Suggestions for lightest camper options - Fiberglass RV


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Old 06-28-2020, 08:31 AM   #1
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Suggestions for lightest camper options

I hope this is the correct forum. Iím new here and couldnít quite figure out where to put this.

Iíve been looking at small campers for a while (probably a couple years), but havenít really gotten in-depth because buying was a ways off. Now itís looking like early next year, and Iíd really like to make a decision regarding what Iím going to purchase.

I have a 2019 Subaru Outback with a 2.5. Towing capacity is 2500 lbs. I would ideally like to stay around 1500 or so loaded. I just feel more comfortable being well under my limit so I donít put excessive wear/tear on my vehicle, and just so I feel more comfortable pulling. I havenít pulled anything since my daughter was riding horses competitively 15 years ago.

So far Iíve looked at Scamps, A-liners and A-liner Ascapes (this is what drew me to the tiny campers at first, but itís considerably heavier than a Scamp, so probably off the list), and pro-lites. If Iím missing something, please let me know!

Ideally Iíd love a we bath, but on the Scamp FB page, most people suggested not having one because of losing sleeping space. Iíll likely be traveling either alone with a couple of grandkids, or with my husband - rarely both. I feel better about being pretty much contained, but Iím torn about it a bath taking up too much space. I do know Iím not interested in just a bed on wheels.

Iím open to all sorts of ideas and suggestions, and will add that even if I were to change vehicles, Iíd still be wanting to go small/light.

Thanks for any recommendations!
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Old 06-28-2020, 08:56 AM   #2
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Hi Stacey,

You are on the right track. A 13 ft Scamp is about all you can tow with your Suburu. If you get one without a bath it will have the gaucho couch in the front that turns into bunks, you didn't mention how old the grandkids are, but that leaves you without the wet bath. If the grandkids are old enough they could sleep in a tent giving you the wet bath but keep in mind that the bed in the 13 is very small. I've had 3 Suburus, loved them all but when we decided to get a small camper we quickly discovered the compromises we would have to make. The best advice we got at that time was to buy the trailer that you like and then get the tow vehicle so I had to say goodby to my beloved Subbie but we have been having a blast ever since.

Good luck and happy trails,
Kathie
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Old 06-28-2020, 09:09 AM   #3
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Are you looking for new or used as there are more older used Units that would meet your needs but hard to come by. There are only three trailers in the molded fg class that you Are looking for and can get new ,13 ft Scamp ,Armadillo, and my perennial favorite the HC1 by Happier Camper . There are some others out there but these are the ones with the classic egg styling and should meet your weight requirements.
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Old 06-28-2020, 09:17 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Dave and Kathie View Post
Hi Stacey,

You are on the right track. A 13 ft Scamp is about all you can tow with your Suburu. If you get one without a bath it will have the gaucho couch in the front that turns into bunks, you didn't mention how old the grandkids are, but that leaves you without the wet bath. If the grandkids are old enough they could sleep in a tent giving you the wet bath but keep in mind that the bed in the 13 is very small. I've had 3 Suburus, loved them all but when we decided to get a small camper we quickly discovered the compromises we would have to make. The best advice we got at that time was to buy the trailer that you like and then get the tow vehicle so I had to say goodby to my beloved Subbie but we have been having a blast ever since.

Good luck and happy trails,
Kathie
Yeah I have been struggling with the vehicle thing, but gosh I love my Outback! My goal was something small and economical to drive that was safe and could still pull a light camper. The Outback fits all that.

The pro-lite is really light as well - is it not a fiberglass camper? Iím sorry. I donít really know the differences with all of them. Iím a bit new to this.

