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Old 10-09-2017, 07:56 PM   #1
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Escape + Kids - 17A vs. 19

I'm sure this topic has been hashed out at length elsewhere, but couldn't find anything this specific using the search function...if there is an existing thread, feel free to send me there!

Looking very seriously at Escapes, we were more or less set on the 17A but happened to see a 17B outside the library the other day and the super nice owners let us tour it and I must say, it seemed a bit small for our needs so no we're considering the 19...

Here are the parameters:
- 2 adults + 2 young (baby-toddler) kids
- Currently exclusively tent camping and mostly want to make our life simpler in terms of getting out of town (e.g. the ready to go camper vs. packing tent, stove, fuel, chairs, etc. etc.)
- 4 season viability is a must (we really like skiing). We'd go for the full insulation setup
- Tow vehicle isn't an issue, but we'd like to keep things as small as possible to make towing and maneuvering manageable and have a less ostentatious set up
- We'd actually prefer no bathroom (we are all more than happy to pee outside and use a campground facility when needed)...and a bathroom seems to take up space and require the complications of dumping. We would do an outdoor shower.
- Ideally lots of dispersed camping (we like to avoid established campgrounds where it makes sense)...we'd go for the full solar setup
- Probably trips of 3 days to a week or two, with intermittent stops with friends / etc. We both work, so we won't be taking 2-month road trips (wish we could...)

Questions:
- Are we crazy for thinking the 17A will fit us?
- Is the 19 much harder to trailer (e.g. deal with in tight spaces) than the 17
- Are there any great mods or add-ons (e.g. bunks) that make family sleeping easier? We were just planning to make both kids share a bed when young and sleep outside when the get older if they want more room.
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Old 10-09-2017, 08:13 PM   #2
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One thing for certain, your kids ARE going to get bigger... I think the 19' with the cot option is a perfect size for a family of four. It will be at least 10 years before they'll be outside and in a tent (OR you'll want them outside). IF your kids are girls... you and they will appreciate having an indoor toilet (and possibly a shower) too. Or maybe it was just my 6 y/o that need to use the "flushy" at midnight. Glad to NOT need to get half-way dressed to walk to the campground bathroom...

BTW: Welcome to the EscapeForum! You'll find a good group of helpful people here.
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Old 10-09-2017, 08:19 PM   #3
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There are other molded fiberglass trailers better suited to winter camping, but you pay the piper, Bigfoot and Oliver. Not to say you can't do it in an Escape, just the others are better setup for it.

I'd think loaded with clothes for skiing, the bigger you go the better.

What do you do with a baby and a toddler while you ski?
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Old 10-09-2017, 08:24 PM   #4
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We had a 17b - 2 adults+2 kids , I'd definitely go for the 19, that way you can all sit at the table on a rainy day and you have pretty much 2 full beds - they could both fit on the dinette set up as a bed. Then you still have the permanent bed in the back, where you can put the kids sleeping bags in the day . Can't comment on the towing of the 19' but I'm sure it tows just as well- I don't even know my 5TA is there- plus the 19 has dual wheels which makes for a smoother ride.
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Old 10-09-2017, 09:07 PM   #5
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The 17b has bunks as a option. You probably already knew that, but I didn't see it mentioned explicitly above. The 17A and 19' don't need bunks given that you are 4 people, but as already mentioned you can get a cot in the 19' if you think the kids will ever want to bring a friend.

Our family of 4 really enjoys our 17b with gaucho bunks, so fitting everyone into a 17A is certainly possible. The question is if that kind of tight style works for you. I admit that I'm a bit fanatical about sticking to the "necessities", which of course includes a dedicated toy cabinet that the kids can fill however they want.

The 19' or 21' would be what most 4 person families would prefer I think. We originally discounted the need for a bathroom, but after a few trips we have come to really appreciate it.

One of our favorite kid friendly features: stopping on the side of the road anywhere for the kids to go potty. Last trip we pulled over to the side shoulder during rush hour for potty time. Pulled right back into traffic afterwards without needing to take what would have been a very slow exit. The bathroom is also handy in the middle of the night so that the kids can handle business independently without waking us up to go outside.

The 19' isn't much heavier than a 17'. If you can tow one you can probably tow the other, although obviously you would need to check your vehicle's manual to be sure.

