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Old 08-23-2017, 03:05 PM   #1
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We are Shopping

Hello all. New to the forums and have settled in on wanting to purchase a pop-up. A little bit of background I grew up camping with my parents in a bumper pull trailer and when I was older Dad bought a fifth wheel, we camped every weekend during the summer.

So I am married with a 3 year old and 4 month old. We want to get outdoors more and get our kids outside in the wilderness. We live in northern Utah and we have some beautiful country. We recently purchased a 2017 Dodge Grand Caravan to help with getting car seats in and out, plus for more comfort on longer rides when visiting family that is over 4 hours away. This vehicle would have to be our tow vehicle. So I have a few questions. Does anyone know if adding the hitch receiver, brake wiring, etc 3rd party void any warranty by chance? The price difference is pretty high. The dealer quoted me at about $1000. A reputable place in town that has been recommended to me quoted me at about $500 for everything.

So I am looking at the Freedom 205 because it has a toilet and with one toddler, and a newborn we feel that having a toilet will prevent middle of the night trips to the outhouse. Also the weight seems ideal for my comfort level on the Caravan.

If we purchase the 205 do you know if we can add an Air Conditioner to it? This is a requirement for us due to being in the desert and we have sometimes camped in places where it is 100 degrees during the day. We are hoping to be purchasing a pup before the end of the year or early next year so we can have a full camping season of spring and summer next year. Even contemplating taking a trip to yellowstone.

Anyways any advice is greatly appreciated.
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Old 08-23-2017, 03:17 PM   #2
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We went through 2 pop-ups when we started out. Neither one had a toilet so we got by with a little portable one. Maybe something to think about as it would allow you to look at more floor plans. Space is at a premium in pop-ups as well. Not having a built-in toilet would give more room for storage.
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Old 08-23-2017, 03:28 PM   #3
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Hi and welcome to the forum!

I live in northern utah (West Jordan, right outside SLC) and love it here. Great places all over the place to camp!

There is another thread here about a guy wanting to use a Caravan as a TV (tow vehicle) and his thread is pretty lively. You are on the right track in thinking of a pop up with that TV. I will post the link to the other thread, it has a lot of info on weights and capabilities of the caravan. Give it a read and it will get you started.

Just quickly glancing at the weights of the pop up it seems fine, as far as voiding any warranty for a hitch install I dont think it matters. I was in the same situation as you, the dealer wanted 1500 to put my fifth wheel hitch in but my RV dealer offered it for free as part of the purchase of a new 5er. I went back to the GMC dealer to get my AC looked at and the service was covered under warranty still. I dont know specifically and I didnt ask I but I didnt have any problems.

http://www.forestriverforums.com/for...er-142494.html
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Old 08-23-2017, 03:34 PM   #4
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We owned a pop-up (actually two) for 12 years prior to purchasing a bumper pull.

Great with small kids. As the kids got older we moved to the bigger camper because it was a lot of work.

I complete agree with the comments about the bath. We just did a small portable toilet for the little kids. Storage is at a premium and you'll likely need all the room you can find (especially if you're towing with a mini van).

I would check to see what the dealer was going to install. If it was just a hitch and the wiring then he's way high.

They make plugin harnesses for most vehicles and it should not void any warranty.
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Old 08-23-2017, 04:23 PM   #5
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I just bought a premier 2516G and the dealer had ordered it with prewiring for the A/C, so it wasn't too bad to add it on. They are charging me $1,100 to do the whole thing.
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Old 08-23-2017, 05:28 PM   #6
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I just got in from the factory my Brand new HW296. This is my 3rd PUP with a bathroom, won't ever buy one without, it's nice not having to go use the campgrounds restrooms, in even use the shower in my PUP so nice staying right at my site and not having to leave it.
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Old 08-23-2017, 05:43 PM   #7
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We purchased our 2016 Rockwood Premier 2516G two years ago. We have two children 12 and 14. It does get a little tight inside when we all start moving around. Sleeping space is more than enough as it comes with a king size bed on one end, and a queen size bed on the other end. It also has a 7' sleeper couch and the dinette that also turns into a bed for smaller kids.

