The quest for the perfect family (5 of us) overlanding/camping setup....

greyadventures

New member
Family of 4 +dog here. Having the same dilemma as all of you. If base camping was the only concern my pop-up would work great. Problem is I like to be on the move and see different areas. Many National Parks have road restrictions that limit trailers and the overall length and width of vehicles. Trying to park a trailer anywhere tourists go is a huge PITA, and lets face it, unhooking, re-hooking, opening and closing, slide outs... are all a big time consuming PITA. I have a great Big Agnes, big A$$ tent. Plenty of room but again setup and take down consume a couple of hours a day if moving and I want mobility. The question for me is how much do I want to spend to be mobile.
  • Earthroamer, No it costs more than my house.
  • Big van - Empty vans are around 50k used with 4X4 + build, or well over $100k built. Probably not...
  • Go Fast Camper - Price is right, wait is not, but a good bare bones option.
  • Four Wheel Camper - I love slide in campers, downside is they are tight in space and $30-$38k for a loaded one. I think this may be the ticket.
  • RTT - Some set-up hassle, need to pack up to move, bare bones, need to pack all that is built into a camper (electric cooler, stove, ...). Would need a rack or topper for truck. Most economical.
  • Used Slide-in camper. Best deal but unless it is a FWC it may not hold up to 4x4 abuse. Unless pop-top won't fit in garage. Potential for lowest price.
I will likely end up will end up with a slide in but am also interested in RTT or something like a Go Fast Camper.
 

The Artisan

Adventurer
Family of 4 +dog here. Having the same dilemma as all of you. If base camping was the only concern my pop-up would work great. Problem is I like to be on the move and see different areas. Many National Parks have road restrictions that limit trailers and the overall length and width of vehicles. Trying to park a trailer anywhere tourists go is a huge PITA, and lets face it, unhooking, re-hooking, opening and closing, slide outs... are all a big time consuming PITA. I have a great Big Agnes, big A$$ tent. Plenty of room but again setup and take down consume a couple of hours a day if moving and I want mobility. The question for me is how much do I want to spend to be mobile.
  • Earthroamer, No it costs more than my house.
  • Big van - Empty vans are around 50k used with 4X4 + build, or well over $100k built. Probably not...
  • Go Fast Camper - Price is right, wait is not, but a good bare bones option.
  • Four Wheel Camper - I love slide in campers, downside is they are tight in space and $30-$38k for a loaded one. I think this may be the ticket.
  • RTT - Some set-up hassle, need to pack up to move, bare bones, need to pack all that is built into a camper (electric cooler, stove, ...). Would need a rack or topper for truck. Most economical.
  • Used Slide-in camper. Best deal but unless it is a FWC it may not hold up to 4x4 abuse. Unless pop-top won't fit in garage. Potential for lowest price.
I will likely end up will end up with a slide in but am also interested in RTT or something like a Go Fast Camper.
I have stated this on other posts but I have a product coming out that might fit your needs. Bare bone diy sip panel kits with frames and hardpanel full poptopper. Think Ikea diy camper shell. You can build something similar to a earthroamer exd if you wanted to and build interior as you see fit. Pm me if you want more info.
Kevin
 
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calicamper

Expedition Leader
Family of 4 +dog here. Having the same dilemma as all of you. If base camping was the only concern my pop-up would work great. Problem is I like to be on the move and see different areas. Many National Parks have road restrictions that limit trailers and the overall length and width of vehicles. Trying to park a trailer anywhere tourists go is a huge PITA, and lets face it, unhooking, re-hooking, opening and closing, slide outs... are all a big time consuming PITA. I have a great Big Agnes, big A$$ tent. Plenty of room but again setup and take down consume a couple of hours a day if moving and I want mobility. The question for me is how much do I want to spend to be mobile.
  • Earthroamer, No it costs more than my house.
  • Big van - Empty vans are around 50k used with 4X4 + build, or well over $100k built. Probably not...
  • Go Fast Camper - Price is right, wait is not, but a good bare bones option.
  • Four Wheel Camper - I love slide in campers, downside is they are tight in space and $30-$38k for a loaded one. I think this may be the ticket.
  • RTT - Some set-up hassle, need to pack up to move, bare bones, need to pack all that is built into a camper (electric cooler, stove, ...). Would need a rack or topper for truck. Most economical.
  • Used Slide-in camper. Best deal but unless it is a FWC it may not hold up to 4x4 abuse. Unless pop-top won't fit in garage. Potential for lowest price.
I will likely end up will end up with a slide in but am also interested in RTT or something like a Go Fast Camper.
Yeah if you can keep the trailer to 12/13 ft and your not driving a 25ft long full sized something leaving trailer on works. My Sequoia first gen with our 4x6 lifetime original tent trailer flies under the radar. But like many here it has negatives. Setup /tear down time, oh and Monsoon winds!! Bad... Bryce we just fit in a single large spot in the parking lot and rode the bus around during our short day visit. Capitol Reef we drove in with trailer zero issues. All the other parks we were base camped so simply left the trailer and went to the parks. I do think length 13ft and under plus a small look behind the tow rig makes for far better options at busy locations and no doubt is way easier to deal with on the long highway hauls.

