My curiosity got the best of me after my tent camping trip this past spring. It was cold and miserably wet packing up (30-35 degrees, rain, sleet then snow). I tent camped because I can't get the big camper into this particular state park. The big camper is fine as my wife, family, and I are travelers- not necessarily campers. We use the camper as our mobile apartment while using the Thousand Trails RV parks and my ability to work remotely from my office.
We've joked a time or two that we really look forward to the couple of weekends a year where we legitimately camp - cooking outside, spending all of our waking time outside, etc. So my curiosity sent me down the route of trying to find a camper that fit our wants:
- Under 20' (tip to tip- everything included (coupler, bumper, etc.)) due to storage lot constraints
- No tent/canvas (ruling out hybrids for the most part)
- Sleep 6 (4 adults and 2 kids); murphy bed is fine
- Has toilet (even a cassette toilet is fine); needs to be in its own room- it won't fly to have to use a port-a-pot pulled into a hallway or something (my wife/mother-in-law were about at their limit w/ our pop-up and a shower curtain for walls around the toilet)
- Sink (and water heater)
- A/C (roof mounted)
- Microwave (convection would be cool)
- Fridge w/ freezer that's NOT on the floor (my pop-up was on the floor and I hated it)
- Stove top is a nice to have, but not required as we camp with Coleman/propane stoves and over the fire
The sleeps 6 part is a curious one- we often times have just 4 of us (wife + me, our 2 kids (ages 10 and 2)). Often times we have 6 of us when my in-laws join us (2 couples; 2 kids). And the other use of the camper is when going camping with my Dad and friends- (3-4 adults who don't necessarily want to share beds and 1-2 kids).
Two campers came close:
- Vibe 6504
- The Vibe is 5" too long at 20' 5" (assuming that's tip to tail)
- IMO, Vibe seems to sleep 5
- I was never crazy about having to climb over my bedmate to potty in the middle of the night/early morning
- Lance 2185
- Too long at 25' 8"
- Does sleep 6 (or 7 if you squeeze 2 on the dinette)
- Rockwood Mini Lite 2306
- Too long at 23' 8"
- Very low cargo carrying capacity at 956 lbs.
- Sleeps 5 unless dinette can sleep 1
I posted this on that other angry RVing forum and someone said it was impossible and challenged me to cut out a bunch of paper or do a chalk outline in my driveway. Basically that I was trying to fit 10 lbs. of potatoes in a 5 lb. sack.
Since I'm a geek, Visio is my tool of choice. I started with a 17' x 8' box drawn to a scale of 1 inch equals 2 feet (1/24). I then started drawing shapes. I used an Excel spreadsheet to convert my original measurements to my scale measurements (e.g. 3 real inches = 0.125 scale inches). For the shower, toilet, sinks, oven, fridge, and beds- all were taken from measurements of products online.
I took what I thought were the positives of each model:
- Bunks across the back for space saving and easy wardrobe
- Not stressing that the bathroom sink isn't in the bathroom
- Using a murphy bed to magically make the camper usable during the day
- Incorporating the dinette/slide/bunk bed idea from the Vibe
- Flip-up countertop from one model and my current camper for extra prep space
I accepted a few negatives:
- Fridge is completely inaccessible when the slide is closed
- Fridge and dinette access are tight when the murphy bed is down
- Murphy bed has to travel in upright position to close slides (is this OK?)
- Appliances are in a slide (TBD if this is good or bad)
I accepted that I know nothing about trailer design:
- I have made no provisions for where the axles/wheels/tires will be nor any intrusion into the living area for them
- I have made the assumption that 3' is enough for the tongue w/ propane, batteries, jack foot and coupler
- Very little thought was put into inside cabinets
- No thought was put into exterior accessible storage
- Very little thought was put into things like water heater, furnace and water pump placement (though, the wardrobe and linen closet would be my first two suspects)
I accept that this is purely an exercise in creativity:
- I can only imagine that there is exactly 1 person who would be willing to have a significant enough tow vehicle for such a small trailer (2 slides have to weight a lot).
It was fun to play with though.