If anyone has any thoughts it'd be great. Would love to know:
- What kind of camper do you have (year, make, model, weight)?
- What do you tow it with?
- Did you need to make any modifications to it or the towing car?
- Where do you rack your bikes: towing car or camper? If camper, did you have to drill the roof? Any concerns or problems with that?
- What things should I look for or beware of?
- How does it handle on the road?
- How does it handle off-road, like, for example, Schnebly Hill in Sedona or the hill to Gooseberry out of Virgin?
Well, we LOVE our pop-up! Extremely versitile, light and easy to take places.
Our situation is similar to yours; we have 2 kids.
We have a 1998 Coleman (Fleetwood) Cheyenne. We bought it new from Kettleson in west Denver. After 12 years of camping, we've definitely evolved into efficient campers.
We love the Cheyenne model, however the ones with the pop-out sides do offer up a little more room. Ours has the hand pump water (no hot water) which is fine for us. It also has a heater (must have), refridgerator, and two stoves (one inside and one outside). My neighbors have a Jayco, and the coleman's are a little better in quality.
--as for popups, my only requirement was to NOT crawl over any seating or tables to get to the beds.
--we added an extra propane tank and battery (total of 2 each)... almost a must have at least for running heat on colder outings.
--we lifted ours, because we do take it off-road to get into the roads less travelled. The above (and larger) campers would've had made it.
--we have the front storage area, which has been critical in transporting and leaving in those extra necessities (camp chairs, tarps, lanterns, etc.
We have been pulling our pop-up with our 97 Toyota Land Cruise since we've bought it. I did have a 98 Toyota Tacoma (Supercharged) that did well but we sold it when we needed 4 seats when the kiddos came around.
The Land Cruiser does 'okay'. Slower on the passes (think 35mph up Vail...ugh). The bike situation is always interesting. We are the type to make camp and drive to the riding spots or shuttle people (moab, Fruita, etc).... so we have a rack system for the top of the cruiser and a rack system for the top of the camper. Problem with the camper rack is that you still need to transport bikes once you're at the location.
That said, we recently bought a Toyota Tundra. The V8 that Toyota makes (the 2000-2006 versions) do well. We bought an 06 Tundra (the older model) that is 4 door for the kids. We didn't opt for a topper and do transport the bikes either via DH style, on top of the camper, or also rack them on top of the tundra. The trailer still works fine if you drape them over the tailgate. We also carry tons of firewood in the back (way cheaper than buying individual bundles).
--Towing package on the Tundra.
--2 -3 inch lift on the camper. The new E series already has these lifts
--Extra Propane & Battery
--Camp will be harder to move. You'll need to think about 2 things:
1. Transporting the bikes with the camper to the designation
2. Transporting riders to and from camp to the rides. If you're doing shuttles in Moab, you'll need a few extra places to dump bikes (hence our reason for a 4-door truck)
We have added a rack to the camper to put on racks. Kettleson did it because they have a system on doing it.
--Get a great layout. The reason we bought a pop-up was to get out of the rain/snow/wind during bad times. You'll find that you mostly live 'out' of it. Having storage is key, so I would never own one without a front storage area. We don't have to prep much, everything is in there. Tent camping is great if its only you, but add in the infrastructure of kids, and a pop-up is waaaay better. Just throw in food and clothes, and go. I see a lot of my friends that end up living out of the van/car/etc... and its a pain sometimes.
--handles well. no issues. Easy to pull, manuever, etc.
--pop-ups rock, period. You can take these things everywhere. I noticed a few other pictures of other campers.... the bigger you get, the harder it is to get into tight places. The taller it is, the more top-heavy it gets when you go offroad. I've taken mine not only to Crested butte, but also have taken it across streams (oh be joyful), into 4wd areas (penitente canyon out skirts), Moab, Fruita and all on the road less traveled. We HATE campgrounds and would rather get out and away from all the people that have to have infrastructure. No more RV's, big campers, etc. We enjoy Sand flats and places like that, but we've done a tone of serious off-roading that the camper itself can barely go.
Think about storage. The bigger you go, you need a place to put it. Find a home without an HOA and you're in ******* haven. Get an HOA and you need to put it somewhere. we can store ours in our 3rd car garage.... easy. I don't have to go anywhere to get it. I can constantly maintain the batteries and know everything will be safe.
I'll upload pics. We have 4 families in our hood that all have pop-ups. We all have kids too. Its a great thing to have when you have kids, period. Dry, clean area's to change clothes, diapers, etc. We love ours and get out probably 10+ times a year as a family. Mostly mtn biking trips.