In my previous Logistics post (click HERE to read), I wrote about how I came to the decision to purchase a fiberglass trailer as I worked my way down the decision funnel.  Once decided, it was time to dig further into the specific fiberglass trailers manufacturers.  A fantastic resource is Fiberglass RV.

On their website’s  home page is a list of all the manufacturers of fiberglass trailers.  Most, I’d never even heard of before.  I clicked on every single one.  On my first pass through the list, I weeded out the obvious to come up with a shorter list for further research.

First-pass criteria:

  • Must have a bathroom (after all, I will be living in the thing),
  • Manufacturer must still be in business (turns out a lot weren’t),
  • Must have options over 15 feet long (again, because I will be living in it).

I whittled the long list down to six manufactures.  But one I easily took off the list as being “too basic.”  The EggCamper is a cute thing but the refrigerator is tiny and it doesn’t have an oven/stove.  That left five contenders.

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click to enlarge

Keep in mind that the five contenders didn’t mean only five trailers to decide between.  Each manufacturer makes between two and six different trailers of various lengths and layouts.  So, the decision is among 20 or so trailers.

Before diving deep into the research, I visualized myself living fulltime in a trailer.  What would a typical day look like?  What parts of a trailer would get the most use?  I wanted a solid picture of what features were important to me.  What were my lists of “must have,” “would like to have” and “don’t care”?

Like any good soul who prides herself on organization and logic, I knew this task required a matrix.  (Spoiler Alert: there are a lot of Excel spreadsheets in my life.)  On the vertical axis I put the five trailers with each of their models.  On the horizontal axis, I listed the features important to me.

RV Matrix. Click to enlarge.

RV Matrix. Click to enlarge.

Must Have List

  • Separate dining and bed area.  I knew I’d go nutty if I had to convert a sitting area to a bed area on a daily basis.  No matter how small the trailer, this was my number one, non-negotiable, must have.
  • A real mattress.  Most of the shorter rigs (say, under 25 feet) have dual-purpose areas where a sitting/dining area converts into a sleeping area.  When it converts the seat cushions fit snuggly together to create the bed.  Now that might be fine for occasional camping weekends but I love a comfy cozy bed (even if the pets steal most of the space) and a couple inches of foam just isn’t going to get the job done.
  • Dry bath.  A dry bath means the shower is separate from the toilet.  In a wet bath, when you shower the entire bathroom becomes the shower stall so the toilet, sink, everything gets wet.  I am interested in replacing the RV toilet with a composting one.  Not dealing with the dreaded black tank and conserving water for long-term boondocking are the main reasons.  Plus, they are better for the environment.  If you are interested in composting toilets, watch this fantastic two minute video by Gone With the Wynns that explains What They Are and Why You Need One.
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A path that might lead to a place to boondock.

Would Like to Have List

  • The dining area to seat four rather than the smaller seating for two.  It isn’t because I will have regular dinner guests but because the dining area will be used primarily as a desk.  And in my office, I love flat space and spreading out.
  • Buying directly from the manufacturer appeals to me for a couple of reasons.  First, it is so much less stress and time not to deal with a car salesperson to negotiate a price.  Second, it will be custom-made at the factory with exactly the optional features I want.  And it saves taking time later for upgrades.
  • I’d prefer the bed be larger than a twin.  Any adult would.  Add a dog and a cat and this almost belongs in the list above.
  • I’d like the refrigerator to be larger than the one I had in my dorm as a college freshman.
  • A rating of three or four season means it would be better insulated and opens up more possibilities than a trailer that is designed for only mild climates.  Although after so many winters in Alaska, it’s hard to imagine I will seek out colder weather, I don’t want to be short-sighted by dismissing the possibility completely.
Twin beds just aren't made for one adult, an 80 pound dog and a fat cat.

Twin beds just aren’t made for one adult, an 80 pound dog and a cat who insists on having her own pillow.

So there is my list.  It would actually be fairly reasonable if I were looking at rigs 30 feet or longer.  My desired trailer range is somewhere between 17 and 23 feet.  Thus making the chances of getting all of the above unlikely.

No trailer meets has all of my wants.  The Bigfoot 2500 series trailer and the Oliver Elite II come closest.  The Bigfoot has everything except it is not purchased from the manufacturer.  The Oliver has everything except the dry bath or the real mattress.   However, one of the 2017 upgrades is a composting toilet, lessening the need for a dry bath.

But here’s the rub (and why the decision isn’t as easy as the matrix might lead you to believe), the Bigfoot and the Oliver are triple the price of the Casita and double the prices of the Escape and the Scamp.  In other words, that old adage holds true: you get what you pay for.  I’d like to say money isn’t a consideration but it is, which is why the decision remains difficult for me.

In the next Logistics post, I’ll detail more about each of the five trailer manufacturers and one model of each manufacturer that I’m most interested.  In other words, I’ll be down to my final five (or less).  And, I’ll be a month closer to a decision.  At some point, I hope the decision will be clear because, right now, it continues to feel like an impossible task.

If you bought an RV or travel trailer, what would be on your must-have list?

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