Torn between travel trailer, popup or folding

kootenay

Intergalacticsuperintendent
Previously we had Jayco 19' hard sided travel trailer, and loved it. We spend on average 30 days a year in it camping with the kids. As the got larger we decided to sell it and pursue tent camping. As fun as that has been, my wife has decided that she prefers having a kitchen, and a bathroom. I preferred the tent camping and the places we could camp when lugging around a trailer. We are now looking into getting another trailer, and are torn between the three styles of trailers. A small Travel trailer, and Popup or folding tent trailer. We generally do 1-2 2week long trips a year, as well as numerous 1-2 day trips.

I am wondering if anyone has gone from the Travel trailer to pop-up and loved it or regretted it? Camp setup time seems to be fastest for the Travel trailer, and similar between a tent or Popup trailer. If going the Popup route we would be looking at a Starcraft RT or Jayco Baja. Travel trailer would be a small Jayco Baja, or other suggestions that would work. Can a Baja travel trailer handle some rougher terrain, is a Pop Up anymore durable on rough terrain? Most offroad trips in the past would be more old logging roads or resource roads. Although I would like it to be able to handle roads like the one into Goose Berry Mesa in Hurricane. We have also talked about doing the White Rim trail in Moab. Tents could always be used for that trip.

The other trailer I am really liking are the Bushranger 200XT from Kakaducamping. With the Drifta Kitchen and a popup shower/bathroom and composting toilet it might work. Only issue would be wiring in a heater and on demand hot water. The main advantage here would be tow ability, utility trailer when not needed as a camper.

I appreciate any input people might have
 

sunnybean

Observer
I spent most of last winter building a M416 trailer with lid and rtt. The Mrs and I used it quite a bit over the summer. We love it! However, if I were to do it over again I would build a teardrop simply for the ease of setup. Additionally, we get a bit of wind here and I'd prefer to have hard sides instead of listening to the tent flap all night long.
 

Roc8man

New member
Over the last 23 years, I went from tents, to a 12' pop-up that expanded into 24', to a 16' enclosed cargo trailer to carry my toys with me, to a pull behind 25' toy hauler. After modifying the suspension by flipping the axles under the springs, I've taken the 25' toy hauler places that would shock most people. BUT doing that it paid the price of the abuse last year when four of my cross members broke and the frame became a parallelogram. I had to cut out 12' of frame on both side just above the axles and replace it with heavier duty fully boxed frame section. Axles and suspension were also replaced since they had seen a lot of off road abuse. My 25' was just too wimpy to take the abuse with a full load at a weight of 10k lbs. So my current preference is the 16' enclosed cargo trailer version since it does allow me to bring my toys along yet is hard sided and easy/quick to set up. In your case, you didn't mention toys but you and your wife wanted a kitchen and bath so it sounds like the hard side camper is what would work for you without regret. Where you prefer to go and what those roads are like will determine the weight, length, height and ground clearance that you will want.

Best of luck and let us know your decision. Whatever you decide, if you're like me, will probably be close but not 100% what you want so it will end up with some mods :)
 

kootenay

Intergalacticsuperintendent
Thanks for the replies. I keep going back and forth between the Bushranger tent and a Hardsided Jayco Baja.
The Bushranger setup with a Drifta Swing Out Kitchen would suite the bill nicely.

This video shows how slick it can be. [video]https://youtu.be/H5YPIu4DeTs[/video]
Then for the bathroom just using a pop up Bathroom tent a Composting toilet would work. But by the time I add the toilet, a propane heat system, and a water system, and solar, we are the same price as a Baja. Wish you could custom order a Jayco to come with a composting toilet, and the Timbren Axleless suspension and a off road hitch. Otherwise it creeps even higher in price if I was to add those items.

I am thinking the maximum length would be 21' for a travel trailer. Ideally I would want to be able to drive the Mojave trail, and White rim while towing the trailer.
 

