‘Small towable RVs’ part 4 — One man’s search for the perfect sized RV for his active retirement

Bud Frankenburger, Scamp 5th-wheel (Julianne G. Crane)

This is the fourth and final posting on the trend toward ‘Small Towable RVs

One of Bud Frankenburger’s personal goals was to retire early enough to indulge his passion for hiking and exploring the backcountry of the U.S.

For many years, as a college professor in southwest Texas, during term breaks and summers, he car-camped and eventually “graduated” to a small over-cab truck camper.

“It was perfect. I could go anywhere….every vacation I began to explore the unpaved backcountry roads of National Parks, National Forests and State Parks in the Southwest. Like Whitman, I felt ‘Loosed of limits and imaginary lines.'”

By the time he retired, however, he found he wanted an RV that he could park in one spot and use his vehicle for side trips. “But,” he said, “I still loved the adventure of exploring remote camping spots.” Hence, his search for a small towable RV.

He researched tent and A-frame hard-sided pop-up trailers. He looked at Hi-Lo Trailers and Trail Manor hybrids. “Both of these brands permit towing in a low profile position like the pop-ups, but both then lift up to regular hard-sided RVs.” However each of these choices had some drawbacks.

Through his lengthy process, what Frankenburger discovered was that he wanted a “relatively inexpensive,” light-weight unit with a permanent bed (not just a table that converted into a bed), and one that required little or no set up time.

One day in the Hill Country west of Austin, Frankenburger saw a strange unit being pulled by a small pickup. “It looked like a horse trailer at first,” he said. “I gave chase. It turned out to be the fifth-wheel model of Scamp trailers.”

His search was over. The 19-foot unit weighed less than 2,500 pounds, had a permanent climb-into bed, was affordable, and could be towed with his six-cylinder Ford Ranger and “still average 16 mpg.”

Bud Frankensburger volunteers at Big Bend National Park.

Since purchasing his rig 10 years ago, he has spent about 1,200 nights in his little unit, sometimes for only a short weekend trip, but also for up to five months during the winter while working as a volunteer at Big Bend National Park.

Frankenburger’s “advice to Pilgrims” is to “take time to figure out how you are most likely to use your unit. Explore the options on-line and in RV lots; ask questions to RV owners you meet in campgrounds; take an RV trip with a friend who owns one.”

To read part 1 on ‘Small towable RVs,’ click on — “Economical to pull”
To read part 2 click on — “Easy to handle”
To read part 3 click on — “Watch your weight

Julianne G. Crane

Photos: Former college professor Bud Frankenburger of Michigan spends up to five months each winter living in his 19-foot Scamp 5th wheel trailer when he volunteers for Habitat for Humanity building project in Las Cruses, Ariz., (top) and at Big Bend National Park. (Top photo by Julianne G. Crane)

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