I think you have the right idea about minimizing the packing hassle before a trip. Get the storage box if you can!
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Old 10-09-2017, 09:16 PM   #6
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There are other molded fiberglass trailers better suited to winter camping, but you pay the piper, Bigfoot and Oliver. Not to say you can't do it in an Escape, just the others are better setup for it.
Unfortunately, Oliver doesn't do bunks (I asked), so they sleep 3 max.
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Old 10-09-2017, 10:41 PM   #7
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As others have mentioned, Escapes are 3 season trailers. If you want something that can handle routinely sub-freezing temperatures, you'd need a different hull design.

Having said that, the heat pads and spray foam underneath will allow you to camp most of the time, even most of the winter.

Since a bath appears to be unimportant to you, I'd look into maybe an Escape 19A. They will build one without the bath, as they've done in the past. This would mean much more interior space and storage as well.

While a 17A might suit you at the moment, one thing is for certain: those toddlers turn into kids, and those kids turn into rather large teenagers before you know it. I think you'd appreciate the extra space.
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Old 10-09-2017, 10:42 PM   #8
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19A advice. Don't eat yellow snow.
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Old 10-09-2017, 11:06 PM   #9
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It's been said before, but bears repeating -- Resale value of a 19 without a bathroom would be tough. Our daughter has 4 kids and they have a composting toilet in their trailer which means they almost always use the facilities in a campground and it does get old having to hang around the toilet area waiting for a young one to do her business.

We find the 19 easy to tow and we've gotten into some pretty tight spots -- If I were taking two kids I wouldn't want anything smaller.
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Old 10-10-2017, 12:19 AM   #10
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We have 2+1, the little one was 5 when we start looking for "the next thing".. we had a roof top tent mounted on top of an offroad trailer, our living space is outside, we wanted to be able to setup without having to fold up/down things and have someplace to go if it's windy or rainy. We originally looked at the 17A thinking it's more than enough as far as space goes.. we didn't need the bathroom either, the 5 gallon bucket+toilet seat was what we were used to.. then we thought about it hard, going from roof top tent to 17 is a good upgrade, but going directly to 19 gives us a real bed that we didn't have to setup everyday.. and the front dinette can always be a permanent bed for the little one anyway.. in the end we picked the 19. the front dinette has been made to bed since the first night and we havent found a need to convert it back yet.. and yeah we can go without the bathroom but having a bathroom is really nice in the middle of the night, and when the rest stop bathroom has a giant line and little one has to go right away..

If you are looking for long term, 19 makes more sense.. if you just want to try for a few years, 17A should fit good for now anyway..
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Old 10-10-2017, 12:30 AM   #11
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We've owned a 19 for a little over a year and have two small kids, just a bit older than yours. We also came at this from a similar place- lifelong tent campers and backcountry enthusiasts, looking to make things a bit easier in variable weather conditions. Although we don't winter camp per se, we have spent multiple nights with temps in the low to mid-20s. We considered a wide range of popups, vans, truck campers, and travel trailers, and were first interested with the 17 before landing on the 19. My $0.02:

- I'm glad we didn't go smaller with four people. The 19 offers a generous amount of space, even with a week's worth of food, warm clothes, sleeping bags and bedding, a few games, etc. The dinette is also great for four to eat. But overall the space can still feel tight during trips with cold/rainy weather or other circumstances when we are all awake in the trailer for longer periods of time.

- Most of the time both kids sleep on the dinette bed, but they have each enjoyed using the cot occasionally to feel like they each have their own space. While the cot is perfectly functional, it is not the most elegant thing to take up and down and store. I prefer to travel without it, but am glad we have the option.

- The only times we've had issues accessing campsites with the 19 are places where any hardside travel trailer would have had issues.

- As others have stated, don't underestimate the value of the bathroom! I also started looking at the 17A because I didn't want to deal with the hassle of a black tank and wanted to keep it simple. But when your just-potty-trained kid can get up and go by themselves at 2 a.m., while it's freezing outside and you continue to enjoy your precious, blissful sleep on that luxurious queen mattress, you are winning. We also use the bathroom a ton for roadside stops, lunch breaks, etc. If I'm going to deal with the hassle of towing something, it might as well be as fully functional as possible.

