Gone to the Dark Side - have mixed feelings

Discussion in 'Going to the DARK SIDE' started by dfury7, Nov 7, 2017.

  1. dfury7

    dfury7 Member

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    Sep 15, 2013
    Back in mid September we took possession of a 2018 Salem Cruise Lite FSX 197BH. We had recently purchased a 2017 Grand Caravan, and felt it was time to make the leap to a travel trailer. We managed to take the TT out for three trips before the season wrapped up, and I have to admit I have mixed feelings about the change.

    Towing - Towing is definitely a bit more nerve wracking with the TT. I knew our gas mileage would not be as good, but at times it has dropped as low as 13-17 MPG!! Maneuvering the trailer in the campsite hasn't been too bad, and despite some early learning curves hitching/unhitching is getting easier.

    Creature comforts etc more work - No doubt about it, having a proper kitchen, bathroom, shower and proper bed is nice, however having to deal with a full black tank, water heater and furnace (after having a bare bones PUP) is a little stressful. I didn't realize how nice it was with the PUP to be able to just leave at the end of a trip vs lining up for an eternity to dump our own human waste lol. Winterizing was also more of a pain, although the fact that I can just open the door and step inside over the winter months to keep an eye on things is nice.

    Set up/tear down - This is probably one of the biggest plus points. I was getting sick and tired of the exhausting routine of setting up the PUP and taking everything down. Now the whole process takes no more than 20 minutes which equals more time to enjoy camping.

    Expense - We financed our TT over a very long period, so we will be paying for it until im in my 50s... The PUP was paid for, so there is definitely a financial element to consider.

    Buyers remorse? - It's strange as the TT is gorgeous, comfortable and full of toys, but there are honestly times when I miss our old PUP and wonder if it was such a good move. I am waiting to pass judgement however as I am sure when the 2018 season starts, and we can use the new rig properly I will start to really "fall in love".

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  2. Halford

    Halford Well-Known Member

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    Santa Clarita, California
    is it glamping or camping? Spend more time outside or inside?
     
  3. kitphantom

    kitphantom Well-Known Member

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    We moved from a pretty bare-bones (stove, furnace) pup to a small TT three years ago. For us, the choice was move to the TT or I had to give up camping solo and depend on DH to do most of the work of setting up/taking down. That made the switch a lot easier to swallow.
    Do I love towing the TT? Nope. Has it gotten easier with practice and a better tow vehicle? Mostly. Can I back the TT as reliably as I could the pup? Not yet. We've up-sized our TV twice, though probably would not have made the second change except for issues with the Colorado that could not be fixed - but the Siverado is a much nicer TV (and a better ride all around for creaky me).
    Gas usage: We lost a lot more mpg than we expected, especially with the 4Runner we used to tow the pups. Even with the Silverado, the mpg varies widely, especially in winds. Over-all on my round trip NM/OH/NM last month, mostly on interstates, my mpg was about 11.1 - in really bad winds it went as low as the upper 8 mpg, it was as high as 13 mpg at other times.
    I really dreaded having to deal with waste tanks, since we never had to do so. It took a while to learn a good routine and what works for our set-up (Valtera Hydroflush for example). We have to figure out a tool so that I can reliably dump solo. Even with a strap wrench and a PVC wrench, I often have difficulty with the cap and connectors.
    We have yet to wait in a long line to dump, but we often do so at an overnight stop with FHU on the way home or at the KOA a couple of miles from our house. We're also learning to use dump stations as we find them, such as gas stations.
    We now have a good handle on how many days we can camp before we need to empty the waste tanks. We don't plan to have turd taxi, since a) carrying it would be less than handy and b) many of the places we base camp don't have a dump station in the campground.
    Do I miss the pup - sometimes, but it's balanced by being able to step inside on the road had use the bathroom, grab lunch from the refrigerator, or do an overnight stop without unhooking. The wind was so bad on the last night of my recent trip that I had difficulty opening the door, and the trailer shook all night long in spite of being well-stabilized. While I'd managed to put up both pups in mighty hefty winds, that night I would have had to find a hotel if I'd been in the pup.
     
