Here I go again....

TCWanderer

New member
I'm just about done with a month long cross-country sojourn hauling my Camplite 16DB. All has been well except for the fact that I can't just go do off-schedule things along the way because a) I had to reserve spots ahead of time to stop, and b) many touristy things are extremely difficult to stop at when hauling a TT. So, I am still wanting to get a TC.

I'm between an Alaskan, a Hallmark, and a 4WC. Something like a Lance is out of the question because of weight and construction.

The major thing to be overcome is that I have a health problem with mold. It is not an allergy, so dead mold is just as bad as live mold, for me. So buying a used one is completely out. It has to be new, and it has to be able to be maintained such that it will not develop mold over the five or so years I hope to use it (I am 67.)

I was all set on an Alaskan except I read that they develop rot, which means they very likely will mold. They have a lot of wood in them, and wood is a huge risk for mold if exposed to dampness or leaks.

I was all set on a Hallmark but to get one set up the way I need, is $30k (same price as an Alaskan, and I am not rich.) But it would have no wood (built to my specifications.) But I don't know about possible leaks and whether it would mold "anyway," from the occasions of having to be put away wet.

The 4WC is extremely attractive both weight wise and price wise (my payload capacity is 2600#, which is an axle rating, not a spring rating, and I refuse to overload my truck. But the 4WC has a lot of wood in it, and like the Hallmark, there is a tent-like portion that is going to sometimes be put away wet.

I also must have a freezer, and I don't care if I have to install my own Engel, but food allergies require my own cooking and freezing. If necessary the Engel can ride in the truck all day and be transferred at night to the camper.

I'm worried about all of them having water trapped between the bottom of the camper and the truck bed, and developing mold from the bottom up.

So: those of you who own one of the above, have any of you noticed it leaking or developing ANY kind of musty smell? No matter which one I get, I will get it with zero fabric and zero cushions because those are things I regularly have to throw out because of mold contamination. My Camplite's cushions and couch have been in a storage area for $36 a month ever since it was new in 2012, assuming I will put them back when I sell it (looking like new.) The inside is bare metal and I sleep on an LL Bean metal cot with an air mattress, both of which are washable.

Yeah it's a high order and if I have to, I'll just keep the Camplite, but I want to go to Glacier Natl Park next summer and wander the West, just as I am now finishing wandering the East this month. And I want to be able to just stop at a state park somewhere that has camp sites and stay there as long as I feel like it.
 

UHAULER

Explorer
Have you looked into having one of the custom camper builders build you a custom composite shell ? That would be your best bet.
 
Don't rule out the Alaskan, they make a great camper. We just bought a different brand, but it was so close. I think the Alaskan is very well made, and will last a very long time with normal maintenance. Interior room was what swayed us to a Northern Lite.

Another Popup to consider is the All Terrain Camper. Similar to FWC, but a smaller company that is very customer focused. Unlike FWC, All Terrain is very willing to customize to meet the customer's needs. They get excellent reviews on Wander the West.
 

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TCWanderer

New member
Dos anybody have any input on my principal question, which is whether any of the referred-to camper owners have ever noticed any musty smell or mold development? I've done tons of research on what is out there, but have no data on my most important question. People who make these are extremely unlikely to say "Oh yeah of course it leaks and gets moldy."
 

madmax718

Explorer
Everything will grow mold or musty smell with time. i've found that human skin and oils are what mold first if moisture is high.

Anything with a pop up/out function will automatically be more prone to leaks.

Livinlite (I know they got bought out by somebody) but they use an all aluminum construction.
 
How you care for the camper will be a huge factor in whether or not you're going to develop mold. The sleeping human body produces a lot of moisture that will condense on cold surfaces, like a popup canvas. The secret is to have ventilation when sleeping or cooking, and to wipe down the interior surface prior to bringing the top down, and airing it out after a trip. Insulation under bed cushions reduces condensation there. Allowing air to get under cushions when stored is helpful.

It's my belief that a hard side popup like an Alaskan will have far less potential for condensation than any of the cloth side models. They have a foam filled top, and are extremely well insulated. That said, if you're diligent with a cloth side popup, you're not going to have issues. Both ATC and FWC are very well made, and not prone to leak. The ATC campers are more affordable. BTW, you do know that the floor packs on Alaskan, FWC and ATC are wood? Basically, take care of it and it will be fine.

