2014 Trip 7: dare I say more rain...

Sept 2014: Murphy's Point

The weather this week has turned a tad chilly, and as per usual the forecast is calling for rain Saturday. Camping at this time of the season is less about the weather and is about to getting out of the city and relaxing.

We were in the city last weekend since we had just arrived back from our flying trip out West (to Seattle & Edmonton visiting family) so last weekend was our time spent catching up around the house. My initial thought of just washing some of the grime off the Santa Fe eventually turned into a wash and quick wax of anything on wheels, including the Alto. Next thing you know, weekend was over and then back to work. There in lies the true benefit of the Alto, get away from the house and just relax for the weekend. There is only so much that even I can get into with this small footprint. Forced relaxation.

Not sure if we have mentioned it previously, but we are going to change the upholstery in the Alto? When we purchased our trailer 5 years ago the fabric selection was pretty basic, and we selected a hardy darker material. It has served us well, but now that our cat travels with us most trips, we have discovered it is also is a cat hair magnet. Thinking it is time for a change, we found a real nice lighter patterned fabric, at the ridiculous low price of only $4.00 a metre that should help conceal some of the cat hairs.  We always vacuum the upholstery after all trips but while we are camping, we prefer to have cat hair a little less visible. All our cats tend to be tan and ginger coloured, so the lighter tan background upholstery colour should do the job much better. We then needed to find someone to do the sewing, as it is a bit of a job that we do not want to tackle. We found a lady with a home business, and to tie it into this weekends blog entry, on this trip out we stopped by to see her in Kanata. We wanted her to see the Alto with the cushions inside, to give her a frame of reference of the cushion layout. After talking to her, we were very impressed and just know she will do an awesome job and she has all winter to sew them.  Next season the Alto will have a whole new look.

Pulled in a little after dark to our site, but we have been on this site before and knew just where to place the Alto. It was definitely cooling off and nippy, so it was nice to get set up and inside, where we cranked the heat pump to get nice and toasty.

Cool overnight, but we left our little occilating heater going and it kept the chill at bay. Woke to an overcast day, which we expected, and it was only a short time later that the rain started. Rained pretty much all day, although around dinner time it stopped, the sun came out, and we were able to get in a nice walk around the park. There is a good park store here, so we headed in that direction. Picked up a couple of treats for dessert, then headed back to camp. Watched a vid, and that was the evening.

a nice site, with a view of the water
hard to see, but there is a deer there keeping a close eye on us, and a couple of big ears on the surroundings

Another cool evening, it got down to 45F, but no rain. Since it was too cool (less than 48F) to use the heat pump, so we cranked up the furnace and portable electric heater to help take the chill off. Every time we turn it on we are very thankful that we changed to the larger output furnace.

Dull, overcast morning but ok since we just relaxed staying inside, read the paper, then started to pack up to head home. A nice relaxing weekend, ready for the work week ahead.


  1. Thanks for continuing your blog. I searched for a long time to find a blogger that wrote in English about the Alto. You've had your Alto for several years now. Do you still enjoy it? If the 1743 had been available at the time of purchase, would that have been your first choice? Do you find the windows create a significant difference in temperature than a standard travel trailer? Has lack of storage been an issue? I am sorry for all of the questions but your indulgence is much appreciated

  2. I too have looked for other Alto related blogs or sites, and have not had much luck.
    We still totally enjoy our Alto. Every time we are out for a weekend we never fail to say to each other how nice it is to be back in the Alto.
    We like the 1743, but we LOVE the 1713. To us, it all boils down to the design and the windows. They have done a good job with the 1743, but it does not have the same sense of bringing the outdoors in, that the 1713 is able to achieve. I think the slightly more traditional look, and the private enclosed washroom area is the big appeal to a larger segment of the RV crowd.
    I think a traditional trailer might be a little warmer than the Alto, but to us, we would never give up the windows. If you have sources of heat, such as a furnace, the heat pump or even oscillating electric heated, you can keep toasty warm in the Alto.
    We have no issue with storage. We pack light, only take what we need, and are always mindful of the storage. We do keep a bunch of stuff in the back of the Santa Fe, but that's what it is there for. I think people generally take too much stuff with them, force of habit perhaps.
    Are you an Alto owner yourself, or are you eyeing a future purchase. No worries about the questions, we love talking with people about the Alto and sharing thoughts and experiences.


