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P-pod for dry camping?

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MarkW View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote MarkW Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: P-pod for dry camping?
    Posted: 30 Jan 2021 at 4:03pm
Hi all,

I'm new around here and hoping to be an R-pod owner soon.  We've got a line on a used RP-179 that we're planning to look at this next week.  We're particularly interested in boon-docking and primitive campgrounds -- I doubt we'll ever stay where we have an electric hookup (we really like it quiet and, as longtime tent campers, don't mind roughing it).  We'll be towing with a vehicle having a 3500# tow limit and will probably want to use the pod at times when nighttime temps get down to freezing.  Given all that some of the mods I've been contemplating are:
  • removing the AC and replacing with a vent/skylight (to save 100lbs and bring in some more light) 
  • removing the microwave to save a bit more weight and create some more kitchen storage and
  • possibly putting in a cassette toilet (which is what we've always had on our trailerable sailboat)
I wonder if anybody done those kinds of mods or has other advice of a prospective pod boon-docker?  Is a lift kit a good idea?

TIA,

Mark

P.S.  Here's the kind of thing we're hoping to do (if we could swap an Rpod into that scene in place of our Coleman tent, that would be just about perfect)



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jato View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote jato Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 Jan 2021 at 7:00pm
Welcome to the forum Mark.  What area of the west is your pic from?  Very nice indeed or is that your 'private' boondock campsite?

We normally boondock as well so when we 'special ordered' our 177 back in January 2011 it came without A/C, microwave/convection oven and without entertainment system and after 10 years and 36,000 + miles - no regrets.

The factory installed a vent/skylight where the a/c would have been.  We love it as it is so much brighter/lighter inside.  Without the microwave/convection oven I was able to get 2 additional shelf areas for storage - a huge plus.  We hardly ever watch tv at home, unless streaming something off a laptop or maybe an old series on dvd's like right now we are watching some "Mission Impossible' episodes from the mid 1960's - kind of fun.  No info on the toilet although 2 years ago installed a hi-rise Thetford toilet that was about 4" taller than the one from the factory.

My biggest concern would be your tow vehicle.  Unless you only plan to go on relatively flat areas like in Michigan which I see if where we are both from, you will be sorely disappointed as well as potentially putting you in harms way.  For 8 eight years our tow vehicles were '08 and '13 Ford Explorer's with 5000 and 5500 tow capacity.  Even with that pulling a 177 (empty 2415, full with FW tank and extras 2850) there were times in the Rockies which is where we camp a lot, I wish I had more 'juice' under the hood. 

Yes, another mod we did a number of years ago was to add the 3.5" lift kit.  Used a couple of floor jacks, hand tools and just under an hour of my labor - well worth it.

Unless you plan to go 'bare bones' and not add anything to the 179 you have your eye on, IMHO I would suggest looking to upgrade to at least a vehicle that can tow a minimum of 5000 lbs.  Am sure others will chime in and give their better wisdom than I have on this topic. 
God's pod
'11 model 177
'17 Ford F-150 4WD 3.5 Ecoboost
Jim and Diane by beautiful Torch Lake
"...and you will know the Truth and the Truth will set you free."
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offgrid View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote offgrid Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 Jan 2021 at 7:33pm
+1 on getting a higher rated tow vehicle. We only boon dock too and out trailer weighs in at about 3750 lbs and 500 on the tongue. Too much by far for a 3500 lb rated tow vehicle with a 350 hitch rating. We’re not traveling heavy either, water and batteries, both of which you will want, are really heavy. And the 3500 lb rating assumes there’s nothing in the tow vehicle, which is not realistic. Even with a 5000 lb rated TV we have to be careful what we take, but it’s doable.

Bottom line, Get a lighter trailer or a heavier TV.

One other point, rpods are lightly constructed and will not stand up well to lots of travel on rough roads. Axles and frames can and do get bent and things can get shaken to pieces. When we get on forest service roads we go really slowly, like walking speed slowly, through the rough spots, lift kit notwithstanding. And that’s after upgrading tires and wheels and reinforcing my axle. Again, doable but you have to be patient and careful.

