To Be Stealthy or Not To Be...That is the Question

Helloo Everyone :sunny:

*I have thought about expanding my search to include small motorhomes and even travel trailers (as I have a Honda CRV I could tow it with)…their often much easier to find, lower miles, cheaper, (than a built out Van / Class B) BUT my concerns lie with:

  1. Not having much “stealthiness” at that point with the parking/stay issues; not able to park in “regular” parking areas in neighborhoods and cities, parks, NPS, State parks, rest stops, and various places around the country…especially overnight…or for several nights…without people assuming I am living in my rig and knocking and telling me I have to go etc…

  2. The extra costs I might incur with being obviously designated as “RV Only” in places.

  3. The shear size/length, extra drag/weight, I would be dealing with and maneuvarability in tight spaces, windy or steep mountain roads, forest service roads, city & neighborhood parking etc…

  4. Cost; mostly extra gas, parking fees, camping fees etc…

(5. Also Vans are just so much cooler :sunglasses: :joy:)

what are the Advantages / Disadvantages between something like a Class B Van, and a CRV + Trailer, OR a small motorhome?

Anything else I am not aware of in this regard ???

Would love to hear your thoughts!

Anastazia…

Hey A,

I’m a newb around here; but, you left out something kinda important: your comfort level.

Most of the units you buy will be worth near to what you give in a year or two.

I expect you will get lots of replies on this one.

I suspect there are some who could do the motor home life; but, feel a bit cramped by the E-150 sized unit. I wouldn’t underestimate that aspect of it.

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Greetings!

Stealth is an outright lie, always has been, and always will be. Promoters push cargo vans solely because they cost more to convert, and if you follow their advice & links they’ll make more money. The only other people pushing stealth are thhe victims of the promoters who are trying to unload a cargo van camper that nobody wants. People who worry about stealth are only fooling themselves. Windows for the view, ventilation, & cost savings, and being a good neighbor will get you much farther than “stealth”.

I’ve had camper vans (both factory & DIY), buses, motorhomes, trailers of every sort, and even live aboard boats. For reference, I am mostly a city camper, who parks for free on city streets when it’s legal.

Here are my preferences in order:

  • A cheap, older, gas, pre-computerized, unmodified, factory motorhome with low miles. (If it’s a big one, tow an economy car.)
  • A cheap, older, gas, pre-computerized, unmodified, factory bus of any length, converted by myself.
  • A cheap, older, gas, pre-computerized, unmodified, factory camper van.
  • A cheap, older, gas, pre-computerized, unmodified, factory passenger van, converted by myself. (NEVER A CARGO VAN!!!)
  • A cheap unmodified, hard sided factory pop up trailer.
  • A cheap unmodified, hard sided factory trailer.
  • A cheap unmodified, factory tent trailer.

Each of the above has their unique advantages & disadvantages. Generally cost, comfort, convenience, and reliability are the most important to me. With older vehicles, there are many things you can do to improve gas mileage. I think the place to start saving money is with the initial purchase. I’ve only paid over $2500 for a rig ONCE in my life, and it was hands down the worst vehicle I have ever owned. Patience waiting for that right rig to come along will save you money up front, and for as long as you own it.

Newer rigs depreciate rapidly. Let someone else pay that price. A fully depreciated rig will hold it’s value indefinitely, and possibly even appreciate. I’ve actually made money on over half the rigs I’ve sold. The only one I ever lost money on was an overly expensive 2 year old diesel cargo van. I built it out myself, and it was as beautiful & functional as a factory camper. The problem was nobody wanted it, including myself, due to the lack of windows. I lost over $30k on that one, thanks to the lying, thieving, cargo van promoters. AND… It was the exact opposite of stealthy!

I also built out a van front U-Haul, adding windows all around, and converting it into a beautiful Class C motorhome. It was great, since it had no holes in the roof, it also had no leaks. Since all my water tanks were on the inside, just like on the buses I converted, freezing weather wasn’t too much of a concern. If you’re going to spend much time in below freezing temps, I highly recommend either indoor tanks, or more simply, no plumbing at all, which is what I have in my current camper van. (I still have a double sink, a toilet, & a shower, just no plumbing.)

