RVs good or bad?


Original Post
Ryan Hamilton · · Orem · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 0

In a similar vein as the hotel thread I have this slightly different topic of RVs. A lot like the cool van build-outs, but definitely a step to a new level. 

How would you feel if someone actually gave you a smallish 27' RV (not how do you feel about other people in their RVs)? Would you start using it instead of tent camping, sometimes, all the time? Does it take away too much from the aesthetic of camping. Or, would it be rad because now your buddy can sort gear while you're driving and you can just park and sleep when you inevitably get to Moab at 11:00 at night and have a tower to climb the next morning, you don't have to set up a tent or deal with all the bugs attacking your face while you try to sort the gear. 

(my neighbor gave me his old RV last night and part me thinks it would be rad to have a mobile base camp and part of me really just wants to camp and live in the dirt, I'm conflicted)

jleining · · CO · Joined Apr 2007 · Points: 8

Yer gonna die, seriously give me the old RV and I will properly scrap it.

Tim Lutz · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2012 · Points: 0

I'm working on a 28' RV from '81 now and plan on taking it on climbing trips.  Getting into a lot of areas is an obvious limitation, but you can pull a light vehicle or SUV if the RV can handle it.  

The biggest beef people have with RVs is running a generator.  But, if you aren't running AC or a microwave, you sound be able to keep you batteries topped off with 200-400w solar and able to run a fridge and water heater (propane), fans, and fan for heater in winter, lights, and an inverter for changing electronics.  Having a toilet and tanks is a public benefit in many climbing areas without toilets that are stacked with human poo piles.

free is a good price!  photos?

Jason Halladay · · Los Alamos, NM · Joined Oct 2005 · Points: 9,851

We got a great deal on a pull-behind pop-up camper a few years ago. Prior that I was pretty anti-camper and a dedicated tent camper. I still enjoy the tent camping as much as possible but we use the camper: 

  • In winter. This was the primary motivation for the camper. It's super nice to have a warm place to cook and hang out for the long, cold winter nights.
  • On longer trips. The inconvenience and reduced MPG of pulling a camper makes it not ideal for short weekend trips. 
  • When the crag is easily accessible. It's slow and/or impractical to pull the camper on rough and/or long dirt roads. 
anotherclimber · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 0

I don't have any experience with RV's, but I'd be excited to use it if one was given to me and I could afford to drive and maintain it. Perhaps there are those that prefer the camping in tents experience, but there is something to be said about having beds, kitchen, and bathroom with a roof over your head already setup when you get there. I'd think the only issue would be crags where the access road requires something with four wheel drive. Otherwise, go out and use and enjoy that thing you lucky guy!

Ryan Hamilton · · Orem · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 0

I don't have any pictures, but it looks like all the rest of the mid-'80s RVs. It's a 1986 Leisure Craft (GMC Vandura base) 27' RV. It has 49k miles and is in OK condition. I think the only thing that actually needs to be done before I can drive it off is to replace the fuel pump, which thanks to youtube looks like about an hour of work and $40. Tires are pretty new. 

The interior is in pretty good condition surprisingly. I'm not sure if my neighbor had the seats redone or if they are original, but the fabric is in near perfect condition. It probably helps that he always kept it covered when not in use. The carpet in the cab is gone for some reason so I'll need to replace that. 

My neighbor tells me that everything works fine, fridge, AC, heater, electrical system, etc. He and his wife are just too old to really use anymore. 

Nick Goldsmith · · Pomfret VT · Joined Aug 2009 · Points: 15

depending on what kind of fuel pump you may want to change oil after changeing the fuel pump. the older GMC fuel pumps can leak gas into the crank case when the diaphram goes. Not an RV person. too big, bulky and uweildly.  If i was given a brand new fancy RV I would try to sell it and put that money twords a 4x4 Sprinter...

