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Old 08-15-2012, 01:50 PM
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Default School me on Pop-up trailers

So I think the family has decided we are heading towards a Pop up trailer. This is bitter sweet. I love my little off road trailer but we have already outgrown it.

I'd like to be able to sleep 6ish... for kids friends our friends things like that. I think we'd like a heater/stove/fridge setup. This will most likely not see any dirt. We will tow it with our Sequoia that has a tow package installed already.

What should be looking into? Brands? Sizes?

What should we be avoiding? Canvas work? Water damage?

We would like to keep it in the 2-3k range on price.
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Old 08-15-2012, 02:04 PM
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Drew,

We have a Coleman Casa Grande...1997 model bought in 1998.

We really like it. It is big with king beds on each end and the kitchen table converts to a full size bed. The kitchen table area pulls out so the walking space is much bigger than you normally find. Stove, fridge, and heater. No potty or AC. We decided having a potty inside just didn't sound like a good idea but having AC would be nice sometimes.

As for things to look for...Ours is holding up really well but little things like the velcro attachments are starting to come loose. Check for cracks in the roof (expensive repair) and the body panels. Check the interior etc. and make sure all of the items work including the heater, water pump, and water heater if you plan to use them. Popups are GREAT for improved campgrounds with electrical and water hook ups. Using them in unimproved areas is still nice but you have to work around the lack of electricity and water issues.

If I were looking for one now I'd try to find a Fleetwood E1 or E2 I think...Those are pretty nice but I'm not sure about pricing. I don't know what you will find in the $2-3K price range but I imagine there should be a lot of options.

IMO, get the biggest and best conditioned one you can find because having the space is really nice...assuming you never really plan to drag it very far off the beaten path that is - mine took a beating on the trip in and out of Area BFE.
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Old 08-15-2012, 02:44 PM
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black95 black95 is offline
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I also have a Coleman and love it. I'm pretty partial to the Fleetwood/ Coleman campers.

Somewhere in the early 90's (93?) Coleman switched to the weathertech fabric that is far superior to old canvas models. I think mine is a '94. We've been in some bad storms in ours, never had anything get wet. Try to get one with an awning, it's very much worth it.

Seems like I remember the Coleman and Fleetwood campers were the only brands to have solid beam axles and leaf springs, which was a huge factor since I wanted to lift mine. Fleetwood makes the Coleman campers still I think. I lifted mine 5.5 inches with a spring flip and a homemade 2.5 square tube block. Got new u-bolts made at a spring shop in town. I've drug it through places so knarly, people stopped to take pictures.

Why not go with an offroad version in the first place? I looked into it, my camper weighs in around 1,100 pounds fully loaded, most of the offroad versions were over a thousand pounds heavier than that. Not sure where all the weight comes from, but my lifted 4runner would not have liked that, your 100 series will probably do fine.

I opted to find a model without a refrigerator. I've seen a lot of campers that have refrigerators that don't work, even when they do, the propane cooling system seems to take a long time to get cool. I didn't want to have to pop up my camper a day ahead of time to get the refrigerator ready to go just to close it back up again. They are very expensive to replace when they go bad as well. I guess if you have power hookup that's a different story, I have had my pop up for 5 years and have never plugged it in. My family can keep the lights on all weekend and the heater blowing at 75 and the battery always seems to hold up.

About the potty, mine has one and my wife and daughter love it. It was a huge factor in them wanting to go or not. It's a little more difficult for women to find places to go, and the toilet keeps the campsites from looking like a toilet paper roll exploded. It is very easy to clean, just dump it in the toilet when you get home (it has a flip out nozzle), put it in the yard and rinse it with a hose, dump in a little potty deodorizer, and throw it back in the camper for next time.

Good luck, you'll love the pop up life.
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Old 08-15-2012, 03:08 PM
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my .02 using mine the last couple years.

Stove, we hardly ever cook inside. Only when the weather is totally crappy which is hardly ever. We mainly use the green coleman stove on a picnic table.
THe fridges in these things suck. My norcold in the truck is 10x better. If you use battery it will suck it down to nothing. The propane works ok. Being more and more Bear aware we hardly even use it anymore, esp for weekend getaways. It's different if you have a hard side trailer. In yellowstone we never even used the fridge. I do turn it on when we are hooked up at a trailer park like in ouray.

The heater is key though.

I'd try to find one with at least a king and queen vs a double on one side. The seat that folds to a bed might as well be useless it's so small. you could use it for really little kids like 3 and under but our dogs won't even sleep on it.

I think min would be a 12ft box.
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Old 08-15-2012, 03:11 PM
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Look for any camper that has been garaged - that helps a huge amount on sun and water damage. I have a '93 Starcraft (12' chassis) I bought in '97. I really like the 12' chassis because you always need more room inside, even with a family of 4. I have towed it a little offroad and across the US several times. It's showing some wear, but no roof leaks or frame issues, etc. Some of the interior layout and design is criminal (requires you to fully set up the camper - FULLY) before you can close a water valve or load the icebox - stupid! You will need to fix little things that fall apart on campers -they're like an old AMC or Chrysler product, as far as interior component quality.

My wife and I have looked at many Coleman campers from the late 90s/early 2000s, and all have fairly serious damage to the ABS plastic roof or the front/rear shells. Colorado is very hard on ABS plastic - sun and hail. So, while we'd like a camper with 2 king beds and a slideout (like a Coleman Utah, Niagara, etc.) we haven't found one we'd buy yet. The Fleetwood/Coleman popup division in Pennsylvania went bankrupt in 2009 and closed and the 1-piece ABS replacement roofs are no longer available.

