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Old 11-17-2021, 05:41 AM   #1
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Truck Camper vs Escape Trailer

Hi All,

I am seeking information from people who have had (or currently have) BOTH a truck camper and a trailer - preferably an Escape. I presently live in a large 3-slide truck camper (TC), but am selling it. My husband wanted 3 slides for full-time camper living and I prefer smaller. He has since decided he likes stationary living more and now lives in condo near some beautiful hiking and camping areas.

I, however, prefer the full-time camper life. I am selling this huge TC and looking for something smaller that will accomodate me for daily living and my husband for when he wants to enjoy things with me.

I do all the camper-related things - driving, loading and unloading the TC onto/off of the truck, daily camper issues, etc. i am comfortable with all of this.

But…I am not sure about loading and unloading a trailer. The last time I did that was close to 30 years ago.

One factor in this is $. I have a great truck - a 2020 1-ton long-bed Ram dually diesel w/4.10 gear ratio (purchased pre-chip shortage). It is great for a specific TC I could switch to, and overkill for an Escape. I know I can sell this for a smaller truck if I go with the Escape and have some $ left over (accounting for selling my TC also)

My question: if you have had both a TC and Escape trailer, is trailer living - hitching up and unhitching - set up, etc., more difficult with a trailer than a TC? Is it difficult to transition from driving a single unit (TC and truck) to a trailer?

So - what are your experiences, please? I have a 21c on order for sometime in mid-2023, but the market is good now if I want to sell the TC. Decisions…and learning from your experience can help.

Thank you,
Lee-Ann
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Old 11-17-2021, 09:39 AM   #2
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I don't have these to compare but not dealing with slideouts is a positive in my opinion. How do you camp? If it's back roads instead of campgrounds that would make a difference in my opinion.
Do I think you would have trouble with what it takes to tow a a 21' camper? Other then your posting I knowing nothing about you but you sound like the I will figure it out kind of person so think you would enjoy camping with a 21C, GREAT TRAILER!

Yes, your truck is overkill for an Escape that's for sure.

Enjoy the journey,

Steve
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Old 11-17-2021, 10:19 AM   #3
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We have both an escape 21C, and a Northern lite 8-11 TC (see the avatar)

A GMC 2500 Duramax srw is overkill for the Escape, but adequate for the TC.

We use the Escape for stationary stays and explore the area around it, moving about 2x a month, when we need to dump and fill tanks.

The Northern Lite is used when we are traveling more and moving every few days, Alaska adventures and such.
Many times we will drop the TC to explore areas we cant get to loaded.
The camper takes about 15 minutes to drop, and about the same to load.

The Escape is about the same time for hookup and drop, and slightly less work
No alignment to the truck box necessary.

The Escape we bumper haul, no equalizer or stabilizer bars needed, just safety chains, breakaway brake cable, hitch ball, and power cord

Each RV has its purpose, if we had to go only with one, it would be the truck camper.
If the TC had slides it would not fit our needs for fast, some off road, and light travel

Good Luck on your Adventure
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Old 11-17-2021, 11:32 AM   #4
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We have had an Alaskan Camper, a Bigfoot 9.6, and various trailers. We currently have a new E19. For northern BC, the Yukon, and Alaska we much prefer the pickup camper for size, mobility, and road conditions. For everywhere else we prefer a small bumper pull travel trailer. Itís much easier to hitch and unhitch a trailer than to load and unload a pickup camper. They both have there place, and we have enjoyed both kinds. We are not fans of slides. We have lived in both small trailers and pickup campers for up to 5 months at a time, and always find them plenty big.
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Old 11-17-2021, 07:50 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by stratos175 View Post
I don't have these to compare but not dealing with slideouts is a positive in my opinion. How do you camp? If it's back roads instead of campgrounds that would make a difference in my opinion.
Do I think you would have trouble with what it takes to tow a a 21' camper? Other then your posting I knowing nothing about you but you sound like the I will figure it out kind of person so think you would enjoy camping with a 21C, GREAT TRAILER!

Yes, your truck is overkill for an Escape that's for sure.

