Rethinking many aspects of our Overlanding setup and goals.

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Chuston1776

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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.
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This (High Altitude Trailer Co XT50 + iKamper KyCamp 2.0) gets my wife, 3 kids, and 2 dogs into the deep woods.
 

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grubworm

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reaver

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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!
I don't have much in the way of skills yet either. For Me, the best way to learn is to research, plan, and attempt.

I don't have to build a frame, as mine is very strong (it used to be a commercial tow behind road sign), so my box will be made from wood. The wood will be coated in epoxy resin for waterproofing, then covered in exterior grade plastic sheathing.

Right now my dilemma is do I want to build doors myself and figure out how to seal them, or use something like rv luggage hatches.

It's all about compromises you're willing to accept as previously mentioned. For us, having that trailer means we won't have to completely pack my Xterra, or take both the X and and the truck (if we don't want to). I won't have to spend several days making sure everything is loaded into the rig. For that ability, I'll take a hit on gas milage, and my maneuverability will suffer a bit, but those are tradeoffs I'm willing to make.
 

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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!
Will Prowse of DIY Solar just did a review of your he Jackery 1500… and he put it with the rest of the Jackery line… CRaaP.

 

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Will Prowse of DIY Solar just did a review of your he Jackery 1500… and he put it with the rest of the Jackery line… CRaaP.

Good info Mike. Your really on top of it. Thanks
 
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OK, you've already got the truck, so don't discard the idea of a slide-in truck camper. Pack up and go in less than 5 minutes, queen-size bed, cook inside out of the weather, don't have to go outside for those middle-of-the-night bathroom trips, etc. Ours is quite maneuverable and still fits in a single parking space at McDonalds. No, doesn't do well with overhanging vegetation and doesn't fit the "mystique" of hard-corps roughing it. Meh, so what? At my age I enjoy a little luxury in the back country. (Want more info, check out www.truckcamperadventure.com - we've found that site to be very informative. ) And for a final plus, you can drop the camper when you're back home and have your truck for whatever. Just another option.
 

rgallant

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There is also an outfit in the US that does a pop up canopy system for truck beds. It raises up and provides interior space, lighter and simpler than campers that did the same thing.
 

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Been talking with my wife about this a bit and been looking at trailer options. The self-contained pop-up campers are nice, but they're also about the same price as a decent off-road trailer. Not towing a trailer is an advantage, but there are numerous cons/compromises with these with mid-size trucks. One, the weight. The base weight of a FWC Fleet model with no options and no water is 1,045LB. The payload capacity of my truck is 1,219LB. By the time you add water, gear, food, myself, and my wife...you see what I'm getting at. There is also a lot less storage space with the slide-in camper. The only way I would go with one of those is if I had something like a Power Wagon to put it on.

Currently, both my wife and I are pretty sold on an off-road teardrop trailer. There are a lot more pros than cons when we compare them to other options for us. Sure, the slide-in campers do have everything inside which is great when the weather is bad. On the flip side, having everything inside defeats the purpose of being outdoors to a certain extent. We like being out in nature, we didn't particularly like a standard travel trailer because of the separation and being forced inside to "live."

The trailer option has virtually zero setup, can be left behind to run errands or explore, etc. The con is mainly having to plan off-road routes more carefully.

So, for now let's assume we're set on a trailer. The 4 most reasonable brands/models I've been looking at are...
  • Boreas XT
  • Off Grid Pando 2.0
  • Bean's "Meaner Bean"
  • High Altitude XT50
The XT50 is the cheapest option but also lacks a number of features the others have. A well-spec'd XT50 is right around $30k. A Meaner Bean with a really nice layout, features, and the options we like lists for a little over $31k. The Boreas XT comes with the most features standard and what's lacking are things that can be added later if needed, so basically $35k list and it's really well equipped with higher-end hitch, suspension, large water tank, etc. At the top end of these price-wise is the Pando 2.0 and with the main options we'd want it lists for just over $36k.

Due to lacking a number of features, I think the XT50 is scratched off the list. Of the three remaining, I think it's hard to go wrong with any of them.

We like the layout of the Pando 2.0 galley, I like that it has sliding windows in the doors, not sure if the all-metal Pando with aluminum body would be better than the fiberglass/composite Bean and Boreas. They each have their advantages.

The doors on the Boreas SEEM to seal better so water crossings and such should be less of a concern, however the windows in the doors don't slide open. If we want a cross breeze it seems like we have to have at least one door open with the screen door closed and that is less than ideal. The Boreas does have the Cruisemaster off-road suspension and articulating hitch which seem to be much better than the Timbren suspension and something like the Max Coupler hitch.

