TD/TT vs. Popup. Who has experience with both?

Discussion in 'Camper Pre-Purchase Questions' started by aws140, Feb 19, 2013.

  1. aws140

    aws140 New Member

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    I have been doing a lot of research trying to determine what is the best route for me to go. Me being me, I would normally continue to lurk around and do my research, but due to needing to expedite the process I am turning to the expertise of you guys and gals!

    There is a thread in the "Let me tell you about my trip" section giving about my plans, but I guess I better list it here as well. Long story short, I am planning to drive from Atlanta, GA to Fairbanks, AK this Summer. For more details, see my other thread: http://www.popupportal.com/index.php?topic=67809.msg601266;boardseen#new

    My biggest obstacle at this time is trying to determine the best route to go for a camper. I have zero experience with campers. I generally just use my tent or hammock(when I don't have the dogs). Since this will be for a longer time frame, and I may need a place for the doggies to hangout for a short time, I have been researching TD/TT and popups, and they seem to be the best route. I just see the pros and cons of both and can't decide which would better suit my needs. I don't want to spend a lot of time in the camper, but if it's raining like crazy I want to be able to cook. Other than that, I am rather minimalist and easy to please.

    Here's some preliminary information.

    TV:

    1997 Toyota Rav4 AWD
    - Will be installing trans cooler and maybe PS cooler(if I deem it necessary)


    Objectives for camper:

    - Make the drive from GA to AK
    - Be used on the weekends for local short trips to skydive so the doggies can hangout while I jump

    Characteristics I want in camper:

    - Be as light as possible. I'd prefer sub 1,000 lbs, or close to it.
    - Trailer brakes are a must
    - If I could fit it with the same size tires as my Rav4 uses that would be ideal(I understand the limitations of this)

    How I currently stand:

    POPUP
    Pros:
    - Can be very light(Coleman Colorado/Taos/Cobalt/Rebel/Concord, Fleetwood Neon, Jayco J-series, etc.)
    - Can potentially be found much cheaper
    - More standing/cooking room and room in general(even though I'd prefer a single sided pop out)
    - Can easily cook in rain
    - Less customized = easier to find parts
    - Great community of people
    - More aerodynamic = less drag = better gas mileage
    - Lower center of gravity = easier towing (especially in wind) and better visibility while towing

    Cons:
    - Have to pop up to use(this isn't ideal if I need to use it in a less than optimal location)
    - Inboard wheels limit ability to run Rav4 size tires
    - Canvas replacement, which older campers seem to need, looks to be very expensive, eliminating cheaper factor
    - Most I have seen need decent amount of work: wood, tarp, etc.
    - Most need upgrade to trailer brakes

    TD/TT
    Pros:
    - Can use without having to pop up
    - Outboard wheels allows more sizing options
    - Rigid sides = no canvas replacement
    - Can be light if built accordingly

    Cons:
    - Harder to find
    - Generally more expensive on initial price(maybe cheaper in long run)
    - Lots still need upgrades for trailer brakes
    - Most have outside galley, making cooking in rain harder and reducing interior space
    - Potentially less aerodynamic = worst MPG
    - Less visibility when towing = harder to toe
    - Higher center of gravity = harder to toe

    I am sure I am forgetting something, but I hope you get the idea. I openly welcome constructive criticism, so bring on the knowledge.

    Regardless of my choice, this community seems full of great people, so I will still keep you informed on my adventures.
     
  2. Fire Captain Jim

    Fire Captain Jim New Member

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    I have had both, yes pro and cons to both! But keep in mind, TT are harder to keep clean when in storage unless you cover, Pop up is not being allowed to use to camp in Yellowstone due Cougars and Bears can get you! Yes, pop ups easier to tow, but you have a little more room to Throw and go in a TT. I know this doesn't help your decision much. For the long range camping for me, I enjoy my Pop Up over TT mainly because of towing- wind drag and being able to see better. The weights for me are about the same. With a pup, it's more like camping or moving up from a tent.
     
