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Old 06-06-2022, 11:31 AM   #1
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First TT Help - Under 20' and 4-season ready

Hello all,

I browsed through a lot of topics previously posted but couldn't quite find something that fit what I'm trying to get help on.

My wife and I recently decided we're going to invest in a travel trailer and we are wildly overwhelmed with how many OPTIONS there are out there. I think the good thing is, our requirements are somewhat specific so hopefully it will narrow down our options quite a bit. Here is our base criteria:

#1 - Under 20 feet (preferably in the 16' - 18' range)
#2 - 4-season ready - We travel a lot and I plan to use this for hunting as well so it needs to be able to withstand below freezing conditions for multiple days in a row
#3 - It's our first trailer so...can we not break the bank?

Weight isn't really an issue since we have a Dodge 3500.

We don't have many amenity needs other than preferably indoor shower/bathroom and murphy bed layout since that seems to utilize space well.

The Arctic Fox and IBEX seemed to check most of our boxes but curious what else might be out there?

Thank you in advance!
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Old 06-06-2022, 01:44 PM   #2
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I don't see anything under 20' from Arctic Fox, Nash or IBEX; the smallest AF is the 22G at 23'10" and the smallest Nash is the 17k at 22'4". The IBEX is a 19QBS which is 23'. If the size is OK, I'd look at the AF or Nash......I had an Outdoors RV 21RBS which was better suited for "4 season" use than most and it was 24' 10".

I'd caution that "4 season" as it relates to RV's is probably better thought of as "extended season" or "3 season" as you will struggle to use any of them in really cold temps when trying to utilize all systems.

Have you considered a slide-in truck camper? ....assuming your criteria for length is due to accessibility of camping areas, it's hard to beat a truck camper and both Bigfoot and Northern Lite make really nice units.....Arctic fox too though I prefer the moulded fiberglass units.

Cheers,
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Old 06-06-2022, 01:50 PM   #3
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there's this: https://bigfootrv.com/2500-series/b17-trailer/b17fb ....it doesn't list the OAL though

Dave
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Old 06-06-2022, 02:58 PM   #4
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If a TT does not have ducted underbelly heat it’s not 4 season. Those that do will usually also have high R value insulation in the roof and floor. Anybody’s guess about he R value in walls and cap. For example, my TT is comfortable for a few nights of boondocking in freezing weather, but it is not 4 season, although the manufacturer advertises it as such. Without ducted underbelly heat, you have to use tank heaters which will draw down your batteries and force you to use a generator. Solar can make up part of the deficit, but tank heaters draw lots of amps constantly. If you think you might buy a used unit, don’t buy one that does not have PEX plumbing. Older models with copper plumbing near exterior walls will freeze even with the heat on.

My best ever cold weather camper was a Lance truck camper. It was small enough to be easily heated, and the heat could remain on a low setting so the tanks wouldn’t freeze. I used it a often for lot-docking at ski resorts. Three or four days was never a problem. With a TT in winter, make sure it has enough battery capacity to power it including the furnace, which draws a lot of power. For 3 nights winter boondocking in a well insulated TT you’ll need at least 200 useable amp hours. It also helps if the TT has an absorption fridge. I don’t have one, but some speak highly of Heat Buddy to avoid using their furnace blower. If you can’t find a TT with ducted underbody, you can always carry fresh water inside the camper using a couple of 7 gal Reliance jugs, which you should be able to stretch to 3 days.
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Old 06-06-2022, 03:11 PM   #5
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This new Winnebago model fits your size requirement, but no way to know if it fits your budget. Even with this one, I don’t believe it has ducted underbody, so you’d have to figure out how to keep the tanks from freezing.

https://www.winnebago.com/models/pro...0?gallery=true
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Old 06-06-2022, 03:16 PM   #6
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Welcome to the forum. Check out the Bigfoot 21ft. model which has an 18 ft. box. Four season with superb build quality. Downside is rear bed is only 54" wide so being young would help. Also, your point #3 may not apply. Wonderful, good looking trailer that will hold its value.

There happens to be one for sale right now on the way to Mount Hood from Portland, OR. Search RVs on Portland, Or, Craigslist.

You may notice and older 25 ft. Bigfoot in my avatar. Used it for 5 seasons, sold it for what I paid which was less than what it would sell for now.
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Old 06-06-2022, 03:25 PM   #7
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Nothing is more expensive for a brand new TT owner than buying a cheap trailer to "not break the bank."

The closest you're going to get is a Nash 17' or an Arctic Fox 22' They are closer to your 4-season spec, well built, ready to go and are super comfortable. Cheap? No but not super expensive.

Don't drive by a Camping World or other dealer and see a 17' Coleman for $19,999 and think it's going to come even slightly close to meeting your needs. And when the salesman tells you it's perfect for you don't believe a word he or she says. If their mouth is moving they are lying.

Generally, your first TT is the one you learn all of the things not to do on your second TT. So, choose wisely, grasshoppa.
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Old 06-06-2022, 04:14 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Pelletier View Post
I don't see anything under 20' from Arctic Fox, Nash or IBEX; the smallest AF is the 22G at 23'10" and the smallest Nash is the 17k at 22'4". The IBEX is a 19QBS which is 23'. If the size is OK, I'd look at the AF or Nash......I had an Outdoors RV 21RBS which was better suited for "4 season" use than most and it was 24' 10".

I'd caution that "4 season" as it relates to RV's is probably better thought of as "extended season" or "3 season" as you will struggle to use any of them in really cold temps when trying to utilize all systems.

Have you considered a slide-in truck camper? ....assuming your criteria for length is due to accessibility of camping areas, it's hard to beat a truck camper and both Bigfoot and Northern Lite make really nice units.....Arctic fox too though I prefer the moulded fiberglass units.

