View Full Version : Expert Opinions
08-13-2008, 11:53 PM
In your expert opinions what is the best combination of vehicle and pop-up camper. That can handle trails rated to 3.5, carry two adults and a toddler in a car seat, and still be reasonable in size. I was thinking 4 door tacoma and a finch. What are your thoughts?
08-16-2008, 06:06 PM
126 views and no replies....? I guess there are no experts here, so how about the opinion of a Monday morning quarterback?
I have test driven a few of the new Tacomas, but not off road at all. There are certainly enough members here who have, so I am going to say they would make a great truck for family adventure vehicle. Seems to be plenty of aftermarket support for the suspension, which will be the most important system to modify (I believe), for a truck & slide-in combo. The Finch model would be the perfect compliment to a new Tacoma.
I'm partial to my T100, primarily due to our history together and that it's fairly unique among this type of travelling. However they are all 10 years old at least and they're getting harder to find with low miles. The one drawback I can't overcome is the lack of 3rd & 4th doors. It's my only complaint and they would be a nice convenience, but not a necessity.
If a tree fell on my outfit tomorrow, and State Farm put a fat check in my hands to replace it, I would move up to a '04-'06 double cab Tundra and a FWC Hawk. The Hawk model is slightly wider than the model I have now but based on where I have been, it wouldn't limit me at all. A d-cab Tundra would also be longer than what I have, but the V8 and rear doors would be a welcome addition. I would add an ARB locker, some BFG KO's and feel comfortable that I could handle a large percentage of my favorite trails in WY, CO, UT, ID and MT.
Now if just my truck died tomorrow but my FWC were still operational, I would move up to a first gen x-cab Tundra. The access doors would allow me to place gear and kids in car seats in the back seat more easily. The FWC I have now will fit on an x-cab bed, but not the Tundra d-cab bed....:(
I think the ultimate off-road set up might be a Dodge Power Wagon and a FWC, although I heard/read somewhere that Dodge suggests not putting a slide-in camper on their Power Wagon....? A Cummins of any vintage with good tires and a FWC would make for a nearly bulletproof adventure vehicle.
08-16-2008, 06:50 PM
If a tree fell on my outfit tomorrow, and State Farm put a fat check in my hands to replace it
That pretty much boils it down, that question.
For me, it would be a first generation Tacoma and a Flip Pac. Or at least thats exactly what mine is insured with State Farm as replacement. Yes, my WilderNest has a rider to full replacement cost of a new Flip Pac. I have my truck valued roughly what a 100K-ish mile old XtraCab Taco with an e-locker would cost on the used market. Probably skewing the premiums at State Farm for 205K mile, 1991 Toyota trucks, I am.
But the rub is while I would put my truck above average in capability and is fine for my wife and I and the dog, I'm not sure what your tolerance for space is. With a baby, I would say 4 doors or Acess Cab would be easier. So I dunno, current generation Taco + Flip Pac would be my thinking for your situation, but that's trending towards more capability overall.
I diverge from K.C.'s thinking because I feel the Tundra is just too big. But that's also a result my surroundings and environment. A Tundra would not fit into our lives, tiny 65-year old garage and street parking mean older Pickups, Tacomas and 4Runners are more appropriate for us. Plus we don't have kids... And I already feel too wide and long often enough on trails at 65" wide and 122" wheelbase and have seen plenty of full size F150s and the like getting squeezed.
08-16-2008, 09:10 PM
See, right now I'd have to go to a DCab Tundra just because the kids are getting bigger. The Access Cab is a good size, but the backseat is a little tight. The newer Tacoma is almost the same size as my Tundra!
08-16-2008, 09:11 PM
I'm no expert, but have spent a bunch of time researching truck / camper options. Trying to meet your 3.5 trail rating requirement is a tough one for most TC combos.
If the 3.5 is a must I'd go FWC Finch or Flip-Pac on a Double Cab Tacoma.
