Let’s talk about RV’s and Wildlife Photography

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Hut2

🇺🇸
Supporting Member
We have an F350 diesel and pull a 5th wheel. I actually do all the driving, hubby navigates! LOL! I plan out our trips and book RV/national/state parks/etc well in advance. Since most places have only a 24 hr cancellation policy, adjusting our schedule during the trips is generally an easy matter of leaving a day early, staying a day or so longer, or re-routing. I pick locations based on where we want to go and what we want to do. Trips range from 3 weeks to a 3 month drive we made to Alaska and back!

We much prefer a 5th wheel, because we can disconnect and then run around in our 4 wheel drive truck. I've driven in 50 mph winds and the 5th wheel was still straight and easy to pull. When trucks pass, you get get the "sucking" feeling of the 5th wheel being pushed around by the gusts of wind. In 2019 we drove from Tennessee to the northern coast of Newfoundland. GREAT trip. We had solar panels put on the roof to take advantage of solar power.

Lots of great advice in earlier threads. I'll emphasize.... don't get something too big, especially if you anticipate BLM type camping. We seldom camp without electric....but that has never meant that we couldn't find a place to stay in a location we had chosen.

Oh....and we travel with our dog. He is a great traveler and enjoys meeting and playing with oother dogs.

While diesel fuel is more expensive, you will get much better gas mileage (and power, as Steve alluded to!) than using a gasoline tow vehicle. We did NOT want a dually and even in 50 mpg winds have not had a problem towing our 41' 5th wheel with our 4 wheel ,short bed F350. However, we got a SuperGlide 5h wheel hitch. When making a 90° turn, the 5th wheel slides back (way from the truck cab back window!!!) and when I straighten out, the hitch pulls the 5th wheel back up into position. Love the SuperGlide hitch.

BTW - we previously had a 35' 5th wheel and I would have stuck with that length again, except we couldn't find what we wanted in 35 footer. The 41' Grand Design Solitude 5th wheel has been a dream and we don't regret getting it.

We started out with a really (too) small trailer....and after a couple of years, moved up to a 35' 5th wheel. We used that for 8 years, then traded it in on our current 41' 5th wheel.
Same here we went from 25 foot wilderness travel trailer to full time in 30 foot Cougar 5er to 36 foot Hitchhiker to our current 40 foot Pinnacle and a 25 foot Winnebago travel trailer for camping. When we retire we will do the opposite of most people and sell the RV to settle down on our property in Idaho.
Too small isn’t fun especially with dogs. We spent last winter working out of state in our 25 footer and it was ok with one doggy.
40 foot is too big for small trips, imo.
 

Nimi

Well-known member
Supporting Member
what about utility vans like the Sprinter cargo van. Not suggest that one in particular, just an example. Small, cozy - good for a long weekend? Not as big as an RV, perhaps better gas milage
The Sprinter is very popular but impossible to get. The Ford Transit is an excellent alternative. The Ram Promaster (a Fiat) gets good reviews but has almost no ground clearance due to axel design.

Tradesmen and delivery services like Amazon are all vying for these, as well as all the Gen Xers who hit the road in 2020.
 

abc123brian

Well-known member
what about utility vans like the Sprinter cargo van. Not suggest that one in particular, just an example. Small, cozy - good for a long weekend? Not as big as an RV, perhaps better gas milage
I like the idea of a ford transit and making it a weekend getaway vehicle. If you want to add any plumbing or setup for indoor cooking, it gets to be a bit challenging, but as a tent replacement I like the idea. You could also stealth camp in places. I struggled to find any decent prices on them when I looked. I wanted the high roof version so I could stand up. I then asked myself if a cheaper travel trailer made more sense as it was already assembled, ready to go and around the same cost. still think the van would be fun.
 

