Jillian

We were considering a tiny house; however, we might just end up buying a mini-bus and converting it to a custom RV.

Why?

Because we planned to travel and aren't interested in pulling a tiny house regularly. I would imagine that it would depend on your situation. If we were planning to be stationary, we would have built a tiny house.

I also like the custom aspect of the travel bus.

I wouldn't count customization as a differing factor but we like the idea. And plenty of people customize their own RVs, myself included. I've gotten ideas from both tiny houses and factory RVs to make my home on wheels exactly what I want.

And that is the biggest difference, home on wheels that is made to go down the road vs home on wheels that is made bypass building restrictions. Of course not all tiny homes are on wheels, but a large part of them are, and that is because of building restrictions.

But, being built out of materials like a foundation house, if you take them down the road there will be a lot to repair when you are done.

Expense is the other difference.

RVs, even custom build at home, will cost you more. Of course they are made to withstand the bumps of the road so they have to be braced differently, and have road gear.

With a home made RV you can expect around 285 square feet to be your maximum living space. And you've already touched on the looks so I'll leave you with this.

Balance or decide which is more important to you, cost of the build or mobility after the build.

Look into "Skoolies" it really is the best of both worlds.

As for the tiny house. The biggest difference is that most RVs are not really built for full-time living.

They are designed & built to be mobile & light.

This impacts how they are insulated, for example, which makes a difference in terms of what you will spend on utilities.

I find the storage to be set up differently, again due to issues of weight, given that RVs are designed to move more often. Plenty of people live in RVs full time, it's doable, and a lot depends on the type of RV.

Because a tiny house is designed for full-time living, the ceilings tend to be higher, and there are other design features that make them feel less cramped, and this last point is really important. Feeling cramped and crowded is not fun.

An RV is designed for people to drive somewhere & spend time outside, a tiny house is designed to be a home.

Even though the dimensions of the trailer camper are roughly the same as the tiny houses (except for the height), the tiny houses feel more spacious.

Jillian

The UEV 440 costs $49,999 in case anyone was wondering. I understand you get a LOT for that $$ but our friends just picked up a 35ft RV with dual slideouts for 1/3 of that. To each his own, moving the RV is a bit of work, this could be quick and dirty.

I know this thing is over engineered and can be taken off road, but for the price you could buy a lot bigger travel trailer. You couldn't take off road but if I'm going off road to camp I'll just take a tent.

Jillian

Depends on the trailer. I think the Casita is a small fiberglass trailer so no seams other than where vents, etc are.

They are small and lightweight, but will be too small for you I think once your kids get older. The great thing about pop ups is they feel so airy inside, and the bigger ones give you a great amount of room for cheap compared to an enclosed trailer, if you are willing to deal with the tradeoffs. Putting up or taking down a pop up in the rain is no fun at all.

Honestly that is the single biggest factor for me in considering going to a regular trailer. The ability to back in, spend 30 min getting it level and hooked up and I am done when it is nasty outside.

Generally pop ups are all fairly cheaply made. They are not good for rough roads without some modifications. You could flip the axle to get more ground clearance, etc.

I would encourage you to look into scouts when they get older. It has been great for my son. I have also found it difficult at times to find the time to camp as we both get older. A 50 state goal is admirable, and I wish you luck in your quest. I know I don't have the time to devote to that, and time flies as they get older.

I love my pop up, but it is a lot of work to get set up compared to a tent. The creature comforts are worth it, but I have bad knees and a bum elbow now, so it isn't as easy as it used to be. Most will run off a 12V battery for basics - lights, etc. The heater will suck your battery dry in no time though - the fans consume a lot of power. We only camp at national/state parks with electric and water. It is so convenient having running water and power in the camper, which is exactly why I bought it.

Lift systems can fail over time, they are all a system of winches, cables and pulleys. Most roofs will have leaks if not cared for properly. Seams need to be resealed on an annual basis if it is stored outside.

The tent material can degrade, critters will eat holes in it, and it can get moldy or torn with use. If you are handy you can patch most issues.

Mine has a 20 gal fresh water tank, a cassette toilet and a dedicated 20 gal grey water tank for the shower. The sink drains outside the camper, so I have a wheeled gray water tote to capture that.

I limit my camping to fair weather

If we have a trip planned and it looks like it will be rainy it gets rescheduled. Honestly I don't care to go camping in the rain anyway. It gets to be more of a problem as my time gets limited. Sometimes that weekend may be the only one I have all month to do it. In that case a regular trailer would still allow me to go, and we could just do something different while there - explore the local town, mess around in the camper, etc. These days I treat the camper as a portable hotel room - there is so much more to do without limiting yourself to typical camping activities like hiking, etc.

