In August of 2015 we purchased our first camper. After many trips to many dealers we settled on the Keystone Passport Ultra-Lite 238ML, a 25ft travel trailer. Now almost two years later we have about a dozen trips under our belt and have become acquainted with our adorable little home on wheels, lovingly named "Patrick".
See a tour of our camper: click here
Several of you reached out to me either in the comments of our camper tour or directly through email and asked: now that some time has passed, what do we think of this camper? I've compiled a list of some pros and cons that we have noticed. Hopefully this will be helpful to those of you who are currently considering this trailer or who are shopping for one that is a similar size and layout.
Read travel journals of some of our camping trips: click here
Things We Hate
1. The Air Conditioner is Too Loud
Like most shorter campers, there is a single roof air unit that is situated in the kitchen area, directly over the dinette and sink. We have joked that, when running, the unit sounds like a jet engine. It's so loud that trying to speak to each other at a regular volume is impossible. Forget about watching TV, because the ceiling speakers flank the A/C unit, so even with the volume at full blast you cannot hear it. It's so annoying that we try to survive without running it at all as often as possible, and opt for opening the windows and running the roof fans instead. Summers in the south are so hot, however, that we have never made it through a trip without needing to run the unit to keep the inside a bearable temperature. Without it, think about how hot it gets in a parked car, even with the windows open. We have had the unit serviced, thinking maybe something is out of alignment, but nope... roof units are just noisy monsters. What's worse is that if the unit is on, the fan (which is what is so noisy) blows constantly. Though there is a thermostat, the fan keeps blowing whether or not the air is being cooled. It drives us nuts and this is the biggest complaint we have about this camper. Larger RV's will often have ducted air units and when/if we ever upgrade to a larger camper, a ducted system will be at the top of our list of must haves.
2. Murphy Bed is Uncomfortable
On our very first camping trip we realized that sleeping on the folding mattress of the Murphy bed was no more comfortable than sleeping on a slab of concrete. Between that and a fussy baby that wouldn't sleep, we didn't get any rest and went home at the end of the weekend red-eyed and exhausted. Not long after that first weekend we went to a mattress store and purchased a 3-inch memory foam topper. We spent about $200 on it, but it was worth every penny, because the addition of the topper has made the bed very comfortable and we've enjoyed many restful nights of sleep (as long as the kids sleep, that is!) As a bonus, the topper, when folded, fits into the storage area with the rest of our bedding. Note: the photo above does not show our mattress topper, but we had enough room to roll the topper and place it above the brown stock mattress shown in the photo. See our camper tour for more photos of how the Murphy bed operates.
3. Location of Electrical Outlets
This may be seen as a bit of a nitpick, but I wanted this guide to be thorough so it's worth a mention. There is only one electrical outlet on the left side of the couch/Murphy bed, but I wish that there was also an outlet on the right side (my side of the bed... heh heh). While this isn't a huge inconvenience, it would be nice to have a place to charge my phone and Kindle while lying in bed. Also, the outlets in the center part of the camper are all located high up on the undersides of the overhead cabinets. I'm sure there's an engineering reason for putting them there, but it does get a little annoying because of the wires hanging down from the tops of the cabinets. Also, it makes having extension cords a necessity, as our toaster and coffee maker don't have cords long enough to reach all the way up to the outlet. The bathroom is great, however, with a convenient outlet located just above the counter top, where it would be in any residential bathroom.
4. Water Heater Causes Bottom Bunk To Be Hot
We have noticed that when the water heater is turned on, the bottom bunk - which is very close to the heating unit - gets uncomfortably warm. The bunks are warm to begin with since they are tucked into a back corner that doesn't get much airflow unless the windows are open, but it turns into a full-on sauna when the water heater is being used. We've worked around this issue by being sure to turn the water heater off and let the bunks air out well in advance of putting our young children (a toddler and a baby) to sleep in the bunk area.
Things We Love
1. Storage, Storage, Storage!
Simply put, this camper has a crazy amount of storage for its size and as long as we stay organized we don't have problems with running out of space. There are 3 hanging closets - one on each side of the bed and one near the bunks - and a pantry next to the refrigerator. All of the closets are nice and deep so you can store lesser used items in the back while keeping the ones you need to access frequently toward the front. There are 3 sets of overhead cabinets - one over the sink, one over the dinette, and one over the couch/Murphy bed. There's a set of lower cabinets beneath the sink, 2 drawers, and some additional storage beneath the oven. The dinette cushions can be removed to reveal two more large, deep storage areas. Another large storage area is located underneath the couch. There's a little cubby next to the media center that's perfect for books and movies, as well as a hidden cubby behind the TV. The bathroom has a small medicine cabinet and a storage cabinet underneath the sink. On the outside, there's a pass-through storage at the front of the camper and a single-sided storage compartment located at the back. The outside storage compartments aren't large enough for big items like strollers or bikes, but they've been great for holding our dog pens/lattice, chairs, folding tables, and other outdoor tools.
2. Smart Floor Plan
The deciding factor that convinced us to purchase the 2016 Passport 238ML was its practical and functional floor plan. The layout has been perfect for us. Because it is a short camper with no slide-outs, space is a premium. The double bunks are perfect for our two kids and they are tucked away in the back corner where they are not in the way. The bathroom is surprisingly roomy with a tub/shower combo and its own sink and electrical outlet. The Murphy bed is awesome, because we don't need to have a fully assembled bed taking up space during the day, and when it's folded away the sofa is very comfortable! Sure it would be convenient to not have to make up a bed every night and put it away the next morning, but for now the system works great.
3. It Can Fit Almost Anywhere
One big advantage of traveling in a small camper is that you can park that puppy pretty much anywhere you want. We love campgrounds that are heavily wooded and shaded. There's nothing more cozy than tucking your camper into a shaded haven next to a babbling mountain creek for the weekend. Such places tend to have smaller sites or ones that are bordered with trees or other obstacles. Having traveled in large RV's with my parents as a child, I know firsthand that it's extremely difficult or impossible to park a large camper in some of those areas. The campgrounds in National Parks have length restrictions and since visiting those parks is something we'd love to do, keeping the trailer short ensures that we'll be able to make that happen.
4. It Has All The Creature Comforts of Home
We feel that a travel trailer of this size does a good job of allowing us to have more comfortable camping trips with our two young kids and two dogs while still providing us with the experience of being in the great outdoors. While the Passport Ultra-Lite is small, there's nothing it doesn't have - gas stove and oven, microwave, roomy refrigerator and separate freezer, toilet, shower and tub, multiple sinks, comfortable places to sleep for everyone, and a TV/DVD player/radio for entertainment. Sure, that last one may be seen as unnecessary by some camping lovers, but we have used our camper as both a hotel room on wheels and as a "hard-sided tent" for more conventional camping sojourns. During trips like the former, having the ability to pop in a movie or have some background noise going is a nice touch.
Overall, we are in love with our camper! We've never regretted our decision to purchase this model. After returning from each trip, nary a week passes before we are researching, planning, and booking our next adventure. It's opened up new experiences for our toddler and though he is only 2.5 years old, he talks about the fun things he did for days after we get home and he gets so excited when Daddy brings the camper home from storage so we can pack it for the next trip.
This post is not sponsored or affiliated with any brands or companies mentioned.