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Old 06-30-2020, 04:34 PM   #1
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Truck Camper vs Escape 5.0TA

Hello,

I created this account to ask advice from Escape owners. I'm close to retirement from the military and basically I want to live part time with a wife and dog in an RV about half the year.
I had convinced myself a Northern Lite on a 4wd dually was in my future but now im considering an escape 5.0TA paired to a smaller more off road capable truck. I have listed pros and cons for my needs. If experienced members could weigh in to whether my assumptions are valid, it would be much appreciated!

Maneuverability: advantage Northern Lite truck Camper when hooked up, Escape 5er when disconnected and left at campsite. Overall I think advantage is to the camper and is one of my highest priorities as I don't want to be precluded from using any national park campgrounds.

Off road ability: advantage Camper when hooked up, 5er when disconnected and left at campsite. I think the 5er can handle moderately smooth dirt roads.

Headroom/space: slight advantage 5er but I think they are both acceptable, (I'm 6'4")

Fit and finish: Camper but I will probably upgrade what I don't like anyway.

Fuel economy: 5er, I suspect it is more aerodynamic and would get maybe 20% better economy?

Purchase price: 5er but not by much.

Practicality of truck when disconnected: 5er

Durability: maybe camper because it is better isolated from dead vibration?

Cold weather: both good but most duallys are diesel and gas does better in cold.

Mexico travel: probably 5er if there are issues with border crossings in a dually that could be classified as commercial plus gasoline is easier to find.

Resale: probably similar and I will keep it for a while.

I'm pretty much on the fence and change my mind every day so thanks again for any insight!
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Old 06-30-2020, 04:55 PM   #2
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We were seriously considering the Northern lite 10-2 with the wet bath. My problem with it was needing a dually, it's hard enough to park and drive back roads with the long bed F150, which I bought in anticipation of a 10' truck camper. With the 5.0TA you can go down to a short bed if you wish.

When I saw the 5.0TA all I could think of was it just an oversize truck camper.
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Old 06-30-2020, 05:56 PM   #3
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I want a motor vehicle that can be used without having to break camp. When I want to go see the sights, I don't want to haul everything with me and then need to turn around and setup camp at the end of the day.
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Old 06-30-2020, 06:57 PM   #4
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You can unload a truck camper although not all campgrounds allow it and it looks like more hassle then disconnecting the 5.0
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Old 06-30-2020, 07:08 PM   #5
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Welcome to the forum. I don't know if we've had Hawaii members before.

Notice you're in Kapolei. Our daughter and son-in-law lived there for 2 1/2 years while he served at Schofield. Beautiful spot, their house backed onto the golf course.

Ditto the comments in #3&4.
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Old 06-30-2020, 07:32 PM   #6
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We are moving to Florida, just finished a tour in Hawaii. I will miss it but I also miss the mainland. Especially road trips.
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Old 06-30-2020, 07:36 PM   #7
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It would probably be rare that I would ever take a truck camper off so that is definitely an advantage for a trailer. However, the overall length of a truck camper would be at least 15 feet shorter. Has anyone been turned away from a campground or national park because of overall truck and trailer length with an escape 5.0ta?
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Old 06-30-2020, 07:56 PM   #8
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No, but I do need to find sites bigger then 20'.

Some or all National Parks say that you need to reserve a site the length of the camper and the tow vehicle. In the case of the 5.0TA that's about 35', which can be few.
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Old 06-30-2020, 08:00 PM   #9
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Northern Lite makes a great camper.

If you had need to tow a boat then the camper would be the way to go.

If you had other use for a large dual wheeled truck, then the camper would work with that setup.

You are right on diesel in Mexico, it was quite rare at many fuel stations.

For me, and others too, I much prefer the ability to quickly disconnect and head out with the tow vehicle, then come back to a nicely set up trailer.

