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Old 08-09-2015, 05:18 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Tent Trailers

Wife and I are looking to get a used pop p tent trailer. What should we look for/avoid?
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Old 08-09-2015, 05:41 PM   #2 (permalink)
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What to avoid? Tent trailers.

Let me save you some time. Give me $5000. I'll drive you out into the middle of the forest, kick you square in the nuts, and leave you there. Buying a used tent trailer is about the same experience.

If you absolutely have to have a tent trailer, buy new, and buy any kind of extended warranty that you can. The mechanism that lifts the top likes to fail dramatically, and it's not a cheap customer pay repair. There isn't a single rv tech I know that likes to deal with those piles of shit.
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Old 08-09-2015, 05:53 PM   #3 (permalink)
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What to avoid? Tent trailers.

Let me save you some time. Give me $5000. I'll drive you out into the middle of the forest, kick you square in the nuts, and leave you there. Buying a used tent trailer is about the same experience.

If you absolutely have to have a tent trailer, buy new, and buy any kind of extended warranty that you can. The mechanism that lifts the top likes to fail dramatically, and it's not a cheap customer pay repair. There isn't a single rv tech I know that likes to deal with those piles of shit.
My buddy bought one, used it one trip and sold it. He sold it to another friend who used it one trip and sold it. Another friend bought one and after not using it for a couple years has been trying to sell it for the last 2-3 years. He can't even break even on it.
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Old 08-09-2015, 05:59 PM   #4 (permalink)
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We got a 1966 Nimrod from the girlfriends dad and all we really had to do to it was make new poles for it which we did out of 1/2" and 3/4" electrical conduit. Works great and beats the hell out of sleeping in a tent on the ground.
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Old 08-09-2015, 06:24 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Gee.

Back about 27 years ago I bought a used StarCraft tent trailer.
I used it every year at least twice.

Only issue I ever had was with tires. I ended up doing an SOA conversion and going to 13" wheels over the 12" it came with and never had an issue since.

A friend used it two years ago and was caught in a hell of a wind storm, tore the canvas up.

I think 25 years out of a used tent trailer isn't bad.


Look for any damage to the skin. If water gets under the skin the wood can rot.
look to see how the previous owners took care of it. Is it clean? any damage to anything?


I am thinking of getting another one, but then again why, my youngest kid is now 17. So it's not like I'm taking the family anywhere again.
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Old 08-09-2015, 06:31 PM   #6 (permalink)
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What to avoid? Tent trailers.

Let me save you some time. Give me $5000. I'll drive you out into the middle of the forest, kick you square in the nuts, and leave you there. Buying a used tent trailer is about the same experience.

If you absolutely have to have a tent trailer, buy new, and buy any kind of extended warranty that you can. The mechanism that lifts the top likes to fail dramatically, and it's not a cheap customer pay repair. There isn't a single rv tech I know that likes to deal with those piles of shit.
yep, I like mine but I totally agree.
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Old 08-09-2015, 06:32 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Friend of mine was given one for free that needed a ton of work due to a leak and the last person who borrowed it not putting a tarp over it. Mechanically it was sound and just needed cosmetic work.

He ended up taking the pop top off, gutting the paneling and putting some new paneling in. Seal up the top and reassembled it.

It would have been fine from there, but he also decided to gut the kitchen out and put in a couch/bed setup in it's place.

All new foam for the beds and it was finished after a good cleaning.

Ended up having a queen, full, and single when finished.

He has since gotten rid of it since the new wife didn't like camping at all.
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Old 08-09-2015, 06:35 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I have a 2001 Jayco 12SO. It pops up the ends slide out and one side slides out as well. Thing is awesome. Not a single complaint except we can't leave it open where it's parked due to wind.
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Old 08-09-2015, 08:07 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I have a 2001 Jayco 12SO. It pops up the ends slide out and one side slides out as well. Thing is awesome. Not a single complaint except we can't leave it open where it's parked due to wind.
and the $12,000 top of the line jayco we had was a complete POS. I had to re-engineer the front bed sliding mechanism where it cam across the slide out. they expected a $.29 bracket on the side of the dinette slide-out to hold up a 100LB bed mechanism bouncing down the road. then theres the sink that wouldn't seal when set up to use, the vent fan that failed, etc and so on all within the first year and a half. the kicker was that pretty much after every trip there would be 4 or 5 assembly screws sitting on the floor when you folded it out to use it. and for what it's worth, I babied that thing and it still sucked.


OP, if you really want to buy one, great. expect it to be a complete POS, and a PITA. pretty much every trip took at least 3-4 setups of the tent. once pre-trip to set the fridge, and load everything I could in the center isle (takes about an hour minimum), put it all back down, get to campsite, spend an hour getting it set back up and everything unpacked, camp (yay), spend two hours getting everything back in (god help you if it's raining or snowing), because it's like a jigsaw puzzle and everything has to be in just the right place. ok good, now you've made it home, at least I had the luxury to be able to unfold it in my back yard, because it is a tent and if you put it away wet and don't dry it out it'll mold, that would take a day or two in itself.

