Many RV full-timers go through more than one RV before settling on their final choice. This is actually a good thing! Before hitting the road, it’s hard to know whether the lifestyle is going to work for you. Rather than investing a huge amount of money and then discovering you don’t want to continue, it makes sense to get a modest rig at the outset and then upgrade if you fall in love with the lifestyle. Also, the choice of RV and tow vehicle (or toad for a motorhome) may depend a little on what kind of vehicles you already own.
Here’s a list of the rigs and boat we’ve owned and lived in:
- 2022 Genesis Supreme 28CRT 5th Wheel Toy Hauler - Current rig
- 2005 Arctic Fox Truck Camper - 1 year of weekending adventures
- 2007 Hithhiker 34.5 R.. 5th Wheel - 12 years full-time (some years alternating with our boat)
- 2008 Hunter 44DS Sailboat - Nearly 4 years (alternating with our fifth wheel during hurricane season)
- 2007 Fleetwood Lynx Travel Trailer - 1 year full-time
- 2005 Fleetwood Colonial Popup Tent Trailer 157 thrilling nights (weekends and vacations) in 2 years
OUR FIRST RIG (for weekends and vacations)
We have lots more info about our popup tent trailer HERE.
This was a charming little rig that taught us a lot about camping, RVing and traveling. We spent 157 nights in it in two years! It was those wonderful experiences that first made us think about full-timing. If your full-time RV travels are a hazy dream out there on the horizon, consider getting something little and cheap at first, like a pop-up, that you can fool around in on weekends and during vacations.
OUR FIRST FULL-TIME TRAILER
When we wanted to get an RV for full-time use, motorhomes seemed too expensive and didn’t appeal to us. We also knew nothing about diesel trucks. So we decided to get a trailer the Tundra could pull. We bought a 2007 Fleetwood Prowler Lynx 27′ Travel Trailer.
We have lots more info about our Fleetwood travel trailer HERE
UPGRADING TO A BIG DIESEL TRUCK
At just 7000 lbs., this trailer was okay for the Toyota Tundra to tow on flat ground. Any kind of a rise, however, and the truck strained. We knew we needed a bigger truck after the first month when we climbed over Tioga Pass outside Yosemite National Park in California. With the gas pedal floored, we did a whopping 28 mph over the whole pass. Not fun!
We did tons of diesel truck research and bought a 2007 Dodge RAM 3500 single rear wheel 4×4 pickup truck. We installed a cap on the pickup so we could store things in the bed of the truck.
In 2014, after owning the truck for 7 years (and 85,000 miles) we upgraded the truck with an Edge Diesel Evolution Tuner to give us more power while towing, more engine temperature data while climbing the big mountains out west, and better gas mileage in all conditions.
UPGRADING TO A BIG FIFTH WHEEL TRAILER
Although the travel trailer felt huge at the outset, by the middle of our first winter, after many cold, dark days and very long nights huddled inside, we realized we needed a bigger trailer too. Fortunately, we had bought a truck that could handle a big fifth wheel. We did lots more research, visited several factories, and ended up buying a 36′ long Hitchhiker LS II 34.5 RLTG Fifth Wheel in 2008. That is our current rig, and we love it!
We have lots more info about our fifth wheel trailer HERE.
We immediately outfitted the fifth wheel trailer with a big solar power system, and in 2009 we installed a vent-free propane heater on the fifth wheel. In 2015 we did a disc brake conversion on the trailer, upgrading from electric drum brakes to electric over hydraulic disc brakes. This greatly improved our safety on the road.
One of the things that is really important when buying a trailer is the Cargo Carrying Capacity. Our Hitchhiker fifth wheel has a fairly ample cargo carrying capacity (3,439 lbs.) compared to many other similar fifth wheels on the road, but over the years we have found that it is still a bit skimpy. We’ve dedicated a whole blog post to why the cargo carrying capacities of different trailers is an important consideration.
