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: 
[email protected]

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

141 Comments on “Runaway Mini-Camper Review: Part 2

  1. This not in my plans (or finances) right now but I could see this as a great addition to my van, like an annex :). I live on the west coast but would be a great field trip to see them in person. I love that there are so many choices and the more information we have the better we can find our best fit. Thanks for the article.

    • Another outstanding post by Bob, no doubts he’s an expert on the subject 13 years on the road is NOT @ day or two !!

      Lucy.

    • Crazy Sister, I agree that towing it behind a van would make a lot of sense. The an would be the kitchen, den and office and the trailer the bedroom. They deliver to the So. California area for $700 and can get them up to Seattle for $1000.
      Bob

  2. I have been looking at the Runaway, and it is small, light weight, and provides a nice comfortable place to sleep. Even though it is small I don’t like pulling anything around. It’s like Bob said, it is a hassle in traffic and backing up.
    It would be nice to have something similar that would attach to the hitch sorta like a Hitch Haul. It could be an accordion type of apparatus made out of light weight space-age plastic, with light weight aluminum supports and legs to make it sturdy when expanded and set up. It would have a heavy gauge memory foam queen or king size air mattress that would fill with air from the built in air pump that could somehow be powered from the 4 blade brake light connector. I am sure something like this could be manufactured at a reasonable price. I am not an engineer, but I’m sure that this could be done if it can be thought of. Who knows, maybe there is already something out there like this. It could be called…the Hitch Bed, or the Hitch Room, maybe even the Hitch Hotel.
    Ideas, have a way of leading to other ideas.

    • Steve, I’ve never heard of anything like that but something a little similiar would be a roof tent that folds out as a tent and you carry it like a roof rack. They are real popular with the expedition crowd.
      Bob

  3. First – completely agree that the small trailer is a perfect choice for many, because of ease, reliability, being inexpensive (relatively), new. Will buy a small trailer like in the above article sooner or later, unless I find a stupid bargain on a twin axle, and I upgrade to a diesel truck.

    ****

    That said here is an alternative, or maybe an addition to give you more choices:

    1) Sierra Designs brand larger tent (just bought one on sale for $350) which is designed to withstand wind (three season), for real outdoor use (there are other brands, but this seems to be the best quality-price point). Amazon users are stating they used it in 40 mph winds, while other tents collapsed. Maybe look at some true large mountaineering four season tents. Not sure how large you should go with one, but they are designed to work in nasty weather. Should give you a good chance to handle storms. Not all conditions, but many yes. Too many folks get the cheap walmart or generic tents, which are designed poorly; and then are shocked when they fall apart in a wind storm. You also might want to put a large tarp over it to protect against sun UV light damage, and just because large tarps are good for many uses; and to learn how to use ropes-straps-lines correctly (if we can sail across the oceans, we can make a tent withstand storm winds).

    Also like to add, to get a few weather apps for your smart phone, and watch the alerts closely. Started using STORM SHIELD warning app, which will grab notice of anything happening. Help you determine if you should abandon camp to some other location. Yes you need cellphone coverage. You might move for too much cold, or too much heat, or for too much wind, or for forest fire, or for too much flooding.

    Get a true well rated winter sleeping bag. rated to low temperatures. You get cold, so find a way to stay warm, inside a bag.

    2) Abandon camp and find a cheap hotel, or try http://www.airbnb.com for a place to stay. Not cheap, but you can find something for $50 a night maybe; and keep cost under control for a few days until weather improves, or until you relocate to better nomadic climates. The electric hookup in an RV camp for 30 amp service (AC unit or heat) might cost you $30 a night, so can not see that advantage. Yes, realize that many will just get a generator, and boondock; but hope you can find a good location that does not mind the generator noise running all night (assuming you need it).

    Overall getting a small self contained sleeping trailer is a great starting path. If I was on social security retirement, I would find a way to raise the funds to get a reliable car, and this trailer, and just go for it.

    • People with physical limitations will probably not use tents, and those who move often will find them inconvenient to set up and take down along with all the gear people use. For those people, the Runaways are a good option.

      My “Plan A” so far is to use a minivan when I’m in urban situations and add a tent to it for “camping” mode. One of my Plan B options is to carry camping gear in a small car and simply stay in places I can camp and drive to towns as needed.

      Studying tents for constant or long-term use has been an education compared to casual camping. I’m still learning, as you will see below. New factors come into play, especially damage to the tent from ultraviolet (UV) light. UV light is pretty much unavoidable in the desert. Web sites’ instructions to pitch the tent in the shade don’t apply in places with no shade.

      UV damage is a serious issue for long-term camping. Directly from the Eureka Tents site http://www.eurekatent.com/Tent_Care/: “. . .any synthetic fabric is susceptible to ultraviolet degradation. UV damage will cause nylon and polyester to become brittle and tear easily.”

      One solution to that is to do what scientific expeditions do: use cotton duck tents. While they cost even more ($500-$800 in the sizes I want), such tents by Springbar, Kodiak, and others have lasted some people twenty years or more of hard wear, verified by people on my tent camping Facebook group. However, besides the high cost, cotton duck tents weigh multiples of what polyester and nylon weigh. Some actually come with wheeled carriers.

      I will study other alternatives because man-made fabrics could give me weight savings that I will need more as I grow older and most likely money savings as well.

      The “other alternatives” include fabric treatments such as Nikwax Tent and Gear and Trek7 Ray Bloc, both of which have good reviews on Amazon. The Ray Bloc has more reviews dealing with sun damage specifically, although both products also act as waterproofers. Read the consumer reviews before buying; there are details to consider. I have not yet used any such product, but I will test at least one before I take to the road and will be passing the info along to friends who use tents. Obviously, those can be used on tents one already owns.

          • Calvin, no problem at all, I think it’s right on the money. Considering all the pros-and-cons of the options is exactly what I want to do.
            Bob

      • I agree 100% with everything you say Calvin!! In bad weather you stay in the mini-van and in good weather you are outside in the tent. It’s a very good combination!

        You are totally right about the UV rays–they kill tents! That’s fine for most people because they’re pitched a few weeks a year so they still last a long time. Left out all the time and they won’t last a year, the fabric will just crumble, tear, and fall apart.

