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Investigating and Oliver Elite II as a possible replacement for our squaredrop (Newbs from northern Ohio)


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Hi! I'm Steve! Deb and I currently have a 5 X 8 Hiker trailer, which is basically a box with a bed and some shelves. We are in our late '60s, and Deb is getting tired of getting up during the night to go outside to the bathroom tent; especially when it is cold (or raining, buggy, critters about, etc.) And it would be nice to have a place to stand and dress, as well as have AC for the midwest's typical 85° 85% humidity summers.

Not climbing over each other in an east-west bed is high on the list, so the twin option would be great. There aren't too many twin options out there other than much larger Airstreams and the upcoming Escape 23 that's likely another year or two out. A dry bath is another desire, but the combination of that along with twin beds is like finding a unicorn. We were in an Australian extreme off-road Kimberley Kruiser E3 recently that had both, but with current prices and crazy shipping costs, those are in the $175,000 range now. I know Don Thompson used to be on here went that way last year before the prices skyrocketed.

Like a few members here, we have a Toyota Land Cruiser, which has an 8100 pound tow rating. I'm not even remotely interested in changing tow vehicles (a 40+ year dream to own one became a necessity last year when they were discontinued in the US) so I'll need to find a trailer to accommodate the Cruiser. From what reading I've done here, it sounds like it is okay, but not optimal. Other than towing a 5000# boat 20 miles twice a year in the '70s with my grandfather's 500 cubic inch Cadillac, I haven't towed anything larger than a 1500# sailboat. The Hiker is 780# empty. Towing something 5-6000 pound is mildly intimidating!

Building our imaginary trailer adds up fast! With the features I'd *like*, I hit $100k... We want to stay away from campgrounds, but even typically empty boondocking sites have become overwhelmed with the rise of "overlanding", #vanlife, and a zillion YouTube videos and Instastardom. 

A bit about us: like most trailer owners, we tent camped extensively. I backpacked in the '70s and again in the '90s, and Deb and I tented a lot from when we were married in 1981 unto the early '90s. Then kids got into other things, and we were tired of sleeping on the ground. Buying a home, and life got in the way. Then in 2015, our youngest went off to college in Seattle. We took her out in our seriously overladed Outback, and then spent the next 42 days wandering our way home. That's 42 nights of motels and restaurant meals twice a day. Then we did the same for the next two years, albeit for shorter duration. Expensive, not particularly healthy, and we were often a couple of hours from where we were staying to the sights we wanted to see. "It would be so much easier if we could camp right here!" A free roof top tent from an online giveaway lasted one trip. Nope! Not gonna work. That's when we ordered the Hiker. And here we are looking to possibly upgrade.

Deb is an avid gardener (flowers and food) so that limits our away time. It seemed we were always gone when the tomatoes were in their peak. The neighbors really enjoyed them, though. We both want to get off the beaten path, and while we realize the Oliver isn't an off-road trailer, if we can find somewhere to park it as a basecamp, we can explore during the day in the Cruiser (which has an onboard fridge/freezer and stuff for causal cooking and dining while out and about.) Sounds ideal!

We will be in central Kentucky sometime in the next 6-8 weeks, and might take a side trip to take the Oliver factory tour and see one in person.

A couple questions I already have. I see that some have plumbed the liquids from the composting toilet to the black tank. Is the black tank installed in every trailer? Or are these people that had the regular RV toilet and swapped to a composing version?

Has anyone switched to a 2-way compressor fridge instead of the propane 3-way? They are much more efficient, and with a lithium package, would never run down the batteries. Does Oliver do any custom orders, leaving the refrigerator vents uncut in the hull so the I could either supply a compressor fridge or install it myself?

Along the same lines, with a lithium package, I'd prefer an induction stovetop instead of the propane 2-burner. Is this available as an option, or just have them leave out the cooktop so there's no hole?

Well, that's more than enough for now. I ramble. A lot...

Thanks,
Steve

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Steve - Northern Ohio, USA
Wandering around on occasion, always lost.
2021 Toyota Land Cruiser - 5X8 Hiker Highway Deluxe Squaredrop Trailer
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17 minutes ago, Steve and Deb said:

I see that some have plumbed the liquids from the composting toilet to the black tank.

A bunch of talk but as of yet I'm not aware that anyone has actually made this mod.

17 minutes ago, Steve and Deb said:

Is the black tank installed in every trailer?