- I think you can pull off camping in full winter conditions, provided you take adequate steps to handle plumbing/winterization concerns. I suspect your biggest challenge, particularly in the PNW, will be managing interior condensation. Also, personally I avoid towing on snowy roads, but if you are up for it than I think it can be done with an adequate tow vehicle, chains for the trailer, and a good dose of caution.
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Old 10-10-2017, 12:46 AM   #12
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Oh, and one other observation on your desire to make it simpler and easier to get out the door with an Escape vs. tent camping:

Although this is true in a number of respects (e.g., you will no longer be stuffing and jenga-ing sleeping bags, pads, tent, cook gear, etc. into the back of a vehicle), you will be replacing one set of tasks for another. You will be regularly doing things like checking tire pressure and lug nuts, stocking food for the trip, packing up clothes and gear for four, filling the water tank, re-filling propane tanks, cleaning the interior and exterior, winterizing and sanitizing, checking battery water levels, hitching up and unhitching, etc. While none of these things are particularly onerous, they take time.

That said, I think we do get out the door faster for a weekend with the trailer. But the percentage of my overall time spent on "camping" has increased. I'm very much ok with that tradeoff, though.
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Old 10-10-2017, 12:54 AM   #13
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Go for the 19', with kids, there just isn't enough storage. I have a 17b and made the mistake of selling my Tacoma with a truck cap and buying a 4Runner, with all the kids stuff and gear, we really have to travel light.
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Old 10-10-2017, 01:07 AM   #14
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We did a year in our 17B with a 4 and a 6 year old, traveling in all weather conditions around the US. It was tight, but doable. Now we have a 19, and would never go back!
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Old 10-10-2017, 08:50 AM   #15
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That is some really great advice that has been given and I agree with it all. I see the 19 as the best of both worlds when you compare to the 17A/17B. You get the permanent queen bed, a 4 person dinette that becomes a twin bed, the option to add the cot and still have the bathroom. The kids love the front cot. We have done quite a bit of camping with kids 5 and 8 (and sometimes a friend too) and I personally would not go any smaller than a 19.

The concern with dumping because you have a bathroom seems overstated. If you have a kitchen sink you will still have a gray tank that needs to be emptied. As far as winter camping, I agree that the Escape on paper is really a 3 season trailer, but can be used through the winter with water system winterized. The only way the heat pads on the tanks are practical is if you are plugged in to shore power (even though they are 12V).

All that said, it sounds like you could make either trailer work but if you are looking for a trailer that you will grow into seamlessly with the kids and avoid the hassle of upsizing later I would go for the 19. You won't regret it.
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Old 10-10-2017, 10:06 AM   #16
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If you have a kitchen sink you will still have a gray tank that needs to be emptied.
Not if you don't have a gray-water tank. I just have an outside hose that drains the sink into a bucket. Some of us who come from a backpacking and/or tenting background just plain don't want or need all the extra plumbing and don't mind walking to and using campground facilities. When I get too old or feeble to do that, then I'll be too old or feeble to hitch up and load up the truck.

It's as easy as that.
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Old 10-10-2017, 10:09 AM   #17
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Not if you don't have a gray-water tank. I just have an outside hose that drains the sink into a bucket. Some of us who come from a backpacking and/or tenting background just plain don't want or need all the extra plumbing and don't mind walking to and using campground facilities. When I get too old or feeble to do that, then I'll be too old or feeble to hitch up and load up the truck.

It's as easy as that.


Where does your fresh water come from?
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Old 10-10-2017, 10:13 AM   #18
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If you are willing to go without the bathroom, I can see that the 17A might be attractive, but consider the value of having a queen bed with 8" of extra width. We appreciate having the bathroom available in the night, however, you could possibly solve that with a portable solution - a bit trickier from a privacy point of view.

The cot in the 19' allowed us to support 3 smaller children and the bathroom simplified the nights.

In addition to valuing the bed situation and the bathroom, we felt better about having the dual axles.
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Old 10-10-2017, 10:31 AM   #19
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Where does your fresh water come from?
I have a fresh-water tank...twenty-gallon capacity as I recall.
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Old 10-10-2017, 10:34 AM   #20
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I have a fresh-water tank...twenty-gallon capacity as I recall.


And a pump and all associated plumbing presumably, so the only part you omitted is the gray tank? Water heater?
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