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Old 11-27-2019, 11:55 AM   #1
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So many questions!

Howdy,

Long time listener, first time caller here. I am retired and plan to start Rv'n it 80% of the year starting this coming spring. The majority of my time (hopefully) will be spent boondocking on BLM and NF land so I am looking for a travel trailer that would be suitable. While my budget isn't too large, I want to be sure and buy something that will last for several years and won't require too much maintenance down time. Also, I already have a Honda gen that will provide all the power I could want but I know solar is ideal and need help with that too.

Questions:
1) Are the Outdoors RV TTs really worth the premium?
2) Are Grand Design TTs rugged enough for gravel roads?
2a) Is there another brand I should be looking at? (I looked at Artic Fox but didn't see a floorplan I liked.
3) What length (hitch to bumper) is ideal for this type of boondocking?
4) How much solar capacity will I need for one person boondocking 1-2 weeks?

Thanks in advance for any help you can offer. I have searched forums but cannot find exact answers.

Cheers,
Ryan

2014 F150 4x4
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Old 11-27-2019, 12:21 PM   #2
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I know you will get a lot of answers because you asked a lot of questions here.

But the only one I will answer is about maintenance......there is not one RV, motorhome, travel trailer etc that won't need or require maintenance. Period. New or used, matters not. Sometimes new have more issues than used since all the "bugs" are worked out.
Prepare for diy projects, if you thinking of no maintenance RV.... maybe hotel room.

As for how much solar...it's very hard to give you answers on that. It is so individual to how you RV or boondock.
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Old 11-27-2019, 12:23 PM   #3
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Have you watched the Outdoor videos showing the off road features? They are pretty persuasive! I don't know if their RVs are worth the extra money and weight. But I do know that folks who own ORV products can tow on rough roads a lot faster than I can!! (I go about 5 mph over rocks and potholes. Not a misprint. 5. My trailer is an ultra-light -- nimble, but not rugged.)

With reference to solar, more is better, if you are essentially full timing. A lot depends on your consumption patterns and your batteries. We are minimalists with two group 31 batteries and a 120 watt portable solar panel. If the sun shines, we are good for many, many days.

Most folks have a lot more wattage than that. If you have room on top of your trailer, I would advise you to load it up with panels -- why not?

One more thing -- keep asking questions!! Us former newbies love to answer them.
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Old 11-27-2019, 12:25 PM   #4
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If you're just planning on driving on good gravel roads any trailer would do. We did it in our 40' motorhome. Same goes for the length. If you plan rough roads you'll have to be sure you have plenty of clearance, especially for your plumbing underneath.

Solar? We were very comfortable with 300w for 2 of us. Of course, we're not energy hogs... just use what we need. If in the West the sun shines plenty to get recharged daily.

A big thing to look for when buying is the tank capacities. That's where you can count on cutting your trip short... when you run out of space. There are ways to address this by carrying your water in separately and carrying your waste out to a suitable dump station.

Good luck! Boondocking is awesome.
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Old 11-27-2019, 12:31 PM   #5
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I forgot to mention length -- shorter is better because you can fit into tight places more easily. But longer is better for full-timing. So it is a compromise.

DW and I are in a 12 foot (!) box -- tiny. And we go for a month at a time. But that is too small for most folks.

We rarely see trailers longer than 20 feet in the really remote areas of the West. 16 footers are common, as are 18 footers.

Definitely get a dual axle -- mine is single axle, and I worry about blow-outs.

Get a lifted trailer (or get a lift kit). Heavy duty shocks are also really helpful.

We put a heavy axle, heavy leaf springs, heavy shocks, and beefy tires on our little trailer. It looks like a toddler wearing Daddy's hiking boots. But it survives in the semi-wilderness!
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Old 11-27-2019, 12:42 PM   #6
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Tank size matter.
Solar is a good thing.
I’d rather read than watch TV while I’m in nature.
Buy gently used Or new to you if you can.
After your first year you’ll have a much better idea what works for you.

Congratulations!
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Old 11-27-2019, 01:47 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by millermotto View Post
Questions:
1) Are the Outdoors RV TTs really worth the premium?
Watch the responses to the other questions closely. You've already gotten "big tanks", "heavy duty suspension", "roof top solar". You'll get more like "lots of 6V batteries" and "true 4 season", etc etc. The ORVs will come with all the boxes checked. You know, like they're designed for your use case. Everything else? Well, some come closer than others, but they'll all need mods to match the ORVs.

Now, before you go getting your heart set on an ORV, they are heavy and they are tongue heavy. So, what's the payload on your F150? Because not all F150s will tow even the smallest ORVs. Hint: My Expedition has the HD tow package and is rated to 9300lbs. My receiver tongue weight is maxed out with a full tank of water. If we wanted to step up to the 21DBS, we'd have to get really creative and careful with the loading...
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Old 11-27-2019, 02:03 PM   #8
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re: maintenance and upkeep of Any RV..

The ONLY thing that Consistently works on an RV.... Is the OWNER !
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Old 11-27-2019, 04:29 PM   #9
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re: maintenance and upkeep of Any RV..

The ONLY thing that Consistently works on an RV.... Is the OWNER !
My buddy has been lucky. He has a 2012 or 13 Montana and the only thing that went bad on it was part of the electronics because a solder broke away from the main board for the leveling system. He did have some water seepage, but caught it right away. It was just a small part of a seal that cracked near the slide. Otherwise nothing big!
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Old 11-27-2019, 04:59 PM   #10
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Wow, thanks to everyone for your responses! This is great information and I will keep it in mind as I shop around. We have had a couple TTs before and really like the 25'ish length for interior space and drivability but I don't want to go over that for boondocking.

I do like the ORV features but their layouts and interior finish does not excite me. I have found something that you guys might already be aware of but if not, enjoy. https://www.blackseriescamper.com/ Of course these are waaay out of my budget hahaha!
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Old 11-27-2019, 10:18 PM   #11
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What kind of prices are the Black Series campers?

They look very nice.
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Old 11-28-2019, 10:49 AM   #12
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Depending on which model you get they range from around 12k to 80k give or take. I like the HQ19 personally.
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Old 11-28-2019, 10:52 AM   #13
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I just dont see a standard TT being able to go off the gravel road and into a dispersed site very easily even the ORVs worry me. Plus the interior looks amazing but i will see for myself next week when we look at the HQ19.
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Old 11-28-2019, 08:42 PM   #14
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4) How much solar capacity will I need for one person boondocking 1-2 weeks?
This depends on several issues. What are your loads, how big is your battery bank and will you be in bright sunshine or deep shade/clouds most of the daytime hours ?

Let's start be ASSUMING you won't be running an air conditioner or cooking with electricity (maybe a coffee maker, but do NOT leave the warmer turned on, and a microwave for under 5-10 minutes). Your biggest load will likely be refrigeration (even if you start with a LP refrigerator, I'll bet you wind up with an electric one or at least an electric freezer).

If you are going to spend more than a 4 hours per day playing computer games watching video, that could affect your daily power consumption.

My unscientific SWAG is that you will need between 400W-600W worth of solar and probably FOUR 6V golf cart batteries (about 450 Ah @ 12V). Even with this much, you need a GOOD battery monitor and make sure your batteries are back to 100% SOC before the sun goes down. If not, crank up the generator.
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