Runaway Mini-Camper Review: Part 2

Would you rather live here, or check to check in some low-income housing in a city. For me it's a very easy choice.
Would you rather live here, or just barely check-to-check in an apartment or low-income housing in a city. For me it’s a very easy choice.

In my last post I introduced you to the Runaway Mini-Camper but I couldn’t give you all the details I wanted so I’m going to finish it up in this post. If you haven’t read that post, you should go back and read it before this one. First, let me say I know they aren’t perfect and aren’t for everybody, they have a couple of big disadvantages:

  1. They’re small and offer the minimum of comfort. Most vans and minivans offer more interior room and especially height. We’d all like our vehicle home to be bigger and tall enough to stand up in.
  2. Towing a trailer is less than ideal, in fact it’s kind of a pain in the butt. They are hard to drive in traffic, to back up and they reduce your fuel economy. Setting up and tearing down camp is harder and takes longer which means you will probably travel less.
You can customize them exactly how you want them.
You can customize them exactly how you want them, and still tow them with your car. You can get the ladder racks and rear hitch as options from the factory.

Even with those disadvantages, there simply isn’t anything that works as well if you’re on a tight budget and aren’t mechanical–and that describes a lot of people! The single biggest danger we all face when we become Nomads is the risk of break-downs. Our car or van isn’t just transportation, it’s our home. So for that reason we need two things, 1) the most reliable vehicle possible and 2) an emergency fund to cover repairs on the road. If the vehicle you own now has proven to be reliable and gets good MPG, it’s best to keep it if at all possible. Because the Runaway is so lite and aerodynamic it lets you keep your car while nearly everything else forces you to sell it. Unless you have a fairly large savings you won’t be able to buy a newer vehicle that will be certain to be reliable and that could leave you without an emergency fund.

Would you rather have a life of adventure and travel or sit in a rocking chair enduring the tedium and monotony of work until you're old and die?
Would you rather have a life of adventure and travel or sit in a rocking chair enduring the tedium and monotony of work until you’re old and die?

Being able to tow this with your current car might let you comfortably hit the road much sooner than if you have to save up for a van or RV and still have an emergency fund. So your decision is whether to wait until you can have all the comfort you want or compromise with one of these to be able to go now. It’s a tough decision that each of us will have to make for ourselves. For me it’s easy, I’d a thousand times rather be on the road in a Runaway than at home barely surviving.

ruway-frame-wide
This is the 6×8 RangeRunner being built. Notice it has doors on both sides.
runway-frame
A close-up of their construction.

Let’s compare the Runaway to your other choices; for the purposes of this comparison I’m assuming you are on a small, tight budget and have limited mechanical skills. If you have more money or are more mechanical, then one of these might be a better choice.

Van or Mini-van: I believe a van is a better choice in nearly every way but there are reasons why it might not be best for you 1) It might not be reliable. If you’re on a tight budget you’re going to have to buy an older, high  mileage van and if you can’t do your own repairs you’ll never know if you’ll be left stranded by it. I’ve heard from many people who put their last $2000 into a used van and hit the road only to blow an engine or transmission and be forced to abandon their new life. 2) Compared to a car it will get poor fuel economy so you won’t be able to travel nearly as much.

Truck with Shell: Trucks do have advantages but most shells are so low I wouldn’t even consider one and trucks get poor MPG compared to cars. However, the compromise of towing a Runaway with a small truck gives you the best advantages of both; lots of carrying capacity and half way decent MPG along with the comfort of the trailer.

Pop-up Trailers: These are also surprisingly expensive new and a used one in this price range may very well have hidden problems. I’ve never recommend pop-ups for these reasons: 1) They are very cold in the winter, 2) They offer no safety from predators, 3) The are a pain to set-up and take-down, 4) Eventually they will rot, mold or mildew.

Cargo Trailers: A 5×7 cargo trailer may actually cost less than a Runaway, but it’s extra height and weight will probably keep your car from being able to tow it. Worse, it probably isn’t move-in-ready; it won’t have any windows and may not have an entrance door. By the time you add those, it will cost more than a Runaway and still be more difficult or impossible to tow.

Tear Drop trailers: I’ve never understood the fascination with these; they have very little room inside and they force you to cook outside. Worse, they are incredibly expensive, I searched for one that cast less than $6000 and only found one tiny one that was $5000, the rest were $6000 or much more. For most of us they are not an option. All they have going for them is the “cool” factor, and I have to admit it, they are cool. But that’s a poor reason to choose one.

