My wife and I, and our two dogs, have been living out of the camper for the last two weeks. A few notes and observations:
* We typically get ~17mpg with the camper, unless we're pushing hard on the highway at 65/70mph, when it drops to 15mpg. My Tacoma is a 2009 4wd, 4 cylinder, manual trans, access cab and top speed with the Granby is about 74mph; we slow quite a bit on the hills, and I generally cruse at 65mph, even in the 80mph highways in Nevada, 75 in Utah, etc.
* Our setup drives and handles great with just air bags on the back and stock springs and shocks/struts. I'm going to install Billstein 5100 shocks later this year when I have time, and a new steering rack, as I have a leaky front shock and a tiny bit of fluid from the rack. Everything is original right now with 135k on the ODO. I set the airbags at about 60psi and we get lots of smooth travel going over bumps on dirt roads.
* The camper needs a pantry - to avoid moving cooking stuff from camper to cab each night. My wife wants to keep it really simple; while I'd like to plumb the propane for a heater, stove, and add a small sink inside (grey water drain to bucket outside, probably), in addition to the pantry just to make life better on the days with nonstop rain. If I can strap the ice chest down on a bench and keep some of our storage under a working counter-top, then we don't need to move stuff around as much when we stop.
* Occasional hotel stays to wash up really well and sleep inside with take-out food are amazing!
* The Granby uses a slide-out bed; I'd really like a longer extension over the cab so the bed is always available. I think generally when we stop, my wife would like to plop down in the bed while I'd like to sit at the table and work on the laptop, but our current setup has the bed slide out over most of the table. Maybe I can move the table out a couple of feet and move the dog bed back behind it and this won't be an issue. Dogs make great foot-warmers when it's 25 degrees outside (and nearly that inside).
* The conduit lifters do work well. Roof weight would be much less of an issue if I'd stuck to 24" vinyl sides and we could use pneumatic shocks to help support the roof. Or, alternately, if I bought flexible solar panels vs. the rigid panels, the weight would be much less of an issue. It's still too heavy for my wife to lift, not having the struts, even w/o the solar panels installed.
* We would probably prefer a hard top vs. the pop-top, but this is complicated, per below.
* It's pretty darn cool to drop into a camp site late in the evening and within about 15 minutes have a cozy apartment to escape from the cold into, or for light to work on stuff after dark.
* Main stress point for us has just been getting set up when it's pouring rain; having to move stuff to the cab to make room for us and the dogs in the camper and get inside without tracking in too much mud and stuff.
Regarding the (our particular Granby) pop-top vs. custom hard top that I expect to build:
* Right now, it takes two people to lift the roof. I ordered a crank up pole, like used for concert speakers, to make this more of a one-person job. My wife would like to be able to take off w/ a friend for the weekend and use it, but we'll have to try some stuff to make this work. It'd be better if the roof was just up all the time.
* We would like less setup when we stop. E.g. everything already stored where it should be, don't need to move bedding around to lower the roof.
* Most of the places we stay have bear rules that food must either be in a hard sided camper/vehicle, or bear locker, so we would be able to avoid moving the ice chest and box of dry goods around if we weren't in a soft sided pop-top.
* I think I can build a hard-top camper with similar weight to the Granby.... and I can afford a little more weight if it is more aerodynamic than this pop-up... this thing has about 8" gap over the cab and is like a parachute. Might be able to build a hard-top with about 24" space over the bed and shape it better than the Granby and do better on the freeway than the current setup.
* We'd like to be able to drop it off of the truck when we get to a camp site and drive to a trail-head, etc, for day exploration and leave the camper at the camp site. Although this would be less of an issue if we had a hard-top and better storage....
What are the concerns when taking the camper off to drop it off at a camp site? I guess if I have the corner jacks, then we can just lower it to the ground after lifting it off of the truck? If the corners are braced well enough, and the floor is reinforced, then we wouldn't need to lower it all the way to the ground even (like to level it)?
Edited by a8ksh4, Yesterday, 06:41 AM.