Noobies looking for a full-time and boondocking trailer - Fiberglass RV


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Old 09-20-2015, 09:51 PM   #1
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Noobies looking for a full-time and boondocking trailer

Hello, we're new here. We're a couple in our early 30s. We sold our house and we're gearing up for life on the road full time. We've bee shopping like crazy for RVs, and we've decided on a travel trailer to town behind our 1-ton diesel van.

We've looked at every type of trailer out there except fiberglass trailers, mainly due to a lack of a dealer network where we live. We've fallen in love with airstreams (who wouldn't love them after setting foot in them), but we're concerned about the poor insulation and the poor ground clearance. We haven't found any other travel trailers that even come close to the quality of an airstream. We hope that changes as we research fiberglass trailers.

We will be living and working out of our trailer (video editing, and computer stuff). We will be boondocking more than 50% of our time, so the more self-sustaining it is, the better.

must-haves:
- 20-25' (though we could get away with 16-18' if it were perfectly laid out)
- actual full-time bed (not a dinette that can be converted into a bed)
- good build quality
- good weight
- good insulation

nice-to-haves
- good visibility. The more windows the better. We fell in love with Airstream's panoramic windows. We'd love to see something similar, but we realize that's not likely to happen.
- good ground clearance. We travel dirt roads a lot, and we continue to plan to do that to get to our boondocking destinations. We don't want grey and black water valves hanging down, waiting to get snagged on the ground
- good interior design that doesn't look like a ghastly trailer from the 80s. Wallpaper and crown molding do nothing for us.
- no matter what we get, we'll be running solar, but something that's already geared for this would be ideal.
- we'd love to ditch the toilet and replace it with a composting toilet. Then we'd combine the grey and blackwater tanks. If it had a nice big freshwater tank that'd be awesome.

Must not haves:
- no pressboard cabinetry. We want plywood
- no rivets where screws should be. We have seen cabinet hinges riveted on, and door shocks riveted on. Yuck.
- no wet bath. We want a composting toilet, which requires an electric fan. Electricity plus water don't mix too well.
- outside TVs. I guess this isn't a deal-breaker, but we're not getting a trailer so we can watch TV in the woods. We're getting a trailer to get out of city life.

Price doesn't really matter, as long as quality is there. This is going to be our house. We figure a good condo in this area goes for $120k. We are willing to pay for a good, quality trailer.

We really wish someone made a boondocking-specific model with huge solar panels, no blackwater tank, a composting toilet, big freshwater tanks, good open windows, good off road clearance, good insulation, and a generator and auto-leveling. Even though there hasn't been a huge market for boondocking-specific trailers in the past, the market is definitely growing, and our demographic wants it.

Here's a bit of where we are in our journey so far:
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Old 09-21-2015, 12:52 AM   #2
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Hi, from reading/looking at your post of wants and needs, I don't think there is a fiberglass trailer made yet that will fill the bill for you. You may want to attend a few molded rallies to see a few first hand as to how these are built differently than a stick built unit. Good luck to you.
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Old 09-21-2015, 07:37 AM   #3
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First, my late wife and I full timed for a year when in our late 20's/early 30's, in a 25' Airstream and we loved every minute of it. But that was back in the stone age,(1977-78) i.e, before WiFi, flat screen anythings, & practical portable computers. Email, Cell phones and even ATM's were still in the future. And, OMG, Mark Zukerberg wasn't even born yet.

BUT, if you read through the Airstream forums you will find that not all are happy with the quality of recent Airstreams. Perhaps it's a matter of expectation more than fact, but it is enlightening.

And a lot of the construction techniques you are being critical of have been pretty much standard in FGRV's that are now over 40 years old and, don't forget, it's rivets that hold Airstreams together as well.

And the reason that there are no FGRV dealers near you, as you may have already discovered, is that there are no FGRV dealers (save for a very few that took on BigFoot in 2014).

And I agree with Dave, it sounds like you will be disappointed if you want to buy a travel ready rig, that meets your specifications, from any of the current FGRV builders, or from any of the major sticky builders for that matter.

My suggestion... Find a used trailer that meets your minimal needs and try that for a year before setting out all kinds of specifications and requirements that you might find you don't really need, as well as finding some that you do need.
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Old 09-21-2015, 08:23 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Borrego Dave View Post
Hi, from reading/looking at your post of wants and needs, I don't think there is a fiberglass trailer made yet that will fill the bill for you. You may want to attend a few molded rallies to see a few first hand as to how these are built differently than a stick built unit. Good luck to you.
Great idea to attend some rallies. We'll add that to our list. Finding a boondocking-specific unit was really more of a pipe dream. We do believe there's a market for a model like that though.
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Old 09-21-2015, 08:25 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Bob Miller View Post
First, my late wife and I full timed for a year when in our late 20's/early 30's, in a 25' Airstream and we loved every minute of it. But that was back in the stone age,(1977-78) i.e, before WiFi, flat screen anythings, & practical portable computers. Email, Cell phones and even ATM's were still in the future. And, OMG, Mark Zukerberg wasn't even born yet.