PaulMudd · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Dec 2014 · Points: 0

We broke down and got a trailer/RV. Although we purposely got a  smaller (14ft) trailer so we can easily get into more remote areas than a larger one. So far we love it, its got a separate shower and toilet ( i hate the wet baths) two burner stove, sink, microwave, AC, couch, bed/dinette. I find that I get better sleep and getting up to climb after a few days out is easier, and rest days are more comfortable having a sheltered space to clean up and relax, especially if the weather turns bad. We did buy a small inverter generator, but we are very conscientious about when we run it, but most times we are not near anyone with the places we like to go. I used to think doing the RV thing was lame and not as "hardcore/dirtbaggy", but now that i'm 42, I guess i'm getting old, soft and crotchety....GET OFF MY LAWN!   : )

EDIT: we also purposely got the "Baja" package which give it a 5" lift and a sealed underbelly, which helps with dodgy terrain. 

Rich Farnham · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2002 · Points: 203

It depends.  I had an RV for a few years, and had some great trips out to Indian Creek with it.  I was there for almost three weeks once, and it was particularly nice to have for the longer stay.  But over time I found that I didn't like how much time I spent inside.  Multi-day climbing trips meant lots of time outside, cooking on the tailgate and hanging around a campfire.  Once I had the RV, since the kitchen is built-in, I spent much more time inside.  With lights and comfy couches, it drew everyone else in as well.  So I found my climbing trips involved a lot less time outside, and I missed it.

That being said, on one of the desert trips, a big storm came in one evening.  Strong winds and rain sent everyone scrambling.  No one had cooked dinner yet, and it would've meant the end of the night if we were all tent camping and cooking on the tailgate.  Instead we piled about 15 people into the RV, including a lot of strangers, and people were still able to cook and hang out.  It turned into a great party, and we met a bunch of new people.  I've had similar experiences with other friends' campers.

My current set up is a standard Chevy cargo van with a simple bed build-out.  I can cook in there if I need to, but it's a pain in the ass - intentionally.  Basically I want to be able to hang out in there in bad weather, but as soon as it's nice out, I wanted to make it appealing to get out of the van and enjoy the outdoors.  There have been a few evening where weather moved in and we packed some people into the van.  It can't handle that as well as the RV, but it has other advantages.

So, I guess it just depends on the kind of experience you are looking to have.  If you want creature comforts in the campground, RVs can't be beat.  But they can require a lot of maintenance, and are hard to drive around.  

Momoface · · Arvada, CO · Joined Apr 2008 · Points: 0
PaulMudd wrote:

We broke down and got a trailer/RV. Although we purposely got a  smaller (14ft) trailer so we can easily get into more remote areas than a larger one. So far we love it, its got a separate shower and toilet ( i hate the wet baths) two burner stove, sink, microwave, AC, couch, bed/dinette. I find that I get better sleep and getting up to climb after a few days out is easier, and rest days are more comfortable having a sheltered space to clean up and relax, especially if the weather turns bad. We did buy a small inverter generator, but we are very conscientious about when we run it, but most times we are not near anyone with the places we like to go. I used to think doing the RV thing was lame and not as "hardcore/dirtbaggy", but now that i'm 42, I guess i'm getting old, soft and crotchety....GET OFF MY LAWN!   : )

EDIT: we also purposely got the "Baja" package which give it a 5" lift and a sealed underbelly, which helps with dodgy terrain. 

I think that's my dream. I like the idea of a towable that you leave at camp so the car can stay a car, you don't have to pack up your bed and kitchen to drive everywhere- though, I do spent a lot of time in areas with bad roads so the limits of a towable weigh quite a bit against it. I might have a too-good-to-refuse deal on a pop up falling into my lap soon, so I'll start there and just sell it for a profit if I'm not using it.

Paul, what did that set up run you?

PaulMudd · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Dec 2014 · Points: 0
Momoface wrote:

I think that's my dream. I like the idea of a towable that you leave at camp so the car can stay a car, you don't have to pack up your bed and kitchen to drive everywhere- though, I do spent a lot of time in areas with bad roads so the limits of a towable weigh quite a bit against it. I might have a too-good-to-refuse deal on a pop up falling into my lap soon, so I'll start there and just sell it for a profit if I'm not using it.

