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Old 10-11-2018, 06:55 PM   #1
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Smile Just took our camper out for the first time, questions!

Hey guys/gals,

We took our Wolf Pup BHS out this past weekend for 3 nights and absolutely loved the trailer. We are long time tent campers and having AC, bathroom with shower, and just a dry place in bad weather was amazing. It rained a little the 2nd day, but the last full day it rained for 6 hours straight with no break.

I have a few questions since we are so new to this. Any answers are appreciated.

1. We stayed at a corp of engineers site with an asphalt pad, and a gravel/sand area that the awning extended over. I bought a small mat purpose made for campers to hold dirt/mud from shoes to put outside the door, but a ridiculous amount of sand and dirt made it into the camper. The mat held a lot, but I'm wondering if one of the large mats or carpets I see advertised would be the way to go? I get that in dry weather it would be good, but what do you people with experience do when you camp and it rains all day, in regards to going in and out without tracking dirt/mud everywhere? Would the carpet type large mats have been an even bigger mess? Tarps under the carpet?

2. We travel with 2 boxers (So me, my wife, our 11y/o daughter and 2 dogs). We normally stake them out when we are outside with them with stakes we pound in the ground and 10ft long cables. At our most visited tent site we actually let them off the cables, and they stay right in the campsite, but I think the more we travel this less of an option that is (respecting the rules of the campgrounds). Is staking them the best way to go, or do you have some other tricks/tips for dogs?

3. We had no phone signal, nor did the park have any wifi. What are the options for improving cell signal in a travel trailer?

4. Silly question, but when you have a bunkhouse camper with no ladder to the top bunk, what method do you use to get up there? It's a huge step from the bottom bunk up, and getting down is about the same. There has to be a "technique" problem here LOL. My daughter isn't a rock climber and she was hoping there was something we are missing.

5. Is there a "rule of thumb" in regards to wind speed or storms where you automatically take your awning down? The awning was the only thing that saved the day for meals since I grilled for 2 of the bigger dinners and needed the awning for rain cover, but I was worried that if enough wind came I'd be regretting not taking it down.

6. I was running my water heater on electric. Do you leave it on the entire time you are plugged in and camping, or just turn it on in the morning so you have hot showers rather than running it all night?

Again thanks for taking the time to give me some guidance. Next summer we are going to go on some week long out of state trips and I'm hoping to get over the steep learning curve before then with a few short campouts like this.


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Old 10-11-2018, 07:37 PM   #2
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Maybe I can answer a few of your questions. To start off, Corp of Engineer parks are great. Any way, about the outdoor matts. We have a plastic woven matt that is about 6'x12' that we put in front of the camper. It does not absorb water and is easy to sweep off. Normally I store it in the front storage compartment but if it's wet and/or muddy, I just fold it up and throw it in the back of the truck.

I have a dog run that is 75' long that I tie between two trees or a tree and the pickup. Major the 15 lb dog has a 10' lead that attaches to a pulley on the dog run and he can run back and forth in the campsite. Some campgrounds may not let you tie the dog run to one of their trees so your mileage may vary.

If the awning is lifting in the wind, it's time to take it in. A new awning for my camper will cost about $2,000 including installation. Easier to just take it in if the wind is blowing hard.

We flip the electric switch on the hot water heater as soon as we get set up and leave it on until we leave. You can also use the propane in addition to the electric for faster hot water recovery but I prefer to save my propane.

Can't help you with the cell phone signal or the climbing issue. You're on your own on those issues.

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Old 10-11-2018, 07:43 PM   #3
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Awning comes in for me anytime 15 mph winds are around. Gusts are unpredictable an will kill off your awning in a hearbeat. I always retract it when I leave for a side trip or long walk.
I do leave my elec. water heater on all the time while hooked up at a campsite.
Biggest problem for me with door mats are the wind. The larger the mat the sooner it wants to leave the area. We usually take our shoes off when entering the RV.
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Old 10-11-2018, 07:49 PM   #4
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Hi Frank

1. We use an 8'x10' awning mat as they are sometimes called. They come in various sizes and colors. They are basically a large vinyl straw mat so they don't hold water and dry quickly. On top of the mat, in front of the steps, we have a rubber mat to wipe our feet on, we also installed step carpets and have another mat inside the doorway.

2. Can't help you with the pet question.

3. There are boosters but you still need a signal to boost. We leave our phones off to get away from them.

4. Build a ladder?

5. If the wind comes up and the awning starts to flap the awning is retracted. They act like a big sail and are easy to destroy in a heart beat. Use common sense. Also put them away when you leave camp and also at night should the wind come up.

6. If it's on electric leave it on and use gas to quicken recovery times. The choice is yours on how you use it so no rules required.
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Old 10-11-2018, 08:04 PM   #5
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First off welcome to the forum. You are joining a good group of folks here with good info to share.

We use a large rug mat to wipe our feet off before coming inside and in good weather we leave our shoes outside.

We also use one of those "plastic straw" 10x12 mats to set outside and place our chairs on it. COE parks are our favorite.

We also bring in our awning when it starts to flap around.

As to phone no signal then no phone or internet. Not a bad thing usually. If a problem we take a ride into 'town" when we need the internet or to make phone calls.