BUT, if you read through the Airstream forums you will find that not all are happy with the quality of recent Airstreams. Perhaps it's a matter of expectation more than fact, but it is enlightening.

And a lot of the construction techniques you are being critical of have been pretty much standard in FGRV's that are now over 40 years old and, don't forget, it's rivets that hold Airstreams together as well.

And the reason that there are no FGRV dealers near you, as you may have already discovered, is that there are no FGRV dealers (save for a very few that took on BigFoot in 2014).

And I agree with Dave, it sounds like you will be disappointed if you want to buy a travel ready rig, that meets your specifications, from any of the current FGRV builders, or from any of the major sticky builders for that matter.

My suggestion... Find a used trailer that meets your minimal needs and try that for a year before setting out all kinds of specifications and requirements that you might find you don't really need, as well as finding some that you do need.
While we haven't seen any fiberglass models in person yet, we've yet to find any other trailer that even comes close to Airstream's quality. I'm sure they have issues just like any other trailer, but the build materials are amazing. I'm talking cabinetry, hardware, interior layout, etc., not so much the aluminum.

Regardless of what we get, we'll be modifying it to suit our needs. Thanks for the info.
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Old 09-21-2015, 10:18 AM   #6
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Quote: "While we haven't seen any fiberglass models in person yet, we've yet to find any other trailer that even comes close to Airstream's quality."


Or Price.....
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Old 09-21-2015, 10:22 AM   #7
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I think the fiberglass trailer that would come closest to meeting all your criteria is the 25' Bigfoot. The new Bigfoots come with heated tanks and thermal windows. Their laminated construction provides good insulating qualities too. The Olivers look really nice too but I've never seen one in person. A search for "Oliver" here on the forums will bring up some threads about them and perhaps some Oliver owners will chime in.
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Old 09-21-2015, 11:19 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Bob Miller View Post
Quote: "While we haven't seen any fiberglass models in person yet, we've yet to find any other trailer that even comes close to Airstream's quality."


Or Price.....
Yup, they're expensive. But they're well built. When it is going to be our house full-time, we're willing to spend an extra $20k-30k more for something quality built that's going to hold it's value. For a weekend warrior, an airstream is crazy expensive. For your full-time house, they're pretty cheap.

It looks like a few of these fiberglass trailers have some extremely solid construction. We're excited to see them in person.
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Old 09-21-2015, 01:00 PM   #9
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Well my 1973 Hunter Compact is still solid. In fact, I don't know of any FGRV's that aren't more solidly built than stick-builts, especially after 10-40 years of use.


But you might want to hold off making quality judgments until you have a wider range of experience, especially in FGRV's. Most of us take pride in the fact that the FGRV trailers seem to pretty much ignore age.


There is an Airstream dealer in SoCal that advertises on TV that they have more than 100 Airstreams on the lot to choose from, that must tell you something, I just don't know what....LOL
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Old 09-21-2015, 01:24 PM   #10
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We've come to our own conclusions about Airstreams based on first-hand experience seeing them in person. Regardless of the inventory of one dealer, the cabinetry, layout, and materials they use better than anything else we've seen in a trailer. There's a reason Airstream has moved to a new production facility that's twice as big. The demand is there.

Before we go out and purchase an airstream, we wanted to explore the fiberglass options to make sure we aren't missing anything. Hopefully we find that they're every bit as sturdy as an airstream. We like the insulation properties of some of the fiberglass models, along with the improved ground clearance.

It's reassuring to hear that fibgerglass RVs are so sturdy, that's just what we're looking for.

The stick built trailers feel like such a compromise, so we're hoping there's an option in the fiberglass world that will work well for us.
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Old 09-21-2015, 03:29 PM   #11
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As I pointed out earlier, I also chose an Airstream in 1977 when that was the best choice available. But at that time they were just a good quality trailer, not the luxury statement that they have become in the past few years.


Here is an interesting interview with the current President of Airstream. Be sure to read the last paragraph very carefully.
How America learned to love the Airstream again


As you mentioned they are expanding, but a dealer with 100 units on the lot is not a good sign, even in SoCal, where Airstream used to have one of it's two original factories. That's way to much inventory for a high end product, not to mention a ton in daily flooring expenses from the bank.


But then I have only been following the ups and downs of Airstream since I bought the first of two I have owned.