        The only tent that might work full-time in the desert is a quality canvas tent designed as a tipi. The plains Indians proved they can handle any wind and still be livable. But they are big, heavy, harder to set-up and very expensive. You’ll need a trailer to haul it and friends to help set it up! That’s an exaggeration, but I’m still back to you are better off with a Runaway trailer.
        Bob

        • Bob, I don’t really expect to stay in the desert year round. That’s an important reason for being mobile in the first place. I want to follow the good weather, and that’s only in the desert (or Florida) in the coldest months. My issue with the Runaway is not the bad days but the good ones, which outnumber the rough-weather days. I understand living “out of” the unit, but spending time inside is part of life. The tent gives me far more space, especially vertically. I can spend a really rough day in the minivan (especially if I go to town), but for most of the time I’d use the tent for daily activities, such as cooking, dressing, and a religious ritual I do morning and evening. I could get past that once in a while, but not daily. I can do most of that in a Runaway, but not as comfortably.

          Those things are why I so appreciate the minivan-tent setup I used in the past. I am still investigating, but I believe the type of tent that is used for Arctic expeditions and archaeological digs would surely suffice for a few months around Quartzsite, Yuma, and/or Tucson before I follow comfortable weather north or east. Those tents, in the sizes I would use, weigh less than 100 pounds (mostly around 60-70) and would fit inside the minivan comfortably. With some luck, I can instead use what now is known as an SUV tent. You have seen the one I had before. It worked for me.

          I have posted a question on my Facebook tent-camper list about sprays sold for UV protection. My specific choice will depend largely on the answers to that question, but I believe a tent will suit my needs better than the Runaway. There are a few other, more personal reasons, but that is the gist of my outlook.

          • Calvin, if you don’t have the money then they simply aren’t an option. But if you can afford it and get one, then you can still carry the tent and get the best of both worlds. In fact they compliment each other perfectly.

            If you’re out West your going to be in the desert for 4-5 months because everywhere else is too cold. I’ve never kept a record, but I’d guess you will get at least 4-5 weeks total of really bad winds. I have a friend who came to the desert to live in a tent. The wind was just too much and after it was destoryed he threw it away and moved into his car, he never got another tent. He’s lived in his car for 2 years and just got on SS so he is buying a van.

            Maybe you will be the exception that proves me wrong.
            Bob

          • Good points Rick. I’ve learned that there are many ways to make it all work, depending on the individual. That’s one of the great things about this lifestyle. There are at least 4 months of the year when you do not need A/C in any vehicle. The other 8 can require it. I don’t see how A/C could be practical in a tent. I would think summers in the AZ desert in a tent would be miserable.

    • offroad, I’ve had numerous friends go the tent route in the desert, 100% called it a failure. It sounds good on paper, but it just doesn’t work. Now if you weren’t in the desert, but in Florida say, it could work because wind isn’t the constant living thing like it is out here. But that isn’t a life I would find acceptable. It’s much too restrictive and too little true freedom. But even worse, I can’t live with without real mountains and Florida has zero.

      Yes, there are very expensive mountaineering tents that can survive the desert. But those trips are counted in the weeks so a few nights without sleep in a storm are okay. We aren’t talking weeks, we’re talking the rest of your life. Being in a tent in a winter desert windstorm is a misery you are not going to put up with for long. It’s fine for a few weeks on an expedition, NOT for the rest of your life.

      If you spend $50 during every windstorm you’ll pay for a Runaway the first year and kick yourself for not buying one right away.

      I had a friend who came to the RTR in her car and tent. The first day we had a big windstorm that blew the tent down. It was a cheap tent but that didn’t matter, she swore she would never spend another night in a windstorm in a tent again even if it could stand up. She’s happily lived in her car for the last three years, but never again in a tent in the desert. She does stay in cheap tents in the mountains in the summer, not in the winter.
      Bob

      • Bob — After a couple more days of consideration, am seeing the sense of a hard shelter as better than the tent. Some time its takes a little longer to sink in. But now am thinking about what we could do with a bigger four wheel Subaru (that is beefed up a little more with better clearance, and locking hubs). Bet we could get that thing in all sorts of nasty rocky off-road areas, with that trailer behind. Four wheel and good gas mileage combined is a holy grail worth investigating.

        • Offroad, I think the Subaru is about the ideal tow vehicle for it, although I think I would prefer a true 4×4 like a Toyota Tacoma or 4-Runner. The MPG wouldn’t be as good but you could carry a lot more stuff.
          Bob

      • Bob, your practical arguments are excellent. My only question is how tenting is “too restrictive and too little true freedom” versus a Runaway or van? If I can sleep in the car for a few travel or weather days (most cars these days), I don’t understand the issue.

        • Calvin, the problem is you are thinking in terms of a few days of wind in a winter so it’s no big deal. But I’ve seen it howl at 50 mph for days on end, then take a short break and howl for another few days. Some months it blows more than it’s calm. Then it does it again the next month–and the next!! On the other hand, I’ve seen winters where it was just a few days of the month and a tent would be fine. That’s the exception, not the rule.

          I’ve know at least 6 people who tried to live in tents in the desert and none of them did it a second year. Maybe you will be the exception. I wouldn’t even consider trying.
          Bob

          • I think I understand where the disconnect comes in here. You stay put for months at at time. My planned timing is more like RVSue’s. A week here and a couple of weeks there is more my style. Maybe a month when I’m visiting friends.

            Also, as much as I enjoy the desert when it’s nice (Winter 2008 in Tucson, for example), I also like the mountains, quiet woodlands, coasts, and sometimes cities. I guess that’s where the different assumptions came in.

            It’s not “too cold anywhere else” for me for four or five months. I have spent winters about 100 miles north of the Gulf of Mexico in East Texas, for example. “Real” winter runs about six weeks there. Florida and nearby places have about the same but a bit warmer most years. In any case, I would not stay in any climate that gave me foul weather for weeks on end. That’s one of the central reasons I want to be mobile. There’s always better weather somewhere.

          • Bob this is the first time I visited your site here but I’ve watched you on YouTube a lot this site here seems to be every bit as good as your videos on YouTube I for one have just absolutely fell in love with the run a way campers I seen where you interviewed a man that had one recently on YouTube and it really makes sense for me I have a 2005 Toyota Corolla I wouldn’t mind ordering one here soon as I get the money that way I can experience the feel of it see what I think about it eventually a van van would be pretty cool but until then I could start experiencing camping and stuff with this little trailer to get a feel for The lifestyle even if I came out to courtside for the winter in my Corolla in my Solar panels find a place to put my batteries in my generator my TV antenna figure out how to mount that get it fixed up just how I like it I don’t think I’d have any trouble spending the winter out there with you Bob in court site and my little camper and my Corolla a lot to you I’m 510 and and 300 pounds I don’t know if I’m too big for this lifestyle or not however it’s what I seem to be drawn to more and more I want to try and lose some weight I don’t know if I ever will but even as a big boy OK I am now I think I could get by all right sleeping in the camper and setting up camp outside and then later on like you said if you had if I am specially a hightop van and your little camper I think that would be ideal if you could have it all just like your van and your little cargo trailer I really like your videos and this and this cheap RV living thing seems to be real cool too glad I come across iti’m not quite ready yet someday if I survive I want to come out there and visit Bob say hello surround talked for a while do you have a lot of great ideas you’ve been quite an inspiration I appreciate that and thank you be safe take care talk to you later Bill F

          • William, there are guys doing this who are bigger than you are, so it is probably possible. Most of us find that we get healthier and some even lose wieght, it’s just a natural result of this life. Your further from town so less access to bad food. You will also probably find yourself walking more and being more active. With many heavy people the question is not “What are you eating?”, it is “What’s eating you?” Stress will fall away and peace of mind will flood in so losing weight might be the result.

