Happier Camper HC1 Heads to Bodega Bay - Fiberglass RV


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Old 09-12-2015, 09:33 PM   #1
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Happier Camper HC1 Heads to Bodega Bay

Or, the "Bybee Fun Caravan" rolls again.

If you have not been following along, I am the new owner of a Happier Camper HC1. I picked it up on September 1 and drove from Los Angeles to Sacramento, about an 8.5 hour drive... at 58 mph. I can say one thing, I would not recommend, for your first towing experience with a new trailer, to tow it in LA traffic, and then over the Grapevine into California's Central Valley. I survived, so on with the story.

I have been fiddling with things on the trailer, but Kris and I realized that if we did not go out now, the first chance we would have to test the trailer would not be till November. For the next few days from 9/8 on, the Sacramento temps were expected to be in the 103 to 107 range. Bodega Bay it is then. Bodega Bay is about 100 miles or so north of San Francisco along the Pacific Coast. There is a state park there that though not directly on the beach, has many recreational opportunities near by.

On 9/8 we towed over to the coast. We were beginning to wonder about our decision as it was still 100 degrees within 12 miles of our destination. Luckily, the last few miles brought a dramatic dip in temperature and we were at about 78 by the time we got to the State Park. This is very warm for the coast, but by Sacramento standards very balmy.

We spent two nights at the park, testing our theories on how to set up and use the camper. The HC1 is designed to give you a lot of flexibility for both your initial interior set up, as well as easy changes to the interior on the fly. It is nice to have options and we fine tuned things a bit from our initial ideas. I have included a few photos.


This is a shot hooked up and ready to tow. Here we are along the edge of Bodega Bay and you can see the fog in the distance trying to move inland. You know you are having fun when you have the BBQ tied on top of the car.


Here I left the work counter low. I am 6'5" and cannot quite stand up straight, so it was easier to cook while sitting down. We are using a portable butane stove. Cook inside, or take it outside if you like.


We used our medium ice chest for this trip. It fit pretty well next to the door and was readily available for drinks and cooking at the counter. We may look at 12v powered fridges, but for now, getting out and using the trailer will help us decide what to do later.


On the HC1, the rear of the trailer opens up. This is looking at our dining configuration with the last row of boxes converted to a dinette. When the weather is nice it is a great spot with the hatch up.


A view of the rear of the trailer from the exterior. Same set up as the interior shot. Good morning Kris. Hey, the new bowls match the tail lights.


View from Bodega Head.


We have decided it may be tough to go back to a tent with a 1" thermarest pad. 4" of duel density foam cushioning...I like it! The LED lights create a warm glow for the interior. Good Night Kris.


Good night Happier Camper.
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Old 09-12-2015, 10:27 PM   #2
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Welcome to the FGRV forum family, and thank you for the great pictures of your new trailer.
Dave & Paula
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Old 09-13-2015, 08:52 AM   #3
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Looks like a nice camper. Thanks for the great pics. Years of fun in your future.

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Old 09-13-2015, 09:10 AM   #4
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Name: Kathy
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So nice to see some pics of actual owners using the new Happier Camper. Advertising shots are great but seeing real people using a real trailer on a real trip just can't be beat for giving the rest of us an idea of how this trailer can be set up and used. Love the way the entire rear end of the trailer opens up!
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Old 09-13-2015, 11:31 AM   #5
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Looking good Don ,I am also camping in the first hc1 prototype bringing it east and to canada .left LA late and had to stay in a truck stop half way to needles not as lucky as you on the temps as it was 90 degrees at midnight in the dessert.
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Old 09-13-2015, 11:43 AM   #6
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What vehicle are you using to pull the hc1? I'm am trying to start ring and need guidance.
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Old 09-13-2015, 11:58 AM   #7
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Thumbs up Sweet

very nice have fun be safe
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Old 09-13-2015, 12:33 PM   #8
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Vehicle

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Originally Posted by susana View Post
What vehicle are you using to pull the hc1? I'm am trying to start ring and need guidance.
The vehicle is shown in my user profile in the upper left corner, and in one of the photos. It is a Subaru Outback. Pulls this trailer quite well.
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Old 09-13-2015, 05:25 PM   #9
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Thanks Don. That is the vehicle I'm looking to purchase. Do you have the regular engine or did you upgrade?
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Old 09-13-2015, 10:03 PM   #10
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Wow! I love it!
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Old 09-13-2015, 10:22 PM   #11
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Looking great!
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Old 12-05-2015, 01:13 PM   #12
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What is it's weight ? It looks really slick , & I'd love to play with the set up !
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Old 12-05-2015, 02:53 PM   #13
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Trailer Weight

