Hooniverse Asks: Camper or Trailer, How Would You Roll?

While some might consider staying in a hotel without WiFi the height of roughing it, there are many of us who enjoy a road trip where, snail like, we take our abode with us.
There are two main ways you can go when planning on camping in something more secure than a tent: a self-contained camper, or some form of trailer, towed behind and detachable from your ride. Each of these has their pros and cons, and as such each has their adherents. Some like the flexibility that a trailer affords, the wide scope of offerings and the ability to detach and run excursions without the tail that inevitably wags the dog. Others prefer the convenience of a motorhome or self-contained camper. After all they’re a hell of a lot easier to back up.
If you were going to do a road trip and wanted to semi-rough it, which would be your choice, a house you can drive, or one that follows closely behind?
Image: TinyHouseTalk

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  1. Tanshanomi Avatar

    My wife and I have had this discussion- a trailer is more hassle in tight surroundings, but once you get to your destination the detachable tow vehicle allows much greater mobility. Likewise, when you are NOT vacationing, you can daily your tow car/truck/van and have much less expense sitting tied up in your RV. Also, you can upgrade the power unit or the amenities separately.

    1. Kiefmo Avatar

      This was my thought, as well. We’re currently hemming and hawing over whether we want to get an old 4×4 ‘Burb to fix up to be a camping/tow vehicle. For camping excursions, it could hold all we need while getting down trails to backwoods campgrounds that would stop or threaten to break the Ody. Then, if we wanted to borrow my folks’ 22′ TrailManor, we’d be all set.

      1. Tanshanomi Avatar

        Of course, this is an artificially restricted question. The real answer is “tents, cabins and roadside motels.”

        1. mdharrell Avatar

          Those of us sensible enough to get something with a roof can avoid the comfort and expense of tents, cabins, and roadside motels.

      2. Sjalabais Avatar

        Isn’t the Mercedes a superb tow vehicle?

        1. Kiefmo Avatar

          It’s a 250k beater with nearly no history that I got for $1400. It has no AC, the interior is in the trunk, and there’s no radio. The trunk has to be opened with a combination of the key and a screwdriver.
          I trust it will last many years, but I am not going to stress it beyond commuter duty. It’s tolerably slow now, and is happiest at 60-65mph, but it would be torment to drag another ton behind it.
          I’d sooner hook up a trailer to the Ody, which can haul ass when unloaded, and still comports itself well when loaded up with family and gear. I might add airbags to the rear to better deal with the tongue weight of a trailer, but apart from that, I think it’d be an okay tow vehicle for a small RV.

          1. Sjalabais Avatar

            Sounds reasonable, but I’m surprised that you’re still thinking about getting another vehicle if the Honda can do the job – and it should be capable. Of course, the more reasons to add to the car park, the better.

          2. Kiefmo Avatar

            3500lb max, and no 4WD.

  2. CherokeeOwner Avatar

    Trailer. A lightweight A-Frame. Low profile, wouldn’t take up too much room. A Class A motorhome would be sweet, but even at 30 feet, I’d be sweating navigating through a gas station lot.

  3. dukeisduke Avatar

    Definitely that rustic wood-covered thing.

  4. Tiberiuswise Avatar

    I’d be tempted to go with the motorhome. Mostly because I don’t already own a tow vehicle. Also, I suspect it would be easier to unload a couple years later when I got it out of my system.

  5. dukeisduke Avatar

    In other news, happy 55th birthday, Jaguar E-Type:
    A great “crumpet catcher”, according to Henry N. Manney III (RIP)

    1. LEROOOY Avatar

      I love these but I’m not sure if I’ll ever have a big enough truck for one. As a bonus, they also seem like they’d be considerably harder to steal than a typical trailer.
      How easy is it to set up base camp by lowering the legs and then driving the truck away?

      1. mad_science Avatar

        This particular model isn’t well suited to that, but many are.

  6. smalleyxb122 Avatar

    Tough call.
    It depends a lot on your personal needs.
    Once a year family vacation? Trailer
    Year long trip across the country? Class A RV
    A handful of weekend racing? Class B as your tow rig.
    “Fuck everyone, I’m outta here”? One of those crazy expedition rigs.

  7. CraigSu Avatar

    At my age I prefer not to leave my creature comforts behind. Besides, I can always tow a car behind the motorhome or just tuck it in underneath. Driving a big bus is almost second nature to me so I’m not worried about maneuverability.

    1. dead_elvis, inc. Avatar
      dead_elvis, inc.

      Yeah, but you could definitely find something weirder & more entertaining to haul in that belly pan.

      1. Rover 1 Avatar
        Rover 1

        You could check with MD Harrell to see what is available?

        1. mdharrell Avatar

          The answer depends, in part, on how many vehicles you want to put there.

        2. dead_elvis, inc. Avatar
          dead_elvis, inc.

          Is he thinning the herd?

  8. Jofes2 Avatar

    I refuse to comply with the restrictions of the first part of your question.
    And regarding the second part of your question, the two-stroke engine means my answer is: “very slowly.”

    1. Sjalabais Avatar

      Let me Toppola that. Much quicker this way:

        1. Kiefmo Avatar

          That’s quite the… eh… proboscis.

          1. Rover 1 Avatar
            Rover 1

            It just needs two large balloons fixed transversely to the rear to complete the effect.

        2. Sjalabais Avatar

          I didn’t know a Prius could mutate. Sort of want to offer therapy to it.

