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Discussion Starter #1
Good evening,
Let me start by saying I'm completely new to the camper-van concept. My family and I lived in Hood River, OR for five years where I fell in love with the idea of having a van, tossing gear and family in, and enjoying what it can offer. I ended up buying a passenger Sprinter van which worked out great but had to sell it to buy my wife a new vehicle. I'm sure most folks on this site are aware of: outside van.com. The owner lived in HR where I would see all these customized rigs down the street where I wondered when there would be a day in which I could have something at that level. Once I was hooked, it felt like everywhere I looked around there was another converted van by the water or at the trail head. Fast forward a few years and we moved to Denver where I bought a 10 passenger, 2015, MR, 130, XLT, EB, with LSD. It was my attempt to get back in the 'game'. Since then, we have had two more kids (twins) and now our oldest is a toddler. With the twins, we moved to the DFW area to get some family support while the kiddos are still young but I still have this desire to do something with this van other then the basic back and forth. When I lived in CO and OR, there was always a dream to get them converted to 4x4 but now living in TX...I'm thinking that might not required at this time and plus, I don't know if Quad-Van, Sportsmobile, or Quigley even do a 4x4 conversion on a 130 size rig. With all my friends having 5th-wheel or RV's, I'm now trying to decide which short putts can enhance our tent camping style and take it one level up. I would love one day to have a more converted set-up but I think that is down the road at this point. So after that long winded introduction, here is what I'm hoping to get your thoughts on: Towing camper vs roof rack/pop up tent. I recently came across a few companies that make pretty cool and capable teardrop 'off-road' or something that can at least hit a gravel road which has a few kitchen related items on the back side, sleeps a few folks in, and then can add an awning and fold out tent on the roof. I believe it would sleep our five family members and also to tuck away in the garage when not in use. I will say that the ones that caught my are approx 18k which is cheaper then a RV/5th wheel but at the same time...not loose change. Then I start looking at the Aluminess roof-rack with the light bar on the front end. I like the look of those with the ladder going up. Figured I could possibly toss a motorized pop-up tent if it fits within the width of the rack. I also thought there might be enough room between the front of the tent and the front of the roof rack in which I could install a solar panel so if the kids are in the mood to skip rocks or widdle wood by the fire, I could turn on a tv or run power to some degree without running the van. But I don't know if they make those racks on a 130 either. Pros to this...I think...is everything is attached to the van, no towing something around town, and cheaper. Obviously it doesn't include all the accessories as the teardrop would offer but it might be more of a step into this space then going right to a trailer option.

I apologize for the length but I'm really struggling to select which option makes the most sense for both getting into this space but also in an affordable manner. I would love to get your thoughts if you have an opportunity to respond. This is a great site and I have learned a ton.

Thanks everyone.

Matt
 

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No need to apologize.

It's people like you that are enthusiastic about the possibilities that the Transit offers that make this forum worthwhile.

Welcome and keep us informed. I'm sure some of the members that camp will chime in with recommendations. Of course there's no right or wrong, just what works best for you.

???
 

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You have lines to color inside of, which simplifies things. Others are still trying to weigh the Pros and Cons of which wheelbase and height van to get!

A 130 MR isn't very big, and I certainly wouldn't want to try to sleep more than 2-3 people in one (or in a 148). Trailers are a good extension, but require licensing and insuring, and limit your mobility some. BUT, depending on your situation, can serve multiple purposes. We have friends who have a small restored vintage trailer that serves as a "guest house" when they have company, or as a quiet secluded den for reading.
A good tent, maybe one that attaches to the van, might be a good choice. An awning, maybe the Batwing style that covers side and rear, would extend the usable space of the van when camping, leaving the van itself as a bedroom. It takes longer to set up a camp with a tent and outdoor kitchen etc, much longer than just opening the door to the trailer, but is modular, cheaper and easier to store. I've found that setting up camp is fun for the kids, they look forward to that almost as much as anything else on a camping trip.
I've seen some builds that basically turn the van into a teardrop layout, with the kitchen accessed via opening the rear doors. This can easily be accomplished with a mobile kitchen setup that you put in the rear of the van just for camping trips. You'd probably want that batwing awning if you did this. Sleeping platform for the bed could be on top of the kitchen cabinet.
 

