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Old 03-29-2017, 01:14 AM   #1
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Default Newbie excited & eager for help/info

Hello to all!

I’ve finally happily registered here, after several weeks of following many threads that have been invaluable in providing a newbie like me so much helpful info. This forum has been like stumbling upon a gold mine for me, after months of online time spent searching for what I'm after.

A little background: A life-long avid backpacker, traveller, and tent camper, I'm now trying to find my way to adapting to (and adopting) the Class B RV approach to extending/prolonging my adventures in a way that can accommodate both my aging self, and my recently disabled wife. I'm actually still in pretty decent, active physical shape, and both my wife and I would still be enjoying tent camping if it weren't for the limitations of her disability. After doing without any camping or much outdoor travel for the past few years, and painfully missing it, it finally hit me that a small RV (Class B, as I came to understand) could put us back on the road.

Since that light bulb went off, I've devoted the past few months to researching the idea and trying to determine what models and features most appeal to me. The more modestly priced Roadtreks (Zion, Simplicity) and Winnebagos (Travato, G or K) have held most of my attention. I recently checked out a multi-dealer RV show in Sacramento, although I was disappointed in the small number of Class Bs on display there. I'm also determined not to exceed a total length of 21' (more preferably around 20’), as both ease of driving and fuel economy are high priorities for me.

Also, just like a few others have expressed here, I’ve been concerned and intimidated by the potential for the myriad technical problems, breakdowns, failures, etc. inherent in the complexity of most modern RV systems.

Then in the past week or so, another light bulb went off for me which has entirely redirected my thoughts toward a minimized RV style that I think could both appeal to my sense of “camping aesthetics” and avoid most, if not all, of the common technical complexity and associated challenges of modern “luxury” RVs. My purpose now is to seek the thoughts or advice of any other members who may have had experience with such an approach to RV-ing.

My line of thinking has gone something like this:

What if we did away with nearly all of the standard RV luxuries? - onboard propane, cooking, plumbing, heating, air conditioning, fresh, gray, and black water tanks, and reduced the RV to something closer to a tent-like camping experience.

Refrigerator - replaced by the use of a large ice chest, as I’m so used to doing while tent camping. Ice is easily replaced as frequently as needed and has no power requirements.

Fresh water supply - can be carried and stored in the same refillable 5 gal. containers I’m used to camping with. No pump/power or onboard storage tank requirement.

Cooking - on the same portable propane cartridge camp stove I’m used to using in tent camping. I enjoy cooking outdoors on campsite picnic tables or my roll-up camp table, but the option of doing so on a counter in the RV would be great in bad weather.

For camp bathing, we’ve used wet-wipes and sponge baths to get us through until we can grab a motel once or twice a week while travel-camping. An onboard shower we could easily do without.

A toilet is one of the essentials that I would require, with regard to our particular needs. I’ve just recently found info on the newer porta-potty and cassette toilet systems that sound very simple and convenient to me, especially considering that it might only need to serve the needs of one person (my disabled wife), as I am happy to use the facilities available in any campground.

Heating/air conditioning - we’re used to tent camping, where we accept whatever the weather brings. We have great warm down sleeping bags for the coldest nights, and open screened windows should provide as much natural cooling/ventilation as we can get. A fan might be helpful. I don’t expect to do much camping in seasons or locales of climate extremes.

Beyond all of the preceding ideas, the most necessary and useful features would be a sofa/bed for my wife to rest on when needed, a table for dining use, etc., storage space, and LED lighting for night time convenience. And my hope is that eliminating so many of the standard features and “luxuries” of typical RVs on the market might also help lighten the vehicle, improve fuel economy, and provide added space for other simple gear we might want to carry.

I’ve recently contacted the people at sportsmobile.com about having such an RV built for us, but if anyone here has any other suggestions, ideas, experiences, products or manufacturers to share with me, I’d be most grateful to hear anything you have to share.

Thanks so much!
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Old 03-29-2017, 01:56 AM   #2
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Sounds like camping with the tent on wheels. I guess it would be the ultimate KISS (Keep it simple stupid).

I had Sportsmobile build a KISS mobile for me but I did put other stuff in it that fit my expected usage. No propane, no generator, no stove. Check out this link.

My new Promaster 3500, High Roof, Long body, Sportsmobile. - Sportsmobile Forum

I use parking lots a lot for overnights so camp stoves don't work.
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Old 03-29-2017, 02:00 AM   #3
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.

If you have the money,
go for a Travato 59K.

It has 2 beds. Both are easy to access. (important for old folks like us).

What is luxury is another person's basic necessity,
you have to make the decision.

If you want to go basic,
you can simply go in a station wagon
or a minivan.
Many people do that.
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Old 03-29-2017, 02:09 AM   #4
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That is certainly one way to go about it and the choice is yours.

Us? we like the conveniences and our 2000 Roadtrek is not technologically sophisticated. A simple 12 volt cheapo deep cycle battery, one 100 watt portable solar panel and all the appliances including 3way fridge, furnace, genny, etc. Most all of the stuff in the low end new and older class B vans is tried and true old tech. Ours still has the factory supplied furnace, water heater, genny, fridge, microwave and pretty much all of the fixtures. The only things replaced in 156k miles and 7 years has been the house A/C unit and the house water pump. If the stuff is maintained and used properly it's quite reliable.

