View Full Version : Trailmanor vs. popup

05-14-2008, 04:18 PM
I have never owned either and am comparing the Trailmanor to a Fleetwood popup with the hardsided bath. For those that have owned both what are the pros and cons of each?

05-14-2008, 05:21 PM
Time time time. We have had three popups before we got our TM. It takes forever to get that popup up in the evening and down in the morning. I'd guess it was taking at least an hour to get the popup ready for the road, a little less time to get it set up. We would stay in a Motel on the road rather than fight getting that thing up at night.

The TM is up in 5 minutes and down in 10 and hooked up to the truck. No cranks, no stuffing the canvas in no fuss. And no %$#@!!! language.

Furthermore the canvas is always getting rips and tears. We replaced canvas on two popups, $700 each time. And were doing constant minor patches. TM has aluminum sides.

Our popup wasn't well balanced and we would get sway. That made driving a white knuckled tense operation especially on wet roads and around semis. The wife refused to drive it in the rain. The TM is a dream to drive, not the slightest hint of sway.

Lastly there is no comparison in the room available and finish of the interior. TM is vastly better. I've yet to see a bathroom that I would want to use in a popup.

We, as you can tell, were just fed up with camping in a popup. We got to the point of hating the idea. Now this took us a while and we do 5000 mile trips every summer so we were pushing that popup past it's design limit. If all you want to do is an occasional weekend then you may find one tolerable. YMMV


05-14-2008, 05:50 PM
There is nothing really wrong with the Fleetwood, but go stand in the TM and you will immediately see the difference. I haven't owned a Fleetwood, but I looked at plenty of them before buying a TM.

The Fleetwood is really a tent camper. Nothing wrong with that just that it is different than the TM. The Fleetwood is also cheaper than a TM and is heavier than a TM.

The Fleetwood hardside bathroom is certainly a lot better than their softside ones, but it pales in comparison to the TM bathroom. The walls of the TM are much more significant.

Probably a better comparison would be to compare the TM against a Hi-Lo. Hi-Los are hardsided trailers like the TM. Again they are significantly heavier than the TM and are cheaper than the TM. Some of the larger Hi-Los have better bathrooms than TMs (at least in my opinion). Again Hi-Los are heavier than TMs which is something to consider if you are planning to go up hills.

The TM, Hi-Lo are not tent campers. These are hardsided trailers that are much tougher than tent campers. I think they are more comfortable and a better value than a Fleetwood.

A good idea at this point is to for you to tell us a little about what you envision doing with your camper and how much you are willing to spend.

Scott O
05-14-2008, 06:23 PM
We had a very high quality Starcraft tent trailer as our first foray into the world of trailers. The Starcraft was as easy to set up as the TM, but much more difficult to take down, mainly because you have to keep tucking the tent in. The Starcraft did allow some access to the inside when down, the TM needs to be set up. Towing was very similar. The Starcraft had no holding tank for grey water, a major minus. You can compare the features of the tent trailer and the TM forever, but for us the bottom line was...do you like living in a tent? They are very cold and noisy, and flap like crazy in the wind. After using the tent trailer for a year, we sold it and moved to something that we enjoy much more, a TrailManor.

05-14-2008, 06:29 PM
One other thing about tent camping...all it takes is a knife or razor blade to get in.

05-14-2008, 06:38 PM
It's the difference between a tent and a travel trailor. We have owned both. I agree! Go see one, put it up and stand in it. THere is no comparison. Queeniereads

05-14-2008, 07:34 PM
We graduated from a Starcraft to a TM this year. We had the popup for 5 years and enjoyed using it, but found a number of particular things that encouraged us towards the TM.
Someone mentioned the gray water tank. Our Starcraft had a drain, but we had to connect a 15 gal low profile "blue tank" to catch gray water, and then empty it at the end of a weekend. And we typically filled it up. 15 gals of water is no mean feat to lift into the back of a truck or SUV to take to the dump. I actually messed up my back last fall trying to get ours out of the SUV at the dump. :mad: Not fond memories.
Second is bears. :eek: We camp a lot in the Colorado mountains, and every state park and most if not all Forest Service parks require you to store food in a hardsided vehicle at night and during the day if you are gone from your site. Got really tired of that with the Starcraft.
Third is storage. :o The Starcraft had storage under the seats, and a small cabinet - but those were easily filled with cooking gear and a few other camping items. No room to store food or clothes when traveling. The TM has the ability for us to load up the trailer and carry almost nothing in the TV. When DW transferred all our gear from the Starcraft to the TM, she was amazed at how much space we still had left to use.
Negative? The 5 yr old Starcraft cost us $4400. Our 5 year old TM was $17000. But well worth the difference.
Hope that helps.