Enjoy the journey,

Steve
Thank you, Steve, for your thoughts. Yes, I prefer back roads to campgrounds - although a CG can be good when I need to do laundry 😄. Re: this kind pf choice, are you saying the Escape canít do back roads if ordered with the lift kit? I donít go to very challenging back roads, just BLM places. With a dually, I canít go far, as the truck is so wide.
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Old 11-17-2021, 07:55 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by TZBrown View Post
We have both an escape 21C, and a Northern lite 8-11 TC (see the avatar)

A GMC 2500 Duramax srw is overkill for the Escape, but adequate for the TC.

We use the Escape for stationary stays and explore the area around it, moving about 2x a month, when we need to dump and fill tanks.

The Northern Lite is used when we are traveling more and moving every few days, Alaska adventures and such.
Many times we will drop the TC to explore areas we cant get to loaded.
The camper takes about 15 minutes to drop, and about the same to load.

The Escape is about the same time for hookup and drop, and slightly less work
No alignment to the truck box necessary.

The Escape we bumper haul, no equalizer or stabilizer bars needed, just safety chains, breakaway brake cable, hitch ball, and power cord

Each RV has its purpose, if we had to go only with one, it would be the truck camper.
If the TC had slides it would not fit our needs for fast, some off road, and light travel

Good Luck on your Adventure
Thank you for the rply. You have excellent taste in TCs! I am looking at the Northern Lite 10-2 - so keeping my current truck would be important for that.

Alaska is in our future, I hope. That is my bucket list trip. Years ago, when I had my first TC (a small Lance), I calculated that I could town a bumper pull and carry the TC, using them pretty much as you describe. I think you are living my dream.

Is the Escape not good for Alaskab/c of seasonality, or some other reason ?

Thanks again,
Lee-Ann
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Old 11-17-2021, 10:58 PM   #7
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A Bigfoot travel trailer likely has better suspension and axles than the escape as well as better protection for tanks and plumbing. A 21 Bigfoot is a lot more money, but you certainly have the truck for it if you have the budget. The wait is a year instead of two. Also they are 4 season trailers
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Old 11-17-2021, 11:10 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Leemom3@verizon.net View Post
Thank you, Steve, for your thoughts. Yes, I prefer back roads to campgrounds - although a CG can be good when I need to do laundry 😄. Re: this kind pf choice, are you saying the Escape canít do back roads if ordered with the lift kit? I donít go to very challenging back roads, just BLM places. With a dually, I canít go far, as the truck is so wide.
By your definition (BLM) of back roads you're probably fine with a travel trailer. If you were talking narrow, heavily wooded roads then a travel trailer might be a major pain if you got back to a point where you couldn't turn around.
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Old 11-18-2021, 06:54 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by alanerickson View Post
By your definition (BLM) of back roads you're probably fine with a travel trailer. If you were talking narrow, heavily wooded roads then a travel trailer might be a major pain if you got back to a point where you couldn't turn around.
Great info. Narrow, heavily wooded roads are one of those ďI wish I could,Ē but iíve never stretched my camping skills that far.
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Old 11-18-2021, 10:40 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Leemom3@verizon.net View Post
Is the Escape not good for Alaska b/c of seasonality, or some other reason ?

Thanks again,
Lee-Ann
We drove every road in AK that was accessible from the main roads, to the end and back.
I would not have towed the Escape into some of the spots we were in, just a bit to stressful, very limited parking and turn around areas.

With a lift on the Escape we are very able to tow most places you are willing to drive your truck, depending on the possible turn around area. I have sent up my drone a couple of times and decided not to continue due to what I saw

Sometimes forest service roads turn into 50 inch wide ORV paths in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, backing up 1/2 mile or so is not so much fun.