I owned mine (bought new) for about two years. paid $12,000.... sold for $5000. mind you it had almost everything (except a roof AC). and I had added 3 group 65 batteries, a second propane tank, inverter, etc.
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Old 08-09-2015, 09:13 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Old 08-10-2015, 07:34 AM   #11 (permalink)
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We pulled ours from Central Missouri to Destin, Florida a few weeks ago. Our family of 5, spent 7 full days camping on the beach at Camp Gulf in Destin and we have a 1.5 ton A/C unit on ours. We were parked such that our south facing side of the pop-up and the bunk ends received full sun the whole day - the A/C just could not keep up. I went to Lowes and bought 2 small tarps and some bubble reflextix insulation. After installing the tarps over the very top of the bunk ends, and sliding the insulation into the windows it would cool properly. If I was camping in the shade - the A/C is absolutely fine.

I will say this - we've owned ours for 2 years and camped maybe 6 times in it and I like the ease of towing and setup is around 15 minutes total. However, before we go to camp gulf again, we will have a bigger camper.

This broad has some good ideas - we built our tension rod storage exactly like this link and it really made camping nice.

Pop Up Camper Mods: Tension Rod Wire Shelving - The Pop Up Princess
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Old 08-10-2015, 08:18 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Most are junk from what I've seen. I plan on building a teardrop but for more space a cargo trailer conversion would be the way I would go.

Something like a 6x12 with the drop down tailgate and ARB awning/screen that would serve as a porch/cooking area, 120v appliances with window unit AC and hookups, porta-potty if needed, 12v battery and LED lights/fan.

Queen futon/sleep sofa and some fold down bunk beds with camping mats for the kids. Design the layout right and you could carry mountain bikes, kayaks, or a SXS in it. Keep it simple and functional and it could be kickass for a family of 4.

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Old 08-10-2015, 08:27 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Tent Trailers | Jumping Jack Trailers

I've had one for ten years. From BC rain to Baja wind. NO complaints.
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Old 08-10-2015, 08:31 AM   #14 (permalink)
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and the $12,000 top of the line jayco we had was a complete POS. I had to re-engineer the front bed sliding mechanism where it cam across the slide out. they expected a $.29 bracket on the side of the dinette slide-out to hold up a 100LB bed mechanism bouncing down the road. then theres the sink that wouldn't seal when set up to use, the vent fan that failed, etc and so on all within the first year and a half. the kicker was that pretty much after every trip there would be 4 or 5 assembly screws sitting on the floor when you folded it out to use it. and for what it's worth, I babied that thing and it still sucked.


OP, if you really want to buy one, great. expect it to be a complete POS, and a PITA. pretty much every trip took at least 3-4 setups of the tent. once pre-trip to set the fridge, and load everything I could in the center isle (takes about an hour minimum), put it all back down, get to campsite, spend an hour getting it set back up and everything unpacked, camp (yay), spend two hours getting everything back in (god help you if it's raining or snowing), because it's like a jigsaw puzzle and everything has to be in just the right place. ok good, now you've made it home, at least I had the luxury to be able to unfold it in my back yard, because it is a tent and if you put it away wet and don't dry it out it'll mold, that would take a day or two in itself.

I owned mine (bought new) for about two years. paid $12,000.... sold for $5000. mind you it had almost everything (except a roof AC). and I had added 3 group 65 batteries, a second propane tank, inverter, etc.
Mine was a gift so I have zero complaints. It's really not to difficult to set up camp unless you just want to be lazy and drive up. I can set mine up by myself in 10min. Once you figure out there is a specific way to assemble and disassemble everything it's easy.

I just wish we could leave it open more to keep fresh air flowing through it.


Oh and running an A/C it's really nice to have the covers over the tarp sections. Last I checked it was under 1k for three sides in the "High wind" variety.
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Old 08-10-2015, 08:33 AM   #15 (permalink)
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I love pop ups. They are light, simple to set up, very inexpensive to own.

If I camped a few times a year then I would think about something else. Those hybrid deals where only the beds slide out seem nice.
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Old 08-10-2015, 08:35 AM   #16 (permalink)
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I acquired one in some trade work.

Seemed like a good idea, I remembers my grandparents pop-up that my dad also acquired through trade work (just realized that lol) any way the older they are the more work they are setup wise the one my wife and I had was definitely a two person jobber and every time were got it setup or broke down we were happy to still have all of our fingers.

The biggest problem we had is there was no towing anything but that.
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Old 08-10-2015, 09:12 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Had one 20 years ago , did a cross country with it, bought it used for 1/2 or more from what it cost new.
Just like everything else inspect before buying, It was a jayco and had a fiberglass roof that was the nosiest thing I have every been in, slight rain sounds like marbles hitting the top.

Just go buy a 40-45 ft diesel pusher now and save some money cause in the end that is where you will be.

