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Old 08-04-2019, 04:53 PM   #1
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towing question for my popup

I am new to PUP towing, but have experience towing boats and landscape trailers. For the time being I'll be towing my Premier 2514 with a 2015 Toyota Sienna. When loading my equipment should I be keeping the load weight concentrated in my minivan or in the camper? The camper has a pull-out storage compartment in the front, how much of a load will this take without affecting the tongue weight?
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Old 08-04-2019, 04:56 PM   #2
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I have no answer for you but I am definitely interested in what others say!

I am also interested in how you like your Sienna for towing (we have the same PUP) as your van is my next car purchase potentially!

Thanks!
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Old 08-04-2019, 05:48 PM   #3
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Anything you put in that front storage box will have an impact on your tongue weight. Its going to be a percentage but mathematically speaking it has to do with distance to trailer axle and distance to tongue. Given those boxes are in the front, about 3 feet from the tongue and about 6 to 8 feet to the trailer axle or more then more than 1/2 will go on the tongue.

I don't have that box but without my full propane tank and battery on the front of my trailer I loose about 100lbs off my tongue weight.
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Old 08-04-2019, 06:02 PM   #4
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The same as with a full size TT your main concern should be not to overload the cargo carrying capacity of the tv. It's usually the first numbers you will exceed. There should be an axle weight rating sticker along with a tire and loading sticker, also known as cargo capacity, on the drivers door pillar. See examples below.
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Old 08-04-2019, 06:45 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ADKdave View Post
I am new to PUP towing, but have experience towing boats and landscape trailers. For the time being I'll be towing my Premier 2514 with a 2015 Toyota Sienna. When loading my equipment should I be keeping the load weight concentrated in my minivan or in the camper? The camper has a pull-out storage compartment in the front, how much of a load will this take without affecting the tongue weight?
Depends mainly on your Sienna tow capacity and its cargo limit. My 2020 Premier 2514g has an unloaded vehicle weight of 2698 lbs. it has a 599 lb cargo carrying capacity for a gross vehicle weight of 3297 lbs. It has a tongue weight of 297 lbs. the pullout storage bin says 150 lbs max. My tow vehicle is a 2015 Dodge Caravan SXT which has a 3600 lb tow limit, a 1540 lb payload capacity, and a 400 lb tongue limit. I don't have 599 lbs of cargo in my popup, maybe 250-300 lbs. Two adults and a dog travel in the Van and we have probably 500 lbs of cargo in the van. I do try and distribut the weight evenly in the van to make sure I'm not adding too much to the tongue weight.
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Old 08-04-2019, 07:08 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by HappyCamperCanada View Post
Depends mainly on your Sienna tow capacity and its cargo limit. My 2020 Premier 2514g has an unloaded vehicle weight of 2698 lbs. it has a 599 lb cargo carrying capacity for a gross vehicle weight of 3297 lbs. It has a tongue weight of 297 lbs. the pullout storage bin says 150 lbs max. My tow vehicle is a 2015 Dodge Caravan SXT which has a 3600 lb tow limit, a 1540 lb payload capacity, and a 400 lb tongue limit. I don't have 599 lbs of cargo in my popup, maybe 250-300 lbs. Two adults and a dog travel in the Van and we have probably 500 lbs of cargo in the van. I do try and distribut the weight evenly in the van to make sure I'm not adding too much to the tongue weight.

FYI, that "dry" tongue weight on the trailer sticker does NOT include the battery or propane tank... Thats upwards of another 100 lbs....
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Old 08-04-2019, 07:12 PM   #7
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FYI, that "dry" tongue weight on the trailer sticker does NOT include the battery or propane tank... Thats upwards of another 100 lbs....
About 10 years ago, dry tongue weight numbers started including the weights of full propane tanks.
The old sticker weights did not, just empty tanks.
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Old 08-04-2019, 07:14 PM   #8
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Yes. True. I was told that the LP tank and battery were included in the tongue weight.
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Old 08-04-2019, 07:15 PM   #9
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About 10 years ago, dry tongue weight numbers started including the weights of full propane tanks.
The old sticker weights did not, just empty tanks.
I took mine and had it weighed at certified scales, tongue and back axle on different scales. The tongue was 440 with full propane and battery on the tongue mounts when the sticker says 320 on a 2016 Flagstaff.