Doug2000

Observer
We started off with a Starcraft 10' tent trailer, but found it to small, upgraded to a Fleetwood Coleman 14' tent trailer, but found it really big and heavy to tow, over 4000 lbs loaded. I built an expedition utility trailer and slept in a tent for many years but got really wet on the last 2 trips. Our friends had a 1973 Trillium and loved it, not long after we purchased a 1977 Trillium 4500. We used that for 5 years, and now have upgraded to a 2007 Escape 17b for more comforts like air. The Trillium and Escape are 2 piece fiberglass shells that don't leak or rot, besides having a life expectancy of 50 plus years, they depreciate very little past thier 5th year.

Look at fiberglass trailers buy Trillium, Boler, Scamp, Escape (Escape Trailer Industries).

For used look at http://www.fiberglass-rv-4sale.com/rv-for-sale Just a warning, Just a warning, reasonably priced fiberglass trailers sell in 24 hours generally.
 

Semi-Hex

Enfant Terrible
I spent most of last winter building a M416 trailer with lid and rtt. The Mrs and I used it quite a bit over the summer. We love it! However, if I were to do it over again I would build a teardrop simply for the ease of setup. Additionally, we get a bit of wind here and I'd prefer to have hard sides instead of listening to the tent flap all night long.
We are actually leaving our Jumping Jack for a teardrop for mostly the same rasons. 60 mph gusts of wind and three days of rain really take it out of a pop up. The ease of setup, I can tow it the same places and the heater can actually keep the place warm.
 

jwiereng

Active member
I have heard from former tent trailer users that every trip involves at least 3 setup of the unit. Of course climactic conditions in your region may differ from theirs.

1) erect tent at home to load all the gear
2) fold up and stow for travel
3) erect tent at destination
4) fold up and stow for return trip
5) erect tent at home to unload and dry out fabric
6) fold up and stow for storage until next trip.

Depending on the model, the repetition of these events would be undesirable and hard sided units would be attractive.
 

Semi-Hex

Enfant Terrible
I have heard from former tent trailer users that every trip involves at least 3 setup of the unit. Of course climactic conditions in your region may differ from theirs.

1) erect tent at home to load all the gear
2) fold up and stow for travel
3) erect tent at destination
4) fold up and stow for return trip
5) erect tent at home to unload and dry out fabric
6) fold up and stow for storage until next trip.

Depending on the model, the repetition of these events would be undesirable and hard sided units would be attractive.
First, to anyone who wants a pop up tent, I would recommend a Jumping Jack anytime. They are very tough and very durable. I have had mine for 5 years and was quite pleased with it. That being said, it is really more for setting up and leaving it in one place. When teaching in the backcountry was when the trailer really excelled. I set it up once, taught for up to nine days, took it down and went home. Going for destination to destination is where it started to get old. 24 different places in 29 days was really pushing it.
 

Tacobro

New member
Check out the opus mark II 4 sleeper. I recently purchased this model from Australia. There is a dealer in CA and TX. Well built and super well thought out. Also the air tent is option coming for it!
 

OGL

Observer
We have a 1985 Starcraft popup that has logged many miles and followed us to some great off the trail locations. LOVE the camper when it's up. Very roomy, space for the two kids and dog to all be comfortable if the weather is bad. Table, seats, beds etc.

I HATE the setup time. It's really a deal breaker for me.

We don't use the fridge or sink. We don't have AC. No inside toilet. So it's really a glorified tent.

If my projects list ever gets reasonable (yeah right) I'd like to convert a small cargo trailer.
 

Bobzdar

Observer
What kind of camping trips do you usually do? I use a different setup fitting the nature of the trip - airstream for campground or easy terrain boondocking, large tent for whole family stuff where it won't be easy to fit the camper, camper shell on the truck for rougher terrain or if it's just the wife and I, small backpacking tent for rough off-road terrain in the Jeep (or when backpacking with no vehicle). I have a large waterproof hockey bag that has the essential camping equipment like cooking grill and fire starting equipment, military shovel, flashlights, poncho etc. makes loading up easy no matter which setup is going.