A more off road capable trailer the size of an rpod is going to cost and weigh a lot more, and you’ll Want an even heavier tow vehicle. There ain’t no free lunch unfortunately.,


2015 Rpod 179
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Dirt Sifter View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Dirt Sifter Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 Jan 2021 at 8:09pm
I can't speak to all your mods, but the lift kit is a great idea. The tank drains are so low that tracks into areas like you picture will be hard on them. The stabilizer jacks will appreciate the lift also. Get under your Rpod and look at the wiring. Some on our 179 hung loose so needed zip tied up. Pick up your water when you get close to where you're going if you're going to keep this combination. And as offgrid says, go slow.
Greg n Deb 2020 195 HRE
'07 Tundra 5.7L., '17 Tacoma 3.5L. Both with tow packages
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lostagain View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote lostagain Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 Jan 2021 at 8:31pm
+2 on the weight issue.  
Never leave footprints behind.
Fred & Maria Kearney
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Pod People View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Pod People Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 Jan 2021 at 8:42pm
We have a 179 and boondock a lot. It is great in many ways.
As others have said, the tow vehicle is marginal at best.
I weigh our rig before every trip. It varies, but not by more than 50 pounds. we usually have a canoe or two bikes-sometimes both. We also have 2 6volt batteries which improves our boondocking power supply.  but they also weigh more.  also, if you add double propane tank, that adds.  so the weights given by the marketeers can be way off.  You will probably come close to 3900 pounds once loaded.
There are lots of great mods that can be done to the 179 and a lot can increase the boondocking experience.
so welcome, read the forum past posts -particularly mods to 179 .

Learn as you go. Be safe
Vann
Vann & Laura 2015 179 R Pod
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MarkW View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote MarkW Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 Jan 2021 at 7:47am
Thanks for all of the great replies.  That photo is at one of the back-country sites in Big Bend NP (highly recommended, BTW -- both the park and the backcountry sites).  One of the goals for a TT is to spend a few weeks in the Winter (retirement is not too far off) revisiting some of our favorite spots in the SouthWest (Tucson, Sedona, Moab, the Mojave, Death Valley).  We've got a bunch of camp sites already scouted out.  We'll also be planning on some northern trips in the summer -- the UP of Michigan, Ontario assuming they ever let us back in, and probably the northern Rockies at some point.

As for the tow vehicle, we have both a Toyota Sienna and Subaru Outback XT, each rated for 3500#.  I'm not too worried, we've had a 26' trailerable sailboat for 20 years.  It has a loaded weight around the same as the R-pod and it's never been a problem.  We do plan to go as light as possible, though -- so no AC or microwave and probably won't ever fill the fresh water tanks.  We're used to a week of tent camping requiring a 6 gallon jerry can of water -- maybe with a refill (having been sailers, we're good at 'marine' showers -- wet down, soap up, rinse off).  

It looks to me that with the AC and microwave removed, we should be able to get the dry weight down to around 2700# or a bit less before we start adding things -- or are the placards showing GVW and max cargo really way off?
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pedwards2932 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote pedwards2932 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 Jan 2021 at 8:00am
My 189 has a weight listed where they weighed it at the factory (3074) and I believe it was accurate but it doesn't include battery or propane tank.  When I weighed it with the tanks (I had 2 -30lb tanks that were full and 15 gal of water that I didn't realize I had) and it weighed ~3400.
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offgrid View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote offgrid Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 Jan 2021 at 9:29am
Does it really make sense to buy a trailer with electrical appliances and plumbing and then not use them? Why not just trade one of your two vehicles for something with a 5000 or higher tow rating so you don’t have to constantly worry about it?

You have to be concerned about tongue weight and combined gross vehicle weight as well as trailer weight. Loaded for boon docking you will most likely still be too heavy on one or more of those even without the air conditioner and a light water load,. And you can’t reduce the tongue weight by moving load aft below 10%, preferably 11%, of trailer weight or you will risk getting sway.

Forget the trailer empty weight, it’s a meaningless number. Mine was low by a couple hundred pounds even after removing all water and gear. Load up the TV and trailer with batteries, gear and supplies exactly like you plan to use them, including the water you plan to carry and water in the water heater (which is always there unless you drain the system), and weigh your rig at a public scale. Get the weight of each axle by adding them one at a time. Leave the wdh untensioned. Drop the trailer and get the weight of the TV with wdh by itself, again getting each axle weight. The tongue weight is the weight of the two TV axles from the first weighing minus the TV weight from the second weighing. The trailer weight is the total rig weight minus the TV weight from the second weighing. Put all your weights, specs, and dimensions in this calculator and see what it tells you.

https://www.ajdesigner.com/apptrailertow/weightdistributionhitch.php

If you choose to tow up to your max specs you are significantly increasing your risk profile but are still legal, so that’s up to you, but If you choose to tow outside of your rated specs and have a wreck you can be found negligent. Don’t do it.
2015 Rpod 179
2012 Toyota Highlander
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pedwards2932 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote pedwards2932 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 Jan 2021 at 9:46am
I only mentioned my weights as they were confirmed at scale that the dry weight as weighed by FR was probably accurate.  The OP can weigh his loaded to see where he is with weight but the FS dry weight is probably accurate for the trailer he has - empty with no water, propane, or battery.
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