Without them its 330 but given There is ~80 lbs of A/C equipment that wasn't there from the factory I can attribute that 10 lbs to the AC.....
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Old 08-04-2019, 08:56 PM   #10
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Yes. True. I was told that the LP tank and battery were included in the tongue weight.
Whoever told you that is half wrong.
Battery weight is never part of the "dry" tongue weight number. That's because batteries are DEALER-installed items. They install different brands, types and sizes which have different weights.
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Old 08-04-2019, 09:04 PM   #11
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Old 08-06-2019, 04:33 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Scrapper View Post
The same as with a full size TT your main concern should be not to overload the cargo carrying capacity of the tv. It's usually the first numbers you will exceed. There should be an axle weight rating sticker along with a tire and loading sticker, also known as cargo capacity, on the drivers door pillar. See examples below.
If you want a definitive answer take the camper, ready and loaded just as you would go camping (yes, kids, dogs, ice chests, beer etc. all in the van) and go to a CAT Scale. That will tell you Precisely what your weights are.

You will need to go over the scale twice, once fully loaded with camper attached, then move off, park trailer go back onto the scale and weigh just the van.

The differences will tell you exactly what your weights are.
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Old 08-06-2019, 09:32 AM   #13
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Your question reveals that you are aware of weight and balance issues that affect towing. Some thoughts:

~ The front "trunk" on your PUP is an invitation to overload. You know better. That's good.
~ Weight in the tow vehicle (TV) is "better" than weight in the PUP, so long as you don't overload the TV.
~ Since your Toyota is likely front wheel drive (FWD) rather than AWD, loading heavy items forward in the TV is desirable as long as you avoid overloading the front axle and don't jeopardize passenger safety by surrounding them with dangerous items that could crush them in a crash.
~ If you are flirting with maximum weights, you might invest in a weight distributing hitch (WDH). Nothing fancy is needed for this application. With a WDH you can effectively virtually move tongue weight forward on the TV and rearward on the PUP. They're not magic, but they help.
~ With a FWD TV, climbing steep hills on gravel roads can be very difficult...especially if the road has become washboarded. Weight forward in the TV and a WDH can make the almost impossible possible. I frequently camp about 11 miles into such a road, and there are spots where FWD vans like Sprinters, etc. struggle to make the climb even without a trailer, because when climbing, weight transfers from the front axle to the rear. In steep, poor-traction conditions, these precautions can make the difference in whether or not you get there.
~ If you don't go with a WDH, air bags on the TV rear axle can help with handling, wallowing, sag, and so on. I have a RAM 1500 and a 4000 pound PUP, and they made a world of difference on my truck.

Others mentioned the scale. I'll echo that recommendation.
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Old 08-06-2019, 10:25 AM   #14
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No way to sugar coat this.

I see this all too often -- an unsatisfactory tow vehicle. And, unfortunately, after folks have purchased these non-capable tow vehicles and trailers they shouldn't tow.

Your minivan max towing capacity: 3500 pounds (assuming the HD Tow option)
Your popup camper: 3294 pounds (2698# empty weight + 599# cargo weight -- you can't keep it below that)

Allowed weight in minivan: 3500-3294 = 286 pounds (in addition to a 150 pound driver). This means a very sparing amount of "stuff" in the camper. Full 26 gallons of water will use 216 pounds of your allowed 599 pounds in the trailer.