Whiskeyman

Well-known member
Supporting Member
It's funny, I got the Land Cruiser as a demo and at a deeply discounted rate since it had 7,000 miles on it already from the new car sales manager. Considering how much prices have gone up, I bet I could almost get back what I put into it if I sold it now after three years! The new Sequoia will probably be great, and I have a feeling the new 4Runner (2023 I think) might be more capable than expected. Rumor has it that it'll have the same engine / transmission as the Tundra.

We don't take pets with us though, so that would be a reason to favor a slightly larger rig. Our 24 is really more than we need, but if we had a big dog or two, it would probably feel tight.
My 2009 Land Cruiser has gone up several thousand dollars in value since the shortages hit. Its a crazy car market world for sure. And if you are lucky enough to have one of the older land cruisers, prices have gone through the roof!
I could get more for my '88 Land Cruiser than I initially paid for it, but not likely as much as I've put into it over the last 31 years. Unfortunately, with the inline-six and stock transmission, it won't pull anywhere close to what y'alls' will. One thing I can say is that my Land Cruser has really cruised this land of ours; from North Dakota to Florida to California, and all sorts of places in-between. My kids have arguments about which one of them gets it when I die. :unsure:

I've thrown a mattress, sleeping bag and cooler in the back and hit the road for a few days in the past. Alone. When I got back, my wife would send me straight to the shower and tell me to do my own laundry! :LOL: I don't think I could do that any more!
 
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Barbara

New member
I had a Winnebago Travato for several years. Full motorhome built on a RAM Promaster chassis, 22' long. Pros: easy to drive, very easy to park, no need to lug gear into a hotel each night, cook your own meals, good gas mileage. Cons: might be tight for two (I mostly traveled alone), high driver position (some like it, some don't), low ground clearance. In the end my biggest problem was that I live in a rural area and couldn't ever figure out how to keep mice out of the innards. Sold it this year.
 

Cristobal

Well-known member
Supporting Member
My spouse and myself have been enjoying camping in RV for 10 years now; our main destinations is east of Norh-America from Quebec to Florida where we used to go twice a year in november and April before the pandemia. We bought a small diesel used class B (Roadtrek sprinter SSAgile 2008), very comfortable for two adults; for us it's perfect because we travel very light and, with a lenth of only 20', we are able to go everywhere and very close to nature in state parks, mainly on the west coast of Florida; we bring with us an inflatable kayak and two bicycles; my wife and myself use our bicycle to get around in the parks; I found it also very useful when I want to be in a spot early in the morning for photography, without disturbing my wife :LOL:
We have been many times in west of North-America, visiting most of National Parks, going by plane and renting a car instead of using a RV (time issue); If I had to come back in such places (Yosemite, Yellowstone.......), by favoring camping, I would use a small trailer instead of a class B for the versatility of being able to let it in the campground while we are visiting more easily and safely those huge parks with our main vehicule (easier also to stop to see wildlife).
 

Nimi

Well-known member
Supporting Member
I could get more for my '88 Land Cruiser than I initially paid for it, but not likely as much as I've put into it over the last 31 years. Unfortunately, with the inline-six and stock transmission, it won't pull anywhere close to what y'alls' will. One thing I can say is that my Land Cruser has really cruised this land of ours; from North Dakota to Florida to California, and all sorts of places in-between. My kids have arguments about which one of them gets it when I die. :unsure:

I've thrown a mattress, sleeping bag and cooler in the back and hit the road for a few days in the past. Alone. When I got back, my wife would send me straight to the shower and tell me to do my own laundry! :LOL: I don't think I could do that any more!
Okay, one more Land Cruiser post. I'm working on an editorial for an overlanding magazine celebrating 70 years for the model. This is my talent, a '21 HZJ78.

DSC_8842.jpg
 

Whiskeyman

Well-known member
Supporting Member
You must not live in the states :) That's a good looking truck, wish we could get them here
The plates on it look like they're from Costa Rica. You'll have to wait a while to get one into the US, if ever.

When I bought my Land Cruiser, my wife wanted nothing to do with it. After a while, she needed to use it to haul some "stuff", and afterwards, she tried to keep both sets of keys in her purse to stop me from driving it. I didn't get it back from her for almost two weeks.