Here is a link to the 2015 adventure, AK starts on page 2. We left home with a Northstar TC, returned with the Northern Lite. https://www.flickr.com/photos/568443...57661434359175
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Old 11-18-2021, 10:58 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by TZBrown View Post
...Many times we will drop the TC to explore areas we cant get to loaded.
The camper takes about 15 minutes to drop, and about the same to load.
That's very interesting, I had no idea that dropping and loading a TC was that quick and easy.
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Old 11-18-2021, 12:26 PM   #12
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That's very interesting, I had no idea that dropping and loading a TC was that quick and easy.
Remote control electric jacks, and a driver while I guide make it a breeze
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Old 11-18-2021, 12:33 PM   #13
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I previously had two different slide in units, one very light, small and minimalistic, and a larger, heavy camper that was really comfortable for two adults, one kid and a big dog. Because we did mostly surf and windsurf trips with the camper, I had to load everything into a low profile roof box and on to a rack on top of the camper. This was more than 20 years ago now, so I was still up for that program in my early 40's but it was never convenient climbing up on the camper roof and loading gear. Eventually, I got really tired of not having bed space or roof rack access in/on my truck, which at that time was a 3/4 ton long bed diesel Ram. So I started considering a trailer and wound up buying a used Airstream Safari 25' in the early 2000's. This trailer ended up serving us very well for around 10 years when we temporarily ditched RV life and sold it. We bought our Escape 21C last year after an eight year period with no RV.

Having had both the slide ins and trailer, I found that the truck/trailer combo was preferable, based on the way we use our camper, where we like to visit and what we want to carry. You mention the ease of unloading/loading your truck camper. But I have been to a number of campgrounds where they actually prohibit you from doing that. Also, while I know some of the newer campers (with super nice electric jacks) can be a breeze to deal with, ours was not. It had manual hydraulic jacks and had to be lifted very high to get the truck under it. On a windy day, it could be a scary operation. Anyway, a lot of that may not be issues for your situation.

The biggest plus for me using a trailer was getting my truck space back. I also really like the convenience of leaving the trailer and having the truck to go explore and access local attractions (again, apparently not an issue for you with your slide in). In choosing our E21, we gave a lot of consideration to what we should buy with our money as we needed a new tow vehicle as well as a camper. Since we decided to do this, we knew we were going to drop a big chunk of $$$$$ and we tried to keep all options open, including vans, class c's, a slide-in or another trailer. We really thought about the whole camping experience, from getting ready to leave, being on the road and arriving at a destination. We also thought a lot about the whole ownership experience, fuel economy, maintenance, storage, etc. The trailer won out again for us.

We were ready to go smaller and lighter than ever as it's just two of us now plus one big lab. Having too much experience with leaky units and repairs, I really liked the Escape clamshell fiberglass design and dual axles on a relatively small trailer. I think the Escape can last a long long time with proper care. The light weight was a huge factor as it allowed us to go smaller on our camping/tow vehicle (1/2 ton Ram eco-diesel).

Now that we've pulled the triggers and used the new setup for a full camping season, where we literally spent most of the summer in the trailer, we are very pleased with the decision. The E21 is a bit small at times (when it's rainy for several days in a row) but overall, we love it. And, the best part for me, being the principle driver and trailer hookup guy, is that it is very easy towing, parking, hitch up and setup. Even our mileage is pretty good with the Escape. The size gives us a great choice in camp spots and it's easy to maneuver into tighter sites. I also really appreciate having the entire truck available to carry extra stuff. I often carry a one-man outrigger canoe on my truck racks, positioned so that it does not interfere with the trailer, even on tight turns. The rack holds lots more, so I don't feel at all limited when we travel. We can also put two bikes in the bed of the truck, along with a bunch of other stuff, under the locking, hard-shell tonneau cover, out of site and secure. We got the optional front box on the trailer and I love all the storage.

The truck gets very good mileage, especially not towing, usually in the mid 20's. I think space in the E21 would rival most deluxe, larger campers as far as comfort goes. Overall, I'm super happy with our choices. But, it's really about how you use your camper, where you go, and what you want. Our choice wouldn't necessarily be the right one for someone else. Good luck and have fun with your decision making!
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Old 11-18-2021, 03:18 PM   #14
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a major reason we have a trailer and not a TC or motorhome is we like to setup camp and then explore an area for several days, with a Motorhome you would need to pull a 'dinghy' car for this. Also, I found TCs' very top heavy and downright scary on mountain roads.

hitching/unhitching a bumper pull camper is quite easy. having a truck with a backup camera makes it even easier, but I can usually do it solo by hopping out, eyeballing things, getting back in the truck, moving, rinse repeat. on flat level ground, it often only takes me 2-3 hopouts to get it spot on. Of course, having an experienced spotter makes this much easier.

