The Aliner Ranger 12 Camper Honest Review & Buying Guide
We are a husband-and-wife team who likes to camp like crazy. You could say we are the outdoorsy types who spend our free time in the woods or road-tripping – so we know how vital having a good roof over our heads is when we are out exploring. We wanted to provide an Aliner camper review for our readers and fellow outdoor enthusiasts who are considering purchasing an Aliner. In the spring of 2021, we bought our Aliner Ranger 12, and honestly, it has not disappointed.
We’re sharing our honest review and buying guide to help you make the best decision for your adventures. Keep reading to get all the details.
This post contains affiliate links, which means we’ll receive a commission if you purchase through our links at no extra cost to you. Please read full disclosure for more information. Aliner did not sponsor this article. As always, all opinions are our own.
The Complete Guide to the Aliner Ranger 12
If you’re reading this article, you’re likely searching the market for Aliner campers or the best A-frame pop-up camper. If you’re like us, you’re ready to level up from tent life, or perhaps you’re even wanting to downsize from owning a larger RV.
You may be wondering if hard-sided pop-up campers are any good…
Since purchasing our Aliner Ranger 12 in early 2021, we’ve been in love with it. We waited years to save our money and buy the perfect A-frame hard-sided camper at the right time.
Level-Up From Tent Camping
We love camping. Every chance we get, we head to the woods to adventure. For the last 20 years, we’ve been sleeping in tents. Though we’ve had many epic adventures living the tent life and backpacking into remote places, we wanted a sturdier shelter we could cook inside of and spend more extended periods in.
We also wanted something hard-sided when we were off in the mountains. Some places in Colorado and Montana are not allowing soft camper shells in certain areas because of bear activity these days. Please consider that no RV is truly bear-proof.
Speaking of bear proof, we take our Yeti coolers on every camping trip because they are bear resistant. Did you know that?
After spending a few summers in Oklahoma, we found out we absolutely needed to have an option for air conditioning. All our Midwest and Southern readers understand what we are talking about!
We started looking at Aliners years ago when we saw one camping on BLM land in Colorado when we lived in Western Colorado. So we looked at them and looked at them, but at the time, we decided to keep roughing it in our tent.
Fast forward life along with a move to Oklahoma, and it was apparent that camping in Colorado and Utah was not the same environment as camping in Oklahoma and Arkansas (bugs, snakes, humidity). So, we saved our money, called RV dealers all over the country, went to see a few models, and then we stumbled upon the perfect Aliner Ranger 12.
Aliner Ranger 12 Honest Camper Review & Buying Guide
Below is our honest review and buying guide.
2021 Aliner Ranger 12 Details
The Aliner Ranger 12 fits under Aliner’s medium-sized small campers. It is perfect for camping in remote areas, weekend road trips, or any campground.
Our version does not have the dormer option, which is the pop-up tent window. The dormer option comes soft or hard.
The Aliner Ranger 12 camper is outfitted with all of the conveniences of home, including:
- Water plumbing for hot and cold
- 11-gallon freshwater tank
- Water pump
- 14” tires – We love the off-road version because the frame is thicker and larger
- 2 burner gas stove
- 1.9 cubic foot 3-way refrigerator
- Air conditioning
- Heat pump
- Outside shower
- Windows that open
- Roof fan
- Windows on all 4 sides – the natural light is amazing
- 2 LED lights
- 2 propane tanks
- Outside electric plugin options
- Battery power
- Solar power option
- Great storage
- Dinette that converts to a 46” x 76” bed; and,
- Sofa-to-bed conversion of 56” x 76” – the side we both sleep on and is equivalent to a queen-size bed (but not exactly a queen)
These equipment options were exactly what we were looking for in a tiny house on wheels.
The pop-up roof provides plenty of headroom in the main living space, the sleeping area has a lower ceiling for easy access, and the side skylights (windows) are concave to make room for your head when sitting.
The pop-up roof is equipped with big concave skylights on both sides (or a dormer), making it easy to enjoy the outdoor environment even when inside.
What Are the Aliner Ranger 12 Dimensions?
The interior space of the Aliner Ranger 12 measures 135 inches by 78 inches, giving you enough room to relax or cook a meal inside.
It also provides enough room for two people to sleep comfortably. If you’re under 6 feet tall, you would be able to stretch out comfortably in the bed. Be sure to see one before you buy one since there are slight changes to the models yearly.
The Aliner Ranger 12 is equipped with an electrical system that provides power to the lighting, fan, and outlets throughout the camper’s interior.
