campbikemom Posted October 3, 2019 Report Share Posted October 3, 2019 Hi all! I have been lurking on various camper forums for a bit and would like some input. I know a lot will be based on personal preferences, but I’m having a hard time narrowing down an exact floorplan and manufacturer/brand so I would love to hear everyone’s experience. We have a 2019 Nissan Armada SL as our tow vehicle. I know that folks who frequent RV forums are borderline rabid about buy the tow vehicle that meets the needs of the camper you want, but I think that is unrealistic for anyone that doesn’t have money growing on trees. Price, features, and needs of the family come first, then finding the best camper to match the tow vehicle (in my opinion). For us, the Armada hit the most marks. Would like to keep a new camper price around $20,000 or less, which will price us out of most fiberglass trailers. 20-30 nights a year does not justify spending more for us. Basic facts about the Armada: Max towing: 8500 lbs Max tongue weight: 850 lbs. Payload: We’ll say 1500 (there is a range up to about 1750, but we’ll just go with the low end) Basic facts about our family: Family of 4 (kids are currently 6 and 4) plus a German Shepherd. We started out as tent campers/backpackers. Then went to a 1980’s Jayco popup towed by a Pilot. We decided to push the limits and get a small hardside (2017 Starfcraft AR-One 19BHLE that has a GVWR right around 4400lbs) knowing we were going to be putting the Pilot through hell and it would be a short-term solution (it struggled, as expected. This year we traded in the Pilot and got the Armada. We are fairly basic campers and primarily use the camper for storage, washing dishes, sometimes cooking (usually use the fire), showering. We’ll never have a TV in a camper and usually only spent time inside when the weather is cold and damp (we are in NY, though, so the good weather camping season isn’t very long). We do a lot of state park camping and usually do not have hookups of any kind. To date we’ve always filled up water when we got to our location, but now that we have a beefier tow vehicle we might even entertain boondocking. We are mostly long weekend campers, but part of that has been restricted by the Pilot in the past. But we usually save our longer trips and vacation time for cross country and international. We also are bike racers and bringing a camper along to races (even if they are day races) is nice if the weather is crap. Things I would like to see improved on over our current floorplan: - More seating. When it’s a “stay inside” day it’s very cramped on the dinette and I hate sand in the bed J - Larger fridge. The under the counter fridge fills up very quickly and realistically we can only do 3 days of food with drinks in a cooler. - Bathroom sink and medicine cabinet. - Would like to have windows that open on top and bottom bunks (know you can add them, but getting them upfront would be great) - I also like dinette storage that has pull out bins versus lifting the seat up. - If we go with a slide, I do not like elevated slides . I like them to be as flush with the camper floor as possible. - An oven would be great to have although I’m pretty good baking in the dutch oven on the fire. I know Starcraft in general has mixed reviews, but we have had great luck with this particular camper. I am also super impressed with the amount of storage they have managed to cram into such a small space. Although I pack smartly, I’ve never felt like I have to make hard choices on what to bring or have to use the Pilot as significant overflow. I have definitely noticed that in camper brands in general some models have good reviews and others you can’t find a good review about. When we bought the 19BHLE we really liked the 26 non-slide bunk house models and said at the time that we wanted that to be our next camper, especially since the price is almost the same as what we picked up our current camper for. However, almost all of these campers across brands do not have a pantry or storage when you first open the door (e.g. a floor cabinet to the left of the door). Our current camper is so tiny I cannot imagine LOSING storage that I really like. There are a couple exceptions to the pantry, like the Shasta 26BH. But the Shasta lacks ANY window in the top bunk and does not have an oven. Also, now that our kids have gotten bigger it seems like this floorplan is pretty cramped. This floorplan is usually around a GVWR of 6000-6500lbs or less and is a hair under 30’. I REALLY like the Jayco SLX 298BH, but that floorplan has already been retired and we probably won’t be buying until next year. We also wanted to stick to 30’ or under, but this trailer has a ton for the weight and overall size in my opinion. It lacks a medicine cabinet and a window that opens in the top bunk, but with all the extra storage I felt like these were minor quibbles. But 32’ is a long trailer! GVWR of 6250lbs, hitch weight of 555lbs. We have also been considering the floorplans that have smaller slides like the Jayco SLX 242BS, Starcraft Autumn Ridge 26BHS. Those seem to be around a GVWR of 7000-7500 lbs, have a hitch weight in the mid-600’s, and are around 30’. Yes, this last group is probably pushing the *ideal* circumstances for hauling, but most of these should still be doable if we are smart about how we travel (not filling water up unless absolutely necessary and then only doing it part-way, etc.). However, I would love to hear from people who were in a similar spot and either regretted it or felt it was fine. Additionally, if anyone has any opinions or input on having a small dinette plus a couch versus having one big u-shaped dinette I would appreciate any feedback. I know our single small dinette is not cutting it, but having a slide and a large u-shaped dinette might be “just right.” I have looked at a million floorplans and these are the ones that I am leaning towards, but if you have any other floorplan suggestions based on what I’ve described I would love to hear them. There is something about appliances in the slide I don’t love, but I also don’t’ have a solid reason for disliking this setup. Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
Join the conversation
You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.