I was recently talking to someone about RVs (what a shocker, eh?) who mentioned that they live where there’s a homeowners association that doesn’t allow vehicles to be parked in the driveway for more than a few hours. Furthermore, they had read my article about the incidence of theft in RV storage lots, so they also didn’t want to have to store an RV there.
Oh, they also were the happy owner of a brand-new Ford Ranger. While they’re surprisingly capable for their size, you still want to tow well within the limitations of any vehicle, in my opinion.
What would I suggest? Perhaps an Aliner might be just the ticket. Depending on your camping style, this could solve all the issues presented to me in this conversation. Best of all, the MSRP on these is under $25,000 (depending on how it’s configured, of course).
Not enough camper?
When I suggest to people that they get something like an Aliner, a lot of folks assume that they’re difficult to set up or just don’t have the accommodations of a traditional travel trailer. There is some merit to this, but not much.
For example, setting these up is pretty easy. If you get the Aliner “Family” model, for example, there are dormers on both sides which really open up the space.
So the set up involves opening those dormers and flipping them up from inside. Two choices exist for the dormers: canvas-sided or hard-sided. It’s good to know that if you’re headed to places where there may be bear, some campgrounds won’t let you stay there if you have canvas walls in your RV.
Further, I think it’s a bit easier to set up the dormers where they’re solid walls. You just unclip them and then push them up from the inside. The walls push and latch into place and it’s a really, really easy process.
The roof in the Aliner “Family” A-frame is easy to push up
The roof itself also is really easy to push up as it’s counterbalanced with gas struts. Aliner even has a pole integrated into the roof so that those who might be more vertically challenged can still easily raise and lower the roof. Once the A-frame is in place, the walls simply push up from inside and you’re set.
It honestly took me about as long to write this description as it would take to set up the trailer – it truly is an easy process.
Since all the seams in this trailer are usually covered by overlapping metal edges, they’re protected well from the elements. So while it might seem that this could be a leaky affair, it really isn’t.
Since the roof is A-shaped, the ceiling height at the center is pretty great.
Seating for seven people in the Aliner “Family” A-frame
The “Family” model also has seating for seven people, although that would be pretty tight. There is sleeping for four, but the bed along the front is a 32” X 80” bed so it’s pretty small. There’s another bed along the road-side wall which is 44” X 72”, so you get more width but less height. Finally the back of the trailer has a sofa which is your dining space during the day but becomes a 60” X 80” bed at night.
While Aliner makes a number of models, one of the things I liked about this “Family” model was the kitchen, most of which is outside. We’ve looked at a few trailers that have similar kitchens in a drawer including the new Opus OP15, the Opus OP2 and even the fancy inTech Terra Oasis.
In the case of this trailer, however, the sink is still inside the trailer itself. However, the refrigerator and stove top are outside. I know there are going to be some of you who really dislike this configuration. I can’t fault you for that – it is a bit odd. Yes, it maximizes the interior space – which is good in this model. But you also have to be fully dressed if you’re going to make coffee in the morning and, frankly, that’s not how I usually camp.
Talk about scaring the bear away!
This model does feature a swivel cassette toilet in a cabinet. That cabinet, when you hang the shower curtains, also happens to be the shower for the rig. There’s a water heater aboard, but you only have 11 gallons to draw from if you’re off the grid.
Aliner company history
Aliner is still an independent company that started when founder Ralph Tait began building folding trailers in his garage in Oregon. Essentially, others saw these and wanted one so he continued building until the family moved the operation to Pennsylvania. From there, two of the sons of the founder would build a trailer. The third son would take the family wagon and go sell it, with the process repeating itself.
Today one of the telling things about the company and the products, in my eyes, is that there is an avid fan base with plenty of those enthusiasts sharing photos and stories about their trailers. Some of those travelers even have been up to the frozen land of Alaska. A YouTuber, Slim Potatohead, actually lived in one of these for several years and documented his journeys.
There are a number of things I really like about these. I believe the assumption that they’re difficult to set up means a lot of people for whom this would be a good choice actually don’t look at them. That’s unfortunate.
One of the numerous details that I like about these Aliners is the fact that the substrate in the walls is Azdel, a man-made waterproof material. Also, all of the seams feature significant overlapping extruded aluminum structures, so they are protected from the elements.
Further, these are light enough and there are handles on the outside so you can actually push this into the garage or wherever you might need to park it. Jockeying this around is pretty easy.
Some surprising things in the Aliner “Family” A-frame
You’ll find a few things that might be a surprise, including a window-style air conditioner under the rear couch to keep things cool here.
Furthermore, as I tend to share pretty frequently, the fact that these trailers aren’t above the profile of the tow vehicle when you’re driving also means less wear and tear on that tow vehicle. It also reduces the demands on that vehicle. In case you’re not catching my drift (darn straight that pun was intended), that translates into better fuel economy.
The beauty of the RV industry is that there’s almost something for everybody and I think a lot more everybodies should at least consider something like this.
I would love to read your comments and suggestions over on our new forums, where you can weigh in and start or join a discussion about all things RV. Here’s a link to my RV Reviews Forum.
Tony comes to RVTravel having worked at an RV dealership and been a life long RV enthusiast. He also has written the syndicated Curbside column about cars. You can find his writing here and at StressLessCamping where he also has a podcast about the RV life with his wife.
These RV reviews are written based on information provided by the manufacturers along with our writer’s own research. We receive no money or other financial benefits from these reviews. They are intended only as a brief overview of the vehicle, not a comprehensive critique, which would require a thorough inspection and/or test drive.
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Tony, the Aliner Owners club is having it’s national Rally at Palmers Gulch KOA in June 2022. Perhaps you should come and examine the Aliners and listen to the owners.Yes, they have problems too.Yes, I own one.
Our first RV was an Aliner. We used to pop it up and down pretty regularly at campgrounds to show people how it worked, super quick and easy and showing it off never got old! Ours didn’t have dormers, so probably a little lighter weight to pop up and down, but this one looks to have helpful struts. I still miss our little Aliner sometimes…a growing child and an additional large dog had us moving along to a travel trailer then our current class C. But we sure had some fun in that little thing that could go pretty much anywhere!
Have always wanted to see the inside of one of these. Wish there had been actual photos.
This goes back to my frustration with the RV industry about the absolute lack of marketing resources. I work to find whatever images or information I can provide and some companies just don’t seem to care enough about your business to provide this.
Honestly, it seems there’s more information on instant pots and walkie talkies out there than there is about a product that costs $20,000+ I share your frustration and appreciate your reading these articles, Bugsy.
Very nice use of space IMO. Azdel siding, very thoughtful and I would take five xtra to have privacy and “creature” comforts. Outside stove is a deal breaker for the “boomer” folks ….but for a young family on an adventure, awesome.
The photos show a diagonal something along the front sloping roofline. Is that an awning above the pull-out kitchen? If not, is there an awning anywhere? No awning would make for some wet meal prep or a lot more set-up time for a separate canopy.
The awning thing is the biggest drawback on these. We had one about 10-12 years ago, so maybe someone has come up with something better by now, but for ours we had an aftermarket awning that was a roof mounted bag awning design that folded out to attach to both sides of the angled roof. It required poles and guy-lines, so it wasn’t super-quick to set up. It gave us great living and cooking space outside, so it was worth the effort but I remember a regular pull-put awning being one of the have-to-have criteria when we moved up to a travel trailer.