Strolling Amok

Pops goes on tour.

First Look

That's Martyn, co-owner of Adventure Trailers fumbling with the keys.

That’s Martyn, co-owner of Adventure Trailers, fumbling with the keys.

A trip to Prescott yielded a quick once over for the Intrepid-to-be. The goal was to pay for the thing, measure some critical storage for planning purposes, get a sense of the packrat’s hell I’d be dealing with, and talk over a planned modification that needs to be made. The unit is not yet washed or prepped for installation on the truck, and the truck is certainly not ready for it either.

Entry hatch open!

Entry hatch open!

My first impression is:

  1. Space. When you first look in with the roof raised up to walk-in height, it looks like living in it will be a claustrophobic trial. It’s just too short! Then once you step in and begin moving around, you start realizing, “Hey! Not bad! This thing is actually pretty darn livable! I like it in here!” It feels compact and efficient, obviously, but that expected “confined” aura just isn’t there. You like the thought of getting out to see what’s going on, but also like the thought of settling in to nap or get some work done at the ample table. It’s inviting, and that’s quite an accomplishment.
  2. Build quality. Absolutely outstanding. I’d expected a little realism here and there: slightly misaligned cabinet doors, or voids in the edges of the plywood pieces used in its construction. Maybe edging trying to work its way off. Nope. Every piece is perfectly sized, fits like a glove, and is as smooth-edged as a river stone. Unlike being in the Defiant’s bowels, you cannot possibly hurt yourself by sliding your hand heavily along an exposed edge. It kind of helps explain the pricey nature of Four Wheel’s products. You can see and feel the quality, not opulence. There’s a difference.
  3. Wowza on storage space. Although most storage cabinets are seriously compromised by necessary devices and equipment, the sheer number of cabinets, bins and hidey-holes lurking inside the front dinette Granby is much more than expected. There isn’t a whole lot of dead space in this cozy box. What’s robbed from Peter is used to pay Paul. My inspection to scour it for all there was sounded basically like chanting, “Holy crap, there’s another one!” Sorting out which space to use for exactly what may become a nightmare, but that’s a different issue.
  4. Using stacked bins will be an issue, because getting at all storage forward of the cabinets requires sliding the table out of the way and removing a seat cushion, or clearing the foot-well floor to allow its doors to be raised. Using bins would need to be carefully thought out to avoid having to disembowel things to retrieve a mixing bowl or fresh box of matches. I dislike having to do that. Persnickety, aren’t I? It’s what I do.
  5. Cabinet latches are also better than expected. Of course, everyone says that their catches will prevent floor dumps when the going gets rough, but these effortlessly open, click and latch easily, and lock securely. You might not like what you see inside at the next stop, but that door will not accidentally swing open to puke it all out. Incomplete latching is easily observed, since the loop handle is no longer flush.
  6. If my grandson ever gets in here, there will be no getting him out. Ever. It will seem to him like the ultimate treehouse.
This was a complete surprise. The leg area under the table is a flat bin perfect for folded clothing. Might want to shed shoes here because of the split, because any step up to get into the loft bed is best done cans grit-carrying shoes anyway.

This was a complete surprise. The leg area under the table is a flat bin perfect for folded clothing. Might want to shed shoes here because of the split, since any step up to get into the loft bed is best done sans dirty, grit-carrying shoes anyway. When the clever shower option is ordered, this area is a floor drain catch area instead.

Storage underneath each of the bench seats is generous but compromised by clearance for the truck's fender wells. This is the passenger-side bench. It's exactly 36" long, which is exactly the length of three of my AGM batteries. I'll try it once just for sport, but realistically, they will have to be packed in on end. That will be a major convenience issue, but only when replacement time rolls around. Terminal access and basic weight will be the issues.

Storage underneath each of the bench seats is generous but compromised by clearance for the truck’s fender wells. This is the passenger-side bench. It’s exactly 36″ long, which is exactly the length of three of my AGM batteries. I’ll try it once just for sport, but realistically, they will have to be packed in on end. That will be a major convenience issue, but only when replacement time rolls around. Terminal access and basic weight will be the problem.

Just forward of the passenger bench is a funky little covered hole. Maybe they intended that to hold my tripod, or an umbrella.

Just forward of the passenger bench is a funky little covered hole. Maybe they intended that to hold my tripod, or an umbrella. (It’s actually leftover space, since a forward cross-member must cut through the bench’s cavity.)

The center of the forward wall has a flat little tray for at least 800 pencils. This is right over the top of the water tank, and that odd-looking aluminum piece at center is to support the lid when you use it as a step up into the bed.