05-15-2008, 07:38 AM
We owned a 2004 Fleetwood Sequoia pop-up. It was loaded - Built-in microwave, 6 gallon water heater, hard-side bath, king beds on both ends, furnace, and A/C. Loved camping in it on weekends, but then came the trip from NE Tennessee to Utah.

Let me tell you, it got real old real fast setting up at the end of a long day of driving. Then the take-down the next morning, drive all day, and set up again. It was OK when we stopped for a couple of days in one place. Unless it was windy - May in southern Utah appears to be VERY windy. We actually had a support rod bent from the wind. Not a lot of fun. We travel with three Boston Terriers and worried constantly about them.

It was very easy to tow. But our TM is just as easy if not easier. We have LOTS more room inside (for rainy days). We just feel 'safer' in bad weather. We went to Tucson in March of this past year (very windy in south Texas that time of year, also) - the TM withstood the wind gusts extremely well (up to 55 mph winds).

Pop-up was $9,000 and our current TM was $30,000 - big difference in price BUT we feel like we have a much better camper. TM is so much easier to set up and take down. I wouldn't go back to a pop-up now (I'd give up camping first!).

Any specific questions I can answer re: the specific pop-up we had, feel free to ask.


Mr. Adventure
05-15-2008, 10:14 AM
Over the years, we've owned 3 popups, 1 standard travel trailer, a 37 foot Winnebago, and the TrailManor. We've used our RV's to go all over, in lots of different kinds of family adventures.

The advantage of the popup is that's lighter and a lot less expensive. They also can have king sized beds without the weight and length of a big TrailManor.

The disadvantages of a popup versus a Trailmanor:
- Canvas is thin. Issues include noise from other campers, light (headlights at night and the sunlight holds reville for you in the early morning), and it's easily damaged and sometimes hard to repair. And yes, there are potential security issues, but we never experienced any problems.
- Canvas is uninsulated. It gets lots of condensation on the inside when the heat is on, it lets heat out in the winter, and lets lots of heat in in the summer sunshine. Temperature control is harder.
- You have humidity management problems inside. When you camp in cold weather or the rain, your bed tends to get wet around the edges.
- If you're out in wet conditions, you have to dry a popup out before you put it away in order to avoid mildew and mold in the trailer.
- When you set up or fold down in the rain, it's hard to keep the beds dry.

Other things:
- Popups used to not be fully self contained, with hot/cold water and gray/black holding tanks (but maybe they do now).
- Most popups have relatively primitive stoves, ovens, sinks, drawers and cabinets.
- No popup bathroom was ever able to pass the DW test, although eventually there could be one, of course.
- The TrailManor awning, roof, sides, doors, and windows are more like what you'd see in larger and more comfortable RV's. The insulated TM walls are better than most other kinds of RV's.
- Popups still use a lot of wood in construction. Trailers can get wet in storage, and wet wood rots.
- Popups do not hold up as well as most other RV's. TrailManors hold up much better than most RV's.

Would we do a popup again? No, because we've gone soft these days, and our budget is better than when we were younger. But when we had young kids, we had a wonderful time camping with them in popups. The motorhome was a great RV, but the cost of gas makes it a park model. The TrailManor is a perfect compromise, where you can be on the road with 16-20mpg in the vehicle you'd otherwise drive to work.

05-15-2008, 10:23 AM
We are selling our Starcraft Centennial that has Kingbeds and Slideout Dinnette for a 2720. Will miss the dining area. Three reasons - bears, wind, and security.

We beat the cold and heat with thermal blankets and bubble wrap.

05-15-2008, 11:22 AM
Thank you for all the response. It appears that everyone so far is happier with their TM over their previous popup. As far as cost the popup's we were looking at, they ranged from $10-12K for the nicest one's between 1-2 years old. It appears that TM's can be had for a little more but maybe a little older. We would like to get one as nice as possible without going overboard on price. Is there a year that I should look for that had any important or major upgrades?

05-15-2008, 11:38 AM
I think the general advice is to look for a a 2003 or later. The reason why is that after 2003, TMs were almost all metal and used very little wood.

05-15-2008, 06:37 PM
and I think in '03 they started putting the spare tire underneath which makes for a shorter 2720/2619 which can be stored in a garage, if that's an issue...

05-15-2008, 09:52 PM
Also, somewhere along 2003 or 2004 they changed the bumper from the square type to the more sleek modern looking one, changed the A/C to a low profile and moved it to the front shell - a BIG improvement. My 2003 3124 has square bumper and regular height A/C, but our friend's 2003 3023 has the square bumper but the low profile A/C. Must have changed sometime during that model year. This may also have been they year they moved the A/C on the 2619 and 2720 from the side to the roof, but don't know for sure. Also a great improvement from what I read here.