  3. I have been thinking about a small RV for a couple of years now. I wanted a VW California SE. Unfortunately, it is not sold in North America. My only option would be to purchase a 12 year old model which could range in cost between $30,000 or $70,000. My sights then turned to Roadtrek's Nissan based model. It started out with plenty of hype and then fizzled. Now, they no longer make them.

    After doing more research and thinking more, I realized that a travel trailer would be more suitable for my needs. I can't imagine that after a long drive that I would want to stay in the same vehicle. I think the small move to a different setting would be just enough to avoid cabin fever. My next consideration was storage. I have a three car garage. Why would I purchase something that I would have to pay to store?
    Armed with this knowledge I began my quest. I quickly realized that North American RV's are light years behind European RV's in design and functionality. Safari Condo is the exception. Their Promaster Flex is a beauty but didn't meet my needs. The Alto looks like it will do nicely.
    There really is no competition for it out there. I did find one prospect from an Australian company. It is called the ECO tourer, but it's not yet available in the U.S. and it is not usable when folded.

    I have made an inquiry with the company. They are back ordered until Fall of 2015. I need to make a trip to Canada or take them up on their offer to provide me with an opportunity to view one owned by someone who lives near my home state.


  4. Hi Terry,
    I understand that Safari Condo has expanded their production capability, but they are a hand made product, and this takes time. Once they obtained their certification to sell in the States, I think the demand has been quite high, thus the back order situation.

    Being able to unhitch and then travel into town or roam around with the vehicle was a key deciding factor for us. It adds another level of flexibility, not having to break camp just to go get a quart of milk.

    What part of the States are you in?


  5. Love your blog. It gives me my Alto fix while waiting to pick up our 1743 in three weeks! We went with the fixed roof because the bed in the other models was not long enough (I am 6'3")
    I have a question about managing propane with only one tank, how do you avoid running out at inopportune times?

  6. Glad you are enjoying our blog. We remember the anticipation waiting for ours to be ready, and spending the time devouring anything we could find about the Alto, and RV'ing in general.
    The propane will last a surprising amount of time, but that does depend on how you use it. We do a lot of cooking outside, so that reduces the use of the cooktop. When we use the water heater, we generally turn it on, bring it up to temp, then turn it off. The water stays hot/warm a long time. And if you are on electrics, the fridge is not using propane. Naturally, the furnace is a big consumer, not only of propane, but also 12 volts.
    Our tank came with an attached gauge, but quite frankly, it is incredibly inaccurate. When it reads empty, there is probably a good third of a tank left. The best method is just to lift the tank and get a sense by weight.

    No doubt you have lots of questions about the Alto. I you would like to communicate further by email, post another comment with your email address, which of course will remain private, and you fire me off any other questions you may have. There are a number of us who keep in touch this way.


  7. I live in Northern California. According to Safari Condo, they have owners here.


  8. Hi Terry,

    I'm sure if there is an Alto owner in California they would be happy to give a tour. It is something you will find happens a lot in campsites, being such a unique looking trailer.
    If you would like to communicate further by email, leave me a comment with your email address and I will drop you a line.


  9. We live in Northern California near Palo Alto. We just picked up our Alto 1713 in August and we LOVE it. I agree that the windows and raised roof set the 1713 apart for us. Waking up in many campgrounds and looking up out the panoramic windows at gorgeous scenery was amazing. We like that we could see lots of scenery outside without feeling like we were in a fishbowl. We have two kids so the bunk beds are also a big hit - one of the only trailers we have seen in this size that can accommodate a family of 4.

    You definitely can't own one if you don't like people - we had people coming over to check it out all the time in campgrounds and gas stations. Anywhere we were stopped.

    We took 2 and a half weeks to drive it home from Quebec enjoying parks in Quebec and Ontario. We visited 3 National Parks on the way home through the US. A great adventure with the Alto.