Grandkids are pretty young right now, and Iím sure as they get into teenage years they wonít wanna travel with ďgrannyĒ anyway.
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Old 06-28-2020, 09:18 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Mikmay View Post
Are you looking for new or used as there are more older used Units that would meet your needs but hard to come by. There are only three trailers in the molded fg class that you Are looking for and can get new ,13 ft Scamp ,Armadillo, and my perennial favorite the HC1 by Happier Camper . There are some others out there but these are the ones with the classic egg styling and should meet your weight requirements.
Very open to used if I could find it. I definitely like the Happier Campers, but Iím a bit confused about what Iíve seen. Are they basically just a shell, or what?

I havenít looked at the armadillo, but I definitely will.
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Old 06-28-2020, 09:26 AM   #6
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Very open to used if I could find it. I definitely like the Happier Campers, but Iím a bit confused about what Iíve seen. Are they basically just a shell, or what?

I havenít looked at the armadillo, but I definitely will.
No HC1 s are fully self contained units with the ability to have a full queen bed or any size in between and this is something you decide after you get the trailer and not before.you can check out their virtual tour at Happier Camper . Com to see how the HC 1 actually works. Good luck with your search.
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Old 06-28-2020, 09:28 AM   #7
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Towing our 1500 pound Compact 2 with our Subaru Forester on level roads close to sea level is fine; but above 2 or 3000 feet, especially on uphill grades, its unacceptably underpowered. It can be done, slowly, but recommend installing transmission oil temperature gauge and studying caveats in owners manual regarding towing on grades. Have fun with your new trailer, and consider towing with a more powerful vehicle.
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Old 06-28-2020, 09:33 AM   #8
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Like many people , your vehicle is the limiting factor in choosing a trailer
I would not rush out and buy a trailer based solely on your present vehicle
I would think long and hard about what I need in a trailer and how I want to camp and for what period of time
In my experience shoving 4 people in a 13 ft trailer for a weekend is doable
but shoving 4 people in a 13 ft trailer for a week is not.
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Old 06-28-2020, 10:21 AM   #9
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Old 06-28-2020, 10:23 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by ssledoux View Post
Yeah I have been struggling with the vehicle thing, but gosh I love my Outback! My goal was something small and economical to drive that was safe and could still pull a light camper. The Outback fits all that.

The pro-lite is really light as well - is it not a fiberglass camper? I’m sorry. I don’t really know the differences with all of them. I’m a bit new to this.

Grandkids are pretty young right now, and I’m sure as they get into teenage years they won’t wanna travel with “granny” anyway.
I'm very sympathetic as I felt the same way about my Passat station wagon. Then, "trailers happened". We first started pulling a teardrop with the Passat, then a 17' Casita with a mid-sized SUV, then (finally) a larger, heavier 21' trailer with a Jeep Grand Cherokee. However, our goals is to travel for weeks and months at a time. While many folks travel comfortably with much smaller trailers, the 21' is what has worked for us. However, your goals and what works well for you and yours will very likely be different.

The focus of this forum is "molded" fiberglass trailers which have shells built much like a fiberglass boat, generally with rounded, corners, and a single seam that is sealed with a fiberglass bond. Being constructed like a fiberglass boat hull, potential leakage points are pretty much limited to openings where windows and other items penetrate the shell. Molded fiberglass trailers have been proven to hold up for decades; they come at a premium cost for their size, and they generally have a better resale value due to their demonstrated longevity. There are many brands of molded fiberglass which are no longer made, with many smaller, lighter trailers from the 1970's featured prominently in this group. Most brands are listed at the top of the page here: https://www.fiberglassrv.com/

The best suggestion I think you will hear is to attend a rally where folks gather and camp together. You can even attend by staying locally in a motel. By attending a rally, you can see a variety of trailers and hear a great deal about what does and doesn't work for different folks. It's probably about the best way to make a better-informed decision regarding something that's a pretty significant investment, particularly if you ever start considering a larger vehicle for towing. Other than that, if you are able to rent a small travel trailer of any design, that experience might also help to inform your choices.