Once you get a system down doing things inside and out the pop-up is alot of fun. Hands-down the three best upgrades we purchased were the ac, toilet/shower and pull out dinette which gives you even more space.

We tow our pup with a 2014 Pathfinder and I put air bags in the shocks for a smoother ride along with helping leveling out the tongue, the airbags were ($100) and I installed them myself.

I was concerned about an after market trailer hitch voiding the warranty too but I wasn't going to pay the dealer the money they were asking to install it, so I had a buddy install a factory bumper/tow hook up and trailer hitch for a fraction of the price.
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Old 08-23-2017, 11:07 PM   #8
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I would first check the tow rating of your vehicle. As long as you donít exceed that, you shouldnít have any issues with your vehicleís warranty. It would have been better if you had got a vehicle with the towing package pre-installed because it comes with a transmission cooler, etc. that you donít get if you just add a tow hitch and wiring.

Keep in mind that like me (I live in Colorado), you need to consider that you will be driving up and down a lot of hills. You might want to go with a much lighter trailer than the capacity of your vehicle because you will be crawling up the hills if you buy a heavy trailer.
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Old 08-24-2017, 06:02 AM   #9
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If your caravan and your budget can swing it, I would recommend looking at one of the pups with the dinette slide out. it is amazing how much space that opens up inside for you, especially as the kids grow up. Speaking of which we found it to be much less work once they were big enough to start helping. (Starts with 'please hand me that' and graduates to 'set up the camper, please'. 'Well ok I can help you'.)
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Old 08-24-2017, 08:46 AM   #10
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Thankfully a few years back all Caravans come standard with the transmission cooler. The only thing that the towing package does now is wiring and hitch receiver. Which is why I am planning on going aftermarket.

A pup with the dinette slide would be too much weight for comfort for me. Because like myron625 mentioned above we have a lot of hills. Anyone ever drive thru Parley's Canyon?

Which is why I think the model 205 seems to fit the bill perfectly. Personally I would be fine with out the toilet option but lovely wife is adamant. And going through potty training right now with the 3 year old I think having a potty in the trailer is the best option.
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Old 08-24-2017, 09:21 AM   #11
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Thankfully a few years back all Caravans come standard with the transmission cooler. The only thing that the towing package does now is wiring and hitch receiver. Which is why I am planning on going aftermarket.

A pup with the dinette slide would be too much weight for comfort for me. Because like myron625 mentioned above we have a lot of hills. Anyone ever drive thru Parley's Canyon?

Which is why I think the model 205 seems to fit the bill perfectly. Personally I would be fine with out the toilet option but lovely wife is adamant. And going through potty training right now with the 3 year old I think having a potty in the trailer is the best option.
Good ol Parley's, I know it well. I pulled my TT through there all the time. When I got my new 5er (15k-16k lbs) I was scared to death the first time I pulled it. I went straight up no problems but yes this pull is killer, it rivals the I-70 pull out of Denver.

It wont be that fun but I think you would make it (you'll be creeping up on the maxes), unless Im looking at it wrong the 205 and the 228D have the same GVWR, the difference being the 228D has a lower CCC due to the weight of the slide but they both top out at about 3200 GVWR.

205 = UVW 1997 and a CCC of 1233, totaling 3230 GVWR
228D = UVW 2439 and a CCC of 824, totaling 3263 GVWR
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Old 08-24-2017, 10:35 AM   #12
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Good ol Parley's, I know it well. I pulled my TT through there all the time. When I got my new 5er (15k-16k lbs) I was scared to death the first time I pulled it. I went straight up no problems but yes this pull is killer, it rivals the I-70 pull out of Denver.

It wont be that fun but I think you would make it (you'll be creeping up on the maxes), unless Im looking at it wrong the 205 and the 228D have the same GVWR, the difference being the 228D has a lower CCC due to the weight of the slide but they both top out at about 3200 GVWR.