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There are certainly advantages to having everything contained in a van without a trailer. On the other hand, you will be constantly climbing to the roof if you have a rack up there. And if you have a tent up there, thats a long way up and down for the little ones. Also, sleeping 5 will be a challenge in the van with or without a pop-up tent.

I would consider a small Trailer and you could still outfit the van for camping trips maybe for just you and your wife.

If you haven't seen it yet, google 'Small Trailer Enthusiast' and click on Manufacturers (link below). They have links to several dozen tailer companies. http://smalltrailerenthusiast.com/manufacturers-2/

Also try
http://www.fourwheeler.com/product-reviews/1403-a-guide-to-vehicle-attached-tents-and-trailers/
 

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A poptop would enable you to sleep 4 in the van comfortably. With a careful layout you might be able to sleep 3 downstairs, so 5 total. But it would be tight.
 

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Yel- you may know something here that I have not found. Up top the author here speaks of a 130 XLT. Id I am correct, an XLT is an abbreviation for a 148wb only. Nevertheless, he mentions a MR/foof. When you speak of a pop-top alternative here do you know of any installation outfits that will install their product in a MR, or more specifically, a 130MR as you suggest?
 

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If I am not mistaken, XL and XLT are trim levels, and are not respective of wheelbase or height. For some desired options, you MUST also spec XLT trim level to "unlock" access to those options.
 

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If I am not mistaken, XL and XLT are trim levels, and are not respective of wheelbase or height. For some desired options, you MUST also spec XLT trim level to "unlock" access to those options.
Absolutely correct. XLT is top of the line, and means wagon, not van. You have to choose an XLT to get the RV Prep package.
 
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Discussion Starter #10
Good evening,
Sorry for the delay in responding to some of the points above. I did take the van and one of my boys up to Turner Falls this past weekend. I haven't been there in 17 years and it was good to see how it looks now compared to back then. I drove past the RV's and then where the tents were at and while I drove around the site, I tried to determine what would be the best options, with I guess a small camper trailer, would be a middle ground option. While I think having a trailer to pull behind with some amenities, I'm thinking at the moment, a smaller foot print might be the best option for ease and also affordability. I remember that it used to be fun to pitch a tent and wake up made that your sore from all the rocks you tried to sleep on...I guess thats fun right? I also like the idea of having everything contained on/with-in the van to help with security and also less moving parts. While I'm sure I'm over thinking it but maybe a cool rack and something inside...plus a tent for dad...From a cosmetic point of you, I think having that roof-rack/light bar/pop-up would make the van loo sharp. I'm also waiting to see how those new front bumpers that a few users are referencing in a separate post. Make it a tad more aggressive looking.

So if a pop-up could fit within the outer diameter of a roof rack, maybe that could sleep two to three. Possibly me and the oldest. We have removed the back row a few times. Why did they make that thing 900lbs? Wow!! Thanks for the quick release option to then have to lift and maneuver such a awkward and heavy row. But with that being gone, I can kind-of picture my wife and twin babies using that space. I can also remove the two seat row in front of the one I removed for more room...granted I haven't done that before so not sure how easy/difficult that process is. And last option would be to always have a tent near by for that just in case situation.

A few dumb questions: Does above sound like a bad plan, knowing that each situation and desire is based upon individual preference? Feel free to be blunt. Even the cheapest option amongst the ones from my original post is still a lot of cash for me. Also, do you know if Aluminess even offers one of the roof racks with the light up front in a 130 length option? Really dumb question, if they do and if I order it, do they ship the hardware and then I have to find a shop to install everything? I don't have the means/resources to tackle that myself. I'm in the DFW area so my hope would be there would be something around this general area that can install that with no problem. I would love to install a solar panel to power certain things up while the vehicle is off but that can wait for another day.

Thanks again everyone for the help. This is a great site with a strong user community.

Matt
 
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