Which Scamp/Casita for a US Wide National Parks Tour - Fiberglass RV
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Old 04-24-2017, 10:19 AM   #1
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Name: Tony
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Which Scamp/Casita for a US Wide National Parks Tour

Hi All, I'm new to the website - I'm Anthony from Houston- want to get input from more experienced folks;

My wife and I (newly weds) are going on an extended trip around North America this fall (August - December). We currently own a 2014 2.5 4 cyl Subaru Outback. Initially we thought we could get away with a teardrop but realized the scope of our trip would need the comforts of an all amenity trailer. We would be looking to either sell both the TV & trailer or potentially store them while we travel abroad.

We have 3 options as I see it:

1) Buy a trailer that we can tow with our current TV - the only fiberglass one that would meet the outback's specs (2700 gross weight, 200 hitch weight) is the Scamp 13' - which according to scamp is under these specs though I've seen "real world" posts with higher #'s. I've seen conflicting views on whether this is advisable or not to use the Outback for this kind of trip where we will be going long distances, and into high altitude/ mountainous areas of the NW, and NE. We'll want to sell this outback after the trip.

2) Sell our Subaru and buy a used RV such as an old Toyota winnebago or camper van. I am not partial to this as we would have to go with a pretty old model (late 90s at best) to stay in budget & I am afraid of the unknowns on the mechanics and all the things that could potentially go wrong, not to mention the risk of much lower resale value/long time to sell. Whereas if we go with a trailer we divide the risks between trailer & TV.

3) Sell our Subaru and buy a used (2007-2009) TV (I'm thinking a toyota tacoma or 4-runner) as they are both reliable and hold their resale value. Buy a used Casita or Scamp (I'm not partial to either though in Texas the Casitas seem to be more available. At which point we can choose from the very compact 13', the 15-17', or the Scamp 5th wheel. We've checked out the Scamp 13' & 5th wheel so far and wonder if the 5th wheel is overkill for just the 2 of us. However I've also heard that 5th wheels tow easier than bumper pulls. The 5th wheel would have significant barriers such as the required custom hitch & truck only.

As far as budget goes, I think that the cheapest would be #1, as we wouldn't have to pay the costs of taxes on another TV. Though if it proves too much for the Subaru this could end up being the most costly.

#2 would be economical - but wrought with risk & uncertainty

#3 perhaps the most expensive, but I think by buying a good TV with high resale value, and a Casita or Scamp both of which also maintain their value we can minimize loss.

Well - that was an ear full and I'm not sure I have it in the right forum topic - but I appreciate all feedback.

Thanks!
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Old 04-24-2017, 10:47 AM   #2
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Your reasoning seems spot on for all of the options.

I vote #1. Just be prepared to take your time on long grades. Don't know if it's possible or desirable to add a transmission fluid cooler with the newer CVT transmission, but I'd ask my mechanic. With reasonable driving, I see no reason you'd destroy the Outback. Lots of folks here pull 13'ers with them.

There are other 13' options in the used market, a few even smaller and lighter, although Scamp is the most common in the US.

Only caveat is whether by "all amenities" you mean an on-board bathroom, too. That will be somewhat hard to find in a 13'er and will probably put you over the 200 pound tongue weight limit. Most bathroom models have two LP tanks on the front. Removing one would help the tongue weight a lot.

Tacomas and 4Runners have good resale, but they're also very expensive to buy, even used, for the same reason.

Welcome, congratulations on your marriage, and I wish you a wonderful trip!
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Old 04-24-2017, 10:55 AM   #3
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Thanks

Thanks Jon,

Yes I think given the variability in campground amenities we would like an on-board restroom. Is it safe to remove the Propane tanks during our long hauls and reinstall once we park it? In terms of lowering the tongue weight I'm thinking that we could take off the propane tanks during travel, and also empty any water tanks that are stored up front. Though being a newbie to the trailer/towing world I'm not sure how practical those steps are...

So to clarify - should we choose to get a larger camper, you'd recommend option 3. Assuming we have the funds to front for a Toyota would you say that its worth it for the reliability factor? Or we should consider other TV's?

Best,

Anthony
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Old 04-24-2017, 11:00 AM   #4
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While I wouldn't normally suggest such a thing, I think, since you are only looking to use then sell the trailer, you should look at conventional trailers as well. A used TAB (some have inside galley and bathroom) or a used A-liner type may fit the budget and weight.

