After a lengthy research, we have decided to go over to the "hard side" and chose the Provan Tiger Bengal Camper. Provan is the company name and is based in South Carolina. Tiger is the line of campers. Bengal is the camper model we ordered and is currently the only camper model available.
Why? We want hard sides and a black tank with a bathroom.
Why? At the end of a mountain road in the Pioneer Mountains of Montana at a NF campground, a trailer arrived in the dark at 9pm and occupied a site near us. They started their generator immediately after arriving. At 9:30pm, they repeatedly tested their chain saw at full throttle but did not cut any wood. When we asked them to turn off their generator at 10:15pm they said "no". We can tell many more stories such as this one.
Vault toilets are ok for us and we have used them in excess of 40 consecutive days but we are not going to start digging "cat holes" for trips reaching 75 days.
Besides rude campers, hard sides will help when we encounter a lot of cold weather in our most valued trip, "The Fall Trip", which covers a lot of western country. The Granby furnace and fabric walls handle cold reasonable well but we find ourselves moving south too frequently because enduring cold takes a lot of effort.
What other choices did we consider?
Our first and only camper alternate to the Bengal Camper was a "clam shell" fiber glass truck camper from either Bigfoot or Northern Lite. These are serious all-weather campers.
We put in a lot of work figuring out how to "hold down" our less than 2000 pound loaded-and-wet truck camper and were not interested in making the effort for a 4000+ pound truck camper. The truck camper industry is seriously negligent with almost all camper hold down systems (I have done the research). Also, both Iowa and Minnesota require a truck camper over 10,000 pounds total weight to stop at weigh stations but not RV's with RV registration.
Why Provan Tiger Bengal camper?
- RV registration.
- Camper is attached to the truck.
- Two beds like our Granby, both have a couch which converts to a bed plus the over-the-cab bed.
- Four wheel drive.
- Has a black tank and bathroom.
- Hard side.
These qualities are only met by a Provan Tiger Bengal camper, no other camper.
What about the price?
Our camper will cost less than a 4x4 Winnebago Revel which only has one bed, less storage, no black tank, and very poor window screens. The Bengal will be more than a Granby flat bed camper but the Granby flat bed will still cost around $90,000 everything included and have a very high step-in height, no bathroom, and fabric walls.
What about the height?
The Bengal camper will be two feet taller than our Granby or 10 feet tall. Lets just say, we are not selling the Granby or the Ford F-150 (we love the truck).
What about the width?
Our Granby is 83" wide to the outside of the jack brackets while the Bengal camper is 88". The Bengal is among the narrowest campers with a black tank and less width than hard side truck campers with a black tank.
What about the Bengal camper quality?
Our Granby has the paper covered wood. That is all that needs to be said.
How is Provan, the company, to work with?
Patience is a virtue (a very important virtue).
What options did we order on the Bengal camper?
A lot of deletes: no generator, no AC, no microwave, no TV, no radio, no antenna, no bathroom sink, no awning, no over-the-cab front windows (who wants to look at bug "splats" from the inside?).
A few additions: large solar array, 400 watts with MPPT controller; larger battery pack, 300 amp-hour gross (but not the biggest possible which was 600 amp-hour gross); rear view camera; second power roof vent; propex 2800 furnace.
What truck did we mount the Bengal camper on?
Ford F-350 (1 ton) SRW gasoline regular cab 4x4 with base trim (hand crank windows since you never know when you will fall into a flash flood). We gave up the extra space of an extended cab based on our very positive experience with our current regular cab long bed maneuverability.
How will we deal with such a complex beast?
We are gaining a lot more complex camper than our current no refrig Granby and are hoping to gain a few neurons from learning new tasks instead of losing neurons from the frustration of system failures, such is called "the great adventure".
The Bengal camper will be completed in a little over two months, after our first trip of the year with our Granby. And then commences "the great adventure".
Edited by iowahiker, 04 March 2019 - 01:00 AM.