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Author Topic: Coleman, Rockwood, Jayco, Palemino, Starcraft, etc, etc, etc...  (Read 8849 times)
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« on: September 01, 2010, 05:43:02 AM »

I know tent trailers are all basically the same. They all look the same, come in the same range of sizes, offer the same features, and come with similar floorplan choices. But as far as brands go is there any heirarchy? For example, is there a Lada or Yugo in the tent trailer world? I.E. Cheap but for good reason. Conversely, is there a Rolls Royce in the lot? I.E. Expensive but the creme de la creme. Or are they all pretty much Hondas? I.E. Reliable, reasonably well appointed and priced fairly.
I'm thinking it's door # 3 but would like to hear from real owners. I'd actually prefer it if there were some way to help narrow the field but from someone w/out any experience it's hard. The brochures of course make them ALL look appealing.

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« Reply #1 on: September 01, 2010, 06:18:41 AM »

I think you've hit the nail on the head-they are all pretty much the same layout and so on.  The one issue that stands out is Fleetwood's roof problems, but they are now Coleman, and maybe have resolved it.  Other than that, I can't recall reading of any huge issues with any of the brands.

Make sure that you are comfortable with the dealer, their service dept, and so on.  We had an issue with our roof leaking, and they took care of it immediately.  You never know what may break, or may need work done.

Other than that, pick a floor plan you like and enjoy!

I'm sure others will chime in,
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« Reply #2 on: September 01, 2010, 07:31:03 AM »

In this age of "continous improvement" and corporate mergers it is difficult to predict future quality from past performance, but absent the ability to dismantle and inspect each brand offering it is about the only tool we have.

To that end, I would say look around and see on this board, ebay, craigslist, etc. how many 15 year old plus Coleman/Fleetwood, Starcraft and Jayco trailers you can find and compare that to the number of Rockwood, Palomino, Viking, etc trailers you can find. I think even if you take the number of Coleman/Fleetwoods and divide by 2 to compensate for market share, the number of campers in group "A" will dwarf the number in Group "B".

Having said that, I would also caution that all brands have had particular weakpoints and models to avoid eg. any Coleman/Fleetwood with an ABS roof. Also consider that in the end factors such as livability, the benefits of one dealer over another, etc may trump build quality or reliability especially if you buy new and trade often.

SO, a lot to think about but that is my perspective having bought and sold dozens of PUPs for several years.

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« Reply #3 on: September 01, 2010, 08:06:55 AM »

There may not be Rolls Royces if you're sticking to TENT trailers but there are certainly some if you're going popups in general. Trailmanor makes a nice popup.
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« Reply #4 on: September 01, 2010, 09:01:01 AM »

Yes, I've seen the Trailmanor website. A really neat idea but pricey and out of my range when compared to a traditional pop-up.
I knew this would be bit of a touchy subject. I mean you can't really come out an say Brand X sucks w/out offending all the Brand X owners on this board now can you?
Brian used some tact and, If I understand correctly, is suggesting that in general terms Coleman, Starcraft and Jayco are a step up in quality from the others. If true that's good to know.
Would others agree?
I understand that's not to say that the others suck necessarily but if certain makes are are generally considered to be top tier then that's what I want to know. Whether I end up buying new or used it's still good to know.
Thanks for the replys so far.

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« Reply #5 on: September 01, 2010, 09:37:57 AM »

Having owned a Starcraft, Coleman, and now a Viking, I'd say that the Coleman seemed to have slightly better finish quality than the other two.  It also had a few features I like that the others didn't, e.g., breathable tenting material, stepper door, and permanently attached bunkend braces.  But other than that, I found them all to be built more or less with the same level of quality and durability (or lack thereof).

I'm not sure I agree Brian's comment about the number of older used Colemans, Jaycos and Starcrafts for sale vs. Rockwood, Palomino, Viking, etc.  I believe the difference in numbers can be entirely attributable, or nearly so, to the fact that Coleman, Jayco, and Starcraft have by far the lion's share of the market.  These companies combined certainly outnumber their combined competitors by way more than 2:1. 

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« Reply #6 on: September 01, 2010, 11:49:29 AM »

I don't think it is necessarily a build thing, vs a features thing. There may be a slight difference in build quality, but not enough to make a big difference to the end user.

For instance, as mountainrev said, Colemans seem to have some nice features that alot of people like, vs universally disliked items, such as Rockwoods/Flagstaffs door assembly (who came up with that mess??).

That said, it is up to you, to determine what features you like, and if the cost/benefit is worth is to you. If you are looking used, you will find many more of the big names available, as they sold alot more. However, when used, condition is EVERYTHING. Since PUP's do require maintenance, due to their lightweight build, you want to make sure you buy a well maintained or very lightly used unit. Do remember, however, that lightly used does not necessarily mean you will have no problems. Lots of things stay in better working order, when used. Our PUP had quite a few little issues, due to non use/poor use.

I will say one thing.............. I am so happy that my PUP has the Sunbrella tenting. After my whiffletree failure, it was closed up, soking wet, for 3 weeks.............. and no mold or mildew (we had put it down, for our camping trip, in the pouring rain). That tenting is some pretty amazing stuff.

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« Reply #7 on: September 01, 2010, 12:10:41 PM »

You will get all sorts of replies citing different claims, good and bad, about every brand. Before offering my opinion, Iíll give you a summary of what youíll find after researching. Take my opinion as just that, an opinion, however, I can tell you that as an anal retentive Engineer / tech junkie / seasoned camping guru / do it yourselfer etc., I have researched these topics to exhaustive measures.