I greatly enjoy my popup and feel claustrophobic in most hard-sided campers (with the tiny windows). I don't use the camper icebox - just bring a cooler. I really, really like having a 6 gal hot water heater in the camper for a morning face wash - that justifies the entire camper at times ;-)

Now is a good time to buy - people don't want to pay another year's storage fees and the camping season is over. Take your time and look at several brands and sizes.
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Old 08-15-2012, 03:23 PM
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You guys nailed the fridge: useless. Unless you're at Slickrock Campground all week, then it's ok, but even then still too small and not really that cold. Just get a real fridge for the back of the truck.

AC doesn't do anything or us, where we camp it's sweatshirts at night and often the heater. During the day it can get hot, but we don't typically want to sit inside the camper during the day, unless it's completely raining, in which case it's sweatshirts again, not AC. not worth the weight.

Make sure access to one of the beds isn't through the bench of the table- you want a kid to be able to sit & eat his cereal without the other crawling on top of him looking for their socks. And the potty doesn't appeal to us either, for the girls we've got a little Baby Bjorn bucket thing that's literally a pan to pee in then dump outside & rinse with water. My son and I would rather go outside, camping or not.

And hot water doesn't do anything for us either, we've still never even used the water storage & sink. A 7 gal. jug on the tongue seems to do us just fine, and I like the idea that there's no water or mold potential inside, I may just remove the sink altogether to gain the counter space. Personal preference obviously, we'd rather brush our teeth outside than store old toothpaste in the cracks of a flexible drain tube. I've got a Decker hot water heater that runs completely independent of the camper, and have set that up in a little tent a few times but again, not a part of the camper. Like Wes, I do most my cooking outside on a Coleman stove as well, rarely inside. Though we do heat water on the stove inside in the mornings, that's handy.
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Old 08-15-2012, 03:49 PM
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We've had our for a couple of years now. But that doesn't include the Bethany we had when I was a kid. Put about 100,000 miles on that we figure.

As has been said keep them simple. Keep them light and maneauverable. Weight takes HP to pull and mileage to lose if you understand. Fridge, use the one in your vehicle. Heater is ok but can be noisy. You will use and figure out what you would like to modify or add to make it easier. Like Nakmans ideas. I know the first thing I do is fashion a cover for the sink to make more counter space. When your inside you sit down, kids on the far end past the table. It isn't designed space wize to just walk around in. Ours is smaller so we can turn it sideways in the designated areas. Be careful of the off road statement. There is a thread somewhere here about that. Oh yah, make the sure the brake system works whichever you get. It is a lifesaver. My dad locked up all six tires once when I was young. Trailer followed straight instead of swapping ends. And let your kids learn how to open and close it. Less work for you. Took us 10 minutes when I was a kid. Dad stayed at the drivers wheel and didn't come out of the car until we told him to. We leveled and everything. Outfit it with its own equipment so you don't have to get stuff from somewhere else and then return it.
All for now.
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Old 08-15-2012, 04:26 PM
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FJBRADY FJBRADY is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheeseman View Post
We've had our for a couple of years now. But that doesn't include the Bethany we had when I was a kid. Put about 100,000 miles on that we figure.

As has been said keep them simple. Keep them light and maneauverable. Weight takes HP to pull and mileage to lose if you understand. Fridge, use the one in your vehicle. Heater is ok but can be noisy. You will use and figure out what you would like to modify or add to make it easier. Like Nakmans ideas. I know the first thing I do is fashion a cover for the sink to make more counter space. When your inside you sit down, kids on the far end past the table. It isn't designed space wize to just walk around in. Ours is smaller so we can turn it sideways in the designated areas. Be careful of the off road statement. There is a thread somewhere here about that. Oh yah, make the sure the brake system works whichever you get. It is a lifesaver. My dad locked up all six tires once when I was young. Trailer followed straight instead of swapping ends. And let your kids learn how to open and close it. Less work for you. Took us 10 minutes when I was a kid. Dad stayed at the drivers wheel and didn't come out of the car until we told him to. We leveled and everything. Outfit it with its own equipment so you don't have to get stuff from somewhere else and then return it.
All for now.
This stopped me in my tracks.......Cheeseman camps in a popup trailer? I thought he slept under the stars in a downpour, what a buzz kill.
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Old 08-15-2012, 04:39 PM
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I consider the water storage tank and sink a very big deal. Washing dishes is so much easier when you can rinse in a sink. Standing up inside is nice too. Heaters are a big deal, the beds are nice. I'd say a giant feature is front locker storage. You basically can have everything in the camper and locker and be ready to go.

I have a Coleman Cheyenne btw. It is a 2003 and I have it listed on CL in the Boulder section.
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Old 08-15-2012, 04:56 PM
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We never use the fridge or hot water heater. Took the hot water heater out to create storage space. Only once in 100+ nights of sleeping in the pop-up did we sleep with the windows unzipped, AC not needed. We prefer Wagbags to cleaning a bathroom, so got 10' chassis size. Buy cheep and upgrade axle/wheels/tires is my advice. Brand doesn't matter, they're all crap. buy a 10' chassis size is my advice.

Basic breakdown of Pop up campers

8' chassis, 10-12" wheels, 5gal water, manual pump, furnace, Ice box, 2 small beds

10' chassis 12-14" wheels, 20-30 gal, 12v water pump, furnace, fridge, 2.5 beds, brakes

12' chassis, same as above with shower/toilet, bigger beds.
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