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Old 09-08-2009, 12:36 AM   #1
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Looking at a 291 or 294, and for some advice

First, thanks for the forum. I'm new around her and have found some great information.

My wife and I have just decided to buy our first travel trailer. I do have a moderate amount of experience pulling and backing up large trailers, but they've always been flat (car carriers and the like). Travel trailers are new ground for me. After a lot of time of comparing manufacturers, floor plans, weight, and price, we've finally got it narrowed down to the Surveyor, and a couple of models.. the 291 or the 294. (2010). We're deadlocked on the final choice, however, so I thought I would run my thoughts past you seasoned RVers, and maybe find some clarity.

The 294 interior would work slightly better for us, as we will be camping in it with various friends and family. There's lots of kids involved (we have a very loud 18 month old, for example :P) and both the master bed and the bunk area have sliding wood doors which give each us our own space, with the common stuff in the middle (bath, kitchen, etc). It's one of the only models which have that, but are still light enough for my truck to tow. However, it's a "bonus", and not a "must have". We were also very impressed with the 291, and could be very happy with that as well.

So... my truck is a 2005 Silverado K1500, 5.3 V8, Ext cab standard bed (143.5" wb), 4.10 gears, and heavy duty trailering package (Z82 and Z85). According to what I could find, the max towing capacity looks to be 8900#.

So looking at the two models, I'm considering weight and length.

As far as GVW, when the dust settles the 291 and 294 look to be almost exactly the same - around 7500#. (dry weight + cargo + 500 pounds for options not taken into account with the dry weight). Either should be well within my limits (right?).

The 294, however, is 2.5 feet longer. (Total length of 33' vs 30'6" on the 291). One big question mark for me is how much of a difference 2.5 feet makes rolling down the road, getting gas, cross-wind, state park restrictions, and that sort of thing. 2.5 feet doesn't sound like a lot, but I know it potentially could be - so I'm asking you folks that have been around the block to shed some light.

So really what it boils down to is this:

Considering we're new to the world of RV's, we'd like to be smart about our first step. If there's a noticeable difference in the human stress factor and overall travel experience between a 30.5 and a 33 foot trailer, then we'll likely stick with the 291. But if they are both going to be a pretty similar overall experience, we'll likely go with a 294.

Sorry to be so long winded, but wanted to explain as best I could (better too much info than not enough?). Any advice, information, or other angles and ways to look at this would be greatly appreciated!


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Old 09-08-2009, 01:39 PM   #2
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First of all, Welcome!
We own a Surveyor SV291 that we bought new in 2007. It replaced a 2001 Keystone Cabana Hybred that was only 21 feet long so we had to make some adjusting in the way that we handled turns, but backing turned out to actually be easier with the longer trailer.
The extra length behind the wheels still is a concern for me when I'm making a turn. I watch my mirrors as much as possible until the turn is complete. You need a good set of towing mirrors.
When backing, make sure you have a spotter that understands where you want the trailer to go. And also make sure they understand that if they can't see you in your mirrors, YOU CAN'T SEE THEM. It's just like with the Big Rigs.
I think you'll be happy with either of the campers you are looking at. We saw the SV294 for the first time at this year's Montgomery RV show and really liked it but plan to hold on to our Surveyor for a long time.
Best of luck in your search, and happy camping!

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Old 09-08-2009, 02:59 PM   #3
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I can only speak on the 294,since that is what we just recently purchased.We did look at the 291 also,and liked it.We had the same questions you do,and i can say that the extra bunks in the back,is what sold us,even though we liked the 291.I will answer on the towing I have a similiar vehicle,and have no problem towing it! Which i originaly thought I would! We havn't been camping with it yet,so I can not say if there will be problems find spots.I don't think there is much differance in the lenght to let that decide you're purchase.So far we like our 294,and have not looked back at the 291,wich I still think is very nice.
2010 Surveyor SV 294
2003 Silverado Z71
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Old 09-09-2009, 09:35 AM   #4
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Welcome. Most campgrounds have accommodations for larger rigs...unless you go to smaller, older places. It's still best to call ahead and find out.

If you tow vehicle is capable for either, I'd say go with the one you are HAPPIEST with...even if it's the larger of them. More importantly, get the best hitch system, brake controller, and mirrors you can. Safely towing your rig is your BIGGEST CONCERN, and should be your ultimate priority in choosing. Getting your family to the campground safely is much more important than size and floor plan.

Good luck, and have fun with your choice!
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Old 09-09-2009, 06:30 PM   #5
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Our family has just taken posession of the 2010 291. We love it. I have 2 kids and the bunks in the back are perfect for us. Previously we owned the 235rks, which was great, but we were just looking for a little more room. When deciding between the two trailers you just have to take into account the length. I myself wouldn't want to pull anything longer 'cause of the issue of the height of the trailer being so low and getting it into some of the spots I have camped at before are tight. I just got this trailer last thursday and have bent one of the skid bars on the back already. You really have to watch the dips in gas stations and some parks because it's really easy to hit bottom. Overall the trailer is great. No problems so far. Good luck on your decision.
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Old 09-09-2009, 08:13 PM   #6
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Thanks a lot for the input - the various perspectives are really helpful. I'm planning on getting an equalizer, and I'll see what my options are for the brake controller. I had planned on just getting the basic one, but now that you've mentioned it, I will do some research.

Leaning towards the 291 at the moment, but we're going to go look one more time. Actually noticed that the 300 is between the two in length, and has a neat floorplan. But my local dealer sold the one he had, and I guess there's a bit of a backlog as he said it would be 6-8 weeks before he got another one. I'm planning a trip at the end of next month, so I don't think I can wait to look at it.

Anyway, I'm all approved now, so all I need to do is point. That's the fun part

Thanks again for the good advice!
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Old 09-09-2009, 08:19 PM   #7
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I personally don't think the lenght is going to matter that much, and as far as backing it up,the longer units seem easier! My 294 came with the optional 3 in. lift on it,and makes a big difference in clearance,without effecting the tow!JMHO!
2010 Surveyor SV 294
2003 Silverado Z71
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Old 09-10-2009, 09:44 PM   #8
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SV 291 owner here, love it. Tow's great, backs great, sets up great etc...
Scouts Out, L Troop 3/2 ACR 76-79
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2009 SV 291
2001 Z-71
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Old 09-18-2009, 05:13 PM   #9
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We bought a SV294 in July as we have 3 kids. This way everyone has their own bed and one spare if someone brings a friend. I would have liked to have the "garage" door the 291 has for bikes. But I bought a $50.00 bike rack that mounts to the ladder and it solved that. I have yet to run out of storage space and we carry 5 sets of golf clubs and everything you can imagine 3 teenagers and a dog would need.

I tow it with an Aspen (basically a Durango) I did invest in the Hensley Arrow which was by far the best investment I have made in a longtime. ZERO sway tows like a dream, almost makes you too confident at times.

Good luck with your purchase.
2008 Cadillac Escalade
2010 Surveyor SV-294
Hensley Arrow Hitch
Hensley TruControl Gold Brake Controller
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Old 09-19-2009, 08:54 AM   #10
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I think the 291 and 294 will tow the same. So get what you like. While you are within the limits for your tow vehicle, I wouldn't count on being happy if you are towing very far. Several hundred miles will be OK. Several thousand would be a struggle.

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