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I want to buy a truck and a camper.

That_GuyThat_Guy I don't wanna be that guyRegistered User regular
This past year in lockdown has actually been pretty good to me. I stayed working full time and have been saving a ton of money by not going out. I was saving up last year to take a vacation. That never happened so I just kept saving. I have nearly $20k saved up. I decided I want to spent most of it to buy a truck or SUV and a nice camper. I want to take some time off work to drive across the country. Initially I want to say at RV parks until I get comfortable enough with the setup that I can go off-grid for a while. I'm planning on taking my gaming rig with me so I'll need a generator. I did some napkin math and want to get something in the 5-6kw range so it can run at less than 45% duty cycle. I really want to get StarLink before I actually take my trip so I can still have good internet on the go.

I have my eye on a few different tow vehicles and campers but these are at the top of my list.

https://charlotte.craigslist.org/cto/d/charlotte-08-ford-explorer-eddie-bauer/7303360526.html
https://chattanooga.craigslist.org/rvd/d/graysville-2018-kz-sportsmen-classic/7302128683.html

I figure I can prob get them to knock at least 1k off the price of each. Hopefully more.

So I'm looking for advice from anyone who's done this. Anecdotes, advice, tips, and further questions are all welcome.

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Posts

  • SatanIsMyMotorSatanIsMyMotor Fuck Warren Ellis Registered User regular
    I can tell you from experience that towing a trailer that size with a truck that small will make for some white-knuckle driving if you are in an area that deals with any sort of heavy winds. You can absolutely do it but, given poor weather conditions, it will be interesting.

    zepherinmRahmaniComahawk
  • mRahmanimRahmani DetroitRegistered User regular
    My family has done this for about a decade, first with a pop up trailer and then one more similar to the one you have linked. How far are you planning on traveling, and generally where? Towing in the Rockies is a totally different animal than towing across the Midwest.

    zepherinBouwsTComahawk
  • zepherinzepherin Registered User regular
    I know a few folks who took an RV cross country, and the ones who didn’t have a bonafide truck wished they did.

    SatanIsMyMotorbowenComahawk
  • mRahmanimRahmani DetroitRegistered User regular
    Looking up the trailer specs, it has a GVWR of 3500 lbs and includes electric brakes. That's right at the limit of the rated tow capacity of the Explorer you picked out, and Explorers of that era have a questionable reputation for on-road stability. You certainly don't need a 2500/3500 heavy duty pickup, but I would recommend something with at least a 5000-6000lb tow capacity. That becomes even more important if you'll be towing on steep grades in the mountains - you really want to have the power and cooling capacity to drag that trailer up the mountain (and remember that engine power drops noticeably with altitude), and more importantly, you want enough braking capability to keep it under control on the way back down. Tahoe/Yukon/Escalade and Expedition/Navigator are the obvious choices, though maybe overkill if it's just you traveling. Toyota 4Runner is a good smaller option, but will likely struggle a bit at high altitudes. Ironically, it's very possible for bigger trucks with more powerful engines to have better sustained fuel economy when towing - you may want to do some research around a few forums and see what kind of towing MPG people are seeing with your potential picks.

    Some general guidelines worth considering:

    - NEVER ride your brakes going down a hill. You will quickly overheat the pads and fluid, and can rapidly lose all braking power. Slow down when approaching downhill grades and shift the transmission to a lower gear. Depending on your vehicle, this might be done by hitting an "overdrive off" button on the shifter, or you may be able to manually select gears. Experiment with this before you have a trailer behind you so you know how to do it.
    - Towing will primarily stress the vehicle's transmission and brakes, so make sure these systems are up to snuff. Check your pads and rotors before going on a trip; if the vehicle is more than 5 years old, I would strongly recommend flushing the brake system with fresh fluid. Brake fluid absorbs water over time, reducing its effectiveness. Many vehicles with a tow package include a factory transmission cooler - if yours doesn't, I would recommend having a shop install one.
    - Trailer wheel bearings should be regreased at least every 10,000 miles. If you're buying used and don't know when this service was done last, make sure it gets taken care of before going on a trip.
    - The trailer has a bathroom, but I don't really recommend using it unless you really need to. They are not fun to empty. Shower/sink water ("gray water") is fine.

