Why Did I Choose a T@b?
Several years ago, when I ran across a photo of an unusual looking camper that was lightweight and seemed well suited for 1-2 people. It was called the T@b. I believe that I stumbled across the photo just as Dutchman was ending production of the trailers because I could not find information on them anywhere on the web. At this point in time, I was not interested in camping so, the T@b remained tucked in the back of my mind as I went along my merry way.
In 2010, I began a series of annual trips to the west that would peak my interest in camping. I found that many of the places I wanted to go had few or very expensive hotels. I also found that camping in the west was a lot more comfortable than the east due to the dry air. Lastly, camping just seemed more prevalent into he west. For a couple of years, my rooftop tent got me through my initial camping experiences. The first year the tent was on top of my Jeep, the second year it was on top of an M416 military trailer. I thoroughly enjoyed those experiences, but I wanted something that would allow me to travel for longer periods of time, so I started looking at campers, although it seemed like a long way off type of idea at the time.
The campers I looked into the were the Living Lite Quicksilver trailers, the company the manufactures the Jeep campers, A-liners, pop-up hard-sided campers, and the T@b and LG trailers. I also looked into other off-road options but did not find anything that would work in price range I found practical. Knowing I would sometimes travel to areas where hard-sided campers were required, I abandoned the Living Lite Quicksilver, as they were more along the lines of traditional pop up campers. I spent some serious time looking at A-Liners because I thought that a used A-Liner would be more in my price range. It seemed that you could pick one at a fairly reasonable price. I also liked that A-Liner made an off-road edition. But, truthfully, I never liked the inside of an A-Liner. I didn’t like the floor plans and I really didn’t like the décor. The A-Liner would have sufficed, but I really wanted a T@b. Enter 2013. I was ready to move towards an RV and had the budget. I was ready for the T@b.
I had spent quite a bit of time researching the different models of T@bs. I joined a few online groups and read their discussions as well as asked questions. The time finally arrived in early 2014 to order the T@b. Within the time that I had spent researching, Little Guy had introduced a number of upgrades to the T@b that sealed the deal for me. These upgrades made it more palpable to spend longer amounts of time traveling with the T@b as well as made it more amenable to boondocking. The features that were the most compelling to me included the Alde heat and hot water system, the switch to all LED lighting, the built in solar port (although I now realize that was a very minor thing), and the bathroom.
Dealer Experience: Ordering and Delivery of My T@b
I ordered my T@b in early 2014, knowing that there would be a wait. I chose to order so that I could pick a custom color trim. The closest dealer to me was over 3 1/2 hours away from me. The real shame of it is that the factory and LG headquarters are closer to me than the dealer. I did inquire as to whether I could order from the factory but was advised that I could not. Let me pause here to say that LG really needs a dealership in either Western PA or Northeast OH and it would make sense for them to be a premiere dealer, one that offered wide variety and expert knowledge.
My experiencing ordering the T@b was great. I had inquired about a used T@b at a dealer in another state in January and got a high pressure sales pitch. This was a huge turn-off for me, so I was relieved to find my sales guy easy to work with.
Due to a lot of business and other travel and the distance to the dealer, I was not able to take delivery of my T@b until mid-June. I drove out on a Saturday morning to pick up my T@b and have them install a vent cover and a surge protector. (I had already purchased both items.) I had also called ahead to ask that they have the a/c and heat on to make sure that they worked and that we also test the 3-way fridge while I was there. When I arrived, I learned that my salesman was not in the office. That was fine with me, I understand we all have things going on in our lives. The woman who walked me through the transaction was very pleasant and we were able to finish up the paperwork in a reasonable amount of time. The technician who did my walk-through was a very interesting character. As we did the walk-through, I cannot say that I found him professional. I found his overall manner patronizing and condescending and it seemed aimed at the fact that I was a woman and would be traveling alone. Perhaps I over-estimate my competency and ability to learn and do things, but I did not appreciate the way he treated me. As we did the walk through, I found him inarticulate and rushed. I learned as we went along that after my walk-through he was leaving for vacation. Truthfully, I really didn’t learn anything from him that I didn’t already know from my research and at times I knew more about the T@b than he seemed to know.
Next, came waiting while they installed the vent cover and surge protector. They seemed to really struggle with how to install my surge protector. Truthfully, I had read the instructions for installation and watched a video ahead of time but assumed that they would be more familiar and able to do the job quicker than I. They also installed the charge wire for my Jeep to charge the T@b while driving.
At last, the jobs were done. One of the techs drove the Jeep with me and showed mine how to adjust the brake controller. He was much nicer and more professional.
What I like:
- Style and color — I love the retro but modern feel (wood laminate flooring, stainless steel colored kitchen trim)
- Craftsmanship – well built, proper attention to detail
- Lightweight, easy to tow
- LED lighting – uses less energy and is attractive
- Plenty of outlets
- Outside outlets
- Screen door
- Screens and blinds
- “Porch” light – I often return from shooting landscapes after dark.
- Accessories – Visor (like an awning) and add a room tent
- Entertainment system. I like having a TV. I don’t sit around and watch it much while camping, but I can, especially if stuck inside due to weather.
- The Alde system…I have only used the hot water. I should be using the boiler for heat soon, though.
- The Norcold 3-Way Fridge
- I can maneuver the T@b on a flat, hard surface. This makes hooking it up a lot easier.
- The size is perfect for 1-2 people.