Well, this forum was already expensive enough with the level of SAS/CAS/NAS/GAS pertaining to camera gear. Now, it's just gone straight over a cliff! 😏
 
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joe43

Active member
I have never done RV ing so take my thoughts for what their worth.
One approach used by some of my friends who are retired and use their RV as a second home for a portion of the year. They use a pickup truck (many in Texas already own them) and a fifth wheel type RV. When stopped at a location or a RV park, they have the truck to use. When not using the RV they sometimes rent it out in a destination RV park, like during the winter.
Second approach: much smaller RV attached to the back of a SUV. Used for mobile part time travel and RV is very minimal. See attached link about its use on a trip to Alaska from Texas. Trip was over 100 days.
 

wes

Active member
Supporting Member
Thank you.

I split my time between Dallas and Playa Jaco, Costa Rica.
We go down to CR at least once a year at this point. Hopefully will find a property to buy sooner than later.
One of my favorite things about CR is all the FJ40s still plugging along :)
 

Hut2

🇺🇸
Supporting Member
Giving your doggies vision I would look for a floorplan that does not have stairs. That would probably be terrifying for the poor puppy. 5th wheels have stairs, travel trailers are usually a flat floor with a few exceptions
 

dtibbals

Well-known member
Supporting Member
Thread starter
Giving your doggies vision I would look for a floorplan that does not have stairs. That would probably be terrifying for the poor puppy. 5th wheels have stairs, travel trailers are usually a flat floor with a few exceptions
She actually does pretty good with stairs as long as she knows about them. It’s pretty impressive once she knows where she’s at and where things are at she can navigate much better than I could with my eyes closed. I think a pic of my little one is worth a mention :) Shot with a D850 and Nikon 300f2.8

B4AE0AEC-4C5D-42A7-BA5A-040001C964CE.jpeg


Than there is my Lab Diesel.
7862937A-8454-442C-AA3A-BE2EA90274E2.jpeg

So these two very spoiled and loved dogs is why I’m looking at paying absurd money to travel easier lol.
 

Terry

Member
Supporting Member
We've never taken that big first step, but I've been very interested in this topic and have done quite a bit of looking into it.

In our case, we often traverse forest service roads that would be problematic with most trailers or anything large for that matter.

This has caused me to consider:

1) A "short" (140) 4x4 van, in particular the Mercedes Sprinter 4x4. You can get them in a lot of configurations and with some decent AT tires should be a reasonable option to be able to "fit" most places.

2) A truck (AWD or 4x4 in our case) with a topper or camper. The Super Pacific Switchback X1 and Four Wheel Camper Project M are interesting camper shells that are super low profile, light and in the case of the Switchback, super easy to get up and down. Some interesting off-road capable vehicles you can pair with: the Dodge Power Wagon (lockers all the way around plus detachable front sway bars), Ford Tremor (rear locker, front Torsen available) (or Raptor) and the Jeep Gladiator (smaller than the others). My criteria here is I want BOTH a rear locker and some sort of front differential, and that rules out almost all trucks and SUVs.

one nice thing is the new trucks and vans typically have options to have cameras all around which should be helpful when maneuvering in tight spaces. i sure appreciate my backup camera in my jeep when backing down a shelf road.

The permutations can drive you mad :-D The other problem is more or less everything is unobtainable these days.

When I was still looking at trailers, the following ones looked interesting the Oliver (super build quality), Black Series (off-road capable), and the Airstream Basecamp.

The downside is all the options are unobtainium and expensive.
Since you're going down a path I've been exploring for months I thought I'd throw something out. The Sprinter are nice but very expensive and not likely as good off road as a truck/Jeep.

For me it will be a Ford Tremor. The problem with a camper on the bed rails is the truck tailgate doesn't seal. You end up with dust and water inside. Also security isn't the best.

