15 Aug

Girl Camper: Episode 97 My Review of the Max by Little Guy

(To listen to the podcast attached to this blog, scroll to the bottom and click on the arrow.)

I had the opportunity to take Little Guy Worldwide’s new Max trailer on my four week National Parks Tour.  I slept in it for 28 straight days, towed it 6,228.3 miles, stayed in state parks and private campgrounds, used it with and without hook-ups, showered in the wet bath many times, experienced temperatures ranging from the high 90’s to low 30’s, used the air conditioner, heater and fan, cooked inside and outside and used the microwave for precooked frozen dinners, and ran the appliances on electric, propane and battery! In other words, I put it through the mill!!

I have broken down my review to my five favorite things about this trailer. There are many great features in this well built and thoughtfully designed trailer and I encourage people to go to the Little Guy website and take the virtual tour.  For my part I will focus on what made it enjoyable to use for me.

Number One Favorite Thing – The Windows

While I was traveling and posting pictures of my trip, the most comments I received had to do with the windows. The windows, the placement, size, number of them and functionality of their design make the trailer a light, bright and airy retreat. When I would come home from a long day of sightseeing and open all the windows I had sight lines, airflow and incredible brightness. One of my favorite features of the windows are the integrated privacy shades and screens. In the morning I would pull the screens all the way down and let all the light and air in.  In the evening I had the option of drawing the privacy shade up about 2/3 of the way and leaving the top of the window screened so I could have privacy and airflow.

The tinted acrylic windows made it possible to have another measure of privacy because they allow the light to be filtered in the trailer keeping it cooler in the sun while making it impossible for passersby to see in the trailer. As a solo woman traveler this daytime effect was an added bonus for me.

Because I work while I on the road I spend a lot more time than most people sitting at the kitchen table/desk. The window placement in this trailer made my rolling berth the best corner office ever.  Sitting at my desk with all the windows open and the door latched with the full door screen pulled across made working while in Yellowstone tolerable.

I initially had reservations about the large window over the bed. I thought that it would make me feel vulnerable while I on the road but I soon discovered that the exterior of the trailers design actually places the bottom of that window fairly far from the bumper of the trailer. What I thought was going to be a problem for me turned into my favorite window in the trailer. At night I was able to pull the privacy shade up from the bottom and lay in bed at night looking at the stars and moon and watching the rain. I also started having my morning coffee on the bed so I could look up at the trees.

Number Two Favorite Thing – Storage

I have spent the last 12 years Girl Camping and am always looking for storage solutions with trailers. For years I camped in vintage trailer which I love but am always worried about safety. I thought I was solving my trailer storage problem last year when I bought a new but vintage styled trailer. While the trailer I bought was well built it wasn’t particularly well designed. Despite its being new it lacked adequate storage for the essentials for camping trips. I was so pleased with the amount of storage in the Max. It has an astounding 57.94 cubic feet of storage.  I packed that trailer for two people for a four week trip bringing both hot and cold weather clothes and never put anything under the bench seats of the booth. There was so much storage space that I had to use dish towels to pack my bowls in the kitchen drawer so they wouldn’t move around.

In addition to the interior storage there is an outdoor dual access storage space under the trailer with an additional 30 cubic square feet of  storage. This space has a vinyl floor and built in LED lights that made it easy to find my wheel chocks and supplies for setting up when I arrived at night.

Number Three Favorite Thing – Kitchen

The kitchen in the Max was another area of the design that I thought was exemplary. When you are able to take all the elements of a large home kitchen and implement them in a travel trailer, it’s a good thing. What I really liked about the design is that it followed the principles of home kitchen design by creating the classic triangle work space. The sink to the left and the stove to the right and the refrigerator at eye level on the wall behind. Not having to get down on the floor to load and unload groceries to the refrigerator is a plus at any age.  I love the amount of counter space created when the sink was covered by the drop in cutting board and the two burner propane stove had the cover on it. The practical rectangular shape made this a space for many uses. I laid clothes to dry on it at night, unloaded groceries on it, folded laundry on it and sorted my never ending notes and rough drafts on note pads on it. It’s just a really practical space.

 

The space under the kitchen sink was a big bonus. I stored a garbage pail, large cutting boards, collapsible drain board and bowl and all my cleaning supplies as well as two gallons of water for my ice machine. So many of the practical housekeeping things you still need while camping fit so nicely under that sink cabinet. These were things I sometimes kept in a Rubbermaid container in my truck.

The kitchen cabinet set up also had three large rolling drawers with a built in silverware caddy in the top one. It was great not having to source something to organize cutlery in and the handle hardware on the hardwood, dovetail constructed cabinets made for great dish towel holders. My two favorite things in the kitchen though were the most unexpected and something I have only seen in large motor homes and travel trailers. The first is the dedicated pantry. I had assumed that there would be one closet like cabinet that would do double duty as a clothes closet and food storage but the Max has both. There was so much storage left over in the pantry that I ended up storing my husbands clothes cubes in the pantry cabinet.

The second thing that made the kitchen space superior to me is the large roll out pot and pan drawer under the refrigerator. I ended up storing everything I use for cooking while camping in that drawer. I stored a 12 x 12 electric frying pan, a regular frying pan, a spaghetti pot, a peculator, cutting boards and mixing bowls as well as my extra cartons of Almond Milk. I left nothing behind that I use while camping and still had cabinet space left in this well thought out kitchen design.

Favorite Thing Number Four – The Lighting Package.

