NFR RV Decision

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by freestoneangler, Sep 21, 2013.

  1. My wife and I have been shopping RV's on and off for a few years now as we plan to travel full-time, part of the year in retirement. We were pretty certain a 5th wheel was the best option for us, but having now been in a few of the neighbors class A coaches, we're starting to re-think our plan. $200K rigs have a way of doing that. We will be traveling with a dog and there is something to be said about being able to move about a little while in route when safe to do so (yes, I know it's never technically safe). My wife's back/hip gives her some grief sometimes on long drives and just being able to stretch out a little will no doubt help. And traveling with a lab (maybe two), I'm certain it would be more comfortable than in the back seat of my Dodge.

    I've done the pro/con thing a gazillion times and looked at many of the RV websites and threads covering this same question. But knowing that no community like a fishing community tells it like it is and never exaggerates the truth, I'd like to hear from the forum from those who have (or had) Class A RV's. In particular:
    • Did you go gas or diesel...why and how has that worked out?
    • Which coach did you end up with and how do you like it?
    We would definitely pull a small SUV of the pluses of the class A as the Southfork can ride on the roof rack. I also plan to buy used and limit the investment to $50K.
  2. I have a few friends looking into the retirement vehicles and we all agree it has to be able to tow a drifter with motor or small sled and be able to back it to the water! the only requirements! You can always stow a couple toons but touring without a motor boat seems like a handy-cap to me.
    triploidjunkie likes this.
  3. If your current truck is up to the task of towing a 5th wheel and is paid for the decision should be easy. Buy the 5th wheel. You can get a real nice unit little used for well under 40K. And if your wife's hip hurts, just travel shorter distances in a day. You're retired-remember?

    A Class A has always been known as a money dump which is okay if you you have deep pockets. But at 5-8mpg they can get pretty spendy to drive and maintain. When we retired 14 years ago gas was right around $2.00 and travel was pretty easy. Today it is $4.07 here in town for unleaded regular and the cost of driving every 100 miles has doubled.

    So do some math before you leap. If your Class A gets even 8mpg-which is high-a 500 mile trip at $4.00 a gallon will cost you $250. And you still have to put out $30-$70 a day for hookups. Then if gas goes up in your retirement as it did in ours a 500 mile trip could go up to around $375.

    Finally, a truck is just so much more useful than a motorhome and a cute ute. Two dogs and two people in a cute ute is a load and there is little room for anthing else.

    Kent Lufkin likes this.
  4. My wife and I have been looking at a similar decision (we won't live in it but will do extended travel). We have had a fairly large truck camper for 13 years now and that has worked very well for towing a drift boat behind us, using the electric jacks to put it in the camp ground, and then have the truck to fish out of and tow the drift boat or pontoon boats around. The problem is that it gets a little small for more than 2 weeks. Our thought (not yet implemented) is a 5th wheel toy hauler. With a 12' garage, we can easily store our 2 man Scadden Pontoon and even the 10' trailer. The dog kennels also fit nicely in the garage. The garage door makes into a nice patio, and the interior is quite luxurious! The one we really like is the Keystone Raptor 332 TS with a King Sized bed it is really nice inside and a lot less than a $200,000 motor home. It also has a large generator, auxiliary fuel tanks and a 6 jack hydraulic leveling. Check it out! Rick
  5. I saw a nice travel trailer on a highway in Ill.. It was in about 1000 pieces. It must of came off from what it was hooked up to. Freeways are just about as bad on travel trailers as deer are.
  6. The wife and I are also pondering this topic. We have a 24' Passport (Keystone) travel trailer which is nice and light, set up the way we need it, but will be too small when we start spending longer trips in it (3 years to retirement). She likes the comfort of a Class A but it seems to limiting as Ive and Rick have mentioned. Rick, I like your consideration of a toy hauler. Not something I considered before but seems to cover the bases for hauling a small boat. I'll be interested in updates as you all work through your decisions.
  7. We have a truck camper as well and you are great for a week or two, but way too confining for full time travel. It is however just awesome for most of our short term travel needs...can go just about anywhere we care to camp/fish.

    I posted the question about putting dogs in a 5th wheel while on the road in one of the RV forums and most said that's not a good idea. In addition to being pretty bumpy, it can get pretty warm inside. Some said they do, but the majority said don't do it. We have looked at the "man cave" 5th wheels, but the wife isn't so sure...I think she imagines late night parties with guys belly laughing, scratching and carrying on :D.