What I Wish Was Different:
- The kitchen faucet is too close to the edge of the sink. Simple solution was an inexpensive swivel aerator.
- Bigger fresh waster tank and mounted underneath. They now have this, so I will likely be paying for this upgrade.
- A user manual and instructional videos! The manual is too generic and should not have references to other LG trailers in it; that makes it entirely too confusing. There is not much information in the manual and there are no real instructional videos. In particular, they need to include information about winterization. I think they realize this is a problem but are growing at such a rate that they cannot keep up with everything.
- The table was too heavy. I pulled it out and stored it in my basement. I use a lapdesk for eating and working,
- The cushions could be a little more comfortable, but they are not horrible.
- The fabric choices for the cushions and window balances. I liked the old Dutchmen choices a lot better (geometric shapes.) Truthfully, the Dutchman choices fit the whole modern-retro style better. I also think a selection of a few solid, neutral colors would be great.
A Couple of Problems I Had:
I have spent 22 nights in my T@b, the bulk of which was on my trip to the west a couple weeks after taking delivery. I first took the T@b on a shakedown trip where I camped one night with full hookups and 2 nights with electric only. I encountered no major trouble and learned more about my T@b on this trip. I felt ready to go west.
On my trip west I had a couple of issues, but overall I loved the T@b. The first problem occurred when I packed up my site and my running, turn, and break lights would not work on my T@b. The lights would either not work at all, or work for about 20 seconds and stop. OF course, I had no cell phone service, so I had to drive into a town to place some calls. I spoke to Ed Kaufman and Pleasant Valley trailers and he was very helpful. He believed the problem was a bad ground. That turned out to be correct. He tried to help me find a dealer that would be close and not take too much time out of my trip. We concluded my best bet was to try Camping World in Golden, CO. These guys really saved the day. The tech at Camping World spent at least an hour and half, fixed the problem, wish me well for the rest of my trip, at no charge!! I was actually able to still depart for Moab after spending most of the day trying to have this problem solved. The other indicator that I had a ground issue was the humming sound in my stereo speakers when I used the HDMI input into the TV.
The second problem I had with my T@b was that the battery would totally deplete while driving. When I drove from near Gunnison, CO to near Aspen, I found my battery close to dead. I connected my solar panel in hopes of breathing some life into it, but I was having a little difficulty getting the solar panel wire into the terminals on the charger. I have learned a trick since then, but overall, the charger was poorly designed for a thicker gauge wire. I then drive the Rocky Mountain National Park and the battery was mostly dead. Interestingly enough, when I had the fridge off of battery (using propane) I could get enough juice to charge, but I could hardly keep my Jeep running and the daylight was nearly done, so solar was out. Remember the les than stellar dealer experience I mentioned earlier. It did not improve when I returned to deal with this problem. They were unable to find a cause, did not seem to how to troubleshoot, replaced my battery and sent me on way. Through the course of brief troubleshooting the tech (the same less than professional tech) went to start the Norfolk fridge on propane and he couldn’t get it to work. Why? He did not know to move the control to the “Start” position. What is more is that he did not believe me when I told him it needed to be this way. I tried it when I returned home and had no issue. I will try it again periodically to make sure that it is not really a hit or miss problem, but I think it was user error on his part. The charging and drain issue remains. I plan to follow up with Pleasant Valley in the near future. I believe they will be more helpful. I will provide an update after I reach out to them.
I went into detail about my problems in the event someone else has issues, they might use my post as a starting point to help resolve the issues. I am overall, very pleased with my T@b and do not want to give the impression of anything else. The issues I have had, did not manifest until my second trip, so I doubt they could have been detected at the factory. Also, I am not someone who expects a company to never have issues with their product, but I do expect them to respond appropriately, which Pleasant Valley has completely done.
How Do I Sleep In It?
This might seem like an odd topic, but I get asked this question quite often. The trailer is designed for the back bench to fold flat like a futon and for the table to fold down so you can place cushions over it, making it into about the size of a queen sized bed. I removed the table so I don’t do that. Some people use wooden slats in lieu of the table for the queen sized bed. Instead, I fold the back bench down and sleep with my head and feet going from “wheel to wheel.” I am about 5′ 9″ish and I do not think you could be taller than me and sleep wheel to wheel comfortably.
Although there are a variety of bedding options, I use my Nemo Equipment Stratoloft 25 sleeping bag, which has a compartment to hold a sleeping pad (like a Thermarest) and it holds my pillows in place. I definitely needed the extra cushion of the Thermarest. I loge the convenience of leaving everything together and simply stuffing it behind the seat when not in use. It is less than 30 seconds to set up and put away. The sleeping bag, itself, is extremely comfortable and truthfully, I like this set up better than my own bed.
Would I buy the T@b again? Absolutely! Would I recommend it to a friend? It depends on the friend’s preferences and needs, but in general, yes!
As a first-time RV owner and a newer camper I have had a positive experience camping with my T@b. The light-weight, easy to set-up, nature of the T@b makes it easy for me to pack up and go. I enjoy my T@b so much that there are times I go and sit in it to work or relax and watch TV, in my own backyard. I also like that Little Guy and Pleasant Valley seem to build a relationship with their customers and it extends for years. I love the continuity of having everything in the same place in my T@b every night, no matter where I am camping and definitely prefer it to a hotel. I am really thankful for my T@b and look forward to great years ahead in it!