Tomorrow we are going to pick up a 2020 travel trailer that is super nice, and from a company and product line known for solid build campers. The difference between the 2 is night and day.
So for those who use newer RVs for hunting camp, what special tips do you have? Suggestions? Disasters to avoid? I am still strongly considering keeping my road runner as I can leave it out and not worry about theft or is a bear destroys it I am out like $500 in value. But the wife and 2 kids sure like the space and function of the newer rv.
For the most part Ive loved having my RV and my girlfriend and I have used the crap out of it. I've been to Sturgis twice with it and currently preparing for trip number 3. We've also been to Daytona Bike Week and a couple other rallies.
In the fall of 2019 and 2020 I spent the entire month of September with it out west hunting elk and most of November in Missouri and Kansas hunting whitetails. Having a comfortable base camp with a nice roomy bed, hot shower, fridge, freezer, stereo, TV, furnace and AC has been amazing and 100% worth it. I still backpack into the mountains to spike camps while elk hunting and it's great to know the camper is waiting for me for a break from the elements. In September 2020 I got dumped on with a big snowfall and I was pretty much stranded in my camper for a few days until some snow melted. I just hunkered down, arranged my gear, did some laundry, studied maps and watched hunting videos and movies on DVD. It made being stranded not bad at all.
My advice would be to learn all the systems and appliances in your camper. Make sure you know how to drain all the plumbing and winterize it yourself. Buy the quick attachment that attaches to your waterline near your water pump that allows you to quickly connect a hose and pump RV antifreeze through the plumbing. My camper is not a 4-season camper and it's usually fine as long as the nighttime low is no colder than the mid 20's and it warms to above freezing during the day. Last September before the big snowstorm dumped on me I knew some very cold weather was coming so I had to scramble to winterize my camper. I drove into town to try and buy some RV antifreeze but they were completely sold out everywhere. Luckily I had an air compressor with me and I was able to run that and blow all the lines out. So another piece of advice would be to always have two or three gallons of RV antifreeze on hand in your camper in case some unexpected cold weather is approaching. Several days later after it warmed back up I refilled my water tank and was able to use it again. Another tip is to get a solar shower bag. That way if you have your water shut off and drained you can still fill a solar shower bag with warm water that you heated on the stove and hang it in your shower enclosure and still take a warm shower using the solar shower. Most of the time when I'm hunting out of my camper in November it's winterized and I have no water in any of the systems so I use the solar shower bag to take a shower. Even if it is warm enough in Kansas while I'm hunting I have to winterize it before I drive back to Wisconsin because it's usually pretty cold in Wisconsin in November.
I have two generators one small 2000 watt that I run most of the time in the fall and I have a bigger 3500 watt that I run in the summer when I need to run the AC. I also bought a cheap $50 Walmart microwave even though my camper has a big microwave in it because my small generator will not run the big microwave but it runs the small microwave just fine. I also bought a small 5 cubic foot chest freezer that I keep in the camper when I'm on hunting trips. That way I can bone out my elk or deer start up the generator and freeze the meat quickly and not have to worry about it. A small freezer is cheaper than a yeti cooler. Last year I was hunting in Missouri and it was unseasonably warm and some guys camping next to me killed a deer but had no way to get it cold. They had a generator and I let them use my freezer to freeze it solid so they wouldn't have to hurry home.
As far as leveling goes you can use a cordless drill with the right size socket to run your camper stabilizer jacks up and down. You can also set a level on the floor on both axis, level the camper and then stick on some level bubbles on the exterior of the camper one in the front and one on the side so you can tell that it's level from the outside.
Next best thing is a Honda 2200 or the Predator 3500 generator for roof air.
A 12v tv that takes dvd's is nice for hunting movies at night.
Lots of good advice, and thanks to Mike I'll have to try the peppermint oil. I swear those damn mice can squeeze thru a pin hole. Every opening in my underbelly is filled with foam and those friggin' things still find a way in. Last year I used the TomCat glue traps inside and good ole mouse traps with peanut butter on the top of each tire, as well as on the tongue. Final count was 4 inside and 24 outside.
