The Search For Our Next Home
For a few weeks now we’ve been thinking about different types of rigs for different purposes. We’ve learned a lot in our three years on the road in our 2019 Apex 215RBK.
We’ve learned what we really need and what we only thought we needed. We’ve been in -14° all the way through 102°. We’ve had frozen dump valves, had to replace staples with screws, replaced faucets, fixed plumbing that wasn’t tightened properly, and learned how to organize a small space for daily living. Most importantly we’ve learned that we do really love this lifestyle and don’t like living in a sticks and bricks house. It is time that we say goodbye to the trailer that we’ve lovingly fixed up to work well and to work for us while working full time and traveling.
It was important to us that our next rig be truly four seasons with a heated and enclosed underbelly and dump valves, great insulation, a dry bath, dedicated work spaces with room to eat and room for the dogs to live their best life as well as a good solution to carry our bikes, all four if possible. We don’t like the swoopy graphics that come on most rigs, we want something built to last, and it needs to be ready to boondock as soon as we sign the paperwork.
We started looking at bumper pull toy haulers with a separate garage. This would give us a work area with a door to give us great separation for when we are both on calls or in meetings. A bumper pull toy hauler would mean that we wouldn’t have to change anything about the truck and could keep our cap. After considering many brands, we landed on two to seriously consider. Momentum G class 29g and 31g and the Carbon 36. All three had extreme weather packages available, spare fuel tanks for onboard generat, large roofs to hold solar panels, and huge carrying capacity for a battery bank.
Momentum is a trusted name in RVs with a solid fan base. The fifth wheels can be seen in every campground. Their fit and finish is beautiful with glass front cabinets, under unit accent lighting to deter critters, and the two models we were considering have a bath and a half. These massive campers seemed to have almost everything we were looking for as well as some nice creature comforts. Ultimately, we felt that in some important areas they just weren’t holding up against the Carbon 36. The tanks were smaller, and fancy items, to us, seem like just more opportunities for things breaking. We moved on to looking more closely at the Carbon 36.
I joined a Facebook group for owners and poked around to see what people were saying. I feel like this is a good way to get the dirt on a brand or model prior to purchase. I scroll through to see what people are having issues with as well as ideas for how to set up the trailer to best fit our daily use. The Carbon group was helpful in allowing us to see that people were not having issues towing with a 3500 dually truck and that most people were pretty happy with their rig. Most people get a toy hauler because they want to bring a golf cart or off-roader camping, we needed an office space with a door and thought it would be a bonus to have all four bikes inside and out of the elements while also giving us a more private guest room for friends and family that might meet us out on the road.
The Carbon 36 also had a heated couch with massage which I fell in love with. We were able to see the same floor plan in a fifth wheel in Lake Havasu City, AZ. The build quality seemed good and we were happy with the overall layout. We found the one we wanted in Surprise, AZ and took a trip down to look at it. Once we walked it, things started to stick out which we were not happy with. The axles were still really low and there were still just leaf springs for suspension. The dump valves were not enclosed or heated though the tanks were. The generator was also under the bed which led us to believe that if we had to run it at night, it would likely be pretty loud. The garage, once we measured out space for a desk, chair, and the bikes was going to be packed to the gills as well. We decided to keep looking.
After the bumper pull toy hauler idea was put to bed, Dom started looking at small truck campers. His criteria was 2,000lb and under, something simple but well built that would allow us to use it as a second office as well as take short trips with just the truck. This would also allow us to get into places that we couldn’t get the truck and our house into. It was a great idea. He found one that met almost all of the criteria. There happened to be one that we could walk on the other side of Phoenix. We packed the dogs up in the truck in their comfy beds with a blanket each and headed out on a Saturday morning.
Five hours and a lunch later we arrived in Tucson to see the Travel Lite 770RSL TLRV. It was well built for such a light weight camper. An east/west bed, microwave, stovetop, convertible dinette into guest bed, and a nice amount of storage for a truck camper that could be placed in a short bed 150/1500 truck. Then we took a look at the wet bath. The toilet was placed at an angle, something we now view as a sign that, unless you are camping alone or don’t mind stepping outside when the bathroom is being used by the other person, is a sign that it is unusable without the door remaining open. Now, I have been called a baby giraffe but this was pretty small. Perhaps the shower curtain could be use to block off the area but I just couldn’t see how this would work for us. That space was not readily available to be converted into anything else and it took up almost a quarter of the floor space for something we couldn't use.
