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Old 01-04-2018, 09:13 AM   #1
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First Time Buying - Looking for Advice

My husband and I are looking to buy our first trailer! As exciting as this is, I feel like we're in over our heads with how much there is to learn... Hoping the wonderful folks of this site can help!

We are looking for a lightweight trailer with no slideouts, under ~20'. Our tow vehicle is a 2009 4WD Honda Pilot (towing capacity 4500 lb), so we would like to keep GVWR under ~3600 lb. It is just us and a small dog, so something that sleeps only 2 is just fine. Budget is $15000 (somewhat flexible).

We've been looking around and have found a few trailers that we think would work for us that meet our criteria:

Jayco Hummingbird 16FD (UVW: 2535, GVWR: 3500, NCC: 965, hitch weight: 270, length: 18.8', height: 9.2', width: 8.1')

Venture Sonic Lite SL149VML (UVW: 2745, GVWR: 3500, NCC: 755, hitch weight: 290, length: 19.2', height: 9.4', width: 7.5')

Does anyone have any experience with either of the above - good or bad?
Can our Honda Pilot handle these trailers?
Are there any other, similar trailers that we should take a look at?
Any other advice for some newbies?

Thanks!
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Old 01-04-2018, 07:32 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ampersandi View Post
My husband and I are looking to buy our first trailer! As exciting as this is, I feel like we're in over our heads with how much there is to learn... Hoping the wonderful folks of this site can help!

We are looking for a lightweight trailer with no slideouts, under ~20'. Our tow vehicle is a 2009 4WD Honda Pilot (towing capacity 4500 lb), so we would like to keep GVWR under ~3600 lb. It is just us and a small dog, so something that sleeps only 2 is just fine. Budget is $15000 (somewhat flexible).

We've been looking around and have found a few trailers that we think would work for us that meet our criteria:

Jayco Hummingbird 16FD (UVW: 2535, GVWR: 3500, NCC: 965, hitch weight: 270, length: 18.8', height: 9.2', width: 8.1')

Venture Sonic Lite SL149VML (UVW: 2745, GVWR: 3500, NCC: 755, hitch weight: 290, length: 19.2', height: 9.4', width: 7.5')

Does anyone have any experience with either of the above - good or bad?
Can our Honda Pilot handle these trailers?
Are there any other, similar trailers that we should take a look at?
Any other advice for some newbies?

Thanks!
the dealer I work for has sold a quite a few of the hummingbirds. For their size they are some of my favorites.
I particularly like the std ac unit (window unit in a box) instead of the roof top model. This makes it much simpler to replace if the AC unit fails.
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Old 01-04-2018, 11:47 PM   #3
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First Time Buying - Looking for Advice

I wouldnt limit yourself to just 3,600 GVW. Many lightweight mfrs have 3,800 lb GVW units. Presumably this gets you a 300 hitch load plus a heavier duty 3,500 lb axle. Here are some other brands to also consider in no particular order:
Winnebago Minnie Drop and some Micro Minnies
Lance 1475 or 1575 (well built but pricier)
Jayco Jay Feather or Jay Feather 7 expandables
Dutchman Aerolite Expandable 174E or
Dutchman Kodiak Expandable 172E (60x80 bed tent ends)
Coachman Apex Nano
KZ Sportsmen Classic Ultra Lightweights
KZ Escape Ultra Lightweights
Gulfstream Streamlite Ultralite 90
Gulfstream Vista Cruiser
Forest River Wildwood X-Lites, or
Forest River Salem Cruiselites
Innsbruck Super Lites

All of these, except for Lance and some Winnies, are entry level just like Jayco and Venture. They are meant for occasional recreational camping each year and not long term use. This is probably the same route I will be taking in a few years so very interested in what you end up with and why. We currently have a ‘06 Ford Explorer with 5,400 lb towing capacity but only 1,280 lb payload capacity. Will be looking into the new GMC Acadia which has a 4,500 lb towing capacity and also a beefy 1,750 lb payload capacity, which appears much better for towing a trailer.

Happy shopping!!!
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Old 01-05-2018, 08:09 AM   #4
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I wouldnt limit yourself to just 3,600 GVW. Many lightweight mfrs have 3,800 lb GVW units. Presumably this gets you a 300 hitch load plus a heavier duty 3,500 lb axle.
I'm curious where you got the 3800 lb GVW number. I won't pretend to know all that much about towing yet, but since I've started trying to read up on it I've seen a few places say not to go over 80% of your tow car's towing capacity. For my Pilot, that is 3600 lb (80% of 4500 lb). I tend to be a bit conservative by nature (especially where safety is concerned), so I'm looking for some justification before I feel comfortable going over that 80% mark.

Thanks for all the recommendations! The brands that keep coming up over and over during our search that stand apart from the crowd quality and reputation-wise are Jayco and Winnebago. My family had a Winnebago class C when I was growing up and my husband's had a Jayco Jay Flight trailer and it was a very rare day to have something go wrong with either. With this experience, I guess I'm leaning more toward the Hummingbird and maybe even looking into Mini Drops/Micro Minis. I love love love the floorplan of the Sonic Lite, but I can't seem to find much history or even too many reviews on that line or even the Venture RV brand, which concerns me a bit.
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Old 01-05-2018, 08:16 AM   #5
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Very well made small TT;

https://olivertraveltrailers.com/
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Old 01-06-2018, 08:25 AM   #6
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First Time Buying - Looking for Advice

Venture is an old name and used to be the cheaper, entry level brand of one of the major pop-up manufacturers. If memory serves, it was either Starcraft or Jayco, but now Jayco bought out Starcraft several years ago so it is moot point.