Good luck and enjoy the adventure.
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Old 10-11-2018, 10:39 PM   #6
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We ended up getting a thin piece of indoor outdoor carpet some 20 years ago. It's light, easy to clean, and dries out quickly when it does get wet. About 5x7 in size and is still in decent shape.

Staking the dogs normally leads to tangles. For our pooch, I run a length of parachute cord between trees just over the tallest person's head so that no one runs into it. Then I clip his leash to it with a carabiner which allows him to run up and down it without getting tangled.

No phone or wifi,, that's a tough one. We don't run into that problem very often but when we do, we just do without. That's actually kinda nice at times!

Top bunk, not sure. I would think if it was a big step, that the trailer manufacturer should have supplied steps or a ladder.

Our older manual awning seems pretty tough so it stays out most of the time. My buddy's newer electric one looks kinda flimsy and he makes sure to pull it in when the wind comes up. I'd say to watch it at different wind speeds, see how it does, and make the call when it begins moving around too much.

Water heater stays on when we're plugged in.

Congratulations on the new rig!
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Old 10-11-2018, 10:46 PM   #7
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You can buy a ladder at Camping World or online suppliers, but the trailer should have come with one.
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Old 10-12-2018, 01:22 AM   #8
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On the ladder issue, why not just get a 3 step step stool at Target or Walmart. They fold flat to store and I think the third step would be high enough for an 11 year old to hop up into the bunk.
Plus it can be used for other things as well.
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Old 10-12-2018, 03:32 AM   #9
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Be very careful with driving stakes into the ground for the dogs. Some campgrounds totally prohibit driving stakes, and even if they do allow it....how do you know where any of the utilities are located.....water, electric, sewer, etc.? That is why many campgrounds don't allow it.
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Old 10-12-2018, 04:24 AM   #10
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Just took our camper out for the first time, questions!

Awning mats - camping world sells an inexpensive carrying case. That way when pulled it up, you put it in the bag and zip it up and get it home and clean it or dry it and you can stored anywhere without it making a mess.
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Old 10-12-2018, 04:38 AM   #11
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For a mat, I have used indoor/outdoor carpet from Home Depot or Lowes for 6 years of full timing. Cheap, easy to sweep off, dries fast if it rains. Shoes always off inside. Awing in if it is gusty. No set wind speed, i just lower my odds of loosing it by bringing it in.
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Old 10-12-2018, 05:10 AM   #12
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Awning: We roll it up whenever we leave the site and if windy enough to flop around. We have a manual awning and do at times lower it way down if we want to leave windows open.
Patio Mat: We have an 8 X 12 polypropylene mat that does not absorb water. Fairly inexpensive at Walmart. We tend to use it whenever we have a dirt site or are staying for more than one night. I made a nylon bag to store it in and that helps a lot if you have to roll it up wet. The sand stays inside the bag and you just shake it out at the next stop. We usually leave our shoes outside or on the step inside the door.
Phone: You are camping to get away from it all. Relax and enjoy the peace and quiet of not having a phone or internet.
Dog: Cant help you with the dog, we have a cat that is content to stay inside the RV all the time.
Ladder: Search RV Bunk Ladder on Amazon. There are about a dozen to choose from.
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Old 10-12-2018, 05:32 AM   #13
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Thanks for all the info folks, it is much appreciated.

Sounds like some type of indoor/outdoor carpet will be on the short list of things to buy before the next campout.

I'm not sure why I didn't think of just searching for a bunk ladder haha, makes so much sense. And the foldable step would also be nice, we already have one I could try.

I also like the idea of trying a dog run rather than a stake. Once again, never even considered that putting stakes out would be a problem. This was the first time I've camped on a site with any sore of utilities, all the years I've gone it's been on basic primitive non electric. Good point, and I will have to inquire next time.

I appreciate all the input,
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Old 10-12-2018, 06:06 AM   #14
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….interesting topic--you asked some very good questions...here are some thoughts:

1--unless you are staying in a 5-star RV resort, "managing" dirt is sort of the what camping is about--especially with dogs and kids. Large mats help but usually need to be staked down, need to be cleaned and need to be stored when not in use. And unless you are on bare ground or a prepared RV site, your mat will tend to kill the grass if left too long in place...life is a series of compromises, so is camping.

2--use to be a dog owner, but not right now...if you decide to travel with pets, you have special obligations toward both your pets and your neighbors. Frankly, I feel that when you start talking about how best to "keep" them in your rig while gone, or "staking" them out in the yard, you need to reconsider what you are doing. Sorry if I hurt someone's feelings.

3--water heater: if on electric, keep on all the time; if on propane--depends....Left on, WHs are pretty well insulated so they don't use much energy between demand uses. Keeping 6 or 10 gal hot all the time vs re-heating it on demand--any differences in energy use may be a wash????

4--you have some options for securing your awning--eg, ropes and stakes, but a daily check of the Wx forecast will help you decide when to roll up your awning--if in doubt roll it up!

5--there are cell phone boosters for sale but performance vary by location. The "deeper you go into the woods" the fewer the comforts of modern life--see item #1....

….don't over think the camping experience...focus on just enjoying it!!!!

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