With the Bean, I like that there's in-floor storage and there's also an indoor table option so if the weather isn't great you still have a place to sit and play games with better ergonomics than trying to do that just sitting on a bed. I also like that the galley storage cupboards are pass-through, so if you have snacks and such up there you don't have to go outside to get to them and can just open it up from the inside.

Next on my list is to create a spreadsheet to list all the main features, capacities, pros, and cons of each one so we can try and narrow things down further. It's a hard choice, but we have time to figure it out.

Also, this is likely 1-2 years out. Between lead times, cost, and family constraints this is a more long-term goal for more long-term travel. Not exactly full-time with this setup, but definitely thinking in terms of months instead of days or weeks. Think Alaska, etc. on your own schedule.

Since layout/features are a personal/individual choice I'd like to focus on the build quality and cutomer support of these trailers (Or any others that can be well-optioned for under $40k). Has anyone personally owned or used the Boreas, Pando 2.0, or Bean trailers?

I really appreciate all the input and suggestions, it's been really helpful! We're starting to get pretty excited when thinking about this, we were starting to feel pretty discouraged but it's all a learning process and figuring out what works and what's important.
 

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OH! Forgot to mention one other big reason why a trailer makes the most sense for us. With the trailer we're not limited to always taking my truck. For most trips it does make the most sense, but my wife has a 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit with the EcoDiesel. I'd want to put some A/Ts on it to replace the all-season tires, but her Jeep is much more maneuverable, rides better, and we can take one or both dogs with us. With my truck we'd be limited to the back seat for the dogs because they won't fit in the bed of my truck with my Decked drawers. Well, one might, the other won't. We have 2 Greyhounds and one is definitely too tall to stand up in there, let alone get up there in the first place, not to mention no climate control. In the Jeep they'd be in the A/C or heat and able to be comfortable.

So having the flexibility to use the trailer with either of our vehicles is a nice bonus.
 

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I have thoroughly read all your thoughts and observations. You are spot on with your analysis in my experience. While I've not owned one of your selections, I'd lean towards the Bean.......see what I did there, :wink:. The underfloor storage, as is all onboard storage, very valuable.
 
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These look pretty nice, too. The kitchen is really well thought out and the overall design of the trailer is very cohesive. Tons of storage, too. One concern I have is that some if these companies seem to be very new and I really don't want to end up with something from a company that disappears and leaves me high and dry if I need warranty work or spare parts, etc.

 

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These look pretty nice, too. The kitchen is really well thought out and the overall design of the trailer is very cohesive. Tons of storage, too. One concern I have is that some if these companies seem to be very new and I really don't want to end up with something from a company that disappears and leaves me high and dry if I need warranty work or spare parts, etc.

That's certainly something to consider. There are a few companies that have been around for quite some time. Turtleback, Patriot Campers, and opus aren't going anywhere. These are long established companies, but don't offer a teardrop in the style you're looking for.
 
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Ragman

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This is some good conversation for sure and I think a lot of us find ourselves in similar situations, especially as the kids head off. I recall the daily drive looking for a signal to make sure Snapchat streaks were not broken and at the time I was just grumbling inside about the stupidity of it, but looking back it now seems like a small sacrifice to have them out there with us while they were younger. With both kids in college and just retired I am also considering the future and have been looking at various options over the last few years.

My problem, if you can call it that, is that it seems that each solution fits very well for a specific vehicle and geography, but not for another. For every great solution for one problem I seem to find another problem it creates, and considering vehicle weight capacity vs. capability etc. adds to the decision. I love the trailers such as the Moby 1 or the Off Grid but then I have to pull it and I see it limiting where I can go (and am I really going to go there if I am honest with myself). The hard shell RTT like the Maggiolina look really nice but adding a roof rack to the Jeep means it no longer fits in the garage without removing it and is that really such an improvement over a ground tent other than convenience? The GFC types look great but how the heck do you keep mosquitos out of the sleeping area unless you spend all your time in the bug-less realms.

For me (and that is such a factor is that each person is different) the one trip I did that shook my faith in ground tents was the Alaska Highway 18 years ago in a pickup with a slide in. I had to admit at the time that it was so damn nice to just park, get relatively level and then climb in. If weather sucked you were dry, if it was nice you were outside. So I think if I were to move away from the tent it would be into one of those-maybe a 4WC, maybe Alaskan (look really nice) but once I do that I admit I will no longer go to the locations that I am gigging on trailers about. So I guess at the end of the day the real answer is you gotta have more than one! A nice basecamp trailer for the JK, a slide in rig for long distance on tarmac and dirt roads, and a nice ground tent for the motorcycle...