    I'm sure I'll come up with more stuff as I think of it.

    That_GuyXaquinSmurphBouwsTComahawkElvenshaeMichaelLC
  • That_GuyThat_Guy I don't wanna be that guy Registered User regular
    Thanks for the input so far, guys. I went back through my browsing history last night and it turns out I was looking at the V8 variant's towing cap, not the v6. My bad. I would definitely like to find something that can comfortably tow 5000 lbs.

    I was hoping to make extensive use of the back water tank in my travels. When staying at a campground I was hoping to get a sewer hookup. I'll do some research into handling the black water tank.

    steam_sig.png
  • XaquinXaquin Right behind you!Registered User regular
    I wonder if it would make more sense to buy an RV and tow a small car instead?

    (I have no clue at all)

  • That_GuyThat_Guy I don't wanna be that guy Registered User regular
    Xaquin wrote: »
    I wonder if it would make more sense to buy an RV and tow a small car instead?

    (I have no clue at all)

    For some reason, when a factory adds a camper to a truck chassis, it costs a LOT more. Motorhomes similar to what I want start at around 25k for 20+ year old models and go up from there. In the price range I'm looking at, a camper trailer and a truck will be about half the price of a motorhome.

    steam_sig.png
    Xaquinwebguy20
  • DaenrisDaenris Registered User regular
    That_Guy wrote: »
    I really want to get StarLink before I actually take my trip so I can still have good internet on the go.

    I think this part at least won't be viable right away. At least right now Starlink is locking people's service to the cells that contain their service address, so they aren't useable moving around to different locations outside that. They're working on hardware and regulatory approval for true mobile use I believe, but that could take awhile.

    webguy20
  • SmurphSmurph Registered User regular
    Xaquin wrote: »
    I wonder if it would make more sense to buy an RV and tow a small car instead?

    (I have no clue at all)

    Every thread like this I've seen around the internet has tried to steer people away from RVs. A lot of reasons being:
    1. RV manufacturers don't have a stellar reputation when it comes to quality
    2. More difficult and expensive to get a shop to do work on one versus a regular truck
    3. If something goes very wrong with either the motor or the structure itself, they are both ruined.
    4. Because of #2 and #3, buying used ones is risky because people don't take great care of them
    5. A lot of the time people still have to flat-tow a car behind the RV for grocery trips and stuff

    Basically RVs seem like a rich person's game

    XaquinbowenBouwsT
  • BouwsTBouwsT Wanna come to a super soft birthday party? Registered User regular
    I want to second all of mRahmani's advice re: the vehicle/trailer towing tips, but also say that dealing with black water is really not all that bad in my experience. Using the black water when you are also using the grey is the way to go, because when you get to a sani-stop to drain both tanks, you do the black first, and then rinse with the grey water. Yes, you're absolutely dealing with sewage, but if you do it correctly and rinse thoroughly with your semi-clean grey water tank, you shouldn't be touching sewage at all. After you've closed the valves, you should just have a wet but relatively clean hose to spray and re-stow. Now, if you're just travelling along the highway and using your black water tank, but never taking a shower, washing dishes, etc, you're not going to have anything to rinse the sewage pipe with, and your chances of touching something yucky increases exponentially.

    This camp-across-America trip sounds like a lot of fun, looking forward to hearing more as this plan evolves!

    Between you and me, Peggy, I smoked this Juul and it did UNTHINKABLE things to my mind and body...
    That_Guy
  • That_GuyThat_Guy I don't wanna be that guy Registered User regular
    BouwsT wrote: »
    I want to second all of mRahmani's advice re: the vehicle/trailer towing tips, but also say that dealing with black water is really not all that bad in my experience. Using the black water when you are also using the grey is the way to go, because when you get to a sani-stop to drain both tanks, you do the black first, and then rinse with the grey water. Yes, you're absolutely dealing with sewage, but if you do it correctly and rinse thoroughly with your semi-clean grey water tank, you shouldn't be touching sewage at all. After you've closed the valves, you should just have a wet but relatively clean hose to spray and re-stow. Now, if you're just travelling along the highway and using your black water tank, but never taking a shower, washing dishes, etc, you're not going to have anything to rinse the sewage pipe with, and your chances of touching something yucky increases exponentially.

