Considering an Aliner for family?

Discussion in 'A-Frame PopUps' started by Enigmacamper, Nov 5, 2017.

  1. Enigmacamper

    Enigmacamper Active Member

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    Hello all! Finally joined :) I wanted to get some thoughts, we are considering getting an Aliner camper. We landed on Aliner because we want a hard-sided popup for security and climate control etc. and our TV is a Subaru Outback with tow weight of only 2,700 lbs.

    We are a family of four (fourth is on the way still) with our oldest being 3 years old. We have seen inside a ranger 12, Classic, Scout lite and Expedition (out of our weight limit) and found them roomier than we expected (ranger 12 and classic sizes). We had looked at a scamp 13' earlier and these are way bigger feeling than that was! Of course I'm a little concerned that we might grow out of it (though we don't have many options, we can't really go bigger because of the weight, and we have no interest in a new TV). We were planning on maybe changing the front dinette to bunks for the kids in the future when they might need more space.

    We are also debating the merits of a front hard dormer, the extra headroom would be great for the kids but the added cost and tongue weight is a concern. Our TV's tongue weight limit is 200lbs. Although we would not have propane on the tongue we likely would have a battery, plus the dormer plus whatever is packed inside the trailer...I am totally inexperienced here, anyone have any thoughts?

    Thanks so much, just looking for any advice for a total rookie :)
     
  2. nhlakes

    nhlakes Well-Known Member

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    We're all different, but I suspect I'd find it on the small size for a family of 4, especially if you get one that is 'comfortable' for your Subaru to tow. Any chance you could rent one and try it before you buy it?

    I had an Outback with a 2.5 and they are sensitive to tongue weight - and the mileage drops WAY down when you tow things of substance.
     
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  3. ~erik~

    ~erik~ Active Member

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    I'll have to agree with nhlakes. With a second propane tank and larger battery I have to fill the water tank (behind the rear axle) to keep the tongue weight around 200 lbs. The size of ours is fine for the wife and I, but we wouldn't want to try to squeze in a couple of kiddies. For one thing, our porta potty is under one of the dinnette seats. That would be inaccessable at night if kids are sleeping in the front.
     
  4. Customer

    Customer Well-Known Member

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    We loved our Aliner for just the two of us, four people would be very crowded.

    Keep in mind that four people require a lot of gear, check your manual but all passengers and gear in the tow vehicle usually have to be subtracted from the tow rating.
     
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  5. kudzu

    kudzu Active Member

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    Overall weight matters, but with most Aliners it is tongue weight that limits your choice of tow vehicle. When I got my Aliner I had a Ford Transit Connect. (The little city van, not the full size Transit.) It handled the Aliner well enough, but I had to be extremely careful with tongue weight. As someone else noted, I had to tow it with a full water tank to offset the tongue weight. We were very careful in how we loaded it with weight. My Aliner doesn't have the dormers but it does have the fiberglass storage bin in front which adds tongue weight I would guess is equivalent to a front hard dormer. Last year we were going West again & this time it in seriously mountainous area. I decided it was time to get a more suitable tow vehicle, upgrading to a full size van. That change dramatically reduced the stress level of minimizing weight & being exceedingly cautious while towing. I had given real consideration to a Subaru Outback 6 cylinder but tongue weight was a large reason I didn't get one. Be very careful & do an honest evaluation of your vehicles ability and the load you will be carrying. This isn't just about preventing damage to your vehicle. It's is a matter of your family's safety.

    As for putting a family of 4 into one, I'd say it could serve you well for now as long as you could stand being together in such a small space for a rainy weekend together. For us, the Aliner is primarily our bedroom. The rest of our campsite is our living room and kitchen. Most of our camping trips include two adults and three large dogs. It's tight, very tight, but I still much prefer it to a roomy hotel room. We've also done trips with three adults, no dogs, sharing the Aliner for a week at a time. We all managed to enjoy ourselves and didn't fight but each got annoyed at points. You have to be good sports and keep in mind the big picture, not sweating the small stuff. Not sure I'd want to do more than a weekend with two adults and two older kids. Frazzled nerves would probably rule, but all families are different. That may not be a problem for you.

