I am about to buy my 1st pop up. I weigh 500 lbs. I have lots of questions.

Discussion in 'Camping for the Medically/Physically Challenged' started by hhfamily, Mar 19, 2021.

  1. hhfamily

    hhfamily New Member

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    I am disabled and use a heavy duty power wheelchair but I can take a few steps without my chair. My minivan is my only option for pulling a camper so I need something the weight of a lighter pop up, or I can't camp. Because of my health tent camping is no longer an option. Saturday I am going to pick my new to me 1995 Coleman Stony Creek. EDIT: The camper got sold out from under us so the new camper will be a 1994 Starcraft Starmaster 1224. :)
    I am concerned about the steps to enter/exit the camper. Are they going to break under my weight? Even if supports would make me feel like they are safe, are they far apart? I can not step up/down very far. Do they come out automatically when the door is opened? If they do can that be modified without breaking anything, so that my hubby can build me a custom set of steps?
    I know that the bunk ends are made to handle more than my weight but I would feel a lot more comfortable with extra supports. How could those be added?
    The cabinets have been replaced with plywood and my hubby can add supports under seating as needed so I am not really worried about that, but are the floors themselves sturdy/well supported?
    I know the doorway will be a tight squeeze. How hard is it to leave the door off during the day with the camper popped up and in use, and cover the doorway with a curtain or screen or something (perhaps velcroed on the inside?) and just put the door on at night? I have never had my hands on a pop up before so I have no idea if this is a simple solution or if it would be an enormous pain for my poor hubby.
    Is there anything else I need to know? I know a pop up is not the optimal camper for someone of my weight but I miss camping SO much and this is really my only hope of getting back to it.
    Thank you so very much for any insight you can provide!
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2021
  2. bluespruce

    bluespruce Member

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    I think most everything could be modified in some way to make things comfortable.

    As for the step; I took our pull out step off. It was bent when we bought it and to me the step is too shallow (front to back) anyways and I always felt like I might miss the step coming out of the camper. I bought one of these https://www.amazon.com/Camco-Adjust...coding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=39ZACNPW18KZ7EJJYXGJ

    bigger step, I can move it around and adjust the length of the legs slightly if the ground is uneven. Frankly, a big improvement over the steps they put on campers in my opinion.

    I modified our bunks and used thicker 3/4” plywood and used the same supports. Gave me a lot more confidence in the bed. Our plywood was so thin when my 100 pound kids were moving around I could see it flexing. Probably would have been OK but I sleep better with the thick plywood. The thicker plywood did take a little work to modify to fit the aluminum runners but not too difficult for someone who is reasonably handy. Once you get the pop up post some pictures of the bed assembly and I’m sure someone can give some ideas. Additional supports to the ground or frame could also be retrofitted. But, I’m my opinion, probably not necessary. Most adult couples are similar weight combined on a bed without giving it a second thought.

    Whether the door can be left off would depend on the model. Our Starcraft centennial could leave the door in the upper position if needed then dropped at night. Would only take a few minutes at night and in the morning. Other pups are probably similar. Our previous Starcraft had an upper door and lower door that went together and that could be left up as well. It won’t give a lot of extra width leaving the door up but there would be some give in the canvas on the sides to provide some extra room.

    Hopefully that helps a little bit.
     
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  3. jmkay1

    jmkay1 2004 Fleetwood/Coleman Utah

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    If I remember correctly that year camper has a stepper Door. Where the door comes down and makes a step and the one piece door goes into place when set up. It's typically a nice design but you may need to figure out a way to support it as I'm not sure the brackets would be strong enough. However if that model door swings to the side vrs come down you can always buy a secondary step to use. I don't know about your popup but the floor should be strong enough to support you so long as it's in good shape. The one piece door is quite narrow. I don't have the measurements though and my popup is in winter storage.
     
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  4. jeepster04

    jeepster04 Active Member

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    If the floor is in original condition it should be fine. Cant speak for the beds on that particular model, but I seem to recall our 08 Jayco supporting something like 1200lbs on the large bed and maybe 1,000lbs on the smaller bed. You could easily add extra supports to those if needed though.

    The steps do not automatically pop out but you can just leave it in the storage position and build your own step or even some sort of small ramp if needed. The width of the door may be an issue when the frame is in place but it can be left in storage on the underside of the roof then put in place at night. Bugs getting in will be an issue during the day though.

    You wont really have anything to help you get into the camper (hand holds) and even if the door is in place, they are not that strong. I dont believe you should grab hold of the door frame and try to pull yourself in (if you could fit through it). May want to have some sort of hand rail if you do build your own steps. Could carry a small impact screw gun and your husband can screw the stairs and handrail together when you get to the campsite. Wouldnt be that big of a deal once you know how they went together. Could even store them in the camper after the screws are taken out.
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2021
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  5. Anthony Hitchings

    Anthony Hitchings Well-Known Member

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    For you (at 500 Lbs) I would recommend an old timey base-camp style tent - tall and square, not a Popup (or a modern tent of equivalent facility). As they say in Real Estate - its "level in - level out" (i.e., no steps). With a heavy-duty bed system of a suitable (!!) height. Your spouse can do setup and takedown. Maybe use a teardrop or simple popup as a portable kitchen. You could include a cassette toilet in the tent. A tent will also feel more like camping.
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2021
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  6. hhfamily

    hhfamily New Member

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    It helps so much! Thank you!!!!
     