Same struggle family of 4 don’t want a giant RV etc. I’m going to work on getting a custom trailer built. Basically a Intech explore with a 4wheel truck camper pop top. Kids bunks up high, parents bunk down low. Low bunk flips up to allow gear loading via rear doors. Bikes, camp stuff etc. fast setup, multi use trailer, low towing profile, garage or hidden behind side yard fence etc.
 

MOguy

Explorer
I had a Hybrid camper. Mine was not set up for off-roading but it was light. I would think that same concept could work well in an off-road trailer.
 

alldownhill

New member
Family of 4 +dog here. Having the same dilemma as all of you. If base camping was the only concern my pop-up would work great. Problem is I like to be on the move and see different areas. Many National Parks have road restrictions that limit trailers and the overall length and width of vehicles. Trying to park a trailer anywhere tourists go is a huge PITA, and lets face it, unhooking, re-hooking, opening and closing, slide outs... are all a big time consuming PITA. I have a great Big Agnes, big A$$ tent. Plenty of room but again setup and take down consume a couple of hours a day if moving and I want mobility. The question for me is how much do I want to spend to be mobile.
  • Earthroamer, No it costs more than my house.
  • Big van - Empty vans are around 50k used with 4X4 + build, or well over $100k built. Probably not...
  • Go Fast Camper - Price is right, wait is not, but a good bare bones option.
  • Four Wheel Camper - I love slide in campers, downside is they are tight in space and $30-$38k for a loaded one. I think this may be the ticket.
  • RTT - Some set-up hassle, need to pack up to move, bare bones, need to pack all that is built into a camper (electric cooler, stove, ...). Would need a rack or topper for truck. Most economical.
  • Used Slide-in camper. Best deal but unless it is a FWC it may not hold up to 4x4 abuse. Unless pop-top won't fit in garage. Potential for lowest price.
I will likely end up will end up with a slide in but am also interested in RTT or something like a Go Fast Camper.
You could probably make an AT Habitat work with some creative bed platforms... maybe a hitch mounted swingout cargo box for all the gear. I've slept 4 fairly comfortably in my wedge camper shell but we do mostly short trips.
 

calicamper

Expedition Leader
You could probably make an AT Habitat work with some creative bed platforms... maybe a hitch mounted swingout cargo box for all the gear. I've slept 4 fairly comfortably in my wedge camper shell but we do mostly short trips.
6ft+ bed with short length kids bunk o cot on the floor and the AT Habitat was one idea I had. But then I keep running into SUV seating for 7 challenges ie pickup isn’t in the cards for a while. Especially after hauling several aging grandparents a number of times recently. Our trailer program has worked well for forest destinations but recent trip through AZ, Utah Moab exposed the major disadvantage to tent camping. Potential for major trip disaster via wind destroyed tent trailer is too high to ignore. We just barely survived a wind event from a thunderstorm that was 20 miles away. LOL That was a reality check for our current rig.
The smaller soft side / hard side combos seem far more flexible regarding ability to handle foul weather and give you that needed space boost on a small footprint setup.
 

Crux

New member
Interesting thread - I've got the similar dilemma with a family of 5.
Kids are starting to get bigger and we recently got into mountain biking around Colorado.
So now we have 5 bikes to lug around.

Our current setup :
  • Landcruiser LC100 with lift, 35" tires, and sliders
  • Thule Flow cargo box
  • Thule roof single bike rack
  • Thule rear 4 bike hitch rack
  • Custom built platform in rear with ARB drawer, ARB fridge and slide
  • BigAgnes 6 person tent
  • CLAM portal screened pod (the best purchase we have ever made - no more mosquitoes while cooking!!)
  • A bunch of light weight backpack gear to fit in the truck
While this setup has worked for the last 10 years, it's difficult to 4wheel with the big Thule hitch rack sticking out and setup/tear down takes 2 hours.

lc-plat.PNG

I need something that can still 4 wheel decently, but nothing too extreme.
Also it needs to fit in the garage, carry 5 bikes, and have a quick setup/tear down.