You can plug in cell phones, a camera battery, an iPad, a computer, or a fan. Sometimes, we even take a mini blender for smoothies or a toaster.
Aliner Ranger 12 Specs
What size is the Aliner Ranger 12 2021?
What makes the Aliner Ranger 12 perfect for weekend road trips or longer adventures is its size. It is so easy to store, tow, and explore.
The high roof A-frame also makes the inside feel larger and cozy when spending time inside. You can fully stand up and stretch out. The height of the A-frame makes the unit feel spacious.
Below are the outside specs for the Aliner Ranger 12:
- Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR): 3,000 lbs
- Aliner Ranger 12 Dry Weight: ~1,450 pounds
- Dry Hitch Weight: 150 lbs (Aliner Ranger 12 tongue weight)
- Tires and Wheel: 14-inch aluminum
- Length: 15 feet (with spare tire 17 feet)
- Height: 79 inches
- Road height: 57 inches
Aliner vs. Vanlife
Okay, yes, van life is all the rage. However, the number one reason we decided on the Aliner camper over a van is purely because the Aliner is free of an engine. The second reason is that we can tow it easily with our existing vehicles. The third reason is price. Aliners are way more affordable than buying a tricked-out camper van.
If you like to keep your toys for long periods and already have a rig to pull a small camper, then having a small camper means you don’t have to worry about maintenance on another vehicle with an engine. Driving all over the country adds up mileage fast.
The fourth reason is that we can unhook our truck, drive around, and explore freely when the camper is parked. That means we can get to epic hikes and places we want to continue to reach in the backcountry. Once you set the Aliner up, you can lock it and leave while using your vehicle like you would normally.
We like to keep things for a long time and get the most out of them.
For Aliner maintenance, we track the mileage for the tires, keep it clean, and do a simple winterization.
We plan to use ours for at least ten years. It is built really well.
Is Aliner Worth the Cost?
Is the Aliner Ranger 12 worth the cost? We think so.
When it comes to A-frame campers, Aliners are priced higher. However, consider the quality since Aliner was the original brand for A-frame trailers.
We wanted to provide a simple cost analysis breakdown of how investing in the Aliner pays for itself quickly over a few years.
In the spring of 2021, we wanted to visit Dauphin Island and Gulf Shores in Alabama. So we planned a 10-day road trip from Oklahoma. We priced out VRBOs in the $200-300 range per night. That would have cost $2,000-3,000 on the lower end without including travel insurance, a VRBO, or cleaning fees.
The total was around $400-500 dollars for campsites – all within walking distance of the beach. And we took the dog without worrying about dog-friendly accommodations or extra pet costs.
We think Aliners are worth the cost. No cleaning fees, no pet sitter fees, no expensive flights or vacation rental fees.
Now, we make an annual spring trip to camp on the Gulf.
Where Is Aliner Made?
Aliner is made in Pennsylvania. Another reason we love Aliner – it is made in the USA.
We love to support products made in America.
A Buyer’s Guide to the Aliner Ranger 12
We compiled a list of questions we had when purchasing our Aliner Ranger 12 and have them listed below to help you.
Can the Aliner Ranger 12 Go Off-Road?
Oh yeah! This is one of the main reasons why we bought this model.
The Aliner Ranger 12 offers an off-road package option. This means it has 14” tires and sits higher off the ground. There is also a 15” tire option.
What Is the Aliner Ranger 12 Weight?
The gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) is 3,000 pounds.
The dry weight (not loaded with water, food, gear, etc.) of the Aliner Ranger 12 is about 1,450 pounds. This is very light.
To find out if your vehicle can tow an Aliner Ranger 12, check your vehicle’s operating manual for towing capacity.
Keep in mind most V6 engines will be able to tow an Aliner Ranger 12 comfortably (and even some 4 cylinders).
Does the Aliner Ranger 12 Have Heat?
Yes, the Aliner Ranger 12 has a heat pump. The newer models have a furnace.
We camped in December with 30-degree Fahrenheit weather and were warm and comfortable. We also bring a heating blanket.
Does It Have Air Conditioning?
Yes, the Aliner Ranger 12 has air conditioning.
The A/C unit is flat and does not stick out (2021+ newer models) on the side of the camper. Bring on summer camping.
Is There a Stove?
Yes, the Aliner Ranger 12 comes with a 2-burner gas stove.
In addition, the stovetop folds down when not in use to make room for more counter space. We love this!
