RTT off-road trailer vs. enclosed camper

zimm17

Observer
I know the differences on paper, but what about real world experience from you guys who are living the dream?

Towing with a Wrangler. Plan to take it to off-road parks/trails and sleep in the campground or parking lot, but also be able to tow it on overland missions which are mostly rough forest roads and dirt roads.

On trips, it's just me. But I'm sure my 2 boys and wife would like to tag along on some adventures. Maybe bring a tent for the boys.

How's life with an RTT?

I'm coming from a 17' Casita so I'm used to having everything- full bath, hot shower, kitchen, etc but it's just too much size/weight and it can't handle off-road at all. I love the idea of having the air conditioner, but really I don't want to camp in RV parks anymore. I'll rig up solar and a battery or 2. A propane forced air heater would be nice.

I'm kind of stuck between thinking along the lines of the Intech Pursue so I have a climate controlled box but only room for 2 people, or getting a off-road trailer like a Ruger and putting a RTT on it. With a roof top air, at least I can plug in an extension cord if I happen to be somewhere with power, say a campground in Moab or a friend's driveway.

I keep the ARB fridge in the Jeep and I have a table and camp stove, so no real need for a "kitchen". I think I can get by without a bathroom either using a portable Clean-waste go-anywhere bag system. I "wag bagged" for a 2 week trip without issues.

I'll come up with an outdoor shower solution because on the 2 weeker, we ended up hitting the occasional motel just to clean up and reset our gear.
 

Hilldweller

SE Expedition Society
We started with a Conqueror:


And I loved the heck out of it. Went anywhere the Jeep could go. But, ultimately, the care and feeding of canvas convinced us to sell it and get a teardrop. If we were out west where there's less of the wet stuff, different story. But camping in the SouthEast means it's going to rain. Then you have to get your canvas dry or suffer the consequences.

If you have a garage that's big enough for you to open up the tent when you get home it still might be a good idea for you.
 

SBSYNCRO

Active member
I would echo that sentiment regarding climate/weather conditions. I’m in So Cal and for me the Turtleback with RTT is perfect.

Unfolding/folding the tent is not much work and I love the modularity of being able to hang an annex for lots of “stand-up” room. I also like that my storage area is not my bed as in a teardrop/squaredrop trailer. When I arrive a camp my gear has its own storage areas.

That being said I’ve camped in rain/wet conditions and packing up and moving when it’s raining is not something I would not want to do for multiple days in a row. All the bedding has to come out and the entire tent interior tends to get wet. If you aren’t able to dry it out each day, you’ll get miserable pretty quickly.

For me, the RTT is a better solution but if I lived in the PNW I would probably lean toward a squaredrop.


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jim65wagon

TundraBird1
We've been living in/out of the teardrop since June 2020. Our experience has been awesome and we've learned a few things about weather. Before this trip our trips were up to 11 days at a time and all sorts of weather was no problem. We've got an EZUp with walls, for rain and light snow protection. A buddy heater and a campfire in a can for warmth.

Wind is a whole other issue. Back east, wind events were temporary things, muffled by the forests, the gusts not getting dangerously high.

Out west we've found the winds are much more sustainable. Gusts are higher or more violent. We constantly check our windy app and raise our lower the EZUp accordingly, and run extra guy lines to it to hold it down. Works great up to about 20 moh winds, and slightly higher gusts.

We've had several times now that a combination of high winds along with rain or snow has forced us to sit inside the teardrop, including cooking (bolling water) mountain house meals and morning coffee. Inside being the only place to get out of the wind.

It's days like that when I wish I had built a rugged trailer with a kitchen/dinette so i could sit up feet on the floor and eat a meal out of the weather.

That said, I'd choose a teardrop setup over any tent every time for comfort and for those places only had sided campers are allowed.
 
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4000lbsOfGoat

Active member
To me the biggest consideration is whether or not you're ok with the trouble of setting up and tearing down a tent regularly. After years of tent camping we got really tired of the hassle of setting up a tent and bedding then packing it all away again when it was time to head home. All of that overhead makes quick (1 or 2 night) trips a lot less appealing. Granted, some RTTs (though not all) let you keep the bedding in the tent when it's packed but you still have to set up the tent when you get where you're going. With a hard-sided camper your bed is always ready to go and you can just get up and leave in the morning.

