Rethinking many aspects of our Overlanding setup and goals.

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DRAX

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So, we got back from Montana (Missoula and Glacier area) not quite 2 weeks ago. While it was mostly an enjoyable experience, we decided to cut it short as we felt like we weren't getting as much out of it as we had hoped for or expected when compared to our trip to Colorado last summer. We were able to miss a lot of smoke during our Glacier and Going-to-the-Sun Road visit, but down south it was quite smoky. The heat wasn't horrible. Yeah, it was in the 90s a bit but it was bearable. What added to it not being a super experience is that my replacement Jackery 1000 died within 4 hours of leaving home. That was the first real trip after the first one was replaced that had some weird internal issue and would randomly power off or the regulated 12v would drop to 7-8v. For the first week-ish of the trip I had to run everything off my truck's battery. Didn't have issues running the battery down, but also didn't have the flexibility/portability we were expecting either. Jackery came through in the end, but by the time the replacement 500 arrived in Missoula (I told them I didn't want another 1000 as I can't trust them) we were pretty much ready to head home.

The current challenges, issues, and positives are...
  • Soft-shell RTT is a bit more effort to set up and take down than I'd like to deal with in the heat, especially if we're only going to be staying one night. This is compounded by the fact that we also use some self-inflating mattress pads because the 3" mattress that came with the RTT leaves a lot to be desired. That means rolling up/deflating the pads before the tent can be put away. There is just enough room to keep the deflated pads and sleeping bags up there with the tent closed up, but that doesn't prevent the need to get as much air out of them as possible first.
  • Have to put tent away if we want to drive anywhere for any reason. We do have a Gazelle gazebo that we can leave behind with other things to keep our spot claimed, but still gotta pack up the RTT.
  • Speaking of the Gazelle gazebo, it was a lifesaver when it came from escaping the mosquitos and flies. We were able to have a table and chairs inside to play games, etc, and still have a great view of the outdoors. Quick and easy to setup.
  • I love what the RTT provides compared to a ground tent in terms of not being on the ground (avoiding crawly bugs, etc) or needing to find a flat, clear space to set up a tent. Being able to park on any terrain and get the truck basically level with minimal work is great and opens up a lot more options for places to camp, so I'm not inclined to go back to a ground tent anytime soon.
  • We currently have to bring our 16-year-old daughter with us. We love her to pieces, but she is a teenager in the social media age and it can be a challenge to not murder her when there's no cell signal. I wish we could get her to appreciate being out in nature and away from society as much as my wife and I do, but it's a losing battle.
  • Cold-weather camping with an RTT can be a pain due to condensation and/or coming up with a safe, reliable, and inexpensive way to heat the tent in addition to dealing with setup and tear down of a soft-shell RTT in the cold and snow and then finding a way to dry it all out after the trip.
At this point I've thinking about focusing on adjusting the setup to focus on just my wife and I as the primary travelers and either just not plan on any long trips until my wife and I can go without our daughter or have a small tent setup for our daughter. In either case, the truck would be setup to only sleep 2.

I have to also keep money in mind and make sure what I do has reasonable value. I also have no interest in trailering for the main reason that there are places we go or have gone that a trailer would have made it 10x more difficult and we wouldn't have been able to camp at some amazing spots.

I'd love to have something like a Four Wheel Camper Project M but I can't justify the cost. Granted, selling the current RTT and shell would offset a chunk of that it's still a pretty pricey way to go.

Initially I was leaning towards a GFC RTT (not the tent + shell) but the sleeping area is pretty small for 2 people, IMO. I do like the ability to store relatively light items on top of the GFC, like solar panels, traction boards, etc.

I also like the iKamper RTT due to its quick setup but being a hard shell it limits what bedding/mattress/pad can be stored up there and there's no way to mount anything to the shell.

Similar deal with the Tuff Stuff Alpha.

Then I saw that Tuff Stuff now has the Stealth RTT, it kind of combines all of what I'm looking for into one unit.

Here's the thing. I still feel like any of these would be a compromise overall and while they would help with most of the main current complaints I also feel like we MAY look at going full-time or close to full-time once we're empty-nesters or at least able to travel long term while we still have one of our daughters living at home and able to be self-sufficient. The tent route (RTT or otherwise) isn't a great full-time/long-term setup, especially considering it would be with my midsize truck. It's great on narrow trails but is pretty space and weight limited compared to a full-size 3/4- or 1-ton truck (Which I've owned 4 of in the past)

My wife and I have been toying with the idea of doing a 4WD ambulance build. We haven't seriously discussed it, but we both think the idea has merit based on what we've seen. Yesterday I showed her 2 different videos, one was a walkthrough of an ambulance build and one was basically a flatbed fiberglass camper (Overland Explorer/OEV) build. Not even discussing the price difference, she liked the ambulance better. She about died when I told her how much the OEV camper cost.