  7. hhfamily

    hhfamily New Member

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    Thank you! Change of plans. We are ending up with a 1994 Starcraft Starmaster 1224 because the other got sold out from under us.
     
  8. hhfamily

    hhfamily New Member

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    Thank you! Change of plans. We are ending up with a 1994 Starcraft Starmaster 1224 because the other got sold out from under us. I LOVE the handrail idea, I would have issues without one if I try to go in and out without help.
     
  9. hhfamily

    hhfamily New Member

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    Thank you!!!
     
  10. hhfamily

    hhfamily New Member

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    Thank you so much for the input. Unfortunately we tried that and I used to love tent camping but now even the best camping beds and cots are just not comfortable, I have to have a real (at least) bed height mattress.
     
  11. jmkay1

    jmkay1 2004 Fleetwood/Coleman Utah

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    . Good luck I hope this one works better for you. The door looks like it’s the 2 piece door which may be better option for you and easier to modify for your needs. With your own stool you can avoid the dinky step that comes with the camper. You may need to use a mattress topper on the bed as those mattresses are VERY thin. The issue with a topper is some model campers you have to completely unmake the bed when closing up.
     
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  12. dbhost

    dbhost Well-Known Member

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    Please see my threads in this sub forum. I cannot attest to 500lbs, but at 400 I am working out the struggles.

    Bunk ends need thicker plywood.

    Most camper doors open fully against stops on the sides of the camper.

    Bed height us crucial for sure. I use double high heavy duty air beds in a tent and still need something to boost off of.

    I would use a heavy duty step to get in / out of the camper.
     
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  13. 1380ken

    1380ken Well-Known Member

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  14. dbhost

    dbhost Well-Known Member

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    @hhfamily

    I am going to use some terms in this post that may be seen as offensie, PLEASE understand my intention is not to offend. I know where I am medically, and I chose to use correct terminology and not hide behind nice pretty words that do nothing to address an issue. Like I mentioned earlier, I am weight wise around 400lbs, sometimes a little higher, sometimes a little lower. Medically that puts me in the Morbidly obese category. I am deserpately trying to lose this weight however COVID and the assosciated lockdowns has thrown a wrench in the works. But camping, there is always camping.

    I'd like to clarify on my prior reply to your post. Please know I understand where you are coming from, and I want to encourage you to the best of my ability to not let anything keep you from getting out and going camping with your loved ones.

    In my experience at least, camping is one of the things I can do that keeps me much more physically active than I otherwise would be. And without trying, and kind of on the contrary because I tend to eat bad foods when camping, I lose weight. Not sure why but I do... Of course as they say Your Mileage May Vary, but no matter what, for your mind, and soul it is well worth every ounce of effort you can put into it, and your family will love the memories with you...

    For your situation, and mind you I would check the specifics about your camper on the weight capacity of the bunk ends, but typicaly the bunk ends are rated on many campers over 1K LBS.

    You may want to replace the factory mattress with a better one in the camper. And like others have metnioned, if possible, upgrade the bunk ends to thicker plywood.

    I don't now where they came from BUT I had seen another fellow who was in my weight range, and his wife who was easily 350lbs with a Starcaft PU, had supported his bunk end with some rig that looked for all intents and purposes to be heavy duty tripods with a screw jack kind of arrangement, or more specifically 2 of them per bunk end, and they supported a 2x6 between them and the plywood to distribute the pressure.

    A word of warning. I had previously rented a Starcraft PU, a late 90s model it must have been since this was in about 2002 or so, and while I was considerably smaller then at under 300lbs, and I was paranoid about using the bunk end, so I converted the dinette and slept in it. And managed to break the table top. On the plus side I had the material to remake the table top in my home workshop and fixed it before I returned it. The reason I mention that is by way of a gentle reminder that the materials used in interior construction on these is less than stellar. It sounds like you already planned on checking and having your husband reinforce the supporting cabinetry if needed. Of course you will likely not be able to use the dinette with the table, that's okay. No matter their weight, it seems most PU campers don't... Many just leave the dinette confiugred as a kids bed all the time anyway...

    As far as entry / exit to the camper goes, it will depend on the model camper, but as I mentioned previously, most camper doors swing fully open and many have catches that will hold them open against the side of the camper and thus no need to physically remove the door. Generally speaking you will not gain any additional room to enter / exit by removing the door.

