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Camper help

Old 04-13-2009, 04:28 PM
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Default Camper help

Wife and I have desided to start looking for campers. Bottom line, i'm buying a cheapo Surburban for towing but have some questions from more experienced campers. The debate is starting with which type of camper works best.

1. RV / Driving camper - I thought this would be the best style for us so I can tow my boat as well when going camping but then realized yesterday that how do you launch the boat at the ramp with the camper??? I am worried about upkeep and the maintenance bill.

2. Towable - All different sized and priced right! Although I would have a maintanence cost with this as well with an old Surburban.

3. 5th wheel - By far my favorite and it seems you can get the most out of your money. Don't think I can find a decent pick-up for the money I want to spend so I think this one might be a mute point.

What say you??
Old 04-13-2009, 04:57 PM
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I have had all three and here are my thoughts.

RV lots more upkeep and insurance is higher

towable not much upkeep and you have the option of leaving it somewhere and just paying lot rent to keep it there,as I did.

fithwheel,I had one for a few months and loved the way it towed but hated the way it slept.more often than not the master bed is in the front and it makes it a bitch to get out of bed and to get dressed as there is no head room.I had to get down into the living room to get dressed.
Old 04-13-2009, 05:04 PM
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Great info! Anyone else???
Old 04-13-2009, 05:10 PM
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How about a camper that IS a boat?





http://adventurecraft.com/
Old 04-13-2009, 05:26 PM
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^^^^^

ha!- That refugee from the 70's bathtub RV/boat keeps making the rounds on different boating sites.


We've had various RV's from a VW pop-top camper up to our current Class A diesel pusher.

Your use will determine which would work best for you.

Short w/e trips or cross-country? Full-timer?

Number of family members that will be using it 95% of the time?

Will towing your boat be an occassional thing or most of the time?

Do you have a place to store it at home? Size limitations?

Do you have a "usual" place that you would like to use it at or will you be exploring new places?

Will you be buying the Suburban for towing the boat or the future RV?

Just to get things started...
Old 04-13-2009, 05:55 PM
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Short w/e trips or cross-country? Full-timer? Short trpis within Florida for a while and if things go well, start heading out a little further.

Number of family members that will be using it 95% of the time? 2 Adults / 2 Kids / 1 Dog / 1 Gnd Mother from time to time.

Will towing your boat be an occassional thing or most of the time? Occassional thing. (really unknown at this time)

Do you have a place to store it at home? Size limitations? Yes / No

Do you have a "usual" place that you would like to use it at or will you be exploring new places? None, never done this before.

Will you be buying the Suburban for towing the boat or the future RV? Surburban will be a tow vehicle only for the most part. I need something for the boat any how but I figured if we are looking at Campers, might as well go with a Surburban for longer trips.
Old 04-13-2009, 09:41 PM
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With the Suburban as a tow vehicle, you will be limited to a travel trailer.

If you can, get a 3/4 ton Sub for the increased towing capacity. Though, today's "lite" series trailers are an alternate choice that might work well for you with a 1/2 ton Sub too. A 1/2 ton should also tow your boat just fine.

A travel trlr from about 24' up to about 28' should do just fine for your usual group of three adults and two kids plus your dog. And it will be an easy tow. Plus, most campgrounds can easily accomodate that size rig. You'd be surprised how many places can't accept rigs over 30' long. Especially state parks. You won't be able to take the boat along though (unless you have another tow vehicle).

If you go with a motorhome, you might look at the Class C units. Those are the ones that have the cabover style with a van front end. The cabover portion is usually a bunk that both kids can sleep in. They usually have a sofa-bed and a dinette that folds down in addition to a full size bed for you and your wife. We liked ours that was set up that way. With the kids sleeping in the overhead bed and the sofa-bed, we still had our own bed and the dinette for our late evenings and early mornings.

Get one with a slideout unit. They vary in size, but the most popular ones are called the "super-slides" and they usually contain the sofa-bed and the dinette within the slideout portion. The slideout adds a tremendous amount of interior room to the coach.

Typically, the Class C units are lower to the ground than the Class A's are, plus they are easier to drive. Towing capacity is generally 5,000 lbs. You can have a "backup" or rear-view camera installed so you can monitor your boat while you head down the highway or for maneuvering the campground or launching the boat. They are worth their weight in gold!

