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Old 04-07-2013, 09:56 AM   #1
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Looking at buying first TT, need advice

We are interested in a TT that would sleep four; me, wife and a couple grandkids. Distance to campgrounds would be under 300 miles and most often under 150 miles, no mountains. We would be using it in MN staying about three nights per trip at the many state parks and state forest campgrounds in the state.

What type of TT can a guy get and tow safely with a 1/2 ton truck, or large SUV should I decide to go that route? I'm just looking at a starting point here without going through all the calculating, since I currently don't own either a TV, or the TT.

I've read through many of the posts about weighing your rig at a scale, or buying huge gas hog TV's to properly tow a TT and I'm somewhat discouraged from getting a TT.

A tent trailer is not an option. I have a bad back and setup ease.is crucial. Also a pop up needs to be popped up to dry out at home if it rains the day you pack up, which means more back issues.

My current vehicle is a 2008 v6 Pathfinder, which from what I've read would not do the job.

If I need to buy a new TV, it would also be my primary vehicle so MPG is important. BTW, the Pathfinder isn't great at gas savings. I average about 15 mpg around town

#somewhatdiscouraged
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Old 04-07-2013, 10:06 AM   #2
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I see 17 town and 22 hwy with my 3/4 diesel. I have went thru 3 campers since 2005 and always went bigger and higher price with every one, SO I would get the biggest you can afford so you do not find out it is too small and have to go larger... setup up on a 5er is a snap, drop landing gear, pull handle, drive away.. no WD bars or a ball to align, remember if your back is bad you have to snap up the bars, and they have some weight attached
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Old 04-07-2013, 11:34 AM   #3
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If you're looking at half ton TV's with the bigger motor option and factory tow package, the max tow weight on them are 8000+ lbs. The issue with too heavy of a camper would be the tongue weight and the low payload capacity of these trucks. If you keep your potential camper under 6500 lb, most trucks I previously described will handle that comfortably.
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Old 04-08-2013, 11:19 AM   #4
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MN outdoors. Have fun with your search. Our Surveyor SV 291 has a dry weight of 5519 pounds with all factory options, 2 cut corner full size bunks, house size queen bed with room at the end for feet to hang over, bathroom with small tub, easy 2 steps into the trailer. Downside is the almost 32' length. The reasons we went with this unit are, larger bunks, low weight for size, little campground set up, dealer really close.
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Old 04-08-2013, 12:17 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave_Monica View Post
The issue with too heavy of a camper would be the tongue weight and the low payload capacity of these trucks.
Exactly! Payload will generally be the first rating that is exceeded.

It can become cumbersome to complete calculations each time your see a potential new TT when you are first starting your search. But, there are shortcuts you can use to narrow down the field.

However, you will want to (need to) eventually run the full calculation when you get close to identifying the TT you intend to buy.

One rule of thumb as you shop for your TT (or for a new TV and a TT) is to take the payload listed for the vehicle and subtract the weight of all people and cargo within the truck. That number divided by 13% will give you an estimate of the LOADED weight of the trailer you can tow.

For instance, lets look at an imaginary TV, TT, and situation:

  • Payload = 1,400lbs. (You say you don't have a TV, yet, but this is a ballpark for SUVs)
  • Passengers = 600lbs (including grandkids)
  • Cargo = 100lbs (this includes anything you put into your vehicle and any modifications from stock to the truck)

1,400 - 600 - 100 = 700lb tongue weight

700 / 0.13 = 5,385lbs.

That 5,400lbs is the most that you can tow fully loaded. The "dry weight" of this imaginary TT is probably ~4,000lbs.

Hope this helps to give you an idea on how to ballpark it and narrow down your choices. This looks more complicated than it really is.
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Old 04-08-2013, 01:26 PM   #6
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We have a new chevy silverado with tow package (not the max tow) and 4x4 and 4 doors. Had an expedition (F150 short wb suv) Both have tow ratings in the 8-9k range. If you don't get the right options the tow rating can be as low as 5000 lbs.

The chevy is getting 15mpg with daily commuting to work. The expy (all tired out) got 12.5. Newer vehicles do better.

A typical 1/2 ton will have around 1700lb payload - that includes you, wife, kids, pets, whatever you put in the vehicle AND the tounge weight. You'll want to prolly keep the tongue weight to no more than 800. Since that is supposed to be 10-15% of the trailer weight you'll want a TT no heavier than 6500-7000 lbs. Figure 1000 lbs of cargo and you'll want a dry weight under 5500 lbs.

How much under is the question. "Fancier" TT weight more - nicer fittings weight more, more insulation, more lights and switches and tvs and fireplaces and slideouts. A 'cheaper' TT will weight less, per foot, on average.

