Considering Switching to A-Frame

dcornelius

Member
Jun 25, 2012
29
Portland, OR
I have a Coleman Niagra with two pull-out queen beds and a side pull-out for lots of room inside. I really like an inside table if it's raining, the convenience of a stove, and a faucet with water--it's been a great upgrade from tent camping.

When I got this a little over a year ago, I had been dreaming of this day for quite some time and researched the one I got quite a bit. My hope was to provide a nice camping experience for family members; my elderly father lives with my wife and I, and I was hoping my son and his new family (who have been considering camping) could join. There would be beds for all and I had great memories of a PUP we rented about 10 years ago.

After a year with a half-dozen weekend excursions behind me, I'm reviewing our experiences and have learned a few things. First of all, my dad does NOT like camping. He simply cannot get comfortable in the beds, gets cold easily, and since he worked swing-shift all his life, it's hard for him to go to bed early and is quite bored without a big-screen television and an endless supply of movie channels (which are a huge turn-off for me when camping). He has dementia and diabetes; we thought we could work through and I always choose sites close to nice bathrooms but it's still been tougher than we thought. We've ended up opting to just stay within a couple hours from home and my wife brings him out for a day trip to wherever I've landed.

My son likes camping but they got a big tent and insist on the three of them camping in there.

So as it turns out, this trailer is way more than I really need. I'm usually setting it up and taking it down by myself and with our busy schedules, I don't have time for more than a weekend--sometimes just an overnight--and with the setup work, it sometimes discourages me from even leaving the house. Also, if there's any moisture, even dew in the morning when I'm taking it down, I have to set it back up once I get home just to dry it out--requiring yet another full expand/contract exercise.

I've started watching YouTube videos of Aliners and really like the fact there's so little work involved to be up and camping. If I'm by myself most of the time, it might be just perfect for me.

Has anyone else gone from a different type of trailer to an Aliner and what was your experience like? Two things I'm a little worried about is 1) the size of the bed--I'm 6'1" and might have to sleep diagonally; and 2) a table to work on--I like to take my laptop computer and get a little work in away from home; the table in my current PUP is passable but I wouldn't want it any less comfortable.

I'm going to try to get to an RV show in the near future and check them out personally but would like to know if anyone has suggestions on brands or models--or anything else to say.

Thanks!
 

Sue Porter

New Member
Nov 21, 2021
8
I had a small Rockwood tent trailer and went to an A-frame Chalet. I'm happy I did since it is almost always just me in the trailer and others in a tent and the tent trailer was just getting to be too much work setting up/taking down alone as I've gotten older. I have the smallest trailer and due to your needs, I suspect not big enough for you. Also, I don't camp with hookups. I think getting the right layout for you would be key. I have an unusual layout with a double and single bed and pretty much no kitchen. This is fine for me since I never cook inside anyway. I think you'd want one with a couch/bed for you to sleep on and a table to work on. If someone joined you, they could sleep on table.

Pros
  • Faster to set up/take down
  • Just as easy to tow
  • Still fits in my garage
  • Quieter but also can't hear nature as well
  • Warmer and can also have A/C (I live in CA and don't need since there are plenty of places all year both warm and cold)
Cons
  • Feels smaller because the beds in tent trailer also give visual space
  • Must be more level than tent trailer
  • I think the beds are harder
Anyway, if you have questions, I'm happy to answer.
 

Susan Premo

Super Active Member
Nov 5, 2020
1,040
Minnesota
We have a 2011 aliner, got it through Facebook marketplace, it's good for 2, they have larger versions but I like this one. We're really only inside for rainy days, or in the clam shelter, or for sleeping in. I think they all come with a dinette table, we don't really use it, so it's inside a little space nearby. We put up 2 shower poles, extendable with shower rings to hang clothes and help with windy days. It's what we'd call cozy. My husband likes it, then doesn't then does, etc. There's maintenance with all campers and I did enjoy tenting, but this is nice to be in when it's rainy and a bit bigger. I really wanted a scamp, but they hold their value and are not inexpensive. Hope that helps a bit.
 

