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Old 09-09-2013, 06:47 PM   #1
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Towing intimidation

Well I'm going to be upgrading to a 3/4 ton TV and getting a travel trailer as well in the near future. Currently I tow a popup with a 1/2 ton TV. The popup is a rockwood HW276 which is about 19ft long counting the hitch. I have to admit that while I was looking at some of the 30 ft long and 11ft high TTs, I was a bit intimidated if not down right scared. I've never pulled such a monstrosity before!

Has anyone ever been in my shoes? How did you overcome your fears? I welcome any advice. I'm starting to tell myself that I can probably only do 30 ft. Not sure if I can handle 35 footers! Would I now need to be very selective of the campsites I pick?

Thanks in advance!

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Old 09-09-2013, 07:04 PM   #2
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Been there vcarbona. I hadn't towed anything for many years and then we bought a used 1 ton with a 26' 5er so we jumped right in. It was a little intimidating at first but the principles of towing are the same, wider turns, anticipating traffic and taking your time. The only way to get used to it is to jump in and head down the road. Take some short drives close to home to build your confidence before hitting a major highway. After a few miles I sometimes would almost forget the trailer was there...almost...:-).

Yes, from my experience if you go too big you will limit yourself on campgrounds. I was at a place this year with a narrow road and the sites were perpendicular to it and it was really tight backing into it. Another place had a 90 degree right turn up a pretty steep hill with loose gravel which made for an interesting moment.

Make sure your setup (TV, hitch, WDH etc) are suitable for the TT and not overloading your TV and you will be fine.


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Old 09-09-2013, 07:49 PM   #3
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With my TT, it wasn't so bad. Especially once I got the right vehicle (a 3/4 ton F-250). My little Montero Sport was just no match for my trailer. Now the first time I got my 5th Looking out that rear window and seeing that huge thing that looked like it was right on top of me, that was a scary sight. It still is a little disconcerting now and then, but I've gotten used to it for the most part. You will too.
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Old 09-09-2013, 07:53 PM   #4
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I started out with a car and a pop up years ago. l left camping for a while, but I got back into it with a Mercury Mountineer and a 26ft travel trailer. The next step was a 1/2 ton GMC and a 35ft travel trailer. Just take it at your own pace.
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Old 09-09-2013, 08:01 PM   #5
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I started towing a 13' TT about 10 years ago. Traded that in on an 18' bass boat which on the trailer and with the motor in towing position was 23 or 24'. Traded that for a 33' (tongue to bumper) TT that I had until recently. Now I'm in a 37'.

My experience has taught me the following...

-It's actually easier to back up a trailer with a longer hitch to axel "wheel base" than one shorter. Backing a short trailer in particular can be a pain because of how hast it wants to articulate. Longer trailers turn more gradually and are honestly more forgiving with steering wheel corrections.

-Longer trailers don't "feel" as long as they are when they are towing. Since your vision of the trailer is mostly skewed the trailer doesn't seem very long behind you. Another plus is that TTs and 5Ws axels are slightly rear of center on the length so they don't track as wide as you think. But sharp turns still require plenty of lane to swing wide. And I find on winding roads I'm driving from my side views. This is the biggest caution I preach...don't hug the outer line. Your trailer tracks well over a foot inside of you tucks tire line.

-The most unnerving thing is not being able to see the blind side of your trailer when backing into a space. Make sure you have a spotter if it's got trees or a drop off.

-DO NOT back into a space with trees near the road and your pad. Once I camped at a spot with a near 90 to the road pad and trees about 5' on either side of the pad and 5' from the road. The trailer wanted to drift to one side or another as I pulled forward. I backed in fine but it took me two and half hours of moving the truck and trailer, unhitching, repositioning the truck, and rehitching to start again to get out. Backing into a spot is always easier and the trailer tracks better than pulling out. (See sharp turns comment above.)

Bottom line, towing a "larger" trailer isn't a big deal. The biggest concern is making sure it will stop for you when you need it to. Having the proper truck is the best confidence builder you will have. The only time you feel the extra length is tight turns and squeezing between two things. Otherwise you'll build enough confidence to be fine. I can say with confidence once your used to it, 35' would feel "too long" at all.

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Old 09-09-2013, 08:02 PM   #6
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Good advice already. Its all about taking YOUR time.

The bottom line is that you need to become comfortable and the ONLY way is through practice with the TV and trailer on the roads and highways, parking lots and campgrounds.