05-15-2008, 11:47 PM
If your budget is limited and you can find a clean older TM, I wouldn't hesitate one bit to buy it as long as everything checks out OK. Ours is a 1997 and it's solidly built; we have had very few problems with it. The appliances have worked well from day one of ownership (with the exception of the side A/C, but it can easily be replaced, but we don't need it so we haven't done so yet). We did do the wheelwell modification; it took a couple of weekend mornings plus some shopping. I think it will roll along sweetly behind us for another 10+ years, at least. We've had it for almost 5 years now and have never regretted buying it.

05-16-2008, 05:33 PM
I had a 2005 Fleetwood Sun Valley. Nice popup and had zero problems with it. What I really didn't like was whenever there was bad weather with setup/takedown in the rain or when it is windy. Our last camping experience in our popup we had constant wind/gusts, the sunbrella fabric was bowing in/out, the top was swaying, and it was very noisy. So noisy, we couldn't sleep, the kids were scared so we just popped it down and went back home. The only thing I really liked about owning popup was the low profile tow. So we researched all folding hard-sided trailers including the TrailManor. We decided on a Hi-Lo for various reasons and have been very happy with it.

TrailManors are very nice and have many advantages over a popup. I would spend time in both. The only thing that may be a stopper is the price. TrailManors are much more expensive than a popup, even Fleetwood's top popup the Avalon. Research this site and write down the pros/cons. Also post this question on a popup forum to get different perspectives. Have fun!

05-16-2008, 09:57 PM
Take heed in what Nancy says. Popups have the big advantage of price. They are cheaper than Hi-Los and TMs.

Go out to the showrooms and look at popups. If you don't mind the limitations of those types of popups, go for it.

As far as hardsides go, there are only two choices Hi-Lo and TM.

There are lots of things I liked about Hi-Los. In many ways Hi-Los are a little more conventional than a TM. This is especially true when you get to their slide-out (maybe flip-out) models. This definitely gives you a larger living room than you will get in a TM.

Sue and I came pretty close to getting a Hi-Lo. What had been slowing us down was the weight issue. At the time our TV was rated for 3,500 lbs. That restricted us a lot to the smaller Hi-Los which we did not particularly like. When you got up to the 22 size they started getting to be fairly nice.

Even the 22T was beyond our 4 cyl Tacoma. Empty weight with a/c would easily put you beyond 3,500 lbs.

Just about when I had thought we had a TV that could handle a Hi-Lo, I found the TM. What I liked about the TM was the lack of power required to open and close the TM. I never found a Hi-Lo at showroom that had enough battery power to run a Hi-Lo up and down. That fact had a lot more to do with the sales staff than the Hi-Los, but it did influence our decision. We always wondered how reliant the system was on electric power.

The TM had several advantages over the Hi-Lo. It was a lot lighter, no power to set up, a better bathroom, gas/electric hot water tank, beds that required less set up.

Originally, I was concerned about the way the shells opened. I was somewhat worried about whether the shells were raintight or not. After looking at several used trailers, I never found one that had any problem with rain along the seals. There were certainly ones that had had leaks in some of the usual places, but nothing major even on older units.

TMs had all the advantages of Hi-Los but were far lighter, simpler erection scheme, but were much more expensive. Even TMs 3326 has a lighter gross weight than a Hi-Lo 22.

That doesn't make the TM or the Hi-Lo better, just different.

05-17-2008, 07:40 AM
I can't add anything to the comparison with popups. However, we did consider several older TMs before we purchased our current 2007 2720SL. We seriously considered two pre-2003 2720SLs, one from an individual seller in New England and one from a former dealer in New Jersey. The first we had checked out by MCD on Cape Cod and the second we checked ourselves. Both units had been advertised on this forum and described as in good condition. Both units had problems with wood rot in the roofs among other issues. This vulnerable area, we learned, could be initially checked by simply bringing a square drive screw driver with you. Check the screws on the vertical rear edges of the front roof section by seeing if these screws were snug, or would they just spin if tightened? On the New Jersey 2002 2720SL we inspected, we found only or two solid screws between both sides. This was an easy test.

Repair of wood rot was described back in 2000 or so. Using the Search tool for the word "pocket" turns up the following links. They describe repairs that we never wanted to make.


