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Trailers designed for boondocking


kinseypw

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When we got our new-to-us 5er (cougar 322qbs) I was amazed that there was only one 12v outlet in the main cabin hidden behind the TV and no other 12v sockets anywhere else in the rig. It seems to me that the designers assume that the RV will hook up to shore power so they provide a bare minimum battery and no built in inverter. Anyone know of any trailers deigned specifically for boondocking?? What features would you like to see? I guess I would start with 75gal+ black and grey tanks, 50 gal fresh, built in inverter, minimum 200amphour battery, Solar panels built into the roof, real R40 in ceiling and floor, R20 walls and double glazing in all windows. Any other ideas?

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I would sell my firstborn male child (sorry Billy) for one of the new XV-HD Earth Roamer models, but I'm afraid I would still come up short. :wub:

 

Just try to think what your limiting factors are.

 

Certainly water, propane and battery power (replenished by solar, generator and possibly wind). Then look at how we can extend these. IE, more solar and battery capacity, more fuel or the genny, more propane tanks and a water bladder to allow you to replenish your propane and water supply without moving, etc. Also remember that most BLM land has a 2 week limit anyway, so this may be the factor limiting your stay between moves.

 

Also consider the ability to go "where no man has gone before. Ground clearance, height limitations, length, width and sturdiness come to mind. Weight may also be a limiting factor as will your tow vehicle, depending how far off-road you want to go. Consider your boondocking style and the places and seasons you like to go. If you like to go where it freezes (I don't) then insulation and more insulation, along with huge propane tanks will be of prime importance. I like to go where it's hot, so I'm planning on building a solar AC system on my boondocking rig. If I can just keep the bedroom cool enough to sleep at night I'll be happy. We each have our own priorities and ideas how we will "get r done."

 

Desirable features for me would be lots of carrying capacity for a super efficient 48v DC mini-split heat pump, a high-efficiency electric fridge, 2,000 watts+ of solar, a huge 48v battery bank, food storage capacity, big tanks, etc.

 

For me, budgetary considerations will ultimately be my biggest limiting factor. Sorry Earth Roamer, at well over half a million $$$, I guess I'll have to pass on you for now. ;)

 

Chip

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While in Australia we saw some really serious RVs for boondocking. Those folks really mean it when they say that they are heading out to the back country. That road-less part is about 2/3 of the whole country and this link will show one of the more typical RVs that are built and sold there. I don't believe that there is a builder of any class A rigs but many people convert used buses, but most are smaller than 30 feet in length. Many of the two vehicles are diesel powered with a snorkel to operate when crossing deep streams. Those folks go places with an RV that we used to think only people with tents could go.

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We primarily boondock and have found the Open Range 337RLS works well for a lot of boondocking but the length and height have prevented us from getting into places we really like in Yucatan (Lago Bacalar and Calukmal Archaeological Site) and Cave Creek in SE AZ. However, it does have extremely high clearance which has proven very useful. This is not a go way off on goat tracks rig such as the Aussies and South Africans have developed but rather a nice sedate and effective 34' fifth-wheel that can handle a lot of gravel, dirt, and sandy roads.

 

It has 81 gallons of fresh water, 40 gallon black water, and 40 gallon grey water tanks. There are are a number of 12 V outlets; however, we have installed another eight of these outlets. This is quite simple to do off the lights (which came as LEDs). We have 12 V sockets (aka cigarette lighters) at rear of main cabin, above the bed, two under the desk, and further outlets in the main bay and the forward bay.

 

The ceiling and floor are R32, the walls are R9 and all windows are double- paned. There is space in the front bay for two batteries and an Onan 6.5 kW propane generator and it comes plumbed for the generator.

 

However, we have gone to autonomous solar and so use that front bay for 9.6 kW-hrs (800 amp-hours at 12 V) of LFP batteries, 4 kW PSWI , 1.5 kW battery charger, 48V to 12V converter etc. As noted the front bay is built to carry the 300 pounds of propane generator and I contacted factory and was told that the bay floor will hold 400 pounds before we put in 256 pounds of LFP batteries.

 

A few other advantages are:

 

Dry weight of 8400 pounds and a max weight of around 12,300 pounds so that there is almost 4000 pounds of carrying capacity (to include water, propane etc). We hit a tope (speed bump) just south of Tulum three years ago that bounced the 5th wheel at least two feet off the ground. The Canadian couple behind us (they caravaned with us to the states) thought we had destroyed the vehicle. We stopped as soon as we could and checked the axle fittings, tires, solar panels, battery suite etc and everything was in great shape.

 

It is also a fairly inexpensive rig.

 

Reed and Elaine

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A Scamp or Casita re-do is probably the best one can do with US TTs for moderate boondocking camping (extreme camping is what the Aussie/South Africans rigs do through bogs and way off road four-wheeling terrain). However, I think the OP was more interested in a more staid RV that could be used for moderate boondocking e.g. dispersed camping off decent dirt and gravel roads.

Met a couple our age (in their 70s) who took their Scamp or Casita to Panama and back.