    This camp-across-America trip sounds like a lot of fun, looking forward to hearing more as this plan evolves!

    I looked up the owners manual for several different Jayco trailers and watched a bunch of videos on the dumping the black water tank. All my research agrees with you. I ran across some really good advice like, even if you have a sewer hookup, keep the valves closed until the tanks are at least half full so there's plenty of liquid backpressure to push all the solids out. I also read about additive products that you can add to both tanks to keep the smell down and to keep everything clean during storage.

    steam_sig.png
  • webguy20webguy20 I spend too much time on the Internet Registered User regular
    edited April 9
    Daenris wrote: »
    That_Guy wrote: »
    I really want to get StarLink before I actually take my trip so I can still have good internet on the go.

    I think this part at least won't be viable right away. At least right now Starlink is locking people's service to the cells that contain their service address, so they aren't useable moving around to different locations outside that. They're working on hardware and regulatory approval for true mobile use I believe, but that could take awhile.

    Yea, for the best mobile internet you are going to want to get a Cellular hotspot (or set your phone up for it) and then also leach off of RV Park Wifi. As a new Starlink user, it aint up to twitch gaming yet. Still lots little microdrops.

    webguy20 on
    Steam ID: Webguy20
    Origin ID: Discgolfer27
    Untappd ID: Discgolfer1981
  • That_GuyThat_Guy I don't wanna be that guy Registered User regular
    webguy20 wrote: »
    Daenris wrote: »
    That_Guy wrote: »
    I really want to get StarLink before I actually take my trip so I can still have good internet on the go.

    I think this part at least won't be viable right away. At least right now Starlink is locking people's service to the cells that contain their service address, so they aren't useable moving around to different locations outside that. They're working on hardware and regulatory approval for true mobile use I believe, but that could take awhile.

    Yea, for the best mobile internet you are going to want to get a Cellular hotspot (or set your phone up for it) and then also leach off of RV Park Wifi. As a new Starlink user, it aint up to twitch gaming yet. Still lots little microdrops.

    I don't really play online games anymore. I mostly want it for streaming and remote working. I've read accounts of people who are taking Starlink on the road with them. No one indicated it was geofenced to a certain area.

    steam_sig.png
  • webguy20webguy20 I spend too much time on the Internet Registered User regular
    That_Guy wrote: »
    webguy20 wrote: »
    Daenris wrote: »
    That_Guy wrote: »
    I really want to get StarLink before I actually take my trip so I can still have good internet on the go.

    I think this part at least won't be viable right away. At least right now Starlink is locking people's service to the cells that contain their service address, so they aren't useable moving around to different locations outside that. They're working on hardware and regulatory approval for true mobile use I believe, but that could take awhile.

    Yea, for the best mobile internet you are going to want to get a Cellular hotspot (or set your phone up for it) and then also leach off of RV Park Wifi. As a new Starlink user, it aint up to twitch gaming yet. Still lots little microdrops.

    I don't really play online games anymore. I mostly want it for streaming and remote working. I've read accounts of people who are taking Starlink on the road with them. No one indicated it was geofenced to a certain area.

    Ive seen a couple redditors say that they got locked out. Its currently supposed to be "stationary". They don't have FCC approval for mobile yet.

    Steam ID: Webguy20
    Origin ID: Discgolfer27
    Untappd ID: Discgolfer1981
  • RadiationRadiation Registered User regular
    My buddy did this with his family for like a year and a half? They home schooled the kids and went wherever. I can ask him any notes to pass on, but I think this thread has some good info so far.
    He did go in for the cell based hotspot. Verizon I think was the way to go, because they have a larger footprint for cell tower coverage. Though that was like 4 years ago, so who knows what things are like now.