Since you are looking for temporary accommodations, I think you could open up your choices a bit.
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Old 04-24-2017, 11:51 AM   #5
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Anthony, what I meant was to only carry one tank on the tongue instead of two to reduce tongue weight (leave the other at home). I wouldn't want to carry LP tanks inside the vehicle or trailer. As long as you keep an eye on the tank level, you can manage with one tank and refill or exchange as needed.

And yes, I wouldn't go any larger than 13' with your Outback. A 13' Scamp with a bathroom is pretty small. It's doable, especially since this is only for one trip (albeit a long one), and you'll be spending most of your time outside the trailer exploring. Anyway, you're newlyweds.

If you do decide to go larger, you'll need a different tow vehicle. I have never bought a vehicle in my life with the intention of selling it in less than a year, so I really can't wrap my mind around the concept! Any vehicle with a 3500# tow rating will pull a 16' Scamp adequately. For a 17' Casita, I'd want a 5000# rating due to their high tongue weight. Both of those are fairly common on the used market, and most have full bathrooms.

Setting up a truck to pull a fifth wheel (or Scamp 19, which is technically not a fifth wheel, since it uses a proprietary ball mount) is more trouble and expense than a bumper pull, and a fifth wheel will be harder to sell. I'd cross that option off my short list unless I ran across a deal I just couldn't pass up.
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Old 04-24-2017, 12:31 PM   #6
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Casita also makes a 13' with bath.

Since your newly weds a 13' might be fine but having been married 51 years 17' is as small as I would want.

Being in Texas you might be able to find an affordable older used full size pickup to go with an older 17' Casita. that way you would have room for lawn chairs and a charcoal grill.
If bought right when the year is up sell them for what you paid and be happy!

Joe

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Old 04-24-2017, 01:52 PM   #7
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13ft and your current TV would be the least expensive option however the wait for a new 13ft is long so you will be looking at used. I tried looking for a used 13ft scamp with bath and the big bed but they are few and far between.

You will find many more 16 - 17ft trailers and the price is not that much different than a 13ft but then you will need something to tow it with. The Lexus gx470 has great resale value and will be less $$ than a Tacoma / 4 runner and probably tow better if you want to stick to the toyota family.

Might want to take a look at some small class c RV's as well? You can get some nice space in a class small class C. MHSRV out of Texas has a nice selection and they seem very competitive for example they have several 2017 22ft - 27ft listed at 55k and used ones starting at 16k
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Old 04-24-2017, 02:17 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Two Scoops View Post
We would be looking to either sell both the TV & trailer or potentially store them while we travel abroad.
Tony,

I'm not certain I understand the part about selling or storing while you travel abroad. Are you speaking of the time after the North America trip?

My thought is that fiberglass trailers are generally priced at a premium as they tend to deteriorate less. In other words, they tend to be a particularly good proposition for someone that wants to "buy and hold", meaning to own the trailer for a long period of time. Some folks on this forum indicate that this also lends to more readily recovering your money when it's time to sell, even on a quick turnover. However, you're already past the fall/winter season when you would have had a better chance of landing a seasonally better deal. We are already in the camping season, making it more likely you will pay a higher price.

My observation from periodically trawling Craigslist and other sources is that RV prices are all over the map; some are high and some are low. It seems that broadening your options would mean broadening your opportunities to find something that works financially.

If you are not looking to be a long-term owner, or are uncertain, you might consider something more like approach No. 2. You could broaden your parameters and purchase "something" that you figure to be able to resell at the end of the trip. Buying an RV just for a single trip is an approach that has been followed by many before you.

This could mean a different trailer, perhaps an A-frame popup that would comport well with the Subaru. Or, it could mean a (presumably small) motor home of some sort. In this approach, naturally, every time you wanted to drive somewhere, you'd have to secure things rather than leaving things setup as you could with a trailer; everything has a trade-off.

If you go for a motor home, this approach would benefit from careful pre-purchase inspection by a mechanic. Many motor homes have very low miles, especially as compared to their age. So low in fact that they can be subject to some deterioration due to not having been driven or run regularly. And, tire age is always an issue, whether with a trailer or a motor home.

As to dividing the risks between trailer & a tow vehicle, I guess that's one way to look at it. Or, it might mean doubling your work to dispose of two things.