 

I believe their requirements will require modifications to their current rig:

 

Extra 12 V outlets (for charging things, running 12 V (10 W) fans for cooling, etc

Solar panels (DIY or have a respected installer do the work)

Larger battery suite is fairly simple proposition but an integrated solar/controller/inverter/battery system is quite a bit more complicated

RVs do come with double-pane window at additional cost (Arctic Fox and Big Foot may be normal)

High R for walls beyond R of 9 may not be normal except for Arctic Fox and Big Foot, and they are fairly small.

 

Scamps and Casitas have limited roof space for fixed solar but then you need less power with a smaller rig. Additional ground mounted panels could be utilized. LFP is what these TTs require. The Aussie fora note that LFP is now an option with a number of manufacturers down there and two sell 80% of new rigs with LFP.

Reed and Elaine

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Toy haulers are typically more set up for boondocking than regular trailers. Then of course if you find a trailer you like that has adequate tanks which is key then you can always add solar , etc for extended stays. Our MH with its large tanks along with solar and generator will generally last close to 2 weeks and then we need to dump and refill fresh water. But a DP can not go far from the beaten path.

 

I keep threatening my wife with the idea of converting a school bus for boondocking because I know exactly how I would do it for long stays as well as its ability with high clearance to get off road nicely. However she keeps saying to wait till she's not around any more....lol.

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Wow! Thanks for all the replies. Will definitely be checking out the Roughneck although a 5er is my preference. I guess I was just trying to put a bug in industry's ear that many people want a trailer for boondocking especially with park cost going over $30/night. We have been fulltiming for a year and have spent little time in parks except for a month in Oliver after returning to Canada. Nowhere to boondock in the Okanagan and it was COLD. Reed and Elaine are right that we are not looking for extreme off-road capability just some simple mods to exisiting rigs that would make boondocking easier. I do think there is a market for that.

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X3 on Arctic Fox. I am not as familiar with Bigfoot. I have been in Scamp 5th wheels. That particular Scamp was totally self sufficient with a little invertor genset or two.

 

Reed you really should scroll down and look at the builders comments and the pic of it up on a Jeep or 4 WD only road. But I do agree that stock Scamps are in need of a frame upgrade and switch to bigger rims and suspension to be jeep road capable like that one. Most trailers are a lot less insulated as he foamed it too.

 

I included it because some folks like me may be part timers and handy enough to do the same or their own design. Here is the original article I saw with all the pics of the mods and the owner/builder's comments. My point is that engineering and using sweat equity to build what is needed cheaper than new stock isn't exclusive to big HDTs and custom truck beds. The suspension changes and under belly sealing and insulation along with roof foaming etc. It even has a spiral staircase? This could be done with any used Arctic Fox. But the main reason he chose the Scamp fiver was the narrow width. As he stated in the above link:

 

"I invested 5 years of time and over $25,000 to develop this RV Camper. I started with a Scamp 5th Wheel because its only 6′ 8″ wide allowing it to get into real tight places.

 

Trailer can sleep up to 4 individuals.

 

Trailer totally modified in 2003 even though the title states 1987. The only things original are the fiberglass shell and the windows. EVERYTHING else replaced in 2003 or later.

 

If you only have a 2 wheel drive truck, you won’t be doing justice to this camper. This RV Camper will follow anywhere your 4 wheel drive truck will go. I’ve taken it down many Jeep only trails with ease."

 

It was for sale when I first saw it and I just could not justify it with our two large dogs. Boonedocking to me implies the outside is more important than the sleeping and eating area. I did not need boonedocking capabilities or full time capacity so we bought a very nice 2003 Sunnybrook 2850SL and re-roofed it then mods inside and out. We bought it because it has aluminum framing, and a marine plywood 3/4 inch roof under the previous EPDM rubber. We did it in TPO for 1/4 the cost of the EPDM at dealers. There were two tiny leaks that cause no damage save a back trim piece in the bunk room. No rot on roof, no wood frame to have rotted and no delamination. We caught it just at the right time. But for a song.

 

So don't just consider already done for you if you can't find what you want. These things are very easy to modify, and if you keep weights equal and balanced no adverse results if you do good work.

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While in Australia we saw some really serious RVs for boondocking. Those folks really mean it when they say that they are heading out to the back country. That road-less part is about 2/3 of the whole country and this link will show one of the more typical RVs that are built and sold there. I don't believe that there is a builder of any class A rigs but many people convert used buses, but most are smaller than 30 feet in length. Many of the two vehicles are diesel powered with a snorkel to operate when crossing deep streams. Those folks go places with an RV that we used to think only people with tents could go.

Pretty sweet rigs! It seems that the US does not have the amount of roadless land that allows vehicular use to support a robust market for such wild, beautiful beasts.

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The mods I noted are pretty much what we have. We have only hooked into line power once in two years and have not used the generator except to make sure it still works.

 

LEDs are a very important addition that greatly decrease power consumption. All of our outside lights are now LED. The main "scare" lights require only a few W to operate as opposed to 40 or 50 W before. All of the interior lights are LED. We have left the halogen lights in the main bay in case we need to keep it warm at night. They are 30 W and two were enough to keep the bay in the 40s when the outside temperature was in the teens.