I started in a tent, then tent camper, then truck camper, currently in a class C, looking for the diesel pusher class A in the next few years.
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Old 08-10-2015, 09:14 AM   #18 (permalink)
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We had a 1982 starcraft, bought it for $150. Replaced the cieling, ac gasket, painted the interior, new counrertops etc. Used it for a few years hauling it behind my old xj for wheeling trips ect. Had so much fun we sold it and bought a Fleetwood pace arrow RV. sold that with the birth of our oldest son and went without for a few years. We just bought a 1988 2 owner starcraft pop up. It is smaller than our old one, and I had to add AC, but it beats sleeping on the ground. The new ones seem overpriced, although the slide out dinette would be nice with 2 kids.
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Old 08-10-2015, 09:27 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Look for one with a good roof. The wood on the roof of mine was rotten so I had to put in new plywood. Then I pealed off all the old caulking and put in new urethane. Don't use silicone.

We love our POS. It's a 1991 Starcraft Starmaster. Kicks ass compared to sleeping on the ground. Nice to escape bad weather and bugs. Cooking inside kinda sucks so we cook outside unless the weather is bad. Also great place to leave the dog when we go on a mtb ride instead of tie him to a tree or car. They don't get near as hot as a tent does during the day. We don't need a/c in CO but having a furnace is also kick ass. Can just sleep with a normal sheets and blanket instead of being in a mummy bag.

It's also nice because we bought stuff just to leave in the camper for trips, and we just hook the camper up and go. Don't have to load up the car with tent, table, stove, cooking shit, water, etc.

We'd like a newer one, but they're so fucking expensive in Colorado. I'm afraid of buying one somewhere cheaper like TX because I want to be able to see it in person. The Xterra doesn't have balls so a pop up is pretty much what we are stuck with. Another option I'm looking at is a Casita.

It sucks offroad. Even on FS roads. No suspension and low as fuck. have to drive really slow if the road to wherever we camp is bad. They also can act a little weird if you set them up and they're not level.
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Old 08-10-2015, 10:03 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Look for one with a good roof. The wood on the roof of mine was rotten so I had to put in new plywood. Then I pealed off all the old caulking and put in new urethane. Don't use silicone.

We love our POS. It's a 1991 Starcraft Starmaster. Kicks ass compared to sleeping on the ground. Nice to escape bad weather and bugs. Cooking inside kinda sucks so we cook outside unless the weather is bad. Also great place to leave the dog when we go on a mtb ride instead of tie him to a tree or car. They don't get near as hot as a tent does during the day. We don't need a/c in CO but having a furnace is also kick ass. Can just sleep with a normal sheets and blanket instead of being in a mummy bag.

It's also nice because we bought stuff just to leave in the camper for trips, and we just hook the camper up and go. Don't have to load up the car with tent, table, stove, cooking shit, water, etc.

We'd like a newer one, but they're so fucking expensive in Colorado. I'm afraid of buying one somewhere cheaper like TX because I want to be able to see it in person.

It sucks offroad. Even on FS roads. No suspension and low as fuck. have to drive really slow if the road to wherever we camp is bad. They also can act a little weird if you set them up and they're not level.
We still need to talk about your dad's someday
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Old 08-10-2015, 10:38 AM   #21 (permalink)
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We still need to talk about your dad's someday
Ha. I'm sure he'd sell it if he ever finds the title.
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Old 08-10-2015, 10:45 AM   #22 (permalink)
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I have always bought Coleman/Fleetwood and generally flip them every couple years for a profit. I buy in the off-season and sell during the season. I try to buy the dinette slide-outs with king beds for $3200-$4500 and sell for $4500-$5500.

Check the floors for soft spots and make sure there is no cracking in the roof. The roofs before 2002 tended to develop cracks and are not a cheap or simple repair. Storing them inside makes a big difference.

I like pop-ups because they are so flexible for sleeping 6+ people, tow and store easily compared to other options.
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Old 08-10-2015, 10:50 AM   #23 (permalink)
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Storing them inside makes a big difference.
This.

Mine was fucked on one side because they had it parked on the side of a house. The side facing the house and under the eave was fine but the other half was rotten, plastic fried by UV rays, etc.

At least buy a cover if you store it outside.
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Old 08-10-2015, 10:57 AM   #24 (permalink)
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In our search for a used tent trailer, I discovered that most of them had bent axles. Advertised as "new tires", but on inspection the insides of the tires would be completely worn down to steel belts. The older trailers did not seem to suffer from the bent axles.

The small tires suck, and low ground clearance requires a fairly level place to park. I would like to upgrade to an "off road" version with larger tires and more ground clearance.

Of all the trailers we looked at, the Jaycos seemed to have the fewest problems. We were looking for something newer but ended up with a 1996 Jayco. We have 4 years on it now and it's been great. I do have a little roof rot to deal with due to a minor leak from some damage on the roof.

Highly recommend covered storage for any trailer!
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Old 08-10-2015, 11:04 AM   #25 (permalink)
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Store and maintain them properly and a quality pop-up will be fine for decades. My 2007 Viking Epic goes out several times a year. There are a few little things that aren't 100% perfect - like the valance over the curtains falling down - but nothing of any significance.

King bed at one end. Queen bed at the other end. Sofa pit group that makes into a double bed. Dinette seating that makes into a short double bed. Air conditioning, heat, heated water, outdoor shower, stove, sink, 'fridge, porta-potty, storage trunk up front .... What's not to like?









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