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Looking to learn more about todays campers

giles

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#1
Just like the title says, we are in the market to buy a camper. We have owned a couple of older models while we lived in Alaska, but that was a different purpose than this one will be.

-Thinking bumper pull
-26-34 footer
-must sleep 8
-must have AC
-new or used is still a big question for us
-who sells them reasonable?

What we don't know is the difference in brands that might be better than the other, or are they like vehicles these days, and they are all pretty much the same? I have lots of questions and it seems looking online is like talking to a salesman and it just pisses me off.

Some other things I'd like to know…
What do you like about your camper?
What do you wish it had?
Would you suggest new or used?

Tow rig is a 2006' Dodge 3500, single rear wheel.

Thanks in advance. I'm going to have lots of questions…so please don't get annoyed as my questions/wants will be changing. This is a big investment and we want to make the right decision the first time!
 

5Cent

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#2
I would recommend to start by identifying your budget.

My opinion is Jayco is best, they carry a 2yr warranty, everyone else is 1yr. Their fit and finish always is at the top in my eyes, but we currently own a keystone. Prior to that, a fleetwood prowler and a fleetwood wilderness. It's not which is best, they all leak and need tlc as time goes on.

Pick a budget and start looking at floor plans, go from there. Then decide if you want fiberglass sides or aluminum. Lots of cool floor plans within the last 5yrs. Our family of 4, soon to be five, fit perfectly in our Hideout 28BHS. I wanted a door to the restroom and a long awning instead of an outside kitchen. All depends what urge looking for.
 
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giles

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#3
Sorry, I forgot to give the budget. We want to keep the payment under $150 a month. So that would put a used camper around $10,000. I have no idea how the incentives work on new ones, but I think they will extend the loans a lot longer for new ones.
 

5Cent

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#4
If buying new, now is the time being show season. Terms can go to 30yrs typically on new and over $25-$30k and all interest is tax deductible no matter used or new. I would not recommend this unless you plan on keeping it forever or you are able to store it inside and baby the thing.

You can find a nice used unit for $10k, just be ready to go over it with a fine tooth comb.
 

hickslawns

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#5
We have had 4 campers. Bumper pull twice, and fifth wheel twice. I like our fifth wheels but bumper pulls are fine as well. Floor plan is critical. Ability to sleep everyone comfortably is critical. I will say the longer the bumper pull, the more dangerous. If you go bumper pull and are willing to spend thousands on a camper, do NOT get cheap and fail to purchase the load distributing hitch with anti-sway bars. Sadly, I saw a long bumper pull get away from someone one time. I was an EMT at the time. A mommy didn't get to go camping again after this accident. I don't care how big your truck is, you NEED this.

Check out the Official Camper thread. Might give you some things to think about.
 
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giles

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#6
I've read that entire thread, I didn't think this was really a good fit for it.

I'm not opposed to the idea of a gooseneck/5th wheel (I owned a 36' race hauler, truck is already set up for it), I just like having the bed space for firewood/bikes type of things. Owning a short bed truck with a toolbox and transfer tank doesn't leave much room.

I've also heard some bad things about things about having air bags and those anti-sway bars. I'll have to look into it further though. Not sure of the truth of that, as I can't even remember who told me, lol.
 

hickslawns

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#7
Yes. Short bed with all the extras doesn't leave much room. Sounds like you have part of the equation worked out. I struggle with the thought of new camper prices. It will depreciate so much the first year or two I would cry every month I made a payment and the payment wasn't closing the gap on lost value. A 2-5yr old camper with little to zero use isn't hard to find. Often, it will be substantially less than a new one. Start checking floor plans. Then decide how much you truly want to spend. If $10k is your number, you should be able to find a fantastic camper for this price. You just might need to shop hard to do it.
 

5Cent

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#8
If buying new is even a thought, do it now to get show pricing. While I agree with Phil on high $ ticket items ($20k+), $5-$7k more might save you a lot of headaches down the road. Our unit was only $16k, i see it used and listed at $18k+ all day.

I like used because the kinks are usually worked out. Things not fully assembled from the factory will have loosened and be tightened by then. Any major issues are usually found by the first owner. On the flip side, you do not know exactly what was done. Did the toilet overflow (i did this to our prowler), did it flood because of a loose water line fitting (happened to my BIL's brand new unit), or how many sweaty nasty ass people have slept on the couch where your kids will sleep or in the bed youre sleeping on? If you plan on doing a deep clean and replacing matresses, thats some good coin right there. You should do bearings and brakes right away, never know how diligent last owner was. How about tires? ST tires are notorious for short lifespans.

