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Old 03-14-2011, 01:41 PM   #1
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Newbie question: what length to buy?

Hi Folks,

My wife and I are recently retired and are planning to buy a class A diesel pusher. We have been enjoying a 27 foot single slide fifth wheel for the past 11 years, so we know a bit about camping. Our trips have been mostly one or two weeks. We particularly enjoy camping in the smaller state parks and national forest campgrounds.

Our plan is to take several one month (or longer) trips each year, so we feel the need for a larger coach. But, we don't want to go too big and have trouble fitting into the smaller sites.

So, the big question is how long should we go? The 34 foot double slide rigs we have seen look like about the minimum for our long trips. And the 36 foot 4 slide models seem ideal, but are they too long for the small parks we enjoy?

Thanks in advance,

Bruce
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Old 03-14-2011, 01:48 PM   #2
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The answer will depend on just where you like to camp. In our case our first RV was a 33' class A. We wanted to keep it under 35' so that we could fit into the various parks. Except, after we had it we realized that you need to be no more than 30' to fit anywhere plus you can't deploy slideout very offen in those sites either due to width restrictions. Because we needed more room we started looking at 38' diesel pushers and wound up with a 40' DP. Actually, the 40' DP went any place that the 33' gasser did. It seems that sites are either 30' max, 40' max, or even greater (we now have a 42' DP and still have no problems). While it's true that the really tight places are off limits to us, we really wouldn't have fared any better with our 33' RV.

For the most part, RVers buy too small then have to upgrade. It's very rare that anyone goes smaller so I would tend to lean towards the RV that is near the larger end of your scale.
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Old 03-14-2011, 02:00 PM   #3
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Good advice methinks from 737Driver.

We have a 40DP and don't really even try to get into most State and National parks but we just couldn't imagine giving up the room we now have.

Good luck...

Rick
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Old 03-14-2011, 04:03 PM   #4
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Welcome to IRV2 and some of the friendliest, most helpful folks I've found.

My husband and I just bought our first RV this past September - a Winnebago Vista 30W which is 30" 11" long (more or less). We wanted to stay as short as possible because we knew we'd want to stay at State or National Parks/Forests most of the time. We originally looked at at the Vista 26P, but decided it was just too small for us and our 4 cats and had a pitiful amount of storage - both inside and out.

So far we've taken 4 trips - 2 were two days each and were our shakedowns close to home, 1 was 10 days, and the other was 7 days. All but 7 of those 21 nights were in Sate Parks or National Parks/Forests. Of the 14 nights, 5 would have been difficult, if not impossible, in anything too much bigger. Ocasionally the problem wasn't that the sites were way too short but that the turns in the campground were so tight that anything much longer would have been really, really hard to maneuver through.

We have 2 (opposing) slides in the living/dining/kitchen area and have not (yet) encountered a park where we couldn't open both of them. I'm sure there are places where it would be a problem, but we can access everything we absolutely need (stove, fridge, cabinets) with both slides in. Not as comfy, but doable, and not something I'd anticipate having to live with for an extended period.

For us, knowing that we'd be able to fit in pretty much any place we wanted to go, was a major factor in our size choice. I worried that the limited space might bother my husband since we live in a 3000 SF house with ample room to spread out all our "stuff" and relax. What we've found is what I hoped would be the case. Just like when we stayed in the Parks in cabins/lodges we spend very little time in the RV. It's mostly a place to eat, unwind for a little while at the end of the day, download photos to the computer, check the forecast for the next day's weather, and sleep.

For our style of travel, so far, it's perfect. We plan a 4-6 week trip in late August/early September this year and next year plan to go to Alaska. Will we wish we had a bit more room on those longer trips? I don't know, but I don't think so. Now, if we decided to full-time - I'm sure we'd want, and need, more space.

In the end, only you know what matters the most to you, and what compromises you're willing to make.

Happy traveling,
Fran
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Old 03-14-2011, 07:00 PM   #5
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Well certainly the smaller you go the more of those parks you can fit into, but you also want to make it comfortable. We have a 40 footer and stay almost exclusively in public campgrounds (state parks, national forest etc.) or on public land (boondocking) so it can be done, but we do have to plan carefully and there's been spots we've not been able to fit. In retrospect knowing how we like to camp we should have gone somewhat smaller.

I think around 35 or 36 feet is not a bad compromise and will get you in a few more spots than a 40 footer. But I agree with the other poster that getting down to 30 opens up a ton more possibilities.

As an example we stayed in CO at the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forest last year. Out of ~48 campgrounds there only ~15 take our size. If you're 35 that opens up another 5 or so campgrounds, but a 30 footer could fit in almost all of them (bar ~10 or so).

Nina
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Old 03-14-2011, 07:44 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Floridafran
Welcome to IRV2 and some of the friendliest, most helpful folks I've found.

My husband and I just bought our first RV this past September - a Winnebago Vista 30W which is 30" 11" long (more or less). We wanted to stay as short as possible because we knew we'd want to stay at State or National Parks/Forests most of the time. We originally looked at at the Vista 26P, but decided it was just too small for us and our 4 cats and had a pitiful amount of storage - both inside and out.

