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Old 05-01-2017, 08:20 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Best choice vehicle for touring the National Parks

Ok, I am reaching out for suggestions. I am 63, and planning retirement activities. On my bucket list is to tour all the National Parks, and some others. I enjoy tent camping, hiking and backpacking. I hunt with a camera. 4wd is not necessary, most of the national park roads are passable. I will use the vehicle to get to the trailhead. I am considering a Subaru Outback (prefer a manual transmission). Good fuel mileage is important - since I live in Kansas, there will be long road trips to reach most of the parks. I prefer to have a passenger capacity of at least 4, and to have a trailer hitch. The trailer will be small, perhaps just enough to haul tents and packs. A car top carrier (Thule or Yakima rack) is also under consideration. So, please, share your thoughts and ideas. Thank you in advance.

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Old 05-01-2017, 09:26 PM   #2 (permalink)
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An over the roof carrier will kill MPG. A trailer won't be as bad.
A roof top carrier will easily cost you 5mpg, where for a trailer to cost you 5mpg you would pretty much need to put something huge on it like an ATV.
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Old 05-01-2017, 10:19 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Have you considered a cargo carrier?
It would be behind so no extra rolling resistance, and it shouldn't add any frontal area to it.
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Old 05-07-2017, 08:19 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Welcome to Ecomodder.

Swedish military observation bus


Beutler tour bus


You didn't mention a budget, perhaps it would only allow one of these:



As for the trailer, Westfalia (not Westphalia):

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Old 05-10-2017, 02:34 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Though no manual trannies, modern minivans with in-floor seat stowage are very good for sleeping in, and the only time I couldn't make it up a grade was with at least 10" of fresh snow on the sharp turn onto a very steep asphalt driveway with a heavily laden cargo carrier out back (unloading the FWD traction of our Odyssey). On a RWD vehicle, the cargo platforms usually improve weight distribution, and you can customize the platform height to stay out of the exhaust stream and in the car's wind shadow. There are also swing-out carriers to ensure tailgate access. My full-tank minivan MPG record (28) was with the cargo carrier out back.

If I were buying a new travel/utility vehicle today, the Chrysler Pacifica (plug-in) Hybrid would top the list, but unless a big family affair (5+), I'd leave the middle seats at home (no mid row stow-go for the hybrid).

Subaru MPG sucks, and they aren't particularly high-mile vehicles. My sister's Forester had many issues including lotsa oil consumption before the engine committed suicide around 150k.
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Old 05-10-2017, 05:53 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
...Chrysler Pacifica (plug-in) Hybrid...
Thanks. I did not know that.

It looks like in addition to 30 miles all-electric range, you get a first-year-of-production vehicle that (if maintained) will appreciate after the bottom of the resale curve.
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Old 05-12-2017, 09:22 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Thank you to everyone. I appreciate your ideas. I don't think I will get a VW touring bus, although that is not a bad idea. I like the idea of the small trailer. The cargo carrier is good too, especially if I am not putting much weight on it. I appreciate all vehicle suggestions. I have not set a budget, because I don't want to limit my options. However, as much as I like the Earthroamer, it is over budget for sure. And it does not get the fuel mileage I desire. I don't know how many passengers (and therefore cargo) I will have on each trip. I am single, but have close relatives and friends. I anticipate the number of passengers may vary. I would enjoy this continued discussion.
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Old 05-12-2017, 09:27 PM   #8 (permalink)
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jray3, I appreciate your comments. My brother has a Honda Odyssey, and he love it. We took it on a backpacking trip, and it worked well. Until the electrical all went out as we were driving down a steep mountain road. No power brakes (which means little braking at all) no power steering, and scary times. It took a couple of days to get fixed. At least we were on our way home. My cousin has a Subaru Forester with 194,000 miles on it, and it's going strong with no engine problems at all. Sometimes it's the luck of the draw.
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Old 05-13-2017, 03:45 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
I like the idea of the small trailer.


It's important that the trailer and tow vehicle be matched to each other.

Maybe a stainless steel jeep body with a Veep chassis with VW or electric power, but Plastidipped Camo green.

Or, for a more upbeat look, Bluminum.

If you go with a canvas top, basalt fiber twill. It's fireproof, knife-proof and electrically insulative.
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Old 05-13-2017, 05:38 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Lots of discussions on RV boards about budget. Some blogs out there, too. About half the cost of road trips is overnight accommodations with fuel the other half (this is quite rough).

Lack of potable water -- and hot water -- is Reason No. 1 for an RV. Being "self-contained". Allows one to stop nearly anywhere and still cook and bathe. The second most important RV system is propane. Without which, travel trailers and all wouldn't exist.

Reason No. 2 is all weather shelter. Tents are okay, and then suddenly they aren't. Illness and injury can be dealt with in hard shelter. Same for bad weather.

Reason No. 3 is food. A real sink, refrigerator/freezer and stove/oven completely outmatch a Coleman stove and an ice chest. Not to mention storage of canned goods, etc.

Reason No. 4 is privacy. The choice thereof. Don't discount it.

I am recommending a wider view, and from a fixed budget. Limited trips are satisfying. And then they aren't. The artificiality of "Nature" wears thin as a religious precept. (And it is). "Going on a trip" is too narrow. Too much is missed by this approach. ("I have to go home", is the problem).

I'm third generation with Airstream type trailers. Ditch the house, and get an older one that no longer depreciates. Ten years is break-in, and twenty-five needs a go through. Buy, renovate, and use then sell for what you have in it (again, rough).

Plenty of folks in mid 20s mpg wise. It's all about motivation.

It's also a subject with depth. Far more than I'll try to relay. But while a few years younger than you I saw those National Parks forty to fifty years ago. Traveling as above. What I'd like to do with time off isn't that different, but I've already known "how".

First principle is total cost, not mpg. My truck and trailer cost me just under $30k. I'll have half again that much into the trailer, but it's my full time accommodation. Fuel burn was a priority, but indefinite lifespan was higher. See where that goes? (User wider lens). You've a ten year window. Plan from that basis. Annual nights aboard is the cost divisor.

Escapees in Livingston, TX is a good place to start. An overview of life on the road from those doing it. Read deeply. You may say you don't want to be full time. At this point, you don't know what that means. (It isn't an either/or question).

For the nostalgic or whimsical side, see Tin Can Tourists.

On Airstream, www.airforums.com (AIR).

There isnt just one way to do something. The Internet makes easy to see how others have tried. Use it. Your desire is about a century old. The idea of "vacation" is for factory workers. Spare cash. Train travel. And millions of others also have it.

First step is to understand it. (So recognize that I backed into the subject by offering "solution" first. You've a need to understand the philosophical implications. "What is satisfaction?" Otherwise we wouldn't be in this thread).

A cheap to run car and tiny trailer is okay until one realizes there were other options. And for an equal or lesser amount of money, one could do (or have done) the same with a great deal more comfort, flexibility and options. Fewer limitations. And then to do more.

. The tool defines the use. Not otherwise

Best of luck in your researches.

In this vein you are not stuck with a pickup and a box trailer. That's for the ignorant. As are "retirement activities", "financial planning" and other attributes of debt servitude. Cut off the dog leash.

No one but the undertaker is impressed by a neat & tidy graveside service.

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Last edited by slowmover; 05-13-2017 at 06:59 AM..
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