I initally did this math 15 years ago when my dealer refused to sell me a popup trailer I couldn't tow (!) so we bought a tow vehicle capable of over 5500 pounds max towing capacity. Which is what you need. To be sure there are lots of minivans towing popups but I routinely see them broken-down along side the road on the first day of holiday weekends. Not the best way to start a weekend...

I want at least 1000 pounds more max towing capacity than the trailer weighs and prefer a 2000 pound cushion (One-Ton Rule).

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Old 08-06-2019, 02:13 PM   #15
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I'm sorry Chuck, your assumptions are wrong.
  • OP is within towing weight capacity as long as camper weight is kept below the 3500lbs. The cargo capacity of the PUP limits how much gear can be put in the PUP.
  • The Sienna payload (door sticker on the minivan) will be close. Typical Sienna payloads I have seen are in the range of 1300lbs. Payload includes passenger, dogs, equipment put in van, AND actual tongue weight of trailer. Driver may or may not count against the payload, depending on how Toyota figures it. Door sticker should say. Tongue weight takes a bite of how much you can carry in the minivan.
  • there is probably a tongue weight limitation on the minivan, too. This will be close also - Forest River likes high tongue weights on their PUPs and A-frames. A WDH like the E-2 600/6000 can help here, and provide anti-sway. Highly recommended from towing A-frames with my Hyundai minivan.
  • Finally, there is a frontal area limitation for towing with most minivans. Having a PUP or A-frame or other folding trailer gets you below the limit.
The OP will want to first load cargo in the PUP - up to the cargo capacity, no more. Placement of the cargo is key to not increasing tongue weight, to keep from blowing through that restriction. In my A-frame, I have to load the heavier items in the back storage compartments and on the rear floor to keep tongue weight reasonable (especially with dual batteries). And I work with DW to keep front storage trunk under the rated 150lbs.

Tongue weight is going to limit how much "stuff" you put in the minivan, because you need to stay below the Sienna door sticker.

Towing is going to much improved with a WDH and anti-sway. With the WDH set up, we tow comfortably - with no sway at all - all the way up to 75MPH (speed rating of the A-frame tires). On the interstate, I normally tow at about 72.

My recommendation is to camp "light". Don't take a bunch of stuff you don't use. Weed out stuff you don't use after a couple of trips. And enjoy. A minivan makes a great touring vehicle from your "base camp."

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Old 08-06-2019, 02:38 PM   #16
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It's simple math. Expect a full 3,300 lbs for the trailer. Expect 13% of that amount to be on the tongue = 450 lbs.

I'll assume that the minivan exists for a reason -- that is, there is a family involved and not just a single person camping on his/her own. So, figure a family of 4, fully clothed, tips in around 550 lbs.

So, we're up to 1,000 lbs of payload on the van. I bet there is easily 100 lbs of gear, bags, computers, pets, and other stuff. If you're bringing bikes/scooters, those are heavy and need to be added.

So, I think 1,100 lbs is the bare minimum you could expect to be "on" the TV. Adjust for more/less kids, gear, and other considerations. You need at least that much payload. Done and done.
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Old 08-06-2019, 03:05 PM   #17
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Wrong? Me? Not in this case.

(No need to be concerned with tongue weight, etc., as this minivan is incapable of satisfactorily towing this trailer very far based just on trailer weight and towing capacity. No need to complicate it more.)

Maximum towing capacity is determined with the tow vehicle empty. That's how it's done. Consequently every fossilized MacDonald's french fry under the seats reduces that capacity. Not to mention minor items like wife and kids and the spare Golden Retriever.

Keeping a camper below the maximum allowable weight -- GVWR -- is, frankly nearly impossible. That is, without weighing everything that goes in or on the camper which maybe three (3) folks have ever done. Weighing the camper is an eye opener -- sometimes a frightening revelation. 600 pounds of trailer cargo gets eaten up fast.

