We wanted a trailer that was small enough to be towed by our 2007 Toyota RAV4 (less than 3500 lbs loaded) yet had two comfortable beds and a minimal bathroom and kitchen. We looked at a few Scamps and Casitas in campgrounds but were attracted to the Lil’ Snoozy we found on the internet in spite of the dumb name. Manufacturer’s website here
It was the right size and the fiberglass foam sandwich construction meant it would be easier to change the layout to suit our exact needs. The entire shell is structural so cabinets, beds, etc can be screwed to the walls and floor anywhere.
The streamlined shape looked cool and implied better gas mileage towing (in practice our mileage is no better than others report with similar sized rigs – only about 15 mpg driving 60 to 65 mph).
The standard layout looks like this:
We wanted two decent sized beds with some separation as Sue is an early riser and I’m …not. We wanted a small hanging closet and, in general, to optimize the storage capacity. We changed it to this:
Here’s a picture of the front bed (mine). The very front of the nose is a storage compartment about 16″ deep. The mirrored sliding doors provide access. There is a narrow shelf on top for keys, glasses, etc.
And here is the couch that makes into a bed:
It slides out 6″ to make a 36″ wide bed. The arm rests fill in the 6″ gap.
Sue made this great looking curtain to keep me in the dark when she’s up.
The standard configuration from the factory has a 12v battery and a sizable box to store the 25′ 30 amp power cable. I wanted the storage volume under the bed to be for ‘indoor’ items and thought a tongue box would add space for two 6v golf cart batteries, the power cord, another extension cord and a water hose.
I couldn’t resist the tongue box shot with Luke, my 18 month old grandson. There is plenty of room for the wires, hose and a bit of miscellaneous junk. The U bolts are to tie down a Honda EU2000 generator.
A word about energy storage in the trailer: We do not have any propane appliances so do not need a heavy gas bottle on the tongue. We cook with a hot plate which runs on butane canisters about the size of a can of hair spray. A $2.00 can runs the burner for about two hours and a case of 12 fits in the tongue box. We also have a small grill for cooking outdoors that uses small propane cylinders.
The refrigerator and water heater are regular 110vac. We have a little 1500w, 110v heater instead of a propane furnace. This all works fine when we are plugged in at a campground but obviously not so fine at a rustic campsite.
We have two 6v, 220 ah golf cart batteries wired in series to provide 12v. The lights and water pump run on 12v and there is a 600 watt sine wave inverter to run the fridge and provide power to charge computers and phones. The battery bank will run the fridge for two or three days depending on the ambient temperature. If we planned to camp a lot off the grid we would take the Honda generator which can recharge the batteries in about 6 hours. We could run the water heater or A/C with the generator but have no way to heat the trailer without shore power. Hopefully this won’t matter for summer camping.
We didn’t bring the generator to Florida this winter. We will certainly want heat most nights but expect to stay at state parks or private campgrounds with electric sites.
Update February 2014: The 110V AC Magic Chef 3.6 cu. ft. refrigerator that came with the trailer has not worked out so well. We just replaced it with a 12V DC 4.2 cu. ft. Truckfridge model TF130. The two year old Magic Chef dorm fridge always worked fine on 120v shore power and initially worked fine running off the 600w inverter too but as time went on it got harder and harder to start with battery power through the inverter. By last month it wouldn’t start at all. Even with electric hookups at all the places we camp this means the fridge doesn’t work while driving. The 9 hour drive from Sue’s parents to Enterprise is long enough to have the freezer defrost itself and melt water to run onto the floor.
The Magic Chef manual states specifically not to use it in an RV and my theory is that the trailer hitting bumps caused the motor – compressor unit to wear and gradually require more power to start. That would be no problem when plugged into the 1800w a normal 15amp shore power circuit can supply but became a big problem when limited to the 600w max inverter output. It’s operating consumption is only 80w, the rule of thumb states starting load should be 5x or 400w.
The Truckfridge is a rebranded Indel B unit made mainly for marine use. It uses a high quality Danfoss compressor. Subjectively it is much quieter than the Magic Chef and is much more efficient. It has 17% more capacity yet uses 40% less power. We should be able to manage 3-4 days of off-the-grid camping.
The new 12v fridge is wider but shorter than the old one so the cabinet frame needed to be cut back and the electrical panel moved an inch forward to accommodate the greater width. The new unit is 3″ shorter so I had room to add a 2″ high drawer under the counter, perfect for silverware and cooking utensils.
A more complete description of the upgrade can be found here at the Fiberglass RV forum. The blog post of Feb 27 on the main page goes into some detail as to why we chose the 12 v option.
Update March 28, 2014:
We added a 100 watt solar panel. This should enable us to at least double the time we can camp without plugging in to recharge the batteries. Of course it depends on how sunny it is but the solar irradiance table says that we should average enough sun to harvest around 30 ah of energy each day.
More details of the solar installation can be found here.
We also added a Propex HS2211 propane furnace under the trailer.
More details here.
Update January 21, 2015:
Storing our two full sized bikes inside the trailer worked well but proved to be too much of a hassle to put them away and then get them out every time we setup or broke camp. We switched to 20″ folding bikes that fit in the back of the Jeep. More details in the post titled S3E7 – Bikes and Camping published January 21, 2015.
We’ve had a Coleman screen room for the six years we’ve been camping in the Snoozy. It was fine but getting worn and kind of a pain to put up and take down.
Last fall we were camping as a thunderstorm approached. With drinks in hand and smirks on faces we watched our neighbors open a big Amazon box just as the gusty wind started. The smirks faded as they erected their new screen room in less than a minute, easily beating the rain. After the storm we learned they had a “Clam”. It cost about twice as much as the Coleman but was much easier to put up and take down and seemed quite a bit more substantial (also quite a bit heavier and not so compact to store). The Clam had the same footprint but vertical walls so it felt much roomier inside. It went on our “get one before next season” list.
As our grandsons have grown toward camping age we have often flirted with the idea of a bigger rig. Our two twin bed trailer is very comfortable for Ma and Pa but even one extra child would not fit. We love the Snoozy though and are loathe get rid of it. So we thought maybe we can hack a Clam screen room into a passable warm season tent. Its approximately 130 sqft (hexagon 12’ across) would about double our space, adding plenty of room for two grand kids’ bunk bed cots and one full size grand parent cot.
Clam sells accessory panels that attach to the walls to provide privacy, shade, wind protection and a measure of rain proofing. (Note only the brown tent has flaps at the eaves that overlap the panels). We bought six panels. Five work as stock to cover five sides. They have a nicely engineered system of hooks and Velcro to attach the panel covering the screen walls and can be left in place and rolled up for the daytime. They aren’t really meant to roll up but can be if its not too windy.
The sixth side of the screen room is a door with a zipper up the middle. The panels have a window in the middle so the sixth accessory panel was cut into three vertical panes. The piece with the window makes up half the side width and the remaining two are sewn together to make the other half. Velcro patches were hand sewn to the top seam of the tent with matching patches on the door panel. Three loops of Velcro hold the panel to the tent poles at the sides of the door and three close the door in the middle. I could envision more elegant door solutions but this was about all my rudimentary sewing skill could manage.
We also added two 9 x 12 camping rugs from Walmart to make a foot friendly floor. The 4 and 6 year old boys had their own bunk bed cots. A Coleman 30 x 72 folding cot and an REI self inflating foam mattress complete the guest room.