If you go the Class C route, stick with an E-450 chassis (Ford. I don't know how GM rates theirs). Some MFG's use E-350 chassis's to help keep the price down. Don't go there!

Their length varies from 22' to 31'. I'd recommend that you look towards the 27' to 30' range. Most of them come with a 4.0 Onan genset.


The Class A units range from 26' up to 45' (a bus conversion). Your use could be satisfied with a 28' to 32' range. With the Class A, you will lose the overhead bunk, unless you find a unit that has the older style drop-down bunk, but those are hard to find since most folks prefer the entertainment center front and center to the interior. Most tow capacities are still at 5K with the avg gas powered Class A. Floorplans are similar to the Class C's (with the exception of the overhead bunk).

For your stated use, I don't see why you would need a diesel unit.

Fifth wheels are the preferred RV of choice for full-timers. They have multiple slideout units and have plenty of storage. As mentioned, some of them have limited headroom in the forward sleeping area, but pretty much anything over 30' will get you plenty of headroom throughout. You will need at least a 3/4 ton pickup to tow a fifth wheel unit that will do what you want it to.

With both the travel trailer and the fifth wheel, in most cases you will not be able to have passengers ride in the unit going down the road. Some state laws do vary on that though and will allow folks to ride in the fifth wheel due to its connection to the tow vehicle.

You will have to pay for a motorized vehicle registration with the self-propelled units and just trailer reg for the travel trlr and fifth wheel. No engines to maintain either (except for the genset). Insurance isn't bad either way, since they are not considered full time use vehicles.

There are plenty of great deals out there on slightly used RV's right now. Check out he autotraderonline for their RV section. Plenty there.

Another site that is great for RV'ers is RV.NET. Plenty of good info there.

I hope I helped you out some.

If you have any questions, just let me know. I've been RV'ing for almost 40 years, so I've been around...
Old 04-14-2009, 05:16 AM
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Originally Posted by ABoater View Post
With the Suburban as a tow vehicle, you will be limited to a travel trailer.

If you can, get a 3/4 ton Sub for the increased towing capacity. Though, today's "lite" series trailers are an alternate choice that might work well for you with a 1/2 ton Sub too. A 1/2 ton should also tow your boat just fine.

A travel trlr from about 24' up to about 28' should do just fine for your usual group of three adults and two kids plus your dog. And it will be an easy tow. Plus, most campgrounds can easily accomodate that size rig. You'd be surprised how many places can't accept rigs over 30' long. Especially state parks. You won't be able to take the boat along though (unless you have another tow vehicle).

If you go with a motorhome, you might look at the Class C units. Those are the ones that have the cabover style with a van front end. The cabover portion is usually a bunk that both kids can sleep in. They usually have a sofa-bed and a dinette that folds down in addition to a full size bed for you and your wife. We liked ours that was set up that way. With the kids sleeping in the overhead bed and the sofa-bed, we still had our own bed and the dinette for our late evenings and early mornings.

Get one with a slideout unit. They vary in size, but the most popular ones are called the "super-slides" and they usually contain the sofa-bed and the dinette within the slideout portion. The slideout adds a tremendous amount of interior room to the coach.

Typically, the Class C units are lower to the ground than the Class A's are, plus they are easier to drive. Towing capacity is generally 5,000 lbs. You can have a "backup" or rear-view camera installed so you can monitor your boat while you head down the highway or for maneuvering the campground or launching the boat. They are worth their weight in gold!

If you go the Class C route, stick with an E-450 chassis (Ford. I don't know how GM rates theirs). Some MFG's use E-350 chassis's to help keep the price down. Don't go there!

Their length varies from 22' to 31'. I'd recommend that you look towards the 27' to 30' range. Most of them come with a 4.0 Onan genset.


The Class A units range from 26' up to 45' (a bus conversion). Your use could be satisfied with a 28' to 32' range. With the Class A, you will lose the overhead bunk, unless you find a unit that has the older style drop-down bunk, but those are hard to find since most folks prefer the entertainment center front and center to the interior. Most tow capacities are still at 5K with the avg gas powered Class A. Floorplans are similar to the Class C's (with the exception of the overhead bunk).

For your stated use, I don't see why you would need a diesel unit.

Fifth wheels are the preferred RV of choice for full-timers. They have multiple slideout units and have plenty of storage. As mentioned, some of them have limited headroom in the forward sleeping area, but pretty much anything over 30' will get you plenty of headroom throughout. You will need at least a 3/4 ton pickup to tow a fifth wheel unit that will do what you want it to.