I found a drop-in box solution. It's an Iconic X and is really made for utility type use . It's 1/8" welded aluminum with auto type door sealing. It sits just behind the tailgate making the back pretty secure. The roof rack is rated to 750 pounds.

I plan on dropping an Alu-cab rooftop tent on top. Fyi, Alu-cab is in the process of releasing at Alu-Cabin for full size trucks that's looks cool but too expensive for me.

For me it looks like a good combo to get to a place where there's very few people, I'm just waiting to sell my spare kidney!
 

Nimi

Well-known member
Supporting Member
A quick datapoint for those considering offroading. Earthroamer is arguably the best and largest builder of 'overlanding' vehicles and they use strictly Fords. F550 and F750. That's also been my experience for heavy-duty power and reliability (F250).
 

bsinc1962

Well-known member
Supporting Member
My trailer setup is more to the modest side but works well for my situation.

21ft lightweight travel trailer. I have a Forest River GeoPro 19qb. Dry weight is 3100lbs. I tow with a V8 Toyota Tundra which is pretty optimal around here to get over the higher mountain passes. The length gets us into just about any forest service campground. I can be fully setup in about 15 minutes. Small bathroom with shower. Dual batteries with a built in solar panel so we can easily boondock if we want to.

IMG_20200623_174357.jpg

IMG_20200706_180858.jpg
 

dtibbals

Well-known member
Supporting Member
Thread starter
My trailer setup is more to the modest side but works well for my situation.

21ft lightweight travel trailer. I have a Forest River GeoPro 19qb. Dry weight is 3100lbs. I tow with a V8 Toyota Tundra which is pretty optimal around here to get over the higher mountain passes. The length gets us into just about any forest service campground. I can be fully setup in about 15 minutes. Small bathroom with shower. Dual batteries with a built in solar panel so we can easily boondock if we want to.

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This is a model I have also looked at. How has the quality been? Any concerning problems?
 

bsinc1962

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Supporting Member
This is a model I have also looked at. How has the quality been? Any concerning problems?
We bought it in the spring of 2019 so 3 summers of use and haven't had any issues with it. My only wish on it is that it was a double axle instead of single. Getting the balance right for towing is a compromise due to the fresh water tank is in front of the axle and the black/gray tanks are behind the axle. It still tows great once I figured out how to set the stabilizer bars for full vs empty.

Might be tight with 2 dogs. We have just one (a lab) but we tend to spend most of our time outdoors anyways.

No regrets about it.
 

Calson

Well-known member
I have used a camper shell on a small Toyota pickup, a slide in camper on a 1-ton diesel pickup, and a Class C motorhome. All have compromises of one sort or another. The slide-in camper provided the most mobility and we could pull off anywhere and be fixing a meal in a matter of minutes. But climbing up into the sleeping area over the cab got to be too difficult for my wife. The plus side of a crew cab truck and the sleeping area in the cabover camper was that it provided places during the day to have clothing or photo gear that was immediately available.

With two dogs your best bet is a crew cab pickup pulling a hard sides popup travel trailer. The advantage of this setup is that the bed of the truck is available for the dogs while traveling. I put a heavy duty rubber bed mat in my truck which kept the dogs from sliding around. I put a fiberglass cap on the truck and then put black curtains on the windows so it would be shaded inside for the dogs and no worries about cooking them in back when parked in the sun. Travel trailers provide by far the most bang for the buck in terms of floor space and having a dry bath and plenty of holding tank capacity. Drop off the trailer on BLM dispersed camping areas or at state or federal parks and forests and then you have the pickup for transporting photo gear in the back of the crew cab and your dogs in the bed of the truck.

The problem with motorhomes is that they limit where you can go except for the small Class B type and these are fine for a place to eat and sleep but not for working or much else.
One can tow a vehicle behind a Class A or Class C motorhome but it means detaching the toad from the motorhome when making fuel stops and where you can park for groceries or to go inside a restaurant is quite limiting.
 
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