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Old 07-30-2017, 11:33 PM   #1
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Van vs. "Expedition" Trailer

Lately I've been thinking about selling the van and instead getting something along the lines of a Turtleback expedition trailer. Does anyone have experience with both and has a preference one way or the other?

Thinking about it I can see some downsides to a trailer. Backing up when you hit a point on a trail you can't get through would be a pain. I'd be towing with a Jeep Wrangler Unlimited so the combined length of that and the trailer would exceed the length of the van. Theft could be an issue since someone could pull up, hook up to the trailer and drive off. It would likely be worse in bad weather as far as cooking goes. We don't have a stove in our van but can cook inside if we need to.

The reason for the switch would be mainly financial. We are so busy with work that the van sits most of the year. USAA doesn't insure RV's so I need a second policy just for it, registration in CA is high and the gas mileage is poor. Cash outlay for the van is about $900 per month since it isn't paid off and that is if it isn't used. With the "vanlife" thing happening I could get a good price for the van now and would likely be able to pay for the trailer with the net proceeds.

I love the van but if a trailer has limited drawbacks for how we travel it may make more sense for us to go with a trailer. We do remote camping as well as visit organized campgrounds.


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Old 07-31-2017, 07:38 AM   #2
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I've often sought justifications for my decisions after I've made them.

I had a Jeep and pulled 2 trailers, a small open utility/toy hauler and a tent trailer, I'm on my 4th van now and still have the utility trailer.

If you're talking about a new Jeep and trailer, you might be bumping 70 grand or more. From a personal financial stand point, the equity from your van sale should pay for your new ride and toys. Otherwise you may just be swapping debt.

Insurance may not be cheaper, I've had USAA and they aren't the best deal in my area on vehicles. Might check again on another company that insures RV's with a multi-car discount. You might check the difference in any personal property taxes as well.

I don't have a clue what your MPG is, but Jeeps aren't gas savers, pulling a trailer will take that down further so there may not be much savings at all, if any.

While there is the expedition glamour Jeep thing, I wouldn't drive one on a long trip, I'd pull it if I took it. My van doesn't get "that's cool" from my younger friends, they call it my "creepy van" until they ride in it and then it's my "nice creepy van". I'd get a lot more "cool" if I jacked it up higher and tossed 4WD under it, but I'm not really looking for "cool" any more. Comfort, function and reliability top my list, traveling or camping.

The Jeep without the trailer is much better than the van, in the mall parking lot, except that I can spot empty parking spaces in the van much better.

When you pull a trailer you better know what's up ahead on some tight trail or, you'll have the opportunity to master backing your trailer. A backup camera on the roof of a Jeep might be pretty handy, you might rig one so you can see the traffic behind you when towing.

Where is this swap on the safety scale for you and your family? One of my reasons for getting out of my Jeep and going higher up in the van was the safety factor for my passengers.

I've done 4 car deals in the past 6 months, over 120 in my life, I wish I just had all my property tax and license fees back, LOL. The state has sent me dealer registration forms several times telling me I own too many vehicles, well, I'm not a dealer and no license is required t collect cars! My "wants" were mistaken for "needs" and it just burns money, so I'm probably not the guy to ask about trading.

Bottom line, drive what makes you happy I guess, all the best!
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Old 07-31-2017, 07:56 AM   #3
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Two threads that might give you some things to think about.

Annoying to "break camp" every time you want to drive?
http://www.sportsmobileforum.com/for...ive-10696.html


If you sold your Sportsmobile, why? (I gave my reasons here for shifting from an SMB to an Excursion and teardrop trailer)
http://www.sportsmobileforum.com/for...why-10382.html


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Old 07-31-2017, 11:51 AM   #4
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We bought an SMB a few years ago with the intention of using it as much as we could. We ended up only taking it out 3 times in a year and we were questioning whether or not it was the right rig for us. It was an older model so it didn't cost much, but it was still a chunk of money sitting in our driveway that wasn't ever being used.

We ended up selling it and I bought a passenger van. The passenger van could be used to take my family places, haul a big load from home depot, and even camp in with a home made bed platform.

At one point, I bought a tent trailer (Coleman/Fleetwood E1) and it was pretty nice to have a base camp and be able to get in the van and drive off without having to break anything down then set back up. The tent trailer was nice, but it was a bit of a hassle to set up with all the cranking, leveling, parking, etc. You also couldn't pack much in there so the van had to get loaded with everything.

Ultimately, I would like to get a CCV pop top on my van so we can camp in it very easily, but also retain all the utility of it. No trailer means we can drive faster than 55mph (in CA) and a powered pop top is easy to setup and break down.
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Old 07-31-2017, 12:33 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by mikracer View Post
... No trailer means we can legally drive faster than 55mph (in CA) and a powered pop top is easy to setup and break down.
There, fixed it for you!

When I lived in CA, on most freeways I'd be scared to only drive 55mph, trailer or not. Could you imagine driving the middle of Calif on I-5 at 55mph?

