Two adults, a 14-month-old, and small dog get out of the heat trailer ideas?

Jmansdad

New member
Hello,

My wife and I are currently brainstorming rigs and set-ups. We live in Phoenix, which is beautiful this time of the year, but a hot hot hot hell hole from end of May to middle of October. My wife and I felt very cooped up this past summer.

So we're thinking of getting a set up that (a) reduces the hassle factor of going out with a toddler and (b) allows us to get up to the higher elevations in the summer for a night or two - preferably to BLM or national forest land (although some RV style and national park style campgrounds might be cool.

I current have a 07 Tundra extended cab. The only problem with it is that it's 2wd. I'm close to getting a new truck and I want something with 4wd. I'm waiting to see what the 2021 Tundras look like before I make a decision. However, the Jeep Gladiator is also on the list. We will also be trying for another kid in November. So that's another consideration.

So here's what we've been considering:

  1. A vintage airstream or "big" travel trailer. However, they seem to be poorly built I don't know how they would handle washboardy or worse roads. Huge variability. There is a huge used market and I tend to be pretty frugal. Might be kind of fun to tow around to "fun" towns and nearby national parks.
  2. A pop up. More set up, but cheaper. Grew up with one. But a hard side trailer seems to have less hassle factor.
  3. I don't think a slide in bed camper would be realistic just too small.
  4. Intech explore. But they seem sorta pricey for what you get. I'd be interested in the double tip out model. But, if I spent 20 grand on trailer, I'd really prefer to stand up in it.
  5. sportsmobile. I see some of the appeal here. But, they're so expensive for a 2005 van with 145k miles on it... Also can be my daily driver.
Any ideas on rigs and set ups? What's worked for your family? Budget is around 20kish for the trailer set up.
 

rayra

Expedition Leader
Sound like you want a cool room, so pop-up with an AC is the way. Esp. as you are already familiar with pop-ups. Definitely 'high country' or water trips are the solution to summer desert heat. Don't fight the heat, avoid it.
Too, a high awning or shade solution, get the domicile shaded without blocking cooling breezes. Get to the alpine level, into the trees, or create and rig some sort of overhead shade structure. Lots of lightweight fabrics that highly compress for storage. It's as easy as a large flat piece of fabric and four tall poles and staking. You can even rig the trailer in a way that the poles extend out from it to support its own shade.
Axle flip is a lot cheaper than an 'ExPo' trailer. And will do what you want, especially since you are driving a one-legger. I wouldn't want to be dragging an infant/toddler into back country where I need 4wd and an expo trailer to get to, anyway. Not on a solo trip, either.
 

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al_burpe

Observer
I went through this thought process a lot as I have a 3.5 year old and 1.5 year old. My advice is that you wait to make any significant purchases. Kids change so much in the course of a couple years that what works best for you today may not be what works best in two years. Also, adding a second kid makes it that much harder. We got out a number of times when we had just one but adding a second baby has meant much fewer trips. To reduce the hassle, I suggest renting a cabin in the area you want to explore. We have used Hipcamp for this. I really wanted to get a trailer or something to reduce hassle but the numbers just didn't make sense for how much we would use it. If you spend $20k on a trailer, it might worth $10k in 10 years. That is $10k in depreciation and doesn't include registration, insurance, repairs. For $10,000, you could rent a cabin for 200 nights at $50 a night which is probably on the high side. By going this route, you reduce your hassle significantly and you get a chance to evaluate how much you would actually get out and go on trips.
 

calicamper

Expedition Leader
Hello,

My wife and I are currently brainstorming rigs and set-ups. We live in Phoenix, which is beautiful this time of the year, but a hot hot hot hell hole from end of May to middle of October. My wife and I felt very cooped up this past summer.

So we're thinking of getting a set up that (a) reduces the hassle factor of going out with a toddler and (b) allows us to get up to the higher elevations in the summer for a night or two - preferably to BLM or national forest land (although some RV style and national park style campgrounds might be cool.

I current have a 07 Tundra extended cab. The only problem with it is that it's 2wd. I'm close to getting a new truck and I want something with 4wd. I'm waiting to see what the 2021 Tundras look like before I make a decision. However, the Jeep Gladiator is also on the list. We will also be trying for another kid in November. So that's another consideration.

So here's what we've been considering:

  1. A vintage airstream or "big" travel trailer. However, they seem to be poorly built I don't know how they would handle washboardy or worse roads. Huge variability. There is a huge used market and I tend to be pretty frugal. Might be kind of fun to tow around to "fun" towns and nearby national parks.
  2. A pop up. More set up, but cheaper. Grew up with one. But a hard side trailer seems to have less hassle factor.
  3. I don't think a slide in bed camper would be realistic just too small.
  4. Intech explore. But they seem sorta pricey for what you get. I'd be interested in the double tip out model. But, if I spent 20 grand on trailer, I'd really prefer to stand up in it.
  5. sportsmobile. I see some of the appeal here. But, they're so expensive for a 2005 van with 145k miles on it... Also can be my daily driver.
Any ideas on rigs and set ups? What's worked for your family? Budget is around 20kish for the trailer set up.
Two kids and its a constant search. Go with as little setup as possible however!!! Keep tow ability in mind. My Tent on a trailer 9 yrs of use has had me looking at multi use options. Given thats my original lifetime tent/utility trailer. Its been great except!! Setup time 20-30 minutes, non secure gear storage, wind vs tent no bueno, bear restrictions in Yellowstone etc. Positives space, light, nothing to tow, 4x6 small, doubles a a utility trailer.