Lastly, we've also been talking about trying to find some land out in Colorado or maybe Oregon or Idaho to basically stay on during the summer and work on eventually building a house on it.

I know I'm kind of all over the place here and you're probably wondering what I'm actually asking. So, I guess what I'm asking if anyone else has been in a similar situation with similar goals and if so how did you go about things in the short-term and long-term? For the short term I keep flip-flopping between just giving up on doing these trips for a couple of years, keeping things the same and just dealing with it and planning trips more carefully and spending more time at each site to reduce effort, and swapping the current RTT for one that's less hassle.

Thinking about our long-term goals I feel like it makes the most sense to just not change anything because ultimately we're likely to end up moving towards something better suited for full-time travel anyway. On the other hand, a hard-shell RTT is relatively inexpensive and I feel like it would greatly improve the overall experience compared to the current RTT and wouldn't involve redoing everything else.

Gah...running in circles...help! :)
 

tjZ06

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It sounds like you need a trailer. It's a big cost, but you already have an awesome truck for towing it (the previous owner of my trailer had a diesel Colorado and he said it was fantastic with the trailer). The trailer thing is a slippery-slope, and before long you find yourself looking at much (MUCH) larger units with bathrooms, kitchen *inside* etc. However, those are very limiting when adventuring off-road at all (I've had several 5th wheels before, as well as many RVs, and still own a big Class A diesel pusher). So *if* you really value time out in the woods, further from people and society don't get sucked into looking at bigger "travel trailers" (even the supposedly off-road capable ones), an adventure trailer is the way to go (and it doesn't mean buying a new truck). Of course, for your dream of buying land and putting something on it for the summers a bigger trailer would be much better suited. So you really have to think about what you want.

It's all a matter of money... but you could also consider a small adventure trailer for the Canyon, and if/when you guys buy land, get a bigger travel trailer and just have it delivered (you can find plenty of folks that will delivered used units bought private party, not just new stuff from dealers). Lots of folks do that while they build a cabin/house on land. You'd still have the Canyon and adventure trailer to venture *out* from your base on your land. But when you're on your land you'd have a lot more space and luxuries (and you can still utilize the adventure trailer as an outdoor kitchen).

It seems like you might be a bit like me, a bit of an over-thinker and over-analyzer. I actually started a thread about changing my whole situation recently too: Overland Trailers - first-hand experience: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly As you'll see, that landed me with a great deal on a used SoCal Teardrops Krawler 459. So far I love it, and my only complaints are a) I haven't used it as much as I want to (only 4 times so far) b) I should have listened to the previous owner, my WJ definitely doesn't love towing it and he warned me that might be the case. About the latter point, I'm considering another "tow rig" for milder trailer-based trips (something like a WK2 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk w/ the 5.7 Hemi) and keeping my WJ for the wilder trips, which will be tent-based.

-TJ
 
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CJTherapy

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So, we got back from Montana (Missoula and Glacier area) not quite 2 weeks ago. While it was mostly an enjoyable experience, we decided to cut it short as we felt like we weren't getting as much out of it as we had hoped for or expected when compared to our trip to Colorado last summer. We were able to miss a lot of smoke during our Glacier and Going-to-the-Sun Road visit, but down south it was quite smoky. The heat wasn't horrible. Yeah, it was in the 90s a bit but it was bearable. What added to it not being a super experience is that my replacement Jackery 1000 died within 4 hours of leaving home. That was the first real trip after the first one was replaced that had some weird internal issue and would randomly power off or the regulated 12v would drop to 7-8v. For the first week-ish of the trip I had to run everything off my truck's battery. Didn't have issues running the battery down, but also didn't have the flexibility/portability we were expecting either. Jackery came through in the end, but by the time the replacement 500 arrived in Missoula (I told them I didn't want another 1000 as I can't trust them) we were pretty much ready to head home.

