Thursday, January 14, 2016

The New Faces of Fiberglass Campers in 2016

Fiberglass Camper Collage (HC-1, Dub Box, Nest Caravan, American Dream)
New Faces of Fiberglass Campers in 2016
If you've seen my page on how you can find your own fiberglass camper, then you know that there are many options when it comes to the molded fiberglass campers (not to be confused with fiberglass panels over a wood frame). There are many older brands that aren't in production anymore (U-Haul, Boler, Burro, etc). If you're lucky, you can find a good used one. They never seem to lose their charm no matter how old they get. And that's the great thing about fiberglass campers, they tend to last a long time unlike "stickies" that need to be rebuilt after many years. There are many companies that still make new fiberglass campers today that I've listed on that page. Some, like Scamp, have been around a long time. Others, like Lil Snoozy, are newer.

As one look at the Lil Snoozy will prove, newer ideas sometimes have some neat innovation in design. That's why those of us in the molded fiberglass community love to hear of new companies popping up and creating new models. As each new entrepreneur works to plan a design that is beautiful and useful, they bring various features to the market that have us on our toes to see what's coming next. 

Since I originally published the above mentioned page, there's been some new companies and designs hitting the market. So I thought I'd highlight a few here for you in case something piques your interest.

Happier Camper's HC-1
Happier Camper's HC-1. The Happier Camper started out as a company that renovated and rented old molded fiberglass campers in California. After years of doing this the owners decided to try their hand at building their own. The camper has a modular design to the inside to allow for various configurations. The rear hatch is a unique option not found on any other molded fiberglass camper. The retro styling and color combinations provide for a beautiful design. Check our their website for information and to see pictures.

DubBox USA Camper
DubBox USA. DubBox is also focused on a retro styling. Taking its design from old Volkswagen camper vans, it's modeled completely out of fiberglass. They currently provide 2 camper models and 2 event/food trailer models.

American Dream Camper Trailer
American Dream. The American Dream trailer takes it's unique design from a bit further back in history. Reminiscent of the 1950's trailerboats or 1960's Kompacs, the American Dream provides you with a camper and a boat. It's a beautiful camper and a neat concept. They're also much smaller than other fiberglass campers with a dry weight of 650lbs. This makes them ideal for smaller tow vehicles.

Nest Caravan Camper
Nest Caravans. If the retro look of the previous trailers doesn't do it for you, you might be interested in the Nest Caravan. With a bit more futuristic styling the Nest is also a beautifully designed option. It even has a "control center" inside. Visit their site to check out the details. UPDATE: Airstream has purchased the startup company behind the Nest and will be producing and selling it.

Please visit the above companies websites for more information on their models available and specs. If you know of any other up and coming manufacturers, leave a note in the comments below. As I discover more I'll make additional posts to highlight those options. One thing is for sure, with all the choices out there, you can find the perfect one for you and your family!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Perfect Addition to Our U-haul Camper

Old Town Saranac 146
Santa brought me the perfect addition to our U-haul Camper for Christmas, a canoe! I'm super excited to dive into a new frontier of outdoor adventures. I like to fish and I've done a little from boats but most of my fishing has been from the bank of a lake/river.

A few years back before we had kids, I got the opportunity to get my hands on a small boat. It was a old 1970s Sears Craftsman 12ft fiberglass boat. It was nice because it wasn't heavy. I actually only put a trolling motor on it and it would take me upstream on the Oconee fairly easily. After we had kids, I didn't have as much time to take it out. I was trying to get our family outdoors and camping at the time. That's when we bought the U-haul CT-13. The camper was going to replace the tent for us.

That decision pretty much put the nail in the coffin of the boat. I couldn't tow the camper and the boat when we went somewhere. And I refuse to be one of those people who take multiple vehicles so they can haul every single toy they own camping. I enjoy having my family with me outdoors, and I enjoy sharing experiences with them. Don't get me wrong. I enjoy solo trips too to decompress. (It's easier to find time to read a book when you're not entertaining 5 and 7 year olds.) But getting my family outdoors and experiencing their excitement and wonder is something I genuinely enjoy. So I sold the boat.

The obvious option, if I wanted a boat I could take with the camper, was a canoe or kayak. Something I could strap to the roof of the SUV that wouldn't impact towing the camper. So the search was on to find one. I've been saving a little money and keeping the idea in the back of my mind for a couple years. I read reviews and listed out my requirements/wants. I weighed my list and prioritized features. In the end, I opted for a canoe for now. With the kids being young, I need something I can take them out in together. You just can't find a 3 person kayak.

I settled on the Old Town Saranac. It's 14.5 ft long and while it weighs 70-something pounds, it does have good reviews. It's not too expensive at ~$499 most places online. It will seat 3 people and handle over 700 pounds. I've had it strapped on the roof and it doesn't overhang too much. For now, I think this is the best option to get my kids on the water. When they get older, we may trade-up for some kayaks. Hopefully by that time, they'll have a desire within to explore on their own.

The sad thing about getting a canoe for Christmas is that it's too cold to really enjoy it right now. Can't wait for spring to break it out. Expect to see a few more posts, photos, and videos after we've broken it in and learn more about exploring on the water as a family.