 

The 12 V outlets permit using 12 V fans (10 W) that make the difference in comfort when it is in the high 80s in the bedroom at night.

 

RV - we would love to have/develop a TT such as you have shown. At 75, we may be past doing that.

 

David2015skp - there is a lot of wild country in the mountain and desert west that those Aussie rigs were built for. You cannot go off-road but many of those roads have not seen much traffic since horse and wagon days.

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Reed,

Perhaps you are right. You guys, however, look much younger in your avatar. But none of this is wasted as there are folks that just might see that it can be done. We extensively modified our first two rigs and will soon be doing much more to the one we bought only for living in on our property while this house was being finished. But it is not a boondock rated rig. Right now I am learning how to drain and winterize it because as a full-timer wintering in Louisiana we never had to as long as the furnace was going which it was for us. Funny how some things we never did and have to play catch up on now come up.

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post-48662-0-85264600-1443929259_thumb.jpg

 

Photo taken two weeks ago at wedding in Pagosa Springs. Stayed at a National Forest CG, Ohavre Lake, on the way down, spent three nights boondocking in a field at wedding site, and then stayed at a dispersed site we had seen below Ohavre Lake on the return to son's place in Fort Collins. Total for 5 nights was $10.

 

We still pretend to work out a bit. Much has to do with choosing parents correctly. We really do consider our rig to be a great one for boondocking at a moderate level. As noted in earlier post it is to long at 34' (10 m) and 12.5' tall (almost 4 m) to find into places we loved with our earlier 28' TT (cheap and almost nice).

 

Reed amd E;aome

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We take outside showers and throw out dishwater (when allowed) while boondocking at very dispersed sites. Something you might need when boondocking is a method to transfer water to the freshwater tank. We carry up to six x 6 gallon Jerrycans for extended stays. We can sometimes drive off to get freshwater. We used to use a small 12 V water pump; however, the siphon pump on our rig (used by most folks to winterize) can also be set to siphon water into the freshwater tank at about 2.5 gallons/minute. This feature has been extremely useful.

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We take outside showers and throw out dishwater (when allowed) while boondocking at very dispersed sites. Something you might need when boondocking is a method to transfer water to the freshwater tank. We carry up to six x 6 gallon Jerrycans for extended stays. We can sometimes drive off to get freshwater. We used to use a small 12 V water pump; however, the siphon pump on our rig (used by most folks to winterize) can also be set to siphon water into the freshwater tank at about 2.5 gallons/minute. This feature has been extremely useful.

 

Was thinking about getting a bladder for fresh water. Have you ever used one? I carry a spare pump so could use that to transfer the water.

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We also use a small 12v pump (http://www.harborfreight.com/12-volt-marine-utility-pump-9576.html) to transfer water from 5-7 gal containers. I like the 5gal transparent bottle-type we got from walmart better than the typical 7gal blue plastic with the tap. Our 7 gal has cracks on all top corners from falling over in the back of the truck

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My Sportsmobile had a top opening into my freshwater tank under my bed into which I put a funnel to make filling from jugs easier. I can't lift the big ones even to get them into the rig but could pour from gallon jugs.I had several places I could store the smaller jugs where big ones wouldn't have fit anyway. Not a lot of excess room in a Class B.

 

Linda Sand

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I add considerably more amp/hours of battery. We have 5 @ 100 AH batts in our rig. 600 watts (under perfect conditions) of solar on the roof.

 

I've added 6 more"cigarette lighter" style outlets near my "desk" for charging all sorts of things and running the computer.

 

And yes more liquid storage capacity would be nice, both fresh and "used" liquids.

 

Since we set up in the same boondocking spot each year i've stored a small harbor freight trailer in town there and have a pair of 50 gallon barrels. The rig has a macerator for filling the black barrel and the white barrel has a 12 volt transfer pump for filling the trailer. i pull the little 'chore trailer" with either our pickup or our ATV.

 

A lot of folks in the BLM LTVA in which we stay use blue boys for waste and bladders for hauling fresh water.

Beats hooking up the 5th wheel rig every 8 to 10 days to do the "water chores". Especially if we've got the supplemental awning rigged to the one mounted on the 5er.

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We have spent 4 winters in Mexico (Baja and Yucatan) and hope to return this year. All of the CGs we have visited in Mexico and Belize have signs stating "do not put toilet paper down the toilet" since their pipes and septic tanks get clogged. So we have been placing used paper in a plastic bagged lined trashcan. If you had kids, you did the same with the used diapers. This greatly reduces the volume in the black tank and there is no clogging of the valves and pipes; a macerator is not required. The 40 gallon blackwater tank can easily last 2 to 3 weeks while boondocking.

 

Dave - we gave added 8 or 10 of the cigarette lighter 12 V outlets througout our 5th wheel and will probably add a few more in the front bay where we have our batteries, inverter, etc.

Reed and Elaine

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