205 = UVW 1997 and a CCC of 1233, totaling 3230 GVWR
228D = UVW 2439 and a CCC of 824, totaling 3263 GVWR
Yes you are correct the total weight is very similar between the two. We are leaning towards the 205 strictly because of the higher CCC and we figure it might be easier to stay under on that. But who knows minds could be changed. I am not someone who spends a lot of time in the trailer aside from sleeping. Even if it's raining I would rather be outside under the awning.
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Old 09-04-2017, 08:18 AM   #13
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Yes you are correct the total weight is very similar between the two. We are leaning towards the 205 strictly because of the higher CCC and we figure it might be easier to stay under on that. But who knows minds could be changed. I am not someone who spends a lot of time in the trailer aside from sleeping. Even if it's raining I would rather be outside under the awning.


We picked up a 2516 a couple years ago. We had a big palomino before that. The palomino was quite spartan and we loved it, but the wife wanted a toilet and nicer interior. I have found that the slide out has become my favorite feature. Makes mornings much nicer. The dinette is larger too. It does make it heavier, but we can still fill it with water and it's not overloaded. Look at both in person maybe.
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Old 09-05-2017, 12:38 AM   #14
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Welscome to the PUP family. As I don't have that exact model, I wouldn't own one without a bathroom. stopping the early morning bathrooms trips is awesome. We have a 5 and 10 yr old. And it is nice now that the little guy can do it all on his own. We also have a 90lb lab, so yes it can get a bit tight in there. But the slide out dinette is a great feature for,a bit extra room.

We pull ours with a Sienna minivan. We don't win any races, but she does just fine for now. Of course, where we camp, large hills aren't really an issues Just watch your overall carrying capacity with all persons and cargo. We also added the airbags, which does help the ride. A WDH is always a good idea, too. I haven't looked at the specs, but if you don't have an aux tranny cooler, get one. Besides that, have fun and enjoy the trip.
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Old 09-05-2017, 10:57 PM   #15
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Have owned 2 pop-ups before our current A-frame. Yes, we presently tow with a minivan (Hyundai Entourage/Kia Sedona). We tent camped when we lived in Alaska because getting a pop-up out of Juneau on a regular basis was financially out of the question. I also continued tent camping and back packing when my sons were in Scouts.

What you want in the interior depends on your camping style. Our first PUP was a 10ft box (1986 Coachmen) with none of the modern stuff. There was a sink with a hand pump faucet. Our second PUP was a 12ft box with toilet/shower (Coleman Westlake). We often had 3-6 kids with us, as our 3 kids brought friends with them. As the kids got older, they started sleeping in a separate tent to avoid the couch or dinette.

We never used the inside toilet/shower. We never used the outside shower either. We cook, clean, and lounge outside except when a driving rain makes it impractical to stay outside. On the A-frame, DW forbids me to bring the porta-potty. We make do with what the campground has. On the A-frame, I started using the outside shower (there is no inside shower) as a source of hot water for dish washing. But I gave that up and returned to heating water on the stove at the picnic table.

With the 12ft box pop-up, I often envied friends with smaller, lighter pop-ups. Their lives seemed so much simpler. They could get into tighter, out-of-the way sites that I could not.

With the A-frame (about 400lbs actual tongue wt), the towing was miserable with the minivan. The rig porpoised, bouncing the rear end of the minivan, even at 25 MPH. I took it back to the dealer, ready to unwind the deal and hand him his A-frame back. He suggested we try an Equalizer 600/6000 2 point combined WDH/antisway. Although the Equalizer adds about 4 minutes to hookup/disconnect time, I love the ride with it. I will never tow with a soft suspension tow vehicle without a WDH again. The ride with WDH is so normal that the DW now happily shares driving duties with me. No air bags or modifications to the minivan's stock suspension was needed with the WDH.

I agree with you on avoiding the extra weight of the slide-out dinette if you are going to tow with a minivan. We tow through the Rockies, and I am satisfied I made the right choice in avoiding the extra windage and reduced visibility of a high wall, and keeping the towed weight under 3,000 lbs. The minivan is a great tow vehicle for a smaller PUP, and a comfortable touring/sight-seeing vehicle once we are at the campsite.

hope this helps
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PS: most A-frames are really too small for 4 to camp. If I still had kids at home, I would have gotten a 10ft box PUP instead of the A-frame.

