It’s no secret that the best time to buy camping gear is in the dead of winter and, with Christmas just around the corner, there’s no time like the present to take a look at some of the hottest ways to go camping in 2009.
Mountain Hardwear Casa 4 Tent – $325
When it comes to tents, you truly do get what you pay for, and the $325 Casa 4, from Mountain Hardwear, is no exception. What makes the Casa 4 such a great family camping tent is its unique two-pole support system.
This system makes the tent very easy to pitch, but the front and rear hoops also make for nearly vertical walls, which adds a lot of usable interior space over common dome shaped tents. Normally, as 4-person tent would be tight for a family, but the Casa 4’s rain fly adds five feet of vestibule area in the front for gear.
SylvanSport ‘GO’ Multipurpose Trailer – $7,500
The SylvanSport GO is an 800-pound tent trailer that is more than just a tent trailer; the tent, by Kelty, is removable so that the GO can also serve as a cargo hauler for bicycles, motorcycles, or an ATV. When used as a tent trailer, the interior is configurable with sleeping for two to four people. It has a cargo-carrying capacity of 800-pounds.
Lightweight trailers, like the GO, are becoming more popular with the high price of fuel. These trailers are towable by a family’s existing car, SUV, or mini-van, and they are often small enough to be stored at home. The flexibility of the GO makes it doubly attractive for families that not only camp, but also participate in other outdoor recreational activities.
Starcraft 1701 Pop-up Tent Trailer – $5,500
Small pop-up tent trailers, like the Starcraft 1701, can be towed behind many cars, mini-vans and SUV’s. With large foldout beds on each end, pop-up tent trailers provide excellent sleeping accommodations for a camping family.
The Starcraft 1701 features 6’ 5” of interior headroom, a two-burner propane stove and a sink. It’s small size does not allow for a toilet or shower, but it does include an integrated icebox cooler for food and drinks.
KZ Coyote 19CT Hybrid Trailer – $20,000
Hybrid travel trailers are a great compromise between the relatively sparse accommodations of a pop-up and the heavy weight of a full-fledged travel trailer. If you already have a half-ton class pickup truck or SUV, a hybrid trailer makes a lot of sense.
Like a pop-up, one of the big advantages of a hybrid are the fold-out beds which provide a tremendous amount of sleeping space in a relatively compact trailer. The KZ Coyote 19CT does not disappoint in this area, offering not just two foldout beds, but three (the third bed is on the far side). All of this in a package with a maximum weight of 5,000 pounds, which is very towable behind any half-ton vehicle.
Itasca Navion 24J – $80,000
Just a bit larger than a mini-van, at 24’ 6” long, the Itasca Navion 24J is virtually a house-on-wheels. Like a pop-up tent trailer, there are plenty of beds for the entire family. For $80,000 (my estimated dealer price, based on a $100,000 MSRP) you get a shower, toilet and a separate bathroom sink. There is also a full-featured kitchen, including a refrigerator.
The Navion is built on a Dodge Sprinter chassis, with an efficient Mercedes-Benz V6 turbo-diesel engine that is good for around 15 MPG. That is about double the mileage that a regular, gas-powered, motorhome gets.
Let’s Go Camping!
You don’t have to spend $80,000 to take the family camping next year. In fact, you don’t even have to spend $1,000. Starting out slow is the best way to get into camping, and now is the perfect time to start planning your family’s adventures next year.