That is not to say that wind is not also an issue (as others have mentioned), that just wasn't my primary concern when deciding to go the hard-sided route.

With respect to the toilet situation, I highly recommend the Thunderbox from Aussie Campers (https://thunderboxusa.com/). It's a bit spendy but it's durable and more comfortable than most home toilets!
 

Muddzy

New member
We've had several times now that a combination of high winds along with rain or snow has forced us to sit inside the teardrop, including cooking (bolling water) mountain house meals and morning coffee. Inside being the only place to get out of the wind.

It's days like that when I wish I had built a rugged trailer with a kitchen/dinette so i could sit up feet on the floor and eat a meal or off the weather.

That said, I'd choose a teardrop setup over any tent every time for comfort and for those places only had sided campers are allowed.
I've never had a RTT but I've regular camped with a tent and awning tent a lot. If I'm honest I do get tired of setting it up and taking tents down but that doesn't bother me as much as having to dry or even cleaning them properly. I chose not to get a RTT because of this. Even though many are super easy to setup, the older I get I want to spend more time exploring and relaxing, not the setup or cleaning or worrying about drying them out. I rented a T@G XL Boondock teardrop for a 2 week trip, including highway and 4x4 trails. it was much nicer than a tent and awning/tent setup I've used. But, since I towed with a Wrangler and 2 teenagers, the wrangler wasn't big enough to store everything so the T@G became the storage unit. On the 1 night stays it was kind of a pain to unload the T@G, make sure the stuff was stored somewhere safe and dry(er) and then dry any dew/rain and clean off the bottoms so we can put it back on the beds inside for travel. And I agree with Jim65 that it's a lot nicer on bad weather days to be able to sit at a table, cook a meal and comfortably stretch the legs to help enjoy the bad weather from inside a hard side. My next purchase will be a true off road travel trailer. I don't need a big one but I want to be able to stand and cook inside when needed. The extra size/storage will allow us to just pull off and go to sleep on the 1 nighters.
 

cmo5

New member
We had a Turtleback Expedition, and while we loved the trailer and I think it's the best product in its segment, it still is fundamentally tent camping, and we found ourselves not using it as much as we would like. If we knew it was going to rain, or be cold (or both since we're in New England), we were much less likely to take the trailer out. Perhaps we're not as hardcore as some, but a wet tent is no fun, and my wife wasn't too keen on showering outside with temps in the 30's. We really wanted something that we could use for a full 3 seasons in the Northeast.

The problem is that to get an equivalently capable off road enclosed rig that truly gets you out of the elements when needed (with options for indoor cooking, showering, and seating), the choices are few and the price goes up quickly. We are currently waiting on delivery of a new Kimberley Karavan because it was one of the few options that checked all the boxes for us, but it was a major step up cost wise and not without a lot of consideration...
 
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Jmanscotch

is a Texan
We’d have to agree with all the opinions here. Starting with a RTT trailer and moving to a solid teardrop style...we’d never go back to RTT unless we didn’t want to haul the trailer somewhere and needed to simply put a RTT on the rig.

That said, there’s definitely different levels of RTTs and some are better at mitigating the problems than others. Specifically, we’d never run a full canvas style tent, due to wind

Wind, rain, security, comfort and ease of use is just better in a hard sided camper.


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evldave

Expedition Trophy Winner
I had a rtt on m416 for a long time, hauled it all over PNW, Cali, Moab, etc.

Had kids, zero chance of them being in rtt in the pouring rain, too much work to get set up, etc.

I'm also 48 and my back is starting to remind me I'm not 20 anymore.

I kept the m416 and sold the tent and haven't looked back. I'm currently looking at a teardrop or even just an enclosed trailer to have some more space for the kids on bad weather days. I've used a travel trailer but that's too big and at some point I'll feel like hauling it very far off the beaten path.

I doubt I'll ever go back to a rtt. It was great when I had it but my family has outgrown it

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