Yes.

18 minutes ago, Steve and Deb said:

Or are these people that had the regular RV toilet and swapped to a composing version?

Nope - black tank is in every Ollie and the standard is for a regular toilet to be installed on top of that black tank.  The Nature's Head toilet is an option and it sits on top of the already installed black tank but, obviously, doesn't empty anything into that black tank.

20 minutes ago, Steve and Deb said:

Has anyone switched to a 2-way compressor fridge instead of the propane 3-way?

Yes - SeaDawg for one.

20 minutes ago, Steve and Deb said:

Does Oliver do any custom orders, leaving the refrigerator vents uncut in the hull so the I could either supply a compressor fridge or install it myself?

No "custom orders".  But, you can always ask.  The 2023 that Oliver brought to this year's Owner's Rally had a compressor fridge in it.  So, that now just might be an option.

22 minutes ago, Steve and Deb said:

I'd prefer an induction stovetop instead of the propane 2-burner. Is this available as an option, or just have them leave out the cooktop so there's no hole?

Again, you can always ask.

Keep those questions coming and keep reading here on the Forum.  All of the questions above have been discussed here.

Finally - a big welcome to the Forum - we are happy that you have found us!

Bill

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Welcome to the forum, I'll let others answer your questions. I would like to comment that I think you will miss the ease of maneuvering and  finding a campsite if you buy the bigger trailer. Since you want to stay "primitive" it really does make things harder. We just spent two weeks in the Basin and Range area of NV and there were MANY times I wished for a smaller footprint! We also had to pass up a lot of great spots, because we just couldn't fit. Including in Great Basin National Park. This one at Steens Mountain OR (BLM) worked:

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You are correct, your LC200 will tow the LE2, but it will definitely work much harder, especially on long grades, and you must use the Andersen hitch. The LC200 has a short 120 inch wheelbase, and IMHO it really is better matched with a lighter trailer and perhaps an off-road coupler. Plus the towing mpgs are horrendous, especially if you add tougher LT tires and some accessories. The smaller trailer will not require so much wasted fuel and it will extend your cruising range a little. My truck with mud tires, snorkel, roof rack and cargo carrier rarely gets 10 mpg in the West, towing 6000 pounds. We paid an enormous amount for gas on this short trip.Fortunately, free stays in public lands and Harvest Host/ Boondockers Welcome sites helped to offset that. I can't imagine how costly it would be to tow with a Land Cruiser and stay at resorts ;(

Oliver has suspended production of the LE for a major redesign, it will be interesting to see if they do some really cool stuff like independent suspension and disk brakes. We can only hope.

We need more Land Cruisers!

John Davies

Spokane WA

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"Mouse":  2017 Legacy Elite II NARV (Not An RV) Two Beds, Hull Number 218, See my HOW TO threads: https://olivertraveltrailers.com/topic/john-e-davies-how-to-threads-and-tech-articles-links/

Tow Vehicle: 2013 Land Cruiser 200, 33" LT tires, airbags, Safari snorkel.

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47 minutes ago, topgun2 said:
1 hour ago, Steve and Deb said:

supply a compressor fridge or install it myself?

No "custom orders".  But, you can always ask.  The 2023 that Oliver brought to this year's Owner's Rally had a compressor fridge in it.  So, that now just might be an option

That's great news, @topgun2. Did the demo 2023 still have the fridge vents cut out?

We replaced our 3way with a compressor fridge a few years ago. At the same time, we took out the microwave and built a big storage cabinet in its place. I'm very happy with both improvements. (We sealed the fridge vents with heavy plastic sheeting, insulation, and duct tape. ) we still have a gas cooktop, which I like, but carry an induction burner.

Please do ask when you go on your tour. While you're there, see if there's a twin bed model in the offing for the Elite, with the redesign. 

We've had ours since 2008, so we're in our 15th season. Though smaller than the II, it has (almost) all the same features, and I  consider the smaller size to be a bonus,  for many of the reasons @John E Davies already outlined. 

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Just now, SeaDawg said:

Did the demo 2023 still have the fridge vents cut out?

No - but - there was an exterior drop down table in place of the lower fridge vents.

Bill

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I understand that Furrion makes an rv induction cooktop about the same size as gas. Hmmm

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1 hour ago, SeaDawg said:

That's great news, @topgun2. Did the demo 2023 still have the fridge vents cut out?

