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RV length and boondocking


charlyhors

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We are looking to boondock and use lots of state and national park sites for the next several years. We are studying rigs, and like the RT series by Excel - designed w heavier suspension, bigger water tanks, and coming in at 29'11" for the smallest one, and ones w better floor plans at about 31 and half feet. These are great 5W's that hold their value and quality built.

 

We are wondering if it would make sense to consider some of the other brands, like SunnyBrook, Mobile Scout, Arctic Fox, that aren't quite as well built, but come in at 25 to 26 feet.

 

So, Those of you who know from experience - how much more access would we have with 25 or 26 feet compared to 28?

 

Hmmmm??? Thanks.

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Arctic Fox is a very well-made RV. If you want to go smaller than Excel's RT (which is no longer made), it would be a good choice.

 

As far as access, there would probably be little difference between a 31' and a 25'. Sure, there may be some sites you won't be able to squeeze a 31' into that would fit a 25', but I don't think it would greatly limit your access.

 

We fulltimed for 12 years in a 32'fifth wheel, first a New Horizons and then an Excel Classic. We mostly boondock and really never had much problem fitting in.

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There is no quantitative answer to that question. For each foot of additional length you will eliminate some spaces you can fit. Exactly how many is impossible to determine. That said, most places that will take a 26 foot rig will take a 28 foot rig. IMO quality and personal comfort are more important considerations than a couple feet. Our 5'er is 43 feet and we boondock extensively. We've stayed in state parks, forest service campgrounds and even some National Parks. There's usually a place to stay to visit just about anywhere if you look for it.

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I agree with Rif, for the most part. Your #1 issue should be your living comfort and satisfaction. Even if the size you select should eliminate some places that you might have chosen to stop, if you are not happy with your living space you won't enjoy even an ideal location. Life is a series of trade-offs and you have to set priorities. We lived quite happily in an RV that was significantly smaller than most of the longer term fulltimers, but there were many reasons for our success. Remember that the size of the people who will live in an RV is of critical importance to the minimum size you will be comfortable in. Better to put your RV a little bit farther from the place you wish to visit and be comfortable in it than to sit in the perfect spot, while cramped and unhappy!

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LIke Rif, we have a LARGE coach. First a 38' then a 42' then a 42.5' and being built is a 44.5'.

 

And like Rif we find places to boondock. Not the same places that a 25' coach would, but I have no real issues with our length.

 

Now, I'm not suggesting that you go to a 40'+ rig....but 25 is pretty small for "most" people.....That said, everyone is different and if you KNOW from experience you can live comfortably in that 24/7/365 then it should work for you.

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We thought about small for our first rig and did some looking at various places and length restrictions, we found that 30 was going to work well for us and 32 wouldn't be much of a difference. Most of the spots we wouldn't fit with a 30 or 32 but would in a 25 had nearby places we could camp and drive to the places we wanted to see. What we wanted to avoid was being cramped in a small rig and getting fed up with the lifestyle when we didn't give it a fair chance.

 

Get out a guidebook and do some serious tabulating of locations and size restrictions. Grab a tape measure and some chalk and "make" an RV on your garage floor. Add some furniture and try living in it for an afternoon. No cheating by walking over the lines!

 

We ended up in a 32 dual slide fiver that worked out fairly well for us when we were doing a lot of boondocking but as we changed what we did to more parks and more open spaces boondocking we went up to a 38 and had little problem getting to most of the spots we wanted to go.

 

A 25 is great for wintering in a nice location, even better if they have a clubhouse or for a month long vacation but for full-time use or when you are getting rained on for several days it is going to feel tight long before one with just a bit more length and a slide or two would.

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You say you want to boondock, but what do you consider boondocking and where do yo want to do it? In open desert areas, big rigs will have less problems although steep sided washes can cause some problems. In forested and mountain areas once you leave the main roads and primary forest roads; height, weight, ground clearance, traction and the angle of attack that the RV can handle all factor into where any particular RV or truck trailer combination can go.