Is There a Bathroom?
No, there is no bathroom or toilet. We personally really like this option!
Cleaning a black tank is not fun. Smaller campers that come with this option will have small black waste storage containers, meaning there will be cleaning required often.
We mostly camp at campgrounds with bathhouse facilities, so we don’t have to worry about managing a black waste tank.
If you are new to camping without a restroom, read more on how to dispose of waste properly from Leave No Trace.
Does It Have a Kitchen Sink?
Yes, the Aliner Ranger 12 has a small camper sink.
The plumbing for the grey water is basic and consists of a straight pipe, making it easy to maintain and collect grey water on the outside of the unit.
In addition, the Aliner comes equipped with a water pump. There is also an option for hot water.
Does the Aliner Ranger 12 Have Hot Water?
Yes, there is a switch that will turn the hot water tank on. Though, you don’t have to use it if you don’t want to. We rarely do.
What Are the Water Storage Options?
When it comes to water storage, there are two options.
If you’re at a campground with water hookups, you can connect directly to the water source.
If you’re dry camping without facilities, the Aliner Ranger 12 has an 11-gallon freshwater tank. There is a water pump to get the water from the tank to the kitchen sink.
The 11-gallon tank lasts us about two full days (cooking and cleaning).
Is the Bed Comfortable?
We purchased the Serta 3” memory foam topper to make the bed more comfortable. However, it would probably be a little on the stiff side without the foam topper.
We both fit in the bed together and can stretch out our legs.
Is the Aliner Really Easy To Set Up?
Yes, it is easy to set up. We set it up together, or we can both do it solo.
It takes less than two minutes to pop up – or, honestly, more like a minute and a half.
How Does It Tow?
The all-aluminum construction (the frame is metal) makes it extremely lightweight and easy to tow.
Every time we go camping and Pablo talks campers with other people at the campground, they always ask how it tows, and Pablo says, “I can’t even feel it behind the truck.”
Since Aliners fold down, there is much less wind resistance than towing a regular camper.
We recommend having a sway bar (like this one).
So far, in our experience, it tows very easily.
Is the Aliner Ranger 12 Durable?
We think it is durable. We have felt safe during thunderstorms in Oklahoma and windstorms along the Gulf of Mexico.
The camper comes with a safety wind kit. The wind kit consists of two bars that allow you to raise the A-frame safely, offering added stability during high winds. The bars also lock in place.
It also has two diamond plates in the front and back of the unit to protect it while driving in case rocks kick up while driving the interstate and highways. The diamond plates look really cool, too.
Oh, we also drove it through the mud one time because we accidentally took the wrong turn. It handled like a beast.
What Else Do You Need To Buy?
Check out our article on the 21 Best Aliner accessories to buy on Amazon to help store, tow, and secure the camper.
How Do You Store the Aliner Ranger 12?
Since the camper folds down and compacts to a small size, you can store it in your driveway, garage, or off-site storage.
If storing outside of a building, be sure to secure it to discourage theft and cover it with a small pop-up camper cover to protect the camper from the elements.
Watch the Complete Tour of Our Aliner on YouTube
Want to see more? We made a video for that! Watch the Aliner Ranger 12 Complete Tour: Inside, Outside, and How to Tow.
Aliner Ranger 12 Summary
We are getting older, and as the years have gone on, it became time to upgrade from a tent to a small hard-sided pop-up camper.
Our journey into exploring the Aliner brand started many years ago when we were living in Colorado. However, at the time, we were hesitant to make the purchase. We like to live frugally, keep things simple, and waited for the right time to purchase a small camper. We love how minimalist this model is. It is easy to use and enjoy.
If you are curious about Aliner pop-up campers and haven’t purchased one yet, you might after reading this review on the Aliner Ranger 12. We honestly love it, and it has elevated our road trip experiences. We always say we wished we would have gotten one sooner.
Ashlee & Pablo
Read More About the Aliner:
- How to Winterize Your Aliner: A Step-by-Step Guide + Video
- 21 Best Aliner Accessories to Buy on Amazon
Where Are You Headed Next?
You might enjoy our other article on camping and some of our favorite state parks in Oklahoma and Arkansas:
- 7 Unique Oklahoma State Parks You’ll Love Visiting
- 12 Hiking Trails in Arkansas You Cannot Miss
- Plan the Perfect Weekend at Devils Den State Park
- 25 Best Amazon Camping Gear Must-Haves
- 10 State Parks for an Unforgettable Adventure in Arkansas
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