You'll get the hang of it soon enough! You really will

Just take it slow and easy and choose low traffic areas to get used to it. Then, once comfortable, expect that some campgrounds and highways will challenge you. By then, you'll be comfortable with taking your time in those situations, too.
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Old 09-09-2013, 08:02 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by vcarbona View Post
Has anyone ever been in my shoes? How did you overcome your fears? I welcome any advice. I'm starting to tell myself that I can probably only do 30 ft. Not sure if I can handle 35 footers!
Oh heck yes- been there, done that, and got the t-shirt! My towing experience before getting the pop-up was pulling a kayak trailer when I worked for LL Bean. We towed it from the parking lot, down a lake side path and did a big loop to get it lakeside. At the end of the day, you drove it back up and then backed it into a designated double-wide parking spot. If you couldn't hit the parking spot, no big deal- it was on a hill and the kayak trailer was light- just push it into place and all's good. Heck, we moved it by hand more times than not when hitching up.

Then I got a 3,000 pound 19' popup. I remembering looking at it thinking, "what in the beejeebuss did I get myself into?" That pop-up lasted for a season before the wife wanted something a little bigger. Started looking at fifth wheels and I had a hard "no longer than 35 feet" rule stuck firmly in my head. Wife dug at me a for a while and I agreed to, "up to 40 feet". And then we promptly bought a 42' bunkhouse!

Truth be told, the mechanics are all the same. Those who say a longer trailer is easier than a short one are lying. They're both difficult in their own ways. The short ones, you need a whole lot less room for parking and obstacles aren't nearly as much of a challenge but they DO jackknife a lot easier. It's just different.

How did I get over my nervousness? I'm still nervous when I'm out doing it. But, like Nike - "just do it". You just have to get out and go. If you have the time and inclination, hitting an empty parking lot for practice would be a great thing to do!

Originally Posted by vcarbona View Post
Would I now need to be very selective of the campsites I pick?
It does make a difference, obviously. I think it all comes down to the type of "camping" experience that you want. Be it a rustic "in the woods" kind of experience at state and national parks- sure the smaller trailer will open up more opportunities. If you're OK with a little more of a modern-day adventure, RV parker or aren't real picky- the bigger trailer isn't bad. We like our space, but really haven't found that our 42' fifth wheel makes a huge amount of difference in the sites that we "want" at parks. Sure, it happens- but we can usually find somewhere that we're happy with.

That said, it'll be quite a while until I'm ready to take camper into the state park that made my childhood's camping memories. I know people do it, but dang it can be tight!
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Old 09-09-2013, 08:19 PM   #8
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I towed mostly 2 horse trailers and little uhauls before buying my 30 ft TT. I had myself psyched out before I started. The white knuckle experience of not having enough TV for the TT did not help. My past experience towing was enough to tell me something wasn't right with my set up. Problem was, we never did get it to handle well with the old TV. After being pushed down a mountain I traded the SUV on the f250 diesel. Towing with the right vehicle my setup handled well and my confidence was back within the first two trips. I was no longer intimidated and towing was a happy experience. Now we are talking about a larger 5er and I'm intimidated again. Difference is now I'm intimidated by the height and having to worry about something even higher than I have now. Not intimidated by the length just wary of backing into spots with a longer 5er knowing that my 30 ft TT and 22 ft truck had a tight fit getting in. I know that the bigger I go, the more limited my camping spots and the more aware I need to be of height and of the ability to get in and out of places like gas stations and restaurants. I have to really look before pulling in and plan ahead enough to be Able to bypass a gas station that is too tight. Definitely practice backing and a neutering in an empty parking lot. Understand that while backing is easier with a longer TT, it does take a lot longer to respond to straightening or turning when backing. It also cuts narrower on turns when towing so sing wide but be aware of the whip where the back End kicks out at the end of a turn. my best advice to you is to skip the 3/4 ton and go 1 ton. pay attention to the payload on either truck and get enough payload to handle the loaded tongue weight (13-15% of loaded TT weight, you can calculate this using gvwr of TT as well). I have noticed several 3/4 ton and even some one tons with wimpy capacities if you don't pay attention to certain engine options etc. buy a truck big enough for the TT after the one you are currently looking at.
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Old 09-09-2013, 09:54 PM   #9
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I towed a Utah popup with a Ranger for a couple years. I think that the excitement about going on a trip gave me some anxiety - more so than the towing itself. Backing very slowly made it easy to get into spots.
I tow a 29' 8" TT with an F150 now. I think that the excitement about going on a trip gives me some anxiety - more so than the towing itself. Backing very slowly makes it easy to get into spots.
I am going to order an F350 to tow our future 34 foot TT. I think that the excitement about going on a trip will give me some anxiety...
You get the point.
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Old 09-09-2013, 10:09 PM   #10
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Those who say a longer trailer is easier than a short one are lying.

sorry ependy .... i have to call bs on that. true they are both difficult in their own ways, but i prefer backing a long trailer over a short one. much easier to maneuver.

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