  3. aws140

    aws140 New Member

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    Just in case there is ambiguity:

    TD = tear drop
    TT = travel trailer

    Fire Captain Jim - That's good information. Thank you for sharing.
     
  4. fmbhappycamper

    fmbhappycamper PuP Power

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    TD=too small.TT=too big, Pup=just right [8D]
     
  5. twstdpear

    twstdpear Party like it's 2012!

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    I couldn't figure out what TD meant at first, but I was thinking a Teardrop would likely be the best overall choice as I was reading through the post.

    I think most of the cons you listed for the TD/TT only apply to TTs (MPG, visibility, center of gravity). I think most/all TDs will be shorter than your TV, probably similar in all-around towing as a popup.

    One negative of a TD would be that most don't have A/C from what I've seen. If you're planning on using it in the summer in most parts of the country and plan on being where you have electric, that could be a big negative. Another is price. TDs seem to be incredibly expensive for the size.

    A couple of particular brand/models you may want to take a look at if you haven't already:

    Livin' Lite (http://livinlite.com/ - both lightweight popups and TTs)
    T@B (http://tab-rv.com/ - small TTs)
    R-pod (http://www.forestriverinc.com/rpod/ - similar to T@B)

    Depending on your route and time of year, I'd worry about any soft-sided trailer for your cross-continent trip due to bears.
     
  6. starcrafty

    starcrafty Guest

    One thing I didn't see listed in your pros and cons, unless I missed it. You mentioned leaving your doggies in the camper while you skydive. If your doggies are barkers, and you're camping around other people, a hardsided camper would cause them not to be heard, while a pop up would allow them to sound like they are outside. You can guess how I know this. [:!] But if your dogs are well behaved and don't bark while you are away, it's a moot point.
    Good luck, and good trip!
     
  7. coverus

    coverus castra magna est

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    Did the Alaska Highway and Alaska in a tent camper 2 years ago. No problem with wildlife, insects, or bad weather. The worst weather we hit was from Haines Junction, Yukon to Tok, AK. Just make sure that the canvas is fully waterproofed and all seams are sealed if needed. It was not bad setting up and taking down the tent camper almost every day. You get into the routine and it becomes second nature.

    Do not plan on cooking or storing food inside the tent camper as that can attract bears which would want to investigate. The dogs might scare it off or they can become food for the bear depending on its attitude. All of the Yukon State campgrounds that we stayed at provided a sheltered cooking area (barrel stove and free firewood) outside the campground for you to cook.

    Gas prices going through Canada are more expensive than in the US (and sold by the liter not gallon) so keep that in mind.

    If driving all the way to Alaska then head to Dawson Creek, British Columbia and drive the Alaska Highway to Fairbanks, AK. The road will be gravel in areas they are repairing and mostly gravel from Destruction Bay, Yukon to the Alaska Border. Bring a decent size toolkit and some spare parts to make emergency repairs. Also do not plan on driving at night due to the wildlife that can be crossing the roads.

    As for the Yellowstone ban on popups I believe it was mostly the Forest Service Campgrounds near Cooke City. They were having some grizzly bear problems there (dragged a person out of a tent and killed them) and thought it would be safe to only allow camping in hard sided trailers. But that was only for one summer. You can always call ahead to see if the ban is still in effect.

    I think you and your friends will have a great time. Just take your time driving so that you can explore many different areas. There may be few roads up there but they will take you to many adventures.

    Oh yes get a Milepost as it has all the details about things along the Alaska Highway and highways in Alaska.
     
  8. Unstable_Tripod

    Unstable_Tripod Well, there's your problem!

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    The comment made by Fire Captain Jim:
    is not true. Ground tents and pop ups are allowed in all Yellowstone NP campgrounds except Fishing Bridge RV park. This false rumor continues to pop up (pun intended) year after year.

    As for which kind of trailer might be good, the LivinLite Quicksilver popup trailers might work for you. The 6.0 model has a dry base weight of just over 600 pounds. Check it out HERE.