    PSN: jfrofl
  • That_GuyThat_Guy I don't wanna be that guy Registered User regular
    As of Thursday, it will have been a full 14 days since my 2nd COVID shot. I'm going to start my search in earnest now. First step is to find a truck. I've got my searches set to a 250 mile radius around my location. After browsing for the last couple of weeks I feel like I will be able to find the perfect tow vehicle. I'm looking for 4x4 V8 with tow package around a 2008 model year for ~$5000. I feel like this is very attainable. I've seen a few pop up already but I'm waiting for the perfect truck to come across my radar. I figure I'll probably have found the right truck in a week or 2. Than I'll be locating a camper. I expect I'll be able to find a gently used 2015 or newer camper for ~$13k.

    Once I actually have everything I'm going to install some upgrades. My first upgrade will a a 3-5 camera monitoring system for the entire perimeter of the truck and camper. I'm planning on getting a VESA mount for a 24in monitor the truck so I can keep a live view of the cameras up at all times. Next I want to get ~6kw generator for off-grid excursions. FInally I will want to rejigger the seating a little so I can get my dual 27in arm mounted monitors and gaming rig mounted somewhere. I'm definitely going to need straps and brackets to hold everything in place. I'm going to need a GPU retention bracket too. I am debating getting one of those portable countertop dishwashers too.

    I'm planning on doing a trial run when I have everything. Maybe in a month or 2. I'll take a week off from work and see how far I can get before I have to turn around. I'll be sticking to RV campgrounds at first but hope to go off grid at least 1 night during my trial run. Once I'm happy with my setup, I plan on taking a longer trip sometime in September when my vacation time renews.

    steam_sig.png
    Xaquin
  • mRahmanimRahmani DetroitRegistered User regular
    What’s the monitoring system for? I’ve never heard of something like that before.

    webguy20BouwsT
  • BouwsTBouwsT Wanna come to a super soft birthday party? Registered User regular
    mRahmani wrote: »
    What’s the monitoring system for? I’ve never heard of something like that before.

    I mean, you could use it to watch to make sure there isn't a tire failing while you're driving, or that something hasn't fallen off the back, but this seems to be such a niche use case that I wouldn't spend the money on that many cameras, screens, mounts, etc... I guess you might use it for watching your corners while parking as well maybe? For how infrequently you'll run into issues I'd keep that budget for something else...

    Between you and me, Peggy, I smoked this Juul and it did UNTHINKABLE things to my mind and body...
    webguy20
  • That_GuyThat_Guy I don't wanna be that guy Registered User regular
    BouwsT wrote: »
    mRahmani wrote: »
    What’s the monitoring system for? I’ve never heard of something like that before.

    I mean, you could use it to watch to make sure there isn't a tire failing while you're driving, or that something hasn't fallen off the back, but this seems to be such a niche use case that I wouldn't spend the money on that many cameras, screens, mounts, etc... I guess you might use it for watching your corners while parking as well maybe? For how infrequently you'll run into issues I'd keep that budget for something else...

    I want to be able to see in any direction all around my truck and camper, especially when I have to back up. I have only ever driven small hatchback cars my entire life. Every time I am forced to drive a moving truck I wish I had better visibility all around me. For the last year I have driven a Bolt EV that has surround cameras and absolutely LOVE it. If I can see forward and backward along the passenger side of my rig, I will feel MUCH more comfortable. Plus for parking and backing up, I want to be able to see the hitch and what is behind me. The last thing I want is to end up at a bad angle in the middle of nowhere and break something.