I like new because I get to see and fix what happens the first few times out. I also know i shouldnt need to yank off wheels tires for 1-2yrs to do bearings or brakes and tires will still be covered. I like new because it is clean and i can rest assured the only people sleeping on the mattresses or couch are friends or family. Hell, even a TOO outing will help you learn where the drain plugs on the AC unit are so the next time Naydeen sticks his head out the door saying you have an A/C leak, no worries lol. Keep in mind that for $15-$20k, youre paying as much for a large ATV or SxS. I only bring it up for context. You can have a great time with those toys, but is limited when factoring in 8ppl.

I imagine you will have two cars or visitors? No way youre getting 8ppl into one truck for a comfy camping trip lol.
 
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giles

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#9
We are a family of 5. I figure the kids will want to have friends come.

My brother also has a pretty nice boat for Lake Erie...so we plan on spending some weekends up on the lake. I'm sure he will want to bring his kids along to spend the weekend.
 

giles

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#10
Most camping would be done within an hour of home though. We have Cowan, Rocky Fork, Paint, and Deer creek right here. Being that close, I see friends of the kids coming with most weekends.
 

5Cent

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#11
Gotcha. Closing remarks based on the info you supplied is you just have to start looking. All the needs like a/c,etc is standard equipment. The entire industry was shaken up by the Great Recession, Thor now owns something like 75% of the models out there. Go to a Forest River site, and they'll bash Jayco or Keystone. Go to a Keystone site and they'll bash Forest River and Jayco, etc. You get the point. We we're set on an Aspen until I walked thru it at the IX show. 3-5yrs ago I would not have stepped into a Keystone, but I'm glad my wife pulled me into one. They turned the corner somewhere in the last few years with both materials and attention to quality.

I can tell you from personal experience that each unit is a situation all in itself. It's all about low costs, lightweight, money in the OEM pocket more than customer satisfaction. Never go into a TT thinking it's an investment. It's a toy, it will need loving, but it will provide you and your family a lifetime of memories. I'm sure you know this as a previous owner, but just wanted to emphasize that it all comes down to budget, floor layout and how you plan to use it. Looks like atleast a single slide and a bunkhouse is in your future. When running a used inventory search at Town & Country and Youngs RV, you have plenty of options in the $10k range that should fit your bill. Good luck!

*PS - dealers are not loyal so buy the unit you want, from wherever you want. RV wholesalers would be a great place to start given your location.
 
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Beentown

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#12
I am looking also. I will have about $8,500. I plan on using cash and hope that helps.

Please share the issue with airbags and stabilizer links/hitches. I run airbags in my coils.
 

giles

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#13
Using that logic of new, wouldn't that mean a lot of good used campers will be on the market soon? Thanks again
 

giles

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#14
I am looking also. I will have about $8,500. I plan on using cash and hope that helps.

Please share the issue with airbags and stabilizer links/hitches. I run airbags in my coils.
I did some digging last night on the subject. It seems that you just don't use the air bags when using the hitch.
 

giles

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#16
Air bags defeat the purpose behind those hitches. The hitch transfers the weight to the front axle/spreading the weight out over the entire truck. Air bags basically just lift the back of the truck, which is fine for hauling heavy loads in the truck itself or hauling a gooseneck.
 

giles

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#18
That seems fine too if using a light duty truck/suv with a weaker suspension. I was thinking more along the lines of a heavy duty style leaf pack.
 

5Cent

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#19
Its more of changing measurements if you dont set the bags the same each time. Bags are a common towing tool, just replicate the same setup each time. They help add stability. Thats why its important to do all your measurements with the entire family in the truck and loaded like you were going on the trip. Keep the trailer level to slight nose down and youll be good.
 

hickslawns

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#20
Solid advice 5cent. I will stand down on the new stuff. Not a market I know enough about. Real solid input from you though. Maybe I should stop into some of these shows. I might be doing it wrong. I have been 2nd or 3rd owner of 5-10yr old units. I would find used units with minimal actual camping use. Worked for me, but certainly not new.