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Old 05-27-2013, 04:51 PM   #1
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Smile My decision on a camping trailer

Hello everyone -

I have been doing a TON of research on a pull-behind, expedition style jeep trailer. I finally narrowed down the final list to two: Manley ORV and Bivouac Camping Trailers. I will be paying for the Bivouac tomorrow. Here is my research and reasoning, hopefully to help anyone else navigating these decisions.

First, I had to consider what features were important to us (my wife and I):

1. Expedition style ( no Coleman style popups). This had to survive some 4x4 trails in Manastash, Moab, and other areas.

2. Roof Top Tent (RTT). We didn't want a hard sided trailer, we wanted something that had some versatility to it (haul kayaks, canoes, etc AND have room for an RTT).

3. Not crazy in the features. We still want to "rough it" so we didn't need satellite TV, hot water, etc etc. Basically, a steel box on a frame that we can build up and customize with the features we needed.

4. Budget. We had about $6k to spend.

Second, I researched all the trailers and companies out there. Here is that list (in no particular order):

Sierra
Bivouac (The guys we went with)
Runaway Campers
High Camp
Compact Camping Concepts
Manley ORV
Ruger Trailers
Tentrax
Campa
Adventure Trailers

I am sure there are more, but this was my initial list of possible options.

Third, we had to choose between our top two.

1. Manley ORV: We chose them because of their clean M416 style, awesome customer service (always got ahold of them and they were super proactive in communication). In the end, they lost on four points:

- Freight. This is not their issue, I know. But in the end, spending $1200 on a $4000 trailer is a huge cost. If they end up opening a dealer in the West, these guys will nail it.

- USA/Foreign option. They have the ability to choose between USA built and overseas build components. Of course, the USA option is a premium. However, Bivouac, Ruger, Tentrax and others are USA made by default.

- Value. When we look at the EXPLORE trailer for $7795 (apples to apples I am comparing them against Bivouac and they are built in the USA) and all you really get is a trailer (box) with a tent on it. The basic Bivouac model gives you a lot more for less money (color matching options, electric brakes, storage compartments, accessories, and modularity).

- Time. They are about 6 weeks out on the build schedule which will put us far into Summer (once you figure 1-2 additional weeks for freight this can be 2 months). In Portland, we treasure our summers.

Bottom line, Manley has GREAT customer service and a beautiful product. In the end, it just didn't meet our personal needs.

2. Bivouac: At first, I was a little put off by a very minimal web presence (13 followers on FB, not many videos or customer ratings/feedback). However, I realized they build these as part time hobbyists (one of the owners is an Alaska Airlines pilot). And, their website is pretty weak.

But, after speaking with them on the phone (very nice guys), I was put at ease. We ended up choosing them based on these criteria:

- The basic package fit the bill for us perfectly. Again, we didn't want all the options. We may add on the BBQ, a different tent, and some larger tires.

- You get more for your money. The basic MOAB build is $5995 with a tent. The USA built Manley equivalent is $7795. The MOAB also has nice features the Manley did not such as Nerf-style bars from the rear of the fender along the tub, Electric brakes (HUGE!!), a nice tailgate system, and steel supports at the front and rear of the tent. These will provide some protection to the tent on the trails. The Manley tent is just kinda out there.

You can also purchase items from them separately and add them to your trailer later.

- Freight. Because these guys are in AZ, the freight is a lot cheaper (~$600). We are actually planning a road trip to Phoenix to pick up the trailer and will use the freight "savings" to pay for gas and a side trip to Moab.

- Time. They can have this done in 1.5 weeks.

In the end, there are some great people building awesome products. Kudos to Manley for sending me many quotes and putting up with my email and phone questions. Same for Bivouac.

I hope this thread helps others that may be doing some research!

I will share photos, etc once we get our trailer!

Happy Jeeping

Scott

The winner (top, Bivouac's MOAB)

Manley ORV's Explore (Bottom)

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Old 05-27-2013, 04:56 PM   #2
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Thanks for the write up!

So as I understand it, you plant to wire up an electronic brake controller? That would be cool. (I was wondering if an EBC pigtail/wiring was part of the max tow on the 4DR JKU, but never looked it up)

I'm looking for something that is primarily cargo with the ability to expand with a top-mounted tent later.