The center of the forward wall has a flat little tray for at least 1,500 pencils. This is right over the top of the water tank, and that odd-looking aluminum piece at center is to support the lid when you use it as a step up into the bed.

The cabinet oat the rear of the passenger side pretty much disappears if the cassette toilet is ordered. The large cabinet below this may be big enough for stowing a toilet of some kind. This is above, and is encroached mightily by an outside compartment for two small propane canisters. All this varies wildly with the options you pick. It's still usable, the distance to the cabinet door being 9-1/4". The bonanza is below this.

This cabinet at the rear of the passenger side pretty much disappears if the cassette toilet is ordered. The larger cabinet below this may be big enough for stowing a toilet of some kind. This is above, and is encroached mightily by an outside compartment for two small propane canisters. All this varies wildly with the options you pick. It’s still usable, the distance to the cabinet door being 9-1/4″. The bonanza is below this. Yep, that’s a shore power outlet back there for running the fridge on AC.

The top of this cabinet section consists of two good-sized bins. The one on the left is above the small fridge-freezer, and disappears if you order the Big Boy.

The top of this cabinet section consists of two good-sized bins. The one on the left is above the small fridge-freezer, and disappears if you order the Big Boy. The blue cover is on a mirror, so I can admire my dashing good looks all day. Below the fridge is another handy slide-in space as well.

This is funky, too. Driver's side cabinet forward end. Since there's no water heater on-board, you get the enclosed space, if you can use it.

This is funky, too. Driver’s side cabinet forward end. Since there’s no water heater on-board, you get the enclosed space, if you can use it. No raw edges in there.

The obligatory shot of the driver's side counter, with sink and two-burner range top almost big enough to use. I'll be curious to find out if they bothered to connect the hot side to anything, since there's no water heater. As-is, it'll make a great spare source for parts, I guess. That black thing below is the furnace, and there's a silverware tray drawer, a good-sized cabinet, and the default battery bin in the same area.

The obligatory shot of the driver’s side counter, with sink and a two-burner range top almost big enough to use. I’ll be curious to find out if they bothered to connect the hot side to anything, since there’s no water heater. As-is, it’ll make a great spare source for parts, I guess. That black thing below is the furnace, and there’s a silverware tray drawer, a good-sized cabinet, and the default battery bin in the same area.

The black plate you see in front of the sink caught my eye as seeming out of place. Nicely-labeled solar and battery wires are behind it, though I can’t help but assume that it’s mainly an access point for servicing the sink drain and sink attachment points. If necessary, it can also become a handy mounting point for add-on switches, fuses or outlets. The two sheets hanging down are a flap covering a screened window in the pop-up section, and another in the thermal cover.

A common complaint with the front dinette floor plan option is that each seat back blocks off the side windows, ruining any view out. True enough, each side window is completely out of sight. Fortunately for me, I will have no one to glare at me when I take the offending seat back and rest it on top of the bed to enjoy the view. The side dinette model has no such issues, making one’s floor plan choice quite important. After all, the front dinette looks like a four-place table and technically is, at 36″ wide. But 36″ is more of a two-adults-with-children thing – four adults would pack like sardines, and if you didn’t intimately know who you’re sitting beside, you would by the time you finish dining. As seating for two people, the dinette is luxuriously roomy, with a generously-sized table. For one space hog like myself, it is roomy, the table being just large enough to comfortably spread out books, papers, and laptop. The table mount is a marvel of sorts, having two smooth friction mounts. One allows positioning of the table center between the two benches, while the other allows table surface rotation. I did not test it out, but the dimensions suggest that it will be possible to sit along a bench, legs up, and still have the table in a workable side orientation.

The cabover bed mattress is plenty firm, despite some hints by Four Wheel that a softer foam is now in use. That will pose some issues for me, as I expected. It’s not as simple as swapping in softer foam, since foam this thin will never get supple no matter how mushy you go. At first blush, it looks like there’s the roof-down vertical room for a topper of some type, which should help a lot. Since the bed platform slides rearward to create a queen-sized bed, the extra “mattress” inserts are stored on top of the main section of foam, for travel. Whether they can be put to use to double up the mattress or serve in some other way will be seen later.

At first blush, it looks as though there certainly has to be enough storage space for one person to reside for seven or eight months, at least in the desert, where looking clean and civilized is not an expectation.  Then I recall the “pack list” I’ve begun, and the true challenge for me surfaces. I’ll need additional external space, sure, but the challenge will be to make daily or weekly items conveniently accessible. I’ve found that I dislike having to tunnel in to retrieve something, digging into one pile and creating another. Then when you finally find what you’re looking for and know that it will have to be out for awhile, you really can’t do anything else until you shuffle everything back to its original place. When you’re done with the item, the tunneling repeats once more. Emptying a cabinet to get at what’s in back is just necessary now and then, but it can get bothersome to do the same in major storage compartments. I had planned to load up the Granby’s dining area with plastic bins, but it seems quite apparent now that if this is done, it must be done well or I’ll be moving and piling just to lift a lid and take a look. A truck camper like this one already requires all “daily living” items to be properly stowed each time the vehicle is moved, so I’ll need to be careful in the details of how not to make that requirement more onerous or time-consuming. The cleanest solution is to avoid taking enough with me so that any bins would be needed at all. Perhaps there is some parallel universe in which that could happen.

