Glamping and camping: Enjoy the outdoors in comfort
By Donna Rousseau
Comfort and efficiency are gathering around the campfire for summer 2015. Travel trailer technology and customer expectation has driven the evolution of camping from sleeping on the ground to luxury hotel comfort.
The introduction of small trailers, towable by smaller SUVs and mini-vans, is an industry trend according to Rick Emmert, sales manager for Call of the Wild RV Center in Oxford. “Manufacturers test-marketed smaller campers about five years ago,” said Emmert. “Our popular choice is the “Sportsmen Classic,” a hybrid of the pop-up camper and larger 5th wheel trailers.”
The hybrid features solid siding and roof, six floor plans that include bathroom, microwave, refrigerator, and versatility to accommodate more people with slide-outs for tent beds reminiscent of pop-up trailers. Sturdy and easy to tow, its set-up time is approximately 10 minutes compared to 20 for pop-ups.
“’For people who enjoy a camp-feel, the hybrid is a good choice. With its affordability, many customers are choosing the hybrid for their first camper.”
In Auburn, Dave Hinkley, salesman for Whited Motorhome, RV, & Auto Center, said he sees similar trending. Hot on the lot is their Flagstaff Hard Side, an A-frame trailer combining the solid exterior of a travel trailer with classic tent camper styling. A vaulted ceiling gives this model a spacious feel over the pop-up trailer and air conditioning keeps it comfortable in warmer weather, especially good for summer sleeping. Options and varied floor plans provide for additional storage, awnings and screen rooms.
“It’s lightweight,” said Hinkley. “With no canvas, it has set up and security of the hard-sided trailers and it’s affordable.”
Customers wanting more comforts will discover an ample choice of trailers featuring everything from outdoor kitchens to master suites with private bathrooms and separate, fully-furnished living rooms with LED televisions. Corian countertops and outdoor kitchens top the list for middle-of-the- road amenities. Slide-outs are appealing for spaciousness; some models offer multiple slide-outs. With so many options, designing a trailer can almost be like building a house.
According to Hinkley , 30-foot trailers are a favorite for comfort and tow-ability without a one- ton truck. “Especially for people who like to follow events – bluegrass festivals, car races – today’s trailers deliver “roughing it” comfort but, longer trailers require a confident driver to tow. As some campgrounds have trailer size-restrictions, it’s best to check capacity accommodations beforehand. “
Customers may also consider purchasing “previously owned” trailers to get luxury for less. Nita and Steve Harrington of Hebron, Maine, campers for 20 years, did just that.
“We started with tents and eventually went into a pop-up,” said Nita. “Then we bought a previously-owned trailer. Towing is easy, the extra space eliminates clutter, and we have the luxury of a bedroom. And when the weather doesn’t cooperate, we can still enjoy camping.”
“Glamping” is the term Emmert’s customers use when referring to bigger trailers with luxury hotel amenities. Emmert, a 20-year camping veteran, “test drives” a new model from the lot each year, selling it as a demo the following season at a reduced price. It gives him insight into the amenities and which will give his customers the experience they expect.
“Last year’s model was not quite ‘glamping’,” chuckled Emmert, “but it was close.” It boasted a 39-inch LED TV, fireplace, and kitchen island to name a few of the “glamping” amenities.
“Regardless of what model a customer chooses,” said Emmert, “everyone is getting the same enjoyment out of the camping experience. The industry has done well researching and developing products according to customer demands. Technology has improved, making the products more reliable and efficient. Consequently, people who wandered away from camping are coming back.”
Call of the Wild customers, Kim and Kevin St. Pierre, began camping in 2000, purchasing their first large trailer in 2009. Kim said, “Go big or go home! We chose a model with multiple slides so my son could have a room to accommodate friends and we could have more space in the living area. We opted for the smaller master bedroom to afford us other amenities including the outdoor kitchen. I like having space so if it rains, we can chill out on the couch, maybe watch a movie. My next trailer will be the ‘grown-up trailer’ – the kitchen island, the recliners, and the big master bedroom!”
Of all the amenities, however, service is the one all customers should consider when purchasing a trailer, new or used. It is an investment and proper upkeep wards off surprises should the customer wish to trade in the future. The service departments at RV-camper shops possess the greatest knowledge of their products as it is their primary responsibility to conduct thorough “check-ups” of every trailer before it leaves the dealership. Additionally, the service department educates new owners about the workings of their new trailer to assure them the best possible camping experience.
In the end, whether “glamping” or camping, it’s all about enjoying the great outdoors. Today’s camping options make getting to the relaxation easier than ever before. So pack up the marshmallows, a good book, and a lawn chair. Camp is calling.