This is not to imply that all pre-2003 TMs should be avoided. My understanding is that the roof design was improved from 2003 on. That said, there certainly are many earlier units which have been well cared for and which can be excellent values. Key to this is, in my opinion, is being sure to store your TM with the tongue raised and not allowing snow to stand on the roof. A TM sitting with the tongue even slightly lowered allows water to flow towards the roof seal. The soft seals between the roof sections cannot, in my view, be expected to hold back standing water.

As to the Hi-Lo, they have their own vulnerabilities. I would suggest that someone considering one should search the web for where and what to examine on these.

Respectfully submitted,


05-17-2008, 08:14 AM
As far as hardsides go, there are only two choices Hi-Lo and TM.

That is not correct. There are at least two manufacturers that have hard sided trailers (I suppose they could be considered a popup, but then again so could a TM), These manufacturers are Columbia Northwest (Aliner) and Chalet. Both well made trailers although much smaller than the TM.They are also considerably cheaper than a TM. We moved up from a Aliner to a TM for the room and the bath, and still could pull the trailer with our medium sized truck.

Mike Anderson

05-17-2008, 02:56 PM
The TM is very quiet inside. Nice for noisy neighbors and traffic. We figured that if we were moving up from a tent, we wanted a big step up. If money is a big consideraton look for a used one or check out Chaletrv.com for another option.

05-17-2008, 05:34 PM
...These manufacturers are Columbia Northwest (Aliner) and Chalet...Both well made trailers although much smaller than the TM.They are also considerably cheaper than a TM...I will stand by what I said.

If you are trying to decide between a Fleetwood and a TM a Chalet or Aliner seems rather expensive option. They are really small, but they are light and small.

05-17-2008, 07:04 PM
I was posting from my cell phone and missed your posts. The Chalet 19xx were the closet we considered but the TM was too awesome where space was concerned especially with 4 campers in our family.

05-19-2008, 09:38 AM
The HiLo was not an option for us. The biggest HiLo that will fit in my garage is 17 feet long. As I recall it does not have any permanent bed and it certainly will not sleep 6.

Our TM 2720 has a queen and a double bed. On a rare occasion we convert the table into another bed. Not having to convert a bed every morning into a table is a big deal when i am the one that gets up first and I get up early.

We never found a popup that had a bathroom that was nicer than the TM.

Chalet and Aliner were too small for us.

We like to camp in the Redwood forest in the winter. I would not want the fabric walls of a popup for that situation.

We expect to keep the TM for at least 15 years, so our budget perspective is a little different than most.

05-19-2008, 03:21 PM
...The biggest HiLo that will fit in my garage is 17 feet long. As I recall it does not have any permanent bed and it certainly will not sleep 6...We never found a popup that had a bathroom that was nicer than the TM...You start getting into a bathroom "as nice" around 22 foot. When you get to their 26' the Hi-Los get nice but are very heavy.

05-20-2008, 11:57 AM
One other thing - there has been significant discussion here about oven vs microwave in the TM. In just few campouts I've found our oven to be a significant improvement over what we had in our popup (only a 3 burner range). Few popups will have an oven, and having an over makes a world of difference in what and how you eat while camping. Obviously you can't use a microwave while boondocking!

05-20-2008, 09:19 PM
Ditto most of what's been said, especially what PopBeavers said; with a family of 5 we wanted as much bedspace as we could get, and you can't find that in a HiLo that fits in our garage. Aliners and Chalets are not serious options with this many people.

Popups were a serious consideration, and have lots of bedspace for the $ because, like the TM that we bought, they have beds that slide out on both ends. The one we rented had a bathroom, but the TM's bathroom is just so very much nicer. It was hard to get the kids or the DW to get enthusiastic about the popup bathroom, but there is no hesitation at all in the TM. The TM's shower is actually usable also; vs the marine toilet setup in the popup that was laughable. Also, it rained some in the middle of our popup rental camping trip; not enough to be a problem, but enough to open my eyes as to the impending disaster if it rained when I was trying to take it down. That mild little rain did more for encouraging me to look elsewhere than anything else.

05-29-2008, 07:06 PM
I have never owned either and am comparing the Trailmanor to a Fleetwood popup with the hardsided bath. For those that have owned both what are the pros and cons of each?Presumably you are looking at the Fleetwood Highlander Niagara. Be aware that this unit has a "wet bathroom" - that is, when you take a shower, the entire bathroom is your shower stall. Everything gets wet, including the toilet, sink, etc, which isn't real handy when you finish your shower and someone else wants to use the bathroom. By contrast, the TM has a "dry bathroom". The shower stall, enclosed by the shower curtain, is its own enclosure, just like in your house. Everything else stays dry.

You pays yer money and you takes yer choice.