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I'm shopping for a camping trailer for my 2014 JK so it's got to be fairly lightweight (<2000 is preferred). I'm not sure if we're overlanders, but we camp 3-5 times per year and are looking to move from a tent to a trailer as we do more trail riding. Hotels are getting expensive. We are not interested in a roof-top tent.

I'm interested in thoughts about what people are currently using, why you like it, why you don't like it, and what you'd do differently. :popcorn:
 

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I'm interested in thoughts about what people are currently using, why you like it, why you don't like it, and what you'd do differently. :popcorn:
I spent about a year looking at everything from teardrop trailers with all the bells and whistles to basic cargo haulers. My only absolute criteria was that it had to be off-road capable and lightweight enough for my 2017 JK. My Wrangler's tow rated for up to 3,500 pounds, but I didn't want to get anywhere near that much weight.

I ended up ruling out the teardrops for a couple of reasons: even the basic ones are more expensive and heavier than the cargo haulers. And in my case, i just didn't feel I could go basic as there are a lot of "options" that don't feel all that "optional" to me, like an off-road hitch, a mounted spare tire, cabin lights and so on. I learned that when looking at campers, teardrops and cargo haulers included, the base price was almost meaningless and just put out there for marketing purposes because there are so many necessary options.

So I started focusing on cargo haulers. There are lots of them if you look nationwide. Mostly due to the potential shipping costs and logistics I decided to further narrow my focus to the Pacific Northwest and northern California. I found a couple of trailers that are made and sold here in Oregon: one by Cascade Vehicle Tents and the other by Free Spirit Recreation, both in Bend. Both are good, solid steel cargo haulers built for off-roading. I probably would have been satisfied with either one of them.

But I ended up going with a VMI Explorer Trailer out of Bellingham, Washington. It was more expensive and a much further drive to pick up but worth it imho. VMI trailers are made of marine grade aluminum rather than steel, which results in a substantial weight savings of about half (540 pounds dry weight vs approx 1,200 pounds for either of the other two). VMI could customize just about any way I wanted and, of course, was willing to pay for. So I had them install a Lock and Roll hitch, a dual battery power source for my fridge, and for down the road, a rack on top with dual stabilizer legs under the rear for a RTT. They also installed a slide rack for the fridge and a hitch on the back for another cargo rack. I can charge the trailer batteries with an extension cord at home, with a solar panel at the campsite and with my alternator while I'm driving. Had it painted to match my Wrangler.

Unfortunately, because we got it so late in the season, we've only been out camping with it once this fall. But it worked well, and I'm extremely pleased with the purchase. We'll hit the trails again in the spring when the snow melts. So I can't really say what I would do differently, but I can say so far so good. And as far as a RTT, the low profile rack should help with a lower center of gravity and an easier climb up and down the ladder. Plus, I should be able to put my 50 pound dog in it without too much hassle. In the meantime, we'll keep using our 8-person tent with cots until I spring for the RTT. Got my eye on one from Free Spirit Rec.
 

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are you wanting a tent top trailer? or no tent at all? I have a Freespirit tent top trailer and is super easy to pull and set up and prices are pretty cheap.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I spent about a year looking at everything from teardrop trailers with all the bells and whistles to basic cargo haulers. My only absolute criteria was that it had to be off-road capable and lightweight enough for my 2017 JK. My Wrangler's tow rated for up to 3,500 pounds, but I didn't want to get anywhere near that much weight.

....
Thanks much for the input and pictures. I'm in WI and wasn't familiar with those companies. Nice options. I am not liking the tear drop options because it seems like a lot of $$ for what you get. Tent on an aluminum trailer is a nice option.
 

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Thanks for the pic - I hadn't heard of Freespirit. Great option.
I have kicked around selling mine and getting an Aliner trailer, if you have not looked at those might give those a look.
 

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Thanks for the pic - I hadn't heard of Freespirit. Great option.
Free Spirit Recreation is currently running a sale on their RTTs: 15% on any tents in stock and 12% on pre-orders of their High Country Tri-Layer tents. I'm going to pull the trigger and pre-order their 3-5 person 80" Tri-Layer model before the sale runs out on December 13th. I can save a further $300 by driving over the mountain to their shop, where they'll install it on my trailer for free.

The Tri-Layers are expected to arrive in January.

I just added a third cross bar to my trailer rack this weekend for more tent support.
 