            I think the Corolla might can pull it and you should give it a try! Come join us and see if it doesn’t change your life!

  4. Bob,

    Irene and I have a 4×8 very similar to the Runaway. While we still have a home and small acreage in the country, the trailer is perfect for our camping needs. Pulling with a Focus and still we averaged 27mpg on a recent 3500 mile trip.

    I could not agree more with everything in your blog, except the part about being a hassle to tow? The 4″ wide is within the width of the car, so visibility and backing up is simple. It’s so small we find it easy to park, even on city streets. That was the point of getting the smallest unit.

    Also, there is plenty of room inside, unlike the teardrop shape ones. As the mattress does not cover the entire floor, we manage to keep a Luggable Loo in the extra 2″ of space. Sleeping on the 3/4 full is not problem as well, but of course Irene and I have been married 45 years; we know each other pretty well.

    Anyway, just my thoughts, great article.

    • Mark, Thanks very much for your real-world feedback, that’s what we need the most! I totally agree with you, we think exactly alike. I do think towing is a pain in the butt, but I also think a 4×8 trailer makes it as easy as it possibly can be, which is another of their big advantages!

      I also agree totally it’s surprising how comfortable they can be. You just automatically think it has to be miserably small but they aren’t.

      Thanks again!
      Bob

    • Mark — can you legally park that trailer in a normal size parking space, and unhitch it, put a lock on the hitch ball socket, and an anti towing boot on the tire, and leave it there? Assuming that you are allowed to park in designated spots? Sure you might need some cheap cellphone plan, with an alarm app that dials you up with GPS coordinates, if it is moved, incase its being stolen. But still its cool to think you can leave it behind for a few days while you explore in other ways.

  5. For anybody a bit anxious about towing – it isn’t so bad. Especially a small, light camper. They can be moved around relatively easy. If you don’t line up with the hitch exactly right you can go out there and pick up the hitch and plunk it on your vehicle if you need. 😉 That’s not meant to downplay anybody’s misgivings but to provide encouragement.

    What I used to do when given an unfamiliar truck or one with a different-speed transmission was to take it to quiet streets somewhere and practice. Take the trailer somewhere quiet to get a feel for it and how much space you take up with it and how it behaves. Turn corners, park, etc.

    Backing up a trailer is the same concept. Take it out and practice. If you’ve never done it before and the backwards left/right concept is confusing, here’s how to bypass that: Take one hand and put it at the bottom of your steering wheel at 6 o’clock so you’re holding it like a railing with your knuckles facing up. Watch your side mirrors and just move your hand towards the direction you want the trailer to go. While watching your mirrors, if you want the trailer to go to the left, swing your hand towards the left mirror and vice versa. The smaller the trailer, the quicker it will turn. Go slow and you can always pull forward and readjust. It doesn’t matter if it takes a few tries to get something done, you’re not trying to impress anyone. 🙂
    Magicwolf recently posted…Finally – van pictures. 1995 GMC 2500 Vandura conversion.My Profile

    • “If you don’t line up with the hitch exactly right you can go out there and pick up the hitch and plunk it on your vehicle if you need.” I used to do that with our tent trailer. It gave me a lot of freedom. I did eventually learn to back it into the garage in the right position but, in the meantime, being able to move it by hand was wonderful!

  6. hey Bob. Every time I get a post for a cheap RV living., I get more and more excited. I have a small 13 foot borough and a 2014 Nissan pickup. I can’t wait till next winter to get out to Arizona and look you up. I look forward to it. Keep up the good work I love reading your post thanks Joe

    • Joseph, that is a great combination! Burros are great trailers and a Nissan pickup should handle it very well and give you lots of storage space.
      Bob

  7. hey Bob. I really enjoy reading every post that you send. I look forward to getting out to Arizona in that area next winter and look you guys up. Keep up the good work. Thanks Joe

  8. I was wondering, about the wind in the desert. I know it can get pretty strong. Since these Runaways are so light, do you think in a pretty strong wind storm that it might get blown over?
    Also, what are your thoughts on actually full timing out of one of these? I would also have my Ford Escape for storing certain things. I am just playing with different ideas and scenarios on being able to keep this vehicle I have because it is new and would be dependable. I am reluctant to shell out $3,000 for the Cool Camper Runaway, and then find that I am miserable in it….as opposed to the cozy little cocoon type of space ship I am imagining.
    I am a pretty resourceful guy and have learned quite a bit in my 64 years but I do have my limits on some things I can deal with…..especially the older I get. But then again, maybe this is what I need to set my mind right. I have found out one thing that I have experienced many times before, and that is most things can be changed if I am not happy with a decision I have made.

    • Pretty good ideas about a test stay, if that is possible. We’re the same age, but everyone varies in health issues. If you can stay on your hands and knees and crawl around without pain, the Runaway has a shot. If you have a solution for toiletry that will work for you, either internal without hitting your head or external, using shrubbery or vault toilets, the Runaway has a shot. Picture yourself actually using the Runaway day after day, good weather and bad, setting glam and salesmanship aside. If it does what you want, it may be for you.
      DougB recently posted…When a Good Battery Goes BadMy Profile

  9. Maybe I could go up(Ocala is only a couple hours from me) and get Stephen the owner to let me hook up to one and take it to the forest up there for a few days to try it out. Kinda, try before you buy. But, I don’t think he would do that.

    • Steve — Money talks. Show up with a copy of your drivers license, and a copy of your credit report, and copy of your insurance policy and registration. And $1000 security deposit for damage. Pure speculation that you could borrow one. — Or maybe ask what the policy is on buyer remorse is for one of these units. Buy it, and trial for 30 days.