I too also prefer having a half ton compared to a large dually for use in general outside of camping. We do lots and lots of side day trips when out on long excursions. A half ton wins the manoeuvrability here.

Lots of other pros and cons each way, but I would highly recommend viewing both the camper and trailer in person. Living style is as important as any of the other factors you compared the units on.

Good luck with your decision.
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Old 06-30-2020, 09:26 PM   #10
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For 85% of the time, this is just equipment. Choose your favorite.

The NL camper brings you additional flexibility in where you camp. There is a big difference in lite 4wheel drive roads and rough 2wheel drive roads. The real difference is the quality of the road and what you tend to prefer.

I used to do a lot of dirt road passes until I stuck my Ford Explorer at such an angle that an on-site mechanic looking at the whole thing, said I drained all the transmission fluid from it's pan. It would not go any farther until I backed down. When stuck, it was like I was in the Space shuttle. When flat again, then it ran fine.

So what kind of road are you prepared to drive on? Most of the time the 5.0TA will be fine but deep ruts and swerving to miss big rocks. No!

That's the 15% that is in question. And you probably need at least a 3/4 ton pickup with the camper and now it is top heavy (which I hate). Don't get me started on slides either (kidding). So what are you going to use it for, shorter parking spaces? You have to want to be on rough roads to get the difference.


Comfort? 5.0TA (IMHO).
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Old 06-30-2020, 10:00 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UncleTim View Post
For 85% of the time, this is just equipment. Choose your favorite.

The NL camper brings you additional flexibility in where you camp. There is a big difference in lite 4wheel drive roads and rough 2wheel drive roads. The real difference is the quality of the road and what you tend to prefer.

I used to do a lot of dirt road passes until I stuck my Ford Explorer at such an angle that an on-site mechanic looking at the whole thing, said I drained all the transmission fluid from it's pan. It would not go any farther until I backed down. When stuck, it was like I was in the Space shuttle. When flat again, then it ran fine.

So what kind of road are you prepared to drive on? Most of the time the 5.0TA will be fine but deep ruts and swerving to miss big rocks. No!

That's the 15% that is in question. And you probably need at least a 3/4 ton pickup with the camper and now it is top heavy (which I hate). Don't get me started on slides either (kidding). So what are you going to use it for, shorter parking spaces? You have to want to be on rough roads to get the difference.


Comfort? 5.0TA (IMHO).
We have had 2 campers and still love them . Every RV has good and bad points . Actually the camper was cheaper to own . No extra tires and the insurance was only for your truck . We have to buy tags every year for license and that is for 2 ,trailer and truck , camper was included with the truck . Still always look at campers . Kids didn’t like us climbing up and down in cab over bed . But now they have made campers that getting up and down so much easier . Pat
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Old 07-01-2020, 06:17 AM   #12
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I do not think Florida has a lot of off road, 4 wheel territory, majority of the state is like 5 feet above sea level. Traveling days to get that to that type of area will diminish your use. A pull behind would allow more closer camping alternatives. just my thoughts.
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Old 07-01-2020, 12:00 PM   #13
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I will probably use Florida as a winter home base but I intend to travel Canada, Alaska, Baja and much of the continental US, (mostly west of Mississippi river).
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Old 07-01-2020, 01:01 PM   #14
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You seem to have a pretty thorough understanding of all the pros and cons. Both are great units, in the end it probably comes down to your style of travel as to which would work better for you. On the road for months at a time, the ease of unhooking the trailer and setting up camp for a while as you go out adventuring may be a big factor. And while you can haul a pickup camper down rough roads where you would not want to pull a trailer, there's a limit to both how rough a road and how far you can go, things tend to shake loose, bounce around, etc. And if you really like adventuring in rough terrain out in the boonies, then even with the pickup camper you'd likely still find many times where you wanted to drop the camper and head off for the day with just the truck. A smaller, non-dually truck would be more flexible in that regard as well.

