Camper Quest Part 5: Hello Winnebago View
I’ve been writing here about our search to find a way to transport sea kayaks on (or in) an RV. As you may recall, I told you I am now a Pilot ambassador for TRAK Kayaks, a 16-foot-long performance sea kayak that can be disassembled and transported in a bag. I saw this as a possible alternative to mounting a kayak rack on top of an RV or pulling a trailer. Well, since that time, Mary and I made another momentous decision. We purchased a 2011 Winnebago View Profile motor home! Follow this link for a detailed description of this model.
Friends of ours knew we were looking, so in June they alerted me to this particular RV for sale in Door County, WI. I drove up and took it for a test drive. Liking what I saw, I returned with Mary that weekend so she could see it for herself and take it for a spin. A few days later I hired a mechanic to check it over, then I requested an appraisal from David Lester, who runs a Facebook page “RV Pricing and Values“, which I highly* recommend.
*A footnote: I think “highly recommend” is a terribly overused phrase. Like “very”, the word “highly” is usually unnecessary, especially when it precedes “recommend”. Why can’t anyone simply recommend something? But in this case, I actually do highly recommend RV Pricing and Values.
Anyway, back to my story.
Based on the appraisal, I made a fair offer to the owners and quickly negotiated a handshake deal. The RV we purchased was just what we were looking for. As motor homes go, it’s smallish but not too small, It’s been well-maintained and has relatively low miles.
So far I have camped overnight in it on two occasions — four nights at the Door County Sea Kayak Symposium and one night at Wausau Whitewater Park. Mary gets to camp in it for the first time during our upcoming road trip to the Badlands and Blacks Hills of South Dakota.
Our impression? So far, so good. It handles like a large pickup truck, has plenty of power and gets fairly good mileage — about 17 mpg from its six-cylinder, 188 h.p. Mercedes Sprinter turbodiesel. With two slideouts, living space expands nicely when parked. The queen-size bed is comfortable. There’s also a smaller guest bed that folds out from the convertible sofa. It has a shower and surround that are separate from the toilet, which fulfills Mary’s requirement of having a shower and no “wet bath.”
But what about hauling kayaks? In that regard we still have decisions to make.
I became interested in TRAK Kayaks because I felt we could fold them up and stuff them into the storage compartments of whatever RV we ended up choosing. However, one downside of the RV we purchased is that it doesn’t have an abundance of exterior compartment space. At 13 cubic feet, the largest compartment is at the rear of the vehicle and the door is too narrow to accommodate the TRAK carrying bag… at least the 2017 version of the bag. TRAK is introducing a lighter kayak and smaller bag in 2018.
For now, I experimented with removing the TRAK components from the carrying bag and packing them individually into the RV storage compartment. Though not as convenient as having it all in one bag, this system works well, leaving room to spare for other items. After I’m able to evaluate next year’s more-compactable TRAK model, we’ll make our next decision: Do we buy a second TRAK so Mary and I each have one to paddle when we embark on RV road trips?
If not, an alternate choice for us would be to purchase a trailer to carry our “rigid” kayaks. The trailer option has some additional advantages, such as the ability to carry bicycles and other gear as well as kayaks. I recently pulled our Team River Runner trailer from Wausau to Green Bay and I was pleasantly surprised at how well it behaved behind the RV, so I’m not as opposed to the idea of a kayak trailer as I once was.
For our upcoming camping trip to South Dakota, we’ll be packing one TRAK kayak and then taking turns paddling it from our lakeside campsite. I’ll keep you updated on impressions and future decisions. Meanwhile, if you have advice about RV’ing with kayaks, please share it here.