I own a 99 Tacoma X-cab 4X4 and was trying to decide between a FWC and a traditional style smaller hard-side camper. The best FWC for my truck seems to be their Eagle model, and would you believe there is a barely used 2006 Eagle for sale, just 10 minutes from my home. So I just had to take a look.
I did. It was in "Like New" condition, however I decided to pass because it was priced too high. For a couple of thousand more I can order a new Eagle, with the options I wanted. But, what are the odds that a used one would pop up so close to me?
OK perhaps I should have purchased the used Eagle, but I was still not certain a FWC was my best choice. So I drove to my local small town RV dealer, and they had a 2001 Pastime traditional style small truck camper. It looks like new and the price was right! While still small inside, it was easier getting in and out, because of a much larger door than on the Eagle. The Pastime had everything except a bathroom and awning. I thought this is a great little camper for the money. Plus it has more storage than FWC Eagle. It weighs 1,025 lbs.
That night at home I agonized weather to order a new Eagle, or go with the Pastime? My heart was with the FWC. But the Pastime seemed to offer so much for the $4,000 price. I knew I would not be doing much 4-wheeling with the Pastime, and more than likely the Pastime would be keept off the truck. But it only takes about 15 minutes to load... even though I would prefer to keep camper on the truck and ready to go.
Well I just had to see what that Pastime looked like on my truck. So at the dealer we loaded it and discovered that my rear springs were shot! Actually the truck did pretty well with the load, but still the springs need replacing. That can be fixed, but seeing the camper on my truck made me question if this was such a good idea? How would the rig handle on the highway/wind and on logging roads? Even though the Pastime is a very small camper, perhaps it is a bit too much for a Tacoma? I sort of thought I would drive my Tacoma daily. I'm not sure I would be happy doing that with such a camper loaded?
As much as I like the Pastime camper, I am now leaning towards a new FW Eagle. I would keep it on the truck always. My dog could ride in the folded camper and I could go off road, plus still tow a utility trailer or my small boat!
But a FWC is expensive new and I could use some help with correct options decisions. Here is what I have in mind... FW Eagle with awning, standard aluminum luggage/boat rack, rear wall steps and flood lights (for looks). No jacks to save some money and weight- besides I plan to leave camper on truck and do not want hastle of loading. I also want the rig ready to go always, for last minute weekend travel decisions. Is not having mechanical jacks a mistake?
On the interior I want some tunes, the furnace, aux battery system. Again to save some money I am leaning towards an ice box rather than the $700 refer option. Would I regret not having a refrigerator? Also I am wondering about the costly Arctic Pack insulation. It seems like another thing to have to store. But when winter camping might be a needed option? Would the furnace keep that little camper warm enough in the winter without the insulation option?
Without the mechanical jacks, refrigerator and arctic pack, my new Eagle will be around $13,500 delivered and installed. But since I do not have an expensive truck, I can sort of swallow the expensive price for such a small camper. Besides, the camper should serve me for years to come, plus hold resale value. Even down the line I could use/load it in a new truck.
My concerns besides the above mentioned options selections are, a real lack of storage in the camper and that tiny entrance door. OK, I guess a FWC is for an explorer, adventurer and those seeking the path less taken. So duffle bags in the truck cab will have to do. But what about that tiny door? On the Eagle I looked at, the couch is also in the way of getting in and out of the camper. With my size, I found it easier to climb out backwards stepping on to the milk crate, used as a step. While camping, will that tiny door drive me crazy every time I need to enter or exit? Or will I adapt and discover some secret technique. At the very least become more fit and flexible?
I have owned all style RVs. So I'm used to big doors, bathrooms and showers. But my heart longs for backcountry adventure. I actually own a smaller Class C Motorhome now. it is very nice, but runs on a 460 Ford. I am thinking with the price of gas, now is the time to sell it and downsize to the FWC. So should I go with an FWC Eagle and which options? Or the Pastime camper with bigger door and a small coat closet and overhead storage? I greatly appreciate any thoughts, help and advice. Thanks, CC.