With both the travel trailer and the fifth wheel, in most cases you will not be able to have passengers ride in the unit going down the road. Some state laws do vary on that though and will allow folks to ride in the fifth wheel due to its connection to the tow vehicle.

You will have to pay for a motorized vehicle registration with the self-propelled units and just trailer reg for the travel trlr and fifth wheel. No engines to maintain either (except for the genset). Insurance isn't bad either way, since they are not considered full time use vehicles.

There are plenty of great deals out there on slightly used RV's right now. Check out he autotraderonline for their RV section. Plenty there.

Another site that is great for RV'ers is RV.NET. Plenty of good info there.

I hope I helped you out some.

If you have any questions, just let me know. I've been RV'ing for almost 40 years, so I've been around...
amazing information and we really appreciate it! Your right, lots of great deals at the moment. Craigslist is another good place to look and we look daily and have missed some good deals but more will come.

I want to start cheap to ensure the family is into camping. I learned that leason with boats.

Thanks again!
Old 04-14-2009, 06:49 AM
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Hey Smitt, I have a 335 Montanina looks like new , only used maybe 10 15 times, its a high end quality wise tow behind if youre interrested let me know.
Old 04-14-2009, 07:21 AM
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I've had several campers as well and have learned a few things. I have a 5th wheel now and tow my boat behind it with my cummins powered p/u with no problems. My 5th wheel is a 285 model which is about 30' long total. With this set up I can go to the campground, unhook the boat, set up the camper, and then I'm free to use my truck for running around or to launch the boat. With a motor home, you can tow the boat and launch it, but you have to disconnect everything to move it or go on day trips like shopping or exploring.
Once you have decided on the type you want, there are a lot of things to consider. Only experience will answer many of the questions but I'll give you a few hints from what I've learned.
Many 5th wheels have the bathroom setup in the front just behind the bedroom. some of them have the shower or some part of the bathroom IN the bedroom. I find that unsuitable. You are either banished from or a prisoner in your bedroom if someone else is using your bathroom. I chose one with the shower/toilet in a private room with the sink and a closet in the hallway between the bedroom and the living room. That way the bedroom is always accessible as is the bathroom without excluding either.
Slide outs are very nice. The extra room that they give you is great, especially if you have little ones.
Cabinets inside can be great or horrible. The cabinets over the slide can be hinged at the top so that the doors open upward. I don't like that feature, as it limits access pretty badly. I chose doors that are hinged on the right or left and swing like regular cabinet doors. There is much better access to the inside that way. One model I looked at had the rear bath with the door knob on the right. The pantry was next to that door with the hinges right next to the knob. If you opened the pantry with the bathroom door closed, you could only open it about half way and then the door would hit the know and eventually pry the hinges loose. Those are little things, but every time I go camping I don't wan't to be angry about the cabinet doors.
There is a great floor plan for kids. The bunkhouse is in the front with an intertainment center in it. The bathroom is right behind it. The master bath is in the rear with a 1/2 bath in it!
There's a lot more info, but Work calls.
Mike
Old 04-14-2009, 08:09 AM
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I wanted the smallest walk around queen bed trailer I could find for our trip to Alaska. Paid $9,999 for it brand new. Couldn't be happier after that 13,000 mile trip.


Pulled it with an F150 w/ 4.6

Liked Alaska so much we went again with the boat.


Pulled it with an E350 w/ V10 - we camped in the van while on the road and the boat while on the water.



Personally, I wouldn't go overboard right off the bat. We opted for the plain jane travel trailer with no slide outs to keep things as simple as possible...and we're still using it!
Old 04-14-2009, 08:33 AM
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For 10 years I had a 22' travel trailer. The insurance was cheap,something like $150.00 a year and with it stored in the yard it was handy during power outages!
Old 04-14-2009, 08:40 AM
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Originally Posted by tommyr904 View Post
I have had all three and here are my thoughts.

RV lots more upkeep and insurance is higher

towable not much upkeep and you have the option of leaving it somewhere and just paying lot rent to keep it there,as I did.

fithwheel,I had one for a few months and loved the way it towed but hated the way it slept.more often than not the master bed is in the front and it makes it a bitch to get out of bed and to get dressed as there is no head room.I had to get down into the living room to get dressed.