Like BIll said there was a drop down table in the place of the vents.  I was surprised at how sturdy it was.  The fridge itself was nice but the freezer portion was not of a practice size.  You would need an external freezer.  

 

For Steve and Deb, I agree with all of Bill’s answers.  John makes good points about size, the EII can get into places most conventional sized campers can’t, but it is still limited.  If you like really remote camping the larger EII might limit your options.  It will be interesting to see what the new redesigned EI show.  Mike

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2 minutes ago, Mike and Carol said:

Like BIll said there was a drop down table in the place of the vents.  I was surprised at how sturdy it was.  The fridge itself was nice but the freezer portion was not of a practice size.  You would need an external freezer.  Mike

Guessing it was the isotherm version of my indel b made for truckfridge. The freezer is the size of a shoebox.

Great fridge, though, if you can live without a bigger freezer.

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My kids shoebox freezer has held one ice cube tray, 2 small packs of frozen veggies, 2 sirloin, two burger parties, two pork chops, and two salmon portions. 

I vacpack meats and freeze them between cookie trays so they're flat and stackable. 

I hope this is an option, not standard.  I still think the 3way is the best option for boondocking, in all but extreme climates. 

 

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I freeze meals such as chili in the flat Chinese take-out containers.  They stack up well in the Ollie freezer.

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"Creativity is the fun of putting together unexpected ideas."  Hazel Edwards

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Oliver used to offer a twin bed model for the elite. Across the back was a 30 inch bunk, and small dinette dropped down to a 24" bunk. 

One of my camping friends modified her Casita to have a standard home size 38" twin east west across the back, and built a slide out platform with legs to widen the side dinette to 30".  It made the aisle narrow, of course, but still allowed her to take her handicapped friend camping.

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48 minutes ago, SeaDawg said:

My kids shoebox freezer has held one ice cube tray, 2 small packs of frozen veggies, 2 sirloin, two burger parties, two pork chops, and two salmon portions. 

What did you do with that MUST HAVE - ice cream?

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Sadly, I can't eat ice cream anymore. Dairy is limited to yogurt and cheese. 

I'm such a blue bell fan, but it doesn't agree with me. Holidays, I live with the consequences of a spoon or two. 

My husband has agreed to ice cream store stops, instead of taking up  freezer room. 

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4 hours ago, topgun2 said:

Keep those questions coming and keep reading here on the Forum.  All of the questions above have been discussed here.

Thank you! All very helpful replies that are greatly appreciated. As for questions and answers, Absolutely yes on the search!! I've been admin and moderator on forums for 25 years now, and know the frustration they can sometimes cause. ("What mattress should I get?" has been asked probably 200 times on the Hiker Facebook group in its six years of existence!) Oddly, searching for "refrigerator" in title only resulted in nothing relevant.

Again, thank you!
 

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Steve - Northern Ohio, USA
Wandering around on occasion, always lost.
2021 Toyota Land Cruiser - 5X8 Hiker Highway Deluxe Squaredrop Trailer
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4 hours ago, John E Davies said:

We need more Land Cruisers!

Thank you, John! I think I've read every post you've contributed to that contained Land Cruiser (as well as on MUG)! As well as at least two other members whom I can't recall right now due to my horrible memory with names and general information overload. 🙂

And I hear and understand your comments on boondocking and saw your admonitions about going 1/4 mile, 5 miles, or 40 (?) miles off road in another post. I guess my imagined trailer (somewhat off road capable, light enough for the LC200, not climbing over each other to get out of bed, somewhere south of $175k), doesn't exist.

Thank you!

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Steve - Northern Ohio, USA
Wandering around on occasion, always lost.
2021 Toyota Land Cruiser - 5X8 Hiker Highway Deluxe Squaredrop Trailer
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3 hours ago, SeaDawg said:

Please do ask when you go on your tour. While you're there, see if there's a twin bed model in the offing for the Elite, with the redesign. 

Thank you, and I will definitely be doing that! The size fits our needs better if only there was a bed situation that met our desires.And interesting that there's possibly a factory compressor fridge option and potential drop in third party induction stove. For both, I'd prefer factory installed, or al least the option not to cut openings for vents in the hull. The fewer holes the better!