If you could live with 2.5-3.0 trail capabilities then I'd look at larger popup campers (FWC, Outfitter, or Northstar) with more amenities. A Dodge Power Wagon with this setup would be great (except for the price at the pump). If mpg is an issue I’d look for a short bed 05-07 Ram with the 5.9L Cummins and manual tranny.
08-18-2008, 05:23 PM
Before buying Toyota, I'd research an F350 extended cab (NOT the crew cab, the extended cab: still plenty of room).
Should be similar (if not the same as a Toyota Double Cab) wheelbase, probably a bit wider. The higher payload truck is--obviously--built to carry more weight. Loaded with a camper, you'll see this with lower maintenance costs (due to beefier components), better braking, and more predictable on and off-road behavior (you'll be MUCH farther under the max capacity).
I think lifting the Ford 6" is cheaper than the Toyota, especially considering the Toyota will likely need some suspension mod to *comfortably* carry even the lighter campers. That said, the Ford might set you back a little more initially. Still, I suspect the Ford's durability (payload related) will even out the field after 5 years of maintenance are applied.
I'm unsure of the wheelbase on the Dodge Quad Cab, it'd make a great alternative to the Ford. I give Dodge the nod for looks, especially when lifted.
Personally, I see no issue with a full-size on 3.5 trails (and I've seen plenty of full sized on trails rated 4). If a full sized is a non-starter, consider a Jeep w/ an off-road pop-up trailer: with experience and the right coupler, this could work for you on 4+ trails.
So, vehicle opinion out of the way, camper opinion: call Ben at All Terrain Campers (ATC (http://allterraincampers.com)) and ask him to build you a custom width Panther (width of your bed rails). Really, it's your only--unless FWC will do the custom work--hard-core option.
My inexpert opinion.
08-18-2008, 11:38 PM
Yeah, I think--money no object--Sportsmobile wins. Too bad the cost of a low mileage unit is astronomical.
Here it is: Sportsmobile RB50 (http://www.sportsmobile.com/1_rb-50.html).
08-19-2008, 01:12 AM
I really do not like the word expert, that has a bit to do with the fact that my title at work is Subject Matter Expert and I know better.
Anyhow! would not have thought it prior to buying it but in my non-expert opinion..........I just have to say SPORTSMOBILE is one way to go and I would reccommend it to any one with your needs.The utility of a SMB is great.
08-19-2008, 02:30 AM
Kermit, I agree, gives a whole new meaning to fast food for lunch. Usually on the road at about 60 65 mph.
PS there is no better time to buy one, last I looked the Sportsmobile web site had a red one still for sale at a great price.
Considering the previous owner care and the equipement it has, Seems to be for sale at a deep discount form the original price. chck it out on the fresno used link. No comission and not affiliated.
08-19-2008, 03:21 AM
Another case for a FWC is that you have the option to remove it (quite easily) and go from 12-13 MPG back to 15-17 MPG (Tundra numbers) when not needed. Though I rarely remove mine, it is nice to have the option when you need to use the truck as a truck.
08-21-2008, 03:17 AM
for the $$, I too would have to go with an SMB or similar vehicle.
This one would have been perfect,but it is sold
08-21-2008, 08:19 PM
Thank you for your inputs. Trust me I love the Sportsmobile, but the only layout I have personally seen was on with the bench seat way in the back. Which makes it hard to travel with a child in a car seat. That's why I've been thinking a FWC on a double cab. Since I am fairly close to Woodland and FWC headquarters. I guess I need to take a look at the finch model. A full size truck just seems to big and the T100 doesn't have back doors. So getting to the car seat is difficult. I guess what I want doesn't exist, but I ultimately just need to comprise on size versus trail performance.
08-21-2008, 08:48 PM
Holy smoke, either you guys are supreme, expert-class wheelers or I really need to see the desert SW. The 3.5 trails I've been exposed to in OK/AR/TX would be incredibly gnarly for ANY vehicle with a camper on it, even a lightweight pop-up.