One thing we love about our 5.0TA is that with its small size it is very maneuverable and fits well in many spots in national parks and forest service campgrounds where larger rigs would not work. And with unlevel campsites, you probably have more flexibility in leveling the trailer than parking a truck camper. The landing jacks in front can handle a wide range of unlevel front to back / back to front campsites very easily.

One last point - I'm not sure how the resale market is for pickup campers, I'm sure a quality brand like Northern Lite holds its value very well. But a camper that needs a one ton dually would have a much more limited pool of potential buyers - whenever a 5.0TA comes up for resale it usually sells almost immediately.
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Old 07-01-2020, 01:04 PM   #15
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I went through a similar process before deciding to purchase an Escape 19. A few things to consider that haven't been mentioned yet. First, if you're full timing part of the year, the 5.0TA will offer a lot more personal space and space for your gear. 2 people can comfortably spread out in a 5.0TA, which I can say from experience becomes important if the weather is bad, and you and your partner are stuck inside. Plus you will have at least part of the bed of your pickup to haul gear. With the pickup camper, just about everything you bring will have to fit into it, which will limit the amount and type of stuff you can bring on extended trips.

Second, one thing I've noticed having been to BC several times and planning future camping trips in western Canada is you see an awful lot of pickup campers. I've finally concluded one reason is there are a heck of a lot of small and undeveloped campsites (usually next to incredible, remote lakes) where you either can't get a trailer into them, or trailers are outright prohibited. Maybe some Canadian folks can weigh in on that?? I think having a pickup camper, particularly one on a 4X4 truck, thus increases your options for awesome campsites with fewer people. For me that would be a big advantage, perhaps for others not so. I guess it would depend on the type of camping you're hoping to do. If you're thinking mostly RV parks and developed campgrounds in national forests and parks, and state and provincial parks, this need not be a consideration.

Third, the idea that with a pickup camper you can't go anywhere unless you either break camp or take the camper off the truck was a main consideration when I made my decision. I helped one of my buddies take his large pickup camper off his truck and then put it back on, and while it was certainly doable, it was sort of a huge pain. Putting it back on required multiple attempts and took over an hour. One alternative to consider is purchase of a 2-seater ATV that can be towed behind your pickup on a light trailer. The ATV would provide the flexibility to go somewhere without breaking camp or taking the pickup camper off the truck. Obviously the off-road capability of these things is supreme. Driving one down a busy highway would probably not be a good idea though.

Fourth, another of my friends has a Northern Lite, which he hauls on a 1-ton Dodge that is not a dually. He said it does not feel top heavy or cause the truck to sway around curves. Evidently, the center of gravity in these campers is pretty low. I toured his camper and absolutely fell in love with it. As far as I'm concerned, if anyone has decides to go with a pickup camper, these Northern Lites are fabulous, worth every penny, and the only one I would consider. Well laid out, airy and bright on the inside, and extreme quality. I just loved it.

And fifth, Northern Lite campers are true 4-season campers, which Escapes are not. Can you camp in really cold temperatures in an Escape?? Yes, and I've done it. But it requires attention to the water system, and the second time I did it I decided to winterize the system so I wouldn't have to worry about it. I also blew through my propane pretty fast heating the interior. Water system issues are reportedly not a problem with a Northern Lite, as they have an insulated, heated "basement" in which the water system resides. The basement and smaller space make them easier and more efficient to heat as well.

So these are additional things I considered before deciding on my 19, in addition to the ones you and others have mentioned. Decisions in life nearly always involve trade-offs, and selection of the right type of RV is no exception! I will say I think you'll be very happy with either a Northern Lite or a 5.0TA, they are both high quality and well worth their cost. And the good thing is you can change your mind without losing too much $$, as both hold their value very well. Best of luck to you!!
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Old 07-01-2020, 07:39 PM   #16
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Great info, thank you!

