Going Smaller Gets Easier

Slideouts are nice for interior room but they’re going to leak. That’s a near guarantee.

A lot of full-timers are going smaller these days, even going so far as to try living in a van. To me that’s a bridge too far but there are some really trick small campers coming out that make full-timing in a small camper for a single person a much more comfortable option. I still think a tiny camper would be a tough go with two people, but there are couples living in vans. How they do that without committing homicide is beyond me.

If you’re going to get folding chairs, get the heavy duty variety. They last longer.

Just in general campers are lighter and better made today. Materials are better, the designs are much better and more small campers are making the grade for full-time living. One of those great new models that seem to be attracting a lot of attention today are T@B teardrops.

T@Bs used to be manufactured in Europe and were discontinued in 2009. Luckily Little Guy Worldwide bought the rights and reintroduced the T@B in 2011. The best part is that Little Guy learned how the original models were built and stayed true to that tradition. Instead of just taking over the name, the company also took over the reputation, which was smart business.

A lot of people are living in T@B teardrops. (http://tab.nucamprv.com/nucamp-rv/) What I like about T@B, besides the weight and low profile is they have a bathroom/shower combo. If you follow My House Has Wheels for any length of time, you know that’s one of my personal must have features. Here’s a great video about living in T@B.

The good news for us tall people is the new T@B 400 has an 81 inch interior height and a full-size queen bed.

Mainly I like that smaller teardrops don’t have a rubber roof. Most of you know I hate rubber roofs because they inevitably leak and they’re a pain to take care of while you’re waiting for the leaks to develop. There are only a handful of campers that don’t have a membrane type roof and those are models like Casita, which are made from fiberglass shells, and Airstreams, which cost more than a house. Teardrops are a nice design compromise and the roof is either aluminum or a fiberglass composite. Those can still leak around the seams but it’s not as common.

Most campers and 5th wheels with a rubber or EPDM roofs are just junk. They look nice on the lot but owning one is going to be leakfest. Even if you patch the leaks there’s still going to be rot and mold. Shabby construction is the RV industry’s dark underbelly. Instead of mechanized assembly, like cars, or assembly lines, campers and RVs are built one at a time, like a house. Many times the man-hours in a camper are 20 to 30. That doesn’t leave a lot of time for quality control and it shows when you look close at the detail finishing.

Even if you do have a leak in a smaller camper, stripping it down and fixing it is easier than a bigger camper. It’ll still cost some money but nothing like replacing large sections of a big 5th wheel with a leaking roof and leaks around the slideouts.

Overall, a smaller camper is the way to go. You’ll have a smaller tow vehicle and get better gas mileage. You can also drop your trailer at the campground and take your tow vehicle in town for errands. In so many ways full-timing in a smaller camper is the way to go.

Before you head out, read the book! It’s the best $2.99 you’ll ever spend.

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