Build your own: One thing I’ve suggested is buying a very small and light trailer like the 4 x 8 Harbor Freight folding trailer, and then build  a small cabin on top of it.  They only weigh 250 pounds and you can get them on sale fairly often for $300 so it seems perfect; all you have to do is build a 4 x 8 foot plywood shell on top of it and you have a very cozy little home that any car can safely tow. The problem is most people don’t have the carpentry skills to build anything or if they did have the skills they don’t have the tools. Unless you are a very skilled carpenter, a home-built trailer will never be as nice as a Runaway and if it’s made as well with doors and windows it will probably cost you more. (http://www.harborfreight.com/1195-lb-capacity-48-inch-x-96-inch-heavy-duty-foldable-utility-trailer-with-12-inch-wheels-90154.html)

A Tent: If you are on a tight budget, a tent is the only real competition to a Runaway because it’s so small and cheap. However, in bad weather (especially desert wind-storms) or cold weather they can be very uncomfortable and hard to sleep in. Worse, they offer no protection or feeling of safety from predators. The Runaway takes care of both of those problems and in every way is better than a tent. I’ve known many people who came out to the desert and tried to live in a tent and none of it did it more than one year because the sun and wind destroyed their tents and they were just too uncomfortable. They all ended up in vans. I don’t recommend it long-term

The 6x8 RangeRunner let's you put a Queen mattress across the back and still gives you plenty of room up front.
The 6×8 RangeRunner let’s you put a Queen mattress across the back and still gives you plenty of room up front. They come with two doors so you don’t have to crawl over each other getting in and out.

Who it’s for:

This Runaway trailer isn’t right for everybody but it’s perfect for anybody on a tight budget but also hungers for more adventure and travel and isn’t willing to watch life pass them by. It’s perfect for people in these situations:

Retired, but not with enough money to live well on: If you enjoy nature and camping, wouldn’t you rather live for free on Public Land instead of low income housing in who knows where? With one of these you can be a Snowbird and travel with the seasons seeing new things and places and meeting new people. Instead of sitting in a rocking chair watching TV waiting to die, life will be at it’s very best. Isn’t that worth putting up with a tiny bedroom?

You want to keep your home and still take trips: These are the perfect compromise for part-time travelers. You can keep you economy car as your daily driver while you are home and still travel cheaply and comfortably in these trailers. If you have kids, the 6 x 8 RangeRunner will work very well for you. You can put a Queen size mattress across the back of the trailer and still have room for the kids in the front. It comes standard with two doors so you won’t be crawling all over each other.

Dire financial need: If circumstances in your life have conspired to bring you to the edge of becoming homeless–sometimes its divorce, loss of work, health problems or changing relationships with family or friends and yet you have no money to buy a van, let alone an RV, this trailer is perfect for you! Maybe you already have a reliable car or small SUV but you don’t want to sell it to buy a van because of the bad MPG and risk of unknown reliability. All you have to do is sell enough of your things to buy a Runaway and you can move into it and never have to worry about being homeless again. By living on Public land you can live very well in natures beauty for free. Read about living on Public Land here: https://www.cheaprvliving.com/boondocking-stealth-parking/livingcamping-public-land/

You want to live full-time as a snowbird on the minimum of money: By towing this with an economy car you can live on Public Land and travel year-around for very little money. Speaking from experience, it’s a great life!!

They can be towed by a Smartar! Notice the options on this trailer: 1) front rack holding gas cans and propane bottle; 2) rockgaurd; 3) rear hitch with a Hitch Haul. With all that extra storage, even a tiny car can work.
They can be towed by a Smart Car! Notice the options on this trailer: 1) front rack holding gas cans and propane bottle; 2) rockgaurd; 3) rear hitch with a Hitch Haul. With all that extra storage, even a tiny car can work.
They have very strong, well-made frames. As light as they are you will never have a problem with them.
They have very strong, well-made frames. As light as they are you will never have a problem with them.

Models and Options.

BaseCamp–$2500: This is the base model and should work very well for you. They are all made from 3/4 inch birch plywood (1/2 inch on the roof) and clad with aluminum so they should last forever.