JL's brother and I obviously think alike. Everything he listed I do as well, except for the impact wrench. Like Mike, I use a battery drill. Something I'd recommend is a couple sets of Lynx Levelers and a jack stand such as an Anderson Jack Block. Most RV's these days sit higher, so it's nice not to have to fully extend your stabilizers and jack. Since you're from Wyoming, I'll assume your new toy is all-season. I'd hate to go through what Mike did last year. Like others, I use a 2200 watt generator at elk camp. It's small, light weight, and will run everything I need, such as the microwave and TV/DVD (so much for "roughing" it)! Ha! I also have a 2nd 2200 watt and a parallel kit that I use for the a/c, but I don't bother with it in September.
As others have said, a solar charger is a must. I'd recommend at least 100 watt with a 30 amp controller. I honestly can't remember the last time I needed to use my generator to charge my batteries.
As I'm sure you're aware, September in the mountains can range from chilly in the morning to downright cold. I don't like to freeze, and when using the furnace the blower will drain batteries quickly. The last thing I want to do is get up at 2 am to start the generator and hook up the battery charger because the low voltage alarm starts sounding off. Besides that, 10 minutes after you turn off the furnace, it’s friggin’ cold again. I have a line plumbed off the propane line going to the stove and the hose coils up nicely under the sink. When I know it's going to be chilly in the morning, I hook up my Olympic Wave 8 catalytic heater, set it on low, and it's nice and comfy throughout the night and when I get up in the morning. Last year was the coldest I've ever seen at elk camp. The second week of September it got down to 8*. All I had to do was open up the cabinets that had water lines behind and I never had to worry about anything freezing. It was easy back in the day when heaters were radiant heat, but with the new forced-air furnaces, personally I wouldn't have a camper without a catalytic heater.
Another thing to watch for. The longer your trailer, the more it's going to dip your front end when going thru a low spot. Until you get used to your new one, just get out and check your clearance before you commit. My buddy failed to do so and ripped off two stabilizer jacks.
I also carry four 7 gal water jugs to fill my fresh water tank when needed.
Most new campers come with one 24-series battery and 20 lb tanks. I alway change them over to two 27-series deep cycle batteries and 40 lb tanks. Not necessary if you’re staying in a KOA, but they’re sure nice for dispersed camping.
I won't go into an inherent problem with these newer campers here, but if you'd like, feel free to PM me your phone number and I'll be happy to explain the hell I recently went through. I learned about this problem waiting to happen the hard way.
One last thing. I just noticed Mike's photo. Never, and I mean NEVER, put your awning out unless you're in the immediate vicinity. That good ole Wyoming wind can come up in a heartbeat. I've seen more than one awning flipped up over the top of the camper. It's not a pretty, and very expensive, sight.
I've never had a solar panel but it's something I'll look into. So far my generator and two large deep cycle batteries has served me well.
If you don't have a weight distributing or anti away hitch setup I strongly recommend it. When I bought my 30' toyhauler they advertised it as "half ton towable" but after towing mine through the Rocky Mountains twice I sure am glad I have a 3/4 ton diesel. I can't imagine towing it around with a half ton.
Yep, an equalizer hitch is a must! The nice thing about the one’s these days is they don’t require a separate sway bar. As important as an equalizer hitch is, it’s equally important that it’s set up correctly for your truck and camper. Otherwise it won’t proper distribute the weight. It’s amazing how many rigs you see going down the road that are improperly adjusted. Your truck and trailer should both be level. It’s easy to see the ones that are tongue high or tongue low. When there’s too much, or too little, weight on your hitch, your stability is compromised.
Congrats on the new purchase.
Another thing I did for my hunting trailer was to remove the AC and add a two-way Fantastic Fan with a skylight in the roof. Life changer on those warm afternoons.
If you travel very far to hunt it's a good idea to have two spare tires for the camper. Keep the camper tires aired up to the right pressure for maximum load rating and be sure you understand the speeds your camper tires are rated for (some are only rated for 65 MPH). Tires should be replaced when 7 years old even if they still have good tread. The month/year of manufacture is stamped on the tire in a code. You can Google how to read it.
Unless it's very, very, cold your water won't freeze up. The water tank/pump and lines are located to avoid freezing if you are keeping the living area of the camper above freezing. Night time lows of 15 degrees are not a problem. There is no need to winterize while you are camping if it gets cold.