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What about a conventional pop up camper? I think that’s where I’m headed. Jayco, Starliner, Forrest all have their smallest models at about 16’ length closed, and dry weight under 2k pounds. How much you load it up with junk (they’re usually rated under 3k total tow weight) is up to you. The beds are usually 1 queen and 1 full plus the couch or table fold into a bed. Here in Fl, heat and humidity are killer, and many have an AC in the roof. I looked yesterday and saw 3 within driving distance of me between $3k and $7k. All appeared to have good canvas.

I’ve had pop ups several times and there is no better bang for the buck. It gets you off the ground, will fit in a garage, provides the basics and when you buy ‘em used like the ones I mentioned you can always get your money back selling them.

Downside of course is they are not “trail rated” and they are very wide. So if you insist on dragging g them too far off road you may end up with nothing left but two wheels and a propane tank.
 

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What about a conventional pop up camper? I think that’s where I’m headed. Jayco, Starliner, Forrest all have their smallest models at about 16’ length closed, and dry weight under 2k pounds. How much you load it up with junk (they’re usually rated under 3k total tow weight) is up to you. The beds are usually 1 queen and 1 full plus the couch or table fold into a bed. Here in Fl, heat and humidity are killer, and many have an AC in the roof. I looked yesterday and saw 3 within driving distance of me between $3k and $7k. All appeared to have good canvas.

I’ve had pop ups several times and there is no better bang for the buck. It gets you off the ground, will fit in a garage, provides the basics and when you buy ‘em used like the ones I mentioned you can always get your money back selling them.

Downside of course is they are not “trail rated” and they are very wide. So if you insist on dragging g them too far off road you may end up with nothing left but two wheels and a propane tank.
Yes, Jondrew, I keep coming back to conventional pop-ups. Livin' Lite makes a lightweight version that I really like. I've been looking for a used one in my area:

https://www.livinlite.com/products/quicksilver-tent-campers/8.1.html

I'm willing to sacrifice the off-road capability I think. There's definitely no perfect camper but this one would be a nice compromise.
 

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We purchased a Rockwood 1640 ESP pop-up earlier this year and it ticks most of the boxes for my family... Fairly small and fits into the garage easily, has AC, heater, fridge, etc and tows nicely behind my JKU. Even has a roof rack installed from the factory.

Only drawbacks I think are that it gets kinda cramped with 2 kids after a few days and it doesn't have a water heater but we don't mind that too much.
 

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We used a PuP for a year or so and our camping is more go to the general area, then venture from our setup rather than pack it up and move on. So in the spirit of not being a wrapped treat for a bear we switched to a hard sided camper. Our current one pushes the specs for towing so am seriously considering a Jayco JAY FLIGHT SLX 174BH.
 

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We used a PuP for a year or so and our camping is more go to the general area, then venture from our setup rather than pack it up and move on. So in the spirit of not being a wrapped treat for a bear we switched to a hard sided camper. Our current one pushes the specs for towing so am seriously considering a Jayco JAY FLIGHT SLX 174BH.
I had the 195RB Baja and it was definitely on the cusp of being too big for the jeep. We actually lived full time in it while we built our house and after 6 months in full time I sold it the day we moved into our house literally that day.
 

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I had the 195RB Baja and it was definitely on the cusp of being too big for the jeep. We actually lived full time in it while we built our house and after 6 months in full time I sold it the day we moved into our house literally that day.
I can see how that would get cozy for 6 months. We were on the road with our Starcraft 19BH for 1 month with 2 year old twin boys. If it were six months, I would jump off a bridge. The 19BH (our current camper) is pretty close to the 195RB.

The numbers look better on the 174BH with the Jeep than with the 19BH. Both of those models check our boxes with regards to following:

trips up to a couple of weeks
travel a few states away
hard sided - she hates the hybrid and I am not sure if it saves any weight, although I think a hybrid would be neat
Wife requires air for homeostasis for the kids
Water to hose them off

The downsizing should make it easier to tow, but again will be pushing it by the numbers. I'm gonna drag out the 19BH in a few weeks and see how it does. Almost done with trailer brakes and bumpers.
 

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So.... I decided to pull the trigger on the Livin' Lite Quicksilver 8.1. It's <1000 pounds, so it will be perfect for the JK. Found it used on Craig's List so the price was right. I'll report again after we tow it a few times this summer.

The camper itself is not for off-roading, but to stay in while we go wheeling and do trails. Hopefully we will be getting out more since we won't be paying for hotels now. It has a/c, heater, fridge, stove. And I like the fact that it has an interior kitchen compared to teardrop models.

 

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looking forward to hearing some usage reports. I'm an old timey Popup guy, and I've been eyeballing that one of yours since we switched to a JKU
 
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