The current challenges, issues, and positives are...
  • Soft-shell RTT is a bit more effort to set up and take down than I'd like to deal with in the heat, especially if we're only going to be staying one night. This is compounded by the fact that we also use some self-inflating mattress pads because the 3" mattress that came with the RTT leaves a lot to be desired. That means rolling up/deflating the pads before the tent can be put away. There is just enough room to keep the deflated pads and sleeping bags up there with the tent closed up, but that doesn't prevent the need to get as much air out of them as possible first.
  • Have to put tent away if we want to drive anywhere for any reason. We do have a Gazelle gazebo that we can leave behind with other things to keep our spot claimed, but still gotta pack up the RTT.
  • Speaking of the Gazelle gazebo, it was a lifesaver when it came from escaping the mosquitos and flies. We were able to have a table and chairs inside to play games, etc, and still have a great view of the outdoors. Quick and easy to setup.
  • I love what the RTT provides compared to a ground tent in terms of not being on the ground (avoiding crawly bugs, etc) or needing to find a flat, clear space to set up a tent. Being able to park on any terrain and get the truck basically level with minimal work is great and opens up a lot more options for places to camp, so I'm not inclined to go back to a ground tent anytime soon.
  • We currently have to bring our 16-year-old daughter with us. We love her to pieces, but she is a teenager in the social media age and it can be a challenge to not murder her when there's no cell signal. I wish we could get her to appreciate being out in nature and away from society as much as my wife and I do, but it's a losing battle.
  • Cold-weather camping with an RTT can be a pain due to condensation and/or coming up with a safe, reliable, and inexpensive way to heat the tent in addition to dealing with setup and tear down of a soft-shell RTT in the cold and snow and then finding a way to dry it all out after the trip.
At this point I've thinking about focusing on adjusting the setup to focus on just my wife and I as the primary travelers and either just not plan on any long trips until my wife and I can go without our daughter or have a small tent setup for our daughter. In either case, the truck would be setup to only sleep 2.

I have to also keep money in mind and make sure what I do has reasonable value. I also have no interest in trailering for the main reason that there are places we go or have gone that a trailer would have made it 10x more difficult and we wouldn't have been able to camp at some amazing spots.

I'd love to have something like a Four Wheel Camper Project M but I can't justify the cost. Granted, selling the current RTT and shell would offset a chunk of that it's still a pretty pricey way to go.

Initially I was leaning towards a GFC RTT (not the tent + shell) but the sleeping area is pretty small for 2 people, IMO. I do like the ability to store relatively light items on top of the GFC, like solar panels, traction boards, etc.

I also like the iKamper RTT due to its quick setup but being a hard shell it limits what bedding/mattress/pad can be stored up there and there's no way to mount anything to the shell.

Similar deal with the Tuff Stuff Alpha.

Then I saw that Tuff Stuff now has the Stealth RTT, it kind of combines all of what I'm looking for into one unit.

Here's the thing. I still feel like any of these would be a compromise overall and while they would help with most of the main current complaints I also feel like we MAY look at going full-time or close to full-time once we're empty-nesters or at least able to travel long term while we still have one of our daughters living at home and able to be self-sufficient. The tent route (RTT or otherwise) isn't a great full-time/long-term setup, especially considering it would be with my midsize truck. It's great on narrow trails but is pretty space and weight limited compared to a full-size 3/4- or 1-ton truck (Which I've owned 4 of in the past)

My wife and I have been toying with the idea of doing a 4WD ambulance build. We haven't seriously discussed it, but we both think the idea has merit based on what we've seen. Yesterday I showed her 2 different videos, one was a walkthrough of an ambulance build and one was basically a flatbed fiberglass camper (Overland Explorer/OEV) build. Not even discussing the price difference, she liked the ambulance better. She about died when I told her how much the OEV camper cost.

Lastly, we've also been talking about trying to find some land out in Colorado or maybe Oregon or Idaho to basically stay on during the summer and work on eventually building a house on it.

I know I'm kind of all over the place here and you're probably wondering what I'm actually asking. So, I guess what I'm asking if anyone else has been in a similar situation with similar goals and if so how did you go about things in the short-term and long-term? For the short term I keep flip-flopping between just giving up on doing these trips for a couple of years, keeping things the same and just dealing with it and planning trips more carefully and spending more time at each site to reduce effort, and swapping the current RTT for one that's less hassle.

Thinking about our long-term goals I feel like it makes the most sense to just not change anything because ultimately we're likely to end up moving towards something better suited for full-time travel anyway. On the other hand, a hard-shell RTT is relatively inexpensive and I feel like it would greatly improve the overall experience compared to the current RTT and wouldn't involve redoing everything else.

Gah...running in circles...help! :)
Wow, great post. So much to unpack there.

As a child of the 80/90’s I grew up with my father being an avid outdoorsman. Not hunter, but hiker, skier, kayaking etc. it wasn’t until my 20’s that I started to appreciate all the experiences he dragged me on. At 16 you’ll only have your daughter for a couple more years. Keep dragging her out there! In the short term it will probably suck, but with luck she’ll thank you later for it.