Paul, what did that set up run you?

Yep, that's why we went the trailer route, so we could still use the truck to get to remote trail heads and for running into town if we had to. We bought new, It's a 2017 Jayco JayFlight SLX 14RB Baja Edition. We got it for $12k from our local dealer. I feel like I could of haggled a little more, they agreed to our asking price a little to quickly : )  Although they did match the lowest price we could hunt down on the internet so I guess I'm cool with it.

Momoface · · Arvada, CO · Joined Apr 2008 · Points: 0

12K? I just looked on the jayco site and at first I only see $20k...$12k is low enough to make some bad decisions with! I'm looking at a pretty good condition x2 queen pop up for $1200 that I can refurb and prob sell for $4k?? Nice DP on a real trailer. 

Tim Lutz · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2012 · Points: 0
Momoface wrote:

$12k is low enough to make some bad decisions with! 

I'm going to steal this quote.  keep in mind that much of the high country in CO and WY now requires hard sides to deter bears

Blakevan · · Dallas, TX · Joined Sep 2015 · Points: 0

Do you know how old the tires are?  Not how good they look but their born on date?  Tires should be replaced after so many years regardless of miles driven.  A lot of accidents are because old tires blew but only had a few thousand miles on them.   Check/change the tires or YGD.  :) 

Ryan Hamilton · · Orem · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 0
Blakevan wrote:

Do you know how old the tires are?  Not how good they look but their born on date?  Tires should be replaced after so many years regardless of miles driven.  A lot of accidents are because old tires blew but only had a few thousand miles on them.   Check/change the tires or YGD.  :) 

Yep, tires are 2 years old. They should be good. 

Nick Goldsmith · · Pomfret VT · Joined Aug 2009 · Points: 15

thats annother reason I am a van guy. gives me a bit of time to limber up the bar spray while the Bear is peeling the doors off the van ;)

Steve Williams · · Denver, CO · Joined Jul 2005 · Points: 0

They're not so bad if you don't have to follow one on a one lane road. . . 

Ryan Hamilton · · Orem · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 0
Steve Williams wrote:

They're not so bad if you don't have to follow one on a one lane road. . . 

Yeah, I really hate that. I really don't want to be that guy. 

Nick Goldsmith · · Pomfret VT · Joined Aug 2009 · Points: 15

mostly they limit where you can go. SD needles, glacier etc you can't even get through the park much less do all the off roading that we like to do.

Karl K · · Phoenix, AZ · Joined Nov 2006 · Points: 500

I have had some version of RV or van camper for many years.

Here are my biggest positives:  
1) Shower; 2) Shower; 3) Cooking & eating out of the wind and bugs; 4) Sleeping out of the wind and/or rain; 5) Keeping the wife happy (maybe #1?); 6) Refrigerator:  no more worrying about the ice chest (plus, I get ice cream after hard days!)

Biggest negatives:
1) Driving: takes longer to get there and often have to park further away than wanted (esp. to stay level for the fridge), dirt/rough roads suck too, more $$$ for gas (much worse mileage) ; 2) Setup time: carrying a bunch of crap to and from the RV seems to take 4x longer than tossing the tent and sleeping bag in the back of the truck; 3) Loss of 'dirtbag' experience

My takehome messages & advice:  
1)RV is fantastic for a trip longer than 5-6 days; any shorter than that, I find it not worth the effort
2) Get real solar panel/charger installed; cost $5-800 to buy and then another $3-600 to get it installed, but we *never* run the generator.  (I hate generators and those that use them - worse than dogs at the cliff)
3) Tow car.  Having to move the RV everyday sucks: hard to drive, hard to park, hard to get into places.  Tow a little truck or jeep.  Park the RV once per trip.  Like the solar, this may cost you up front to buy/install the hardware, but otherwise you are very restricted on where you can go.
4)  I liked my little van camper nearly as much as the 25' RV with a toad.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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