So far we've taken 4 trips - 2 were two days each and were our shakedowns close to home, 1 was 10 days, and the other was 7 days. All but 7 of those 21 nights were in Sate Parks or National Parks/Forests. Of the 14 nights, 5 would have been difficult, if not impossible, in anything too much bigger. Ocasionally the problem wasn't that the sites were way too short but that the turns in the campground were so tight that anything much longer would have been really, really hard to maneuver through.

We have 2 (opposing) slides in the living/dining/kitchen area and have not (yet) encountered a park where we couldn't open both of them. I'm sure there are places where it would be a problem, but we can access everything we absolutely need (stove, fridge, cabinets) with both slides in. Not as comfy, but doable, and not something I'd anticipate having to live with for an extended period.

For us, knowing that we'd be able to fit in pretty much any place we wanted to go, was a major factor in our size choice. I worried that the limited space might bother my husband since we live in a 3000 SF house with ample room to spread out all our "stuff" and relax. What we've found is what I hoped would be the case. Just like when we stayed in the Parks in cabins/lodges we spend very little time in the RV. It's mostly a place to eat, unwind for a little while at the end of the day, download photos to the computer, check the forecast for the next day's weather, and sleep.

For our style of travel, so far, it's perfect. We plan a 4-6 week trip in late August/early September this year and next year plan to go to Alaska. Will we wish we had a bit more room on those longer trips? I don't know, but I don't think so. Now, if we decided to full-time - I'm sure we'd want, and need, more space.

In the end, only you know what matters the most to you, and what compromises you're willing to make.

Happy traveling,
Fran
Couldn't agree more. Large coaches are not for everyone. We have a Vista 26p and for the two of us it's the perfect size for one to four week trips. After years of traveling weekly by air, I learned how to make due with a carry-on bag quite nicely long ago. I understand the comfort, convenience and ride of the big DPs in particular, but I like the maneuverability, as well as the campground and boondocking options available with a smaller coach. And frankly, how much "stuff" do you really need anyway? Sometimes you don't own your stuff, it owns you.

Guido
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Old 03-14-2011, 08:17 PM   #7
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Tough decision. Each step up in size rules out a few more sites. We went from 29 to 36 to 35 to 40. We didn't notice the change from 29 to 35/36 too much, but the step up to 40 made quite a few of our old sites severely crowded and began to migrate towards other parks or area with larger sites. I'd say you are ok up into the 34-36 foot range. Longer rigs may also have trouble negotiating campground roads in some forested parks. On the other hand, we've always found nice places to camp, regardless of size. We like the comfort of the size we now have (40 ft triple slide) and think the tradeoff is worth it.
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Old 03-14-2011, 08:53 PM   #8
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Size

Well - we ended up with a 30 ft 2 slides MH and it is plenty for us 4 (2 2 legged and 2 4 legged kind). We think, that 36 - 40 ft would be plenty. For most State Parks a 30 ft is perfect. A smaller MH likes less fuel.
We bought our MH just as a Temp, but we liked it so much, we'll keep it for some time.

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Old 03-14-2011, 11:51 PM   #9
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We've had several RV's and have found our 36' Winnebago Journey to be just right. We can fit in anywhere we want to go, and don't feel cramped inside.

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Old 03-15-2011, 01:16 AM   #10
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Thanks to all for the comments. We are going to look at a Winnebago Journey 34H this weekend. I must say the shorter ones are hard to find.

Bruce
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Old 03-15-2011, 04:42 AM   #11
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Bruce, I to have looked at the 34H pay close attention to the storage bays underneath not much room. The 36-38 are far more abundant so you can make a better deal on them. Fuel wise they all get about the same fuel mileage 8-10 mpg on cummins, 7-9 on cat. We like most other RV owners are always looking at diffrent coaches, but just can't bring myself to get rid of my 40' Foretravel. You might want to take a look at the older non slide Foretravels great old coaches with lot's of storage both inside and out, and F/T has great customer support.
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Old 03-15-2011, 02:44 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 737driver View Post
Thanks to all for the comments. We are going to look at a Winnebago Journey 34H this weekend. I must say the shorter ones are hard to find.

Bruce
We couldn't agree more!!! My husband and I just purchased out first MH and had the same questions and thoughts as you do. We bought a 31' National sea breeze with 2 slides. It was really hard to try and find a MH at the 30' range that was used in good condition. IF you are buying new you have the pic of the litter and will have the option of diesel ( allegro breeze) but as normal that would be a pretty penny. We felt the 31' would suit our camping needs and was a big upgrade from our class B van... I'm sure if we were full timers the more space the better but we still enjoy the actual camping aspect and like the flexibility the smaller rigs provide along with plenty of room and comfort for us!!! Also there are some great floor plans out there that make the smaller ones feel like 35- 40ft. We also really liked the Winnebago Vista and the sightseer... good luck !!
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Old 03-18-2011, 11:03 PM   #13
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The best motor home in the World is not one but a collection of about five. That way you can take out the right one for the occasion you plan to do. Actually there are a few RVers that have a big class A around 42'+ and something like a Born Free for State Parks.
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Old 03-19-2011, 09:39 AM   #14
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Don't forget the slides...especially in older CGs. We've been in many CGs where the 40' length was fine, but with slides on both sides, we were too wide.
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