 

Thanks

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Steve - Northern Ohio, USA
Wandering around on occasion, always lost.
2021 Toyota Land Cruiser - 5X8 Hiker Highway Deluxe Squaredrop Trailer
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2 minutes ago, Steve and Deb said:

ANd I hear and understand your comments on boondocking and saw your admonitions about going 1/4 mile, 5 miles, or 40 (?) miles off road in another post. I guess my imagined trailer (somewhat off road capable, light enough for the LC200, not climbing over each other to get out of bed, somewhere south of $175k), doesn't exist.

It does exist. 

With your TV, my elite is a better match, but John has made it work for years. 

I wouldn't trade my early Elite for anything but a very expensive Aussie trailer. In our 15th season, its been such a great time. 

152 days last year. We average well over 100 days a year, including covid, when we just went to north carolina, and stayed. 

 

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2 hours ago, Mike and Carol said:

The fridge itself was nice but the freezer portion was not of a practice size.  You would need an external freezer.  

Thank you for the comments. I'm listening as far as what you all are saying about the size. As far as the freezer in a compressor fridge, I've got that covered. I have a National Luna 90 Twin fridge/freezer in the Cruiser that can be set with one or both bins as freezer or fridge. That's a lot of food (and weight!)

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Steve - Northern Ohio, USA
Wandering around on occasion, always lost.
2021 Toyota Land Cruiser - 5X8 Hiker Highway Deluxe Squaredrop Trailer
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2 hours ago, SeaDawg said:

Oliver used to offer a twin bed model for the elite. Across the back was a 30 inch bunk, and small dinette dropped down to a 24" bunk. 

I slept in the bunk of a tiny trailer in the '60s. I'd rather not do that again. I didn't mention in the original post, but the first requirement we came up with in any trailer back when we first started going to RV shows in 2016 was it had to have a permanent bed. No back and for between dining and sleeping.

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Steve - Northern Ohio, USA
Wandering around on occasion, always lost.
2021 Toyota Land Cruiser - 5X8 Hiker Highway Deluxe Squaredrop Trailer
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22 minutes ago, Steve and Deb said:

Thank you for the comments. I'm listening as far as what you all are saying about the size. As far as the freezer in a compressor fridge, I've got that covered. I have a National Luna 90 Twin fridge/freezer in the Cruiser that can be set with one or both bins as freezer or fridge. That's a lot of food (and weight!)

All of that is a "that depends."

We rarely have had hookups in 14 years. You do what you need to do, and the national luna is a great unit.  I'd love to have one, when we get on the road again.

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3 minutes ago, Steve and Deb said:

I slept in the bunk of a tiny trailer in the '60s. I'd rather not do that again. I didn't mention in the original post, but the first requirement we came up with in any trailer back when we first started going to RV shows in 2016 was it had to have a permanent bed. No back and for between dining and sleeping.

I totally get that. Sleeping on a 25" bunk is confining. Ok for me, not for my much taller and heavier husband.

Let is know what the factory has to say on the redesign.

6" width could make a huge difference. 

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7 minutes ago, SeaDawg said:

I wouldn't trade my early Elite for anything but a very expensive Aussie trailer. In our 15th season, its been such a great time.

We grew up in Bellefontaine, Ohio, which is now the home of the sole importer of Kimberley Kampers. We stoped in to see David Bates in early 2021 to see an KK E2, which is about the same size as the EII. That was before prices and container costs went through the roof. At $120k, it was a possibility. At $175, nope! That, and it can't use an equalizing hitch, which would be way too much for my Cruiser. We'll stop in again on our way to Kentucky (and possibly Oliver HQ) to see a Kimberley Kruiser E3, which is about the size of the Elite. Sadly, it is nearly $140k now, where it was under $100k when we last visited. He didn't have one to see since, though. I have expensive tastes!

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Steve - Northern Ohio, USA
Wandering around on occasion, always lost.
2021 Toyota Land Cruiser - 5X8 Hiker Highway Deluxe Squaredrop Trailer
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2 hours ago, SeaDawg said:

My kids shoebox freezer has held one ice cube tray, 2 small packs of frozen veggies, 2 sirloin, two burger parties, two pork chops, and two salmon portions. 

You could not get 25% of that in the freezer I saw at the rally.

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Texas Hill Country | Elite II #135 | Ram 2500 6.7L

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Do you have a photo?

That's what I've gotten into mine. 

It's ridiculously tiny. We knew that going in. I live with it, because I love the fridge. 

 

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