  10. I did a double-take when I saw your picture of a Smart Car with one of these trailers attached. I think there’s a difference between “can” and “should”. You CAN tow a 700-pound trailer behind a Smart, which is not engineered to tow anything at all. So it can be done, but coming in for warranty service for a blown trans, with a hitch receiver under the back bumper is not advised. Many minicars are engineered the same way. Once it’s out of warranty and not a concern, you can tow to your wallet’s content. Just watch your brakes on those long downhills, and listen for really interesting sounds on the way up, or while doing 65 against a headwind. Having towed too much with too little in the past, it’s too much like a YouTube moment just waiting to happen. Exceed specs, and simple physics will eventually intervene. I like the Runaway, but I also like a total lack of “adventure” on the road and the ensuing financial trauma.
    DougB recently posted…When a Good Battery Goes BadMy Profile

    • Doug, I agree totally, I like too much tow vehicle and not too little. It just seems like good sense to me.

      It’s hard to believe, but Stephen swears the owner of the Smart car loves the trailer and tows it without a problem.
      Bob

    • To anyone who thinks 700 lbs is a bit to much for a Smart for Two, check this out!
      http://www.cleanmpg.com/forums/showthread.php?p=229191#post229191

      We have a Smart car, and I personally wouldn’t flinch at all hooking one of these campers up to it for a journey across the country.
      The trans is actually a computer automated 5 speed manual, so there is no real concern there. It won’t blow up no matter how hard you try. The car is low and stable, the weight is where it belongs, it’s rear wheel drive, the rear tires are cambered, the hitch places the ball at only a few INCHES behind the rear axle, it has over sized brakes for its size that could practically throw you through the windshield, it has computer stability control and ABS too. Honestly it is a great to vehicle for smaller campers and trailers. Lets not forget the MPG too!

      • In Europe the Smarts are rated to pull 1000 pounds if I remember correctly. Not sure why they are not trailer rated in America.

        • That’s correct, and it is the same for all vehicles. Besides my Smart Fortwo I also have a Jeep Liberty CRD
          Turbo Diesel. Here in the USA it’s rated at “only” 5,000 lbs towing. In Europe it’s 7,500. The difference is that towing a caravan is part of all drivers training and getting a licence there, as well that the speed is limited to 45mph when towing. In the USA we have the freedom to get our drivers licence and immediately hook up a 65ft trailer and go 90 MPH across Texas with it with zero experience. Physically there is no difference between the vehicles. I always go by the EU ratings when judging vehicles, and I would not hesitate for a second on towing 7k lbs with my tractor of a jeep.
          Heck I towed a fully loaded 16 foot Scamp Deluxe to AZ and back from MI for the winter with a 1993 2 door Geo Tracker. I full time in the Scamp. The little 2,000 lb truck couldn’t go very fast with 3,500 lbs of trailer on it, but it got the job done. I have since retired it in favor of pulling the Scamp with my CRD. Looking forward to getting back out in the desert!

  11. thank you Bob and fellow commenters for another lovely post and discussion! I get so much from peoples’ real world experiences with various ways of living outdoors and mobile.

    I’ve made tents live a long time using tarps to protect them from UV. One experiment with black poly garden plastic film (you put it under your plantings to discourage weeds) available in sizes up to 10×30 feet resulted in good protection, but a very dark tent. It was easy to string up, just tie knots in the corners, drape over the tent, and stake out. Other tie outs can be improvised with duct tape or rocks tied into the edges or commercially available hardware. It was also quite wind resistant, being quite thick.

    I still can’t figure out what tent to use in the desert that could stand the wind. I’ve thought of tipi shapes, but that would only work with an internal framework of poles to support the fabric, the way the Native Americans built theirs. Conventional backpacking tipis that stand up by using stakes to tension the sides against a central pole are too weak, I’ve had them fail when they pulled out the stakes and the fabric flapping is too worrisome to sleep through.

    Another interesting shape of tent to consider is the Trailstar tent

    http://www.mountainlaureldesigns.com/shop/product_info.php?products_id=102

    It’s low pyramid shape reminds me of Bedouin tents, which are used in the desert. The Trailstar is a proven design in high winds, according to numerous ultralight camping forums.

      • Calvin, the issue is much less if the tent can survive it and how miserable are you willing to be? Imagine trying to sleep in that tent with it blowing like that. Now imagine if it blows like that 18 days out of the month. I promise you won’t be living in that tent, you will have taken it down and moved into your vehicle; at least there is a chance of sleeping in it.
        Bob

      • from my experience of desert winds so far and your description above of how they can last for days and days, I can see why it’s not done. Thanks for the info.

        I was thinking of it more as an annex/ living room than a sleeping tent, but it sounds like it will need to be taken down and put up again repeatedly in those weather conditions.

        • Ming, that’s the bottom line, the wind is frequent and severe. For example, I like an awning but I simply stopped using one in the desert because the wind kept blowing it down. I found shade cloth and use it now because the wind just blows through it.
          Bob

  12. Another company I have been looking at is new wave tear drop trailers, they offer a similar product and have a bigger choice of models, plus larger tires and bottom of trailer is sealed like an rv, and the roofs are insulated, draw backs windows are extra, from what i can see on web site, the site is http://www.newwaveteardrop.com located in Bainbridge Georgia, I am torn between them.

    • Dan – these are awesome. thanks for the link. I could use that open one to haul a motorcycle to destination. Then sleep in the back with AC. Just so nice.

      • That’s a good idea, also if you noticed the frame looks heavier duty, the front hitch part is an a frame and standard they weld wire mesh on top for storage, which for me would be a great place to make a generator enclosure and still room for 20 lb propane cylinder, and if needed the 14″ standard tires can be upgraded to 15″ which also I don’t like the runaways are very small tires, narrow, not good for off pavement…

    • Dan, that’s a good looking trailer.It does look like the windows are extra so it cost a little more. The aerodynamics could be better, but I doubt if it’s much difference. It’s a tough call.
      Bob

    • OMG! I love those more! The price isn’t bad. I need someone to do a
      comparison on the safety features for us now. Hint, hint. It’s the
      part that opens up in the back that I like the best. Base price was also $2450 and it had a galley in the back. That would be great to have an outdoor kitchen.

  13. I was thinking last night that a tiny trailer like this could be made into sort of a power module. Solar panels on the roof and ones on the sides mounted to tilt upward, a whole bunch of batteries, the charge controller and inverter… And it could even hold a generator. Park it in the sun and run a cord to the vehicle parked in the shade.
    Al Christensen recently posted…MisfitMy Profile

    • Interesting idea, Al! By the looks of the spindly trailer tongue, you’d want to keep that bunch of batteries either over the axle or spaced away equal distances from it, front and back. But if you could make it work, it might be a great way to avoid butchering up the tow vehicle. If you really took up floor space with the pack, think you could make a hammock work in there?
      DougB recently posted…When a Good Battery Goes BadMy Profile

      • if you are towing it behind your van, I assume that you would live in the van (more head room) and use the trailer as storage+power shack, then there is no need for a hammock.

