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Thread: Off-the-ground Camping for 4 - aka tired of the tent

  1. #1
    Junior Member transalper's Avatar
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    Default Off-the-ground Camping for 4 - aka tired of the tent

    Too many cold, wet nights in the tent are motivating my wife and me to adopt a new approach to family camping. We're simply tired of tent camping and want something more comfortable. There are a lot of options out there and I hope you folks can help us decide.

    Important Criteria:
    -Sleeping for 4 and a dog
    -Enough room for two adults and 2 kids to hang out in during a rain storm
    -Easily storable - I do not have much storage space at all
    -4runner-based
    -Offroad capable (not extreme 4x4 stuff but multi-day backcountry trips)
    -Rapid set-up and take-down
    -Comfortable
    -Compact and light weight

    I already have a bed set-up for the back of the 4runner, but it only works for two. Plus it is pretty cramped and is only good for sleeping (ie no playing Uno with the kids in a rain storm in the 4runner).

    Some options we're considering:
    -Backcountry trailer/tent (www.tentrax.com)
    -Custom trailer/roof-top tent (technitop, eezi-awn, or howling moon)
    -Dual roof-top tents
    -Roof-top tent and in-cab bed

    Thoughts, ideas, suggestions???

    UPDATE: Trip report with the camper trailer we decided to get: http://www.4wdtrips.net/forum/showthread.php?t=3175

    Jay - 97 4Runner
    St. Paul, Minnesota
    Last edited by transalper; 07-24-2006 at 06:24PM.

  2. #2
    Life is an adventure! expeditionswest's Avatar
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    Wow! Hmmmm....


    Too many to sleep on the roof (weight capacity), and everyone wont fit in a tentrax.


    The idea of sleeping two on the top and two (+ dog) in the vehicle is probably the best plan.


    Although you may want to consider one of these... Would limit extreme off-road stuff, but should be able to handle most "trails"


    Kimberly Camper: VERY expensive, and should be available in the US.


    Kamparoo: Should be able to sleep 4+pup
    Aliner Expedition: Would be very comfortable (even a shower and toilet, full kitchen), but limited off-road

    Jayco Baja: This is really a cool trailer, and I have seen them in person. They have enough clearance for most trails, but are very wide and heavy. More than enough sleeping for all of you.

    Hope that helps

    Scott Brady
    mailto:guide@expeditionswest.com
    http://www.expeditionswest.com

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    Jay,

    Struggling with the very same issue for a long time now (replace the dog with a cat). We have not found an acceptable solution yet, so we are sticking to the tent for now.

    Doron.

  4. #4
    Junior Member transalper's Avatar
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    Thanks for the links, Scott. I've been checking out most of those. The Kamperoo Weekender really appeals to my wife, but it's too big, heavy and pricey. Storage is a big issue as well since I only have space for two vehicles.

    The roof-top/in-cab combo would be the simplest. I could probably do that for under $1500 total.

    The trailer-mounted roof-top tent has the added advantage of additional storage and it frees up the roof for hauling a canoe (which is pretty important to us Minnesotans). Something like this with a 1.6meter tent seems like a viable option:

    I could custom-make something like this over the winter. The four of us could play cards in there if necessary and the kids would then sleep in the 4runner.

    My wife keeps leaning toward a pop-up of some sort that would allow all four of us to sleep in the same space. I wonder if one of those small Coleman popups made in the 80s could be upgraded for off-road duty?




    Jay - 97 4Runner
    St. Paul, Minnesota

    Post Edited (transalper) : 9/9/2004 5:43:36 AM (GMT-8)

  5. #5
    Junior Member transalper's Avatar
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    I wonder if this would work?

    Start with a small coleman camper pictured below. Sleeps 4. Add a suspension lift, 29' tires, heavy-duty axle, reinforced frame/tongue, extra water storage, and jerry-can rack. These things weigh around 600lbs from the factory, so it would pull pretty well with the larger tires.

    Hmmmmm?

    Jay - 97 4Runner
    St. Paul, Minnesota
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  6. #6
    Life is an adventure! expeditionswest's Avatar
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    You are in a tough spot...


    Trailers are ALWAYS a big compromise and affect fuel and rough road capability. I have a trailer that is made for the most rugged terrain, but it still creates problems, and cannot sleep 4.


    I want to get completely away from a trailer, unless I am driving on improved surfaces only.


    You might need to consider one of thesewith this on top... No real compromises here, except maybe to tightest of trails...