Haven't gotten to the "money spending part" myself though :-)

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Old 05-27-2013, 04:57 PM   #3
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Rad! Thanks for the research and rationale. Looking forward to seeing more of this trailer and hearing of your adventures with it.
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Old 05-27-2013, 05:00 PM   #4
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Thanks for the write up!

So as I understand it, you plant to wire up an electronic brake controller? That would be cool. (I was wondering if an EBC pigtail/wiring was part of the max tow on the 4DR JKU, but never looked it up)

I'm looking for something that is primarily cargo with the ability to expand with a top-mounted tent later.

Haven't gotten to the "money spending part" myself though :-)
Well, I am still learning this whole thing. But as I understand it, the electric brakes apply on the trailer with a signal from the brake lights. I don't think any other mods are needed on the Jeep side but I could be totally wrong.

If you are looking for a utility option, Manley is the best way to go.
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Old 05-27-2013, 05:44 PM   #5
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thanks for the write up, was looking into making my own m416 trailer and add a CVT tent but i like the trailer you chose! im going to give them a call tomorrow
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Old 05-27-2013, 05:47 PM   #6
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thanks for the write up, was looking into making my own m416 trailer and add a CVT tent but i like the trailer you chose! im going to give them a call tomorrow
I thought about making my own as well. But, once I was able to actually find one (which is hard), learned to weld, welded/ground/repainted, etc) and then made all my mods (axle, tires, wheels, paint, etc) I'd probably be in the same budget area AND would have missed my Summer.
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Old 05-27-2013, 05:48 PM   #7
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Well, I am still learning this whole thing. But as I understand it, the electric brakes apply on the trailer with a signal from the brake lights. I don't think any other mods are needed on the Jeep side but I could be totally wrong.

If you are looking for a utility option, Manley is the best way to go.
AH. That may very well be a new type of electronic trailer brake I'm not familiar with.

In my experience, with trucks, some come with or have optional an electronic brake controller that is "plug and play" when you hook up the trailer electronics. Then you have settings on your EBC to control it. Additionally, some trucks are "EBC" ready, with the place to plug in an aftermarket EBC module and a pigtail to hook it in.

It's not like us JK owners are going to be hauling big loads in the trailer, but it is nice to have some braking power back there, even if small.
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Old 05-28-2013, 10:25 AM   #8
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Anyone here have experience with electric brakes in a JK?
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Old 05-28-2013, 11:44 AM   #9
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For our trailer, I installed the mopar 7 pin wiring harness. Able to still have the 4 pin plug as well.

Jeep Wrangler JK 7-Pin TRAILER WIRING OEM Mopar! : Amazon.com : Automotive

Pretty simple to do. Cost about $100. Bought the Tekonsha prodigy brake controller and installed it. cost $125.

Tekonsha Engineering 90885 Prodigy Brake Control : Amazon.com : Automotive

Works great.



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Old 05-28-2013, 12:09 PM   #10
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Nice setup! Is that a Drake or Adventure? And did you have to install the electric brake controller or are the brakes activated with the brake lights?
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Old 05-28-2013, 12:15 PM   #11
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Thanks. It is a Sierra 4x4 trailer. I had to install the 7 pin wiring harness and a brake controller. The brake lights will not activate the brakes. Look at the links in the first post.
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Old 05-28-2013, 01:06 PM   #12
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Thanks. It is a Sierra 4x4 trailer. I had to install the 7 pin wiring harness and a brake controller. The brake lights will not activate the brakes. Look at the links in the first post.
Right, I did exactly the same set-up for wiring and brake controller on my JK, same wiring kit, same EBC.
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Old 05-28-2013, 02:30 PM   #13
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Thanks. It is a Sierra 4x4 trailer. I had to install the 7 pin wiring harness and a brake controller. The brake lights will not activate the brakes. Look at the links in the first post.
Sorry...just saw that. I read your earlier post pre-coffee.

What exactly does the EBC do?
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Old 05-28-2013, 03:11 PM   #14
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Sorry...just saw that. I read your earlier post pre-coffee.

What exactly does the EBC do?
If I recall from my camper days it brakes the trailer with the relative same pressure you apply in cab.

So the harder you brake, the harder the trailer brakes.