-C
 

joemerchant26

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I spent a few years in Darwin/Katherine area of Australia. They had these tactical style campers with pintile hook setups and off-road suspension. There are a few on YouTube. They forded rivers, traversed terrain most of us wouldn’t take our rigs on, and dragged these things everywhere.

It’s all about the setup. American trailers are all ball hitch and low. Just a thought, we should be building tactical type trailers.


It sounds like you need a trailer. It's a big cost, but you already have an awesome truck for towing it (the previous owner of my trailer had a diesel Colorado and he said it was fantastic with the trailer). The trailer thing is a slippery-slope, and before long you find yourself looking at much (MUCH) larger units with bathrooms, kitchen *inside* etc. However, those are very limiting when adventuring off-road at all (I've had several 5th wheels before, as well as many RVs, and still own a big Class A diesel pusher). So *if* you really value time out in the woods, further from people and society an adventure trailer is the way to go (and it doesn't mean buying a new truck). Of course, for your dream of buying land and putting something on it for the summers a bigger trailer would be much better suited. So you really have to think about what you want.

It's all a matter of money... but you could also consider a small adventure trailer for the Canyon, and if/when you guy land buy a big travel trailer and just have it delivered (you can find plenty of folks that will delivered used units bought private party, not just new stuff from dealers). Lots of folks do that while they build a cabin/house on land. You'd still have the Canyon and adventure trailer to venture *out* from your base on your land. But when you're on your land you'd have a lot more space and luxuries (and you can still utilize the adventure trailer as an outdoor kitchen).

It seems like you might be a bit like me, a bit of an over-thinker and over-analyzer. I actually started a thread about changing my whole situation recently too: Overland Trailers - first-hand experience: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly As you'll see, that landed me with a great deal on a used SoCal Teardrops Krawler 459. So far I love it, and my only complaints are a) I haven't used it as much as I want to (only 4 times so far) b) I should have listened to the previous owner, my WJ definitely doesn't love towing it. About the latter point, I'm considering another "tow rig" for milder trailer-based trips (something like a WK2 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk w/ the 5.7 Hemi) and keeping my WJ for the wilder trips, which will be tent-based.

-TJ
 

tjZ06

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I spent a few years in Darwin/Katherine area of Australia. They had these tactical style campers with pintile hook setups and off-road suspension. There are a few on YouTube. They forded rivers, traversed terrain most of us wouldn’t take our rigs on, and dragged these things everywhere.

It’s all about the setup. American trailers are all ball hitch and low. Just a thought, we should be building tactical type trailers.
I think you need to do a little more research. There are a TON of very capable American made off-road trailers. Mine is by SoCal Teardrops:

20210528_140911.jpg20210528_140917.jpg20210528_141727.jpg

It sits on 35" tires and has a TON of clearance underneath, and everything underneath is skid-plated. It also uses a Max Coupler fully articulating hitch which actually has more articulation than a pintle setup. These pics aren't a great example of actually using it as intended, but just what I had handy on my work machine.

-TJ
 

DRAX

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It sounds like you need a trailer. It's a big cost, but you already have an awesome truck for towing it (the previous owner of my trailer had a diesel Colorado and he said it was fantastic with the trailer). The trailer thing is a slippery-slope, and before long you find yourself looking at much (MUCH) larger units with bathrooms, kitchen *inside* etc. However, those are very limiting when adventuring off-road at all (I've had several 5th wheels before, as well as many RVs, and still own a big Class A diesel pusher). So *if* you really value time out in the woods, further from people and society don't get sucked into looking at bigger "travel trailers" (even the supposedly off-road capable ones), an adventure trailer is the way to go (and it doesn't mean buying a new truck). Of course, for your dream of buying land and putting something on it for the summers a bigger trailer would be much better suited. So you really have to think about what you want.

It's all a matter of money... but you could also consider a small adventure trailer for the Canyon, and if/when you guys buy land, get a bigger travel trailer and just have it delivered (you can find plenty of folks that will delivered used units bought private party, not just new stuff from dealers). Lots of folks do that while they build a cabin/house on land. You'd still have the Canyon and adventure trailer to venture *out* from your base on your land. But when you're on your land you'd have a lot more space and luxuries (and you can still utilize the adventure trailer as an outdoor kitchen).