    I can do a monitoring system on the cheap too. If I have to, I will get some cheap POE Axis dome cameras off ebay. I can get a lot of 4 for less than $100. At work I can scrounge up a PC and a small POE switch. I'm already planning on adding a beefy inverter if the truck doesn't have one already. I could get away with a 4+ camera system for less than $200 if I go totally DIY. That's a worthy investment if I ever saw one.

    steam_sig.png
  • mRahmanimRahmani DetroitRegistered User regular
    I mean, a standard backup camera is useful for lining up the hitch, but beyond that I think relying on cameras isn’t really a great idea. Knowing the size and placement of your vehicle is critical. Cameras mess with your depth perception, and good tow mirrors will be useful in more situations than a dozen cameras will.

    Although come to think of it, adding tow mirrors to a truck would be a useful suggestion if your truck doesn’t have them. I know HD truck mirrors fit half ton Silverados and Tahoes easily, not sure about other brands.

    webguy20
  • That_GuyThat_Guy I don't wanna be that guy Registered User regular
    mRahmani wrote: »
    I mean, a standard backup camera is useful for lining up the hitch, but beyond that I think relying on cameras isn’t really a great idea. Knowing the size and placement of your vehicle is critical. Cameras mess with your depth perception, and good tow mirrors will be useful in more situations than a dozen cameras will.

    Although come to think of it, adding tow mirrors to a truck would be a useful suggestion if your truck doesn’t have them. I know HD truck mirrors fit half ton Silverados and Tahoes easily, not sure about other brands.

    I know that's not true because my Bolt EV's rear view mirror is literally a camera feed from the back of my vehicle. It's one thing to know the size and handling characteristics of a vehicle. It's another to have massive blind spots. I can't speak for you personally but I have gotten more than used to having the extra information that comes with a surround camera system. I am actually a better judge of how large my car is because I can see all around me. At least for me, I have more trouble judging depth perception in mirrors than on a screen. I've spent the last couple decades of my life looking at a flat screen to judge depth in computer games. This is no different. Plus, adding more mirrors is not mutually exclusive from having a camera system.

    I've weighed over the pros and cons and the pros win it for me.

    steam_sig.png
  • DaenrisDaenris Registered User regular
    That_Guy wrote: »
    webguy20 wrote: »
    Daenris wrote: »
    That_Guy wrote: »
    I really want to get StarLink before I actually take my trip so I can still have good internet on the go.

    I think this part at least won't be viable right away. At least right now Starlink is locking people's service to the cells that contain their service address, so they aren't useable moving around to different locations outside that. They're working on hardware and regulatory approval for true mobile use I believe, but that could take awhile.

    Yea, for the best mobile internet you are going to want to get a Cellular hotspot (or set your phone up for it) and then also leach off of RV Park Wifi. As a new Starlink user, it aint up to twitch gaming yet. Still lots little microdrops.

    I don't really play online games anymore. I mostly want it for streaming and remote working. I've read accounts of people who are taking Starlink on the road with them. No one indicated it was geofenced to a certain area.

    This is from the Starlink official FAQ (https://www.starlink.com/faq):
    Starlink wrote:
    Can I travel with Starlink, or move it to a different address?

    Starlink satellites are scheduled to send internet down to all users within a designated area on the ground. This designated area is referred to as a cell.

    Your Starlink is assigned to a single cell. If you move your Starlink outside of its assigned cell, a satellite will not be scheduled to serve your Starlink and you will not receive internet. This is constrained by geometry and is not arbitrary geofencing.

    It's also a violation of their terms of service for now at least, as it indicates it is for providing internet service to the service address only. The Starlink reddit FAQ has a link to a youtube video of someone that tried it, was initially able to connect briefly, but then wasn't ever able to get it working again at that location or other locations.

    They've applied for whatever license they need to provide mobile service, so it's likely coming eventually, just not right now.

  • That_GuyThat_Guy I don't wanna be that guy Registered User regular
    Daenris wrote: »
    That_Guy wrote: »
    webguy20 wrote: »
    Daenris wrote: »
    That_Guy wrote: »
    I really want to get StarLink before I actually take my trip so I can still have good internet on the go.

    I think this part at least won't be viable right away. At least right now Starlink is locking people's service to the cells that contain their service address, so they aren't useable moving around to different locations outside that. They're working on hardware and regulatory approval for true mobile use I believe, but that could take awhile.

