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Old 07-31-2020, 12:46 AM   #1
Junior Member
Join Date: Jul 2020
Posts: 18
5 questions for new A-frame buyer

Hey guys,

I am probably going to get a a122s or a214hw(or flagstaff equivalent) and had a few basic questions I am trying to get help with. I have been to most of the national parks, but I usually stay in tents and have no experience with travel trailers. Any help is appreciated

1. Can you put a padlock on the rockwood/flagstaff trailer hitch? - I would like to be able to unhook the trailer, at least in decent safe locations like a state or national park, and head off if needed for some reason. I know when boondocking anything can happen, but I am hoping I could lock the hitch tongue closed in public places like a park with a padlock or something where the cotter pin or whatever normally goes to lock it closed, to make it tougher for someone else to pull up and attach my trailer to their vehicle and steal it in about 2 minutes. Do you guys get RV insurance for small A-frames or anything like that?

2. Do you guys feel pretty comfortable in most state and national parks leaving out a solar suitcase while you go hike, bike, etc.? I think ideally it is nice mounting the solar panels so you never have to mess with them, but I am thinking that I would always prefer shade for the trailer when possible and easier to angle suitcases toward the sun, but not sure how common it is to leave that stuff out and charging while in the parks and you are gone for the day

3. A dealer I spoke with last weekend was telling me basically to never haul water. He made it sound like it might be bad on the tanks. I know it weighs a good amount, etc. but how easy is it to typically grab water at most parks? What about when you guys are heading out boondocking on BLM, etc. do some of you guys carry the water a few hundred miles in the tanks just because it is a lot easier in those situations?. I jog and bike excessively and need daily showers and I am sure I will learn to conserve water usage in shower, but was not sure if any of you guys ever carry a 50' pocket hose with a pump on it, or anything like that, for when you are near a stream/river

4. I am going to be spending about 2 weeks at most National Parks and probably trying to pull into a hotel in between to clean up. I am going to try to make it on 200 or 400w of solar and thinking 2 lithium batteries for the 2 weeks(I do not need much power), but I am sure I will need a generator from time to time for AC or charging on wet day. I am thinking I just throw a 2200 watt generator in along with a micro starter so it can power AC once it is tuned, and maybe a few 5 gallon gas tanks that are only filled 80% so gas is hopefully not going everywhere in my SUV? Not sure if putting a lot of gas inside a tow vehicle that is out in the sun, etc. is an issue for you guys that have SUVs?

5. I read one person say they think putting the reflectix on inside of windows to keep heat out might be bad for the windows? It makes sense about lots of heat hitting windows from both sides. I am thinking if I do not hear any bad experiences, or better suggestions, I will take my chances and try it, but let me know if anyone has any good or bad experience with doing this a lot.


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Old 07-31-2020, 01:09 AM   #2
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Location: TEXAS
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Since some of your questions are generic....
#1. They make coupler locks to discourage someone from stealing your trailer. Similar to this:
#2. Similar to people who have chains and locks on their portable satellite dishes, you'll probably want to do that for your solar panels.
#3. You might want to reinforce under that fresh water tank. Water is heavy and sometimes there isn't enough support to haul a full tank. I'm told that many truck stops have water fills available. In the parks, even if the site is electric only, they usually have a place to fill your tank in the park.
#4. Hauling a generator with gas in an enclosed vehicle is not advised and in some states it's illegal.
#5. When we had a travel trailer, we never blocked the windows other than pulling down the shades. If you're in state or national parks, they usually have trees. If you're camping at higher altitudes, you might find it chilly rather than hot.
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Old 07-31-2020, 01:40 AM   #3
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Join Date: Jul 2020
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Thanks reverse_snowbird. That coupler lock looks perfect, and did not know about hauling generators with gas. I go to Moab more than anywhere else and depending on the time of year, you often would want to startup AC when you come back to your trailer in the afternoon. If anyone has a SUV and a better solution for hauling gas let me know.
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Old 07-31-2020, 04:17 PM   #4
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Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 2,664
Owned 2 A-frames (sequentially) for the past 6 years. Based on my experiences, my answers would be:

Never worried about locking the coupler. When I bought the T21TBHW (A213HW), dealer supplied a padlock to ensure the coupler never accidently released while towing. With the WDH (we use an Equalizer E2 600/6000) bars engaged there's really no danger of the coupler popping off the ball, but we were given the padlock anyway. So I use it to lock the coupler in the latched position. I have never had anything stolen out of a campsite while we were gone for the day.

A very worthwhile mod on an A-frame is to change the locks on the storage compartments to combination thumb latch/locks. See

Another very cheap, useful addition is a battery powered wireless thermometer ($10 at Walmart). We use it to track our internal fridge temp, since the A-frame fridges are poorly regulated (high walls) or manually regulated (standard height A-frames).

