Real Campers Sleep Under the Stars

Posted on 03/20/2022 in misc

I'll admit it, the title of this post is total click bait. I'm not here to police how people travel.

We spent a couple of hours yesterday at the Mid-Atlantic RV Show. I absolutely walked through the $300K Class A buses with 3 flat screen TVs, a fake LED fireplace, and a master bedroom suite, and thought to myself, this ain't camping. This is a literal mobile home, and a really nice one at that. However, I am 100% sure that hundreds of years ago somebody wrote in their journal about how people with tents weren't camping, because real campers sleep under the stars with no shelter.

Words do have meaning though, and somewhere there is a line where what you are doing no longer qualifies as camping. I'm not sure where exactly the line is, but I am sure having his and hers leather recliners facing a 50 inch flat screen mounted over a fake LED fireplace puts you on the not camping side of the line.

We were there mostly just as something to do. I 95% love our Aliner Ascape. The 5% is no indoor shower and the lack of separate dining and sleeping areas. We knew we wouldn't be finding anything at an RV show that fixes that 5%. From my research so far I've found exactly one option that might not require me to upgrade my tow vehicle, and that is a 16 ft Scamp. If I won the lottery I might upgrade to a smaller Airstream, and that is about as far as I go. Not having all the luxuries of home available is a feature of camping for me, not a bug. Bugs are also a feature of camping, but that is a different blog post.

Some thoughts on the RV show.

Class A RVs - do not want. It's not camping, it's traveling with your luxurious tiny home on wheels with you. I see the appeal for full timers or families of 7 that need that much space. But it's not for me.

Camper van / Class B - I kind of thought I might be a camper van person, but I found almost every one we were in claustrophobic. There just isn't much space to work with on a Dodge Ram or Sprinter chassis. Also, when you do the math the dollars per square foot of living space ratio on a van is really freaking high. I did see one or two with a slide or a pop up roof that felt more usable.

Class C RVs - saw a few that were interesting. At around $100K you are probably in the same price neighborhood that a newer truck and 5th wheel will cost. However you'd probably have to tow another vehicle to make getting around practical.

Travel trailers - I really feel like 20 feet is about as large as I ever want to go. My current trailer is 14 ft from the center of the ball to the edge of the bumper on the back. Also, I don't think I ever want a slide. I started adulthood as an engineering major in college, and when I see slides I see expensive, heavy components bound to fail at the worst possible time. Moving parts always fail, eventually. Heavy moving parts fail more frequently. Generally speaking, you won't see any smaller campers at RV shows. I assume it's because the profit on them doesn't justify the hassle of hauling them to a convention center.

There were two Tab Little Guy's at the show. I have always heard great things about them so I was surprised at how underwhelmed I was upon climbing into them. The smaller one wasn't a stand up teardrop unless you are under about 5'8". The larger one was fine, but it was basically an Ascape ST for $10K plus more. I know Tab pays attention to quality, but Aliner isn't $10K+ worse IMHO.

So what are we doing? Probably nothing. I would love to find some way to get a tour of a 16 foot Scamp with floor plan 6 or 7 this summer. I can't see myself ordering one without spending at least 5 minutes inside to get a feel for it. I guess if we get serious we could do a weekend trip to Minnesota to check one out at the factory. Maybe they'll be a Scamp rally in driving distance sometime this summer. I also need to confirm the weight of one as it looks like it's pretty close to safe line for towing with a Ford Edge. Or maybe we do nothing until I'm ready to upgrade the Edge. Either way, nothing happens until fall as we have a full summer of camping planned.

A summer that can't get here soon enough.

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