It's a daunting decision to be thrown into making a choice when you don't have a lot of experience to draw on. That's why I suggest taking the time to hear from many people here on the forum and perhaps also at a rally. It will quickly become clear how different our tastes and our advice are. So, by taking your time, you will perhaps be able to better sort out what really resonates for you.
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Old 06-28-2020, 10:46 AM   #11
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We started out in a similar place with four people and a 2000# tow rating. I thought a small tent trailer was our only option, but during our search a Scamp showed up and we decided to give it a try.

It did take some trial and error to figure out how to ďcramĒ all of us in, but we finally figured it out, and weíre all comfortable for up to a week at a time.

We decided to do without the bathroom. We only camp at developed campgrounds with facilities. COVID is changing the landscape, however, and if I were in the market now a toilet would be a higher priority.

We eventually did upgrade to a larger vehicle, making a 16íer an option, but so far we havenít made the switch. Which leads to my main point...

Resale value of molded fiberglass trailers is such that you can afford to take a risk on a ďstarterĒ trailer. If you buy a good condition used 13í trailer and turn around an sell it in a few years, you stand to lose very little. If you buy well and time it right you could even realize a small gain.

Our 13í Scamp is worth more today than I paid 8 years ago. A tent trailer would have been a different story.
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Old 06-28-2020, 10:46 AM   #12
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Thank you all for the input. Itís definitely a lot to consider. Like I said though, even with a larger vehicle, I donít think I would go for a larger camper. I really want something fairly compact. Itís either gonna be 2 adults or an adult and a couple of small children traveling - it would likely never be both, and if it was, it would only be for a couple days.

I would like to take grandkids on some decent road trips for sure, and some of those would involve hilly/mountainous driving. That does concern me with my vehicle, even with a lightweight camper.

The only other vehicle Iíd be interested in at this point would be a Chevy Traverse, likely a 2018 or 2019. I have looked at them recently. It would make pulling a 1500 pound camper a good bit easier I know.
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Old 06-28-2020, 11:00 AM   #13
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A Traverse would easily tow a 16í Scamp, which allows you to have 3-4 berths AND a wet bath. With the 13í Scamp you have to choose.
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Old 06-28-2020, 11:01 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by ssledoux View Post
The only other vehicle I’d be interested in at this point would be a Chevy Traverse, likely a 2018 or 2019. I have looked at them recently. It would make pulling a 1500 pound camper a good bit easier I know.
The mention of a couple of nights camping is clarifying.

I see on Edmunds that the 2020 Traverse has tow ratings of either 1,500 lbs or 5,000 lbs, and the corresponding suggested retail price jumps from $29,930 to $48,400 - ?

By the way, everyone likes to sell other members on tow vehicles as we all like to shop for vehicles with someone else's money. So, we are now just about three posts from having someone saying that you should really have a 1 ton dually diesel pickup truck!
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Old 06-28-2020, 11:05 AM   #15
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Very open to used if I could find it.
This checklist from the homepage could help in evaluating a used trailer.

https://www.fiberglassrv.com/buy-sell.html

Maybe you could get the handy guy in the household engaged too.
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Old 06-28-2020, 11:26 AM   #16
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Suggestions for lightest camper options

Quote:
Originally Posted by Civilguy View Post
I see on Edmunds that the 2020 Traverse has tow ratings of either 1,500 lbs or 5,000 lbs, and the corresponding suggested retail price jumps from $29,930 to $48,400 - ?
That is insane! Shame on Chevy. Subaru does something like that with the Ascent, too, though the premium for the higher tow rating is not as exorbitant.

Itís a good caution to read the fine print. Thanks for the catch, Mike. The OP should check the specs for 2018 and 2019 before pulling the trigger.
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Old 06-28-2020, 12:21 PM   #17
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Many excellent mid sized SUVs with a 5,000 pound tow rating that can be found used. Two that come to mind are the Toyota Highlander and the Honda Pilot.

People that come from tent camping find a Scamp 13 spacious. It’s all perspective. But a bathroom eliminates a second sleeping area, which sounds like a must to me.

