This is a list of things I highly recommend for use with the Alto 1743 travel trailer. I paid for each item, and I don’t get any freebies, so if it is on this list, it means I really like it and I use it. And if you want to really get into Alto gear recommendations, join the Altoiste group on Facebook, it’s a priceless resource for owners and wanna-be-owners!
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Air Compressor: This little 12V package is useful for checking and topping up tires on my trailer and my truck. It’s crazy powerful, but it’s not crazy big either. Clips onto the car battery for power. I don’t use it a lot, but when I need it, I have it.
Awning: This heavyweight awning is from Safari Condo, and it’s worth its weight in gold. Easy to put up, can take it down in less than a minute if weather comes up suddenly, and it’s easy to fold and stow.
I replaced the three poles with these from REI because they are easier to use and the center pole is thicker and sturdier: one 8-foot pole and 2 6-foot poles
Campstool (aka footstool): If you have a chair, you really can’t relax without a footstool! This one is small, folds up into its own carrying case, and it’s a good fit with the chair.
Cleaning Cloths: these things are fantastic for wiping glass and plexiglass windows clean without those annoying streaks. They also work well to wipe down the outside of my trailer when it’s so dusty or dirty I can’t stand it any more. To clean bugs off the car and trailer at the end of a long drive, get it sloppy wet and rub the bugs off, then rinse the cloth, wring it out as hard as you can, and wipe the area dry with broad strokes.
Aero Cosmetics Wash and Wax: This spray stuff is fantastic! Use it with dry microfiber cloths and your Alto (including the windows) will look clean and shiny all the time. And you can use it on your car, too. I love it.
Dump Hose: You can use the one you got with your trailer, but you’ll end up wanting something better. This is it.
And while you’re at it, buy this hose holder that fits the longer length hose and either put it on the tongue of your Alto (behind the battery box) or on the back bumper. Both of these make dumping way easier. Not enjoyable, but easier. I ordered the 34-60-inch adjustable hose holder.
Valve Cap with Handle. And one more thing to make the whole “dumping your crap” task easier. The handle on this cap makes it way easier to rotate the outlet into position. No more reaching under and grabbing the valve, you just grab the handle and pull down or push up. Brilliant idea!
Dump Tote Tank: Now that I’m camping in pandemic times, I using my own shower and toilet and not the campground ones, which means I need to dump more often. Combine that with the decision to stay longer in a campground and it’s either use a dump tank or pack up the Alto to move *it* to the dump station. Way easier to use a dump tank. This one fits into the back of my pickup (although some people store it in the bathroom when underway).
Tote Tank Hose Kit And to make it easier to use, get this Rhino attachment. It has the right connectors at both ends to use between your sewer pipe outlet and the dump tank.
Fan Vent Cover by Fan-tastic Fan: I installed this after a year of full-timing because I wanted the fan to stay open in the rain in an effort to help with interior condenstion. It was an easy install, and the fun part was sitting on top of my trailer for the first time ever. My guide for installation was this excellent video by fellow full-timers We’re the Russos.
GPS Navigator: Sooner or later, you’ll lose cell phone connectivity while you’re in the middle of nowhere. And when you do, this is a great thing to have. You can specify how big your rig is, whether you want to avoid dirt roads, toll roads, and other things, and it always tells you the current speed limit, helping avoid small-town speeding tickets. I use this holder, which sits on the dashboard and never, ever moves.
Hitch Lock by Proven Industries (Model 2178): This is not only a nice-looking lock, it is sturdy and tough as well. It took me a bit of practice to work the keylock because it’s on the bottom of that blue circular piece, but then it does keep the water out so I get why it’s designed that way. It can hold the chain ends as well, adding even more difficulty for someone trying to steal the trailer. I use this lock every day.
Hose: I had a normal hose, one of those rubber ones that is safe for drinking water. But it needs to get stowed and that’s where the work comes in. It was hard and took up a lot of space. So I got this little baby. It’s flexible and fits into a 8x8x8 box with the top cut off. Way easier to use. I love it. I have two of them, so I now have a combined hose length of 50 feet to reach all but the most weird campsite faucet setups.
This Leveler by Anderson is very easy to use and works whether you’re using the car to position the trailer or using the Caravan Mover to get things set up. If the tire slips slightly sideways, try roughing up the top surface of the big piece (either scuffing it like crazy with rough sandpaper or attaching sandpaper to it are reported to work). I used to have the BAL Leveler, but it was heavy, hard to crank, and quickly rusted out under full-time usage. I moved to this Andersen device and I couldn’t be happier about it. Note that if you have a Caravan Mover (CM) installed, you need to put the big piece in front of the tire, otherwise, it might hit the CM.
