Class C motorhome vs tow behind trailer
Posted by: willowleaf on Mar-18-13 12:07 PM (EST)
We've owned a small tow behind (we also use a 4 liter Ranger to haul it) for 2.5 years and like it a lot. It's a standard trailer, 16' long, not fiberglass (we looked at those and did not like the lack of a real flush toilet and shower -- as paddlers we want to be able to wash off the stinky river water at the end of the day). Our trailer is only 1500 lbs -- closer to 2000 loaded. Has 2 burner range, dual power fridge (runs on propane or electric), propane heat, electric AC, hot and cold running water, small shower enclosure with flush toilet, dinette that seats 4 and converts to a double bed, couch in the rear that converts to a 48" x 8' bunk and two drop down overhead bunks for kids or gear storage. Nice headroom and lots of window -- does not feel cramped at all with two people. The model is a Sun Valley Road Runner -- no longer in production but used ones turn up. We got ours in 95% pristine condition for $4200. It needed some tweaking -- clogged drain line, a couple of leaks in the siding. I think the torquing of the structure when you go over uneven ground or have to park it off level probably contributes to leaks. We've been able to find and seal the few it has had.
We have also rented Class C motorhomes (22' to 25') on out of town trips where we flew to the destination. I have to admit a bit of a preference for the Class C for comfort -- it is great to be able to just pull in and park without having to mess with the hitch and leveling as with the trailer. And there is more room and comfort in those, with full shower and vanity in the bath and queen sized bed, plus the convenience of the passenger being able to slip back into the unit to make a snack, use the toilet or take a nap while your partner is driving (yeah, we know it's not technically safe but we do it anyway.) Gas mileage is about the same for both set ups. The drawback to the Class C is that you have to haul the thing everywhere. With the trailer you can leave it in the campground and take just the truck whereever you are headed for the day. When we rented a Class C last month for a trip to Death Valley and the Sierras we also rented mountain bikes which enabled us to leave the camper in the campground and explore the surrounding areas and access trails with the bikes.
Another drawback to the Class C (besides initial cost) is that you have to maintain the vehicle. And if the engine or tranny smokes you have to replace them to keep your camper intact. With a trailer there are no automotive issues so you can keep upgrading what you tow it with -- less obsolescense.
We never have used a generator with any of the units. The batteries and propane provide most of what we need for any overnight stop or we can get a 120 volt hookup at perked campgrounds. The only thing you miss going without the generator or a 120 volt hookup is the microwave, TV and air conditioning. We've managed to get by without these but you may want to consider whether you need them.
With generators, all I can say is get a brand name like Kohler or Onan rather than Chinese-made off brands from big box stores. And read the maintenance instructions properly and then follow the advice. Don't leave fuel in the genset between uses without adding stabilizer and follow the routines of lubrication and tune ups for it and you should get many years from it. Same for the trailer. Don't leave it sit with blackwater and grey water in the system and drain and flush and fill with antifreeze (special potable water type) when the camper is in storage. Get a cover for it if you have to store it outdoors.
Anyway, those have been our experiences (two early 60's hikers and paddlers).
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