Sage Wisdom Needed
Hey folks, newbie here, been lurking for a long time and have found some great information.
I found the site because I was looking for a solution to the following problem: I do a lot of kayak fishing, and I want to start fishing more tournaments that are in different states, as well as just taking general, relaxing fishing/camping trips. If paying for gas weren't expensive enough, motel rooms ain't cheap either. So I've been doing lots of reading trying to come up with a viable alternative solution to having to stay in (read that "pay for") motel rooms.
There are three major options I have come up with, each having its own set of pros and cons.
1st option: Buy a regular tent that sets up on the ground, throw air mattress in it, and stay in campgrounds at or near the fishing locations. Haul kayak in bed of truck.
Pros: cheapest of the options; fairly quick to set up; preserves ability to stay mobile with the kayak with a minimum amount of hassle loading and unloading the kayak; don't have to pack every time you leave to go fish
Cons: probably the least comfortable; more exposure to elements; less secure than camper shell on truck or lockable expedition trailer
2nd option: Buy a camper shell for the pickup truck and build an elevated plywood platform in the bed, and put about a 6 inch memory foam mattress on top of the plywood platform. Sleep on that. Carry the 'yak on racks on top of the shell.
Pros: most comfortable bedding situation, also most secure for gear storage; don't have to deal with pulling a trailer; can leave bed made up all the time for either napping at rest stops on long trips or for sleeping once you get there
Con: good camper shells are expensive; would have to pack lots of things up every morning when leaving campsite, then unpack again in the evening; the hassle of loading a kayak on top of roof racks on top of the camper shell of a 4WD pickup
3rd option: Buy/build an expedition trailer and mount a rooftop tent on top of it. Build the trailer such that it can carry the kayak when traveling to and from the final destination, and then having arrived there, unhitch the trailer, set up the tent, lock the trailer tongue, and throw the kayak in the bed of the truck and have mobility to different launch points.
Pros: more comfortable bedding than ground tent (not a big fan of air mattresses); sturdier tent than ground tents; storage for lots of gear/gadgets/conveniences on the trailer; would serve as a base camp, preserving the easy loading of the kayak in the bed of the truck for driving to different launch points
Cons: expense of buying/building trailer, and then having to add a rooftop tent; the pain of having to pull a trailer long distances; not as comfortable as truck bed camping (I wouldn't think).
Just wanted to see if any of you guys had any insights into what would be the best option? Any pros and cons that I haven't thought of? I was really enamored initially with the idea of truck bed camping because I think it would be the most comfortable, but the more I think about having to load the kayak on top of the camper shell of a 4WD pickup, the more I tend to think that an expedition trailer would probably be the best option.
"best" is subjective. a trailer left at camp requires you to go back and retreive before leaving. racking the boats is a once a day ordeal either way. ease into the solution and you'll get to one that's suits your style.
+1 on what southpier said. Ease into it - you'll save a lot of cash.
The cheapest option is going to be number 1 - tent camping. You mention comfort several times and hint that you feel that tent camping will require you to compromise on comfort. On the contrary, tent camping on the ground has the widest number of options for tents, cots, and airbeds and therefore the most potential in providing you with a comfortable sleep. Start off cheap, buy a dry tent you can stand up in, and get a comfortable cot or air bed. You'll have trouble matching that level of comfort with a roof top tent that you have to climb a ladder to get into or a camper you can't stand up in.
Also, not to take away anything from this wonderful site, but I would suggest posing this same question over at http://www.solotripping.com/community/
Too much thought will prevent you from getting out there and actually doing some camping. Start simple and inexpensive until you figure out how you like to camp and your camp routines. As you have a pickup, a simple inexpensive truck canopy can get you started. I have done this and I (and my wife who likes her comforts) have been plenty comfortable. Mine was an old F250 with canopy and a futon mattress in the back on the deck of the box - tupperware box with stove, etc in for cooking and a cooler. Just be sure of the seal between the canopy and truck box so you minimize water troubles from rain. A canopy is low enough to keep the boat on the roof and still have easy access.
As you get used to your routines, you will inform yourself of what you need and not need for your trips. Of course, longer trips require more room. Make a list of your requirements as you learn. No setup is ever perfect and it will evolve over time. Personally, I avoid trailers as I don't like towing in the backcountry - I DO like some of the trailers I have seen here though.