I would suggest a half ton truck for pulling an Escape or similar trailer, like an F150 or Dodge/Chevy 1500. I'm using an older F250 3/4 ton diesel which is overkill (and also has an awful turning circle, which can make maneuvering in tight spaces challenging).
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Old 11-18-2021, 05:38 PM   #15
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That's very interesting, I had no idea that dropping and loading a TC was that quick and easy.
The first time I did it with my first TC - I asked my son to load it! Practice, practice, practice - and it takes me about 10 mins now w/ this TC.
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Old 11-18-2021, 05:40 PM   #16
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Remote control electric jacks, and a driver while I guide make it a breeze
Funny - I donít want my husband anywhere near me when I load or unload the TC. I tell him to leave and return in 10 minsÖit saves the marriage.
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Old 11-18-2021, 06:00 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by glsails View Post
I previously had two different slide in units, one very light, small and minimalistic, and a larger, heavy camper that was really comfortable for two adults, one kid and a big dog. Because we did mostly surf and windsurf trips with the camper, I had to load everything into a low profile roof box and on to a rack on top of the camper. This was more than 20 years ago now, so I was still up for that program in my early 40's but it was never convenient climbing up on the camper roof and loading gear. Eventually, I got really tired of not having bed space or roof rack access in/on my truck, which at that time was a 3/4 ton long bed diesel Ram. So I started considering a trailer and wound up buying a used Airstream Safari 25' in the early 2000's. This trailer ended up serving us very well for around 10 years when we temporarily ditched RV life and sold it. We bought our Escape 21C last year after an eight year period with no RV.

Having had both the slide ins and trailer, I found that the truck/trailer combo was preferable, based on the way we use our camper, where we like to visit and what we want to carry. You mention the ease of unloading/loading your truck camper. But I have been to a number of campgrounds where they actually prohibit you from doing that. Also, while I know some of the newer campers (with super nice electric jacks) can be a breeze to deal with, ours was not. It had manual hydraulic jacks and had to be lifted very high to get the truck under it. On a windy day, it could be a scary operation. Anyway, a lot of that may not be issues for your situation.

The biggest plus for me using a trailer was getting my truck space back. I also really like the convenience of leaving the trailer and having the truck to go explore and access local attractions (again, apparently not an issue for you with your slide in). In choosing our E21, we gave a lot of consideration to what we should buy with our money as we needed a new tow vehicle as well as a camper. Since we decided to do this, we knew we were going to drop a big chunk of $$$$$ and we tried to keep all options open, including vans, class c's, a slide-in or another trailer. We really thought about the whole camping experience, from getting ready to leave, being on the road and arriving at a destination. We also thought a lot about the whole ownership experience, fuel economy, maintenance, storage, etc. The trailer won out again for us.

We were ready to go smaller and lighter than ever as it's just two of us now plus one big lab. Having too much experience with leaky units and repairs, I really liked the Escape clamshell fiberglass design and dual axles on a relatively small trailer. I think the Escape can last a long long time with proper care. The light weight was a huge factor as it allowed us to go smaller on our camping/tow vehicle (1/2 ton Ram eco-diesel).

Overall, I'm super happy with our choices. But, it's really about how you use your camper, where you go, and what you want. Our choice wouldn't necessarily be the right one for someone else. Good luck and have fun with your decision making!
Thank you for sharing your very thorough decision-making process and experience (yes, I cut put much here in the reply). You raise several good points! I appreciateyour insight. At this time it is just my husband and me out camping - do dogs, and the kids are grown. We have our eyes on the 21C - unless anything happens between now and when we do the build sheet.
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Old 11-18-2021, 06:03 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by John in Santa Cruz View Post
a major reason we have a trailer and not a TC or motorhome is we like to setup camp and then explore an area for several days, with a Motorhome you would need to pull a 'dinghy' car for this. Also, I found TCs' very top heavy and downright scary on mountain roads.

hitching/unhitching a bumper pull camper is quite easy. having a truck with a backup camera makes it even easier, but I can usually do it solo by hopping out, eyeballing things, getting back in the truck, moving, rinse repeat. on flat level ground, it often only takes me 2-3 hopouts to get it spot on. Of course, having an experienced spotter makes this much easier.