    Scott Brady
    mailto:guide@expeditionswest.com
    http://www.expeditionswest.com

  7. #7
    12V Fridge Enthusiast BajaTaco's Avatar
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    I tend to agree with Scott. For the stuff that you like to do, I think that a package that sits self-contained on 4 wheels is probably the best option. Unfortunately, that will not come without a big price tag.Another ideais adapting or building something along the lines of the coleman pop-up that could be fitted to a truck chassis (which would mean getting rid of the 4runner - something you probably don't want to do) and replace the "bed" of the truck altogether. This is only if you really want to go through the process (and fun, haha) of building it yourself. If not, the Aussies make a lot of tray-top conversions that would probably work well (like Heaslip)


    If you want to keep the 4runner, maybe you could combine a roof-top tent with a side room. However, this gets back to the concept of having to set stuff up and break it down, but it looks like there are kits available that minimize the effort and hassle of doing so. For a roof top unit that would be super easy to set up, you could go with the Maggiolina. They have a crank handle that erects the tent, but you canuse a cordless drill or 12V adpt. drill to turn the crank and have the tent set up in a flash. All of the bedding stays stored inside the case when you travel. With the hard top and roof rack on it, you could even carry the canoe. They even make a unit that sleeps 2 adults and 2 children, but not sure of the weight capacity of your roof - maybe you could modify/strengthen your roof structure. Ifyou stick with the 2-person tent,the kids could probably sleep inside the 4runner. Then, you would just need to add a side room that sets up relatively fast. This would consist of a retractable awning, with walls. I think there are lots of aussie mfgs. of these things, it would be a matter of finding which ones are the best/fastest. The side room would be good quarters for setting up a table toplay cards or do some cooking in the rain, and the dog could sleep in there at night. It seems like Aussie Traveller might have a good system which has an "anti-flap" technology to make it more wind friendly. For working with what you have, and not killing yourself on the project, I think a rooftop tent/side room combo would probably be the easiest to deal with. You will still have some set up/break down time, but for what you are trying to accomplish, I am not sure this is avoidable unless you want a full-on, full-size/jumbo4x4camper ($$$).








    BAJATACO.COM

    Post Edited (BajaTaco) : 9/7/2004 1:53:20 PM (GMT-8)
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  8. #8
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    Jay,

    Take a look at tiger motorhomes (www.tigermotorhomes.com)...don't count them out simply because of the word 'motorhome'...actually, it fits all your criteria. They're built on a 4x4 3/4 ton truck, only adding 6 inches to the width and 14 inches to the length. You can take them your own 3/4 ton truck and they'll build the cabin on it(regular, extended and crew cabs are ok)...they don't say that on that website but I know it's the case...that way you can add lift, bigger tires, lockers, sliders, etc. before the cabin is added. They're nice little units...obviously you can't do extreme stuff (which wasn't one of your criteria) but you could do lot of easy to moderate trails.

    I'm gonna go this way in the future I think...ahh, to have a shower and bathroom in your rig!....getting softer as I get older...oh well...

    vince
    '98 Xcab Taco 4x4 with Flippac, Deavers, Donahoes, Stubbs Sliders, ARB bumper/Warn M8000 winch, Coolmatic 50L fridge, CB & 2M radios
    www.bajataco.com/vikingvince/Vince_FlipPac/index.htm

  9. #9
    Moving Target kcowyo's Avatar
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    Since you can't seem to get away from the tent factor with the 4Runner, I'll offer a couple of other products for your consideration. Flip-Pac has a roof top fold up tent for SUV's in development. Can't tell if there is room for 4 to sleep though. Maybe VikingVince could tell you since the truck tents seem to be similar in size to the SUV's - http://flippac.com/flippacjr.htm

    The other suggestion is something I just learned about today. It's a lightweight, multi purpose trailer with sleeping room for 6-8 in the tent that sets up in 2 minutes, has a beefy axle, high clearanceand can carry any of your favorite outdoor "toys" too. And unlike all of the cool Aussie offerings, these are made in Salt Lake City, witha nice little website. Curious if anyone else has seen one of these - http://jumpingjacktrailers.com/index.cfm

    I'm in the same boat, wanting tocamp inthe backcountry with 2 kids anda doginthe wife's4Runner. Many places inWY, MT and ID, say no to tents andrequire a hard sided camper because of those pesky grizzly bears. I've looked at slide ins fromFour Wheel Campers andthe Aliner Truck Cabin but the limited space in a slide in with 2 kidsduring rainy days sounds more like a penance than a vacation. I've also considered a smallfiberglass trailer from Casita with their off road package but they want ALL the money for one, even used. I'll be interested in seeing what you decide asI may follow your lead....

    .....a man becomes his attentions. His observations and curiosity, they make him and remake him.




    '97 Toyota T100 ~ Four Wheel Camper

  10. #10
    Life is an adventure! expeditionswest's Avatar
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    I have seen the jumping jack in person. Good for all but heavy winds (think big sail). I checked them out at the sportmans expo. I would actually like to test one a bit.

    Here is some info on my site http://www.expeditionswest.com/equip...xpo/index.html

    Scott Brady
    mailto:guide@expeditionswest.com
    http://www.expeditionswest.com

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