    Yea, for the best mobile internet you are going to want to get a Cellular hotspot (or set your phone up for it) and then also leach off of RV Park Wifi. As a new Starlink user, it aint up to twitch gaming yet. Still lots little microdrops.

    I don't really play online games anymore. I mostly want it for streaming and remote working. I've read accounts of people who are taking Starlink on the road with them. No one indicated it was geofenced to a certain area.

    This is from the Starlink official FAQ (https://www.starlink.com/faq):
    Starlink wrote:
    Can I travel with Starlink, or move it to a different address?

    Starlink satellites are scheduled to send internet down to all users within a designated area on the ground. This designated area is referred to as a cell.

    Your Starlink is assigned to a single cell. If you move your Starlink outside of its assigned cell, a satellite will not be scheduled to serve your Starlink and you will not receive internet. This is constrained by geometry and is not arbitrary geofencing.

    It's also a violation of their terms of service for now at least, as it indicates it is for providing internet service to the service address only. The Starlink reddit FAQ has a link to a youtube video of someone that tried it, was initially able to connect briefly, but then wasn't ever able to get it working again at that location or other locations.

    They've applied for whatever license they need to provide mobile service, so it's likely coming eventually, just not right now.

    Oh well. I may just have to either root my phone or just pick up a hotspot. I bet I could also mount up a UBI Nanobeam to pull in wifi from a longer range.

    steam_sig.png
  • mRahmanimRahmani DetroitRegistered User regular
    That_Guy wrote: »
    mRahmani wrote: »
    I mean, a standard backup camera is useful for lining up the hitch, but beyond that I think relying on cameras isn’t really a great idea. Knowing the size and placement of your vehicle is critical. Cameras mess with your depth perception, and good tow mirrors will be useful in more situations than a dozen cameras will.

    Although come to think of it, adding tow mirrors to a truck would be a useful suggestion if your truck doesn’t have them. I know HD truck mirrors fit half ton Silverados and Tahoes easily, not sure about other brands.

    I know that's not true because my Bolt EV's rear view mirror is literally a camera feed from the back of my vehicle. It's one thing to know the size and handling characteristics of a vehicle. It's another to have massive blind spots. I can't speak for you personally but I have gotten more than used to having the extra information that comes with a surround camera system. I am actually a better judge of how large my car is because I can see all around me. At least for me, I have more trouble judging depth perception in mirrors than on a screen. I've spent the last couple decades of my life looking at a flat screen to judge depth in computer games. This is no different. Plus, adding more mirrors is not mutually exclusive from having a camera system.

    I've weighed over the pros and cons and the pros win it for me.

    *shrug* I’m not a human factors engineer, but I’m familiar with both the rear view camera used in the GM vehicles and the 360 degree vision system. They have their uses, but I can say from personal experience that there's a refocusing delay when looking from the road to the camera feed and back that doesn't exist with a tradition mirror. The jury is still out on whether camera systems are able to replace mirrors safely, but there’s plenty of evidence that they change how drivers perceive the road around them. Here’s one study as an example.

    There might be advantages to using cameras to back up a trailer in tight spaces, but to put it bluntly, I am very concerned about an inexperienced driver in a 10,000+ lb vehicle staring at a retrofitted screen on a dashboard instead of keeping his attention on the road.

  • MichaelLCMichaelLC In what furnace was thy brain? ChicagoRegistered User regular
    edited 2:52PM
    If you haven't, take a look at pop-up campers too.

    They can be pretty nice and have some advantages to size when towing.

    There's the full canvas/soft side kind and also ones that have hard collapseable sides and ones that are a mix.

    Edit: general RVing had been covered, but of course keep your cell phone handy, have food & water & emergency kits in your car and camper. Don't rely blindly on GPS, especially if hauling a big trailer.

    Check out local attractions as appropriate but don't follow any well dressed children into the corn.

    MichaelLC at
    Jokerman wrote: »
    If sigs were still a thing this would be mine.
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