The ability to go camping in a wheelchair can be quite limiting and inconvenient. Until now. I had the opportunity to take out the new HarborView travel trailer by EL Enterprises. This is a review of a new accessible model of trailers available at NielsonRV.com. or at accesstrailer.com. These trailers were built from the ground up for individuals in wheelchairs or other mobility needs. I had the opportunity to load up my family and take them camping for the weekend. We are new to trailer camping so some of the things that we did were foreign to our normal camping experience. We’ve been tent camping many times, but adding the trailer to the mix added some unexpected, but welcomed challenges.
Here are some of the things that you may want to think about before you go trailer camping in a wheelchair.
First, the biggest thing that we had to factor into the trailer camping experience was how to tow the trailer. You need to have a vehicle large enough to tow the trailer, but small enough that you can still get up into. I am officially diagnosed a C6/7 Quadriplegic, which means I have complete paralyzation from my chest down, have limited dexterity in my hands, and have no abdominal muscles. With these limitations, I have difficulty getting into vehicles that are too high. We did our research, and without converting a truck with a crane in the back, and going to the lengths of customizing the cab of the truck so I could get into something with enough towing capacity to pull this trailer. Instead of the truck route we looked into all the options for SUV’s. The options included, Suburbans, Tahoes, Landcruisers, Expeditions, Armada’s and more. We eventually decided to go with the Nissan Armada, which is the shortest height from the wheelchair to the driver’s seat of the car. In addition, the Armada has the highest towing capacity than any other vehicle in it’s class.
Finding the right vehicle, check. Once we had the right vehicle to tow the HarborView Trailer, which is about 7500 lbs, dry, and the right ball size for the hitch, 2 5/16, we were ready to hook up the trailers and head out into the great outdoors! One of the first features of this trailer is that it has an automatic jack. This makes it so you can save your energy for getting in and out of your SUV or Truck. You will also need to get an 8-pin attachment so that your trailer lights function.
Next was learning about the power, propane, and plumbing systems. The power to the lift is pulled straight from the battery. The power will continue to drain as long as the lift door is open. If you leave the lift open, it will drain the battery in less than 8 hours. To avoid this problem, there is a small switch at the front of the trailer that can manually be switch to off. With this off, the lift will not drain the battery, but you must remember to turn it back on to operate the lift. Also, because this trailer was brand new, we had to fill up the propane tanks. This can be done at most gas stations, and is fairly easy to do. Just don’t forget to fill them up before going on your trip, otherwise you cannot run the stove, and will have to rely on electricity to run your fridge. The other way to run power is through a generator. You will need around a 4000 watt generator to run everything in this model. I will talk more about the plumbing system in an upcoming post.
We took a quick weekend trip to Nephi, Utah, which was only an hour from our home. We stayed at Big Mountain Campground, which was a great site, that was very well maintained, and has been under the same ownership for 46 years. The staff was super friendly and helpful! I would definitely recommend this campground to anyone looking for a comfortable stay. The bathrooms, pool, lodge, and most other amenities we handicapped accessible.
We stayed for three days, and two nights, and had a great time. This trailer model is a 24-footer, and we slept comfortably 5 people. We spent our time swimming, playing bocce ball, going to the shooting range (only 10 minutes from campground), shooting bow and hours, watching movies, dutch ovening, playing soccer, visiting with the other guests and enjoying nature.