We like to go explore historical stuff, museums, etc.

Check out popupportal.com - there is a wealth of info there, and it should get you started.

Jillian

Some are pretty nice, they are easy to tow but you should still have at least a V6 engine. One thing that may sway you is that you can't stay at certain campgrounds in Yellowstone with a soft-sided trailer due to the bear population.

But if you don't plan on doing Yellowstone....

Disadvantages

  • the bathrooms are pretty bad. They don't have hard sides, they just zip, so you can hear (and smell) everything. You're going to want to go in real bathrooms as much as possible. (but you'll learn that pretty quick)
  • The top half is essentially a tent, so if it rains hard, it will leak. You can get stuff to waterproof it as much as possible, but it'll still leak when it rains hard
  • Not good for extreme temperatures, either. There's only a strip of canvas between you and the cold. (or heat)
  • Setup time. It's like a transformer, you'll have to set the jacks, crank up the outside, slide the sliders out, then set up the table, unfold the stove, zip up various flaps, attach the door, etc. If I remember correctly, it can take over an hour to set it up.

Advantages

  • Cheaper
  • Better for gas mileage since they close
  • Easier to store at your house.
  • giant beds on each side are a pretty efficient use of space
  • top makes a great place to store things like bikes and other toys, because you can easily get them off before you crank it up.

All in all, the mix of advantages and disadvantages gives a whole different experience. Actually having to pay attention to the weather and other things means you're more in tune to your surroundings. It means things you don't have to worry about actually matter.

What kind of stuff are you looking to do? It might be worth the extra money to get a hard-side one, possibly with a set of batteries and a generator, that way you don't have to worry about having hookups. You can do things like pull off and stay in a Wal-Mart parking lot for the night for free, (they allow... and even welcome that).

Jillian

A truck tent.

But before you get all excited....

If you do that, I'd recommend bringing two cars.

This is the big thing alot of people with motor homes realize after the fact. If you need to go somewhere you just unhook a trailer and drive off, you don't have to pick up camp.

Being able to take your vehicle and not have to pick up camp is very nice.

If you do any boating and will need to trailer and untrailer a boat... the pickup camper loses there as well.

We put a queen air mattress in our tent when we car camp and still have plenty of room for the hound and our stuff. a decent modern tent is alot better than what I stayed in as a kid, half the time anymore I will wake up in the middle of the night and realize I forgot I was in a tent not my bedroom.

When we go camping, we usually go on different adventures/daytrips. I feel like it would be a pain to pack down the tent every day, especially if you needed something like ice for the cooler.

If you don't want it dirty in there, put a little welcome mat out front so people can take off their shoes before hopping in.

Jillian

We used to take cast iron and "campy" things when car camping and yeah it really does add up quickly. Gives it more of a traditional feel, but it's a lot to haul around.

Then I got use one of those self-contained modular kits by GSI. GSI makes some nice Pinnacle skillets. Their largest has a fixed handle, but the next two sizes down have folding handles. I think I have 1 10" pan, and a 12" pan from REI that is very similar. I also picked up a nesting pot set from a garage sale that I think is a GSI Bugaboo camper set. I can live with the detachable handles, but size wise they are plenty big to cook two cans of beans in.

Better for backpacking but as you say when you're car camping it's a little annoying to deal with the smaller sizes and added cost of backpacking cooksets.

Honestly what I would do if I were you - what I wish I had done instead of spending money on the novel gsi set - is to go walmart and just get some normal sized, inexpensive "normal" pots and pans -not cast, and pick up some cheap cooking utensils while you're there, then a bunch of cheap plastic plates and some of the heavy duty (non disposable) plastic cutlery. you can also pick up some cheap lightweight plastic cutting "boards" that roll up (they aren't really boards, just thin sheets) and other interesting items like that.

If having the handles on the pots and pans bother you, see if you can find a potholder in the store and try them on whatever pot or pan you're looking at, and then take a look and see how hard it would be to just remove or cut off the handle on the pot or pan.

That doesn't guarantee they'll nest though.

If nesting is a thing. There's plenty of nesting cookware on Amazon. However none of them are really going to have a nice sized sautee pan ... however there's nothing saying you can buy nesting pots, and then just go get a full size sautee pan to rest them all in.

Really when car camping there's just no need to buy the expensive specialized cooksets; they're all really overpriced for what they are.