Hello to everyone!
So here is my avalanche of questions!
I am looking to buy my first camp trailer this year. Never owned one but am excited to get into the club. I've talked with lots of friends who own or have owned trailers and determined that I want a toy hauler fifth wheel. I've been told that the fifth wheel will be safer and much more manageable when towing. My wife isn't the most comfortable with driving large vehicles and definitely not with towing. It seems the fifth wheel offers more stability and a more confident towing experience than a bumper pull. I've kind of settled on the PUMA 351THSS and, though it is much larger than I had originally planned on, I think that it's a good fit for my family (3 young kids and a dog [and another little puppy soon
]) and what we want to do. I like the floorplan and all the feedback I've read is that it is well built and reliable.
But had some questions before I run off and spend a wad of money.
I've posted many of my questions on the 351THSS thread already but was advised by a veteran forum member that I should post it here in the general forum as the 351THSS thread is really long and old.
Some questions I have are;
As I've gotten more set on getting this fifth wheel and really considered it's size, I'm starting to question my reasoning that led me to it. I'm scared that it's maybe too big?? It offers all of the features and the layout I want and need for my family, but I am concerned how manageable it will be for the kind of camping I want to do.
Besides regular week-long family trips to various locations, I envision being able to jump in the truck on a whim and drag the trailer for the weekend to a high mountain reservoir, Yellowstone, Camping in the pines, etc. etc. (Northern Utah or southern Idaho). Anyone give any feedback on my thoughts? Do I need to reconsider and settle for something smaller?
(As a side note, my brother owns a smaller TT Toy hauler and I asked him about it. He told me that the locations we end up at would probably be somewhat different than I imagine because of the wife and kids' preferences. He also said that he woud have gone bigger and done something more like the 351THSS... That helped to cinfirm things for me but I'd ike to hear from some seasoned vets.)
I assume this is considered a 35 foot 5th wheel (based on the "351THSS" name) but the total actual length is really 37 feet. Is that correct? So as I search forums and sites I get confused as to what people are referring to when they say "I have a 35 footer" or "I have a 37 footer" are they generally referring to total length or to the rated size of the trailer? It seems at times like people refer the trailers that are only a couple feet longer as being much bigger rigs. I've seen people referring to 35 footers as reasonably sized but to 38 footers as being "really big".
Would a smaller unit be much more manageable and convenient? Would we be more likely to use a smaller unit more often? Would it be worth giving up some the the floorplan and features we want in order to get a smaller rig?
I also need to purchase my tow vehicle and am leaning toward a 350/3500 diesel truck. Though I'm sure there are people who could give good or bad feedback on any of the three brands, I think I will go with a GM product. (Of the available brands, GM vehicles seem to be potentially the most reliable from the reviews I've read [like JD Power, etc.] even though I personally would prefer Toyota to make a 1 ton Tundra....). I plan on getting a crew cab (room for the family). I would get the 350/3500 because the price doesn't generally seem to be too much more than 250/2500's and the feedback I've been getting is that the ride quality is not much worse. If that is the case, I'd rather have the more capable tow vehicle.
If anyone has any feedback on the truck, please chime in (size, brand, model, hitch, other considerations I may not have thought of, etc.). I can use any educated information I can get.
Also, if anyone has any sage advice for someone looking to investigate and buy their first pull trailer, let me have it!
some additional smaller questions;
I don't really want to get a Monster crew cab truck with a long bed. I would like to get a standard length bed but understand that may interfere with the trailer. I've read about the auto-slide hitches as well as the Reese gooseneck conversion. My understanding of towing is minimal. I'd love to do teh Reese gooseneck so that I don't have the large 5th wheel hitch in the bed but don't know what else needs to be considered or what I should be concerned about. Any feedback would be great.
Also, is the garage area water proof (at least the lower couple of feet where the walls are covered by the metal diamond-plate siding)? I assume it would be as atv's would sometimes be muddy. I just wondered for cleaning purposes.
Does anyone have the outside shower? Is it just a hose with a showerhead? Does it have a floor? (so the user isn't standing in the mud.)
Anyone have the fuel station? Does it work well and is it worth getting? I like the idea of having it just as an emergency preparedness tool at the house even if I didn't regularly use it for toys while camping.
Thanks for helping with all my questions!