Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Milford, MA
Everyone is different but for us, if the trips were overnighters I think the awning/screen room would be more hassle that it's worth for us. On a longer trip it might show it's value. We use an ez up for shade and don't camp in black fly season/territory
Using the a frame while still connected to tow vehicle is fine, keep in mind your ability to level it while connected is limited to side to side leveling, front to back would be difficult while still connected. If you we'd to sleep completely level it's something to keep in mind.
If you are okay backing up and connecting to the hitch, the. I'd just disconnect every time. Setup of the trailer is literally 30seconds so I'm not sure staying connected truly gets you that much added benefit. Maybe I don't understand the benefit of staying connected, even if you weren't great at the back-up hitch procedure, it's only slightly more effort to disconnect and pull straight forward 6" to clear the ball, then you can level both axis, drop the stabs if you like and connecting back up is simple even for a novice.
Being able to travel with the beds all made up is a big advantage of the A frame over say a popup where there's a setup and takedown procedure for the beds each time you have to move. If you're camping multiple nights at different spots, you can leave the a frame pretty much ready to go, food in fridge, clothes in storage bags or luggage, bed made and your "stuff" can go in and out of the main living compartment or the storage access doors for each stop pretty easily. I tend to store any setup needs (crank, chocks, outside table, water hose, drain adapter, etc.) in the same spot so my effort is minimized as much as possible.
During the season we keep the camper stocked with camping clothes, shoes, raincoat and other typical softgoods so we can hitch and go without a whole lot of pre-trip prep. We also keep coffee, non-perishable foods (canned goods, dry goods) and some instant meals (Mac and cheese, etc) in a small basket tote for the canned goods and in the microwave for the instant stuff (Mac & cheese, soup mix, s'mores supplies, etc), again so there's almost no prep. Once we have prepped for the season, then we can make a decision last minute to go camping if the weekend looks nice and we have no conflicts and be at our storage unit in 10'min and be in the road within 30min of making the decision.
The fridge runs most efficient in propane, even if you have 30A available, and it sips the propane to boot, so we tend to run propane exclusively - in a long drive we might use 12V while moving but quickly switch to propane once landed. I purchased a self-powered fan for the condenser fins on the inside back of the fridge, it clips to the fins with a small alligator clip which also closes the circuit to power it. This increases the cooling power and speed of the fridge considerably and also prevents icing up of the fins. It powers off by simply unclipping the alligator clip. This is an ebay item and would recommend it.
There are a ton of little mods and tweaks you can make to these units to make them ultra efficient, convenient or just improved. I have a post in here covering quite a few, as does hamguy, pooneil and a few other regular posters.
There is also a sticky thread that has a PDF of rare than a dozen of the user and service manuals of all your a-frame's equipment, this is something handy to have in your smartphone, iPad or other little device.
There are a decent number of fuses in the a frames, I would recommend carrying a decent assortment of those different amperage fuses, perhaps a fuse clip/puller too. Fuses tend to go when plugging into shore power without first making use the shore power post's breaker switches are off first. 30A off, plug in, then turn the breaker to On. I'm often asked by neighboring inexperienced campers if I have a spare fuse because they plugged into a hot 30A outlet. Haha.
We use a Bal leveler for side to side leveling and as a wheel chock. It's a bit of an investment. We carry it in a pizza delivery bag bought from ebay and it stores just inside the door when traveling so it's quick access when we are setting up. Plenty have success using boards or lynx levelers. They all accomplish the same thing but for us the bal is very convenient and speedy and we can really dial-in level with a minimum of effort and without needing to use the tow vehicle.
We tend not to travel with water in the fresh water holding tank or use it once on site... We either have water connections at the site or would use 3-5gal containers instead. The tank works great in combination with the shurflo pump, but it can be an added level of effort with filling, emptying, and overall maintenance including regular cleaning and sanitizing and for our frequent, but short trips it doesn't make sense for us.
We took the water filter out of the housing under the sink and leave the housing in place with no filter. We added a big sausage shaped inline filter that goes outside attached to the white water hose. Along with a pressure reducer and inline shutoff valve. This is a great setup and ideal for quick setup and take down as a unit.
One last thing, adding a magic mesh magnetic screen curtain to the doorway (you can keep it attached all season and setup and takedown with it in place) is a great timesaver and alternative to a screenroom attached to the doorway if you are taking a lot of short trips or doing quick overnighters. Allows you to have the camper door open for cross ventilation while controlling the bug situation inside. It's also good for ease of entry/exit while camping instead of opening/closing the door and latch all the time.
There definitely are advantages to a screenroom in some locations, seasons and climates. We are fortunate we can usually avoid the buggiest places/seasons so an ez up for shade is all we need most times. We do have a small rechargeable "bug zapper" - a mini version of what you used to see a lot of 30 years ago, the purple colored black light. We've used it two seasons now and it does a remarkable job in keeping the general site pretty free of annoyances when we are out at dusk and before a campfire's smoke can drive away the rest. I think it was about $30 at Walmart.