It seems like you might be a bit like me, a bit of an over-thinker and over-analyzer. I actually started a thread about changing my whole situation recently too: Overland Trailers - first-hand experience: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly As you'll see, that landed me with a great deal on a used SoCal Teardrops Krawler 459. So far I love it, and my only complaints are a) I haven't used it as much as I want to (only 4 times so far) b) I should have listened to the previous owner, my WJ definitely doesn't love towing it and he warned me that might be the case. About the latter point, I'm considering another "tow rig" for milder trailer-based trips (something like a WK2 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk w/ the 5.7 Hemi) and keeping my WJ for the wilder trips, which will be tent-based.

-TJ
On the subject of trailers and such, we've been there and done that. A few times.

31-foot bunkhouse bumper-pull trailer with slide out towed by both a Nissan Titan initially before upgrading to a Ram 3500 with the Cummins.
36-foot diesel pusher RV
Flagstaff off-road pop-up trailer with a deck for quads and such up front
Flagstaff hybrid travel trailer (21-foot), towed by my Canyon. Trailer weighed 5,000LB and was over 10ft tall, giant parachute. Towed that thing at least 10,000 miles around various parts of the country and while it wasn't awful it also wasn't a great experience towing it. A bit slow and I was at my weight limits.

I'm not opposed to a trailer because I don't want to tow, I'm only opposed to it because it limits where we can go off-road due to maneuverability. On the other hand, we can just plan routes around that, set up camp places that aren't a risk for getting stuck due to size or being unable to turn around and then just explore the more difficult areas by truck during the as excursions.

Those teardrops look like pretty nice units for the money. Do you ever wish you had heat or A/C? I do see a heater option but no A/C. I'd been eyeing the NoBo 10.5 but that's not exactly a real off-road trailer and I really don't think it would last if used often off-road and it doesn't really have off-road suspension, etc.

The reasonably-priced off-road trailer options seem to be somewhat hard to find, this is the first I'd heard of the SoCal off-road trailers. Seems like my search landed me at the cheap units like the NoBo or the insane $50k+ units that I could never justify, I could take the money for one of those, take my current truck, and buy or build something that would check more boxes and end up being a better value. The Off Grid Trailer Expedition 2.0 also looks like a decent trailer for the money.

Maybe the "right" trailer is the best option. I do like the the minimal setup work and being well enclosed from the elements. I would like to be able to comfortably do some winter/snow camping as well.

I also don't need a lot of what some of the trailers come with. I already have the 12v fridge, portable instant hot water heater, some solar, etc. Being able to use those instead of sell what I have and pay more for the trailer would be nice.

I appreciate the input and sanity check. :) We don't have any more trips planned at the moment so I have a bit of time to figure this out.
 

smritte

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It actually sounds like you need to go the small popup camper or ambulance/van route. I camp/offroad all year round. Sun, rain, snow....doesn't matter. I have used tents, rtt and now a small off road, hard side trailer. They all have their good and bad. I've seen some incredible camping vans but I like the maneuverability of my Cruiser. What I don't like having to do is spend two hours tearing down camp each day to go drive somewhere. The RTT on my M-100 wasn't bad, my new trailer is better. I would like to build something I could comfortably sleep in the back of if I didn't bring my trailer.

I fell your pain. Finding the perfect permanent, solution is rough when I keep changing what I like and where I camp.
Maybe we need one of each. Then you just take whatever vehicle suits the area your going to. Hmmmm. need to become rich first.
 
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RemoteBound

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Your experience with the Jackery 1000 is making me super nervous. I just ordered one and it's going to be delivered to me in a few days. Yikes!

As far as your daughter and her lack of love for the outdoors, well.... I didn't give two sh*ts about the outdoors until I was 34-years old, so there's still hope!
 

reaver

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I'm currently thinking through a similar situation. My wife recently got into driving offroad as well.

Up until very recently, we managed to pack everything we need for 5 days (our longest trip yet), including myself, my wife, our 4yo, and the dog, in my 03 xterra.

As you can imagine, it's a tight fit.

We were discussing, and for the kind of trips we do, we decided that an offroad trailer with kitchen, awning, shower, water, and power, along with a roof top tent is the way we want to go.

I don't want to drop 10-40k on one (nor can I afford that), so I've decided to build my own.

I managed to find a solid base trailer that's the perfect size, and tracks perfectly behind my 2013 frontier.

Do, I feel your pain. It'll be a while before I get around to putting a roof top tent in it, but we can pack our tent down in about 15 minutes and including all the bedding. I figure if we can keep the pack up time to about 30 minutes (with the ground tent), we'll be doing OK.

For us, we want the ability to basically hook up the trailer, fill the water tank, and grab food on the way out. That'll make it much easier for us to get out.
 