Get yourself a WDH, make sure the transmission has adequate cooling, and enjoy camping with your family.
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Old 09-07-2017, 02:30 PM   #16
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My observations:

1. An aftermarket hitch, properly installed, should not affect the warranty, because FCA offers a hitch, too. And presumably, it has published tow ratings and other gross vehicle weight ratings in the manual.
Don't forget to get a FULL quote on your hitch install. You need the hitch, good brake controller, and a 7-pin wiring harness.
2. If you want a good towing experience, consider a weight distributing hitch...or at minimum, airbags to augment the rear suspension. I have the airbags on my RAM 1500, and they transformed the towing experience. No more wallowing and porpoising. But a half-ton pickup is in a whole other league compared with a minivan. My truck is rated to tow nearly 8000 pounds.
Your Caravan is FRONT wheel drive, so a true WDH is definitely called for. It actually transfers load from rear to front and improves towing traction while also reducing excess load on your rear tires.
Also, consider your poor rear tires. Your Caravan will be loaded to the gills with camping junk, and your trailer will, too.
Remember that gross combined vehicle weight includes:
~ trailer and all its contents including fresh water, etc.
~ tow vehicle (TV) full of fuel
~ all passengers, baby seats, diapers, etc.
~ all other cargo
GCVW is the most important number to monitor...especially if you're towing in the mountains. And your soon-to-be "truck" tires need to be up to the job.
If it were me, I'd get the WDH and airbags to handle the extra load in the Caravan cargo bay.
3. With or without a bathroom...?? I would no longer live without a bathroom, because we exclusively boondock. We NEVER have hookups. And "pit/vault toilets" in CO are dreadful at best. Think concert porta-john on a 100 degree day.
Our PUP's black tank is only 12 gallons, but it will handle two adults for 4 days with room to spare.
4. A portable "cassette" toilet (e.g. from Thedford) may have a black tank of nearly 6 gallons capacity, so a spare "black tank" for the porta-potti would give you similar capacity. https://www.amazon.com/Thetford-9236...ortable+toilet
The tanks are sanitary and can be dumped into a pit toilet or your toilet at home at the end of the trip. Typically, one cabinet (often near the door) is designed to hold one of these out of sight. It definitely eats up a whole cabinet, but if you don't have a proper bathroom, I can speak from experience that these are MUCH better than nothing...especially compared to making a run for a campground toilet late at night, in the rain, with a 4 year old dying to pee!
5. PUPs are a lot more work than a "hard side." This may be a factor with the duties of also caring for two little kids. From arrival to FULLY setup...as in my ass in a chair with a beer...it's a 90 minute job to setup the PUP, move supplies to and fro, unload a canoe or whatever, get out and setup the camp chairs and other paraphernalia, put up the awning, and so on. The "bag awning" alone is far more work/time/effort than the awning on a hard side. I've had a PUP for about 10 years, and don't let anyone fool you that it's much quicker than that...especially with kids' detritus to deal with.
6. If you need air conditioning (AC), don't fool yourself that an AC unit is going to do a great job in 100 degree weather in what amounts to a HUGE tent. It will be cooler, but getting your PUP down to 80 would be quite a feat for an add-on AC unit in an uninsulated canvas structure that might be 150 square feet.
A hard-side, other hand, is far better insulated, so the heat and AC don't work as hard. On the flip side, a PUP can be opened up and aired out easily, whereas a hard-side may need to run the AC more often, because the cross ventilation is nowhere near as good as it is in a PUP. 6 of one, half dozen of the other.
7. If you really need AC, that will limit you to one of two options: a) 30 amp shore power at an RV park (some offer only 15 amps); b) a truly serious generator. A 2000 watt Honda/Champion/Generac ain't gonna run your AC. It will run the fan, but it won't handle the compressor. A 5000 BTU window AC at home will run on a 15 AMP circuit, but your rooftop AC on the camper is likely to be 13,500 BTU. A typical 2000 watt (MAX for startup) generator can only deliver about 1500 watts continuously (about 15 amps).
You can buy two of these and run them in parallel, or you can buy a FAR more expensive, bigger, heavier inverter generator that can deliver 30 amps. That big generator will add about 120 to 130 pounds to your payload (and you and your wife must lift it in and out of the trailer or TV)...not counting fuel to keep it running. Two small Hondas will also weigh 120+ pounds together (but you can load each without help), and you have the joy of keeping TWO machines running...and two machines generating noise together. If you're running the AC, that means keeping two generators running for long periods of time. Oh joy!
And don't even think about getting a "construction" (open frame) generator. They are cheap and powerful, but your neighbors will hate you, because they are FAR more noisy. Most campgrounds won't even allow them, and if you're boondocking, your neighbors will come by in the middle of the night and fill the gas tank with sugar... or just shoot you. And you won't be able to stand the noise yourself.
Lots of people will claim their AC works on a single Honda 2K generator. But Dometic says no. https://www.americanrvcompany.com/as..._prodsheet.pdf (scroll down to the generator specs).
And running your AC in what amounts to severe "brown-out" (low voltage) conditions will eventually extract a toll on your AC equipment. Again, there are lots of wild claims out there, but Dometic says the generator must be able to deliver 3500 watts!
(I expect to get a lot of pushback on this subject, but I'll let Dometic's literature speak for itself. Physics are physics....regardless of someone's claims of perpetual motion.)
8. If you plan to boondock, add solar. The "ZAMP" stuff is OK but expensive for the watts generated. I added a single, 100-watt panel to the top of my PUP with this kit. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1 All brands of panels appear to be the same panel made by one factory in China. According to Windy Nation, there is virtually no difference between a polycrystaline and monocrystaline panel. But the "charge controllers" make a big difference. This kit has a truly adequate charge controller that can handle up to 4 panels. Cheaper charge controllers are available, but they can be a poor investment. In sunny Colorado (similar to Utah), my single group 24 12 volt battery is fully charged by early afternoon. I go to bed with a full battery each night, and I'm able to use this small inverter to run my electric blanket for about 30 minutes to take the chill off the bed (we are at about 8300 feet). https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1
Of course, solar and inverters are superfluous if you're always hooked up to the grid, but as your kids get older, you may want to try more boondocking. In my humble opinion, it's no fun to be in an RV park in what amounts to a big tent, next door to a motor home or fiver running it's AC nonstop. To me, that's not camping...but that's me.

