Have I lost my mind?

Sagefemme

Advanced Member
Joined
May 20, 2024
Messages
35
Location
Western Oregon
This is my first post. My husband and I have never had a camper before--die hard tent/backpacker types who have finally admitted that sleeping on the ground gets old when you reach your 60s. After spending most of last year considering vans and trailers, I realized that truck camping is probably best for us. We like to be away from everything and everyone in the great outdoors!

We are flying to the midwest next week to fetch a Dodge Ram 2500 4x4 with a Hawk flatbed. I'm a little shocked that I've done this deal (although no money has changed hands yet) but I'm pretty sure we're going to really like it.

My question is: what essentials do we take in a checked suitcase to set off on a 2000 mile drive back west in our new rig? The camper is newer and everything works according to the seller (who seems like a straight shooter). I'm picturing 2 down sleeping bags and pillows in stuffsacs and some basic cooking and eating gear. We may want to stop at Harbor Freight or similar for a basic set of tools. But what else should we be thinking about for gear? What would you bring to equip an empty camper, in one large checked suitcase?

We have an appointment at a local Dodge dealer to get the truck looked at right after we take possession. I just want to know there's nothing dire going on with it (Cummins 5.9L, 200k plus on the odometer). Per the Carfax report it has been very well maintained. Sadly we don't have enough time off work to linger anywhere on the way home. Hoping to get to Oregon in 4 days.

Any and all advice is welcome. I can't believe this is happening!!
 
Congratulations on your new adventure. The first thing that I think of regarding what to bring, is everything you need to make coffee in the morning. Ask that the water tank be full, have coffee mugs etc., and a plastic trash bag. Matches to light the stove if needed, but they may not be allowed on the plane. And if you would like some wine at night, bring a wine bottle opener. The coffee mugs can do double duty as wine glasses. Enjoy.
 
Trash bag! Hadn't thought of that. Going in the suitcase now. Coffee making is part of the basic food kit for me--the trusty Aero Press will be making the trip. I'm sure matches or a lighter can go in a checked bag. Thanks--and keep the suggestions coming!
 
Unless you really like down I'd purchase a couple of extra large flannel sleeping bags. Much cheaper and more comfortable. Weight and size are no longer an issue. I wouldn't bring anything you can't find at a local sporting goods store. Mostly don't go too far off the grid at first and figure it out as you go. Don't forget the toiletries.

And congratulations :)
 
Just pack your normal needs and you can pick up the rest of the stuff along the way. I have a trailer camper also and when I first got that seemed like every trip had a Walmart stop involved but that is basically like outfitting a small apartment in amenities, cooking utensils, spices, etc. SO if you notice that trend don't worry because it tapers off to just restocking consumables.
 
Congratulations on your new adventure. I got a Grandby for the same reason: after 60 it's no longer fun getting up off the ground. It should extend your camping enjoyment for many years.

My advice: since you are experienced backpackers, pack like a backpacking trip. Except you don't need a tent, might want larger cooking pans, and your clothing choices would be more for driving than hiking. That will be enough to get you home with how you are used to camping and along the way you will start to decide what changes/additions you will want to make.

Tools and other equipment is hard to say; I don't know weight restriction on checked baggage.
 
Congratulations! Moving off the ground to a Hawk Flatbed is a big jump and one you are going to enjoy.

We did the same thing as you. One way airfare to buy a truck and Hawk flatbed. If it did not work out we would had to buy return tickets. We did visit a friend and was great to stay with him.

Purchase went great. Needed to go to DMV to purchase a moving permit to drive it home.

Stopped at food store to get food. Figured we would spend the night someplace on the way home so packed in a suitcase sleeping bags, pillows. We added some bowls and spoons for eating and some miscellaneous stuff as space would allow for checked luggage. Really you have markets and stores you can get anything you need along the way.

Spent the day crawling under, over and through the truck and camper and felt there were no issues. We left really early in the morning and ended up driving home in one push. Loong drive....

We are super glad we made the decision and are very pleased with our purchase.

You can post up your adventure here on the board and post any questions and concerns you might have while purchasing and driving home with it. Exciting days ahead!
Patrick
 
I've nothing to add to the well thought out replies above but did want to give you a big congratulations on your new truck and camper. No need to tell you to have fun. I know you will. Travel safe.
 
have fun. make sure u understand how the turn buckles work which connect camper to truck bed. good excuse to stop, and check things out with the camper, etc.. c u around.
 
have fun. make sure u understand how the turn buckles work which connect camper to truck bed. good excuse to stop, and check things out with the camper, etc.. c u around.
Hawk flatbed. No turn buckles. Either bolted through
bed or fastguns or such on outside.
 