Cheers!


"Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst." ~ Murphy


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Van_Dweller,

Thank you so much for all of your thoughts and advice, very helpful, definitely lots to ponder.

Cost, Reliability, Comfort, Convenience are probably the most important to me–in that order.

It’s less about size=comfort for me as @farmboy mentioned as far as actually dwelling in my rig, I think I would be fine in a very small (but efficient) living space as well as in a larger rig, although, I DO think I would be more comfortable as far as actual driving, exploring, accessibility to remote areas in a smaller to medium sized rig length/width…just makes more sense to me when thinking about the places I want to go.

Question:

Why the ranking order for the trailers: hard pop-up, hard trailer, tent trailer ? Can you tell me why you rank them in this order?

I don’t have an “economy car” per se, but I do have a 2013 Honda CRV that is really roomy, lots of storage/packing capacity, crazy good off-road w/great clearance, really reliable, and great gas mileage for this type of SUV…it has 120,000miles on it though. This is what I was thinking on hauling a trailer of some sort with. If I buy a motorhome or van then I was just going to store/park it with friends/family while I was on the road, which would be fine, but also a shame it wouldn’t be used. Any thoughts?

Thanks for all the help!

Anastazia…

Pull the Honda behind something; but, don’t make a habit of pulling something behind it.

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Not sayin’ that it wouldn’t be ok for awhile and not sayin’ you’d ever have any trouble.

The CRV is made to be able to tow; but, it isn’t made to tow.

If you have a heavy trailer pushing a relatively light vehicle down a mountain road you could have some difficulty managing the descent.

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Back to comfort level…

You need to be comfortable driving a much larger vehicle than a Honda. One that may feel top heavy. And then you are contemplating pulling the Honda behind a motor home thru the mountains, maybe through some cities.

Some people would be intimidated by attempting that if that experience was foreign to them and other folks would be eager to do it.

Greetings!

@Anastazia wrote:

Why the ranking order for the trailers: hard pop-up, hard trailer, tent trailer ? Can you tell me why you rank them in this order?

Coming from a van/motorhome experience, almost all of the trailers seemed like a step backwards to me. With a van/MH, I could just park, and be good to go. With most of the trailers, set-up was a huge pain, especially in the dark or rain. They had to be leveled, and the jacks were often a pain, then all the hook ups etc. etc. With most tent trailers, you have to pull out the beds and mess with the canvas. Then tear down is equally as painful.

Being mostly a city camper, that makes trailers even less desirable, although when I was working construction I could often park on-site, off the street.

Then, I had this one trailer that I fell in love with, a 70’s Chalet (Glass House) A-frame one. Set-up/tear down took under a minute, it didn’t need to be leveled, or have any hookups. It was fully self contained, and if it hadn’t gotten stolen, I might have still had it. I’ve never found another one for sale, although I occasionally see them in use.

1976_chalet_trailer_e

Cheers!


"Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst." ~ Murphy


2 Likes

I would take length into consideration as well. 20 feet an under and you are still able to parallel park and fit into most parking spaces. It also, in certain cases will have implications on where you can travel. Some national parks and various roads don’t allow you to drive around on them with trailers attached. You can run into the same issue for vehicles over 20ft. There are places you simply cannot go with them. Towing something or having something too long severely shrinks the amount of places you can go and places you can park.

Think about clearance as well, regardless of 4x4 or 4x2, being able to get down a dirt road with some ruts really opens up the places you can camp and you don’t want to have difficulty turning around if it isn’t going to work out.

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@farmboy

You might have misunderstood what I meant about my comfort level when it comes to driving/exploring/accessibility being higher with small-med sized outfits as opposed to larger ones.

It’s not that I am uncomfortable driving something bigger than a Honda!