I'd suggest a road trip if you can. Both ATC and FWC are in the general Sacramento area, and Alaskan is about 60 miles north of Portland. Go see them being built, talk to the builders, inspect the construction. All of these companies are reputable, and you will get honest answers to your questions.
 

cchoc

Wilderness Photographer
With the vinyl sides on my FWC Eagle I do get condensation inside when I run the furnace. I am careful to dry it out after use and haven't noticed any mold/mildew or musty odors but the moisture could certainly lead to that.
 
2015 Hallmark here, picked it up in January last year. We've had a few nights where it was in the teens, but mostly nights in the 30-40 range (and one wonderful night in Palm Desert where it didn't get below 100...). Have not had any condensation issues, haven't seen more than a fog on the plastic windows. We haven't cooked big pots of spaghetti or anything like that so not adding excess moisture. We live in Seattle and unfortunately don't have covered storage for it so it sits out all the time. Gone through 2 PNW winters and have not found any kind of leaks, I keep one of the big moisture absorbers in it and also open and air it out every so often. I think the composite panels help reduce heat transfer so there aren't as many cold spots to let moisture condense on. I'm sure there's probably more moisture in there than I realize but so far have not found any issues. It's definitely a little more "full figured" than a FWC, and probably not as well insulated as an Alaskan, but real close.

While the Hallmarks are considered pricey, you do get what you pay for. Like the Alaskans, they're built to order to your requests so there's a lot of design flexibility and customizing without extra expense.
 

LuckyDan

Adventurer
I own an old Grandby. As for molding on the bottom I've never had that happen to mine. Mine sits directly on the bed, thus the "ribs" on the floor of the bed allow any water that may get down there to drain away and the camper does not sit in water. The newer FWC's and ATC use a single layer soft wall and don't trap moisture like the older foam lined soft wall. That said they can get moist inside from condensation. Probably the most susceptible spot for mold is the roof, but the newer ones use a one piece roof eliminate a lot of that potential. You mention the potentional to be put away wet. While they do just fine if put down wet as In moving day to day in wet weather, they need to be put away dry just like any tent.

All Terrain Campers, or "ATC" has already been mentioned. I've consulted with, and bought parts for my old FWC from ATC and have had nothing but great service from them. Rumor on the web is they are more open to doing custom work and I'd guess could do an all non pours interior if it helps. I can say the few ATC's I've seen up close and personal appear to be well built.

Good luck with your pursuit.
 

TCWanderer

New member
Thanks. I live with windows open all the time, no matter the temperature. So I don't use a furnace or an AC, and insulation is immaterial. My travel trailer (Camplite) has windows that hinge at the top and can even be open in a light rain. Despite some leaks, it has not molded in the four years I've owned it (lived in it for three of those years.) Since Camplite changed hands, they stopped using metal roofs and went to rubber roofs, started using wood, and the previous owners of the company lied about the weights. So I bought an F150 because Camplites were "designed for" F150 trucks but were WAY over the axle rating of even my heavy duty payload version. Unfortunately I found all this out after I bought the truck. So to say I am unhappy with Camplite is putting it mildly.

I wish more people who actually own these would chime in. I maintain like crazy and my things always look brand new many years after I have purchased them, but that doesn't mean that problems can't occur. I'm just trying to figure out my best route for avoiding problems as much as possible.
 

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rotti

Adventurer
I wish more people who actually own these would chime in.
I have some experience with FWC campers. Purchased a new Grandby in 1983 and used it for 25 years mounted full time on my truck. No leaks and especially no mold. Only problem I had, other than normal maintenance, was a replacement of the rear door. That camper covered many of the 4wd roads here in Rockies and was solid. Sold it for more than I paid for it.

Bought a new truck in 2012 and a new FWC Hawk. Four years now mounted full time and again no issues with leaks or mold or anything else. I will say I live in a fairly dry climate and my rigs are parked in a garage (a big advantage of pop tops if you have a 8' door). In certain situations I noticed some condensation over the cab over ceiling and I have dealt with that by airing out with the FF fan and the many windows. If packing up in the rain/snow be sure to dry out the folding panels as soon as possible.

Both my light weight FWCs were/are mounted on 3/4 ton trucks and I would highly recommend that approach. Fully loaded I am carrying about a ton. Great campers.

 
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