After reading some of your opinions, another consideration is that I don't even know if my wife is going to enjoy RV living. I don't need as much luxury so either option is overkill for just me and I could transition to a small pop up camper with a single rear wheel truck if my wife bails. I think im talking myself into the Escape...
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Old 07-01-2020, 08:18 PM   #17
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Okay so I was thinking about how I really didn't know how I was going to feel now that I dropped $42k on this new trailer and another $43K on the truck. I come from a poor background.

85K? And now I am going to step into this camper for the first time? The Escape driver just left!!! This thing is hooked up to MY TRUCK! There is this place 13 miles down the road where I have a reservation. Now I gotta pull it! AND I gotta turn corners too! I did not even get a chance to order a burger!

How do I know this connection is so great? Is this safe? 13 miles does not answer many questions. The best one can hope for is a hot shower and to deliver this trailer upright. Oh Yes, Thank God for the Lynden / Bellingham KOA. Particularly in Covid times. Oh Yes I know God! Just not thru religion! Oops!

Once there I did not even unhook the trailer and I did not run the fridge. Did not feel level! That was enough! For sure! So good!

I watched ducks fight over the pond, the mallard always going after the opposing hen. Why? I watched kids, met neighbors, realized I now had to deal with compliments regarding my solar trailer. Yeah, I was getting noticed. Mostly the old guys at first.

Why the diatribe? I actually had very little idea of what I was getting into. This is way different that an REI 6 foot high tent. No pea bucket outside the tent anymore (white water habit). No trudging down to the bathroom somewhere in campground. None of that anymore.

My clothes are laid out for tomorrow and I got good hiking goals. I am clean! I keep a small USB red light on so I can see at least a little at night and it preserves your night vision.

Sometime after that the heater clicks on and I crawl back into bed. I got a great wife. I love great air flow! Love it! Yeah this is working out. Now I finally know! But not before this night!
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Old 07-01-2020, 09:12 PM   #18
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Been there myself

Had a semi-custom 11 ft pickup camper built in 1985 and used it for over 15 years designed similar to the Light with a basement for heating the tanks; did a lot of winter camping at ski areas. Two humans, an Irish Setter, and a Springer Spaniel, did loads of canoe fishing in mountain lakes. When the weather turned bad, it was truly cramped after a day or two - one of us humans would spend time in the truck just to be able to stretch out. I doubt that a slide-out would have helped very much. No room to sit up in bed over the cab, so pretty much limited to the dinette area. Had to be careful with water weight when boondocking as too much fresh water in the tank with the trailer off the truck was a no-no lest the tank fall out the bottom of the camper - it depended on the truck bed for support!



Turned to trailers, had a 17ft Casita for a decade. This worked well until we started taking longer trips (2-3 weeks.) Decided to upsize when we retired as we would be hauling a couple of small dogs (terriers) and settled on the Escape 21 as the wider aisle lets us pass each other without stepping on the dogs. Also lots simpler to drive off with the tow when we want.



Both platforms have pros/cons, but with a spouse (and dogs) I prefer the trailer given the mainland climate issues if you're a year round camper. When stationed in Hawaii, I used to camp in my 1970 VW van!
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Old 07-02-2020, 10:14 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UncleTim View Post
Okay so I was thinking about how I really didn't know how I was going to feel now that I dropped $42k on this new trailer and another $43K on the truck. I come from a poor background.

85K? And now I am going to step into this camper for the first time? The Escape driver just left!!! This thing is hooked up to MY TRUCK! There is this place 13 miles down the road where I have a reservation. Now I gotta pull it! AND I gotta turn corners too! I did not even get a chance to order a burger!
Great story. A risk for sure but a calculated one. No problem selling a 5.0TA for as much or close to what you paid for it if things simply didn't work out.
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Old 07-02-2020, 11:05 AM   #20
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The problem with selling our new trailer is; we love it and already consider it part of the family.


I'm willing to sell it for ONE MILLION DOLLARS! Muahaha!!!
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