My dream setup? Pop top hard side 5x10, 6ft tall when roof is down, slide out front kitchen, side door, roof awning, flip down full size rear bed, kids bunks up high. Rear double load doors.

Two fantastic fans, two windows in hard side 4 small windows in soft popup sides.
Trailer is easily loaded with bikes, camp chairs, boats etc and locked up. Lower hard side height means easier storage behind side yard fence or garage. Easier highway towing!!

I’ll be honest the Aliner family Expedition is really interesting but $$$$$. Plus big negative being little to zero gear storage while in road mode.

I spent $1300 on my current setup bought it in 2011 Costco.com. LOL Had just sold my racing sailboat for $25,000. Needed a trailer to carry our camping gear.

Weeroll small outfit in Oregon makes nice cargo style / camp trailers. Cheaper than the big names.

Two kids? Maybe in future? Go cheap and low investment and most flexible for a few years. My 10 yr old is in club sports now and my 8 yr old is too. Our camping schedule is increasingly smaller. Last yr we did 12 days Zion, Bryce, Capitol Reef, Moab, North Rim. The tent /trailer was great till a Moab wind storm our last night there. We survived but our setup clearly isn’t desert wind/thunderstorm capable.
I might get a 6ft tall hard side with side door and side slide kitchen door and build my Pop up hard side 5x10 or 6x10 idea. Think FWC truck camper top on a box trailer. Still weather tough, bear safe, standing head room, kid bunks up high, parent bed down low via side mounted flip down allowing trailer to be loaded like a utility trailer simply flip the bed up to the side etc.


The Aliners are really slick!! I have a 8pass SUV we use so gear /toys stowage on/in trailer in my case is needed. I’f I had a truck where toy/gear storage was under a locking contractor cap in the truck then the Aliner idea would be really interesting. I love being able to tow my low profile trailer safely at speed and through windy places with zero drama. A full height box RV would really kill my interest in dragging it places. I’d seriously just get a room, airbnb or rent a local RV to avoid dragging my own long distances.

With two kids! Our trips are soooo much more enjoyable when they have their own defined bed space. That goes for hotel stays too. Last week we did two ski days one hotel night, I pack a cot and stick my son in the cot in the hotel room vs dealing with someone trying to share a bed.

I’d only spend/ invest $3000 at most. Put the rest of that $20k in a 501. My Daughter’s is up 78% since we set it up in 09. My sons is up 69% since 2011. My $1300 Costco trailer might be worth $1200 but I got a screaming deal on it. Lol

No way I’d spend 20k on a RV right now. Max 5-12 days a yr use. And I just paid cash for a 2019 Expedition Platinum my old 06 Sequoia was due for replacement. So spending money isn’t a strange thing for me. 👍
 
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calicamper

Expedition Leader
Moab city pool was awesome! We would get there at 4pm after a day of hiking etc. Swim till 7pm nearly whole place to ourselves after 5pm. Stop and get tacos on the way back to our camp/trailer at the RV park. 3 days was enough. North Rim Jacobs Lake was awesome I could have stayed there 4+ days easily and been very happy. Same for Bryce but we only passed through didn’t stay. Zion was OK but after a day in the park I was ready to move on.
 

GA Native

New member
My wife and I both teach, so we are able to do 6-8 week trips each summer with our 5 and 9 year old. At first, we were not sure how the kids would hold up, but we neglected to remember how kids easily adapt. We also started them camping young. They love it and it is an incredible bonding experience.

We use elevation and fans to beat the heat. AC introduces too much complexity for me. If it is really hot, we are sure to camp near water. Even a small stream offers plenty of fun for the kids and a place to cool off.

As far as setup, we have essentially a bare bones teardrop with offroad tires and a rooftop tent mounted to it. My son and I sleep in the rtt and my wife and daughter in the camper. I like the simplicity of this setup. We keep it packed and ready so we can easily go on the weekends or short holidays. Keep it simple and go often is the best advice I can give.
 

mmrocek

Observer
@Jmansdad what did you decide on? I'm in Phoenix as well. Camping season is about to start and I'm getting ready. I have a couple dogs and an almost 2 year old girl so I'm interested what you decided on.
 

Jmansdad

New member
@Jmansdad what did you decide on? I'm in Phoenix as well. Camping season is about to start and I'm getting ready. I have a couple dogs and an almost 2 year old girl so I'm interested what you decided on.
We went with an Aliner! It's been a game changer. Check out Aliner family camping (or something) on facebook.
 

B^2

Observer
@Jmansdad what did you decide on? I'm in Phoenix as well. Camping season is about to start and I'm getting ready. I have a couple dogs and an almost 2 year old girl so I'm interested what you decided on.
Also make sure you talk to your wife about the type of camping you want to do vs the type of camping she wants to do. Our daughter turned 2 at the end of August and my wife has no interest in going down washboard roads for long periods of time with our daughter strapped into the car seat. We also have a 65lbs pitbull who takes up her own seat. My experience is if you have a setup that is not comfortable for EVERYONE, you'll never use it. We had a 1960's nomad travel trailer that we didn't use because the sleeping set up wasn't conducive to the two adults, plus baby plus dog being comfortable. As cool as the FWC type setups are, I don't see it working for us long term. A hard sided camper like a Lance is a little better but still presents a lot of the same challenges. I've looked into a winnebago minnie which isn't super big but still allows us to get outside and enjoy ourselves.
 
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