    You mentioned cooking inside in your list of pros and cons for various trailers. In bear country you should never store food or cooking equipment in a soft-sided trailer and you should never cook or eat in one either. See the Bear Safe rules for Yellowstone and other bear country parks. This is doubly important in the bear-rich environments of northern BC, the Yukon and Alaska.

    Good luck!
     
  9. Fire Captain Jim

    Fire Captain Jim New Member

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    I am sorry about the information on no pop ups allowed to camp in Yellowstone. I close friend of mine who goes to Yellowstone every year is the one who told me this information. I guess he/I is wrong. [:(]
     
  10. Wizfisher

    Wizfisher New Member

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    This is the biggest obstacle if looking at anything other than a pop up or a teardrop.
    I looked at the pages posted above for r-pods, livin' lite, and whatever the other one was and the lightest dry weight in any of them was about 1500 pounds.

    Even staying at 1000 pounds or so limits you to a pop up with an 8 (maybe 10) foot box with no slide.
    If you found a pop up with a dry weight of 850 pounds, add a/c, awning, propane, battery, etc. the weight can easily be over 1000 pounds before you add your things.
    Also plan on adding quite a bit for such a long trip.

    Trip sounds awesome.
    Hope you find something that works and have a great trip.
     
  11. rabird

    rabird Howdy!

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    Does your rav4 have a limited frontal area as part of the tow rating?
     
  12. Dale Boudreaux

    Dale Boudreaux New Member

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    I am not sure of the weight, but the A frame's may be a way to go as well. Hard sided for bear county, but hauls like a pop up.
     
  13. Unstable_Tripod

    Unstable_Tripod Well, there's your problem!

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    Chalet's smallest A-frame is the LTW which has a base dry weight of 990 pounds. The Aliner series has a Scout at 1,174 pounds base dry weight and an Alite at 610 pounds base dry weight. The Alite is incredibly small and has few amenities. Among these it looks like the Chalet LTW would be closest to the OP's preference but it wouldn't take much in the way of propane, battery and cargo to get close to 1,500 pounds.
     
  14. aws140

    aws140 New Member

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    Thanks everyone for the input. You have already provided good information. I guess I should have stated in my initial post, but my budget is limited. I am trying to stay around $1000, but if something just blows me out of the water then I may go to $2000. I feel this is more than adequate to find what I need.

    In theory, A frames are a good option, but they're out of my budget and I have read issues with floor/wood rot with some manufacturers.

    At this time I am considering these:

    Popup
    - 8' box (maybe 10', but not likely)
    - a single sided pop (should provide adequate space, but am not opposed to double sided)
    - mostly older models seem to fit these objectives
    - should be able to purchase for sub $1000, easily I would hope

    TD
    - smaller style possibly coupled with exterior tent for rain/bugs
    - should be able to get for sub $1500

    SUV tent
    - If feasible, would be extremely more efficient for MPG, but of course raises other issues
    - I just came across this idea, so I still need to do a lot more research and preemptive thinking on this one
    - Probably won't happen. I am just immensely drawn to increased efficiency

    Bupkis - I have not seen that anywhere in the tow information. Being familiar with aerodynamics, I don't think it would be an issue unless: it was taller or wider than my Rav4, had a flat front face, and/or had a long enough tounge for the trailer to be outside the low pressure region created by my Rav4. I think about the aerodynamics a lot. To be honest, since a TD is shaped like an airfoil even the best TD designs can be substantially improved in that area, but maybe not easily.

    Unstable_Tripod - You are right. Since your post I have altered my thinking and am trying to research cooking/food storage solutions now. I like to eat very healthy and cook all of my own meals, so this is an important issue for me. That being said, I plan to be lax on my dietary habits during the trip because that's a part of experiencing the culture.

    coverus - Thanks for the info. What time of the year did you go? Where did you stay in AK? What did you do about cooking when the cooking areas weren't provided? Where did you store your food?
     

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