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Square Foot

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Also check out the truck bed campers like Harker Outdoors, Super Pacific, Alucab. They fall in-between the cost of RTT and trailer. Another idea is to rent a trailer, or even a built overland vehicle and see how it fits with your wants.
 

Road

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I spent a few years in Darwin/Katherine area of Australia. They had these tactical style campers with pintile hook setups and off-road suspension. There are a few on YouTube. They forded rivers, traversed terrain most of us wouldn’t take our rigs on, and dragged these things everywhere.

It’s all about the setup. American trailers are all ball hitch and low. Just a thought, we should be building tactical type trailers.
.
One American trailer that is NOT ball hitch and low is the XVenture Trailer from Schutt Industries in Clintonville Wisconsin (the home of 4x4) who makes military trailers for govts around the world. Their adventure trailers, the XV-2 and XV-3, among other trailers they've designed and produced, are rugged off-road beasts meant to haul cargo and provide a solid and long-lasting platform on which to add your own RTT, awning, etc.

I've had my XV-2 for four years and have hauled it all over No America for more than 600 nights out pre-pandemic in all sorts of weather, situations, and back country and off-pavement environments.

Mine will carry more than a 1 ton pickup with just about as long as a cargo bay area, with 22gals of fresh water tank, on-demand hot water, solar power input, deep cycles, air compressor, inverter, on an all-aluminum huck-bolted frame rated to be dropped from the air into battlefields or disaster recovery areas. All tested at the military Aberdeen proving grounds.

They simply don't come more rugged.

I crawled around, under, and on every trailer I could find in the US, whether from abroad or not before deciding, and chose the XVenture, US born and bred, as the most versatile, dependable, and long-lived trailer for my money that exists.

@DRAX - you might find that the right hard-shell RTT will alleviate a lot of your current dislikes. I love mine, and have deployed and used it in everything from sub-freezing to extreme heat desert weather. Four latches to undo and give it a shove to set up; it's that simple.

You might also find that the right off-road trailer (not overly long or cumbersome) will provide you the travel options you desire. My XV-2 has allowed me to go places and set up camp that I had not dreamed of before, whether for one night or extended base camp stays.

I could go on at length, but have to say that choosing the right gear for one's desires and likely-encountered situations can make the difference between staying out or going home early. Mine allows me to stay out for weeks and months at a time, way the hell off-pavement and away.

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zgfiredude

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It's ALWAYS the art of the compromise......advantage to self contained is just that....but you have to move the whole house every time. Advantage to trailer is that you don't, but you do have to trailer.

Coming off adventure motorcycles and tent camping, my wife and I went for the ability to go similar places, and sleep a bit more civilized. Jeep and a teardrop. A/C, Heat, kitchen, bed with roof and walls. We pull to where we want to camp, set up, and then go out in the Jeep for more challenging things. So far it's working for us, and my wife wants to go more than ever before!

If you look at teardrop type campers, suggestions: go on the more simple side and then make it yours after you use it a few times. Look at one with a max-coupler (articulation), and perhaps the biggy is look for the Timbren axle-less suspension (or plan to add it after purchase). It's a game changer.

Good luck with your processing.......be flexible.
 

DRAX

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Your experience with the Jackery 1000 is making me super nervous. I just ordered one and it's going to be delivered to me in a few days. Yikes!
It was a very strange experience indeed, I'm hoping it was a fluke because I did find an issue with the 12v power I was using to keep it charged, however I would hope that an intermittent power issue wouldn't be enough to cause the failure. The first 1000 didn't fail to the point where it couldn't be used at all, it felt more like a software bug. It was also an issue that didn't show up until I was on the road. They replaced it (shipped me the replacement and then had me ship the wonky one back) and the replacement was fine here at home but 4 hours into the drive it stopped seeing the battery pack. I will say that Jackery's support is the best across all industries I've dealt with, so if you do have a problem they will go above and beyond to take care of you. When the second 1000 failed I emailed them on a Saturday and got a reply back within 20 minutes, they shipped out a the 500 (which has worked without a hitch. I repaired the wiring while waiting for the 500) on the following Monday and I picked it up at a local FedEx store in Missoula, MT that Thursday. Didn't have to wait until we got home. So I wouldn't give it a second thought, really. If the 1000s were having high failure rates I'm sure we'd be hearing about it and they wouldn't still be selling them.

As far as your daughter and her lack of love for the outdoors, well.... I didn't give two sh*ts about the outdoors until I was 34-years old, so there's still hope!
True. It's not that she doesn't care, she just has different priorities right now (that drive us nuts but she's strong-willed and stubborn so if we try and push something then we all suffer. :D).
 