    All things considered, a 5th wheel is probably the most economical route and that's what we had been focusing on until walking through our neighbors rigs; a 40' Monaco Dynasty and 38' Pheaton diesel pushers... that didn't help. It's always good to hear from those making similar decision where fishing factors into the equation.
  8. We were all set to take the 5th wheel/dually plunge last year until I got cold feet; climbing on top of a 34' Mobile Suites and sighting down the spine I realized I was gonna be attempting to guide 50' of wheeled missile down the highway.
    Took a step back from the edge, and just recently we bought this


    Wife put an add in one of the fiberglass rv forums and darned if we didn't get a call the next day from a couple in Polson (about 60 miles down the road) with the exact model we were looking for.

    IveofIone likes this.
  9. Some more thoughts on this subject for those on the RV fence. I have witnessed almost the entire history of RVing in this country during my lifetime. From the original travel trailers with their gas lamps and beautiful wood paneling to today's Plastic Castles. And known dozens of couples who have made the plunge at one level or another. Most all of them have played RV Roulette in search of the perfect solution and the most common mistake they have made is to error on the side of too big. Today's 'camping' is a far cry from what we did back in RVing's Golden Age. Back then many campgrounds were free, most units were of a modest size and crowding was pretty much unheard of.

    But now there are millions of them on the highways, parks are crowded and expensive and rigs are packed in like sardines, sometimes no more than 10' apart. The bigger the rig the more difficult it is to manipulate and at some point the joy of being on the road is trumped by the sheer magnitude of the rig in use. I watched this with my parents who started out in the 60's with a Dodge van camper. They had a ball in that thing, took it to Alaska and all over hell's half acre and stopped whenever and wherever they wanted. Then they moved up to an 18' travel trailer which required a heavier tow vehicle but still managed to get out although not as often. But then my dad got big eyes and sprung for a big Avion that required a still more powerful rig. They took it back east but by then the joy was gone as the size of the rig overwhelmed the freedom of being on the road.

    By now I have concluded that most people just hate 'camping' and simply want another home to take on the road. And as Freestoneangler confessed, neighbor envy can sometimes get in the way of a clear decision. Hence the bigger is better syndrome along with it's corollary--keeping up with the Jones's. Maybe that huge rig isn't the dream come true it is advertised to be. You can still go more places in a smaller rig that is easier to park and use motels for a pleasent change of pace.

    Don't make it too easy, travel is supposed to be an adventure. And by adventure I don't mean trying to park a 38' motorhome in a 35' slot.

    WABOWMAN, smc, Nooksack Mac and 6 others like this.
  10. No easy answer. It's quite simply a matter of individual preference. My wife and I have been all over the RV map from truck campers, bumper pulls, fivers, class C & class A. We winter down south near our kids for the holiday season and our Rexhall Aerbus class A gas suits us fine for living but we are point A to point B with it. If my intent was to travel all over the nation while towing, I would opt for a diesel rig. On the other hand, my full timer parents prefer the diesel truck and a 38 ft fiver. Again it's individual preference. If traveling all over, what you feel comfortable and confident driving/towing should be high on your consideration. Larger may be more comfortable but can be limiting insofar as campgrounds. Smaller may be more economical but for full timing, a too small space may drive you insane.
  11. I've also tried them all.
    We've had a 21.5' Jayco Lite 5th wheel for several years now and it serves the 2 of us very well.
    Pulls easily with our '98 Dodge Ram 1500 with the small V-8 (360). Slows down a bit on a long, uphill grade, but at my age, I'm in no hurry.
    Short bed, but I put an extended hitch on the 5th wheel for a longer span between the trailer/truck cab.
  12. Anything you get will be a compromise. It really depends on what kind of traveling you are planning on doing. If you plan on jumping from RV park to RV park then I would go for as big as I could afford! But that rules out staying almost anywhere else. We upgraded our RV about four years ago. We looked at some larger ones but almost all of our use is on forest service land in some primitive campgrounds. We went with a 24' travel trailer (Arctic Fox) because that works well on dirt roads and it fits in the USFS sites, or even boondocking. We also put in solar and an on-board lp generator just for this.
  14. Have had two 5th wheels over the past 15 years. Based o some of the other replies I would go with the 5th wheel over the class A. A lot less overall costs and, if you hang on to the camper it is easy to pop out the 5th wheel hitch and slide the camper back in for short trips.