  4. jmkay1

    jmkay1 2004 Fleetwood/Coleman Utah

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    Oct 10, 2013
    Northern Virginia
    Nice looking unit. im Sure you will enjoy it just as much as the popup. I had a decision to upgrade to a TT or get a larger popup myself a couple years ago. So had a huge list of plusses and minuses for each. I ultimately chose a larger popup mainly because I tow in the mountains and was terrified my vehicle wouldn't be able to manage a TT on such steep slopes and I didn't want to give it a premature death. Shame I couldn't buy all three units I was looking at. Give me the best of all worlds.
     
  5. kitphantom

    kitphantom Well-Known Member

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    Albuquerque, NM
    When we bought our TT it was fall, and we didn't sell the pup until spring. I gave brief thought to keeping the pup, so we could choose which camper to use based on specific trips. Reality of storage, and furnishing both won out. However, we kept our good tents and all related supplies. We may be camping in the tent for Thanksgiving, depending on whether the TT is repaired in time.
     
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  6. xxxapache

    xxxapache Well-Known Member

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    I bought my TT and never looked back. I could have easily kept my Apache hardside as well, but knew I would never use it again.
     
  7. bud121156

    bud121156 Western North Carolina

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    X2
     
  8. CamperChrissy

    CamperChrissy Active Member

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    Chicago suburbs
    Well, you're in it now so just go with it! I'm sure over time it will get easier. And each time you have to pack up in the rain or want to cook something warm inside when the weather turns unexpectedly cold, you will appreciate it more.

    Interesting to see you're towing with a Dodge Caravan - that is our tv also. We would love a travel trailer for ease of set-up and extending our camping season and casually looked at some models similar to yours. DH feels confident the van has the power to pull something heavier, but I'm nervous about controlling a tall travel trailer as opposed to a low profile PUP. Do you feel like the van has good control? Or is it pushing the limits?
     
  9. nineoaks2004

    nineoaks2004 Every meal is a picnic and every Day is a holiday

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    Graceville, Florida
    We went dark , again, I usually go back to a PUP, but will remain dark due to medical reasons and age. It just got to be too much for my back with the set up and tear down, also having to set up to un-pack and pack, and throw in inclement weather, it was time to change to something easier. We love our little TT.
    You will learn to enjoy your unit too, most of us do, when it is cold, rainy, hot etc. you can really enjoy it then. Good luck and Happy Camping
     
  10. dfury7

    dfury7 Member

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    Sep 15, 2013
    If the weather is good we don't spend too much time in the camper. Basically from around 9am - 9pm or later we are fishing, hiking, swimming etc etc. It is nice tho to have some creature comforts to come "home" to after a long day outdoors.
     
  11. dfury7

    dfury7 Member

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    Sep 15, 2013
    We use a Blue Ox Sway Pro WD Hitch and it works incredibly well. Not only does the trailer stay very stable, but even in strong winds there is very little sway. The biggest issue with the van is wind resistance. We stick to side roads, as anything above 55mph and the van engine sticks to 3000rpm. I would not recommend taking a rig like ours with a Grand Caravan on the freeway. Our TT is around 2800lbs dry, so with a 3600lb towing limit we are pretty close the max, and have to be very careful with what we load in the van/camper. It is certainly "doable" but some folks might prefer a truck or bigger SUV as a tow vehicle.
     
  12. kitphantom

    kitphantom Well-Known Member

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    Albuquerque, NM
    For us, we consider that - most of the time - we're camping, with some niceties added in. Our TT actually has no more "glamper" items than some of the larger pups and HTTs have. (Actually fewer than some, no oven, for example). We've camped in the same campsites we used with tents and pups.
    I do admit to spending more time inside than I once did, at least at times - I don't handle the cold as well as I once did, and my back and other issues mean I'm often in search of the most comfortable seat. (My seat at the table is actually very good, and I can see out of the window, and door when it's open .
     
  13. xxxapache

    xxxapache Well-Known Member

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    My TT has wall to wall carpet, real oak cabinets, telephone jacks and television jacks in both ends, a filtered water fountain, and a few amenities that you expect in a nice home. Does that make me or it a glamper? This year, I have been camping more than once in the national forest or a muddy field.
     
  14. Aneemal33

    Aneemal33 Active Member

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    Minnesota
    I am a tall drink of water at 6'6" (78") tall. What is the interior height on something like this?
     