DRAX

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I'm currently thinking through a similar situation. My wife recently got into driving offroad as well.

Up until very recently, we managed to pack everything we need for 5 days (our longest trip yet), including myself, my wife, our 4yo, and the dog, in my 03 xterra.

As you can imagine, it's a tight fit.

We were discussing, and for the kind of trips we do, we decided that an offroad trailer with kitchen, awning, shower, water, and power, along with a roof top tent is the way we want to go.

I don't want to drop 10-40k on one (nor can I afford that), so I've decided to build my own.

I managed to find a solid base trailer that's the perfect size, and tracks perfectly behind my 2023 frontier.

Do, I feel your pain. It'll be a while before I get around to putting a roof top tent in it, but we can pack our tent down in about 15 minutes and including all the bedding. I figure if we can keep the pack up time to about 30 minutes (with the ground tent), we'll be doing OK.

For us, we want the ability to basically hook up the trailer, fill the water tank, and grab food on the way out. That'll make it much easier for us to get out.
I'm quite mechanical and handy so I'm not opposed to building my own. I've just never taken on a project like that before so it's a little daunting to think about, but maybe that's the best option for the money. I'm sure I'd have to invest in some more tools, like a welder, and become proficient at that first. It would also be nice to find some basic plans to build from or start with. If I were to buy a pre-built trailer then I'd want it to be make from aluminum and composite materials so moisture wouldn't impact it much, building my own I'm not sure I'd care as much since I'd be building it and would be able to repair it when needed. I'd just want a good base trailer platform to start with I suppose.

Not a bad idea, I'll be looking into custom built trailers some more. Thanks!
 

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I know my next unit once I outgrow the Rubicon plus OSB BOX will be an ambulance conversion.

It comes with more power than I'll ever need. Most include dual heat and AC.
Commercial box built way better than any RV.
Lots of cool storage to repurpose.

Most of your complaints are the same as many of us have been thru.
I am trying to simplify and eliminate multiple systems.
And as I get older I like less more than more.
I want zero setup, zero packup.

I love my Jeep and trailer and it never restricts where I go but if you know a trailer is wrong for you, well don't do the trailer.
 
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DRAX

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Also check out the truck bed campers like Harker Outdoors, Super Pacific, Alucab. They fall in-between the cost of RTT and trailer. Another idea is to rent a trailer, or even a built overland vehicle and see how it fits with your wants.
Yeah, we both like the concept of the FWC Project M, cheaper than the self-contained units but still provides the easy setup and platform bed. The flip side is that it's still a bit pricey considering it comes with nothing else. Similar deal with the Alu-Cab, etc.

Renting isn't a bad idea either, would just have to find something near where we'd be wanting to stay because here in Illinois there are no such options.

.
One American trailer that is NOT ball hitch and low is the XVenture Trailer from Schutt Industries in Clintonville Wisconsin (the home of 4x4) who makes military trailers for govts around the world. Their adventure trailers, the XV-2 and XV-3, among other trailers they've designed and produced, are rugged off-road beasts meant to haul cargo and provide a solid and long-lasting platform on which to add your own RTT, awning, etc.

I've had my XV-2 for four years and have hauled it all over No America for more than 600 nights out pre-pandemic in all sorts of weather, situations, and back country and off-pavement environments.

Mine will carry more than a 1 ton pickup with just about as long as a cargo bay area, with 22gals of fresh water tank, on-demand hot water, solar power input, deep cycles, air compressor, inverter, on an all-aluminum huck-bolted frame rated to be dropped from the air into battlefields or disaster recovery areas. All tested at the military Aberdeen proving grounds.

They simply don't come more rugged.

I crawled around, under, and on every trailer I could find in the US, whether from abroad or not before deciding, and chose the XVenture, US born and bred, as the most versatile, dependable, and long-lived trailer for my money that exists.

@DRAX - you might find that the right hard-shell RTT will alleviate a lot of your current dislikes. I love mine, and have deployed and used it in everything from sub-freezing to extreme heat desert weather. Four latches to undo and give it a shove to set up; it's that simple.

You might also find that the right off-road trailer (not overly long or cumbersome) will provide you the travel options you desire. My XV-2 has allowed me to go places and set up camp that I had not dreamed of before, whether for one night or extended base camp stays.

I could go on at length, but have to say that choosing the right gear for one's desires and likely-encountered situations can make the difference between staying out or going home early. Mine allows me to stay out for weeks and months at a time, way the hell off-pavement and away.
Yeah, the more I think about it the more a trailer of some sort seems like it would be the best option. It would also provide additional storage space. Those XVenture trailers look pretty sweet and are built well, but I think one of the teardrops would be an easier sell for similar money.