Basically, the statement Ďall pupís are the sameí could not be more misleading. Yes they are all made of basically the same materials, with the same processes and in some cases, the same factory but that does not mean that one does not stand out from the other. Certain brands offer things that others donít and to many, these are small, insignificant differences but to others, they are strong deciding factors. One person might use his píup in an entirely different way than another and therefore, píup ĎAí might seem as though it is poorly designed and / or manufactured while píup ĎBí is his Rolls! Conversely, another person might feel completely the opposite.

For the most part, stick with the brands you most often see that are in good condition. Jayco, Rockwood, Fleetwood / Coleman etc. I donít know too much about the newer models but most of the Coachmenís Iíve seen in the 80ís through the early 00ís are pretty much your Kia or Hyundai of the group. They look nice when new but several years later, they just seem to show their age and not hold up.

Now, for my opinion,

I am an avid tent camper from way back. I grew up with TTís, hybrids and RVís but always preferred tents. As I got older and married, I had more incentive to upgrade. It all started with a cheap starter unit and lead to my newer12í with a side slide. During the 4 year long process, Iíve bought, repaired, modified, refurbished and sold nearly two dozen píups. I can tell you that I donít plan on owning anything other than a Fleetwood / Coleman. While no Rolls by any means, they seem to be the Honda when everyone is selling a Hyundai. You pay ~10% premium whether new or used but you soon learn to appreciate why.

The biggest reasons for me?

Stepper door
Larger, single piece door
Sunbrella material (breathable)
Back saver supports
Wide, self supporting stanchions
Etc. etc.

 For greater detail, search this forum and youíll find this exact post from several different people, asking the same questions.

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« Reply #8 on: September 01, 2010, 12:25:28 PM »

I don't know about all brands (I've owned two Jaycos and one orphan), but I do know that Starcraft is owned by Jayco.  I've been to the factory twice, and the Starcraft and Jayco 5th wheels are built side-by-side on the same line.  It could be the same for the PUPs and other brands.


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« Reply #9 on: September 01, 2010, 12:42:12 PM »

Having owned both a coleman and a palomino i have to say that I agree with some of the previous posts. We used to own a coleman cheyenne and we loved it. We traded to a TT when work kept me on the road 6 mos. out of the year (we lived in it for the summer for 4 years) we recently sold the TT due to it needin more repairs than I could give it. We now have a Palomino Banshee. While I love some of the features on my little pup there are some things I miss from my coleman. And it is vice versa. Basically the colemans are a little dressier a little more glam. You will pay for that though. My palomino isn't as dressy as my coleman was I haven't had to make the repairs I did on the coleman. The drawer fronts came apart on the coleman, the sink faucet litteraly blew up. The wheel bearings didn't last a year, the canvas came unsewn. Now this was a circa 2000 unit when it was mfg. by fleetwood, things may be different now. Find the unit you like make sure it has what you want. If used go over evrything canvas, floor, roof, fridge, furnace, a/c, etc... and know what you are getting before you buy. If new all the major mfg. are pretty good. go camp have fun

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« Reply #10 on: September 01, 2010, 12:55:30 PM »

There are a few oddball tent trailers that aren't built like the others. Livinlite Quicksilver comes to mind. Lightweight and solidly built with fewer amenities and frills (but all I would want). I did look at the new popups alot (and R-Pods and T@bs) before finding one I liked better used. Cheaper was a nice bonus but not the driving factor--some of the old ones have fun features!
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« Reply #11 on: September 01, 2010, 04:17:13 PM »

I own a Rockwood and love it.  I did look at coleman\fleetwood and their sales pitch is great.  They do have a better product or at least did with some PUPs. Some will tell you the lift system, the tenting and the stepper door etc.  I can tell you all PUPs have features that others do not.  The biggest issue is the dealer who can help with service parts etc if necessary.  My dealer used to sell Fleetwoods but changed to Rockwoods about the time I was looking.  They had a bunch of fleetwoods but $$$$ made me look at the Rockwood.  In 4 years no problems except the full size door. 

I would say that the fleetwood\coleman is more like a rolls\mercedes etc.  Pay more cost more etc but the question would be is it worth it?  Only the buyer can say.  I could not spend the extra dollars for a name.  By the way I do not own one but apparently Hyundais are no longer a joke so they say

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« Reply #12 on: September 01, 2010, 07:12:11 PM »

All i can say is we love our starcraft

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« Reply #13 on: September 01, 2010, 10:18:11 PM »

I obviously like Coleman/Fleetwood since I bought one. And when I was looking, Starcraft was right behind it with some of the larger Jayco models having the layouts and room we wanted. In fairness, some of the brands are not well represented in my area so I only saw few to none of the Palominos, A liner, Viking and some other brands. Don't mean to knock anyone's PUP, but I gotta say I was not impressed by the Rockwood brand. Maybe it was the prior owner(s) but it didn't seem to hold up well with usage.

I think if C/F hadn't been going through so many ownership changes the last 15 yrs. they would be head & shoulders above most of the other brands. But they did, so they made some mistakes on the roof construction/quality control.

Don't know if this will help but here's owners' ratings on brands.


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« Reply #14 on: September 02, 2010, 11:19:37 AM »

Can you get to an RV show? I'm not sure where you live, but Hershey, PA is getting ready to have the largest RV show in the nation in a couple of weeks. You will literally see every brand of pop-up/tent trailer made at this show. While it can be overwhelming, it's also nice to see all of them in one location to get a feel for comparison of the layout, finishes, etc that you want. I think once you start "trying them out" by laying on the beds, looking at the storage, setting them up, etc., you'll get a feel for what you really want. At the show they let us put up and take down a Trail Manor (which was awesome as another poster commented  Wink ) and you can do the same with other brands. We've also set up and taken down trailers at other shows and I highly recommend doing that (on your own with the dealer on hand only to supervise and instruct) before signing the dotted line.

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