Where to start?

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Jul 20, 2005
I am new to this forum and find the numerous options, relative to type of RV, intimidating.  Where should a person start when beginning the investigation process?  My wife and I have never owned a recreational vehicle, but we have traveled lots.  To give you an idea of what I am talking about, I like the idea of towing a small pop-up but I don't like the idea of setting it up nightly.  Also, I like the idea of having AC, but do pop-up tent trailers allow for this option?  So, how long does it take to set up a pop-up trailer?


PS.  If these questions aren't the right questions to start asking, please let me know.

Welcome. Those questions are absolutely the right ones to be asking.

First, let me ask if you've looked at our illustrated explanation of RV types - it's accessible by clicking on the Library link in the toolbar above, then clicking on Newcomers need to know and selecting RV Types. This file doesn't get down to the specifics of air conditionning, but is a starting point for folks who still trying to figure out which type of RV to buy.

Some of our members are much more familiar with popups than I, so I'll let them jump in to respond to your specific question.
Welcome to the RV Forum.  We are glad you found us.  Please join in the ongoing discussions, start new discussions, or ask any questions you might have relating to the RVing lifestyle. 

Tom has given some very good suggestions on getting started.  As for airconditioners on pop ups I have seen a few of them on popups in Az.  I'm sure some of the members that are familiar with popups will be jumping in with some more information.
There certainly are pop-ups available with optional a/c. You should also look at a type called a Hi-Lo, named after the brand that orginated it. It is a hard sided/roofed trailer that collapses low for driving but eracts easily for camping.  The Trailmanor is an excellent example of this type - see http://trailmanor.com/

Every Rv has a certain amount of set-up upon arrival at a campsite, but motorhomes have the least. If set-up, ease of parking, etc. or major concerns, you should consider a motorhome. They are available in many sizes and price ranges and good used rigs are readily available.

That Trailmanor's pretty impressive; really stretches the definition 'trailer' to its' limits! Not exactly what you would call entry level, but certainly something you could live with (in) for a long time without getting cabin fever ;D

A friend recently brought his trailer here and I took some pic's of it. If I can find them, I'll post. Looks like an A-frame, hard sides, real windows, and basic amenities like cooktop, toilet, etc. Didn't see him put it up, but watched as he took it down - about 5 minutes. Unhooked a few twist-type clamps and the sides folded down one on top of the other.
I love that Trailmanor!  I will also check out the Hi-Lo as mentioned by RV Roamer.  I wonder if they offer an optional way of raising the roof/top if somehow power is lost?  It doesn't look too bad for towing, anyone have thoughts on that?  Also, I wonder what the 27 foot one with the queen size bed goes for ... oooooooooeeee I'm getting excited.  But, hopefully my brain will take over and I will continue to investigate all the possibilities.  Thanks for posting that website, very cool!

Almost all pop-ups down south here have AC's on them.  We couldn't live without them.  As for some other ideas, a lot depends on your budget and what you're going to be towing with.  It almost sounds like you might be watching your budget somewhat, ergo the thinking on the pop-up.  That kinda goes for the tow vehicle also.  If you're driving a mini-van, a pop-up may be about all you can handle.  The Trailmanors are great also, but they are pretty expensive.  If you have the vehicle to tow, you may want to look into the ultra lightweight trailers.  From about 17 up to 29 feet, most of them weigh in dry at under 5000 pounds.  I have a 26' Skamper (now Kodiak by Thor) that weighs 4350 pounds dry.  And it has a slide to boot.  It didn't pull too well with my Montero, but pulls great with my F-250 with the 5.4L engine.  It takes me about 10 - 15 minutes to set it all up at the campground, and I have all the comforts of home, if not as much room.  And this trailer costs about $16,000 new.  So like stated above, sit down and think about what you really want, what you have to work with, and how much you want to spend on it all.  This will give you a lot more to think about, but you'll be thinking a lot smarter about it.
gw said:
Where should a person start when beginning the investigation process? 
The Internet and this forum are great starts.  I would say "dont rush to a decision".  We were looking at a pop-up (tent trailer) and so I can answer some of these questions.  Ultimately to get what we wanted we would have been buying a tent trailer new to the tune of over $10,000.  I just couldn't see spending that kind of money and really wanted an RV, but didn't think I could afford one.  I was amazed to find lots of low mileage good condition Class C RV's in the $18,000 to $30,000 range.  Most RV loans can go 15 years instead of the 7 that a pop-up would have been.  So really we could end up with a similar monthly payment.  We are LOVING our class "C", but kicking ourselves that we didn't shop more and splurge for a class "A". :)

This Forum is full of great information, but is probably more Motorhome biased.  I would look to get feedback from pop-up owners as well.

gw said:
Also, I like the idea of having AC, but do pop-up tent trailers allow for this option? 
Yes.  Most of them also offer toilets, stoves and even showers.  Part of the problem is most banks will not loan money for an "RV" unless it is "self-contained".  Because of this many manufacturers are making pop-ups have all the goodies to be self-contained.

gw said:
So, how long does it take to set up a pop-up trailer?
Pretty similar in time as to most RV's.  Actually "popping up" the trailer is probably a 5 to 10 minute job at most. 

Some of the things to consider.  If you go with a pop-up you by default have a vehicle to drive around once you setup your pop-up.  In an RV to get this you must have a tow vehicle.  Gas mileage probably is better in a normal vehicle pulling a pop-up than in an RV.  Now that said if you have "toys" (boats, quads, etc) you can't really pull both the pop-up and the toys.  With an RV you can pull the toys.  You can "ride" in an RV during travel, you can't in a pop-up.  Certainly the initial cost of a pop-up is  quite a bit less than an RV.

For us being in our van with the kids for 3,000 miles pulling a pop-up just didn't sound fun.  Having the kids 30' behind us in an RV with a door shut.  Sounded much more agreeable. :)  Good luck on your search regardless of what you decide to vacation in.
Thank you all! :D  I appreciate your feedback and excellent advice.

The RV Industry Association (RVIA) has  a website that offers info for those considering an Rv for the first time. It's purely an advertisement for the glories of Rving, but you may glean an idea or two from it.  See http://www.gorving.com/

You can get an idea of the many, many designs available by taking a look at Fleetwood Rvs web site. Fleetwood is a major manufacturer and offers numerous models of all type. Take a look at some of their Folding trailers (pop-ups) and Towable Trailers - and maybe gaze on a Class A or two as well!  I'm not suggesting Fleetwood is the always best choice for an RV, but they do offer a tremendous variety, including the highly regarded Coleman line of pop-ups.

Karl may have been referring to a trailer called the A-liner, an A-frame pop-up. See http://www.aliner.com/

And before you get too wrapped up in folding trailers, consider a used small motorhome, e.g. a Class C in the 20-24 foot range. Lots of them available, often  at very attractive prices.  You can see examples of new ones on the above FleetwoodRv site under mini-motorhomes, but used ones are everywhere.

I strongly recommend starting with a used Rv to "get your feet wet".  That way you avoid the huge first year depreciation on a new one while you learn your new lifestyle and determine what you need in your  "perfect RV".
This Forum is full of great information, but is probably more Motorhome biased.

That ignores the many forum members who have had popups at some point and later moved on to a motorhome or other type of RV. No intended bias, but reality is folks migrate to something that better fits their needs &/or budget at that point in time. When our kids were, well, kids we couldn't afford a popup and settled for a large tent. We couldn't afford a fold-up table and took along the drop-leaf table from the house. Today I couldn't get my wife to go tent camping and I prefer the comfort of our RV.
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