We’ve so far logged 18 nights Cricket Camping and we are always on the lookout for more places to camp. So, what do we think so far, and what needs to change? To start, we will affirm that we are pleased with our purchase. We know that for the same price, we could have bought a much larger travel trailer with bells and whistles aplenty. We have no regrets so far, but we do have thoughts to share in a number of categories.
Towing. The Cricket is so easy to hook up, tow, and the light weight makes it easy to maneuver into place. We can easy roll it around in the garage and at the camp site. It’s lighter and easier to tow than the pop up was, but maybe because it is so short, we’ve noticed that it is tricky to back. If you are too aggressive with your cuts when turning it will jackknife easily. This may also just be part of the learning curve. The impact on gas mileage is minimal. We typically get about 19.0 MPG driving the 4Runner; towing the Cricket we’ve averaged 16 MPG.
Storage. There is ample storage, we really haven’t had an issue with running out of places to keep our gear. In fact we find that much of the under bed storage is empty while we are at the campsite, as most of that gear is pulled out and used at the campsite. This is likely to change with our upcoming week-long trips as we will have a lot more gear. However we are not concerned about a shortage of storage space.
Bedding. We got our second kids' berth and it is working out well. Both kids like the bunk bed style berths and sleep well there. The bedding for the berths don't stay in place and we usually have blankets dangling down on us several times a night. Some sort of clips that hold their blankets down might work, but we haven't purchased anything yet.
And us? The master bed is firm; too firm for a side sleeper. We found two Ticla Tsubo Sleep Pads on clearance at REI and decided to try these. We thought the sleep pads were a good solution as they still allow access to the under bed storage and can be set against the walls of the Cricket to create a back rest.These are okay if it is just one or two nights, but we wanted something a little softer, so we took a trip to IKEA St. Louis. They have several mattress pads that we felt would work and purchased the Tussay full size pad. We haven't slept on it yet, but it fits perfectly and has a cover that zips off if necessary. If you follow the Taxa Trailer Owners Facebook Group, the manufacture of Cricket Trailers, you will see that many owners have added sleep pads, mattress pads, or other solutions to soften the bed.
Kitchen. Aside from Bulletproof Coffee, we haven't really cooked inside the Cricket. We been fortunate to have good weather and have cooked outside. But we have been perfecting the storage of our cooking and general camping gear in the kitchen area. The storage shelves are deep, maybe too deep, making it difficult to store small items. So far, we've not purchased any baskets to put on these shelves and it seems to be working okay as is. At IKEA, we bought suction cup storage hooks, a couple wire baskets, and utensil cups that we attached to the back wall. This has allowed us to store cooking and eating utensils, spices, soap, and toothbrushes securely and conveniently on the counter but out of the way. One thing we really like about the kitchen is that the countertop is very deep and does have a large surface area to do whatever we've needed to do.
Set up. Setting up the Cricket is so fast. We did a demonstration for family recently. A couple latches and push the bar up, crank the stabilizer jacks down, plug in electric and water. Done. Tear down? Unplug the water and electric, crack the stabilizer jacks up, push the bar down and latch the latches. Done. The aspect we are still perfecting is the time it takes to get our gear out and set up. We are still honing what we need to bring and the best place to store it. After each trip we remove some gear and add some gear. This will eventually be perfected, maybe.
Temperature. We have used our portable air conditioner for the last few trips and are still perfecting the logistics of that. Our first modification to the Cricket has been that we cut a section out of the floor so that we could vent the a/c tubing out of the camper more efficiently.
Many Cricket owners are fond of Mr. Heater propane heaters. We’ve planned to use an electric ceramic heater that we purchased for the pop-up as we feel it is a safer option. Based on prior cold weather camping trips in the pop up camper, we know campers can get damp if they are sealed up with four bodies inside. This means that we will need to at least crack the windows on even the coldest nights, which means we need more heating capacity than 70 square feet would otherwise require. Trial and error… and pack an extra heater to be safe. Right now in with the summer's heat and humidity, it is hard to think about being cold.
Community, We mentioned the Taxa Trailer Owners Facebook Group above, which is comprised of Cricket owners and perspective owners. There are occasional posts and comments from the President of Taxa Inc., and it’s proven to be inspiring with travel ideas as well as solutions and modifications than can be made to a Cricket Trailer. We’ve learned a lot with this Facebook group and it gives us a heads up on issues other owners have encounter. As a result, we are concerned about our locks, the quality of the tires, leaks from the water pump, and failure of the hinges. The advantage of this would be that we have access to solutions if we do encounter one of these, or any other, issues with our Cricket. Also along the lines of community would be the fact that the Cricket is a conversation starter for us at the campground. So far, campers that we've met have never seen a Cricket before and we’ve given the tour at several campgrounds.
Aspiration. Now our review will get a little subjective. Having the Cricket in our garage, following the Cricket Group on Facebook, and writing a blog about camping, has motivated us to travel more. It’s evolved our dreams as we now aspire to see all 58 National Parks and to return to favorite prior vacation spots. We spend as much of our leisure time as we can exploring both near and far. One of our favorite things is knowing that we have a trip booked! Speaking of which, we should really plan a Thanksgiving camping trip again this year!
Cost. Our original goal for Cricket Camping was to serve as a cost-effective base camp to allow us to travel more. A week in a campground costs between $80 in a state park to maybe $400 on an island. Compared to a hotel or rental house, the cost per night might be $80-$400, making camping seven times cheaper per night. This is slightly fuzzy math as we do have to factor in the cost of the camper, insurance, and increased fuel consumption. Overall, we think that we are ahead with the Cricket as it gets us outside even more with our family.
Kids. One of our reservations about the Cricket, and the motivation for cricketcamping.com, was camping with our kids. Would a Cricket work? Can we live with a 7 and 9 year old in 70 square feet? Did we think the pop up was too big? Again we are thankful for good weather on our trips. At home, we live by the rule of 'the sun is out, so are the kids.' When we camp, we expand this rule to have them out of the camper all day, except for the quiet hours. We don't plan to spend long blocks of time with the four of us inside the Cricket. It is where we sleep and change our clothes. Otherwise we are all outside. For the way we travel and camp, the Cricket works for us and the kids.
We know that our opinion of the Cricket Trailer will continue to evolve with use. We will continue to update our thoughts as it does. Overall we are very happy to be able to spend some of our leisure time Cricket Camping!
Shane and Jessica
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