My batteries (2 Costco/Interstate GC-2 6V) are in a metal locked case, again because that's what the dealer supplied. On the 1st A-frame, we had a double battery plastic case. The single strap allowed the cover to get blown away on the highway (twice). I made a new lightweight wood cover and tied it with eyebolts and 2 bungy cords under the support bars. Don't do solar because I didn't want to mess with portable panels in western mountain winds. Or hard mount panels on the dormer and upset the lift system. And we like to set up in the shade. We don't do generators, either - too much hassle with the storage, weight, and carrying gas. At the end of 4-5 days in one place, we generally move on. Or get a site with electric and nearby water and food if we are staying significantly longer.

We always carry a full tank of water on our A-frame. Too many places without easily accessible water in Colorado, especially in the off-season. Tank is 15 or 20 gallons, so weight is not as impacting as on bigger TT. I do check the water tank security occasionally, but have not had to add supports. I believe that the A-frames tow better with a full tank, located just behind the rear axle. The weight loads the torsion suspension and tires a little more - the smaller A-frames that have substantial cargo and tire capacity reserves really benefit from a slightly softer ride.

Our trip to Moab and Utah was in late October; I would not go there in the summer heat.

hope this helps
Fred W
2019 Flagstaff T21TBHW A-frame
2008 Hyundai Entourage minivan
camping Colorado and adjacent states one weekend at a time
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Old 08-01-2020, 06:44 AM   #5
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Join Date: Apr 2017
Location: Louisiana
Posts: 154
1. When we want to secure our trailer for long periods away, we use a hitch lock and also a tire chock lock(we keep it in one of the bins). Link
5. We have had reflectix on the inside of our bubble windows for the last 3 years with no issues.
2018 A213HW
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Old 08-01-2020, 09:38 AM   #6
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A trailer can be easily and quickly stolen by wrapping chains around the trailer coupler and the hitch on the offending vehicle. Have seen videos of this online. A better idea is to lock the wheels with a chock or heavy chains.

I have used Reflectix on my bubble windows for years with no apparent damage thus far. Mostly stored in the sun and use UV spray on protector.

I carry only a small amount of water in fresh water tank when traveling for quick wash of hands or similar task. Then fill tank when get to campsite.

Anything left outside of camper can get legs and disappear. I would find a way to secure it, which will only stop a casual thief, not a determined one.
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Old 08-01-2020, 11:18 AM   #7
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Join Date: Jul 2020
Posts: 18
I had no idea about the coupler locks and appreciate the info. Since I am often gone for the entire day, I like the extra security and will probably do both. I also think there are a lot of situations where I would want to travel with water as well. Just depends on where I am going, etc. and I appreciate all the input there.
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Old 08-01-2020, 12:40 PM   #8
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In regards to the water, some of those A Frames don’t have much cargo carrying capacity so a couple hundred pounds of water might put you over once you put all your gear in, propane, a couple of batteries, solar panel etc.
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Old 08-01-2020, 01:24 PM   #9
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We just did a similar trip w/ 30 days in national parks of a 54 day trip. Consider-Most national parks have 3 2 hour windows to run the generator to recharge batteries or use microwave. Usually 8-10, noon-2 and 6-8 PM. You may not always be there.wThe heater fan is a big power user. We used a Buddy Heater to heat trailer before covering up for the night and warming in the morning. We used 2-12 V group 31 batteries and a 100 watt solar suitcase.
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Old 08-01-2020, 07:40 PM   #10
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I use an adjustable tire step on my spare (only works if you have a spare on the back). Works great for keeping diesel out of my Jeep Liberty. I tried keeping it in the back seat, and it made a smelly mess and I haven't gotten rid of the smell yet. It has rough grips, so you'll need something to pad the gas can.

That said, we don't carry a generator any more. We camped at Ken's Lake (near Moab) in June, and jumped in the lake when we got hot. If you have two batteries, a 100 watt panel will keep you in power indefinitely.
2009 Roo 21ss + 2007 Superduty 6.0
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Old 08-05-2020, 06:56 PM   #11
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Location: Hancock (U.P.), MI
Posts: 393
Nice job planning ahead!

1. Yes. Measure carefully, because many of even the long-shank ones will not fit, at least on my model (you end up hitting the bend of the shank before it will latch shut). I currently use the following, but I also have a dedicated coupler lock on hand for if/when this one fails:

2. I have a 100-watt panel with a stand made of PVC pipe, and I do have a chain to lock it to the trailer, if I feel it is needed in a particular location.

3. I almost always travel with a full FW tank - have done it up to 400 miles, but usually 100 miles or less. Many, probably most, of my destinations have no water available on site or nearby. I have not reinforced the tank; no problems in 4 1/2 seasons.

I don't have a generator nor do I use Reflectix.

Good luck!
2016 Flagstaff T12RBST A-Frame | 2017 Ford Escape SE AWD 2.0 Eco

Nights camped in 2016: 37; 2017: 54; 2018: 47; 2019: 63; 2020: 53; 2021: 19 (as of 6/7)
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