The minivan-camper combination in this thread is "fine" if the OP can keep the trailer weight loaded below 3294 pounds AND restricts the cargo in the minivan to whatever is left from the 3500 pound maximum towing capacity. Knowing the difficulty of keeping the trailer below max weight that leaves only a couple hundred pounds in the tow vehicle.

Minivans make horrible tow vehicles for other than the lightest campers. This is a prime example.

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Old 08-06-2019, 03:35 PM   #18
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Cool Plenty to consider

Thanks for all your input to my question. I have plenty to consider in loading for a trip. We will probably use the minivan for now and then opt for a vehicle with more towing weight in the future. My wife and I will be the only passengers, so that will help with some weight. The camper is about 2700 lbs. and the towing weight on van is 3500 lbs. I hope by keeping some heavier items like my EZ Up shelter and camp chairs laying on the floor and passenger seats and forward of the tongue will help. Within the camper maybe sleeping bags, pillows and kitchen items. As for the pull out storage container I am thinking dry food items or maybe our clothes I want to keep this light as I may add a 2nd battery some day. The rest would be in the cargo area in the back of the van. We don't have a generator and most of the places we camp have water stations to fill up our tanks. Please feel free to comment on any of this, I am open to any ideas or suggestions. Thanks again all of this has been very helpful.
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Old 08-06-2019, 03:48 PM   #19
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Maximum towing capacity is determined with the tow vehicle empty. That's how it's done. Consequently every fossilized MacDonald's french fry under the seats reduces that capacity. Not to mention minor items like wife and kids and the spare Golden Retriever.
Don't know where you got this from. Maximum towing capacity is a number that has nothing to do with the weight inside the tow vehicle. Tow vehicle payload IS affected by weight in the tow vehicle. Two different numbers that do not affect each other.

Quote:
Keeping a camper below the maximum allowable weight -- GVWR -- is, frankly nearly impossible. That is, without weighing everything that goes in or on the camper which maybe three (3) folks have ever done. Weighing the camper is an eye opener -- sometimes a frightening revelation. 600 pounds of trailer cargo gets eaten up fast.
It's not impossible, especially where space to put "stuff" is limited, as in a fold-down camper. I typically add 340lbs of "stuff" to my A-frames according to the scales.

Quote:
The minivan-camper combination in this thread is "fine" if the OP can keep the trailer weight loaded below 3294 pounds AND restricts the cargo in the minivan to whatever is left from the 3500 pound maximum towing capacity. Knowing the difficulty of keeping the trailer below max weight that leaves only a couple hundred pounds in the tow vehicle.

Minivans make horrible tow vehicles for other than the lightest campers. This is a prime example.
Again, the towing capacity is not related to the cargo capacity (on the door sticker) of the tow vehicle. The towed weight is subtracted from the Combined Gross Weight Maximum (a number seldom published for minivans). But that's not the same as the cargo capacity (door sticker) of the minivan. The tongue weight does get subtracted from cargo capacity, but since the OP only has 2 people in the minivan, he is probably quite safe on the cargo capacity.

Minivans were designed to tow pop-ups, and most pop-ups have been kept within minivan tow capacities.

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Old 08-06-2019, 04:08 PM   #20
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I will say you should stick to the 80% rule. You should tow no more than 80% of the vehicle's tow rating. This accounts for vehicle accessories (tow rating based on a base vehicle with no options), hills, mountains, hot weather(AC used), and comfort of towing.

With a camper at 3300 lbs, you'd need a vehicle cable of towing 4,125 lbs. I personally wouldn't tow a large pop up trailer weighing 3300 lbs with anything other than a vehicle with a tow rating of 5000 lbs and preferable an actual frame, not a car unibody.

A Ford Explorer would be perfect for that trailer with a 5000 lbs tow rating and enough payload to carry your stuff. However it doesn't have a real frame but a unibody. I guess that's Okay as long as it's beefed up with extra crossmembers to alleviate twist in the frame especially from the forces that weight distribution hitchs produce.
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