    I agree with one of the relies that I can't get my 30 footer in some of the Forest Service sites I could my previous 22 footer, but few extended trips the added space was nice.


  15. THIS is some serious wisdom. Have you done a tour of those "RV parks"? Most are absurd. It's a parking lot in the middle of the forest. There's probably a higher population density in most RV parks than a typical suburb.

    I rented an RV with a buddy for a big road trip. We did a big loop through Nevada, Utah, and Arizona. By the fourth day we were parking the stupid thing in hotel parking lots, paying the extra $20 for a real hotel room (most RV lots wanted to charge $60-70) and leaving the RV in the lot empty.

    Different strokes for different folks - but imagine how many truly AWESOME vacations you could take for $200,000. Rent an RV the size you're eyeballs are planning to buy. I think you'll find driving a rickety, squeeky, noisy, drafty velvetta box with wheels a bit less awesome than you might have thought.
  16. Regarding some of the RV Parks, I refer to them as "Ghetto Camping"... Definitely not my style.
  17. While I've never seen a toy hauler used for a fly fishing shack, it really makes sense. With a 12' garage you can put a 10 or 12' aluminum pram like a Spratley (the 10' is plenty big for two people) and an outboard. You could stack a couple pontoon boats, when you come in from fishing and you are all wet, take the waders off on the all weather floor of the garage and hang them up in that heated space. Same with dogs, rinse them off outside the garage door and let them drip dry in the garage. With the garage in "party" mode with one bed down and made into two couches with a table you can have dinner for 6, or you can set up your fly tying stuff without it getting all over the nice interior of the unit. The toy hauler is built for off road travel (which is what ATV people do-setting up in the middle of the desert) with 12" hydroformed I beams, and increased ground clearance. They are also equipped to get way back in and stay a while, with lots of water, gray and black tank capacity and a large generator.
    You will be somewhat limited where you can go, but not nearly as much as a motor home with an suv behind it. Just thinking of my travels, there are lots of very nice places you could go. Chopaka (yes, I wouldn't have a problem with the grade!), Lenice, Sun Lakes for Dry Falls, Lost Lake north of Bonaparte, Stimson Flats on the Klickatat, there are lots of places. Other favs out of Washington are Fisher Flats on the Kootenai, Kelly Forks on the Clearwater, several campgrounds on the upper St Joe or NF CdA. There are some nice FS campgrounds on the Big Hole near Wise River. Mid Canon on the MO is very nice. Palisades campground near the S Fork of the Snake is great. For hook ups, Aspen Acres, near Ashton Id is really nice and 5 miles from the Warm River put in on the Henry's Fork. The RV campground near Ringer on the Yak is nice, and Big Pine while no hook ups is a great place to stay. Anglers Roost on the Bitterroot, Cottonwood on the Big Horn, Elkhorn Campground on Rock Creek, There is a nice one on the Jefferson north of Twin Bridges, and another nice one south of Livingston on the Yellowstone. Grizzly RV in West Yellowstone is high end, but a very nice place to stay while exploring the park. So you definitely don't have to stay in cookie cutter RV parks that really do resemble "urban ghettos"! BTW-I wouldn't travel with dogs in the trailer. I have a crew cab truck and the dogs stay in kennels on the rear seat (folded down).
    Nooksack Mac and Jeff Dodd like this.
  18. After much research my wife and I decided on the Mercedes Sprinter based Winnebago View J. We wanted the small displacement diesel for fuel economy (even though the payback period at current diesel prices is a fair ways out). With the small diesel (mine happens to be the older 5 cylinder version) it gets 16-17 mpg (average) regularly pulling the pass over to E. Washington.

    At 24' it is large enough to comfortably house 2 adults and our Golden Retriever. We particularly wanted a dry bath-the View Jas a nearly standard shower and toilet in the rear bathroom. The slideout dinette makes the coach seem much roomier than the 24' length would allow. We've spent nearly 2 weeks in it at stretch and could see using it for a month or more at a time-with proper re-supply of water and dumping of waste, of course.

    We tow a drift boat fairly regularly but the older model is limited to 3500# towing and 350# tongue weight. The newer V6 is 5000# rated with a 500# tongue weight.

