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!

10 Jul

Introducing Max by Little Guy

I have been promising and here it is – Max by Little Guy, a Liberty Outdoors brand. Little Guy trailers has long been a sponsor of the Girl Camper Podcast so when they asked me to road test their new “Max” trailer on my four week National Parks Tour I didn’t hesitate. I had been getting regular factory updates on the progress of Max along the way but when I drove to the factory to get him I was immediately impressed by the quality of workmanship and thoughtful design that went into this maxed out teardrop.

i love the profile of this trailer and I have already pulled it a thousand miles and can report that it tows like a dream.

 

The brightness and airflow in this trailer drew me right in. Wherever you stand there is a view!

 

Since I work on the road I love that when I am stuck working I have this sweet view as well as a USB in every plug!

 

This is the most storage I have ever had in a trailer. All of the cabinets are hardwood, custom made with dovetailed construction. I have the trailer packed for a four week trip and didn’t even put anything under the booth seats.

The neutral color pallette makes this trailer a blank canvas for anyway you want to go with the design. I chose simple and contemplative which suits this soothing space. The depth of the kitchen sink was a great bonus!

I love the beehive door and the sliding screen that pulls across it and then hides when not in use. There is a air and a view from wherever I am working.

Every window in the trailer is as large as they could make it and contains a pull down screen for when the window is open and a pull up shade when you want privacy. At night I have been leaving the windows open a few inches and drawing the screen 2/3 of the way up and the screen 1/3 of the way down for air and privacy!

This bright front window with the two large side windows that all open and create airflow and a great view is a feature reminiscent of the old school trailers where all the windows opened up front. This booth folds down and makes a comfortable single bed.

I keep referring to this as the “wall unit” in the Master Bedroom. I am looking forward to the option of watching a movie on a rain day or in the evening. The built in DVD player and surround sound controls are on a panel near the door. The DVD player will operate on either the Master Bedroom television or the one at the front booth that is hidden under a retractable door.

The bathroom is a large wet bath with room to move around. It also features a higher profile commode than the normal style.

 

I have been traveling for nearly a week in this trailer and am so impressed with not only the quality of the construction but with the thought that went into the design. I see a lot of trailers at RV shows, industry events and on Girl Camping trips. There are good companies out there making high quality trailers.  When I am at the big RV shows where all the new trailers are being displayed I often view them and think,  “Why didn’t they make this window operable? Why is there so little storage? Why is there not a place to hang coats and store food?” What impresses me the most so far in this trailer is that it is well built and well designed. Apparently that is not too much to ask for.I will be blogging about this trailer on my own site and the Little Guy site as well as posting my trip on Instagram. Follow along as I road test what so far has been a pleasure of a trailer.

16 May

Girl Camper: Episode #84 Camping in Colorado with Ginny McKinney

On this weeks episode returning guest Ginny McKinney is sharing her favorite Colorado Campgrounds.  From north to south Ginny suggests great camping spots and what to do when you get there. Her suggestions include Rocky Mountain National Park near Estes, Colorado;  Glenwood Canyon Resort and Pagosa Springs  Riverside Campground.

Glenwood Springs Colorado has been called the most fun town in America. The hot springs there are a big attraction.

Rocky Mountain National Park near Estes Park, Colorado has lots of acres but no hook ups for campers and a maximum total stay of 14 days a year camping at the park.

Pagosa Springs Campground is a quieter park where campers go to finish a good book along the river banks.

Tune in to the podcast to hear the details on these beautiful campsites and what you can do in the nearby towns when camping there.

 

09 May

Girl Camper: Episode 83 – Weight Distribution Hitches

Friend of the show and industry expert Mark Polk is on the show  today to help us understand weight distribution hitches. Mark is the man before the camera in the informative videos produced by RV Education 101 which is owned and operated by Mark and his wife Dawn. They also have a You Tube Channel where Mark gives hands on demonstrations for everything RV. Mark is also a blogger and frequent guest speaker at RV shows and industry events.

I love the chance to catch up with Mark and Dawn in person. This couple has dedicated their time and energy to increasing safety and therefore enjoyment to all RVers!

I called upon Mark to help me determine if I needed a weight distribution hitch and to help me understand the criteria used to make that determination. Once we  determined that I could indeed benefit from one I needed to know if they came in different sizes, if I needed it professionally installed, how to choose the right one and if Mark preferred or recommended a specific brand. Mark answers all of these questions and more on today’s show. Safety is always the first thing to pack when you Go RVing. If you don’t feel comfortable towing your rig, chances are you won’t continue and you will miss out on many adventures. There is a safe way to enjoy RVing and Mark Polk is here to put your mind at ease.