But keep taking your daughter with you and accept the differences in generations. Both of my kids (20 and 22) are growing out of the 'face in phone' phase and they will remember the time that you spent with them.
 

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There is a nugget of wisdom from Ragman. Be honest with yourself!

Will you really pull a trailer on a more rugged off road path? Trailering off road is challenging and your stuff will "shift" as it bounces around. Compartmentalized storage will aid with keeping things in one place. Weight is the enemy most always, and will be hard on the tow vehicle going slow up steep 4x4 trails. Factor in the weight of WATER and where it will be carried when traveling. "Stuff" adds up when packing.....generator, wheel chocks/blocks, grill, firewood, extra water, some kind of potty and potty shelter, solar suitcases, cords, fuel for the generator........all bulky at the least, and likely heavy. Will you pull mostly from point A to point B (so take the trailer with you) or will you mostly pull out to a basecamp?

It's ALL choices, and ALL involves compromises. I'd suggest designing to the 85% or 90% use level and not the last 10 or 15% level that you THINK you MIGHT want to do. It's that last 10 to 15% that gets expensive. In our minds eye we are going to trailer up Mount Everest and enjoy a 5 course gourmet dinner up there. I'd suggest that you might not go quite that far, LOL.

It's a great idea to rent one and use it locally just to try it on for size so to speak. You will quickly identify several things that you like or don't like when really using it vs. looking at professional photos online.
 

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There is a nugget of wisdom from Ragman. Be honest with yourself!

Will you really pull a trailer on a more rugged off road path? Trailering off road is challenging and your stuff will "shift" as it bounces around. Compartmentalized storage will aid with keeping things in one place. Weight is the enemy most always, and will be hard on the tow vehicle going slow up steep 4x4 trails. Factor in the weight of WATER and where it will be carried when traveling. "Stuff" adds up when packing.....generator, wheel chocks/blocks, grill, firewood, extra water, some kind of potty and potty shelter, solar suitcases, cords, fuel for the generator........all bulky at the least, and likely heavy. Will you pull mostly from point A to point B (so take the trailer with you) or will you mostly pull out to a basecamp?

It's ALL choices, and ALL involves compromises. I'd suggest designing to the 85% or 90% use level and not the last 10 or 15% level that you THINK you MIGHT want to do. It's that last 10 to 15% that gets expensive. In our minds eye we are going to trailer up Mount Everest and enjoy a 5 course gourmet dinner up there. I'd suggest that you might not go quite that far, LOL.

It's a great idea to rent one and use it locally just to try it on for size so to speak. You will quickly identify several things that you like or don't like when really using it vs. looking at professional photos online.
So, we already have all the gear we'd need only currently it all gets loaded in/on the truck which is then putting the truck pretty much right at RAWR and FAWR. We have no plans to take a generator, we would be using solar. At most we might pick up a small inverter generator in case of emergency on a longer trip where we expect to be out in the middle of nowhere for multiple days.

I've also already towed a much larger, heavier travel trailer (5,000LB loaded, 8.5' wide, 10.5' tall, aerodynamics of a brick) up, over, and down places like the Beartooth Pass (10,900ft) outside Yellowstone, Wolf Creek Pass (10,800ft), etc. Granted, that wasn't off-road but they worked the truck hard and had no problems. Having the exhaust brake really helps when going down grades like those as well. Like I said, I'm not new to towing, trailers, etc. I know the affects of weight, center of gravity, wind resistance, etc. And I know towing a trailer is going to make route planning a little more difficult. That said, there have been very few places I've gone without a trailer where I wouldn't feel comfortable taking one of these trailers and most of those places I wouldn't take a trailer weren't connecting roads but rather out and back roads to places that we didn't end up camping at anyway.

Primary use would be point to point (to point to point ...), any basecamp usage would be for day trips out exploring the local area, etc.

As mentioned in one of my previous posts, we've basically done it all already. The biggest complaints about our current setup are the level of effort to set up and tear down camp and being "stuck" at camp once set up. If we want or have to go somewhere then at the very least the tent has to be packed up. It's not hard work, but it's work. There have been times where we have a long travel day through the midwest and we'll just pull in to a motel and eat the cost because we just don't have the time or energy to find a place to camp and then set the tent up just to tear it back down first thing in the morning to get back on the road. Being able to pull in to a cheap campground or find a dispersed camping spot off the main road and just climb into bed makes things so much easier. Another example was during our recent trip to Montana, my wife had what was likely an allergic reaction to some medication in the middle of the night. It was bad/strange enough that I was thinking about the best way to get her medical attention if needed and how if we had to leave camp in a hurry, either for medical reasons or something like a wildfire, and it was a potential life or death situation then the fastest option would be to just disconnect the roof rack legs and push the RTT off the truck and leave it behind. That would suck for sure and a trailer would alleviate those issues in various ways.