Tom and Teresa

Active Member
Jun 18, 2019
136
Shenandoah Valley, Virginia
We bought our Rockwood A214 HW brand new in 2016 and we have always loved it! It has the dormer so it feels spacious in the kitchen/bathroom areas and it has a regular queen-size bed just like we have in our home, plus it’s heated! So plenty of room for someone your height. The dinette can fold down to a bed for one of our small grandchildren or two, but it typically stays up as a table. I would highly recommend looking at Rockwood’s different A-frame floor plans…there are several…bound to be one for you! Happy searching! HW means high wall…the countertop is about the same height as you’d have in your home. 👍😊
 

Anthony Hitchings

Super Active Member
Silver Supporting Member
Mar 2, 2019
3,948
Oakland, California
Re the ALiner - don't ever twist the chassis - else the roof wil be a dog to open and close. AMHIK.
Before we twisted our chasis - our Aliner was A-ok for us.

You are right to be concerned about bed length for a tall person.

Btw, our2003 Scout out was never meant to be taken off paved roads
 
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dcornelius

Member
Jun 25, 2012
29
Portland, OR
I think getting the right layout for you would be key. I have an unusual layout with a double and single bed and pretty much no kitchen. This is fine for me since I never cook inside anyway. I think you'd want one with a couch/bed for you to sleep on and a table to work on. If someone joined you, they could sleep on table.
Yes, the right layout... I've discovered there are several options; it'll take just as much research as my original foray into PUPs.
Must be more level than tent trailer
So leveling is trickier or affects things more? Or does it affect whether the roof edges come together right?

We put up 2 shower poles, extendable with shower rings to hang clothes and help with windy days.
Outside? Or is this around the shower/toilet combo inside?

It has the dormer so it feels spacious in the kitchen/bathroom areas and it has a regular queen-size bed
I've seen some with dormers (this was a new term for me) and am really looking at that to add to the spaciousness--I've been spoiled with mine with the slide-out. A regular queen bed? That's great! Thanks for the tip on the Rockwood brand--will check them out.

don't ever twist the chassis
Is that something that happens easily? Or only if you go off-road with one that's not equipped for that? I'm already leaning towards getting one with the off-road package to allow myself the freedom to explore further.

Thanks to all for sharing your experiences. I am encouraged!
 

Papa Glenn

Member
Nov 24, 2020
58
We’ve had our Flagstaff T12RB for two years and love it! We’ve had numerous other RVs over the years (campervan, tent trailer, hybrid & truck camper) and each has it’s pros and cons. There is no perfect RV, only one that is best for your situation. The A-frame is perfect for us at our stage in life.

We are a retired couple who likes to go places big RVs can’t but still enjoys having the amenities. Easy storage, easy towing and easy set up we’re must haves. We’ve used it a bunch and it fits us perfectly.
 

Hilldweller

Super Active Member
Mar 2, 2021
1,059
Hog Waller, GA
....

You are right to be concerned about bed length for a tall person.
I'm 6'5" and fit just fine.


We went from tent to Conqueror (rooftop tent on a South African military trailer) to teardrop to Aliner. For ease of use the teardrop was king --- but not for overall comfort. In a teardrop you have to dress by doing "the worm", which gets really old as you age.

Our Aliner is an Expedition with a permanent bed. So the bed is a residential queen 60"x80" (replaced the mattress after one night on the stock mattress). We've got two hard dormers, offroad package, I swapped out the battery for a LiFePO4 and the converter for one with a lithium profile.

Read through some of my old posts for my list of nags. You'll have to work through them. Aliners ain't perfect. But we support each other and eventually you get it going. And we love the trailer now. Two adults, one of them tall, and a dog. Plenty of room.

Set-up is easy. Nothing special on the leveling except that you have to eyeball it since there are no two spots in the trailer that will be level at the same time. Bumpy roads make it fall apart. I can coach you on where to place pillows and what to reinforce.

But with the high wind kit in place, we've been hit by a tornado and no ill effect. The class A motorcoach next to us didn't fare as well.

The evolution

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dcornelius

Member
Jun 25, 2012
29
Portland, OR
each has it’s pros and cons. There is no perfect RV
Very true. I'm trying to get a little closer to "perfect" for my current situation. ;-)
I'm 6'5" and fit just fine.
Excellent! Thanks for that confirmation.
But with the high wind kit in place, we've been hit by a tornado and no ill effect
Wow--survived a tornado? That's impressive! Thanks for your other comments, too--I'll look back at other posts.
 