 

Mark helps explain what happens when too much tongue weight is on your hitch and how a weight distribution hitch distributes the weight evenly to the front and back of the rig making all the systems function better.

The Equalizer brand hitch is the one Mark and Dawn use themselves and it is one I will be looking at when I choose my new hitch. This brand offers a weight distribution and anti-sway component in one device.

In other big news Go RVing has published the long awaited but worth waiting for, video on Girl Campers. It was so much fun filming  last summer and I hope that it lets Girl Camper wannabes know two things – Number one – the RV industry has you in their cross hairs. Manufacturers and dealers are no longer looking only at families with small children and retired to couples to make and sell RVs to. It’s never been a better time to find support for this endeavor.

We had so much fun on the set and the team from Explore Media were very gracious.

The whole team got in the spirit and donned Girl Camper tshirts!

When Go RVing approached me to make this video with them I felt such satisfaction in knowing that the Girl Campers are now an industry demographic, we have buying power and the smart folks are listening and building and stocking trailers that are designed for the way we travel. Number two – If you have been watching the Girl Campers and stalking them on social media, it’s time to jump in and join us. You don’t need a trailer to be a Girl Camper. You need a willing spirit. You are going to want a trailer to make your own but those camping in their kids tents that got left in the garage when they moved out and in their mom vans or renting campground cabins are having just as much fun as those that have mastered hitching, towing and setting up their own trailers. There is no wrong way to Camp Like A Girl and this is the year I want to entice everyone on the sidelines to get in the game. I hope this video inspires you. There are two more coming out in June! Click the link below to see the first of three!

This stunning shot was taken by Go RVings still photographer. We did about eight takes on this clinking of glasses scene. They really were cocktails so we didn’t mind!!

 

https://away.gorving.com/girls-just-wanna-have-fun/

 

 

 

04 Apr

Girl Camper: Episode 78 Long Haul Driving Tips

On this week’s show I am talking about long distance driving.  When you hit the road this summer whether it’s a big trip of thousands of miles or across your state there are ways to make the drive more of a journey and less of a chore. Getting there can be half the fun if you follow a few simple principles for driving  while towing.

Travel and towing can be a pleasure if you follow a few simple rules.

Be rested when you leave. Sometimes we pack up and get the feeling that we have to get going because  we’re “burning daylight”. It’s always a good idea to be rested and non stressed when you head out. The process of getting ready can take longer than we think and be stressful in itself. Try to adapt a “journey” not “destination” attitude about travel.

Take a break every two hours. Even if you don’t feel tired it’s a good idea to get out and stretch your legs every two hours or so. I park as far from the rest area bathroom as possible and jog over to the building. It’s good to get your blood flowing and take in some fresh air. If the driving conditions are stressful it’s even more important to stop for the mental clarity as well as the physical boost. Take a cat nap in your trailer if necessary. Staying alert means staying safe.

Eat light. Nothing brings on drowsiness like a pile of carbs from a rest stop fast food restaurant. You are barely burning calories behind the wheel and the food you take in should help you stay alert not make you tired. I keep a cool pack on the passenger seat with fresh fruit, nuts, string cheese and humus. I only drink water after my morning cup of coffee. My favorite thing is knowing that a great dinner awaits me at the campground. I like to have a marinating chicken breast or steak waiting to go on the grill when I have arrived and am set up and look forward to that on my drive.

I keep this soft pack cooler on the passenger seat for a quick healthy pick me up while driving.

Slow and steady wins the race. It’s always better when you can approach the drive to your ultimate destination as part of the vacation too.  If you are in a “just get there” mindset you will miss the beauty along the way. Study a map and see if you can plan a stop along the way. Be willing to get off the highway and drive a stretch on a county two lane. Be willing to stop in a town and find the local mom and pop diner, quirky gas station slash museum, or weird roadside attraction that you will be talking about ten years from now. Most of the cool things on vacations are unplanned. Be willing to be open to back road travel.

A friend of mine tipped me off to the town of Granville TN which is southeast of Nashville. I took the opportunity to get off the highway and visit. I was so glad that I did!

The General Store in Granville had fallen into extreme disrepair and had been closed for a long time when a descendant of the original builder who was doing family research visited the town and saw it. He purchased it, renovated it and donated it back to the town where it is used as a Saturday night dance hall and dinner spot now.

Mark Polk’s blog on trailer sway is worth the read. He always provides so much insight into the causes of RV issues. Please take the time to educate yourself on ways to minimize trailer sway and handle it when it does happen.

There are lots more tips and travel help in this weeks podcast as well as all the news on the News Roundup and Campfire Chat! Hope you enjoy this weeks episode!! Happy trails!!