        Cute little trailer, too bad that they are not legal to park on the street in town unless hitched to a vehicle.

          • you’re welcome, Offroad. This is for Vancouver, BC. You might want to check with the bylaws where you are thinking of doing this. The bylaw enforcement officer I talked to says that it also depends on if your neighbors notice and complain, as the officers can’t be everywhere… that’s why I nixed the idea of a jeep + teeny trailer.

  14. Hi Bob,

    These are great little trailers. As you said before it comes down to comfort and what you are willing to do for freedom.

    Check out this lady who has been on the road fulltime for a few years. She travels by motorcycle and a small trailer that she sleeps in.

    http://www.jhblueroad.com/

    It would be hard for me to downsize that small and I’m still leaning towards a van but this is another idea for me to think about.

    Take care,

    Tina

    • Tina, thanks for that. That’s another idea I had written off as not feasible and here’s somebody doing it.! I need to watch out for deciding ideas will not work.

    • Tina, thanks for that link, I signed up for her blog. I gave serious thought to a motorcycle towing a trailer but like you, I didn’t think I could get own that small. Plus, I gotta have a dog and that wouldn’t work for me.

      It’s really hard to beat a van!!!
      Bob

      • I don’t know, Bob. Can you see yourself with a chihuahua riding in a strap on chest pod wearing doggles, a leather aviation cap and tiny flowing scarf?

        • Ming, I’ve got to be honest and say I can’t quite imagine that. Especially when my beloved Homer was 80 pounds and Cody is 40 pounds! No rat dogs for me!!!
          Bob

  15. Well…….I went up to Ocala yesterday and visited the Runaways. I have to say I like them. After spending about 2 hours walking around them, looking under them, sitting in and laying down in them, …..I put $500 down and ordered one. A Navigator with the gold and black gull wings to match my Ford Escape. Marvin said it will probably be ready within 2 weeks. What the heck, it’s only money. Right? If I use this this thing like I think I’m going to, it should pay for itself pretty quickly. But that is not my reason to have it.
    Oh, Bob, I did Tell Marvin that you sent me.

    • Steve, that’s great! When you get it would you consider taking pictures and writing something about how you like it? I’d love to have a guest post from someone who owns one.

      Did you get your $50 off? If not I’ll contact them.
      Bob

      • Magicwolf, thank you for your encouragement. Yeah, there’s going to be some challenges to work out in this camper. But, I am sure I can come up with some ‘creative space manipulation’, that you mention. I like that saying….. I will keep that phrase in mind as I work on this project.
        As you said more is less a most of the time. I am the type of person that thinks that I have to be prepared for every kind and type of situation that could ever pop up, no matter how remote of a possibility that would be. I have to get myself out of that mindset……. somewhat. I mean, if I don’t have something and a situation comes up that I would need it, I can just stop at the nearest Walmart or Lowes, etc and pick it up, the next time I was near to one. Right?
        Thanks again.

  16. Sure Bob, when I get it I will take a few pics and let everyone know how I feel about it.

    And yes, I am getting the $50 referral discount, for letting them know that you guided me to them. I mentioned it a couple times to Marvin and again today to Stephen.
    Thank you for your advice and suggestion to check them out.
    When I get ready to do the guest post, should I just start a new thread about it or is there a specific area on the site to do this sort of thing?

    As a side note, is there any type of bed you recommend for the Runaway? They have a pretty nice one they sell there for $180. It converts to a couch, which is kinda cool and gives pretty much room when converted to that position. It seems to be comfortable both as a bed and a couch. I just didn’t know if you maybe knew of something similar (and maybe even a lower price). I like to save money when I can.
    And thank you again.

    • Steve, that’s good news about the discounts. I was thinking about the bed and I think I would build something in so I could get storage under it. They key is being able to sit on the bed without hitting your head. So get things that are a different height and see if you can sit on it without hitting your head. Let’s pretend and say you can sit on 10 inches and clear. You can get a good foam pad that’s 4 inches and you need a 3/4 inch sheet of plywood. So you can have 5 inches of storage under the bed. The minimum I would make the bed is 30 inches wide and 33 or 36 would be better and 75 inches long–unless you are really tall. I would probably get a 2 x 6 and cut legs that are 5 inches long and screw down into them through the 3/4 plywood. Then go to Target and find some plastic storage bins that are low enough to slide under and they will be your storage. They can’t be too long so they won’t come out.

      I’d want to be able to cook inside during bad weather, so I’d want a counter-top across the front wall. You got the AC so that makes it a little harder.

      I’d use pegboard on the walls. I use this but I think Walmart sells it for less
      http://www.amazon.com/Bulldog-Hardware-131537–System-Pegboard/dp/B002C3PU3U/

      I use these bins: You can get them for less at Walmart
      http://www.amazon.com/Bulldog-Hardware-1891740-Mesh-Basket-Value/dp/B002OXOFPC/

      Wish I could be there to help, I love the puzzle of squeezing every ounce of space out of a small area.
      Bob

      • pop-up truck campers like Hallmark build in some shallow storage under the bed similar to what Bob suggests. They hinge the whole bed platform to flip up using gas struts as lift assists.

        Or you could build it so the back of the bed can flip up into chaise lounge configuration, and the whole thing can slide back toward the back wall, giving you more floor space. You might have to move and stack up some of the boxes that get uncovered in this way.

        More floor space would allow a hinged extension on the countertop that Bob suggests so that the AC wouldn’t get in the way as much in “work mode”.

        Have fun with your build!

        • Thank you Ming for that suggestion. Yes, I know what you are talking about with the lift up bed and struts. I had that in a class a motor home. It did add nice storage area. And the same type of thing could work well in the Runaway. I had even thought of just using 6 1\2″ tall 34 quart storage containers, (http://www.walmart.com/ip/Sterilite-8.5-Gallon-34-Quart-Latch-Storage-Box-Set-of-6/20699654) lined up on the floor to use as a platform to put the tri fold 4″ foam mattress/sofa on that they sell with the Runaways. Then like you said, just fold it up in the sofa configuration and stack the containers along the walls. I am wanting to have as wide a bed as possible, even if I would have to do a little reconfiguring each day. And that could get old and aggravating after awhile. But if it did I would try a different way to do things. Anything can be changed if it doesn’t work out.
          I was going to do this sort of configuration when I was contemplating setting up my 2014 Ford Escape to live out of. It would have worked pretty good in that instance.
          I guess I will have to wait to see how these ideas work when I pick up the camper and can actually do hands on experimenting.
          Thanks All your suggestions are in the mix of this project.

  17. I forgot to mention, I also receive $100 off for paying in cash besides your referral discount…….Hummm I wonder if they will redeem my Wal-Mart bucks from my Saving Catcher app on my phone as another discount?