I do think a hard-shell RTT would definitely be an improvement, perhaps the best option would be a teardrop or similar trailer with a small hard-shell RTT on top for my daughter or whoever else goes with us.

It's ALWAYS the art of the compromise......advantage to self contained is just that....but you have to move the whole house every time. Advantage to trailer is that you don't, but you do have to trailer.

Coming off adventure motorcycles and tent camping, my wife and I went for the ability to go similar places, and sleep a bit more civilized. Jeep and a teardrop. A/C, Heat, kitchen, bed with roof and walls. We pull to where we want to camp, set up, and then go out in the Jeep for more challenging things. So far it's working for us, and my wife wants to go more than ever before!

If you look at teardrop type campers, suggestions: go on the more simple side and then make it yours after you use it a few times. Look at one with a max-coupler (articulation), and perhaps the biggy is look for the Timbren axle-less suspension (or plan to add it after purchase). It's a game changer.

Good luck with your processing.......be flexible.
Having heat and A/C would be nice, but most of the time we go when or where the weather will be bearable without those. I mean, we do have an awesome queen-size 0F Teton bag, so staying warm isn't really an issue. It's more having the setup, teardown, and deal with condensation in the cold. Having a furnace just to be able to dry out the inside if needed would be nice. Having A/C would be nice if we decided to head to the southwest where it can get and stay warm.
 
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DRAX

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I know my next unit once I outgrow the Rubicon plus OSB BOX will be an ambulance conversion.

It comes with more power than I'll ever need. Most include dual heat and AC.
Commercial box built way better than any RV.
Lots of cool storage to repurpose.

Most of your complaints are the same as many of us have been thru.
I am trying to simplify and eliminate multiple systems.
And as I get older I like less more than more.
I want zero setup, zero packup.
Yeah, an ambulance conversion can definitely be a great choice for the money. The amount of storage compartments is great, the build quality and safety of the box is a lot higher than a recreational box, and 4WD conversions aren't a huge deal. I think that would be the ideal goal but it's also something that would also require a lot more time, effort, and money to complete. Finding a suitable used ambulance for a reasonable price seems to be a challenge as well. I want to know where people are finding the mid-2000s 6.6 Duramax and 7.3 Powerstroke units with low miles and good prices. I don't think they exist. :)
 

Road

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Yeah, the more I think about it the more a trailer of some sort seems like it would be the best option. It would also provide additional storage space. Those XVenture trailers look pretty sweet and are built well, but I think one of the teardrops would be an easier sell for similar money.

I do think a hard-shell RTT would definitely be an improvement, perhaps the best option would be a teardrop or similar trailer with a small hard-shell RTT on top for my daughter or whoever else goes with us.
.
The big difference, I've found, is the cargo-carrying capacity between a cargo-style trailer and the tear-drops. An open bed cargo area (mine is just about as long as a long-bed pickup though can carry up to 1350lbs--more than a 1 ton pickup--though the XV-3s are shorter with less GVW) allows me to carry so much more than if I had a tear drop with limited cubicle, and often non-existent, storage. I carry a generator when desired, firewood, extended-stay and all-season gear for long term travel, etc; just overall a lot more gear in a similar length trailer. And I can still use it for household, landscape, construction, and general hauling chores when not camping.

That is one big reason I went with a cargo-style trailer with rack for awning and RTT over a camping-only trailer; I wanted something more versatile and multi-purpose for my money. I sometimes help folks with off-grid projects and can haul a load of building materials, railroad ties, a ton of gravel, etc.

I hope you find just the right solution for your own future travel and adventuring!

packinglanes-2-900.jpg

Yeah, an ambulance conversion can definitely be a great choice for the money. The amount of storage compartments is great, the build quality and safety of the box is a lot higher than a recreational box, and 4WD conversions aren't a huge deal. I think that would be the ideal goal but it's also something that would also require a lot more time, effort, and money to complete. Finding a suitable used ambulance for a reasonable price seems to be a challenge as well. I want to know where people are finding the mid-2000s 6.6 Duramax and 7.3 Powerstroke units with low miles and good prices. I don't think they exist. :)
My van is a 6.6 Duramax and I love it. I looked at a ton of used ambulances and decided against them. They're built for a specific use, have smaller purpose-built compartments, and are often quite heavy compared to what you could do with a stock AWD or RWD cargo van, and, as you've noted, can be quite difficult to find.
.
 
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