    You could try a crazy experiment. All of you could camp in your kitchen for the weekend, only leaving it to go to the restroom our play outside. That would give you an idea of what it's like to have an Aliner. :grin:
     
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  6. Enigmacamper

    Enigmacamper Active Member

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    I'm glad you mentioned they are sensitive about tongue weight, we do NOT want to strain our subaru's abilities, I never want to have to replace that vehicle :) Perhaps the dormer is a poor idea.
     
  7. Enigmacamper

    Enigmacamper Active Member

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    the porta potty is a consideration, I suppose we could slide it under the rear bed? We would plan to USE it, not just for nighttime but nearly anytime the need would arise. I'm not big on public restrooms at all...or hotel rooms etc. hence the appeal of a camper :)
     
  8. Enigmacamper

    Enigmacamper Active Member

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    I forget sometimes about what is IN the car as well, I think maybe the Scout would come in at a low enough weight to give us a lot of wiggle room. We do not want a propane system anyway and it does not have one.
     
  9. jmkay1

    jmkay1 2004 Fleetwood/Coleman Utah

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    What you can try is bring your whole family plus one extra (to fill in for your future kiddo). To an RV center that sells what your looking for. Stay inside all four of you in the aliner for an hour and see how you manage. Like someone says it depends on your family, camping style and how close you are. In my family if people are tripping over everything/everyone for an hour, tempers will flare high. When the kiddo was young she was incapable of sitting still for even a few minutes so she was constantly moving around tripping everyone. So a small footprint just would not work for us. I loved the idea of the hard sides, but after just a trip to the RV center found out real fast it wouldn't work for us. The canvas sides in my opinion was a better trade off for more usable space.
     
  10. Enigmacamper

    Enigmacamper Active Member

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    Clearly the tongue weight is the concern then...the dealer says a dormer would add 25 pounds to the tongue weight at the most, but this is significant especially if you store a battery and a generator on the front...we want to leave ourselves plenty of wiggle room when it comes to weight, no point in pushing anything, I don't want to strain the vehicle or anyone's safety.

    The four of us in there, this is a wild card for me a little bit (the camping in the kitchen idea is great :)). We are a close family, I have VERY patient and sweet boys, we live in a small house compared to most and we don't mind close quarters but it's always difficult to imagine as kids grow up. It's worth mentioning that largely our trips would not be camping trips for camping's sake, but more a "rolling hotel room" to go see places we'd like to go (McCormick place parking in Chicago, site with hookups in Branson, Indiana dunes park, places like that), I doubt much time would be spent at the campsite (my hubby likes camping but it's not at all my thing, however I cringe at airplanes and hotel rooms so we thought a camper might be a good compromise. Of course he could take kids himself to go truly camping as well, I'm sure they would enjoy that.
     
  11. Sneezer

    Sneezer Well-Known Member

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    I think you are going to be real close on what you can safely tow. The GVWR for the Aliner scouts are 2500 lbs. I don't think the dormer is an option on those - you have to go to the bigger models which takes it out of your weight limit. I think once you factor in the gear you will take on a camping trip, especially with young kids, you will find the smaller campers will get cramped very quickly. Bags of clothes, toys, food and related supplies, etc. I also would not want to camp with young kids without at least a porta potty. I hated heading to the bathhouse in the middle of the night to pee, and would hate it even more when I had to take my son when I didn't have to go to begin with.

    Is a big cabin tent a possibility? There are some really nice ones that would give you a ton of room for sleeping. Might be something to consider for the next couple years, at which point you may be in a position to consider a larger vehicle that would support a better camper.

    I have looked at the bigger 15 units, and they are quite roomy with the dormers, but I found them to be a little cramped compared to my much bigger pup. Your Subaru will really limit your options. If you get lucky you might find an old Apache which would get you the extra room you need, hard sides and all in a light weight package. However these are all older trailers, parts can be harder to find, and many are going to need regular repair to the plastic roof. They also do not have AC, although many have mounted window units. The roof is not strong enough to hold a traditional AC.