  18. I like your idea about the bed. I will add another challenge to you about a couple things. First, I would really like the bed to be the full width of the camper, and still be able to use the storage under it. Maybe somehow have the bed lift up to get to the storage under it, or cut and hinge the 3/4″ plywood frame to fold it back for access? I had an rv that was like that. But as I remember it was a little aggravating trying to get to the stuff under it. I do want this to be as simple and easy to access as possible. I already have some 34 quart Sterilite containers I could use. They are 6 1\2 inches tall. But they are kinda long 26″.

    For the front counter, what about putting in some sort of slide out piece that can be used to extend it for use as a dining table? And what are your suggestions for installing, and the type of material, for the original counter-top across the front wall you mention?
    I appreciate your knowledge in helping me on this.

    • Steve, that’s why I wish I was there to see it, I just can’t help much without seeing the space you have to work with. You could hinge the bed off the walls pretty easily with legs that folded down to support it. You could make it with two 24 inch beds and then you could lift them both up for access. Or you could make one 30 inch and rarely lift it and the other 16 inches. I can’t remember, but it may have to be cut short to fit the door. Cut the foam to fit the two sides of the bed so each side can be lifted.

      Another option is to get a 2 x 6 or 2 x 8 (depending on how tall the bed can be) and build a frame under the bed with it. Then use 1/2 inch plywood as a base but don’t attach it. If the bed is 4 foot by 7 foot, cut it into four pieces of 2 foot by 3 1/2 foot. They will just lay down on top of the frame. Drill finger holes in each one so you can just lift them up like a lid for access to storage underneath.

      Bedding gets heavy! To make it easier to get to the storage underneath I’d think about a backpackers sleeping pad and cheap sleeping bags. They would be easy to move out of the way for access underneath.

      For a front counter top, I think I’d use nice plywood and polyurethane it. I think I’d make it hinged also with legs that were hinged to unfold so it could be up and away or down and used. The part that is on the far wall away from the door, I might make it higher, longer and permanent so it was usable while I was sitting on the bed. Again, I’d have to see it to know.
      Bob

  19. Bob,I also had the idea that since there is a very limited amount of space, it would be nice to maybe have things that would serve double or even triple duty. For example, at night the majority of the camper would be used as a bedroom. Then in the morning it would convert to a bathroom and then kitchen. Then later on in the evening or whenever, convert to a living room to either watch tv, read, work on the computer, etc. Then back to the bathroom to get cleaned up and finally back to the bedroom configuration. In other words don’t keep the layout static…..more or less use the one room of the camper for the specific need at the time, while not having to move or remove things too drastically. Maybe this is just a pipe dream…….without the pipe of course.

    But, I do like your idea about the bed and storage under it. I am definitely going to have that sort of layout in this camper.

    • Steve, I know people who do that, but I’m just too lazy. The constant tear down and set up would drive me crazy. How much room do you need for a bathroom? 2 square feet for a porta potty or 5 gallon bucket. Where will you change clothes. You can’t stand up so you will lay back on the bed and do it there. Where will you cook. Sitting on the edge of the bed with the stove on the counter across the front. Where do I lounge. I lean back against the side wall against pillows.

      Because it’s so low, you have to crawl back and forth and that is no fun for me. Instead, what I do is sit on the bed and scoot back and forth while sitting on it. That’s much better on my back! Even in my van, when I get in, I sit on the edge of the bed and everything is arranged around it that I need to reach. I don’t stand up, or crawl around. I stretch out across the bed or forward of it.

      People who convert there bed into a coach at the very back of the trailer, how do they get to the coach? They either stoop all the way over or they crawl on their hands and knees. I think those are both very bad ideas for me at 60 years old!! I’d very much prefer to sit on the edge of the bed at the very front.

      But, that’s just me!! Your mileage may vary!!!
      Bob

      • Yeah Bob, I know what you mean about the aggravation of tearing down and repositioning things everyday. I do like the simple and less complicated ways to do things. But at the same time, I like to have as much comfort as possible. I really do want to have the bed to be full width of the camper. For some reason I am thinking that the bigger bed would make the camper more comfortable.
        I did have the idea of just using the 34 quart Sterilite 6 1\2″ tall storage containers as a platform for the tri fold sofa/bed that they sell with the camper. Then just put the bed into the sofa configuration and stack the containers to the side walls. But, like you said, I would have to be crawling around and or stooped over and crouched to do all these things.
        I’m kind of in the same school of thought as you in that it is hard to sometimes visualize things you can’t physically haves access to. And I don’t have the camper yet. But when I pick it up after they get it built, next week, I will be able to do some hands on experimenting to see some real life results. But I do like to plan ahead and gather information before I get started on a project.
        Thanks for your suggestions and ideas. It does help me visualize things better,and gives me food for thought.

        • hi Steve, here is a video of Christine over at Defying Normal, showing how her bed converts to a lounge. It might help you decide if you would want to do this every day. Keep in mind that you would have bedding on your bed, which would make things heavier and more awkward.

          http://defyingnormal.com/blog/2014/08/15/bed-videos/

          I did live in a small space once, and had a trifold foam mattress bed on a folding wood frame. It was heavy to fold, so I did not do it very often. If you can find ways to make it lighter, it might work better. Christine used extruded aluminum, which is lighter than wood, but much more expensive!!

          Also, if the trifold foam mattress allows the foam pieces to be removed, you can rotate them like tires to spread the wear as the spot that you sit on the most will break down the fastest.

  20. I remember an understair storage area I used once that had a very long space under a shelf that went way back. I stored things behind other things. With the things in the back, I tied strings that extended to the front of the closet so I could pull them out. Would that help your underbed storage?

    • Ming, I don’t know if that would help me in this case. Once I pulled the item out with the string, how would I get it back where it was originally? Would I have some sort of a rod or stick type of thing to push it back where it was? It’s a pretty good idea. I like your resourcefulness.
      I don’t know if you have seen these Runaways, but they don’t have enough height to stand up in them. And this storage area would be on the floor. I would have to be laying down on the floor to get the items out from under the bed. That might be a little hard to do.
      I don’t have the camper with me yet. It’s still being produced at their manufacturing facility. They are supposed to have it completed sometime next week. But, I like to get on top of things and prepare ahead of time, so I am gathering information and kinda trying to work things out in my mind of how to make it livable and comfortable.
      Thank you for your idea. I may be able to use it in some way.

      • Hi Steve, thank you for the compliment!

        You can use the front boxes to push the back boxes to the back.

