both astonishing. I like the Denali highway, going west. (trumpeter swans and wild blueberries, too!)

    This is really not ultralightweight backpacking country. One option that lots of people like is to rent an RV- bigger, warmer, and hard sides if in bear country.
  6. Hank - Narita

    Hank - Narita Well-Known Member

    Aug 12, 2002
    If you like camping make sure you travel Hwy 1 in Oregon and CA. It is a trip you will never forget.
  7. Hoop

    Hoop Well-Known Member

    Jan 1, 2003
    Northern Wisconsin
    About 5 years ago, I purchased a Time Out pop up camper, which I pulled behind my motorcycle on trips. It sets up in about 5 minutes and provides plenty of room for me.
    It weighs in at around 270#, not exactly a small trailer to be towing behind a motorcycle. If one loads it up with sleeping bags, air beds, pump, cooking utensils, etc......it can easily tip the scales at over 400#. In no way would I even consider a trip to Alaska towing a big (for a motorcycle) pop up camper such as this. Braking distances are severely reduced, thus becoming a safety issue. If one had to do a panic stop.....about the best they could hope for would be to get the motorcycle slowed down from "instant death" to "severely maimed". I could tow the camper behind my bike at speeds up to about 85 mph riding 2 up on the bike. It didn't wobble or anything at speeds higher than this, but it just didn't "feel" right. Towing a trailer behind a motorcycle at 85 mph is plenty fast enough!
    I use it for staying at a campground (Glencoe) for the Sturgis Rally in South Dakota, as well as excursions closer to home.

    Personally, I think a pop up camper such as the Time Out would be far better suited behind a car/truck/SUV if one is traveling over hilly terrain.

    A pop up camper such as the Time Out http://www.timeout-trailers.com/nc/pages/campers/index.html costs about $3500 new. I was fortunate to purchase a used one in very well kept condition for $350.

    I'd think a popup camper such as the Time Out would be nearly ideal for towing behind a car/truck/suv on a meandering vacation. For a car/truck/suv, it is so light that you'd likely never even notice it behind the vehicle. Even a smaller car such as a Saturn pulls this without effort. Its far better than horsing around a bigger camper that may be top heavy, hard to tow, etc.
  8. Grandmotherbear

    Grandmotherbear Well-Known Member Supporter

    May 14, 2002
    Fl Zones 11
    Hey, my father took me to Expo 67 also! It was our 4th or 5th trip to Eastern Canada! Remember HABITAT and the after hours discotheque?

    The time out trailer was the link that didn't work off my search page. A tad bit more complex in set up than the Aspen or Leesure lite, but nice to hear about your satisfaction with it.

    I had NO idea there were motorcycle touring magazines.

    We had camped in our Astro van back in the 80's. The fold down seats didn't make that comfy a bed and we had a bit of trouble with ventilation. We had sheets of screening we tried to clothespin to the door gaskets to get airflow and keep out the skeeters. I guess it WAS easier than towing a trailer, but not much.

    I was wondering about a solar recharger myself.

    Thanks for the ideas!!