A hard shell RTT would be the cheapest upgrade to the current setup to make actual tent setup easier but that doesn't address the other refinements that we'd like or miss and doesn't address the fact that we'd have to pack up to go anywhere.

Since you're in CO I would assume you've been to the San Juans. Maybe not everywhere there, but some of it. We explored a fair amount of the Alpine Loop area last year and our favorite camp spots were also ones where we would've been able to take the trailer. For example, Bandora Mine and various places off of Last Dollar Rd. We went up to Clear Lake, and while there were camp spots up there that's not a road I'd take a trailer up due to the switchbacks, the width, and the traffic. That would be a great day trip or lunch spot.

My wife and I have spent hours over the past couple of days watching YouTube, reading sites, taking notes, making comparisons, and ultimately we both actually ended up having the same trailer at the top of our list. A lot of it came down to storage, functionality, layout, and overall design. Thinking about where we'd store various things, imagining the steps and motions needing to cook a meal, how inclement weather would affect our ability to do things, and even things like ventilation vs safety with respect to wildlife. For example, the Boreas XT has screen doors but the windows in the main doors are solid. If we wanted airflow then we'd have to keep at least one main door open with the screen door closed. If it started raining or if we thought there might be a bear nearby then we'd have to actually open the screen door and expose ourselves in order to close the main door. That just won't do.

I will say when we first outfit my truck last year the main goal was to start out relatively cheap and simple and get our feet wet. We wanted to see if this kind of travel and experience in general was something we enjoyed, and we really do enjoy it. My wife's initial concern was that we'd do this once (or one major trip) and decide it's not for us or have some other fundamental complaint and then we'd have put all that money into it for nothing, granted these days it's not hard to sell things because of all the supply issues, but regardless she had valid concerns.

As I get older I want less and less to do with people, or rather the public and society, around me. Even staying in developed campgrounds I find unpleasant most of the time. When I think about where I want to travel it's to places where there are no other people, at least not in the immediate vacinity. My wife and I are also in agreement that we'd be perfectly happy living on the road and at some point that will actually be something we could do.

It is also appealing to us that we'd be able to take our animals with us, something we cannot do now. When we travel currently our oldest daughter ends up staying home due to work commitments and taking care of the animals, which she is fine with and doesn't feel like she's really missing out on too much. She also avoids the conflict that is inevitable between her and our other daughter, but that's a whole other can of worms.

So trust me when I say we've experienced a lot and aren't just jumping in blindly. Over the past 4 summers we've traveled somewhere in the neighborhood of 20,000 miles and prior to that we've probably done close to 15,000 miles over a handful of years before we left California. From a normal travel trailer, to a motorhome, to a pop-up trailer, a hybrid trailer, and the RTT we've done a lot, know what we like, what we miss, and what we can easily and happily do without or do differently. I've owned numerous Jeeps and wheeled the Rubicon, Johnson Valley/The Hammers, etc. I've towed nearly everything under the sun short of a 5th wheel or tractor trailer and, not to toot my own horn, have enough experience that I've taken and put trailers most people would never have thought they could go. Our goals and considerations are based on experience and not what we imagine what it might or will be like. Obviously going with an off-road teardrop trailer will be a new experience in and of itself, but we aren't new to any particular aspect of what is involved in doing that. That's why it's largely coming down to what these trailers offer and what they'll enable us to do compared to what we have now. The experiences of cooking outside, or sleeping in a small space, or having to deal with weight and storage space constraints, or figuring out power, solar, and propane requirements are nothing new to us. In fact, I'm pretty certain we, or at least I, do more planning and calculating than a lot of people do. How many folks do you think actually weigh their rigs and make adjustments? How many just eyeball it and think "Well, if it fits and I'm not sitting on the bump stops then I must be fine?" Pretty sure the majority of people out there fall into the latter category. And then we hear about how something is crap because it broke, or it's crap because it's overheating, or it rides like crap, etc.

We know it won't be all sunshine and rainbows, but we're confident that we have a pretty good idea of what we're getting into. :D

Sorry for the novel!
 
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