Rant: Pop-Up camper trailer and why it’s not cutting it for me

camper trailer quicksilver

Our Livin Lite Quicksilver pop up camper trailer has been fantastic for us. It’s checked almost all of the boxes and then some. Going from tent camping to Ladybug was a huge step up for our big family camping trips in terms of comfort, but I’m finding it didn’t go far enough to make these trips more easy and convenient.

Ladybug, our trusty Livin Lite Quicksilver pop up camper

Don’t get me wrong… I still love my truck camping overland trips when it’s just two of us. Sleeping in the back of my Tacoma or, IMHO the best ground tent ever, the Gazelle T4 hub tent, is one of my favorite methods of camping. But as I mentioned in other Livin Lite Quicksilver posts, having a camper trailer for trips with all four of us plus the dog is just easier.

So here’s my conundrum with the Livin Lite, or any pop up camper for that matter. I want to easily be able to get into the camper when it’s parked in my driveway and load it up with clothes, restock the drawers and shelves, and get the fridge loaded with basic food items. I want to be able to pull off the side of a road and sleep for the night with having to “set up” the camper and pop out the sides for sleeping. These two abilities would make long road trips with multiple stops much easier with our big family. You cannot do this with a pop up camper trailer.

camper trailer quicksilver
Meet Ladybug on her maiden voyage!

But I don’t want something massive and heavy. I bought the Livin Lite Quicksilver because it’s small-ish and super lightweight. When I load it with gear it doesn’t even crack 2,000 pounds. This makes towing and maneuvering it with my Toyota Tacoma a breeze. I’m fine with going up to 3,000lbs. but anything over that would just be too cumbersome.

There are some things I need in a camper trailer and a lot that I don’t need. I’m having a hard time finding something that lands in this sweet spot.

What I DON’T need in camper trailer:

  • Inside cook station. I love camping because I can cook outside. I have no desire to cook inside, not even to heat up water. An outdoor stove and sink would be all I need. I don’t mind a fridge inside, but it would be perfectly fine if it was outside.
  • Permanent toilet situation. I don’t want to deal with pumps, etc. It would be nice to have, but my little toilet setup works great. All I need is a dedicated place to have it setup.
  • Air conditioning. This would be nice, but it’s not necessary. More stuff to break, and more likely the kids will try to go inside the camper on a warm day rather than find something to do in the shade.
  • Lots of space is not needed. Two queens would be nice, and maybe a little sitting area. But a sitting area with a table is really not a requirement. More of an added bonus if it can transform into a sleeping area.

What I DO need in a camper trailer:

  • Furnace/Heater. I absolutely love the built-in heater in my Livin Lite Quicksilver. I’ve done the Mr. Heater buddy route, and I’d rather avoid that if possible.
  • 2 queen beds or a queen and 2 bunks. I don’t mind if this is a drop-down/pop-out solution. I’ve seen some campers with this setup and I like it.
  • Plenty of storage options.
  • Keep the total trailer length under 20ft. It needs to fit in my driveway.
  • Sink inside would be nice. Not a requirement.
  • Dedicated kitchen area outside. Whether it be a pull-out countertop for a stove and cookware or a rear hatch that opens up with a great kitchen setup, I want to cook outside.
  • Lightweight, durable, and good ground clearance. We like hitting dirt roads and remote campsites.
  • Price $10-20k new or used.

A hybrid camper might be ideal for us, but again you have to put out the beds and set them up instead of just leaving them setup when you’re making multiple stops on one trip. We will most likely end up with a 20 foot travel trailer that has bunks on one side for the kids and a queen on the other side.

If you have any ideas for me, let me know. I feel like I had to get this quick rant out of the way. I foresee the Livin Lite Quicksilver taking us on a few more trips since I’m not in a rush to get rid of it.

Happy Camping everyone!

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4 thoughts on “Rant: Pop-Up camper trailer and why it’s not cutting it for me

  1. I think you’ve narrowed a lot of the needs down. I don’t think in a 20-footer you’ll find a lot without an inside kitchen and table (and really, a table inside is probably pretty good in the rain).

    I’ve also got a Tacoma (gen 3, 2WD, V6, tow package, max tow 6600) and all the advice I hear is that you don’t want to come near that max tow weight. Also that a weight distribution hitch makes all the diff. in the world to the handling.

    As a trial, I’m renting a 2022 Forest River RV Salem FSX 178BHSKX with a weight-distribution hitch next weekend, for a not-too-far-away test drive and camp. It has a slide which helps make it heavier than you’d like (but roomier too). You might look at Jayco JayFlight and JayFeather models – the latter are their lighter line, I believe, and some of these are hard-side with tent sections.

    If you have a sec, can you tell me what brand and size tires you have on your QS 10.0 “Ladybug”? I was out at storage pre-checking mine for a long trip next month, but neglected to snap a photo of the tire labels.

    1. Hi. Sorry I’ve been away from the internet the past few months. Ladybug has since been sold so I can’t check on the tires. How did you test run go with the Forest River?

  2. The test run went…OK.

    The Tacoma handled the tow, and the trailer rented with the WD hitch, and I’m convinced that really helps the handling. OTOH, the Tacoma was working REAL hard to pull it. The empty weight was only 3,7xx so I can’t imagine what towing 6600 with this truck would be like. Lots of gear-hunting on little inclines, etc. Had I known this truck would breathe so hard towing what is a small and light travel trailer, I’d have considered another vehicle. (really happy with the Taco in just about every other respect)

    I’ve had my QS 10.0 back out for a solid week at the races in Florida, and towing it was a joy in comparison to the hard-side camper. Don’t think I’m ready to sell it, at least for now.

    One other thing on the Forest River trailer: It was a 2022 model, and “new” to the owner: bought new-old-stock, and only one trip on it prior to rental. I found myself repairing the kitchen drain plumbing to spare the owner’s floor from damage, and marveling at how even a kid with no experience and no square or level could’ve hung the cabinet doors straighter. The build quality was absolutely awful (and we’d been told to expect that of pandemic-era builds: They were pushing trailers out the door so fast they couldn’t keep up. Now means there’s a glut of probably-poorly-built inventory on the lots). Forest River is one of a huge conglomerate of many low- to mid-priced brands from the same company, so you find this level of “quality” on many affordable and should-be-a-lot-nicer trailers.

    The Harbor Freight WD hitch was broken (in a minor way) when I picked it up, so maybe a different choice there is good, too.

    1. that’s kind of what I expected to hear from your test. The tacoma is pretty weak when it comes to towing, especially going up hills and over passes. I recently sold my Tacoma for a 2006 first gen Toyota Tundra and couldn’t be happier. It’s a 4×4 double cab and I put a truck camper on the back of it (lightweight). I haven’t made a post about it here at the site yet, but I’m working on it. Over at my instagram.com/dirtnsmores account I’ve talked about it plenty.

      As for the build quality of the forest river… not surprised either. I’ve heard nothing but bad things about all these newer campers (and even the old ones). My Quicksilver was built so well and everything just worked. If something broke it was easy to fix. Sometimes simplicity goes a long way.

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