Cheers,
Dave
So my wife and I keep going back and forth between TT and truck camper. Here's our first world problem....

I bird hunt 40+ days a year and want an actual truck that I can use with a canopy rather than a truck camper for most of what I do. So for me, the TT is much better. I would use the truck camper but having to swap between camper and canopy seems horrific compared to a TT.

Honestly, I only mentioned size limitations because the wife is concerned about having to park it places, back it up etc. The place we'd like to store it at our home also only has 23' of total space so I'm hoping to find something in that size or smaller.

Thank you for everyone who's posted and helped out, greatly appreciated!
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Old 06-06-2022, 04:18 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Marine359 View Post
If a TT does not have ducted underbelly heat itís not 4 season. Those that do will usually also have high R value insulation in the roof and floor. Anybodyís guess about he R value in walls and cap. For example, my TT is comfortable for a few nights of boondocking in freezing weather, but it is not 4 season, although the manufacturer advertises it as such. Without ducted underbelly heat, you have to use tank heaters which will draw down your batteries and force you to use a generator. Solar can make up part of the deficit, but tank heaters draw lots of amps constantly. If you think you might buy a used unit, donít buy one that does not have PEX plumbing. Older models with copper plumbing near exterior walls will freeze even with the heat on.

My best ever cold weather camper was a Lance truck camper. It was small enough to be easily heated, and the heat could remain on a low setting so the tanks wouldnít freeze. I used it a often for lot-docking at ski resorts. Three or four days was never a problem. With a TT in winter, make sure it has enough battery capacity to power it including the furnace, which draws a lot of power. For 3 nights winter boondocking in a well insulated TT youíll need at least 200 useable amp hours. It also helps if the TT has an absorption fridge. I donít have one, but some speak highly of Heat Buddy to avoid using their furnace blower. If you canít find a TT with ducted underbody, you can always carry fresh water inside the camper using a couple of 7 gal Reliance jugs, which you should be able to stretch to 3 days.
For some reason it's not letting me edit the initial post but maybe I've missed a step here.

I (possibly wrongfully) assumed I needed insulated underbelly but maybe not?

My wife and I DO plan on using this year-round across the northwest. I go to Montana every year and would love to use it but I wouldn't be living in it for more than a few days at a time, especially if it's really consistently cold.

Is there a good way to determine whether we'll need insulated under belly? I was more concerned about storing it in -5 degree weather for weeks/months at a time. I'm sure there's a winterizing process but not sure how quick/easy that is if you're using it frequently also.

It's so hard to gather info on these buggers!
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Old 06-06-2022, 04:38 PM   #10
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If there is ducted heat to the underbody, you’re home free. The underbody will be enclosed, typically with duroplast and insulation. If not, and there are exposed tanks, or tanks covered only with duroplast, then you may need tank heaters. the fresh tank is never, to my knowledge heated. Normally you would never need to heat the fresh tank because it’s so much larger, and if you keep it fairly full and refill it as water is used, there is way too much thermal mass for it to freeze in less than 3 days. Only the holding tanks need heat because they are seldom full to the point that they have enough thermal mass. With just a little fluid in them, they’ll freeze faster, and may damage the valve fittings. You can avoid heating the holding tanks altogether by not using the black tank, and emptying the gray water into a caddy and toting it off to empty daily. This works, and usually you can find another place to go to the bathroom, or carry a porta-potty in the truck bed. When we don’t have hookups, in winter, we turn on our tank heaters before going to bed, and off in the morning. The two heaters use about 25/amp hours overnight. The furnace blower uses about 20 amps hours overnight.
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Old 06-06-2022, 04:44 PM   #11
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A second hand Bigfoot would be a good option and they are popular in the PNW. They are also very high quality and won't fall apart on dirt roads like some of the cheap stuff.
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Old 06-06-2022, 05:24 PM   #12
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My wife reminded me I left out a critical piece of the puzzle.

It's almost a requirement (just so we have maximized livable space) that it's a murphy bed or modular bed system so we can utilize that space for seating during the day.
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Old 06-06-2022, 07:23 PM   #13
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Lots of small trailers have beds that convert to dinettes for daytime seating -- ours does. It is a bit of a chore to make and unmake the bed, but we really like a small trailer (12 foot box!!) for boondocking in very tight places in the national forests.

We use the trailer as a base camp and the truck for daytime adventures.

I hope you'll find some of our blog posts useful:

Look, Mom, We're Camping!

Good luck finding a heated underbelly on a very small trailer! Let us know if you do.
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Old 06-07-2022, 07:30 AM   #14
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I recommend you get one with sealed and insulated belly. A belly cover is required, but is not enough for -5 degrees F. (Did you mean -5 degrees C?) 5 degrees C still requires sealed and insulated underbelly.

Plumbing needs to be winterized for storage when temperature drops below 32 degrees F. There is a "blow out" method using compressed air that is quick to perform but requires a significant compressor to do the job. Potable RV anti-freeze is easy to use while on the road, but requires lots of water to de-winterize.

I recommend against Dutchmen, Keystone, or Voltage. They may be cheap, but are not winter hardy. With these brands you have a good chance of a bad experience.

I have a 20 foot Kodiak Cub. It has a "heated and enclosed under belly". It is advertised as "All Season". However, the plumbing must be winterized when temperature drops below 32 degrees F. A pipe in the belly froze in 4 hours at 29 degrees F. Furnace was running and set to 70 degrees F.

Warranty specifically excludes freeze damage.

I also recommend against trailers with slide outs in freezing weather. Retracting slides in the presence of snow and ice can be difficult.

I wish you good luck and happy trails ahead!
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