MARCH 2019 • 39
LIVING ON WHEELS • SHEILA SOWDER
Mini RVs give campers freedom, flexibility, comfort and security
ongratulations! Today is your day. You’re off to Great Places! You’re off and away! – Dr. Seuss: Oh, The Places You’ll Go! I’ve noticed a trend lately among both fulltime RVers and traditional house dwellers. They’re trading in their tents for mini-campers (less than 20 feet long), causing that niche of the RV market to skyrocket. Compared to the larger RVs, these miniature travel trailers can go where their bigger relatives can’t, are often lightweight enough to be pulled by a car or small truck, and they’re far more comfortable and secure than a tent. Rose Valley resident Rene Blalock spent a month researching small campers online before deciding on the 2019 InTech Chase Flyer (chaseflyerintechrv. com). She told me, “I like where my larger 5th wheel is parked, and don’t really want to move it when I go off on little trips, so I needed something compact.” She’s taken it on several trips already and reports that “It’s been wonderful, easy to tow. I can set up quickly and get outside, and I haven’t noticed an increase in gas consumption.” Inside the Flyer are two single mattresses that can be separate or stacked, and a cabinet along the front end for storage and for any cooking equipment the owner brings onboard. There are no built-in cooking facilities although there is a small microwave. No plumbing, but it has electrical hookups, and with its air-conditioning and heat, Rene can leave her two small dogs inside while she enjoys the outdoor activities. There’s also solar capability for comfortable, dry camping. “It has a nice radio and can hook up to cable,” she pointed out, “indoor/ outdoor lights, and the entire rear end opens to the outdoors. Also, there’s an optional canopy that attaches to the right side.” List price
The Chase Flyer makes your camping experience comfortable and safe. (Photos by Sheila Sowder
No luxury inside the Chase Flyer, but cozy and comfortable for a single camper.
The Little Guy Mini Max gives a couple all the room and amenities they need for great camping.
is around $10,000. The Flyer is 12 1/2 feet from back to hitch, 7 feet wide, and weighs around 1,100 pounds. Perfect for one person (and two small dogs) for short getaways. “It gets a lot of attention when I pull into a park,” Rene said, “I usually get a thumbs up from the guys.” But as I stood inside the microlite camper, I thought, “Could I survive a couple of weeks in here with my 6-foot 3-inch husband?” Friends of mine, a couple who lives here in Silver City, have always been avid campers. But a couple of years ago, while
camping at City of Rocks, a high wind blew their large, strong tent onto its side. “And we couldn’t even make sandwiches outside because of the dust.” It was time for an upgrade from tent camping. For the next two years, they researched. Total weight was important, but they also wanted a bed comfortable enough for two, rudimentary kitchen facilities, possibly a toilet and shower, as well as a high-clearance package, and they wanted a model that could be serviced conveniently. Bells and whistles were not necessary, but a certain amount of
comfort was desirable. They searched online and in person, and slowly whittled the list of models down to just a few. One model was eliminated because the underbelly was made of a soft fabric which they felt rodents could easily chew through. Some models came without a good warranty; some had axles that might not hold up on dirt and forest roads. Light was important to them, so their choice had to have plenty of windows. Initially, they wanted a separate bed and dinette, but changed their minds when they saw how space-efficient the combination of the two is. After months of searching, they almost settled on the T@B (pronounced tab), a teardrop camper by nuCamp. Then, late in the process, they saw an online video about the 2019 Mini Max from Little Guy, also a teardrop model like the T@B but with some additional features. A Santa Fe dealer had both the T@B and the Little Guy Mini Max side by side, and it turned out the drive was worth it. The Mini Max is slightly larger, clearance is higher, and they liked the design better. The list price was $24,000. Their decision was
made. So far, they’re quite happy with their choice. Its weight is just under 2,000 pounds, and they have 119 square feet of interior space. The kitchen has a sink, 2-burner stove, microwave, and a 3-way roomy refrigerator. The dinette converts to a queen-sized bed, and there’s a shower and toilet. It has air conditioning and heat, a 19inch TV and a flexible solar panel on top that can charge phones and the battery. They purchased the Mini Max in October, and so far, have made three trips to City of Rocks, although they’re planning some longer journeys this year. Both Rene and the Silver City couple have some advice to offer those who are looking for a small camper trailer. The large variety of these pint-sized units, in size, amenities and price, guarantees that anyone can find a model that fits their needs. So first, make a list of your priorities – the absolute must-haves and the optionals. Read the product reviews, and look for product service bulletins on the manufacturer websites to discover any parts recalls. Carefully check out the warranties and take the time to visit dealerships to do personal inspections. Finally, when the choice has been made, read an article on negotiating RV prices before you visit the dealership for final buy. I also recommend checking out smalltrailerenthusiast.com and thespruce.com/glamping.worthy. camping.trailers for photos and information on many of the new models. Sheila and husband, Jimmy Sowder, have lived at Rose Valley RV Ranch in Silver City for four years following five years of wandering the US from Maine to California. She can be contacted at sksowder@aol. com