These are just some thoughts. Good luck!
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Old 04-24-2017, 03:17 PM   #9
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When buying a used TV,high resale is a liability not an asset. Condition of a 10YO vehicle is a function more of care and maintenance than innate reliability, whereas resale is a function more of popularity and perception than innate reliability.
While innate reliability is an important factor to those who can recognize it, it will remain nothing more than a averaging factor to the smart buyer.
Then again, the choice of a vehicle more often than not goes to the buyer's self image. This is not altogether bad however since care and maintenance is easier if you love your choice and the image it projects.

I have known many owners who could destroy an anvil with a rubber mallet, while others it seems could drive an origami car in constant rain without harming it.

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Old 04-24-2017, 03:47 PM   #10
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Find the trailer first then get the TV required to pull it. I've seen people very happy with a 13ft trailer with no bath, no air conditioning, just the basics. Others need something a lot larger with more amenities. We are now in this latter group. Years ago, a dome tent was just fine!

As far as manufacturers weights, they are dreamland. Google trailer dry weights and have a good laugh. There are very few trailers your Outback can tow. Plan on moving up in TV. Your choice of trailer will determine how big.

I lived in the NW and towed for several years. Myself I would not tow a trailer with that Outback except maybe a small pop up. Climbing mountains is no fun with a too small TV and decending those same mountains can be dangerous. I've towed with a marginal tow vehicle and I've towed with room to spare. I'm in the room to spare camp.

As far as retaining value, yes all the egg trailers do well. We had a 20 year old Casita for a couple of years, Lino depreciation over those two years, our TV has gone down in value but it is my daily driver. Still, owning a camper for a short period of time I like one year is not a good financial decision. Now I routinely do things that are not good financial decisions.
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Old 04-24-2017, 06:14 PM   #11
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just a thought. If you only want the trailer for one trip why not rent? You may still need to go with a stronger TV, but not having to buy 2 vehicles for the trip may be a good answer. Of course you may not like it?

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Old 04-24-2017, 10:54 PM   #12
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One data point for you.

I did 7000 miles on a grand circle western tour of 10 national parks last Sept and October with our 13' Scamp. You'll absolutely love it!

But I would not want any larger trailer than the 13' for the national parks. There were a lot of campground sites where anything larger would not fit. Hard to imagine, but I think it is because so many of the national park campground sites were built in the CCC 30s, or 40s, and 50s. Yellowstone - Norris campground is a good example. They have very large logs which square off the campground's "driveway" to a very small section even though the rest of the site is pretty roomy. So trying to squeeze a trailer AND a tow vehicle is hard. I had no problem with the 13' Scamp and a 2015 Toyota 4Runner, but there were plenty of trailers a little larger with pickup trucks that couldn't fit.

If you can fit almost anywhere, then you have a lot more opportunity on the first-come-first-serve campgrounds.

And personally I found that you really want to stay inside the parks if you can vs. a private "just outside the park" site. Mainly because you burn a lot of time going in and out of the park every day with traffic.

Cheers!
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Old 04-25-2017, 07:44 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnF View Post
One data point for you.

I did 7000 miles on a grand circle western tour of 10 national parks last Sept and October with our 13' Scamp. You'll absolutely love it!

~<snip>~

If you can fit almost anywhere, then you have a lot more opportunity on the first-come-first-serve campgrounds.

And personally I found that you really want to stay inside the parks if you can vs. a private "just outside the park" site. Mainly because you burn a lot of time going in and out of the park every day with traffic.

Cheers!
John,

Thanks for your post. We have been planning similar travels through the western states and I have fretted over how we will get accommodations. We have typically been booking at state parks over the couple of years we've been trailering. The state parks sell reservations a year in advance and summer weekend spots are often difficult to obtain even months in advance.