Be aware that some devices built into modern campers can drain your batteries. Those gas detectors are notorious for that.
The fridge in most campers will run off propane but it's brain will need a little electric power so if your batteries die your fridge will quit too.
Don't try to level your camper with the stabilizer jacks. They are there to stabilize the camper not to jack it up.
Park your camper where trees won't land on it when they blow over. Park where you get morning sun.
Could you please clarify what you're saying. I agree one should never be used in a closed camper. A vent and window should always be cracked a couple inches or so for ventilation, but that should be common practice in a camper anytime. Saying a catalytic heater, or non-catalytic heater such as a Buddy heater, should never be used in a camper is simply not true. That's what they're designed for. I prefer a catalytic heater over non-catalytic for several reasons, but with ventilation they pose no more risk than your refrigerator.
Couple of good tips above. I like putting the trail cam around camp idea.
I can completely winterize my camper (kitchen sink, bathroom sink, shower, outside shower, toilet, water lines, drain water tank and water heater in about 15 minutes with less than 2 gallons of RV antifreeze. It's very cheap insurance and peace of mind against major problems. I would much rather be proactive and make sure it's winterized than deal with the consequences of things freezing up.
In regard to the Buddy Heater discussion, I have two small electric space heaters that I use to help take the chill off. Every morning the first thing I do after I wake up is fire up my small generator while I'm outside taking my morning pee. The generator, space heaters and furnace run while I'm having breakfast, getting dressed and gathering my gear for the day.
1. If you blow out your water system to winterize it, which I do, remove the water pump and store it in a heated environment, afterwards. Otherwise, residual water will freeze inside the pump and ruin it. I replaced the water pump on my RVs at least 4 times before I started doing this. Also make sure the hot water tank is empty before storing it. I failed to do that once, and when the water froze, it split a huge crack in the tank. Replacing it wasn't a fun chore.
2. Run your generator at least 2 hours every month, even when the RV is in storage. I failed to do this on mine. Now my generator will start, but it dies after a second or 2. Finding a certified mechanic who can work on it has proven difficult, so I just bought a portable Honda generator that serves the purpose for everything but the AC.
3. Get a battery tender and use it when storing your RV. I also disconnect the cables on the cabin battery when in storage. That eliminates any parasitic drains on the battery.
4. Don't take for granted that anything is in good working order before hitting the road. Test everything before leaving. The best way to ruin a trip is to have to work on your RV mid-trip.
5. Understand how every system in your RV works, and carry the necessary tools to fix the most common failures. I even carry one of the special crimping tools, and extra parts, for making plumbing repairs. Leaks in the water system have been my most common problem.
6. Find appropriate sized washable throw rugs to cover every sq-ft of the cabin floor. You'll be surprised at how filthy the floor of your RV can get, especially if you have kids or dogs. You can shake the throw rugs out periodically while camping, then wash them when you get home. They will keep the factory floor coverings looking nice.
I could go on, but I'll leave it here for now. I'm a firm believer that you need have a few Macgyver skills to own a RV. Learn to fix things yourself, otherwise you will get to know your dealership's service department intimately.
I think we bought a really good used unit. As of right now, everything is working. Knock on wood. The previous owner had records of all maintenance. It already sits decently high, but I will strong consider axle flip.
Luckily I work on vehicles all the time and grew up build houses. Between my my basic skills and youtube and the forums I can fix about anything. The key however is not having anything break in the first splace.
So my camper had a few good things... 1 is has 2 6volt batteries instead of a 12. I hear this is a good things for longevity of the system. I Currently have a remote start 3500 champion generator (really want the smaller parallel honda set up.
It is a all weather package. Has heated tank and seal underbelly with the heater vents designed to help protect the set up.
Has 2 30 pound propane tanks and I have an extra 3 30 pound tanks for my tent set up etc.
Mice were always a pain in my old camper. We killed a lot every year. Always used snap traps and peanut butter. I will however look into the peppermint.
Always have at least one if not 2 cameras on my camp.
Maybe it's just rumor ..... those that have flipped them can chime in.
Regardless of whether you have your camper raised or not, it’s just not wise to tow without a property set equalizer hitch and sway protection. My old camper had the older style hitch that required a separate sway bar. The newer ones don’t require the separate bar, which is MUCH more convenient.