If you compare apples to apples shorter weighs less than longer - always.

Other things to consider - will you camp when it's cold? MN can be cold - so do you need heated tanks (so they don't freeze)?
We have a boy and a girl so wanted separate beds for them, and didn't want to have to turn the dining room into a bed each and every night (you back will thank you!)

You'll still have to level and set up the stabilizing jacks - bending and stooping every time.
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Old 04-08-2013, 01:36 PM   #7
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I give you my TT example because of the answers given above by the same helpful members of this Forum and a 1/2 ton truck was mentioned. I haven't loaded my TT yet but with 5500 dw I want to keep as close to 6500 loaded to keep within all the capacities of my truck with 9000 max towing. (figures rounded)

With a little extra set up such as using the dinette bed or couch bed, there are a lot of nice options out there for smaller capacity TV's.
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Old 04-08-2013, 01:38 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MN_Outdoors View Post
We are interested in a TT that would sleep four; me, wife and a couple grandkids. Distance to campgrounds would be under 300 miles and most often under 150 miles, no mountains. We would be using it in MN staying about three nights per trip at the many state parks and state forest campgrounds in the state.

What type of TT can a guy get and tow safely with a 1/2 ton truck, or large SUV should I decide to go that route? I'm just looking at a starting point here without going through all the calculating, since I currently don't own either a TV, or the TT.

I've read through many of the posts about weighing your rig at a scale, or buying huge gas hog TV's to properly tow a TT and I'm somewhat discouraged from getting a TT.

A tent trailer is not an option. I have a bad back and setup ease.is crucial. Also a pop up needs to be popped up to dry out at home if it rains the day you pack up, which means more back issues.

My current vehicle is a 2008 v6 Pathfinder, which from what I've read would not do the job.

If I need to buy a new TV, it would also be my primary vehicle so MPG is important. BTW, the Pathfinder isn't great at gas savings. I average about 15 mpg around town

#somewhatdiscouraged
Don't get too discouraged. truth is there are plenty of light weight trailers out there that can sleep 4-6 people no problem. Some of those can even be pulled by a v6. Not many. Anyway - the overall size and weight of the trailer will vary with the options you want. Do you need dedicated bunks or a pull-out sofa? Do you want an outdoor kitchen? How much storage do you need? the list goes on and on.

My advice on this issue is to put the trailer before the horse, so to speak. Pick out the trailer you truly want, then buy a tow vehicle to fit it. Preferably with some room to grow. Couple reasons I say this:
-your current daily driver is a gas hog. Most 3/4 trucks don't do any worse.
-even if they did 2-3mpg worse the difference in cost per year is probably going to be small in relation to everything else. The first time you get scared with not enough truck for your trailer, a few hundred bucks means nothing to you at all.

With that said, also keep this in mind. Many of today's 1/2 ton truck feature some pretty heavy duty options. A fully loaded max tow variant of the Ford F-150 ecoboost (and I am not a Ford fan, just using their example, you can do this within a few hundred pounds in any brand) has a tow rating that rivals 3/4 ton trucks from 10 years ago. However they rarely have the payload rating, watch that closely.

BUT - virtually no 1/2 ton based SUV has anywhere near the usable payload rating of a pickup, and combined with their usual shorter wheelbase can be outmatched by even mid-size trailers very quickly.

Again - don't be discouraged. To me it looks like you have the world before and incredible options to pick from.
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Old 04-09-2013, 01:26 PM   #9
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With physical limits, you want:
-No tenting or tipout beds, which means no popups and no tipout hybrids. A rear-slideout bed (RS) could be an option as long as it's electric (most are these days).
-Actual beds for the grandkids. Not relying on the dinette.
Look for something with 2 stacked bunks, which tuck beside the bathroom. This will help keep the length (and therefore the weight) reasonable. Or you might find one that has a sofa/airbed. It sounds like work, but they come with built-in pumps for inflating/deflating. No real physical work other than removing cushions.
I think you will find several options. Recommend you go to a camper show and browse. Be aware that many salesmen will lie to you, and try to sell something that you won't be comfortable towing. Just get an idea of what you like, and what the weight range will be. Get the dry weights and add 2000 lbs. That total will need to be your MINIMUM tow rating for your tow vehicle.

For example, if you fall in love with a 21ft camper that's 4000 lbs dry, you would want to find something that has at least 6000 lbs tow rating. FYI, the Durango V6 with tow package is a crossover with 6500 lbs tow rating.

These are general, ballpark starter numbers. I applaud you for researching before you have purchased either vehicle. Keep asking questions, and keep researching.
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Old 04-16-2013, 11:08 PM   #10
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R-Pod might work... thoughts?
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