    Since returning home we have used it for 2 weekends. My husband and son went on a boys weekend with friends and I took it this past weekend for a girls weekend with my daughter and friends to a great park in Big Sur - right on the ocean. It was a small park and I am pretty sure every single person came over to talk about the Alto.

    I have always wanted a tear drop trailer. My husband found the Alto online and we ordered it - based only on the web site - last October. Absolutely no regrets - the Alto exceeded our expectations. We have family in NH and a wedding to attend this summer - so the Quebec pick-up was not a big issue.

    I should start a blog. We are headed to Lassen National Park for a 3 day weekend on Friday and The Pinnacles in November. Zion and Bryce National Parks are planned for spring break.I am sure a number of weekends in between - a year round camping season in California.

    I agree with Jim about storage - there is plenty of room for what you really need. On our cross country trip we had too much stuff - partly because we had clothing for a family wedding and supplies we brought on the way out that we did not need going home. After we got home we found storage bins with slide out drawers for under the benches and we put our camping clothes in these for all 4 of us. We don't need much and on longer stays we can do laundry - I was surprised how many places have laundry available. I am a bit of an organizational geek and I had a great time finding the exact size bins for the pantry area and potty closet. Bedding was our biggest storage issue and I solved that by making custom bedrolls that function as much needed decorative bolster pillows during the day.

    As you can tell I am pretty excited about the Alto - happy to answer questions and if you are close to Palo Alto we can give you a tour.

    Lissa Cook

  10. Hi Lissa,
    What a great trip you have had across America. You have mentioned many places that are on our bucket list to visit. I think every owner has experienced the Alto magnet effect...because it is so unique, people are naturally drawn to it. We think this is a great benefit, as it is all part of camping, getting outdoors and chatting with people.

    Sitting inside the Alto and enjoying the views is a big part of the appeal of the windows. It makes even rainy day that much more tolerable. Being organized is a good thing. I am intrigued by your under bench drawer solution. We use 4 plastic type bins, 2 for clothing and 2 for dry goods/odds and sods. You bedroll idea is also great. We too find the benches a tad hard, my wife Dale sleeps on 4 memory foam pillows, lined up in a row. These have replaced the front cushions and the bolsters in our Alto. Being only two of us, we do not need the front bench as a bed. Rolling up the bedding is something we do as well, for the same reason as you.

    By the way, I am Jim, the author of this blog. It would be great to communicate further via email, to share ideas and photos. If you would like to, leave me another comment with your email in it, which will remain private of course, and I will drop you a line.


  11. If I get an Alto, it won't be in 2015, it will have to be in 2016. According to Safari Condo, they are back ordered until September 2015. My work schedule will not allow me to do a pick up until summer of 2016. I am not in any hurry. I still have research to do. I have been playing with the options list for the 1713. What options do you both recommend? I appear to have added all but the extra window and that's only because I need the bunk beds.


  12. Hi Terry,
    We should probably communicate via email, might be a little easier.
    Leave me a comment with your email, which will remain private of course, and I will drop you a line.


  13. Terry - We have the bunk beds and pretty much a fully loaded Alto - no front window or cabinets because of the bunks. 1713 with Outside shower because we want the kids to hose off before entering and my family makes a big enough mess in the shower at home I can't imagine the inside shower working that well for us - and I didn't like the infringement on the size of the King bed - we love our king bed and I think other than the windows it is one of the features that really sets the Alto apart. I was shocked to trade camper tours with an Airstream Bambi/Sport - starting at $20,000 more than the Alto - and see that the large bed is not even as wide as a standard double. That would never work for us.

    I have to say that while it is impressive to see at first, after spending time in the Alto for 3 weeks cross country and 3 camping trips since, I am glad we do not have the window in front. The windows in the back are spectacular and they are also very revealing at night. Both my husband and I like having a more private area of the camper at the front so we don't feel like we are in a fishbowl - particularly since that front window will in most cases face the road where people are walking by all the time. We can tuck our trailer into the back of a spot and feel fairly private at night and morning when we are in the trailer the most. The Alto gets plenty of light as is - far more than any of the other similar size trailers we saw.