It's usually an easy choice, and if there's going to be a mix of different terrains it's easy enough to throw the big tent and backpack with 2 man tent in the back of the camper shell equipped pickup while towing the airstream and I can use the setup that makes the most sense throughout the trip - of course the Jeep can't pull the airstream so I can't do any really rough terrain, but the truck is 4x4 so can get most places. Yeah, I have to leave the airstream at a campground if I do an excursion, but usually you can pay for a week at the campground for only a little more than the weekend cost, so it's not a big deal. Of course, I have to come back for it, but so far it hasn't been an issue as I've only actually done that once and didn't go too far away.

Point is, if you do mostly easy camping with the occasional off-road excursion, you can probably get a hard side with all the amenities for most of your camping and just take the tent for the rougher trips. If it's the opposite, then your choice will probably be wildly different. If it's a mix, you can leave the hard side at the campground or other storage place while doing the rougher off-road in the tent, then come back to it when done. It doesn't necessarily have to be one size fits all unless you live on the road or are doing multiple week excursions in the wild, which it doesn't sound like you are.

I will say, the best part of the airstream is the setup time followed closely by the sleep comfort. For some reason, as we set everything up over the course of the stay, it takes a long time to pack it all back up - as long as when tent camping I'd say just because we have more stuff to clean up and pack away. But, there's nothing like arriving late at night to a campground and just going in the back and going to sleep without having to set anything up at all. There have been a few nights I just left it attached to the truck, turned the propane on to run the fridge and just went right to sleep and set it all up properly the next morning when rested. Even sleeping in the camper shell in the back isn't as easy as that as I have to move stuff to the cab and set up the bed in the back.
 
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kootenay

Intergalacticsuperintendent
Thanks for the great replies. It has helped. The replies about pop ups has been great. Basically sounds like it is not what we want. The hard sided caravan may be where we end up. At this point I think I might try utility trailer converted to having a kitchen on it. That way storage can be more organized and locked up, and the kitchen is always set up. Then continue with tents, or even try a roof top tent at some point. The idea of not having to inflate and deflate 4 sleeping pads every day when traveling does sound appealing.
 

AdventureHare

Outfitting for Adv
While at the NW Rally 2 years ago, I camped next to a person, Henrik, who had the Bushranger. And a guy was there with an Opus and I spent 20 minutes talking with him.

The Bushranger with the trailer-top tent was impressive. Set-up and take down was 15 minutes each not including the awning and kitchen. It would be tedious if your trips involve moving to a new site daily but any longer and it's not an issue. The Drifta kitchen is a nice accessory. Henrik's was the free standing model (available upgrade) and the acre of space was great for prepping and cooking. It's a simple but elegant design. The only negative I can remember is that the contents of the trailer are not accessible from inside the tent. You have to pull them from the tailgate or by lifting the lid (able to do with the tent folded or deployed.) Last I checked, I thought this setup was a great value as long as you're able to pull it. It's heavy for it's size. This was a very comfortable set-up and could easily handle the trails you want to travel. If it ticks your boxes, you won't be sorry.

The Opus was incredibly well designed and laid-out. The dome-style top with multiple windows was easy to control the sun and breeze. It didn't feel like the standard pop-up. It appeared to be well constructed. Set-up was very quick for having so much material (quicker than the Bushranger). It actually seemed bigger than it needed to be but that was welcome when sitting inside. The rep was saying they were considering an off-road package but the overall length seemed too great to go beyond improved roads. I would only consider the Opus if I was sticking to campgrounds. If you think it can meet your needs and in your budget, it's quite nice.

There are some nice off-road teardrops and teardrop-style campers out there, that will get you partly there without being overburdening. Hiker Trailers are inexpensive and could be a good starting point, certainly compared to a cargo trailer. But I do like the Haulmark Flex trailers as a starting point.

Another option is a Four Wheel Camper on a flatbed trailer. Building a trailer to your specs allows for flexibility and strength. Truck boxes fill up the underside/overhangs and work great for additional lockable storage. Weight could be better than a travel trailer. And if set-up for removal, the trailer could be used for hauling when not camping.