Far from it, I have driven completely loaded to the ceiling 26ft Uhauls towing a vehicle and toys across the country and back, as well as Truck w/ full -size Campers towing a boat long-haul to various destinations, and other such similar set-ups with complete comfort. And I, as mentioned before, am from the Cascade Mountains and my traditional stomping grounds are all throughout the Western US Mountain ranges. Not foreign, no intimidation…or eagerness really.

My point was that, BECAUSE, I know the places I prefer to travel and be ARE more remote, often tight spaces, windy and/or steep mountain roads, old forest service roads etc…that a rig set up thats larger in size (length/width) might be harder to maneuver in the places I like to go and limit accessibility. This is what one of my concerns is if I open my search from built out Vans/ Class B rigs to small motorhomes, Class C, and trailer options.

Point taken though on the towing capacity and effect on my CRV, especially over a long time. Thats why I was considering, as far as possible trailers, something very light–like an R-Pod or similar.

~Anastazia…

@Van_Dweller,

This all makes sense, some of the things I was originally worried about with trailers (set-up, leveling, hookups etc…)

That Glass House looks cool!
I saw something like that at an RV dealership lot when driving by, wonder if there is something new thats similar out there now?

Although, I am looking for something that I think might be more conducive for me for long term living with more of a electric and plumbing setup.

Thanks!

Hey @Bretly,

Thanks for chiming in!

This is exactly my main concern with moving to motorhomes, Class C, & Travel Trailers…Length, Clearance, Maneuverability. Loosing Accessibility.

Hmmm…will definitely consider all of this, sounds like under 20ft might be the golden length. I do worry about 4X4 vs 4X2 cause a lot of the places I go, I definitely have needed my 4X4, and then when considering winter weather…worry about mtn. pass restrictions and delays etc.

Thanks!

Hopefully see you on the road some time!

~Anastazia…

Anastasia,

By no means did I mean to imply that you weren’t capable or competent of handling the bigger load. I was thinking of a woman I know who didn’t hesitate to drive cross country in a U-haul pulling a mid-sized sedan behind it. However, when it comes to day to day navigating highways, she is more comfortable in a smaller vehicle because that’s what she’s always driven.

With regard to 4x4 vs 4x2, there really isn’t that much difference in ground clearance (unless it has a lift kit). For me, the trick is navigating outside the ruts and washouts more than having the 4x4. I have been places that only a 4x4 would make it in and out. A 4x4 does provide one with a sense of confidence (and occasionally a bit too much of that); but keep in mind one thing… A 4x4 can get you stuck a lot further away from help than a 4x2! But if you’re going for a van it will be next to impossible to find a 4x4 van. Good luck.

Have you pulled a trailer much in the past?

Greetings!

@Anastazia,

I believe Chalet, A-Liner, and some others are still being made.

I will also agree that under 20-21 foot is a good size.

Cheers!


"Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst." ~ Murphy


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Greetings!

I too miss drive thru’s & parking garages, but as with most things in life, compromises must be made. Beating the weather just requires good heating/cooling options, plus we can frequently use the weather to our advantage. I find all my windows to be a huge advantage for this, free heat in the winter, and free cooling in the heat. Not a replacement for good heating/cooling equipment, but it can sure cut down on their use and the cost to run them.

Even in the winter, at below 0°f, if I park my uninsulated van broadside to the sun, with my windows closed but unobstructed, I can get up to a 40-50°f rise in my indoor temperature without running my heater. In the summer, with the windows open, and just a cheap fan, I can keep the interior at no hotter than outside, without the need of expensive roof vents. Shade can also make a huge difference, and is just one of the many reasons why I don’t regret ditching solar panels in favor of a better and more reliable system, not to mention cheaper too.

So we have to compromise until we find what works best for us as individuals. I choose not to be dependent on the weather for my comfort or my power, and have backup systems for each. Often being an extreme weather camper, my choices are made accordingly.

Cheers!


"Be a credit to the human race, and make the world a better place." ~ Off Grid