I could be totally wrong though. LOL
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Old 05-28-2013, 03:43 PM   #15
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Thanks. It is a Sierra 4x4 trailer. I had to install the 7 pin wiring harness and a brake controller. The brake lights will not activate the brakes. Look at the links in the first post.
So...if you don't mind my asking- what was about your total cost with tent? I understand if you prefer not to say. We're trying to figure out the same thing. I am wondering if (for us) its worth spending XX amount of dollars for storage and a tent- or fork over extra for something with a bathroom. LOL. (I assume the black bag is an over roof tent).
Like this:
R-Pod 2010 RP-174
(This particular model is too heavy; this is an example).
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Old 05-28-2013, 03:53 PM   #16
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Nice looking trailer Scott. I had never heard of that brand, but have been researching buying vs. fabricating one myself. Looks like a decent price for what you get.
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Old 05-28-2013, 08:33 PM   #17
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So...if you don't mind my asking- what was about your total cost with tent? I understand if you prefer not to say. We're trying to figure out the same thing. I am wondering if (for us) its worth spending XX amount of dollars for storage and a tent- or fork over extra for something with a bathroom. LOL. (I assume the black bag is an over roof tent).
Like this:
R-Pod 2010 RP-174
(This particular model is too heavy; this is an example).
No problems, there are no real secrets here. We added on a couple of things ala carte (Manley won't do this BTW). BUT the total cost with the tent was as follows:

Base unit (with standard tent): $5995
Tent upgrade: $125
Total: $6120

Reg & Doc fees: $351.88

Grand total: $6471.88

We went with the new Kukenam Sky Tent, hence the slight up-charge from the base Kukenam.

Scott
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Old 05-28-2013, 08:59 PM   #18
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No problems, there are no real secrets here. We added on a couple of things ala carte (Manley won't do this BTW). BUT the total cost with the tent was as follows:

Base unit (with standard tent): $5995
Tent upgrade: $125
Total: $6120

Reg & Doc fees: $351.88

Grand total: $6471.88

We went with the new Kukenam Sky Tent, hence the slight up-charge from the base Kukenam.

Scott
Thanks! That gives me a good idea of what to expect. Looks like I'll be shopping for one. Had a "duh" moment- not enough tow capacity on a 2 door for the wee-trailer anyway. Had the 3500 LB. limit on a 4 door stuck in my brain.
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Old 05-28-2013, 09:07 PM   #19
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Just as a late addition... I've been looking at these.

Jeep Trail Rated Campers by Livin' Lite RV
http://www.livinlite.com/jeep-extreme-overview.php

Probably not as rugged as the OP was looking for, but worth the look anyway.


The dealer near us has the off road version listed at about $9200, but the regular model is only $5995.
http://www.tomballrv.com/2013_Livin'..._182810202.veh
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Old 05-28-2013, 09:36 PM   #20
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Just as a late addition... I've been looking at these.

Jeep Trail Rated Campers by Livin' Lite RV
Jeep Extreme Camper Overview | Livin' Lite RV

Probably not as rugged as the OP was looking for, but worth the look anyway.


The dealer near us has the off road version listed at about $9200, but the regular model is only $5995.
2013 Livin' Lite Off-Road Quicksilver 8.1 off Road Black out Package For Sale In Tomball TX - Tomball RV Sales
Car Ramrod!

LOL...anyway I did in fact look at them via Mopar. Honestly, I couldn't justify the base of $10k given how much trailer that actually gets you with other vendors.
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Old 05-28-2013, 09:40 PM   #21
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Car Ramrod!

LOL...anyway I did in fact look at them via Mopar. Honestly, I couldn't justify the base of $10k given how much trailer that actually gets you with other vendors.


I didn't think the $5,995 pricetag was too bad, but like I said, it's probably not rugged enough for your needs.