BTW, RTT require you to navigate a ladder in all states of sleepiness. That would never be possible for my wife. :)
 

Nomads365

An Adventurous Couple
We own a BushRanger 200 trailer

We own a Bushranger 200 (not the XT though). After a bit of experience (a couple times camping) we can set it up in no time. Link to setup video on Youtube. Our trailer rear swing-out door has the other OzTrail 3-door swing out kitchen, which works great for us. Hook the sink drain up to one container for grey water, and another Jerry can with fresh water to the sink pump and you're ready to cook/clean. I have four Jerry can holders on the trailer (two on the back for water, two on the sides for fuel), so they take up no space inside the trailer. Inside is taken by the kitchen unit, camp stove (we have a big one), 5-gal propane bottle (haven't had the time to fab a mount on the tongue), the sunroom wall canvas (roof stays in place with tent), solar panel, and various poles, camping gear and liquor. We carry the ARB fridge in our FJ Cruiser until we reach camp. I put a 12v deep-cycle battery in the tongue-box and wired outlets front and back to run the fridge, and simple LED lights inside the tent and over the kitchen unit. The battery will run these things for a weekend with no problem, and the Overland Solar 90w solar panel takes care of extended trips. Though this model doesn't really have an off-road suspension it certainly has worked fine for the forest service roads we've been on, and you could always convert it to a Tembren setup and add an offroad coupler. Ours has electric trailer brakes though I've never put in a controller for them. Matt at Kakadu Camping has been great to work with, both with tips as well as supplying accessories when we wanted them. We've got less than $5,000 US into the entire setup. (we're selling it if anybody is interested)

Pros:
Lightweight (maybe 2k lbs fully loaded)
Trailer holds a bunch of gear in a secure (locked) waterproof/dustproof fashion (unlike the JumpingJack)
It has a spare-tire for just-in-case
Boat rack holds a small boat, canoe or kayaks, etc.
Once the waterproof travel cover is removed, one person can pull the tent open to full setup position in seconds and needs no further adjustment other than a few stakes at the corners
It's waterproof canvas and will stand up in a rain or windstorm (we've been in both)
It has lots of windows, two doors and a huge screen thingy
The mattress is very comfy, and all the bedding and pillows stay on the bed when the tent folds up
There's extra space under the waterproof cover, enough for a step-ladder and a pair of zero-gravity recliners, as well as most of the poles
There's access into the trailer storage from inside the tent if needed, as well as popping open the trailer itself
No wider than my FJ Cruiser and it pulls nicely (I don't even know it's there except the FJ rides better)
It's short enough I can see over it out my back window of the FJ
An enormous amount of waterproof living space, both inside the tent (queen size bed) and outside under the canopy
For nasty days (Thur-Friday at 2016 NW Overland Rally) the side-walls for the canopy can be put out to provide a nice dry and wind-free area for cooking or lounging
The poles for the canopy are high-quality and the tie-downs are pre-made and have shock springs attached
The tent back door allows easy access to a toilet/changing room, or put your porti-potty inside the tent

Cons:
It does need to be opened up to be dried out if you put it away wet
You must be mindful about where you set it up (room for the tent beside the driver's side of the trailer, as well as the kitchen swing-out and canopy if you're going to use it
It generally won't work in U.S. State campgrounds that have an asphalt driveway lined with tree-stumps for trailer spaces (see above item),or pull-thru spots
The canopy really is easier to setup with two people, and needs the poles to be staked down
It can be noisy in the wind, just like all other tents

We like our BushRanger 200 and have really enjoyed our trips in it. Everybody is curious about it and wants to check it out once we have it setup. We purchased it as we're just too old to sleep on the ground, and we wanted to get back into camping. The only reason why we're now selling it is we'be been bitten by the overlanding bug and have a full-size camper on order. Once it's ready and the truck is properly outfitted for off-roading we'll be heading out for extended travel.

I'd be happy to answer any more specific questions about the BushRanger, either here or via PM.