    The View gives us the convenience of being fully self contained in a relatively compact package allowing us access to places where the bigger class A's would not be such a good fit. We find it easier to up and drive it in to town that a toad is not necessary (at least at our current utilization-when retired the story might be different).
  19. I suggest the mileage issue goes byhond whether a motor home or pickup + trailer gets better mileage. My wife and I have had RVs of virtually every description over 37 years. We began with a 9' camper on a Ford 3/4 ton pickup and transitioned through several trailers and two class A motorhomes. My last 3/4 ton truck got about 13 mpg while towing. My present 35' diesel class A gets about 8.7 towing my Mazda B4000. Truck and trailer saved $, right. Wrong. We drive our motor home more than most but still average only around 5 or 6,000 miles a year. My truck is my daily vehicle. By getting rid of the 3/4 ton tow truck and replacing it with an economic Mazda my daily driver gets much better mileage and my total fuel expenses for a year are actually less. Add what I spend driving the motor home with what I spend driving the truck and the total is less. I also find the small pickup much more practical as a daily vehicle although it doesn't have the macho factor.

    I will offer only one piece of advice: Whatever you decide on please do not let it sit around in storage depreciating. One advantage of an RV is being comfortable regardless of weather. There are fish to catch and sights to see every month of the year. Enjoy.

    If you want more advice than you can possibly absorb on diesel vs gas, trailer vs motor home, etc, just wander around in the various RV forums such as .

    Nooksack Mac likes this.
  20. A few Outside the Box thoughts.
    1. A class A motor home + Cute Ute is major bucks
    2. 5th wheel rig + tow truck ain't too far behind
    3. Stay @ a destination lodge 3/4 times a year and still be money ahead
    4. Invest in a time share & trade destinations
    5. Car + small travel trailer combined with options 3 & 4 above
    As previously pointed out, those big luxury rigs have trouble fitting into most Forest Service camp grounds. They are better suited to the private "getto" RV parks. Those parks can be very nice, but they are seldom going to be on the banks of the river. On the other hand, fishing lodges, even ski lodges are. You cannot drive to Hawaii, but there are time shares over there. Once encountered a couple at Suzan Creek campground on the N.U. who were pulling a restored Airstream trailer with an equally impressive restored 55 Studebaker that had been in the family since new. Now that is classic camping! You would have to be sleeping under WWII Army surplus canvas to get any more classic than that.

    I was brought up during the "see the USA in a Chevrolet" era. I'm still a believer in see America first. And I've got nothing against the RV thing. But when you really stop and add it all up, taking your home away from home + your furry friends on extended road trips, gets to be quite pricey. With a little creativity & online research, one could reserve an RV for a couple of weeks/months, already set up in some pristine location. Some include wood decks, fire pits, lawn furnishings, even beach cruisers. Enjoy & move on. Maybe a dude ranch in big sky country. Or a houseboat on the Sacramento delta. What's in your wallet? Fly across the country using airline miles, Throw all your gear in a rental car & explore the New England Coast. You can fly in & fish the Dean, Babine, Skeena, any of the famous rivers on the Gaspe peninsula. Stay at a lodge. If you really crave adventure, travel by rail, taking your critters along. Or put them up in a pet hotel for a couple of weeks. Conserve fuel, drive a Mini Cooper. Travel lite. If you can't pack it in the Mini, you probably don't need it. If you absolutely cannot restrain from hauling more stuff around with you, invest in a very small compact light weight trailer to tow behind the Mini. The world is your oyster. But you don't have to own it to enjoy it.

    If you owned a two bedroom timeshare week, in a prime location, during prime time of the year, you could trade that for two, three, maybe four weeks, at other places/times. Check out the real estate offices (in Hawaii for example) for opportunities. They go cheap during economic hard times. S.O. got 60 points for her's last year. Right now she says there are places available in Florida for as little as 5 points. Oh yeah, we also found timeshares in Scotland. Can you hear me now?

    And then there are the cruise ships. Now I never was the cruise ship type. And salivating over bonefish flats from the 14th deck of a cruise ship as it navigates the deep water channel approaching Belize, is the absolute pits! But they do have their place. And there are deals to be had.

    And don't forget to include the interest (payments) & depreciation on this palace on wheels. That money could (should) be earning until you spend it!

Share This Page