My impression as I walked away and climbed back into the Mighty Furd was, this is definitely going to work, and likely work much better than I’d initially hoped. Oh, I’ll panic a few times during the packing and stowing process in the Spring, trying to find the most sensible places to put what where, and lamenting whatever I’ll be denied for months at a time. But the combination of quality, features, space efficiency, light and color seems to remove any hint of squeezing into a dark cave. That, despite its suitability for true 4×4 travel. I can’t speak for the various shorter models offered for short-bed trucks, but the Four Wheel Granby should prove quite workable indeed.

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21 thoughts on “First Look

  1. It looks like a very well-designed boat, if a well-designed boat could be rectangular.

  2. “Stuff” will be the long term challenge, both in the amount you bring and (with all the different small spaces) asking “where did I put that?”

    Quality of your sleep with the mattress would be a big question too, one that won’t be answered until you get there. If you need something different take a look at Ikea, I was surprised by both the comfort & price of Ikea mattresses.

    Looks like you’re going to have some fun!

    • Rob, you reminded me of a database app I’ve got on my old iPad, and the travel trailer has posed the same issues on a grander scale. If I had all the time in the world, I could see taking snaps of some of the less obvious items to be carried in the Intrepid, and noting location. I’m still looking for 3 small bottles of lens cleaning solution in the Defiant after 2 years!

      I’ll keep Ikea in mind, though that collapsing roof does impose some pretty strict limitations on any sleeping surface thickness.

  3. Linda Sand on said:

    For deep cupboards I have discovered that buying containers to use as drawers can help make space more usable. That let me turn a deep cupboard in my van into a usable pantry. Even in a bathroom cupboard in our apartment I have put bottles in a plastic shoe box to keep them from wandering back out of reach as new ones get shoved into the front.

    • Hmm, you know, I’m doing this under my bathroom sink, which is an awkward access, but I was at a loss when staring at the L-shaped space in the Granby. You just kicked it back into gear. Thanks!

  4. Virginia on said:

    Nice digs!!! It does look oddly big once inside from the way the pictures look. The opportunity to customize the bejabbers out of the space in there will be a bit of a task, but one that will be worth it. I’ve mashed my fair share of stuff into tiny apartments and currently house, but have found the best solutions to be unintended uses for closet and shelf organizers. Like using the ones for spice racks for makeup bottles instead. Especially the cheap ones, because if the first attempt fails it’s not a big deal, and if it’s a win, it’s Miller High Life worthy.

    • If I don’t crap it up too much, you’ll be impressed when you see it. Hopefully, my effort to “customize” will not rely primarily on the use of body weight and momentum. I have three narrow trays I use – also in the bathroom – on top of the counter. Looks like they and a lot more would make for more effective use out of those big flat compartments under the passenger-side counter tops, per the photo. I think the kitchen-related things will be the most problematic, since 90% of it should be readily accessible. Making more efficient use of space is not my strong suit, so the pack for departure in late winter may not be the quickest process going. Plus, I have this vague suspicion that when you climb in for your first quick look-see, it will be an hour of mysterious banging and clunking before you come back out, looking pleased with yourself. And justifiably so.

  5. Linda Sand on said:

    Here’s another tip I found useful: When deciding where to put something, instead of asking, “Where should I put this?” ask “Where would I look for this?” It’s a subtle difference that I found very helpful.

  6. hey, looking good! I suggest that you spend the last few weeks pre-departure living out of it to work the kinks out of storage and what goes where. I would probably need more than a few weeks. 🙂

    I seem to recall something called the JATAC project, involving a Fleet front dinette model, outfitted with clever storage ideas by a couple who want to get far back into the rough stuff.

    • Good thinking, Ming. My hope is to eventually overnight a few times at a reservoir shore or at Mittrey Lake or at Ferguson Lake, in a string of several nights, particularly if I get fishing gear storage to a working state!

      I have looked at many of the posts on the so-called the JATAC project, which is more equipment-oriented than storage, and blew much of the day just looking around as a hardware geek! A very interesting blog, and thanks!

      • ah, you fish too! I’m just learning how.