In summary, expect a PUP to be more work in many ways.
Your Caravan might handle something like this: https://starcraftrv.com/travel-trailers/satellite/
I see lots of small SUVs and minivans towing campers like this. Rockwood makes a mini series: Rockwood Mini Lite (modelid) Travel Trailers by Forest River RV
Whether your Caravan can handle that or not is going to be in your Caravan's owner's manual...and up to you.

Note...I have a PUP, so I'm not saying they are bad. But as a platform for small kids, it's worth considering other options before you plunk down your cash. There are benefits and drawbacks to each, and I believe your fundamental question was, "...is a PUP the right choice for me?" The answer is, "that depends."

One man's opinion...remember, you asked.
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Old 09-07-2017, 06:45 PM   #17
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If you have a portable toilet that is not part of your camper, I suggest a portable shelter for it. Just search Shower Shelter on Amazon or look somewhere like Cabelaís. The ones with the external frame are better than the popup variety because they stand up in the wind and some can support a portable shower as well.

Keep in mind, however, that some commercial campsites will not let you put a tent on the same site as your camper and they categorize these as a tent.
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Old 10-11-2017, 12:48 PM   #18
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Does anyone know if adding the hitch receiver, brake wiring, etc 3rd party void any warranty by chance? The price difference is pretty high. The dealer quoted me at about $1000. A reputable place in town that has been recommended to me quoted me at about $500 for everything.
One thing no one pointed out... my inlaws have the same van.. they had the dealer install theirs, and the hitch comes out a pop out piece of plastic that is mounted up higher. I have used their minivan to haul my pontoon/camper/etc.. randomly when my vehicle was being worked on. Well I decided "I want one on my minivan".. found some local places that did it for 350-500.00 and paid them. Most aftermarket ones mount BELOW the bumper.. so it was like 6 inches or so lower.. Long story short, tore chunks out of my black top, bent stuff up, etc.. So if you do buy aftermarket make sure it mounts up HIGH where Dodge intended theirs to go. If not, good luck not dragging the ground.