We were just planning a "local" trip to Crater Lake in June and I was noticing they maintain 25% of the spaces for "drive ins". While I have noticed before that Federal facilities maintain many spaces on a first-come-first-serve basis, your post was a great reminder!
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Old 04-25-2017, 09:52 AM   #14
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We began our FGRV camping life with a 13 ft Scamp DLX, with front Bath.
I modified the rear dinette table so we had a two piece bed board. That way, we could just flip the bedding back over the rear half, and raise the front half onto a post, for a cozy two person dinette. I think we also had to separate the backrest cushions so the shorter part could be our backrests in dinette mode.
Our TV then was a VW Vanagon. It made a nice combination.
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Old 04-25-2017, 10:39 AM   #15
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I favor #1 or#3

But, some valid points were made about low mileage class C's. If you are coming from tent camping, a 13' may suit you fine. Otherwise it may seem crowded. Decide that first. Casita doesn't offer new 13' units presently. They are concentrating on 17' units. But there are used ones. I am a big fan of Clam screened rooms for outdoor living rooms or kitchens. They will beat towing around a living room (bigger trailer). I second not carrying a propane cylinder in your car or trailer. It is well vented and somewhat protected outside, between the vehicles. Better to carry a jug of water in the back of the trailer to lighten hitch.
What a great trip you will have.
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Old 04-25-2017, 11:10 AM   #16
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We have found that the size / storage / amenities of a trailer is a bigger issue for my wife than it is for me. Many things that I find to be nice to have my wife finds them to be necessities
That is a polite way of saying " My opinion doesn't always matter."
I may be happy with a 13 ft trailer towed by a small compact vehicle but if my wife isn't happy with the situation , I can guarantee you it's not going to be an enjoyable trip.
Even a 40 ft Class A can feel crowded at times.
I spend the majority of my camping time outside and for good reason.
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Old 04-25-2017, 11:50 AM   #17
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I have successfully picked up campsites at National Parks at peak season. A couple of keys:

1. Don't try it on a weekend, Monday through Thursday are your best chance.

2. Arrive at 10AM or earlier.

3. Don't be too picky as far as a site, as others will be looking too. As you do circles through the campground, sites are being taken by others!

4. Forget about hookups. Typically hookup sites are reserved months in advance. At the same time, once you have your non-hookup site, go over to the hookup area and see if they have had a last minute cancellation. It happens!
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Old 04-25-2017, 12:37 PM   #18
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One propane tank adequate. Just keep an eye on it.
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Old 04-25-2017, 04:39 PM   #19
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Forget the small motor home it will kill you in gas and its a pain in the backside once you park get level and all utility connections and then you want to drive out for some shopping or dinner. Unless you tow a car with you.

The 13 foot trailer is your best bet but towing it with a small car is out for me. I need room for all the unnecessary comfort stuff I like to carry. I don't want to be climbing over stuff to sleep in the trailer after a long drive.

On my Scamp 13 I use to tow with a 2001 Nissan Pathfinder and now tow with a 2016 Toyota Tacoma with a bed cover. All my camping gear and chairs and coolers and stuff resides in the back of the truck secure from prying eyes and weather. The trailer is ready to go when I drop the hitch. I can leave it at the site and can explore and travel at will. Especially important if your planning to take bikes with you. Our 13 footer doesnt have a bathroom and we like it that way. We cut the front couch and have dining area there and can still be dropped to make a single bed but the rear table stays down as a bed the whole time. Two people sharing a port a potty in the middle of the night in a 4 foot square space will be a real test of your marriage. You will really know each other by the end of this trip.

Bigger truck and even bigger trailer will give you much more comfort and less hassles dealing with the Bed, bathroom, and dining area but it too comes at a price harder to maneuver, harder to park and much more attention has to be made to fit it where you want to go. It seems that most campsites cater to really big or really small and the midsize sites are much less available.

Have a great time in your new adventure together.
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Old 04-25-2017, 06:23 PM   #20
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We have done several National Parks tours of two to three weeks, both tent camping and towing our 13 foot Scamp. We always stay in the National Parks and most have spots that you can reserve up to six months in advance. If you are worrying about showers and bathrooms, I don't think we've ever stayed in one that didn't at least have a pit toilet. I ALWAYS look for showers ahead of our trips, so if we end up in a campground that doesn't have them, I know where to find them. For example, Arches doesn't have any, but in Moab, there is a gas station right off the highway with public showers. Same with Zion, showers in the little town just outside of the park. Glacier has showers at Fish Creek Campground, etc. A quick google search is very helpful. I didn't ever want to mess with plumbing and showers and toilets, etc. in the Scamp and we like having the sofa and the extra living space! We've also found, like someone else said earlier, that the little Scamp fits into campsites no one else can get into, increasing the chances of finding a great campsite!

Best of luck on your travels and on finding the right fit for you!
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