We also have some info about choosing an RV for full-time living and some ideas of what to look for in a full-time fifth wheel trailer.
UPGRADING TO A BIGGER DIESEL DUALLY TRUCK
Our fifth wheel trailer was the very biggest trailer our truck could tow, and when we hit the big mountains in the west, the truck struggled. The cold air intake and Edge tuner helped, but the truck bed was overloaded by the pin weight of the trailer combined with all the goodies we like to keep in the truck bed.
We researched dually trucks for two years, and then right before Christmas in 2015, we traded in our 2007 Dodge Ram 3500 single wheel truck for a 2016 Ram 3500 Dually.
We had an absolutely thrilling adventure when we finalized the purchase and tell the story about it here:
A lot went into our decision to buy a new truck, especially a dually. Here are all the details explaining everything we’ve learned about diesel trucks since we started full-time RVing and why we chose the truck we did:
When we bought the new truck, we decided to get a top-of-the-line fifth wheel hitch to go with it. We installed a B&W Companion OEM 5th Wheel Hitch built specifically for our Ram truck. The installation took one hour. Here’s a pictorial step-by-step installation guide for this hitch:
The new diesel trucks on the market require the use of Diesel Exhaust Fluid, and DEF tank must be refilled periodically. We offer some tips for doing this easily and cheaply here:
Before we got our dually truck, we weren’t sure exactly how you’d go about changing one of the inner rear tires if it got a flat. Well, we soon found out! We show how we do it, step-by-step in this post:
CHANGING GEARS – GOODBYE 5TH WHEEL, HELLO TRUCK CAMPER!
In the summer of 2020 we ended our full-time RVing adventures, sold the fifth wheel, and settled into a house. But after 7 months we yearned for the open road and bought a 2005 Arctic Fox 860 truck camper!
It was a huge change going from a full-timing fifth wheel to a truck camper, but we learned a few things about living large in a very small space!
However, after a few trips in it, we realized it wasn’t the right rig for us. Truck campers are wonderful RVs, but this particular one wasn’t the right camper for us or for our truck.
CHANGING GEARS AGAIN – GOODBYE TRUCK CAMPER, HELLO TOY HAULER!
We realized that we wanted to spend our summers traveling with an RV, and we wanted to bring our Polaris RZR along. The truck camper could tow the RZR on a flatbed trailer, but what we really wanted was an open box fifth wheel toy hauler where the RZR (and bikes) could ride inside the trailer while we were in transit but once removed at our campsite would transform into spacious living space. Also, I wanted a patio!!
A week after selling the truck camper, a barely used 2022 Genesis Supreme 28CRT toy hauler came up for sale a few miles from our home. What luck! It has turned out to be a fantastic rig for our new seasonal RVing lifestyle. We describe the rig and have lots of pics in the link below.
Living in a toy hauler, especially one with an Open Box floor plan, is very different than living in any other kind of RV. Here are some of the things we’ve learned plus a few tips and tricks for making this kind of rig a cozy rolling home!
The Genesis Supreme came with a 200 watt factory installed solar power system. For just a few hundred dollars and a few hours of work, we easily upgraded it to a 600 watt system, more than we’d had on our fifth wheel or sailboat!
We have used two hitch systems on this trailer. We wanted a hitch that was easy to remove from the bed of the truck so we could use our truck bed when we were at home. Our first hitch was a Demco 21k Recon fifth wheel hitch that was mounted in the truck bed on a gooseneck ball.
The Demco was a fine hitch but despite being lighter and smaller than most fifth wheel hitches, it was still a chore to remove it from the truck. So, we installed an entirely different kind of hitch: a replacement kingpin with a gooseneck hitch called a Reese Goose Box.
This upgrade moved the whole hitching mechanism out of the truck and into the kingpin, and it gave us a cushioned ride with a built-in air bag system in the hitch. Most important, it totally freed up the bed of the truck because the only thing in the truck bed is the gooseneck ball and two small safety chain anchors.
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