We had a Winnebago Chieftan when I was a kid. Used it a lot. What I remember is ;

a - lousy milage

b - if you don't tow another vehicle, you have to make and break camp EVERYDAY if you want to get out and then you are driving a big r/v around

c - EVERYTHING makes noise when traveling. pots & pans, plates & glasses, forks & spoons, cabinets and drawers squeaking. Not pleasant on a long drive.

d - upkeep, always had to repair something. Just like an automobile, you can't let it sit for 6 months than expect to jump in it and go.

I would look for a nice trailer.

Old 04-14-2009, 10:56 AM
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Excellent deals to be had right now. I have been cruising Craigslist and have seen a 2003 28' with slideout in perfect condition with fiberglass skin for $8k. Very well appointed. It is a buyer's market 4 sure on used campers. This size should be able to be towed with a half ton no?
Old 04-14-2009, 11:11 AM
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We, the Admiral and I, have been using a 21.5' fifth-wheel since 1993. It is nothing special but we hook it behind our truck, currently a 2500HD GMC Duramax Allison, and then put the boat behind that. We toodle down the road to the lake and campground and drop the boat by the water and then park the fifth-wheel. When we do this, we don't hang around too much in the trailer, we're on the lake fishing for 8-10 hours a day, just enjoying life. No slide-outs and not much headroom. However, it will sleep six, if they're not too tall or big and generally only the Admiral and I use it.

If you decide to get a pull trailer, make sure you get sway control bars for at least the trailer. Had a friend try to pull his trailer with the boat behind it and only got about 2 miles down the highway before the boat and trailer started swaying so much he had to take the boat off the trailer and tow the trailer to the lake about 90 miles away and then come back and get the boat. Fortunately, we haven't had that problem with our fifth-wheel.

Good luck in your search and enjoy the time with the kids, it's way too short to not do so.
Old 04-14-2009, 11:23 AM
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Nothing like a 5th wheel and proper truck. If you have not towed a hitch camper and then a 5'er, then you can't appreciate the difference.

Yeah, it takes a substantial truck, but the ride and backing into tight places is just awesome with a 5'er!

Headroom and space in the front bedroom is a function of design on 5'ers. My 5'er is great for that, with a bedroom slide and and queen bed. Cheaper units don't have the headspace in the nedroom or the bedroom slide.

We were going to Alaska in ours, but our plans got cut short by a terminal illness in the family and our buy of a coastal residence. PM me if you would like to see my Fifth Wheel that's for sale. It's nice.

Even if you dont buy, we can show you what we like and give you some pointers you can use for comparing your RV options.

Our unit is located in SE North Carolina near Calabash.
Old 04-14-2009, 05:26 PM
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Just as a side note, towing "doubles" might not be legal in all states and in some cases might require a special/upgraded "class" of driver's license.

It is a cool sight to see a trailerboat being towed behind a fifth wheel going down the highway...


Since it looks like the OP is getting a Suburban and won't be towing the boat everywhere as well, a travel trailer in the mid 20' to upper 20' length range with a slideout would probably work best.

Lower initial cost, lower insurance, lower DMV fee's and lower maintenance.

Yet still all of the fun!

Check out the KOA.com site for places local to your area. They specialize in family RV parks that not only cater to the RV crowd, but they also have rental cabins that your friends can stay in too. They do vary in quality though.

If you end up liking RV'ing, I'd suggest a membership in one of the more private camping clubs/parks.

Some of the public places can be a nightmare.

In life, you can't pick your relatives or your neighbors. In an RV park, you might end up with the neighbors from "heck" for your entire stay. An RV membership is no guarantee, but it makes a HUGE improvement!
Old 04-14-2009, 07:13 PM
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Been camping for years is a Coleman Pop up easy to tow and when opened up she's 24' thrown a 16' aluminum boat on the roof of the pop up many of times
Old 04-15-2009, 04:35 AM
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All,

Again, AMAZING information that my wife and I really appreciate! I knew the "Hull Truth" would come through. Here is a small update:

Still looking for a tow vehicle but will take my time and get the right truck.

I look at a 1988 Chevy big block dually. Checked out great but desided to wait it out another week to see if something else comes around and that will dictate what type of camper we get. I will update when the vehicle is picked out.
Old 04-15-2009, 05:50 AM
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I cant believe that it is legal to tow a boat behind a trailer.

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