Of course with the same trailer, I can do 80mph in Utah and some other states.


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Old 07-31-2017, 12:46 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by BroncoHauler View Post
There, fixed it for you!

When I lived in CA, on most freeways I'd be scared to only drive 55mph, trailer or not. Could you imagine driving the middle of Calif on I-5 at 55mph?

Of course with the same trailer, I can do 80mph in Utah and some other states.


Herb

Yeah, I don't know why CA is being archaic with the 55mph limit on trailers. But it's still something to consider if you try to stay within the law. I know I would get nervous driving 65-70 with the trailer even though it was in complete control. I just didn't want to get popped for 15 over the speed limit.
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Old 07-31-2017, 04:12 PM   #7
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USAA has an arrangement with Progressive for RV's. Special phone number, etc. for USAA members, but billing for the RV is through Progressive.
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Old 08-01-2017, 12:50 PM   #8
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Rtilley, thought-provoking issue you've brought up and one I think a bunch of us home-build people have wrestled with, too. Here's my $.02, hope it's worth that much:

I lusted after a full-on SMB for years, after deciding that my back could no longer handle backpacking and tent camping became just a big PITA here in our soggy climate (man, there is nothing more disgusting than tearing down a muddy tent camp in the rain). Finances never quite cooperating, however, I settled on pulling a small trailer with a pickup and marveled at how much easier life could be. My current trailer is a lightweight, all-aluminum 16 footer with all the conveniences, including a full-sized shower, something I never realized could make a person so happy.








Now, having a much better understanding of my actual needs, I've settled on a Transformer-type van for traveling comfort, 4WD capability, passenger carrying, daily driving, photo-vehicle, etc., coupled with a trailer for more than just me for a quick overnight (I fit in the van just fine). It feels like the best of both worlds. Of course, you're looking at a much smaller setup, but the basic pros/cons/issues are the same:

- you have all your stuff in one place that you can take or leave at home or at campsite. When it's raining, we don't even set up an awning. If we're staying for a quick stop/one night, we don't even detach from the van. When you leave for daytrips from camp, you just lock up and pull out. No one has ever bothered our stuff. I put multiple locks on the trailer to deter thieves and make it pretty hard for someone to take off with the trailer. You can do the same.

- you don't go down roads if you're not sure you can turn around. Your small trailer would make that much more feasible. A couple of burly friends and you could detach it and muscle it around, if need be.

- I've come to understand that weather and expected terrain really drives what equipment people get. I don't want anything to do with wet tent stuff anymore. Your geography/weather tolerance may vary. Truth be told, I've looked hard at that trailer/tent setup you're considering, mainly to have a small kitchen setup I don't have to build into the van. The roof-top tent would be an add-on for extra family; I prefer the van's proximity to the porta-potty.

- the biggest plus of any trailer, big or small, is that you don't have to carry your whole "home" with you when it's unneeded. You've realized that already.

- With regard to the Jeep, I wouldn't be happy traveling long miles in it, but comfort is such a personal thing, we each need to know our own requirements there. Surely, tho, a Jeep with a small off-road-capable trailer would be a near-perfect cheaper combo for back roads, which is why you see so much of it. That is, if you already own the Jeep, which it sounds like you do?

I hope this has been helpful. I feel financially good about not having too much money "sitting in my driveway/garage". I love my toys, but it always makes me feel vaguely uncomfortable if they cost a big bundle and I don't use them often. I had a nice cruising boat for a while and sold it for just those reasons. Next life, money will be no object and I won't care.

Best of luck with your decision.
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Old 08-01-2017, 01:08 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikracer View Post
We bought an SMB a few years ago with the intention of using it as much as we could. We ended up only taking it out 3 times in a year and we were questioning whether or not it was the right rig for us. It was an older model so it didn't cost much, but it was still a chunk of money sitting in our driveway that wasn't ever being used.

We ended up selling it and I bought a passenger van. The passenger van could be used to take my family places, haul a big load from home depot, and even camp in with a home made bed platform.

At one point, I bought a tent trailer (Coleman/Fleetwood E1) and it was pretty nice to have a base camp and be able to get in the van and drive off without having to break anything down then set back up. The tent trailer was nice, but it was a bit of a hassle to set up with all the cranking, leveling, parking, etc. You also couldn't pack much in there so the van had to get loaded with everything.

Ultimately, I would like to get a CCV pop top on my van so we can camp in it very easily, but also retain all the utility of it. No trailer means we can drive faster than 55mph (in CA) and a powered pop top is easy to setup and break down.
This is why I love the utility of the Transformer. It doesn't have all of the creature comforts as the full builds, but I can make it fit whatever my task is for the day.
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Old 08-01-2017, 01:18 PM   #10
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This is why I love the utility of the Transformer. It doesn't have all of the creature comforts as the full builds, but I can make it fit whatever my task is for the day.

Yup, the transformer is the perfect setup for me too. Just need to get a top for mine and I'll almost be there!
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