So... for now... keep it simple and just get out there!
Of those 3 options, I'd say go with the truck topper but find something cheap on Craigslist. It's been a few years but a friend picked up an AWESOME topper for ~$150 because the seller wanted something that came closer to matching his truck's paint. We sanded it down, shot some primer, and for $50 in paint, matched it to his (my friend the buyer) trucks paint and away he went. As for loading it, you can always mount some rollers and use a cheap wireless ATV winch to pull the kayak up onto the roof.
If you find that the topper isn't working for you, you can always go the HF route and get a cheap 4x8 trailer, or get a 4x8 enclosed trailer and camp out of that. The HF trailers will stand up to a surprising amount of abuse and last a pretty good while so don't be scared of their "inexpensiveness".
The best part with these two options is that you can more or less try them out for free. Just wait for a good deal, take decent care of it, and odds are whether it's the topper or the trailer you'll be able to sell it for what you have in it.
One option you didn't mention is the cot/tent combo....I think it's called a camprite and it's basically an easy to set up all in one type deal. That'd be as easy as taking it out of the truck, unfolding it, and putting your sleeping bag inside. You won't have as much room to move around like you would in a tent but for a little night time reading, changing clothes, and getting some shut eye, it fits the bill.
Get a Mountainhardwear standard camping tent (avoid the snow expedition models unless your camping in the snow), a decent sleeping bag, and any self inflatable mattress. I prefer Thermarest's Epedition models. There are plenty of others that are even better and more suited to car camping. All my gear is backpacking oriented. Thermarests are only 1.5" thick, but i don't have to worry about sinking in and getting a sore back like I do with those super thick home style air mattresses.
Get a tiny Henry Shires tent as well. Often a pure bred Backpacking tent like the Henry Shires will be superior to the larger base camp tents. Since you have room, bring two different style tents. Choose the one that suits the weather the best.
Especially if you're camping at remote sights or on soft sand. Allways neat to sleep on the beach next to a rivers waterfall, somewhere your truck can't go.
Good proper backpacking quality gear makes a huge difference in comfort. Realistic expectaions help as well. Every huge tent I've camped in has been miserable. A good little tent, just for sleeping, breaths better and stays dry better IME. Your sleeping bag should be designed to keep you warm, never your tent. Otherwise you get nasty condensation rain inside your tent.
If conditions are right, a bivvy sack and sleeping under the stars completely rules. I did this in Florida in the winter. No bugs in the winter.
A fiberglass truck cap can work great with a few mods. But even with that huge comfy bed, It's best to have a good down sleeping bag when it gets cold. Install a couple of RV vents in the roof with fans to let hot air out. Deosn't have to be anything fancy.
Truck caps are very tough to keep warm or cold. I'd still be prepared with a more temp friendly tent. It would be awesome to install an RV airconditioner on the roof if you do plan on making it to a plug in camp site. At least make sure yo find a cap with plenty of screened windows.
No reason why you can't be prepared with option 1 and 2 and then just pick the one that offers the best climate when you get to your campsite.
Too expensive. I used to love Rv'ing, but it's dead to me now. Trailers are for people that camp and stay at camp to relax. If you only want a place to sleep then this isn't needed.
I'm only at camp to sleep, once I'm awake, I'm in the canoe, truck, or hiking again. I have no use for a place to sit and watch TV.
Last edited by Buliwyf; 07-09-2011 at 04:08 PM.
Dan T. Cook towed a Campa USA trailer with rooftop tent during his Flyfishing the Globe project.
The new issue of 4WDrive/Sport Utility magazine has an article about a guy in UT that picked up a used Wells Cargo V nose trailer for a good price. He then added a couple of windows, roof top vents, and insulated and paneled the interior. He built a mounting setup on the walls and by the back door he put in a fold down couch/bed set up with storage under it. He added some shelves up front and a porta potti. He also added some interior lights. On the outside he added some blocks on the suspension and was able to put 31" tires on it and then he added extended stabilizers for when camped. You could also add a generator, solar, or whatever else you might find useful and go this route. I don't know how long your kayaks are but these trailers come in many different lengths. This would give you a lockable out of the weather storage space plus a place to sleep. You can get them with the side door and then a rear ramp style or dual door. Might be an option for you.