The 3,800 lb GVW is just a guess on my part as being composed of the ubiquitous 3,500 lb axle and some extra load for the tongue. One sees a lot of small trailers with a 3,800 lb GVW rating but it is not unique by a long shot. How mfrs rate their trailers is unknown to me.

I have heard of the 80% load to GVW “rule” and even 75% but those are just (unconservative) conveniences to take the place of actual load capacity calculations. It is better to dig into the capability of a tow vehicle and trailer load to understand the viability of the combination first. Then if everything is OK, one can apply some intangibles to towing such as: driving in mountains with steep grades and sharp turns, liklihood of overloading either or both vehicles with lots of “stuff”, how safe one feels controlling their vehicle in case of a tire blowout, how much of a speed-demon you are, etc. On level grade with normal speed, one can safely load their tow-camper combination “to the max”. Many on this forum do just that and even push the limits. It is up to you and your personal tolerance for risk. Me, I would back off a bit and feel more relaxed in the knowledge I am not overloaded, slow down, and enjoy the trip, for that is what getting away and camping is all about!

An important note on towing capacity. With SUVs, most times the limiting factor is NOT the trailer weight versus the mfr-claimed towing capacity. The rear end of an SUV is heavy due to all the sheet metal, glass, and interior fit-out. That reduces the capacity of the rear axle to take on more load. You must understand your vehicle weight at both front and rear axles, then compare with the GAWR of each axle as well as the vehicle’s total weight. You cannot exceed any one of those three limits. Also, understand that the trailer tongue weight will load up that rear axle and must be at least 10% of the total trailer weight for towing stability. Most happy campers say that needs to be 12% to 13% and some even feel 15% is needed for some combinations. Plus, that weight is NOT the tongue weight of the DRY camper that manufacturers put in their brochures. That number is a fiction due to actual delivered weights of trailers plus options and option packages being hundreds of pounds more. For that reason, it is best to use the GVW of the trailer and multiply by 12% to 13% to get a realistic value of the tongue weight. Add to that number about 75-100 lbs for the weight of a load-distributing hitch plus any cargo in the “way back” plus any kids and Golden Retrievers in second and third row seats plus their bikes on the roof and all that extra weight has to be carried on the rear axle.

Not long ago on this forum, someone had a Ford Expedition with its vaunted 9,200 lb “towing capacity”. Turns out all they could tow was about 5,500 to 6,000 lbs TT before reaching their limit. The limit being the rear axle.

So, I don’t want to be a killjoy but I want you to be informed and enjoy the camping experience. At the beginning of the Towing section of this Forum is a “stickies” section that has a topic on Towing Calculators. I urge you to download some of these spreadsheets and play around. I have found that my ‘06 Explorer with 5,400 lb tow capacity can realistically only handle a trailer in the 3,200 - 3,500 lb range due to all the other stuff I will be putting in the vehicle (me, DW, two Golden Retrievers, cargo, and hopefully soon one or more grandkids!

Happy Trails!
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Old 01-06-2018, 08:32 AM   #7
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Very well made small TT;

https://olivertraveltrailers.com/
Yes, but you have to be VERY flexible on that 15k budget!
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Old 01-06-2018, 08:48 AM   #8
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I'll share my experience back when I was towing a TT.

Double and triple check the tow capacity numbers. Just because the numbers are good doesn't mean it will be a pleasant trip. What size engine is in the Pilot?

First tow vehicle was a full size V8 van that worked well.

Next was a Lexus SUV 6 cyl. that was well within the numbers. It was BRUTAL. MPG down 50%. Felt the engine/tranny strain every mile.

Bought a V8 older F150 just for this purpose. Worked well.

This was with a 19 foot no slide TT.

I would not tow with anything less than a V8 unless it is one of the tiny lightweight trailers. Just my opinion.

"I wish I had less towing capacity" said no one ever.
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Old 01-07-2018, 01:25 PM   #9
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Of the two RV's you mentioned, the Sonic to me has more positives. More fresh water cap., wider trailer. More counter space, more cabinet space. See that the Jayco has the wheels on the outside of the box. I like the fold down table in the Sonic....

I would have to bet the Jayco is 6" to 12" narrower inside.

Yes, both are only single axle trailers, meaning a little more bouncy ride, less able to absorb chuck-holes.
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Old 01-07-2018, 01:31 PM   #10
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Hi ! Welcome to IRV2! We're sure glad you joined the gang!

Can't help with the questions but wanted to say hello!

Good luck, happy trails, and God bless!


Happy New Year!
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Old 01-07-2018, 02:20 PM   #11
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Very well made small TT;



https://olivertraveltrailers.com/


All the eggs, really. Olivers are the rolls Royce of the bunch.

Used Casitas and Scamps can often be found for $15k and both have fanatical followings. Used Bigfoot trailers are uncommon but not unheard of at that price point too. Escapes are really hard to find used.
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Old 01-07-2018, 02:21 PM   #12
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Freqz, x2!
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Old 01-07-2018, 02:52 PM   #13
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A couple of Forrest River Geo Pro models may work.
Also, the Forrest River R-Pods seem to be well received. I've talked to a couple of owners who loved their units.
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Old 01-17-2018, 06:22 AM   #14
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I went through the same discussions you are currently having. All of the advice has been great escpecially the post on towing.

We bought a 23’ 3200lbs camper with 2 bunks in the rear. They also make a model that is only for 2 and gives you more room in the back. We went with this model because it was one of the few that had a slide out. So glad we did. Plenty of room for us. I have found the build quality to be excellent.

We tow with a Toyota 4Runner rated at 5000lbs and while I have had zero issues towing around Texas where it’s pretty flat I would not pull out of the state with it.

http://travellitecampers.com/travel-trailers/falcon-travel-trailer-floor-plans/
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