To Camp Or Not To Camp

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Camping in New Hampshire

This is how I’m used to camping – throwing a tent, sleeping bags, and air mattress into the car, and heading off with our dogs for an outdoor adventure. Sometimes we book campsites ahead of time, and sometimes we fly by the seat of our pants (with mixed success).

Much as my wife and I love this mode of travel, our aging and injured bodies no longer love tent life. As I mentioned in my previous post, we’ve gone to a few RV/camping shows to research some alternatives, and were not disappointed!

One of the more interesting and unique discoveries we made was the SylvanSport Go Trailer, which works as a tent trailer as well as a year-round hauler!

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This multi-purpose trailer would fit in our garage (meaning no storage fees), and at less than 900 pounds it can be towed by small vehicles and will require lower fuel consumption than full-sized trailers. The tent and tables fold up into the hard shell roof of the trailer, and comes with an enormous fly that offers a nice shaded area from the sun, or a dry vestibule in the rain.

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The interior can be set up as two large single bunks with a fold-down table between, or as one spacious king+ sleeping area.

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As a step up from tent camping this is an amazing option, but there is of course a hitch (excuse the bad camping pun): SylvanSport is just setting up Canadian distribution, and at a price of approximately $14,000 CDN all in, it’s not inexpensive.

We’re still torn by the appeal of having an actual trailer for a wide range of reasons that include more space to travel with our two dogs, climate control to make off-season trips more comfortable, and small kitchen/bath options for laziness. We found two additional very intriguing options in this category:

The R-Pod by Forest River RV is a fun, retro-looking camper with a choice of 10 different floor plans, and also comes with an optional screened-in dome that attaches to the side:

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The model we liked the best was the RP-179, which has a spacious U-shaped dinette area that bumps out for additional room, a fixed queen-sized bed that allows for a proper mattress, and a very functional kitchen and bath.

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The R-Pods also offer large 30-35 gallon holding tanks, electric brakes, AND solar panels, in addition to many other standard features! With PDI (pre-delivery inspection), freight, and taxes it would come in at approximately $30,000, but unfortunately for us at a weight of around 3,000 lbs it cannot be towed by our CR-V. We are wishing we had paid more attention to the towing specs when buying our vehicle last year.

The last and most exciting option we found was a trailer called the Alto, manufactured in Quebec by a company called Safari Condo. Based on aircraft design and manufactured with aluminum, it is extremely light and boasts up to 75% less drag than a standard trailer. It comes in one of two designs: either the R-series with a retractable roof, or the F-series with a fixed roof.

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As you can see, the windows in this unit almost make you feel like you’re outdoors! You can open them wide to pass food and items through to the outside, close the screen, close the glass, or shutter them entirely for privacy. Aside from the expandable roof, the main difference between the two units is the toilet/shower area. In the R-series, it’s an awkward cabinet placed in the middle of the trailer with just a curtain for privacy. In the F-series it’s an enclosed room as you would expect to find in most trailers. Both come with solar panels as standard features.

You can really feel the quality in the build of this unit, from the cabinetry to the upholstery to the windows. It’s beautiful. Weighing in at 1600 lbs and with its unique aerodynamic design, the F-series would be towable by most vehicles. Unfortunately it is also the most expensive, and has the longest lead time – we were told you have to reserve your unit for production at least a year in advance. It was hard to get a quote as the unit is extremely customizable with loads of options, but it appeared it would be close to $40,000 when all was said and done.

If we manage to get away for an extended road trip this year, it looks like we will be going the dog-friendly motel route until we can decide on a long-term plan/investment. The research has given us lots to think about – and really itchy feet!

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