        The way I see it in my mind, it would work most easily if you have a bed you can convert to lounge position and push back. That makes the bed shorter and frees up floor space and one row of boxes. They can be stacked up out of the way, maybe on the bed. (With the bed full length, if it is 7 feet long, that only leaves you 1 foot of floor space to work with and I don’t see getting at anything under it without lifting the bed.)

        The bed needs to be designed to sit on a frame to let the boxes underneath slide around. There would be 2 remaining rows of boxes, you can reach the 2nd row to pull them out now that the bed is pushed back, and the strings would allow you to pull the boxes in the last row out.

        With the low head room, I see this done with you sitting on the bed, but who knows, if you are small enough there might be room for you to sit on the floor with the bed pushed back.

        The mental image is definitely like building a puzzle, 3D Tetris.

        I saw a photo of the tiny RV’s they make in Japan for the domestic market. No chairs, the whole floor is cushioned, like a tatami room! Very little head room needed. I guess you sit on the floor to eat and cook, and unroll your bedding for sleep.

        • Ming, the tatami style of doing things in this camper is stimulating ideas in my head. I can just imagine leaving the mats on the floor and doing like you said, with eating, sitting, cooking, and sleeping without moving or having to rearrange things too much. It seems like that sort of setup would give the little camper a much more spacious feeling. Very, good idea!!! And…..it solves the problem of crawling around on the floor being uncomfortable (nice cushioned floor). Right off the top, I am liking this idea. I guess storage could be some sort of light cabinets mounted on the walls at a level that would be easy to reach from a sitting position from the tatami floor.
          I will be thinking about this as a way to live comfortably in the camper.
          Thank you for the very good idea.

          • Steve, that sounds like a very interesting setup. Whatever you do, please let us know, with pictures! I’m very interested in seeing what you come up with, with all the ideas that came up in this post.

  21. Yeah, I am kinda back and forth on what and how I want to do this. I want to have conveniences and creature comforts but at the same time, keep things simple. I will really have to wait till I pick up the camper then start physically doing things. This may turn out completely different than the things that are being visualized in my mind. But, there have been great tips and suggestions here which I am sure will help.
    Yes,I will try to post some pics as I progress.

  22. Not tall enough for any type of comfort. Would be okay for short weekend getaway. Bad idea for long term dwelling!!

    • Ken, lot’s of people live long-term in vans, mini-vans, cars and SUVs. Many of them are not any taller than the Runaway. Everybody has different needs for comfort and it’s good you know what you need.
      Bob

  23. Hi there to all.. just found this site. Just started to consider the bigger Runaway RangeRunner.
    My needs: usual weekend jaunts, low impact, low drama. Have 4runner, years of various camping, boats, towing experience, etc. Not quite ready to retire, which makes this even more feasible. No expensive big camper sitting around the house.
    My thoughts: I love a good real mattress these days, so don’t mind $$ on a good one. (Think Serta pillow top, LOL… well maybe not quite that good )
    I do love my lounge chair for reading and relaxing: http://www.amazon.com/Caravan-Sports-Infinity-Gravity-Chair/dp/B0032UY0BU/ref=lp_553840_1_1?s=lawn-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1436194908&sr=1-1

    I would almost think this could fit inside reclined if needed, during rain, etc. Don’t want to lay down all the time. Good weather is easy, it’s the (sometimes extended) bad that takes thinking about!

    Many other ideas/needs, but easily solved with a Runaway. Enjoy reading all these posts and others ideas, etc.
    Keep ’em coming!

    • Hi Mark, it’s possible the gravity chair would fit but I would guess that it would put so close to the top of the roof that most people would feel claustrophobic. But everyone is different so I can’t really say. I’d give them a call at Runaway campers and ask. They are good people and I think they’d love to help you figure it out.

      With a low top roof I like having a bed that runs the length of the trailer/van. You just step into the van and sit don on the edge. Everything is arranged around you so you can stretch to reach it without having to stand/stoop or crawl. When you have to go to the opposite end, you crawl on the mattress so you aren’t hurting your knees or your back.

      That’s how I live in my low top van–eliminating most need to stand or move around.
      Bob

  24. Greetings:

    I’ve had my Runaway Camper for close to 2 years. Last year, I went to the Great Smoky Mountains for a week and had a very beautiful and relaxing time. It was truly nice to return to camp, after exploring around the park, fix a meal, sit around the camp fire and then retire for the night in my camper. I used to camp with a tent for years. Getting this camper was one of the best investments I’ve ever made.

    Besides going to nearby parks, like for a weekend get-away, in May of this year, I went west, going through 11 states, camping in Colorado, Utah and Arizona. In August, I wanted to go west again, to California, so off I went again. I wanted to see Yosemite National Park, mainly, and some others. I thoroughly enjoyed my camper on each of those trips. I pull it with a 4-cylinder 2006 Chevy Colorado pickup truck, averaging approximately 24 mpg, which isn’t bad.

    I have one more road trip planned before the winter, a return trip to the Smokies and from there, I hope to go to Wash. DC and Niagara Falls.

    Love your blog. Happy Camping!

    • Bingo, that is a great report, thank you! If you treat it like a tent, it’s easy to love it because it’s so much better than a tent. Hard to believe you were able to get 24 MPG with it, that’s amazing! That way, you can afford to travel.
      Bob

      • It’s definitely a lot better than a tent. When I got tired of driving and needed a break, I would simply pull into a rest area, truck stop or shopping center, get in the camper and take a nap. I wouldn’t be able to do that with a tent. If I didn’t have a house that’s paid for, I would give some serious thought to living in the camper, moving from place to place. Most of my time is spent outside of the camper, only need it for sleeping and getting out of the rain. I do have some long-term camping trips planned for the future.

        Keep on doing it, my friend. Life is for the living!

  25. Bob, after reading this article, I ordered a Runaway, Navigator. There is another person that could get the referal, but he hasn’t responded to my message. So, if you read this and are available to accept the referal money. Let me know. I spoke to Marvin, and he is waiting for me to tell him whom gets it. Thanks

  26. Ok that’s great. I’ll tell Marvin you get my referal. I assume he has your contact information? If not Ill contact you here to set up something.
    By the way, great write up on the runaway campers.

