So how do I like my Alto 1743 after a year? I love it. Honestly, it still makes me happy to drive back to my campsite and see Breeze waiting for me. But, as with most things in life, some choices work out and some don’t. Here’s my Safari Condo Alto review after a year of living in it full-time.
This post is a followup to the six-month review, so I’m not going to repeat that stuff here. If something conflicts between then and now, believe the “now” one.)
Standard Safari Condo Options
Let’s take a look at how my option choices fared after a year.
Front cushions: I have to admit that months of looking at the same fabric front and back started to get a bit boring. In March, I found some sturdy batik fabric in Tucson and covered the front cushions with it (Flat Eliza cheered me on). I like the fabric a lot, it seems pretty stain-resistant and it makes the front (living) area feel different than the back (sleeping) area, which is important since I live in such a small space.
Flooring: I’m a very tactile person when it comes to my feet, apparently, and the standard grey flooring never felt good to me. I’d thought for months about how to cover the floor with something else, but it wasn’t till last weekend at Home Depot that I found a floor tile I really liked. So now I have a new look to the floor. I only did from the kitchen seam (where the bed starts) to the front table, but that’s most of the floor I use and see, so it works for me. It wasn’t hard at all, except for cutting a few of the pieces around the fridge. I’ve never installed tile before so these stick-on things had a bit of a learning curve but I got the hang of it pretty quickly. The whole thing took me about 3 hours.
12V fridge: I have solar panels and I’ve boondocked up to 7 days without having any issues keeping things cool. Well, except for Big Bend, but 90F temps aren’t where I choose to be most of the time. I’m happy to not have the propane fridge and worry about running out of that in the middle of nowhere (because I’ve discovered propane isn’t always easy to find in sparsely populated areas).
Caravan Mover (CM): I like it a lot and until my recent bits of backing into sites, it was my go-to option for those. The main impetus for working hard to figure out backing up was the one motor (driver’s side) becoming undependable. It would work, then not work, then work, sometimes in the space of a few hours. I had a mechanic look at it, and he found one maybe loose wire and tightened it up but no joy on the “not gonna work today” issue. So I’m currently in the process of having it replaced. Other than that, I think it’s a great feature and I’m happy I have it.
Awning: Oh, well, all options can’t be awesome. After using it maybe a dozen times, I ended up sending it back to the manufacturer and they are replacing it with a modified design. I just got the new one, so can’t weigh in on how it does. If it’s not great, I’ll probably just go with some kind of standalone pop-up shelter to shade my outdoor furniture when I’m at a site.
Additions I love:
Trimetric battery monitor: Oh, how my RV life has changed, knowing exactly how much battery capacity I have. I can see when solar is feeding the battery, I can tell how much the fridge uses, and I actually run the generator a whole lot less because the battery is doing fine.
Aluminet shade cloth: I liked this so much I bought another one. With two, I can shade the front window and whichever side of the Alto is getting sun. They really are amazing. I can feel the temperature difference inside the Alto, both just sitting near the window and by putting my hand on the wall covered and the wall uncovered.
Viking composite propane tanks and propane-fueled generator: Love the tanks, love having two of them. I don’t use the generator as much now as I did in winter, but it’s great to have it handy when needed.
Closet shelving: The Altoiste who figured out that Elfa shelving (from Container Store) fits into the 1743 cabinet is a genius. Truly. These shelves are the solution ever for this space.
Outside lock replacements: At Quartzsite, I ran into a vendor who worked with me all weekend to get my locks changed over from the typical and way-too-common trailer hatch key and lock to a more uncommon one. You can find out more at their website (link).
Connectivity: I have supplemented my grandfathered Verizon unlimited plan with an upgrade on my AT&T service to their new Unlimited Plus plan, which also includes free HBO Go. Between the two services, I am rarely completely disconnected from the net and from phone calls. Verizon wins most of the coverage war, with AT&T doing better in urban areas (like Denver).
Folding bike: This little sweetie from Bike Friday in Eugene, Oregon folds up into the back of my Subie and it’s fun to ride. Now that Spring is upon us, I hope to be riding it more.
Toaster: Yeah, a real toaster. Man, toast is something that “camping toasters” just don’t do well. And I do love my toast, so I finally got one from Walmart. I’ve had toast every day for the last week.
Blue lights: These were a total impulse buy on the sale rack at Michael’s in Tucson. The string is taped into place and it’s my “late night lighting” go-to nowadays.
Things I Dumped
Sewer hose: The standard blue one I got finally died, so I replaced it with a nice sturdy red one that barely fits into the storage pipe. Works great and it also has an elbow to create a sealed connection to the dump hole, which some parks require if you’re going to leave the hose in place. (I do leave it in place, but with the valve closed, so that it’s not draining all the time.)
BAL Leveler: This thing got rusted out quickly in the Cali rainstorms, so I traded it for an Anderson leveler. Took me a few tries to figure out how to use it with car and with CM, and now it’s really easy for me to level the trailer in short order.
I actually have nothing on my list at the moment. I’m thinking about moving the telescope parts into the Subaru so they are easier to get at, but that will be a wholesale rejiggering of things so I’m still thinking about it.
Everyone’s Alto experience is different and mine is different than most because I live full-time in my trailer. Ping me if you want a more detailed explanation of anything I’ve mentioned here.