I'd think any pickup with a camper would be waaaaaay too top heavy to tackle a 3.5 trail (the ones I've seen at Gilmer, Clayton, and Superlift), though I could see attempting 3.5's with an off-road trailer behind my Rubicon!
Is my perspective skewed? Are 3.5's in the SW that much easier, or am I a wuss that only runs with guys whose rigs are way tougher than they need to be?
08-21-2008, 09:11 PM
Holy smoke, either you guys are supreme, expert-class wheelers or I really need to see the desert SW
That's sort of the problem. Scott rates the Rubicon as a 3.5 trail. A top trail, a 5, is most likely rock buggy territory and a 4 trail would be the Hammers. But it's not universal how ratings are given. I found parts of the Rubicon felt like 4 to me when compared to the Golden Spike in Moab, a 4 trail on Scott's scale. But I think most people can agree to within a point or so.
To me a 3.5~4 trail means mandatory aggressive 33" tires, minimum of one locker and real armor that's gonna be used. A 3.5 trail should not need two lockers and can potentially be done cleanly with reasonably built trucks with a good driver. A driver on a 4 trail should expect body damage and that's why I think the Rubicon is really a 4 trail, I honestly think you should expect to some amount of damage. But trails change, one year the Big Sluice could be 3.5 and the next a 5.
Given those assumptions, no way in heck a SMB, FWC or the like will do a 3.5 reliably and comfortable for long. There is a difference in getting something through once and doing it all the time. I got my truck through the Rubicon and I would NEVER attempt anything like that again with the WilderNest still on. But I have done 4 trails with it in Moab and that never bothered me. But it weighs a lot less than a FWC and is much tighter shaped to the truck. It still was a major hindrance on the 'Con. But I also developed some stress fractures in the fiberglass and I'm sure doing stuff like that with it all the time would destroy it. So it would be with a FWC, beating it up will break it. OTOH, a SMB being better integrated might handle the fatigue, but being so big, the banging, bumping, dragging, scraping would get old in a hurry I'd think. Also the size and weight sure would see like a problem on 3.5 and 4 trails.
08-21-2008, 10:23 PM
I generally agree w/ Dave on ratings and body damage. Keeping in mind that trails are rated high for different reasons. For example, a bunch of steep, loose, gravely hills can make an otherwise simple trail impassible for a stock truck. So how does that get rated? Higher than 3, I think. The addition of twin lockers convert the trail back to boring.
So let me clarify my position on full size: I have seen plenty of modified trucks on trails rated 4. A full size truck w/ sliders & skids, front locker, and a lift on 3.5? No problem, go slow! Certainly NOT as fun or easy as a Jeep! (And if your goal is hard core trail running, why would you drive anything less capable than a Jeep?)
Let me correct my position on jeep and trailer: 4, not 4+. Also, assumes twin lockers, 33s, sliders + skids, and low gears...and go slow!
Finally, let me add this: I wouldn't do it. I can't afford the maintenance costs and I'd have too much stress about busting up my camper on the side of a wash. (Plus, the wheelbase on my current truck is just too long...!)
08-25-2008, 10:45 PM
(And if your goal is hard core trail running, why would you drive anything less capable than a Jeep?)
Easy there, hoss. The Rover boys/FJ guys/Tacoma team/etc might take issue with that! :)
Regardless, it sounds like you're out to build one helluva truck. I can't wait to see it when you call it "almost done."
There is one truck I've seen that might do the job you're talking about, but it was a short cab/long bed that only holds 2 (3?) comfortably. It was a Super Duty lifted 6" with Bushwacker Cut-outs and 38" Mud Grapplers, locked front and rear, winches fore and aft as well, and much skidplating. Throw a tall, wedge-shaped topper on the back, an air mattress in the bed, and call it a camper and you might have exactly what you need. This guy ran an open bed and was one of those, "I do it alone" types, but man, that truck was BAD.
In my little Rubicon, I felt inadequate, insecure, incapable, and definitely not as good-looking. Took me a long time to shake that complex (juuuust kidding).
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