Is this the one?

Looks good.
 
Yes @pvstoy, that's the one. Got the Carfax report on the truck and it's been very well maintained for the vast majority of its life (don't have knowledge about the last 8,000 miles or so). Good to know about not drinking the water from the tank until we've cleaned it. It occurs to me that the batteries, which I'm thinking are original to this 2016 camper, may not be very viable any more. We can do without or stay at full hookup places. But I think if we are able to revert to backpacking mindset, if needed, we will be fine. I'll bring headlamps for sure.

I got insurance on the rig (even though I don't own it quite yet), and an Oregon trip permit that's good for 21 days. Someone suggested a sign saying "In Transit" might be helpful. It does feel weird driving across multiple states with no plates. The seller told me in his experience only in Colorado are you likely to get stopped, no other states care!

My spouse wants to know, can you sit up in the bed in this camper? Thanks for all the helpful replies, and the reassurance that we haven't made a mistake.
 
Good morning and Welcome to Wander the West,

@Sagefemme! It sounds like you’re getting a nice camper and truck. I would tape a photocopy of the trip permit in the back window of the Hawk, or if no window, in a sealed ziplock that’s taped it to the license plate frame. Keep the original permit, and all sales related documentation with you in the cab.

My suspicion is you can sit up in bed with a bit of clearance. I’m guessing the batteries have been replaced, but if not, your backpack skills will take care of you.

Do have the seller show you the operation of all systems, including where all valves (with function) and fuses are located. There should be an owner’s manual included that will also show those things.

WTW loves photos, so please post them when you have an opportunity.😊
 
Welcome to a world of fun! We have a 2017 Hawk Flatbed that has housed us for over 500 nights and 70,000 miles. To address two points in your last post:

At 5’ 11”, I can sit up with my neck scrunched, but not all the way up. There is plenty of room to prop a pillow up to coffee drinking height.

Our 2017 agm batteries are going strong and even if your batteries are aging out it is unlikely that they are finished, just fading a bit. With the amount of driving (and, therefore, charging) you will be doing on your trip home, you will probably have plenty of juice for your trip back.

If you cross Kansas, consider the free camping at one of the dozens of state fishing lakes. We’ve never had a bad stop.

John
 
If you cross Kansas, consider the free camping at one of the dozens of state fishing lakes. We’ve never had a bad stop.
I just had an acquaintance tell me "avoid Kansas at all costs" but he didn't say why. I'd rather not drive unnecessarily north to Nebraska. We are not fishers but we are birders, so lakes have an appeal.
 
Had dinner with friends last night, two of whom are experienced truck camper folks, and everyone piled on about my plan to get the truck looked over AFTER buying it. I know it sounds backwards, but my feeling is the camper is the part of this deal I'm really wanting, and the price for both seems fair. The truck itself is probably worth about $12,000-$15,000, one third or less of the total price. Given the extensive Carfax report showing regular maintenance, and the relative long-livedness and reliability of a 3rd gen Cummins 5.9 L diesel, I am not inclined to ask the seller to take it for a checkup prior to buying it. Maybe this is foolish, but my gut tells me it will be alright. And of course anything can happen, any vehicle can have a breakdown, even after being checked out by a mechanic. I just want some assurance that there's nothing glaring that would stop us setting off for a 2000 mile trip. Opinions?
 
It sounds like you’re getting a nice camper and truck. I would tape a photocopy of the trip permit in the back window of the Hawk, or if no window, in a sealed ziplock that’s taped it to the license plate frame. Keep the original permit, and all sales related documentation with you in the cab.
😊
I have ordered the trip permit from the Oregon DMV. Just a little concerned that I might not get it in the mail before we leave (5 am Thurs 6/6) but perhaps there's a way to print it from the website.
 
As with any purchase, it comes down to going with your gut. You have given this a lot of thought. In the big picture, when you own a vehicle, you assume all repair and maintenance to keep it safe and able to go on down the road. In time, any vehicle needs repair. You just don't want issues before you get back home. You are ready to take on what the truck may need? It sounds like you are.

Curious, what/when was the last trip the current owners took and how long time and miles wise? Did they have any issues, concerns on that trip?
 
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