Lighting isn’t something that I gave much thought to until I bought my new trailer last year and got in bed to read and discovered that there were no reading lights. There was a ceiling light under the overhead cabinets but it didn’t shine on your book. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the lighting package in the Max had all the bases covered. A single switch at the door turns on all the overhead LED lights with the ability to customize by individually switching off the ones you prefer to stay unlit. The booth bench seats and each side of the queen size bed each have a touch pin light for reading. My favorite part of the lighting package though was the mood lighting. A switch at the door turns on the hidden lights over the kitchen cabinets, under the kitchen cabinets and hidden behind a shelf over the dining booth. This lighting feature had the option of being set on a low setting much like night time airplane lighting, or all the way up which was bright enough to work by but still an indirect and less harsh form of lighting. The trailer also had LED lighting on the awning and front porch which was bright enough to cook by as well as a lucite handled door handle and lighted step light. All in all, the lighting was brilliant!

Favorite Thing Number Five – Towability

Often Girl Campers write to me and show me a trailer they are in love with and then tell me they have a car that will tow 1500 pounds! A trailer can possess all the design features in the world but if it doesn’t tow well none of that will matter. I was concerned about the distance I would be going in an untested trailer and by untested, I mean by me. When you use a trailer all the time you get to know it and you “feel” when something is not right. I was hesitant to take a trailer on such a long trip that I was not bonded with . One of my main concerns was the potential for strong winds while driving across the plains in South Dakota and Wyoming. I am happy to report that the Maxs’ design made it a dream to tow. I tow with a Ford F150 which has a tow package more than adequate for that trailer but my own trailer also weighs about the same as the Max and I have encountered problems on windy days with it. To be fair I had a weight distribution hitch put on the truck for the Max that I had not used before on my trailer.  What I know is that I never experienced any sway or wind issues in the 6,288 miles I towed.

The Down Side

Every trailer, even “my” Max has things that can be improved. The Liberty Outdoors team asked me to take the trailer so they could get feedback on what they could do to improve the trailer even more. Here is the list I gave them.

Change the shower door. I did not like the smoked door that you can see silhouettes through.

Change the shower fixture in the bathroom which was hard to adjust and get the water to go in the direction I wanted.

Consider a prefab bathroom stall with towel bars and shampoo shelf already built in.

Deepen the entertainment cabinet at the foot of the bed by an inch or two so the DVD’s will not fall off the shelf while traveling.

Tighten the latch or find a better way to secure the TV at the foot of the bed. It has a magnet that does not hold it in place.

Make the upper pantry cabinet in the kitchen a roll out one so you can more easily access what is in that cabinet.

Add another shelf to the upper kitchen cabinet.

Make the cabinet latches stronger.

The kitchen table is functional but cumbersome to get in an out of.

My experience road testing the Max was a great one. I enjoyed the trailer immensely and many people are asking me if I am going to keep her. Well, I will be making a switch in the coming year to a Liberty model but I am going to keep dating the Liberty Outdoors trailers before I pick a winner. The Park Liner is coming out soon and the Serro Scotty Sportsman is also right around the corner. I will be taking them for a test run before I decide if Max and I will be tying the knot!

09 Aug

Episode 96: National Parks Tour 2017

On this week’s show I’m sharing my top moments of the 2017 National Parks Tour. I started out thinking that I would break it down into tips and tricks for bucket list trips but quickly realized I was not ready to leave the after glow. I was still in the moments and meaning and personal revelations about my travel nature to step out and get academic.

This show is about travel and becoming a girl camper even for those who already are. I learned a few things about my own travel quirks that I wanted to share. I would never want anyone to think I’ve got this all figured out. I had to make a few adjustments along the way. Yes, I know how to tow; how to back up; how to troubleshoot an RV issue. I melted down half way through and had to put myself in time out.

Being a Girl Camper is about a willingness to be uncomfortable in odd places far from home and still be happy you’re on the road. It’s about being adaptable and comfortable alone. It involves being able to question your choices and be honest about your own limitations. I faced all of these issues on this trip and had no choice but to deal with them. It was a great learning experience but more about myself than travel expertise.

These women are so dear to me! They threw Mary and I a surprise campout! It’s a new thing!

My few days in Ohio with the best camping buddies ever, helped rid me of unconscious anxiety about leaving home for so long and being so far away.

The “we did it” moment! Mary and I were pretty happy with ourselves when we reached Badlands. We felt a real sense of accomplishment after so many months of planning.

Camping on the floor of Badlands National Park was a memory making moment. So many travelogues advise skipping it. It was one of my favorite things!

The sunrise at Badlands National Park was as beautiful as the previous nights sunset.

I stopped for lunch at Meadows Lake on the Scenic Hwy Pass over the Big Horn Mountains.

After coming off the mountain I encountered this storm cloud on the way to Greybull, Wyoming.

 

I couldn’t pass up this classic photo op!

Nirvana on tne Yellowstone River.

Working but playing too.

 

01 Aug

Girl Camper: Episode 95 Airstreams for Girl Campers with Mike Harlan

On this week’s show I welcome returning guest Mike Harlan, Airstream Manager of North Trail RV Center in Fort Meyers, Florida.  Few people have a deeper love for the road and the RV industry than Mike and it is always a pleasure to have him on to talk not only about what’s new in the industry but what’s new in Airstreams. Many people have the Airstream Dream and think this classic trailer is out of their price range. Mike discusses price versus value, financing a trailer purchase and, what some good models  are for Girl Campers.

Way before the phenomenon of Girl Camping, Airstream knew their trailers and outdoor women were a match!

Karen Polansky, an Ontario Sister on the Fly made the switch to  aluminum and hopes to full time when she retires.

Sister on the Fly Elaine Lewis’ vintage Airstream all dolled up with the classic camp items Sisters love to collect.

My friend Linda Fox,
affectionately known as Fox to her camping buddies,  traded in her Tada for an Airstream and is workamping in Yellowstone now.