I've watch 100s of videos of sprinters, sportsmobiles, four wheel campers, unimogs, etc, but really none of those really fit the bill.
I've avoided towing because it sucks backing up and city driving...but think that might actually be the best option.

Currently leaning towards a off-road square-drop trailer, like one of these:

Pros:
  • Mount 5 bikes on the roof of the trailer.
  • Mount RTT on Landcruiser for the three kids.
  • Wife and I sleep in the trailer - no more uneven ground sleeping!
  • Fast setup (basically none)
  • Fits in the garage
  • Lots of water (has shower too!)
  • Can leave trailer at basecamp and take LC for excursions
  • Permanent solar on trailer roof
  • More storage
  • Setup and ready to go at a moments notice
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Backing up
  • Slight impact to 4 wheeling

Thoughts?
 

fireball

Explorer
I've said it before and I'll say it again, our setup with a FWC on a flatbed trailer ticks so many boxes for family adventures. It is quick and easy to setup, you can stand up in it, outfit it however you like, and spend as much as you like based on the year/model of FWC and trailer you buy.

Setup is less than 5 minutes if you don't disconnect from the truck. I can pull over, park and have the FWC ready for mom and both boys to sleep super quickly. Setup for the weekend and pack up is in the 10-20' range and that's with the full setup deployed.

The mpg sucks when towing, and there are a few considerations obviously with towing, but we have done everything we've wanted to in the trailer. Hancock Pass, Stony Pass, Owl Creek Road, Aspen Ridge Rd, while out in CO the last two years. Back east all of the fire service and drivable trails to remote spots in PA, NH, VT, etc.

 

calicamper

Expedition Leader
I've said it before and I'll say it again, our setup with a FWC on a flatbed trailer ticks so many boxes for family adventures. It is quick and easy to setup, you can stand up in it, outfit it however you like, and spend as much as you like based on the year/model of FWC and trailer you buy.

Setup is less than 5 minutes if you don't disconnect from the truck. I can pull over, park and have the FWC ready for mom and both boys to sleep super quickly. Setup for the weekend and pack up is in the 10-20' range and that's with the full setup deployed.

The mpg sucks when towing, and there are a few considerations obviously with towing, but we have done everything we've wanted to in the trailer. Hancock Pass, Stony Pass, Owl Creek Road, Aspen Ridge Rd, while out in CO the last two years. Back east all of the fire service and drivable trails to remote spots in PA, NH, VT, etc.

Yeah I’ve decided 5x10 or 6x10 short height box trailer with FWC popup roof is our next trailer. At some point I’ll need to start talking to a builder to build one
 

Crux

New member
That's interesting. I've never seen a FWC on a trailer.
Are you able to mount a rack for bikes on the roof of the FWC?
 

fireball

Explorer
You could, the roof of the FWC has Yakima tracks. A better idea would be to fork mount the bikes to the back wall of the camper, or to use a hitch mounted bike rack off the back of the trailer, or find away to mount them behind the trailer tongue where the truck cab would normally be.

The back of my trailer has a hitch attachment and I’ve carried bikes on my Thule T2 carrier mounted there.

 

fireball

Explorer
864s. Trailer tongue weight is 400# fully loaded. Total trailer weight is #2700. The back end squats just a bit when loaded. Ive got a rear bumper with double swing out, cargo box drawer system with 63qt fridge and a 100# husky that usually rides in the back of the cruiser. So it's a LOT of weight on the arse end!
 

MOguy

Explorer
864s. Trailer tongue weight is 400# fully loaded. Total trailer weight is #2700. The back end squats just a bit when loaded. Ive got a rear bumper with double swing out, cargo box drawer system with 63qt fridge and a 100# husky that usually rides in the back of the cruiser. So it's a LOT of weight on the arse end!
I really like your trailer.

That arse end does look heavy. Usually the rule (not sure whos rule) is 10 to 15% of the weight of the trailer. You are slightly over that but for off-road it may be better to spread out the load more. The trailer weight itself doesn't seem too bad.

It looks like you might have some storage space on the side of the trailer, can you put some stuff there.
 

fireball

Explorer
If I were to have another custom trailer built to haul the FWC, the axle would be moved forward a few inches to reduce that tongue weight. As it sits, the nose box is too nice and convenient *not* to store a bunch of stuff in it! The setup tracks and tows beautifully, so I haven't been inclined to make any changes.

Just got back from a 5,500 mile trip to CO and back, 15 nights camping with the family. I've drug the trailer over Stony Pass (Silverton), Hancock Pass, Tincup, Owl Creek and some other easy to moderate trails and it's done great.
 
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