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Thanks to All of you for your information. To TrailerTraveler, we are not looking at serious camping type scenarios. In our mid 60's we are interested in getting into scenic places and free or low cost places, and doing moderate and regular hiking and some biking. Don't really want to risk enough to get dead ended in ruts or sand or mud, or bottoming out a vehicle and getting stuck. Not back country camping, but semi isolated areas that aren't too hard to navigate. That's the general idea. (I'm surprised to hear you say big rigs have an advantage in desert areas, but I've never done any towing. Done quite a bit of 4 wheeling with 2 wheel drive vehicles in my younger camping days. Anyway, I never noticed an advantage to size and weight, but then I've never towed. Thanks for all the input

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We boondock a lot - in the West, and also use forest service campgrounds, along with national and state parks. We don't have any problems finding spots for our 40' motorhome. However, we tow a Jeep and if we're not sure of a spot, we'll park, disconnect the Jeep and take a tour of where we want to go. It makes it so easy to check out narrowness of roads, turns, overhead branches, etc.

 

With the size you're looking at I don't think you'll have problems finding spots. Good luck!

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...To TrailerTraveler,..(I'm surprised to hear you say big rigs have an advantage in desert areas, but I've never done any towing...

I see how you read my post. What I should have said was that Big Rigs will have less problems in desert areas than they do in other areas such as forested areas. I did not mean that they had an advantage over smaller/lighter rigs. Sorry for a poorly worded response.

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I have camped in some spots with my 24 ft motorhome with no toad that any bigger unit would not fit. And, a tow behind would never get to the site. However, as many have said, there are almost always alternatives in an area for any size rig. It just depends on what you want and are willing to settle on. If you have a toad, with some road clearance, you can always visit those out of the way places near where you can camp.

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We fulltimed in a 32Ft 3 slide 5th wheel. The 3 slides gave us lots of luvabilty room but almost never kept us out of state & national parks..we didn't use a lot of US forest sites but the ones we did use we fit fine. Now we are finding a few issues in northern CA in the redwoods area where our new to us MH isn't permitte..

Do not serlk yourself on space or you will be unhappy really quick

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Hi CharlyHors,

 

We are looking to boondock and use lots of state and national park sites for the next several years. We are studying rigs, and like the RT series by Excel - designed w heavier suspension, bigger water tanks, and coming in at 29'11" for the smallest one, and ones w better floor plans at about 31 and half feet. These are great 5W's that hold their value and quality built.

 

We have been looking at Excels too. Seems the smaller ones (under 30") are no longer being made.... the smallest you can get is more like 33".

 

 

We are wondering if it would make sense to consider some of the other brands, like SunnyBrook, Mobile Scout, Arctic Fox, that aren't quite as well built, but come in at 25 to 26 feet.

 

Never heard anything about the other two brands, but regarding Arctic Fox we follow this blog and the authors have had one for the best part of 7 years and seem to like it very much. In fact, theirs is a 24' and it seems they are about to replace it with another, larger (27-32') Arctic Fox... so while considering the size, you may want to start with a larger one also :-) Also, as they are members of this forum (and haven't yet replied to this thread) you could try PM'ing them directly...

 

 

So, Those of you who know from experience - how much more access would we have with 25 or 26 feet compared to 28?

 

We are planning on a 30' or smaller, as we've been told that a 30' would get us in almost anywhere. But having only camped with rented 23-27' motorhomes so far, we really have no experience one way or the other...

 

Good luck, and keep us posted.

 

Cheers,

--

Vall & Mo.

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We started with a 34 ft. 5th Wheel and now have a 42 ft. 5th wheel just for more sleeping for the grandchildren, and an office for my husband so he doesn't keep his computer on my dining room table. We've never had a problem with length but I agree with Vladamir...we've been kept out of places due to the height, ( 12.8'). 25 FT. is ok if your are camping

recreationally and have a house to still hold some of your "stuff". If fulltime, 34-38 is usually plenty for 2 people. Find what your comfortable in but keep the height handy for bridges and overpasses.

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  • 8 months later...