Making lunch on the road, no need to setup the tent
2016-06-26 14.24.28.jpg

2016-06-24 09.06.56.jpg

2016-06-23 16.04.17.jpg

2016-06-24 09.07.08.jpg

2016-06-24 09.06.41.jpg

One sidewall setup as windbreak
2016-08-15 07.56.19.jpg
 
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coop74

Old Dude
We own a Bushranger 200 (not the XT though). After a bit of experience (a couple times camping) we can set it up in no time. Link to setup video on Youtube. Our trailer rear swing-out door has the other OzTrail 3-door swing out kitchen, which works great for us. Hook the sink drain up to one container for grey water, and another Jerry can with fresh water to the sink pump and you're ready to cook/clean. I have four Jerry can holders on the trailer (two on the back for water, two on the sides for fuel), so they take up no space inside the trailer. Inside is taken by the kitchen unit, camp stove (we have a big one), 5-gal propane bottle (haven't had the time to fab a mount on the tongue), the sunroom wall canvas (roof stays in place with tent), solar panel, and various poles, camping gear and liquor. We carry the ARB fridge in our FJ Cruiser until we reach camp. I put a 12v deep-cycle battery in the tongue-box and wired outlets front and back to run the fridge, and simple LED lights inside the tent and over the kitchen unit. The battery will run these things for a weekend with no problem, and the Overland Solar 90w solar panel takes care of extended trips. Though this model doesn't really have an off-road suspension it certainly has worked fine for the forest service roads we've been on, and you could always convert it to a Tembren setup and add an offroad coupler. Ours has electric trailer brakes though I've never put in a controller for them. Matt at Kakadu Camping has been great to work with, both with tips as well as supplying accessories when we wanted them. We've got less than $5,000 US into the entire setup. (we're selling it if anybody is interested)

Pros:
Lightweight (maybe 2k lbs fully loaded)
Trailer holds a bunch of gear in a secure (locked) waterproof/dustproof fashion (unlike the JumpingJack)
It has a spare-tire for just-in-case
Boat rack holds a small boat, canoe or kayaks, etc.
Once the waterproof travel cover is removed, one person can pull the tent open to full setup position in seconds and needs no further adjustment other than a few stakes at the corners
It's waterproof canvas and will stand up in a rain or windstorm (we've been in both)
It has lots of windows, two doors and a huge screen thingy
The mattress is very comfy, and all the bedding and pillows stay on the bed when the tent folds up
There's extra space under the waterproof cover, enough for a step-ladder and a pair of zero-gravity recliners, as well as most of the poles
There's access into the trailer storage from inside the tent if needed, as well as popping open the trailer itself
No wider than my FJ Cruiser and it pulls nicely (I don't even know it's there except the FJ rides better)
It's short enough I can see over it out my back window of the FJ
An enormous amount of waterproof living space, both inside the tent (queen size bed) and outside under the canopy
For nasty days (Thur-Friday at 2016 NW Overland Rally) the side-walls for the canopy can be put out to provide a nice dry and wind-free area for cooking or lounging
The poles for the canopy are high-quality and the tie-downs are pre-made and have shock springs attached
The tent back door allows easy access to a toilet/changing room, or put your porti-potty inside the tent

Cons:
It does need to be opened up to be dried out if you put it away wet
You must be mindful about where you set it up (room for the tent beside the driver's side of the trailer, as well as the kitchen swing-out and canopy if you're going to use it
It generally won't work in U.S. State campgrounds that have an asphalt driveway lined with tree-stumps for trailer spaces (see above item),or pull-thru spots
The canopy really is easier to setup with two people, and needs the poles to be staked down
It can be noisy in the wind, just like all other tents

We like our BushRanger 200 and have really enjoyed our trips in it. Everybody is curious about it and wants to check it out once we have it setup. We purchased it as we're just too old to sleep on the ground, and we wanted to get back into camping. The only reason why we're now selling it is we'be been bitten by the overlanding bug and have a full-size camper on order. Once it's ready and the truck is properly outfitted for off-roading we'll be heading out for extended travel.

I'd be happy to answer any more specific questions about the BushRanger, either here or via PM.

Making lunch on the road, no need to setup the tent
View attachment 382030

View attachment 382028

View attachment 382029

View attachment 382026

View attachment 382027

One sidewall setup as windbreak
View attachment 382031
Check out the cargolite extreme from microlite trailers...

Love mine.


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