All that said, as long as price isn't a consideration, if you have seen and liked a new Airstream with the upscale interior, you will probably not be happy with a molded fiberglass trailer, they just aren't in the same market whatsoever.
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Old 09-21-2015, 03:59 PM   #12
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Here is an interesting interview with the current President of Airstream. Be sure to read the last paragraph very carefully.
How America learned to love the Airstream again
I read it, and we're definitely interpreting it different ways. No problem. You don't like airstream, got it. I'm not old enough to have been following them from the 70s. All I know is that I liked what I saw when I stepped inside. That shouldn't threaten fibgerglass rv owners, i'm sure there are fantastic fiberglass models too.

I haven't seen a stick built one that I'm even remotely impressed with as far as build quality and design go.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Miller View Post
If you have seen and liked a new Airstream with the upscale interior, you will probably not be happy with a molded fiberglass trailer, they just aren't in the same market whatsoever.
Darn, that's too bad. Online, Oliver seemed to be on par with airstream's build quality. We'd still like to see one in person to determine our own opinion, but maybe I had too high of expectations for fiberglass units.

I admit that the airstreams aren't perfect. They're too low to the ground, there's almost zero storage outside or under the unit, and insulation is poor compared to a well-insulated fiberglass unit. The design, layout, and build quality are what blew us away. I'm hoping the Olivers are super well built too. Same with bigfoots.
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Old 09-21-2015, 05:13 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by themoreweexplore View Post
Hello, we're new here. We're a couple in our early 30s. We sold our house and we're gearing up for life on the road full time. We've bee shopping like crazy for RVs, and we've decided on a travel trailer to town behind our 1-ton diesel van.

We've looked at every type of trailer out there except fiberglass trailers, mainly due to a lack of a dealer network where we live. We've fallen in love with airstreams (who wouldn't love them after setting foot in them), but we're concerned about the poor insulation and the poor ground clearance. We haven't found any other travel trailers that even come close to the quality of an airstream. We hope that changes as we research fiberglass trailers.

We will be living and working out of our trailer (video editing, and computer stuff). We will be boondocking more than 50% of our time, so the more self-sustaining it is, the better.

must-haves:
- 20-25' (though we could get away with 16-18' if it were perfectly laid out)
- actual full-time bed (not a dinette that can be converted into a bed)
- good build quality
- good weight
- good insulation

nice-to-haves
- good visibility. The more windows the better. We fell in love with Airstream's panoramic windows. We'd love to see something similar, but we realize that's not likely to happen.
- good ground clearance. We travel dirt roads a lot, and we continue to plan to do that to get to our boondocking destinations. We don't want grey and black water valves hanging down, waiting to get snagged on the ground
- good interior design that doesn't look like a ghastly trailer from the 80s. Wallpaper and crown molding do nothing for us.
- no matter what we get, we'll be running solar, but something that's already geared for this would be ideal.
- we'd love to ditch the toilet and replace it with a composting toilet. Then we'd combine the grey and blackwater tanks. If it had a nice big freshwater tank that'd be awesome.

Must not haves:
- no pressboard cabinetry. We want plywood
- no rivets where screws should be. We have seen cabinet hinges riveted on, and door shocks riveted on. Yuck.
- no wet bath. We want a composting toilet, which requires an electric fan. Electricity plus water don't mix too well.
- outside TVs. I guess this isn't a deal-breaker, but we're not getting a trailer so we can watch TV in the woods. We're getting a trailer to get out of city life.

Price doesn't really matter, as long as quality is there. This is going to be our house. We figure a good condo in this area goes for $120k. We are willing to pay for a good, quality trailer.

We really wish someone made a boondocking-specific model with huge solar panels, no blackwater tank, a composting toilet, big freshwater tanks, good open windows, good off road clearance, good insulation, and a generator and auto-leveling. Even though there hasn't been a huge market for boondocking-specific trailers in the past, the market is definitely growing, and our demographic wants it.

Here's a bit of where we are in our journey so far:
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Old 09-21-2015, 05:57 PM   #14
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[QUOTE=themoreweexplore;549489]I read it, and we're definitely interpreting it different ways. No problem. You don't like airstream, got it. I'm not old enough to have been following them from the 70s. All I know is that I liked what I saw when I stepped inside. That shouldn't threaten fibgerglass rv owners, i'm sure there are fantastic fiberglass models too.

I haven't seen a stick built one that I'm even remotely impressed with as far as build quality and design go.
-------------------------------------------------------------------
No, I actually like Airstreams a lot. As I mentioned, we full timed for a year and it was a great experience. But they are no longer the trailer I need and I see them as substantially over priced without offering much more than extra bling for the money.

If I wanted/needed a trailer in that size range I would look for an an 80's Airstream and update it as needed.


And FGRV owners don't feel threatened by any other trailers, unless they are pulling over short on the freeway.....LOL
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