  27. First to the moderator I wish to thank you for reinstating my privilege to comment I do have plenty to share this is just my brainstorming session that I will seek out answers and I will report how I go about solving issues posed.
    I just bought one of these little campers. About the car 2007 Prius 1.5 liter hybrid that barefoot will get 45 mpg. But towing the runaway at 60 mph I get 30 mpg that is flat land, no wind. I am thinking of experimenting with a tarp and duct tape to keep air out the space between the car and trailer I can pull this off and probably get the mpg around 35 mpg. I want to get the best economy not just because of economy but wear and tear on the transmission increased drag shows up not just in your economy but longevity of the drive train.
    The camper is tight quarters and I know this much I have to drop 30 lbs that alone will make this work a lot better. Last check I was around 340 that is way too large for this small camper.
    I have things like solar panels but harbor freight solar panels are not your best bet and generator is a good one a Honda and I want to make damn sure I get this right so I don’t get my generator stolen while sleeping .Now is the time to get it right not out there you practice in your yard and once you got your game down do a 2 day trip out in the woods see how well things are. Then after I feel really good about this I can take it on the road for a 2-3 month tour.
    I know I passed on the RTR this year I just was not prepared for a trip that far from my home and that far from things like Sams club, I have a lot of needs to care for and last thing I want is to get out there and feel forced to get a hotel. I think my first trip will be some place local maybe the area around Grand Aisle LA if they don’t have issue with a car camper around there?
    I am on the right path just got to dial it in and know what I need and what I don’t. What I am thinking of doing is using the Prius for power on the small stuff and using the generator for the big stuff. Real easy to leave home over loaded with things you just don’t need. I could go to NOLA and do 2 days with the rubbertramps there. Hang with them a bit might just do that?
    I will add D rings to the roof and floor and use vacumn cleaner cord as hand holds to get up and down off the floor. I also want to use some sort of cargo securement system totes with bungee cords can be just the ticket.

    Even sitting on a small stool I can’t raise my head up, not a problem if I got to sit up and work on stuff the car AC is the best way to go for that. I was thinking that one of them glass bubbles in the middle of this thing would be a great way to give you that little head room yet maintain aerodynamics I find a bubble who knows. I might do that Know it would look a little strange and kind of remind you of a gopher but hey stranger things have happened. One thing for sure I will be the only one. For privacy I could put my tarp on it as long as I don’t have solar panels don’t really need to have the sun on the roof. Progression sure there is the both feet in way but not my style been there done that and I rather not do that.

  28. Although not promoted, Runaway Campers also sells a slide-in truck camper called “The Slider.” It weighs around 400# and will fit in the bed of a full size pickup with a 6-8 foot bed. (I own one). The Slider will also easily fit on a 4×8 trailer. Very versatile. It does take at least two people to load/unload (I recommend 4!) The main difference in the Slider version is that the door is on the rear. I envisioned pulling a 6×8 Runaway and having the Slider as a 2nd sleeping area. I have since purchased a 23′ Class C (Wife felt too cramped in our Slider) so I’m going to list the Slider. I’ll post a link to pics.
    http://tampa.craigslist.org/hil/rvs/5505978284.html

    • Robert, they didn’t have that when I was their. If they made it taller, it would be something I would be interested in.
      Bob

  29. I am considering a Runaway myself. I live in Quartzsite Arizona which is home to La Posa LTVA, which you can live at for seven months a year for $180. I am turn between the Runaway and a 99 Tioga 22 for the same price. The Tioga is very nice with all the amenities, but the mpg and as we know RV’s are a money pit. If I got it I’d have to sell my Mercedes 420SEL which I dearly love. So the Runaway makes sense. I’ve tent camped on a motorcycle and camped in my Westy in years past. So I know what I’m getting into. Given the outrageous prices of tear drops and their limitations, the Runaway is a no brainer. Certainly the size of the Runaway allows for more options and limitations. No matter what, there are trade offs. The fun thing about full timing is that you adapt. You get creative, which is part of the adventure. For $3500 with AC you can’t go wrong in my book. Besides, here in Arizona you can buy a five year tag. I think I just talked myself into the Runaway. Maybe it I give them the paint code they can match my Benz.

    • John, when you compare it to a tent, it far, far better. If you can be happy with a tent, you will be much happier with a Ruanway. They are now making a tall Runaway which is still light and reasonably priced, you might look into it. I’m still a big fan. Tell them Bob at cheaprvliving.com sent you, and you’ll get $100 off.
      Bob

    • You can order them with a roof vent for not too much. Yeah, they serve to fill a distinct need with many people–an affordable home available right now. Bob

  30. I mus’ve missed that in the options list
    all the options look reasonably priced, too, considering the work necessary
    Thanks Bob

  31. So I have a stupid question. So if you have this attached to your car and i have to go somewhere where i need to just drive only my car, then where do you leave the little trailer. And a campground in the woods in the parking lot??? Seems like once this thing is attached to your car you can’t go anywhere without it. That’s assuming you are homeless and this is your own place to live. And you can’t afford to put a fortune of money down on a temporary part-time RV park. And you can’t just park these on sidestreets or in a daycamp example state park near the ocean, At night. Yes if one is in NF or BLM one has a place to stay, but again what happens when you have to leave your camper and drive someplace with just your car. Seems it would be very easy to steel. Would like your thoughts on this thank you

    • You can get locks that make it very hard to steal. It’s still possible but it will slow them down so much they will go somewhere else easier. I never worry about my trailer as a boondocker, but I spend a lot of time with other people in the tribe. That’s your best bet. Bob

  32. Bob, I have just read about 1/2 of these posts from the top. Great info on all fronts. I am considering a runaway and towing it behind a prius very slow and carefully after I would purchase a Home Depot hitch for the prius for just over $200 + electrical wiring for lights. Do you think that this is a far fetched idea? I would like to haul it as a fulltimer or close to it. Pulling it to begin with from central valley CA to AZ desert living for a while. I have tried sleeping in the prius just one night so far and it’s a bit cramped for me but that space can be used for storage. May even get a cargo box for the top of the prius.

  33. I have a question about insurance.The Base Camp model-is it considered an trailer or an “Travel trailer”? There is no AC in it,just windows and a door. The Cool Camp does have AC does that make it a true travel trailer?

  34. We have a 2016 Runaway wAv and absolutely love it. My wife and I are both 73 years young and have always been avid campers and explorers. We have had a numbers of campers, RV trailers and motor homes. After a year or more search for a small, comfortable and affordable trailer, we sold our 25 foot Travel Trailer to the purchase of the wave.

    We have traveled over 8,000 miles and camped ten campsites in seven states using the wAv and pulled by our KIA Sorento enjoying every minute.

    I would happy to answer any questions you may ask.

  35. Hey Bob,
    Just been researching the Runaway, really appreciate your comments & the video at the plant.
    Have you ever heard of anyone pulling one with a Prius?
    I have slept in my Prius on the road using a tri-fold memory foam mattress and it worked out very well.
    The idea of having more space but still all of the advantages of the Prius is intriguing.
    One thing you did not mention in your blog that is a consideration for me is the trailer is not stealth so it would be obvious you were sleeping in it on the road.
    Thanks for all of the sage advice you provide.
    Happy Trails…

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