I just thought it should be included in the discussion for future references.
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Old 05-28-2013, 10:11 PM   #22
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I agree too....fine to keep it in here. I just didn't see a $5995 price tag. The same ones I saw online were $9k plus.
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Old 05-28-2013, 11:17 PM   #23
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For the amount you are willing to spend you should look at some different 'expedition' forums. Expedition portal comes to mind. Whether its in your part of the country it's hard to say but you will find guys selling home built or highly modified trailers that are better than anything you will buy. Some I have seen have the RTT, ARB fridge, water filtration, solar panel, wheels/tires, battery ect ect. If I remember, a ball park figure of about 5g is not uncommon.
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Old 05-28-2013, 11:29 PM   #24
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For the amount you are willing to spend you should look at some different 'expedition' forums. Expedition portal comes to mind. Whether its in your part of the country it's hard to say but you will find guys selling home built or highly modified trailers that are better than anything you will buy. Some I have seen have the RTT, ARB fridge, water filtration, solar panel, wheels/tires, battery ect ect. If I remember, a ball park figure of about 5g is not uncommon.
Thanks! Checking them out now. Last thing I need is another forum login
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Old 05-28-2013, 11:55 PM   #25
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Thanks! Looking forward to pics!! Have only Looked/priced Mopar's. Good price looks like!
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Old 05-29-2013, 01:04 AM   #26
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So I took the General's advice....and man there is a lot of stuff on those forums. Checked out Expedition Portal and TVenturing. All the trailers that IMO were worth buying were long sold. So it's good to know if I need to ever sell mine, there is a huge used market.

I also found a couple companies to add to my list, can't edit the original post:

Jackwagon offroad
XVENTURE
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Old 05-29-2013, 01:59 AM   #27
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Cool I can't figure most of these out ...

Climbing in and out of bed on a skinny ass ladder ??? Are people evading snakes and gators, etc with these?

I bought one of these to tow behing my Harley. Lightweight Pop-Up Tent Trailors | Pop Up Tent Trailers | Small Car Tent Trailors

They only weigh 250 pounds, have lots of inside storage and I have a pod for mine as well for extra gear. Been one one trip on the bike that was 15,000 km.

Tows easy behind the jeep. Would not be hard to raise it and put larger tires on it for serious off road.

Best thing about it: it really does setup in seconds.

You need a bit larger level spot I suppose, but unless you're evading snakes or gators, you can walk into bed.

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Old 05-29-2013, 11:01 AM   #28
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Climbing in and out of bed on a skinny ass ladder ??? Are people evading snakes and gators, etc with these?

I bought one of these to tow behing my Harley. Lightweight Pop-Up Tent Trailors | Pop Up Tent Trailers | Small Car Tent Trailors

They only weigh 250 pounds, have lots of inside storage and I have a pod for mine as well for extra gear. Been one one trip on the bike that was 15,000 km.

Tows easy behind the jeep. Would not be hard to raise it and put larger tires on it for serious off road.

Best thing about it: it really does setup in seconds.

You need a bit larger level spot I suppose, but unless you're evading snakes or gators, you can walk into bed.

That is a nice trailer for on road use, just not sure how well that would hold up being used off road. Putting larger tires on a street trailer will not make it capable of serious off road use.
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Old 05-29-2013, 05:20 PM   #29
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Climbing in and out of bed on a skinny ass ladder ??? Are people evading snakes and gators, etc with these?

I bought one of these to tow behing my Harley. Lightweight Pop-Up Tent Trailors | Pop Up Tent Trailers | Small Car Tent Trailors

They only weigh 250 pounds, have lots of inside storage and I have a pod for mine as well for extra gear. Been one one trip on the bike that was 15,000 km.

Tows easy behind the jeep. Would not be hard to raise it and put larger tires on it for serious off road.

Best thing about it: it really does setup in seconds.

You need a bit larger level spot I suppose, but unless you're evading snakes or gators, you can walk into bed.

Those do look interesting...just won;t work for us as we will need more storage space. Being that we have a 2 door and a dog, we plan on using more of the trailer to haul our gear. The beauty of the tent being up high (with 32s and a lift kit on the trailer) is that all the space in your trailer can be used for storage (tent on top, not in) and you stay warmer, and possibly drier. Throw in the benefits of lower chance of spiders/scorpions/snakes/skunks, etc...
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Old 05-30-2013, 07:07 PM   #30
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Scott, I appreciate you giving us a shot and the multiple accolades on our customer service. I definitely take it personally.

Hopefully we'll be able to get our costs down over the next 12 months so we can absorb some of the freight to places like Oregon that tend to be very expensive.

Enjoy the trailer man, it's a nice unit!

-Josh

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