  14. I haven't been around in a while. I have been doing more research. I have a query in to a car rental agency called discount car rentals in Quebec that have alto 1713's for rent. My thought was to fly into Montreal and rent one for a few weeks to see if I like it and really want to tow a trailer. I did think about the Bambi but I really don't want to have to pay for storage. I really would like more information from Lissa about how comfortable the alto is in the heat...a real concern for me is how cool the alto would be in the heat of the summer when it's in the 100's in the Central Valley.I am not sure how to take up your offer of emailing you privately. How does one do that?


  15. Hi Terry,
    Leave me your email address in a comment. I moderate the comments, and when I get an email address from someone, I do not publish the comment, so it remains private.


  16. We have plunked down a deposit for a 1723, year-long wait coming, and a May pickup at the factory to avoid winter snow on the trip home, which is the Seattle area. Mulling over shipping our Subaru to Detroit and flying out to meet it, then the drive up to Quebec City.
    Noted Lissa's comments, and as we ordered the front window, wife and I looking at that. We are going to spend the summer finding Northwest/West Coast great places to camp, especially Canada, which is close. Like Lissa's family, I found the Alto's online, and it was a no-brainer: I'm 6'3' for one thing, and everything big enough is so damn heavy you should be paid for driving them. And, your big-rig reward is a near-truckstop parking lot full of other bigs at destination---no thanks. And for Jim, thanks for the great blog---helps the morale of those of "waiting in line"!

    Ed Walsh

  17. Hi Ed,
    A 1723, exciting times ahead. You will enjoy the interior height, as I do. Totally get the part about heavy trailers. We had no interest in pulling something big and heavy, and all the assorted stuff that comes with it, such as a matching big tow vehicle. You will love the Alto!
    While you are waiting, if you are on Facebook, you may want to search out the "Altoistes" group. A bunch of us communicate there, sharing tips and ideas, and generally talking about the Alto. It's a great group of people. You should check it out.

    Glad you are enjoying the blog, it's a great way to capture ones adventures, and share them along the way.


  18. Hi! I will be getting my 1723 in mid Nov 2015. Would love to hear comments on heating for the camper and water. Not sure if I should just buy a portable smaller propane unit for the times I might need it. Also, not sure I understand the water heating options .. I am sure we will need to use the shower now and then and hate to run out of hot water. Thanks

  19. Hi Rene,
    We are big fans of having a furnace and the propane water heater. They offer an electric version of the water heater, but you do need to have a campsite with electricity. With the propane, you can have hot water any campsite.
    If you are on Facebook, there is an excellent Alto group there that will answer pretty much any question you may have. Just search for "Altoistes" and you will find it.


  20. Hello there,
    I am new or becoming new in the world of RV,ing and have been seriously looking into possibility of buying an Alto 1713 to start a series of US and Canada tours when I retire in about 2.5 years. Obviously have a lot of questions.
    One of the first is how easy and safe I'd going to be driving with a trailer? I have Subaru Outback 2014 and intend to keep it for the Alto trailer.
    Do I need a rear view camera replacing my car's rear view mirror? What are the essential accessories that are not standard in your opinion?
    I am sure I'll have tons of their questions later on but this to start with.
    I would love to see one of these Alto camper trailer here in Washington DC/ Baltimore area if I could . Is there a dealer who has it in a showroom? Or do I have to visit the factory in Canada?
    Appreciate your responses.

  21. Hi Behrouz,
    We had never towed a trailer before the Alto, but with a little practice and some common sense, we soon became very comfortable with towing. The Alto is a great little trailer which is becoming more popular every day.
    If you are on Facebook, you should search out the group called "Altoistes" It is a group dedicated to all things Alto related. Every one of you questions has been answered there, and is a great spot to learn all about the Alto and trailer camping. There are now owners all over the States, and if you are interested if there is an owner near you, it is probably best to contact Safari Condo directly, and they can generally point you in the direction of an owner who is willing to give you a tour. In the meantime, definitely check out the FB group, it will be well worth the effort.