It's also a lot nicer to have the conveniences so easy to use. Hot water for a shower?, flip the switch. Cold, hit up the thermostat for some heat. Easy and safe.

Dumping of holding tanks is really not a big deal and running water is very nice.

Happy hunting.
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Old 03-29-2017, 02:09 AM   #5
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Your second light bulb seems to revert back to basics and more primitive equipment. The simplest and most logical end to this line of reasoning is an empty cargo van with an air mattress in the back and a cartridge commode. I recommend you rent a class b for a trip, and test it out for yourself. Time to pamper your wife!!!
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Old 03-29-2017, 02:11 AM   #6
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That's a great thought, we started out for many years as tenters also, and as the years went on, we upgraded to a small pop up trailer, a little more comfortable, a few more luxuries, and we found it actually improved our camping experiences. For example, if the skies opened up and poured down rain, we still were able to enjoy ourselves without being soaked, all our gear stayed dry, as we got older, some of those little luxuries made it much more enjoyable. Our kids have all grown up, and really aren't interested in coming camping with us anymore, so we wanted to expand our camping and traveling to much more of North America, this is why we sold the pop up, and purchased a class B RV, I researched just like you for months to figure out what would work best for us, not just the lay out, but price wise also. These new machines are way out of our budget, and really having all that debt would take all the fun out of it for me. Really if we go back to our camping days, it was all about keeping it simple, and just enjoying ourselves, cooking our meals over a camp fire in some cool and remote location, that was the best. we can still have that with our 1997 Roadtrek 190, it was affordable, its easily fixable, and its a lot of fun. As for not having some the items, such as a refrigerator, or a stove, or a furnace, they are great to have, and I feel they make our trips much more enjoyable. We love to cook , and it sure is nice to wake up warm and dry, as we get older, maybe we need to be a little more pampered than our camping days, my thoughts would be to try a class B, maybe rent one for a weekend, and see what you think, I think you will really like what it has to offer, once you try it you wont want to back to the tenting days,,,,,,,take care,,,,,
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Old 03-29-2017, 03:52 AM   #7
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Perhaps you really need to try how important is more camping comfort for you, you are the one to answer this question. B-class tend to be expensive to get into, just the way the NA market has settled, not EU for whatever reasons . Perhaps an intermediate step is to get from a tent trailer to a fiberglass trailer, they offer a lot of accommodation for the price and you don’t need a large pickup to tow it. If you like this level of comfort and still like to have a B-class than at least you are making this decision from the position of understanding what you want.

A small new Casita or Scamp or many others http://www.fiberglassrv.com/forums/ will have at least the level of space as a 20' B-van. A trailer for $20-25K plus an SUV like, for example Audi Q3, or others will cost you total $60K with all accommodations you would get from a B-class van.

We were close to select a small trailer but decided ultimately on DIY van RV - but it was close.

George.
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Old 03-29-2017, 05:41 AM   #8
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I think you'd be giving up most of the B advantages.

we do use most of what you don;t think you'd use

in addition to the cooker we carry a butane cassette feu which we use to cook outdoors- some rvs have a quickconnect for the propane and outside burner kit

we don;t use our shower- either campground or if remote, many B's have an outdoor shower wand too also good for muddy boot, dogs and cleaning fish

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Old 03-29-2017, 12:38 PM   #9
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It might be worth remembering that both of you are only getting older from this point forward. What seems today like a luxury that you can live without might not seem so a few years from now.

Part of the question, though, revolves around how handy you are, or plan to become (which hinges on the question of, do you enjoy that kind of work?). Yes, Class B systems require a lot of maintenance and repair. But if you handle most of that yourself, it becomes a lesser concern, especially because every time you respond to an issue, you can harden that part of the system, improving it well beyond OEM installation quality and making it less likely to fail in the future. My husband and I have been on that track for the past two-plus years now with our Class B. Functionally, it doesn't much resemble the then-7-year-old rig that we initially purchased in late 2014.

I, too, was an avid back country camper for decades. But getting older made me think in different terms. It's not just a matter of comfort - it's also lifestyle versatility, the ability to do some urban trips with stealth camping, the freedom to do long-distance road trips after decades of being held hostage by our wildly-dysfunctional air transportation infrastructure, the ability to run my small business out of our Class B for periods of time when the situation requires it. There are many things that simply cannot be done when one is based out of a tent or a tent-like construction.

I see a lot of folks on Instagram who are living out of minimalist vans such as you describe. Most of them are very young. I don't believe that's an accident. It's a lifestyle option that, as a fifty-something, I decided was indeed best left to the young.
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Old 03-29-2017, 12:52 PM   #10
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.

I would not suggest a travel trailer.

Not when you are getting up there in age,
and with a disabled wife to look after.
A travel trailer is ok for younger folks,
but please, don't even think about it; it is a lot of work,
and a lot of hassle.
Unless you plan to tow it to one place and leave it there for the season.
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