Lynx Levelers – Bright orange, so you’re not likely to leave them behind at your site when you go. I have two sets of these. Yes, 20 of them. I hit a string of very unlevel sites, where the Anderson leveler didn’t raise the wheel up enough, and you can use the Lynx levelers to build a platform to drive up on to raise the wheel. I don’t always use all 20 but I like having the option to.
Lights that hang outside and do nothing but sparkle in the dark are just plain fun and when they are solar-powered, even better! I put them up to outline the outside wall of my trailer (door side) and either front or back, depending on my mood. They have different flash and blink modes, as well as no-blink mode, and they are fun, primary colors. Rather than leave the porch light on when you’re out for the evening, leave these on and put a smile on your face when you arrive home! The solar charger works well, I’ve had the lights on for several hours and night and not run out of juice.
I’ve also got a fair selection of Luci Lights. My current fave is the colored string lights one.
MagneShade: Another item worth the price, this looks very classy on the big front window of the Alto and definitely keeps things cooler inside the Alto.
You can order it from the MagneShade people directly. Pro tip: Use duct tape to position the shade when you’re installing it, then it’s way easier to place the magnets evenly around the window.
Propane tanks made by Viking Composite are lightweight, so they are easy to carry, and they will melt rather than explode in a fire (which I hope I never have to test in real life). You can also shake them gently to see exactly how much propane is in the tank, so no more guessing or dealing with bad gauges. I have two of the 17-pounders, mounted on my tongue with the Viking two-tank tray. I used industrial-strength Velcro to fasten the tray to tongue frame, and then used Velcro straps wrapped through the tray holes and tongue frame as an extra measure.
Note that I don’t have a bike rack or bikes on the tongue, so I have a bit of tongue weight to spare for a second tank. Even though these are lighter than steel tanks, that second tank does add weight. And if you have the bike rack, make sure you buy a tank that will fit under it (the 22 pound tanks might be too tall).
Rug/Ground Cover: I bought an outdoor rug from Safari Condo (manufacturer of the Alto). It’s surprisingly light and easy to fold and unfold and it’s become the base layer for my camping setup outdoors.
For shorter trips, sandy group, or as a base under the Gazelle (Clam) shelter, I use this 10×10 Sand-Free Mat from REI.
Shade Cloth (Aluminet): I have two sizes, the 7×6 feet one that fits front or back of my Alto, and the 7×10 foot size that can hang on either side. These things really block the heat of the sun on aluminum, and I can feel the difference putting my hand on the inside wall (when the wall is in direct sun in 80F weather, it’s too hot to put your hand on it for more than a few seconds; with the cloth, it just feels warm). I custom cut the 7×10 cloth to match the curve of the Alto keder rail and then bought keder rope, had it sewn on, and now it’s super-easy to put up the Aluminet, I just slide it onto the keder rail. (Alto owners: you can ask for a second keder rail to be installed on the opposite side of the Alto, it’s really handy.)
I hang the Aluminet on the back of the trailer using these all-plastic Command Strips stuck to the outside of my Alto. All plastic means that the rain and damp won’t rust them out, and these particular hooks are long and narrow enough to work well with the cloth’s grommets. You can’t have enough command hooks inside your trailer, so go for it and get different sizes of hooks at the same time you buy these.
Shelter: I literally can put this up with one hand and take it down with one hand. And do either action in under 10 minutes. I used to have a bigger, green Clam brand, but the Gazelle is smaller and lighter, and fits into the bed of my pickup truck lengthwise, so more convenient.
The matching wind panels are really nice for privacy as well as keeping the wind out.
Get these Carabiners for setting up stakes outside the shelter (definitely do this in windy weather!):
And combine them with this reflective cord. Pre-cut into useful lengths and setup is super easy.
Step: This little step make it easier to get in and out of the Alto and it’s also handy for tasks outside the Alto. The adjustable legs help level a site that isn’t, although I do recommend spraying them with teflon or silicone lubricant if you’re in damp or rainy conditions.
Table: This is a side table that is plastic, so it’s light, it doesn’t rattle in the car while moving sites, and it doesn’t rust. All three are big features to me, you may have other requirements! (Note May 2019: I finally cracked one of the struts so now I have a purple table just like it.)
Towing Mirrors: I used these on my Subaru Outback because they give me a better view of what is behind and beside me when I am towing. I like having them. These stay put and they have quality mirrors, so they are an essential part of my towing setup. They are easily removable, or you can fold your car mirrors in when parked. (In 2020, I moved to a Honda Ridgeline and since it is wider than the Outback, I don’t need towing mirrors).
Water Filter: One of the great unknowns in camping is water quality. This filter helps a ton in making sure I put good quality water into my freshwater tank. Look around any campground and you’ll see a ton of these in use, because they work. You’ll need to change the filter, and timing depends on how much you use it; I change it every 3 months as a full-timer.
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