        3. Vairship Avatar

          I *do* notice that, unlike the SAABs, it appears to be lifting its front wheels off the ground. Slight miscalculation on center of gravity?

          1. salguod Avatar

            Considering the rated load capacity of a Prius is about 900 lbs, I’m not sure how much calculating went into this … thing.

    2. pj134 Avatar

      Man… they really wanted you to die in a roll over didn’t they?

  9. Fred Talmadge Avatar
    Fred Talmadge

    Since I’d rent my rolling vacation home, I’d go with the motorhome and tow my Lotus for the fun trips.

  10. Feds_II Avatar

    It depends on HOW you plan to travel:
    Lots of time on the road, not staying in 1 spot for long? Buy a motorhome, especially with kids. Imagine how much more ground you can cover when you don’t have to stop for snacks/meals or pee breaks. Plus, you can park, plug in, and go to bed.
    A trailer is much better if you plan on setting up a base camp for 3+ days, then tour around your camp site. Any trailer will need ~1 hr of setup before you can use it and an hour of teardown before you can get back on the road. Plus, your driving will be slower because of the trailer, adn because you wont be able to take advantage of the on-board facilities that the RV offers.
    (I’m on year 4 of pop-up trailer ownership btw)

    1. 0A5599 Avatar

      My motorhome has primarily been used on local or near-local outings as a place for hospitality and convenience. Watch fireworks from air conditioning, take a shower at the track, or have a place to change clothes at an outdoor wedding. For actually camping, I mostly use a tent.

  11. Colonel Panik Avatar
    Colonel Panik

    Full time RVer here. This is a worthless discussion, the final discussion will be gut based
    rather than information based.
    We live in an RV because our retirement is too small for anything else. The park we live in
    costs $150/month. Our average elec per month is $15/$20. Propane is kinda high in the
    winter but insignificant in the summer. Our FifthWheel is 37.5 feet long with 3 slides. We
    have a Honda FIT and a Civic., no way to move our castle. After one and a half years we
    can now walk away from this unit and still be ahead of rent in our area.
    For what it is worth I would never buy real estate again, ever. Would I buy another 5th wheel?
    No! Class A? No.

  12. engineerd Avatar

    If it were up to me, it would be something like this:
    with this nearby in case of cold, too much wind, too much rain:
    See also last week’s questions about “Going Bowman”

    1. dead_elvis, inc. Avatar
      dead_elvis, inc.

      Saw a Sportsmobile on my commute home tonight!

  13. Krautwursten Avatar

    Robert, I’ll add to your hypothetical question with wanting to take a hypothetical car with you for whatever reason (we are on Hooniverse after all). And between an RV with a car trailer and a truck with a 40-something feet toy hauler I’d probably go for a truck camper and car trailer because if I were so inclined to tow cars around all the time I’d have a truck anyway, and this way I’d only have to bump it up to a one ton in order to have one less motorized vehicle to maintain and not tow what’s basically a semi truck trailer.

  14. salguod Avatar

    An RV means a second drivetrain to maintain, but a trailer means driving a tow vehicle year round and suffering the gas mileage. Or, you have a vehicle around only to tow the trailer, then you’re back to an additional drivetrain to maintain.
    We had a large-ish pop up trailer for a few years and a large CUV (2010 Soaturn Outlook) to tow it. The Outlook averaged 17 MPG over 22K per year. We did the math on the fuel (back when gas was over $3 a gallon) and the savings from selling it and getting a midsized sedan at 28-30 MPG saved enough in fuel to pay for a week in a hotel on vacation. I was the only one who really liked camping (the wife hated it), so we sold the trailer & truck and ended up with a Prius. From 17 MPG to 40.

    1. Tanshanomi Avatar

      Although a little trailer allows you stay in places where there’s no motel lodging to be had.

      1. salguod Avatar

        My 12′ box popup with 10″ wheels would drag the hitch ball going in and out of my driveway. I had to buy a 3″-4″ drop ball mount to tow it with that Outlook. A reasonably well groomed campground was its limit.

  15. CruisinTime Avatar

    The Ford E-150 conversion van has a lot to offer.4 recliner seats a small back seat. , a place for the porta-potty.The picture is one like mine.What a Cruiser.Had mine 6 years.

  16. Fuhrman16 Avatar

    When I go camping, I use an RV. (A bunch of blankets shoved in the back on a hatchback with the seats folded down counts as an RV, right?)

  17. XRSevin Avatar

    See that thing to the left? It kinda cured me. Last time I camped, I rented a motorhome and drove to Alaska. Renting is the only thing that makes sense for me; no tow vehicle, no storage fees.

  18. mad_science Avatar

    Depends on what the activity is.
    If there’s some other activity going on (say, race weekend) and it’s basically a hotel alternative, then the biggest, nicest RV available (and then it tows the car).
    If the point is to go on an adventure, then I’m more a fan of a self-contained expedition-style rig or maybe a 4×4 with a small trailer.
    This worked pretty well for 2 of us plus the dog:

  19. Rover 1 Avatar
    Rover 1

    A spacious trailer with a comfortable car for sightseeing. with the trailer as a base

    1. Rover 1 Avatar
      Rover 1

      Or do you get the motorhome and put up with all the hassles of parking it in a normal car park, just so you can always make coffee where ever you stop.
      And, of course, it’s faster than a car towing a caravan/trailer when you are travelling.

  20. mve Avatar

    I gotta say, this tiny house thing is intriguing. My wife have talked about it more than once.