  15. kcsa75

    kcsa75 Well-Known Member

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    Sep 9, 2013
    Kansas City
    We bought our TT this fall as well. Like a lot of others have said set-up and take-down was getting to be a hassle. The worst part was shoe-horning everything into the Pup when we broke camp.

    We've taken four long weekends since we picked it up in mid-September and there have been a few hiccups along the way.
    The first time we went to pick it up to go to the lake, the battery was dead as a door nail. Lots of things go through you're mind at times like that, but it turned out to be a self-inflected wound. When we picked it up from the dealer, the light over the stove was left on during the walk-thru. We towed it straight to the storage lot and five days later....
    The second time I backed it into the storage shed, I scraped off one of the clearance lights.

    There were a couple more, but otherwise we love it. The only thing I miss from the Pup is the open air sleeping. I really liked sleeping with the curtains down and just the screens. I especially like waking up early in the morning to the birds singing and other sounds of the morning. We have windows on both sides of the bed in the Cougar but it's not the same. [:)C]
     
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  16. GalsofEscape

    GalsofEscape Active Member

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    Nov 26, 2013
    Maryland
    your right, it may be "doable" but certainly not ideal and I speak from experience. I towed a highwall camper with similar weights to your camper though not your height with our 2004 grand caravan (our pup's gvwr was 3800 lbs) - it did it, was ok, did not feel unsafe but i soon found I had to keep the camper weight down (like not towing with a full fresh water tank - though it did alright..... until we got to a fairly steep hill; we made it up the hill but the GC really struggled). The other thing I was unhappy with was according to the GC owner's manual - as you put more people in the van, the towing capacity dropped - and we usually had four people camping..... so we were always taking two cars - the van to tow the camper and the second car to haul people and extra gear. Since we were planning on more extended trips where taking two vehicles would not be practical, I was soon looking for a more capable tow vehicle.
     
  17. Snow

    Snow Well-Known Member

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    Ontario
    Whats the GVWR of the trailer? 2800lbs dry is meaningless.. Being a 2018 model you should be able to use the "As Shipped" weight (should be on a sticker in a cabinet) and it will include everything added at the factory like options and include the awning, battery, propane tanks and spare tire weights, so only uncalculated weights will be what you add..

    Willing to bet if you looked at the real numbers you are over your 3600lb tow rating, so not doable..
     
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  18. Halford

    Halford Well-Known Member

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    Santa Clarita, California
    what Snow said... the dry weight is worthless information. We should pass a law prohibit the showing of or any documents on dry weight info!!!!!!! This information is NOT for us.

    I think you are somewhat over the van's max tow weight with your new TT but please check it out. If you can, try to invest a stronger TV.
     
  19. RockyRoo

    RockyRoo Just because you CAN doesn't mean you SHOULD

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    ^^^^THIS right here! The Blue Ox is an awesome hitch but that van/trailer combination is an accident waiting to happen and putting your family in that situation is bordering on irresponsible. The sad thing is you are all stressed out not because a TT is a bad choice but more because of failure to do appropriate homework and bad choices. Get rid of that minivan and move to a more capable vehicle and you will find that little TT is a dream to camp in. As for the tanks, if you don't want to drain them then don't use them. If you want to use them then you have no choice but to dump them and not complain about it.

    I am sorry, this may sound harsh, but it is what it is, either the trailer or the van has to go.
     
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  20. kitphantom

    kitphantom Well-Known Member

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    Dec 26, 2009
    Albuquerque, NM
    Having towed our small TT with the 4Runner, which - on paper- should have been OK, and two more tow vehicles, I think that margin is a very good thing. For those used to towing pups, the frontal area and side sail areas of HTTs and TT bear considering.
    With the 4Runner, we were at 70% or so of tow capacity. It worked, but it was stressing the admittedly old vehicle. With the Colorado, we were at 50%, and thought it a great improvement. If it had not had issues, we'd have been happy to stick with it. However, we are now at under 40%, and it's been another great leap in towing margin. Unlike many, we do drive a lot to camp, as well as cross country every year or so. Even with the Silverado last month, I never forgot the trailer was there (the front wall looming in the rear view mirror is the first hint) but it handled the hideous winds I had for most of 4 days better than the Colorado would have. With the 4Runner, I'd have been perched somewhere, waiting for a break in the weather. (We have used an anti-sway bar with each TV.)
     

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