        It’s been a couple of years since I looked at the JATAC posts, they have moved from where they were before – thanks for the link. I guess I’ll be spending a day checking out the Tacoma info soon, now that I have my truck. It was just wishful thinking before.

        • Well, okay, full disclosure: I own fishing gear, and very occasionally get some items wet. I have only ever caught anything on live bait, which I seldom bother with. Mostly I throw hardware in the water and just enjoy the process, and being there. Actually catching a fish only modestly enhances my experience. I’m generally doing the equivalent of washing off lures. I remember one day where I was in a boat and caught a fish every time I lowered the bait, for about ten minutes. The paradigm shift was so great and sudden that I wasn’t sure what to think. It was almost unnerving, thinking, “What is the deal here? Is this some kind of deceptive start of the apocalypse? Is hell freezing over right now? This can’t be happening!” My future goal is to pick a state (AZ being the second) and cough up for an out-of-state license, which is usually pretty expensive. Then “fish” in that state when the opportunity presents itself and the extra mileage penalty isn’t too great. No boat. Just stand on the shore and hook weeds.

          • lol, I’m too squeamish and lazy to get live bait, but I find luncheon meat to be a hit with fish, and I always have some around.

            I moved downwards in weight boatwise from a Solar inflatable from Innova to a skin on frame Puffin, to an Alpacka – nice and light go anywhere fishing/ lazing outfit.

  7. I was amazed when unloading the ‘necessities’ from my 17 foot vintage trailer how much junk I had accumulated. Sigh, I have added to the garage junk and rearranged many many times to fit in what I could in the RoadTrek. While reading your account of discovery or all the hiddy wholes, I remembered my joyful moments of discovery. I measured all the cubbies for baskets and headed out to local stores for items to fit. The dollar stores yielded the best items and for prices that fit the need perfectly. I look forward to seeing your results. Enjoy

    • Ugh. The store tour is probably going to be my least fav part, since I have a penchant for blowing a day and a quarter tank of fuel just to come up with too small or too large. You might not enjoy my results as much as you’d hope! There is some kinda dollar store right here in town, so maybe that will help me ease into the process.

  8. JudyMae on said:

    That’s a really nice rig! We bought a temperpedic-type mattress (not a topper, an 8″ thick mattress) from Walmart for our trailer but I don’t think they sell them anymore. However, I have seen them in a sporting goods catalog. They come rolled up in a surprisingly small box. It sounds like you have a queen size mattress basically cut into 2 pieces. You can cut the temperpedic-type with an electric carving knife. We trimmed two edges that way to make it easier to make the bed. Also, we use plastic containers without lids in all our bottom cabinets to act like drawers and allow easy access to stuff in the back of the cabinet. Yes, the floor must be kept clear but it gets kind of claustrophobic in our 13 ft trailer if the floor gets cluttered. Rubbermaid makes a long, thin one made to store photos that is handy for everything. Two can fit side by side even. I bet you’re going to really love that rig.

    • Thanks, JudyMae, I think the Granby is going to be more livable than I figured on. Being a low-profile pop-up, there won’t be the vertical room for such a thick mattress, but your point is well taken. Once I take delivery of the camper, I’ll be able to see just what I’m working with. My first preference is to use the existing setup as a foundation, and add a memory foam topper similar to what I now use in the trailer. An it looks like trays are going to be the way to go for a lot of areas, as you say. A recess under the fridge looks to be about the only floor area I’ll be able to place anything without crippling the aisle, and my hope is to keep things relatively clear, for access. The idea of having to unload the camper just to get in and move around does not appeal!

  9. Wow, that was kinda fast wasn’t it? I know you were being pressed for time even at 8 weeks out.

    How long is your truck bed and how does the camper floor match to that? How much propane room is there?

    You may have already mentioned this, but how long a stretch of boondocking do you hope to do at a time with this setup?

    Regards

    • Yep, I seem to have caught the only window in each year’s production where lead times are low. From here on in, it will start to climb again up to a peak of 20-22 weeks in Spring! The Mighty Furd has an 8′ bed, which is what the Granby matches. It “overhangs” about an inch or two, just long enough to prevent the tailgate from closing. The camper comes with a couple of 10# tanks, both stored in a vented compartment at right rear (in my case). Lacking a water heater, they should last awhile in areas where the furnace doesn’t need to be used much. I expect boondocking to be limited to 5-7 days at a stretch, limited by freshwater use from the 20-gallon tank. Plenty of folks use external water jugs to extend this, or to just live in luxury for a shorter period. Between fresh produce and laundry, 5-7 days should be all I’m looking for. The sky is the limit for genuine campers who have a more conventional diet, dress basically, and use treated water from streams to supplement their supply.

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