A 16 foot Scamp can give you the bathroom and two sleeping areas, but would require an upgraded tow vehicle.

A couple of years ago I had friends buy a camper at Camping World. The salesman assured them their tow vehicle would be more than enough. Yeah, right. When I saw their trailer, I told the husband “congratulations you will be getting a new truck!” He thought I was kidding until they took their first camping trip to the mountains. They came home and immediately bought a new truck.
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Old 06-28-2020, 12:31 PM   #18
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I have a tow vehicle with a lower tow capacity and I have a 1975 Boler. I'm also in the process of buying a 1977 Surfside, both able to be pulled with my TV. I will likely sell the Boler as the Surfside is in incredibly good shape and I still have projects on the Boler that I'm running out of steam on. I'm careful about packing, and have electric brakes on both, partially because my TV manual says I need to and partially because it feels safer to me. Lots of the older trailers have had modifications done that reduce the weight as well. My Boler has no furnace and no holding tank for water, neither of which have been a problem for me, and has made it lighter. I hook up to city water when available and travel with a 10 gallon water jug with a hand pump otherwise. I wouldn't really want to use the water out of a 45 year old holding tank anyhow. The Surfside has a furnace but I'll probably take it out to make more room for storage. I have a little electric heater that does fine if we're hooked up to power and good bedding that keeps us warm otherwise. The last time out last fall got to -4 celcius (25 farenheit) and we were toasty in the camper with the electric heater and the bedding. We have a portapotty and a little privacy tent to put it in. This works fine for us, but we all have different ideas of what is acceptable and what is not :-) I'm happy to have the extra space in the camper that a bathroom would take up. I also need the bunks as my son sleeps on the lower bunk and then we have the upper bunk in place to put stuff that would otherwise be in the way. We have a laundry bin for each of us and when I find something laying around, I just throw it in the right bin. Easy system to keep the clutter down in a small space and allow everyone to find their stuff. We also have a screened tent that we set up outside, usually over the picnic table, so that provides another covered hangout space and keeps too many bodies out of the trailer. Good luck!
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Old 06-28-2020, 01:32 PM   #19
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If you're willing to consider a new tow vehicle, the Parkliner I have for sale has a dry weight of 2300 lbs. The layout is quite flexible. It has a bunk (removeable), wet bath, and the rear bed can make into a single, double, or queen. There's a side table for 2 or a rear table for 4. I towed with a 2012 Honda Odyssey (capacity 3,500, I think) and a Honda Pilot. No problems with either in the mountains. Here's the listing:
https://www.fiberglassclassifieds.co...kliner-15-1151

You're welcome to send me a message if you'd like more information.

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Old 06-29-2020, 04:11 PM   #20
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The mention of a couple of nights camping is clarifying.

I see on Edmunds that the 2020 Traverse has tow ratings of either 1,500 lbs or 5,000 lbs, and the corresponding suggested retail price jumps from $29,930 to $48,400 - ?

By the way, everyone likes to sell other members on tow vehicles as we all like to shop for vehicles with someone else's money. So, we are now just about three posts from having someone saying that you should really have a 1 ton dually diesel pickup truck!
I can’t imagine a Traverse, even a lower end model, towing LESS than my outback. I owned a Traverse about 5 years ago. I mean maybe if they make a 4 cylinder, but I know the 6 cylinder would easily pull what I’m looking at. I’m not trying to make that sound like I don’t believe you - just shocked!

Honestly, I know a LOT of people on the Subaru forum that pull Scamps, and many of them do it with the 4-cylinder. I’m not afraid to pull a camper with it - just afraid to get more weight than I’m comfortable pulling in hilly areas. That’s why I was hoping to stay around 1500# loaded. That is 1,000 pounds less than my vehicle is rated to pull, and I think I’d feel pretty comfortable there, especially with good brakes added.
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