DanLee

Active Member
Apr 28, 2015
119
Virginia
We went from a Coleman Columbia after 30 years to an Aliner Ranger 12. The Coleman was great when the kids were young--plenty of room for them and us. Gave the Coleman to our daughter and started looking for a replacement. Thought we'd get a Scamp or similar, but came across a good deal on the Aliner. It's perfect for the two of us. We did take three grandchildren on the inaugural trip, but it was very tight with one sleeping on the floor. I'm also 6'1" and did not have a problem with the bed. Our Ranger has soft dormers, which I appreciate because of the extra headroom and cross ventilation they provide.
 

DanLee

Active Member
Apr 28, 2015
119
Virginia
What's it like folding the canvas away? The only videos I've seen so far either have no dormers or hard ones.
The soft dormers have hard roofs, same as the "hard" dormers. The difference is in the sidewalls and windows, meaning canvas, mosquito netting, and poly windows. There's no problem with folding since the fabric area is small compared to what you deal with on a popup. A push ensures the fabric is within the camper when the dormer roof is lowered.

If you camp where hard sided trailers are required, such as certain campsites in grizzly country, you can leave the dormers closed. In that circumstance, the interior space is the same as no dormers at all.
 

Tom and Teresa

Active Member
Jun 18, 2019
136
Shenandoah Valley, Virginia
Ours has one hard side dormer which is over the kitchen and bathroom area. We don’t have a dormer over our bed…we don’t need one there anyway, but we do have a big bubble window. Including some pictures so you can get an idea of how we use ours and how much room it has. I hope this is helpful to you. It would be fun to see pictures of the inside of all the different A-frames out there and how people have personalized them. They’re certainly becoming more popular!
 

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dcornelius

Member
Jun 25, 2012
29
Portland, OR
The soft dormers have hard roofs, same as the "hard" dormers. The difference is in the sidewalls and windows, meaning canvas, mosquito netting, and poly windows. There's no problem with folding since the fabric area is small compared to what you deal with on a popup. A push ensures the fabric is within the camper when the dormer roof is lowered.

If you camp where hard sided trailers are required, such as certain campsites in grizzly country, you can leave the dormers closed. In that circumstance, the interior space is the same as no dormers at all.
Thank you very much--you answered all the questions I had about that! I like the idea of a soft dormer.
 

dcornelius

Member
Jun 25, 2012
29
Portland, OR
We don’t have a dormer over our bed…we don’t need one there anyway, but we do have a big bubble window. Including some pictures so you can get an idea of how we use ours and how much room it has
Yeah, I wouldn't think a dormer over the bed would be necessary but I do like the bubble window so you can sit up and look around easier.

Thanks for the pictures! You've really decorated it up--looks great! I see a lot of things hung on the sides--I'll bet that adds to the setup/tear-down but is great for long stays.
 

Tom and Teresa

Active Member
Jun 18, 2019
136
Shenandoah Valley, Virginia
Yeah, I wouldn't think a dormer over the bed would be necessary but I do like the bubble window so you can sit up and look around easier.

Thanks for the pictures! You've really decorated it up--looks great! I see a lot of things hung on the sides--I'll bet that adds to the setup/tear-down but is great for long stays.
All of the command hooks and baskets/containers stay where they are. I made sure to attach things where they would not be in the way or get damaged when folding down. I put the utensils/paper towels and the over stove shelf unit away before we fold up. These things have made a world of difference in making the camper more user friendly and giving us a space for everything. 😊
 

Allen R Glass

Member
Jun 2, 2020
45
Columbus, OH
Different Aliner models have different floor plans, so your mileage can vary greatly. I'm 6'4" and I fit just fine on our bed, and the hard dormers give me much more usable floor space (that dormer over the bed makes the whole space more open, and it's important when the bed is in couch mode on my model).

And no, mine is certainly not that fussy about being level. Some folks seem to feel precision is a necessity, but my fridge doesn't mind being a degree or two off level.
 

Tom and Teresa

Active Member
Jun 18, 2019
136
Shenandoah Valley, Virginia
The outermost bands of a tornado. Brought down tree limbs and tore off anybody's awning that had it opened. Luckily I had the dormers down to help the air conditioner work better and we had no trees over us. If you buy one without a high wind kit get one and put it on yourself
I’m not sure what a high wind kit is. Our Rockwood has been in some fierce, mighty winds out in Wyoming, but we were okay. It does have a really big rubber band type thing that connects the two roof panels. And our side walls hook over the roof panels as well. Would you please explain what that is?
 




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