    Good luck!
     
  12. JoePAz

    JoePAz Active Member

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    My ranger 12 has soft dormers front and rear, two propane tanks and coolcat AC listed weight is 1753 and 118 tongue. Actual as loaded with full water and gear in the trailer is 180lbs on the tongue as measured. I am guess overall weight is 2300lbs or so, but is really a guess. Tows fine with my Volvo XC70. Love the soft dormers as it creates a more spacious interior and allow you to use the edges a but more so it feels bigger.

    Space is good for 2 adults and will work with 2 kids thrown in. Would be tight for 4 adults, but could work. It spacious for 1 adult.

    I keep my thetford 320p portpotti in the cabint under the dinnette on curbside. I can slid out and use in the doorway at night. Then slid it back in.
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2017
  13. kudzu

    kudzu Active Member

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    We use my camper as a substitute for motel rooms on road trips. (Though we have done several weekend trips with just the van, now that I have a larger one.) One thing that makes the Aliner better for us than a traditional PUP is the ease of set up & break down. Stopping for one night here & another there, never staying more than two nights in a row, is so easy with the Aliner. We can almost always get into a campsite & set up faster than checking into a hotel room, then unloading gear & dogs into the room. We do usually use the campground restrooms, but have a porta potty along in case the restrooms are inconvenient or unpleasant. I love my little bedroom on wheels!
     
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  14. shuang2

    shuang2 Well-Known Member

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    On the 17 day camping trip recently, we have 4 adults(two couples) camped on our Chalet XL 1940 all the way. We four feel sort of roomy. Most of our activities are outside and the Chalet just like a bedroom on wheel.
     
  15. Enigmacamper

    Enigmacamper Active Member

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    Am I correct that the GVWR of the trailer is how much it can safely hold, not how much it weighs unloaded? While we would definitely need some stuff for four people, I don't think we would need scads of stuff...we rarely bring much to speak of like toys etc. for the kids, but then again it's funny how these things tend to grow and expand :). The porta potty is a must, I agree, it's a huge reason for the camper to begin with (avoiding public bathrooms with kids).
    A tent is not really a possibility, the places we are interested in will require a hard-side I believe (mccormick in chicago and branson in the winter come to mind). I have seen pictures of old apaches but none for sale :) They are cool!!!
     
  16. Enigmacamper

    Enigmacamper Active Member

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    Having your tongue weight measurement is super helpful!!! I'm sure the cloth dormer doesn't weigh as much as the hard (and you have a back one to balance it as well somewhat) but it's really helpful to see how much tongue weight is added when you pack it! Are you happy with the thetford? How many days do you think you could use it without having to empty?
     
  17. Enigmacamper

    Enigmacamper Active Member

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    What you are describing is very much our needs, one or two nights here and there, stopping with the kids at a Flying J or something if we need to for the night. Or longer trips hooking up to power and leaving the campground for most of the day, like a hotel, and sleeping there at night with some temperature control and our own potty :)
     
  18. Enigmacamper

    Enigmacamper Active Member

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    Oh that big Chalet is SO nice! Is it a 15' box?

    It's encouraging four adults made it 17 days together ok in one of these! Granted it was bigger :)
     
  19. nhlakes

    nhlakes Well-Known Member

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    The A-frames make fine portable hotel rooms due to their minimal setup/takedown time. That's more or less how we use ours. I travel for work and spend half my life in hotel rooms. When I wake up in a Marriott I feel like I'm at work, so I prefer a camper when on my own time.

    Although I prefer state parks over flying j truck stops, even if it is just for a quick overnight. ;)
     
  20. Enigmacamper

    Enigmacamper Active Member

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    Can't blame you there [LOL]. Surely more picturesque :). I noticed in your signature your Ranger is the off-road model. This is something I'm not sure about, I doubt we would ever truly take it "off road" but our driveway is pretty steep so I get concerned about how much clearance I would need?
     

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