  • Insulated Door with Deadbolt.
  • Two screened windows with Safety Rated Glass.
  • One shelf across the front
  • Interior Measures 46.5″W (70 1/2″ for RangeRunners) x 46″H x 94.5″ L
  • Exterior Measures 70″H x 68″ W to outside of fenders (90″ for RangeRunners) x 12’4″ L (including tongue)
  • Tows with 2″ ball
  • Lighting connector is a standard Flat 4-prong trailer connector
  • No brake connection is necessary
  • Birch Plywood walls and vinyl floor
  • Axles rated at 2200 pound
  • Dual Rear Stabilizers

CoolCamp–$3000: This is their best selling model because it adds their four most popular options:

  • 5000 btu Air Conditioning and a power strip to plug it into
  • Front mounted cargo box
  • 13 inch Tires and wheels instead of the base 12 inch
  • Graphics Package
The Navigato is the model I would want, plus I'd order the roof racks to mount a solar panel to. I'd carry my Honda generator and a gas can on the front to power the Air Conditioner and I'd put the batteries at the back to balance the weight. Ater I add the solar panel and controller, it would be totally ready to live in.
The Navigator is the model I would want, plus I’d order the roof racks to mount a solar panel to. I’d carry my Honda generator and a gas can on the front to power the Air Conditioner and I’d put the batteries at the back to balance the weight. After I add the solar panel and controller, it would be totally ready to live in.

Navigator–$3100: This adds two options that I would consider very important:

  • It replaces the front cargo box with a large open rack (I think that gives you more cargo options like a generator, propane tank or batteries)
  • Adds a front front diamond-plate rock-guard to protect the trailer from rocks thrown from your car

6 x 8 RangeRunner–$5000: The largest Runaway camper is larger and has all the options listed above as well as two doors (one on each side), rear hitch and 15 inch wheels and tires:

  • 900lbs empty weight
  • 6×8 exterior platform on 11ga. steel frame
  • 3/4″ undercoated plywood floor
  • Dexter Easy-Lube axles with 3500lb. rating
  • 2″ Hitch
  • A-frame tongue
  • Dual Rear Stabilizers
  • Rear Accesory Hitch
  • 15″ White Spoke Wheels
  • LED Taillights
  • Front Diamond Plate Rockguard
  • Double Doors
  • 5000 btu Frigidaire Air Conditioning

You can also order them custom built with the exact features you want. They offer many add-on options that make the trailer much more comfortable to either live in or travel in. These are the most common, but you can always ask for something truly custom. Call for more details about all these options.

Rear 42 inch locking door: It allows much better ventilation and visibility plus lets you use the trailer at home as a cargo trailer.

Roof ladder rack or storage rack: These make it easy to add a solar panel to the roof

Rear receiver hitch: You can put either a bike rack or a Hitch Haul for more storage capacity.

Custom shelving: They’ve designed some custom shelf packages that you can select from.

They are only sold direct so you will have to pick it up from them at Ocala, Florida. Shipping is available and usually will run somewhere between  $500 and $1000 depending on where you are in the country.

You can check out their website and Facebook Page here:

http://www.runawaycampers.com/index.html

https://www.facebook.com/RunawayCampers

To contact them with any questions or find out how to purchase your Runaway:

PHONE: (352) 342-3454
EMAIL: 
LINK@cfaith.com

1338 N. Magnolia Ave.
Ocala, Florida USA 34475

Remember to tell them Bob from cheaprvliving sent you to get a $50 discount!

They are very capable off-road! The roof-rack is an option.
They are very capable off-road! The roof-rack is an option.
If you tow one with a SUV or mini-van, you'll have lots of room for storage and pretty decent MPG.
If you tow one with a SUV or mini-van, you’ll have lots of room for storage and pretty decent MPG.
The y will install a reat hitch for you giving you more storage room.
The y will install a reatrhitch for you giving you more storage room.
The jack swings away if you are in rough terrain. Notice e front cargo rack that gives you lots of outside storage.
The jack swings away if you are in rough terrain. Notice the front cargo rack that gives you lots of outside storage.

 

About

I've been a full-time VanDweller since 1995 and I love it. I hope to never live in a house again! Check out Homes On Wheels Alliance (HOWA), our nonprofit that I co-founded. HOWA is dedicated to helping nomads in need. http://HomesOnWheelsAlliance.org

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