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What is it's weight ? It looks really slick , & I'd love to play with the set up !
I have not weighed the trailer yet when packed for a trip. The specs say 1100 lbs for the basic trailer but that would be without any of the interior modules and personal gear. I will not guess at the total weight anymore, but will someday get out to the dump to weigh it when I have time. I have weighed the tongue and it is 165 lbs. plus or minus a few lbs depending on how I load the trailer. (within my 200 lb. limit on the Subaru Outback.) It might be nice to have a bit more towing capacity than the 4 cyl Outback, but at this point it seems to tow pretty well.

I purchased a trailer dolly and can easily move the trailer around with it by hand, and into my garage when I put the 8" wheels on the trailer.

The modules give you lots of options for layout.

Don
Sacramento
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Old 12-05-2015, 03:24 PM   #14
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How do you find the CVT works under tow? That's something I've been curious about.
Oh, and does the trailer have brakes, or has that been covered already? At that weight many states don't require them.

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Old 12-05-2015, 03:47 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by WaltP View Post
How do you find the CVT works under tow? That's something I've been curious about.
Oh, and does the trailer have brakes, or has that been covered already? At that weight many states don't require them.

Walt
The trailer come standard with brakes. My Subaru requires brakes when the trailer is over 1000 lbs. I had a Prodigy P2 brake controller installed on the Subaru. As far as braking is concerned, I like towing this way better than my sailboat that is sub 1000 lbs, without brakes on that trailer. The whole rig stops very well.

So far the CVT seems to work fine towing, especially on cruise control where the computer decides where to set the gearing and rpm's. Tows well and does not hunt the rpm's on the flats and small hills. On long climbs, such as the Grapevine out of Los Angeles, I pulled the shifter into manual mode. (paddle shifters on the steering wheel) This made it easier to keep the rpm's at a bit higher level while getting in line with all of the slow trucks in the right two lanes. Also, in manual mode, this allows you to use more engine braking on the downhills.

I have towed in the valley at 100 degrees F and on the long climbs at about 80 degrees F. Subaru cuts the allowable tow rating in half for the Outback when climbing over 5 miles at over 104F, so in hot weather I might need to take it a bit easy or plan the drives for the cooler part of the day. I am learning more about the car as I tow more. I looked into a transmission oil cooler but was not successful for this transmission.
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Old 12-05-2015, 04:19 PM   #16
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By chance, have you tracked your fuel economy while towing?
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Old 12-05-2015, 04:26 PM   #17
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Wink Fuel Economy towing HC1

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By chance, have you tracked your fuel economy while towing?
I have not calculated it or watched the trip computer do it. Sometime ago, till I flopped it on its side in the snow, I owned an Xterra. For the first few months I obsessed about the gas mileage since it was so bad. I finally realized that to stop worrying about it, all I needed to do was stop calculating it. When tank is empty, fill it up. I have proceeded with that philosophy since, and cannot bring myself to do the calculations. Maybe someday.
Don
Sacramento
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Old 12-05-2015, 08:40 PM   #18
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Hah. I should try that. I love my Ridgeline except for the mileage under tow.

Interesting that you couldn't find a transmission cooler for your CVT. Any idea why? Did you ask Subaru?

Walt
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Old 12-06-2015, 01:26 PM   #19
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I saw your pictures and can say that it's very comfortable Camper. If you like nature you need to have one.
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Old 01-02-2016, 12:23 PM   #20
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Towing Mileage

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By chance, have you tracked your fuel economy while towing?
OK, Twice now I turned the vehicle computer on to calculate average mileage while towing. On the flats I was getting from 18.6 to about 20.6, depending on the day I did it. I have done this twice now and just as I suspected, I started obsessing about my mileage. I could not keep my eyes off of the readout and started drafting big rigs, modifying speed, etc. to try to get the number up. No more of that. I now leave the average mileage readout off and life is much calmer. Even in my retirement I obsess about things. I am an Architect, it is a curse. Now, when the tank is empty I stop for gas.

Don
Sacramento
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