After months of talking about it, we finally broke down and bought a camper.
Several considerations went into this decision, chief among them was our tow vehicle, Lara’s small SUV that can tow 3,500 lbs. This seriously limited our choices. We thought about a pop-up for a while, but we intend to visit some places in bear country and pop-ups are prohibited in some national park areas where bears are common.
We then thought about a hybrid, which has fold down beds on either side. There are the same concerns about bears, but if we just kept the fold down beds up (a method called “turtling”) we would be allowed to visit the national parks. Still, we wouldn’t have a good place to sleep, so hybrids were out.
Another big consideration was plenty of sleeping space. Lara and I need a bed, plus we need a bed for each of the kids. While several had a fold out couch and a convertible dinette, we decided that a bunk-bed set up would be best for us.
Once we decided that we need a full-on travel trailer, the search began for a nice, used bunkhouse camper. We scoured craigslist for months, hoping to find one that had enough space, but was light enough to pull. We saw some absolute garbage. Lots of fixer-uppers (or deer camp specials as we came to learn they are often called) were available for cheap, but often came with more problems than they were worth. Hell, we’re on Pinterest. We could fix something up, right?
Water damage, leaky roofs, and rust seemed to be the price we would pay for such a low cost. Even if those problems were worth it (we didn’t think they were) a lot of campers just stunk. Years of smoking inside or people bringing their dogs along for the trip left many out of the question. Finally, even if a camper didn’t have any of these issues, if it was used, there is no telling what damage had been done by the previous owners, a prospect we did not like.
We still wanted a used price, but none of the problems associated with a used camper. Believe it or not, we found one at a lot in Springfield. The previous owners had purchased this one for their family (including three kids) to enjoy, and on their second trip turned around after an hour drive, drove straight to the lot and traded it in for a giant motorhome. As a result, we were able to get a used 2016 Sportsmen Classic 19bhs.
It has everything we wanted and more. Bunk beds, a queen sized bed in the front (plus a convertible dinette), lightweight and easily towable, plus a slide that adds a lot of square footage to a seemingly small space. It has a two-burner stovetop, a decent sized fridge and freezer, a nice bathroom (for a camper), plenty of storage, and the previous owner installed a smart tv.
All said, we are really excited about the prospect of all the adventures we can have in this camper (not to mention home cooked meals and sleeping on a mattress!)