Seeing this truck camper got us heated up though. We started thinking of all the possibilities that a truck camper would present us with. What if we could downsize to just a truck camper? We have a 3500 dually so we should be able to carry one with slides and maybe even a dry bath. While it would take a lot of work to downsize again and enough to fit into that small of a space, we were fairly confident that we are capable of doing what would be needed.
This led us to Arctic Fox, Northern Liteand the NuCamp Cirrus truck campers. They are all incredibly well built, true four season campers. Our first choice was the Cirrus 820. Having owned a NuCamp T@g, we trusted their excellent build quality. With Amish built cabinetry, nautilus water system, and a fresh modern look inside and out; we looked at their biggest model currently available, the 820. This model has a wet bath (we were willing to give it a try), no slides (less motors to maintain or breakdown), a stationary bed and dinette.
I thought about a second work space and perhaps I could work from the front seat of the truck. There are some pretty interesting office setups now available for purchase that can turn the whole front cab into a workspace. It was about this time that our dream started to break down, the 820 was not for a long bed truck. While it would be possible to put it in the truck bed, it would not be lined up correctly which would throw the weight off. It just wasn’t a good idea and could lead to trouble down the road. Truck campers really need to be balanced perfectly to avoid issues with the truck frame breaking. The larger 920 was no longer being manufactured and there were none for sale used. With how well they are built, it could be decades before one became available. We moved on to our next two options.
Northern Lite has been making lightweight but durable truck campers for over 30 years. Made out of two pieces of fiberglass, they are well insulated and made to handle extreme weather. Their reputation is great and there are almost no used ones for sale because people hold onto them. We found a model that looked like it would work for us, 10-2EX LE Dry. Made for long bed trucks and with high end appliances built to last and a modern interior design, we gave it a deeper dive. Being able to choose the interior colors was a very nice option, and they come standard with most of the things that we needed.
After discussing it, we decided that although they are excellent campers, the Arctic Fox campers were going to be a better choice for us.
Arctic Fox by Northwood Manufacturing is another wonderful brand with a great reputation for quality built truck campers. While the interior looks the most traditional out of the three brands, their build and standard as well as available options were better suited for our lifestyle. They have larger water tanks, aluminum frame construction, and an onboard Onan generator to name some of the features that attracted our attention. We found a 1150 in Mesa, AZ that had the options that we wanted at a good price. This was also the only truck camper we considered that had a slide, which made it look huge inside. We got a good offer for our trade in and put down a deposit.
I joined a Facebook group for owners of Arctic Fox truck campers and asked some questions about truck versus camper size and if anyone is living and traveling in the 1150 or 1140 model, which is the same size but has layout changes. I got mixed responses. Many people were saying that it was too much camper for our truck and some were saying that they have the exact setup and have not had any issues. Almost everyone said that when they weighed their rig, the camper was much heavier than the sticker indicated. This information was enough to push us over the ledge we had been balancing on. We knew this camper was huge and nearing our weight limit. Hearing these statements we decided to play it safe. Our truck is our only vehicle and we can’t afford to have it break in half because we overloaded it with a massive truck camper. We ended our hopes of moochdocking and getting deep into the woods with our overlander and went back to the drawing board.
Since we had looked at so many options lately, we decided to open up the floodgates and every type of pull behind was back on the table. We searched the web for any pull behind with a dedicated office space or desk, four season trailers, and the best trailer to live in full time. I found some great blog posts that were very informative and so I looked at all the rigs they recommended. Most of the top rigs we had already looked at and ruled out for one reason or another.
The Airstream Flying Cloud 30fb Office came up quite frequently but with a price tag starting at $130,000 it was out of our reach. They just started making this floor plan in 2021 and so finding one used was not going to happen. While the brand is known for their quality and long lasting rigs, many are still on the road from the 1970’s, their prices were just too high. We still went to a dealership in Fort Worth, TX in November 2022 to look at it and some other floor plans. We know that the 30fb also comes in a bunkhouse floor plan and we thought that if we could find a used one of those, maybe we could buy the parts from Airstream and replace the bunks ourselves or have Airstream do it for us. We just couldn’t find a way to make it work though so we kept looking.
Next I found the Outdoors RV Backcountry series 28dbs and we just knew that we had found a great fit for us.