We are currently living FT in an older (1999) Jayco 30' w/no slideouts. 2 people, 2 large dogs and a cat. At this moment, we are in an RV park temporarily, but have been looking at Great Smoky National Park and some state parks for lower cost. The biggest issues that we have found are accessibility of the roads to get to the campgrounds in GSMNP. Some have length restriction below our 30', while others have no restriction. Simply getting to them is the challenge. The roads are often narrow with rock overhangs that I, personally, would be a little uncomfortable with since we are still pretty green pulling this TT. We have driven out to check most of the campgrounds in the park, and only found one that I would be comfortable pulling the TT. Maybe I am a little overly cautious, but I don't want to risk damaging our home or truck. The are a number of state parks in the region that would probably be more suited to us.

If you can drop and drive your tow vehicle to check out areas, to me, that is the safest way to determine what is feasible for your situation, IMO.

Best of luck to you in your travels!

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jmicheal, I highly agree that if you can you should "scout" ahead on some locations. I have been pulling a 30' TT since 1999 and I have run into some places it wouldn't have been wise to go into, even more so if you travel alone with no one to act as a spotter or a flagger if you have to turn around. I wish I could remember where it was in TN one summer I was sight seeing-scouting and I came to a stretch of road and a one lane bridge that I was extremely happy I wasn't towing my TT. I shorter trailer maybe up to 25' would probably make it. Not far across the bridge was a nice SP that would have been great as long as you came to it from a different route. I think it was called Savage - _ _ -something SP but I am not sure. I am a pretty decent backer and I would not have wanted to alone even then this spot would have been a bad dream.

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Height and swing room can be critical. 5th wheels are a lot taller that TTs. As noted in an earlier post somewhere, there are places we could get into with a 28' TT that we can not get anywhere near in a 34' 5th wheel, notably our favorite spots in Yucatan and in the Chiricahuas. Always a good idea to scout out an area before going in. We go in by pickup to scout if camped near area. Othe rtimes, I pull down the mountain bike and pedal in. Would love to spend a few days at Calukmal archaeological site in Yucatan but there are three sections of low hanging trees that would require some time with axe, saw and machete. We drove in three years ago and there is a great place to park near the museo. It is 60 km off the main highway.

 

There are a lot of places in desert regions that have arroyos that you will not get a large rig across.

Reed and Elaine

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jmicheal, I highly agree that if you can you should "scout" ahead on some locations. I have been pulling a 30' TT since 1999 and I have run into some places it wouldn't have been wise to go into, even more so if you travel alone with no one to act as a spotter or a flagger if you have to turn around. I wish I could remember where it was in TN one summer I was sight seeing-scouting and I came to a stretch of road and a one lane bridge that I was extremely happy I wasn't towing my TT. I shorter trailer maybe up to 25' would probably make it. Not far across the bridge was a nice SP that would have been great as long as you came to it from a different route. I think it was called Savage - _ _ -something SP but I am not sure. I am a pretty decent backer and I would not have wanted to alone even then this spot would have been a bad dream.

Probably Savage Gulf BigJim. That is a rough area to get into, but the place is absolutely beautiful. Wouldn't be comfortable pulling my TT in there either.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I own a 30' toyhauler and always feel limited to low land camp spots after venturing up the Colorado service roads.

 

My plan was to leave the toyhauler amenities in the valley, for one night remote camp outs reached in my 4x4 cummins van. But I'm still gathering parts for the conversion.

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Hello Rebar,

 

I own a 30' toyhauler and always feel limited to low land camp spots after venturing up the Colorado service roads.

Interesting, a really small toyhauler; we've been considering a toyhauler ourselves, but could not find many small enough. Could you tell us the make/model of the one you have?

 

My plan was to leave the toyhauler amenities in the valley, for one night remote camp outs reached in my 4x4 cummins van. But I'm still gathering parts for the conversion.

if I understand you correctly, your TV is a van, so your TH must be a TT instead of the more common 5er. Again, interesting. I don't understand what you mean by "conversion", but for similar camp-outs we have been planning to use a "truck tent" in the bed of our planned PU truck, for example: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ASYOT8W

 

I'm pretty sure I've seen something like it for vans, you might want to search around.

 

Cheers,

--

Vall.

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