    To be direct on another point you have not mentioned, I am assuming something here as it is very common for even mildly overweight people, but if you are on CPAP therapy for Obstructive Sleep Apnea you will need to insure you are able to power your CPAP machine. There are lots of threads here about the subject, but to boil it down to soup and nuts, here are the basics of that.
    #1. Use campsite provided power, but insure your CPAP is protected by a surge suppressor and a GFCI in case they have a dirty or miswired electrical setup. Do this with ANY sensitive electronics.
    #2. Use the PUs house battery, possibly reinforce the battery bank by adding additional capacity, and use a travel CPAP with a 12v DC power cord. Keep the humidifier off. I use the Z2 as it doesn't require a humdifier or heated tubing. You will need to monitor your battery usage and recharge via wall power or generator at a certain point. I don't let my battery pack get under 12v, it typically starts at 12.9v.
    #3. Use a custom battery setup. This can be costly, but can allow you to tent camp as well, or otherwise not be tied to the camper. This requires a Deep Cycle RV type battery, a battery box, and a custom made harness including battery monitor, 12v power ports, and some means of charging. There are automotive style battery chargers that can be bolted to the battery clamps to make the attachment more or less permanent so you only have to plug it into a wall or generator..
    #4. In a pinch, I have found high capacity computer UPS (uninterruptable power supply) can get you by for one night on a low draw CPAP. I have a CyberPower Back UPS 1500 that worked for me, but only got me one night so I looked elsewhere...

    The main thread I was talking about previously is the one about Camping Products for the Heavier among us. https://www.popupportal.com/threads/camping-products-for-the-heavier-among-us.125085/

    I also have one about Tent Sleep systems for overweight / obese people.
    https://www.popupportal.com/threads/tent-sleep-system-for-overweight-obese-people.125065/

    If there are any solutions you have come up with I encourage you to contribute those ideas to the discussion. As we share, we learn, as we learn, we all improve.

    PLEASE, if you take anything away from my post it is to be encouragement to get out there and go camping. The benefits are beyond measure.

    If you and your husband camp in the Texas area, and see a big blonde guy with a red headed wife, in a Gold Malibu and Dark Rest tent, that is likely me. I would love for you to say hi...
     
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  15. hhfamily

    hhfamily New Member

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    I do not take anything you said as offensive AT ALL <3 I appreciate you being direct and I SOOOOO appreciate all of your help! I have learned a lot and hope to be able to contribute as I learn :)
     
  16. dcaptd

    dcaptd Member

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    I had a family member that used an electric chair (para- no lower movement below sternum,400-450lbs varied). We had modified \ DIYed a pop up that he could use till he passed. The trick used was to cut out the "tub"/box outside wall next to the dinette down to the height of the dinette in the bed mode. The cut piece and the opening were framed with C channel aluminum and guide pins\slide locks installed to make it a moveable section with handles. The canvas above the panel had a zipper added on each side so it could be rolled up above the opening. The table was set aside and a new one cut out of heavy plywood and reinforced with L channel. The routine was to scout location for good placement ,park and set up. when he wanted to go in\out open mods up and he could slide into camper using a standard slide board. Once in he would sleep on dinette but once he was in the dinette could be set up for use until he wanted to go to bed. Worked quite well and they took grandkids with them often. Just remember a cover\tarp for wheel chair \charger for at night if you don't use awning.
    We worked on other mods for disabled friends from his group also from using piping/conduit for removable handrails to an all aluminum cargo trailer with a murphy bed set up and a bathroom, kitchenette.
    With little imagination, tools and brute force you can accomplish a lot to make it easier and more enjoyable.
     
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  17. dbhost

    dbhost Well-Known Member

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    Thanks. And I am grateful beyond words that you understand the heart intended. Many people take any kind of discussion of anything that differs from what some consider perfection as insulting. I know the struggle. I live the struggle. As Jeff Foxworthy once said that people really shouldn't talk about rednecks unless they are one, and, well in the case of weight issues and at least some of the associated health problems, I are one...
     
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  18. hhfamily

    hhfamily New Member

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    Took the new pop up out last weekend for a 1 night test run just to see how it would go. I LOVE it! I ended up deciding I was going to be scared of the bunk ends no matter how much we support them so we decided to turn the dinette into a permanent daybed for me and it worked out GREAT! It is well supported - I could jump on it! That gives me an inner spring twin mattress to sleep on instead of a foam mattress which means I can be a lot more comfortable too. While the step was sturdy and I had no fear of it breaking under my weight, it is so high that I could not get in and out without a lot of help and pain so this weekend my husband is building me custom steps to fix that issue. I definitely can not get through the doorway with the door up, but luckily the door is SUPER easy to remove and replace so we just lift it up when I need to go through it, and then close it back up. Not this coming weekend, but the following, we are going for our first real weekend camping trip in it and I am so excited! The weekend after that, the updating/decorating begins!
     
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  19. PointyCamper

    PointyCamper Active Member

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    Very cool thread. My mobility is going down hill due to increasing arthritis and I got an electric 2wheel scooter. The cover may also work for other electrics that cannot fit in the camper- I got a Grill Cover (when our Kmart closed) and it works well to keep weather off the scooter. Too heavy to blow away and has a cord thru the bottom that you can draw in. Has kept heavy rain and dew off, can still run charger, and might fit wheelchairs or others. Hth
     
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  20. hhfamily

    hhfamily New Member

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    This is the one I got :) https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08PBW9216/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o07_s01?ie=UTF8&psc=1
     
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