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6. If you need air conditioning (AC), don't fool yourself that an AC unit is going to do a great job in 100 degree weather in what amounts to a HUGE tent. It will be cooler, but getting your PUP down to 80 would be quite a feat for an add-on AC unit in an uninsulated canvas structure that might be 150 square feet.
I'll disagree on this. Got a 2716G, so it's rather huge.. have AC in mine. In Mattituck NY (long island) in July.. 98 degrees being 1 block from the sound (beach) VERY high humidity.. My AC unit kept mine cold.. like so cold my wife slept with heated matress and blankets on. And it even would shut off for 20-30 minutes at a clip until it needed to cool down again. They are pretty insulated for what they are. And on the flip side.. living in PA, we took 4 of us camping and it dropped to 31 that night.. all I had running was a tiny 10"X10" heater on low.. got so hot i slept without covers.

Now I will say I have pop up gizmos on mine.. which help, but 98 degree weather by the beach is unforgiving even with those.. and that AC and camper did perfect.
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Old 11-13-2017, 10:02 PM   #19
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Old 11-13-2017, 10:59 PM   #20
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Hello all. New to the forums and have settled in on wanting to purchase a pop-up. A little bit of background I grew up camping with my parents in a bumper pull trailer and when I was older Dad bought a fifth wheel, we camped every weekend during the summer.

So I am married with a 3 year old and 4 month old. We want to get outdoors more and get our kids outside in the wilderness. We live in northern Utah and we have some beautiful country. We recently purchased a 2017 Dodge Grand Caravan to help with getting car seats in and out, plus for more comfort on longer rides when visiting family that is over 4 hours away. This vehicle would have to be our tow vehicle. So I have a few questions. Does anyone know if adding the hitch receiver, brake wiring, etc 3rd party void any warranty by chance? The price difference is pretty high. The dealer quoted me at about $1000. A reputable place in town that has been recommended to me quoted me at about $500 for everything.

So I am looking at the Freedom 205 because it has a toilet and with one toddler, and a newborn we feel that having a toilet will prevent middle of the night trips to the outhouse. Also the weight seems ideal for my comfort level on the Caravan.

If we purchase the 205 do you know if we can add an Air Conditioner to it? This is a requirement for us due to being in the desert and we have sometimes camped in places where it is 100 degrees during the day. We are hoping to be purchasing a pup before the end of the year or early next year so we can have a full camping season of spring and summer next year. Even contemplating taking a trip to yellowstone.

Anyways any advice is greatly appreciated.
You said you have experience camping in a bumper pull and 5th wheel. Have you ever camped under canvas? If not, I recommend renting a popup before buying one. Some people are not comfortable sleeping under canvas.

We really enjoyed our popup when the kids were younger. It had a nice airy feeling but there are 2 problems with popups that caused us to move to a hybrid.

1) Lack of storage. We had bags piled on bags on the one long, low cabinet.

2) Lack of sufficient refrigerator space. We had to bring 2 coolers to have enough capacity and it was a nuisance to keep buying ice every couple days. We eventually bought an electric cooler to cut down on the cost of ice. We always got an electric site.

We finally ended up in a travel trailer because we didnít like setting up in the rain and putting the canvas away wet. Thatís even more of a problem with a popup.

As I said we really enjoyed our popup but if you havenít slept under canvas and dealt with setting it up and tearing it down, it would be good to rent one first to make sure you like it before investing in one.

The Caravan should do fine pulling a 205. If you want AC, youíll need either a 30A service or a generator. Make it an inverter generator if youíre in a campground.

Good luck!
__________________
2019 Rockwood Signature 8290BS, Reese Revolution pinbox and B&W Patriot 18K hitch
2016 Ford F-250 XLT SuperCrew, 6.2L, 4x4, 6'9" bed, 3.73, w/ snow plow & camper pkgs.
2011 Rockwood Signature 8293SS (2015 - 2018)
2010 Rockwood Roo 23SS (2012 - 2014)

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