I would suggest a half ton truck for pulling an Escape or similar trailer, like an F150 or Dodge/Chevy 1500. I'm using an older F250 3/4 ton diesel which is overkill (and also has an awful turning circle, which can make maneuvering in tight spaces challenging).
Thank you for your inout. I stand by the GOAL method in loading (backing under) the TC - get out and look. I expect hooking up a trailer requires the same method.
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Old 11-19-2021, 01:00 AM   #19
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if my Escape 21 is on flat level ground, I can back the truck up within a foot or two using the two side mirrors to center the trailer, put it in P, hop out, check, raise the tongue high enough to clear the ball, note any angle offset (if I aligned right in mirrors, then its dead on), use my hands to estimate distance and get back in the seat, sit up straight, and use my hands at the same spacing to eyeball the distance on the edge of the trucks running board/step, and use that against a mark on the ground as a guide while I back up that much, set the parking brake, hop out and check. Ideally, I'm close enough to drop the hitch on the ball, and sometimes I have to nudge the truck forward an inch to get the hitch latch to set. then I remove the chocks from the one side, and back up a inch or two to get off the andersen wedge chocks, remove them, pull forward 5-10" to get off the andersen wedges, stow all that stuff, stow the lego blocks under the tongue jack, attach the safety chains, the breakaway brake cable, and the trailer 7-blade. hit the e-blinkers in the truck, and turn on the parking ligths, and do a walk around to ensure all lighting is working, while verifying all cables and hoses and hatches are stowed, and the site is clean. when I'm rolling away, while coasting at low speed, I'll grab the manual brake controller a couple times to verify the trailer brakes are working, then boom, eat up 500 miles of interstate, or 300 miles of country highways.

I used to be willing to drive insanely long distances on the first and last day of a trip to get somewhere and start recreating, but now I just plan more days and take my time, try and do 300-400 miles per long travel day. after all, we're both retired, every day is Saturday!
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Old 11-19-2021, 01:58 AM   #20
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Thank you for your inout. I stand by the GOAL method in loading (backing under) the TC - get out and look. I expect hooking up a trailer requires the same method.
having a reliable spotter with a shared understanding of hand motions is invaluable. but a random handwaver is worse than useless.

IMHO, hand motions should be left to turn the steering left (even if youa re going backwards, and that means the front of the truck will go right), and right to mean turn the steering right, both hands straight for go straight.. forwards and backwards directions should be obvious, and both hands held one above the other slowly closing in for easing into the final centering.

my wife is somewhat afraid of trailers (we had an incident with her at the wheel some years back so...), so really hasn't had the experience in how things work going backwards, so doesn't really understand the dynamics so she can give good spotting. I still rely on her for 'all clear' when I'm backing the camper around a sharp turn and can't see the outside corner, or into a cove where I want the back as close to the end of the space as practical.

my F250 longbed truck has a very unweildy wheel base and a 62 foot turning circle, so backing the E21 into a tight space can be pretty challenging and take me several tries. the truck is nearly as long as the trailer.

I'm starting to think my dream tow vehicle is a late model Ford Expedition full sized SUV with the 3.5 EcoBoost, and the right set of options (mostly, Limited, max tow, and 4x4). The EL/Max long body version with 2nd and 3rd rows of back seats folded has sufficient space my astronomy gear and/or music festival gear. The big improvements would be in smoothness and quietness. The F250 7.3 Powerstroke is a noisy motor, and the truck is sprung pretty stiffly. I expect I'd be putting an airbag kit under the back of the SUV.

but, our F250 7.3 is a workhorse, and we'll probably keep it for 5-10 years.
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