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Old 09-21-2014, 10:08 PM   #1
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Advice on Ultralight Travel Trailers

Hi there,

I'm new to the forum and we're about going nuts trying to buy a lightweight travel trailer. Our Honda Odyssey can't pull more than 3500 and we need a TT that sleeps and eats all 5 of us at the table. Our barebones needs are:

1. Our minivan must be able to pull it. Does anyone know anything about buying a better hitch than what the salespeople put on your car to go with the TT?

2. We need to all sit down to dinner on a freezing night.

3. Must sleep all 5 of us, bunks, sliders, whatever.

4. No tents or popups, as we'll be traveling all over and in the cold. Travelling all the time all over.

5. A separate tub would be amazing, but this is the one piece we'd let go…

6. 18 feet seems like all we can pull, right?

Perhaps this is too much to ask for in a small, lightweight trailer, which is why we don't care all that much about bells and whistles. But we're really nervous about quality. Which companies make something durable and which ones are the junk? We've looked at Rockwoods, Tracers, Clippers, Shastas, Jaycos, and something called the Palamini. Every sales guy has a different story. Some say one is great, the other says it stinks. We are losing our minds!

We nearly closed on a discontinued model, a Jayco FDB 2015, for 16k and change. Our salesman swears that Jayco is one of the better ones. Is it?

Advise me oh RV gurus! I am so grateful to have found this forum.

All best, and thanks so much for your time.
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Old 09-21-2014, 10:42 PM   #2
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Your mini van can only handle that 3500 pounds when when loaded with one 150 pound driver. Realistically the maximum you can tow with a family of 5 is probably closer to 1500 pounds. Now might be a good time to upgrade to a full sized van
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Old 09-21-2014, 10:44 PM   #3
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I very seriously doubt you will find what you want. For openers I do not recall ever seeing a dining setup for more than 4 people. (Sleeps 6 or 8 dines 4 always looks like a bad joke to me.) Your tow limit is too low and you have to include all 5 of you and stuff in the total weight of the package. Then there is the issue that the drive axle is at the wrong end of the vehicle for good towing. It will be white knuckles on anything but flat ground with no wind.

Salesmen get paid to sell things. Ask around outside that arena and you will not like what you get told about trying to pull a camper like you want with an Odyssey. Ditto getting a camper that will do what you want in the cold that can be pulled by anything under a half to 3/4 ton truck. As far as that goes if you are traveling below freezing you would be better off with a class C or A and towing the Odyssey if it is towable. That way you can keep the house warmish all the time.
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Old 09-21-2014, 11:05 PM   #4
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re Travel Trailers in 3500 lb range

Thanks very much for this grim dose of reality. I might add that our 3 children are all very young, so a dinette for 4 would be fine for quite a while.

How could that Jayco salesman really sell us the FDB with such assurance that our minivan and whole family wouldn't ruin it? I get that they can be sleazy but it seems insane for anyone to think that a minivan wouldn't be filled with anything but a family of 4+.

I guess we could go with an Rpod or some other thing that sleeps 4 and we could all pile in. It just seems like for our purposes, lots of travel, it would be uncomfortable.

I've spoken to so many salesfolks that have offered innumerable lightweight trailer options for our Oddysey to pull. It's hard to switch gears and imagine that they're all liars and there in fact is no option for a family of 5…

Again, I thank you…
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Old 09-21-2014, 11:16 PM   #5
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one other thing, I forgot to mention

Given this discussion about weight, I forgot that I wanted to add that I saw a funny thing this afternoon. Two men were at a gas station with their huge Air Streams, each weighing in at over six-thousand pounds. I know this because I drove over there and asked them.

They were pulling those airstreams in crossover SUVs. One of them was a Lexus RX, a regular-looking car. I asked him about it, and he said it was all about the hitch.

Maybe I ought to buy a hitch elsewhere? Do you all think it's all about the hitch?

Thanks again...
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Old 09-22-2014, 07:45 AM   #6
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A good weight distribution hitch can flatten out the tow so the back bumper is not on the ground from the hitch weight. It can help prevent dangerous sway from developing. It cannot make up for strength and stiffness in the chassis and sufficient strength in rear axle to carry the load. It cannot make up for insufficient brakes and horsepower in the tow vehicle. It cannot make up for the loss of traction in the drive train with a front wheel drive towing a heavy (relative to the vehicle) trailer.

The Honda Odyssey is designed as a soccer mom people mover and can tow a small trailer with a boat or for a trip to the garden supply store. They do not even tow a popup that well. The frontal area on a travel trailer is a significant wind load at speed. In a side wind the trailer can roll the van.

That does not mean people do not do it. We seem to have an endless supply of stupid people who wonder why the dumb thing they did bit them. The guy in the Lexus is in that camp.
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Old 09-22-2014, 08:16 AM   #7
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You say you intend to travel in cold weather. All of the ultra low weight trailers that I have seen need to be winterized in order to prevent damage to the unit. That entails draining all of the water out and adding RV antifreeze. Then, when warm weather returns, you need to dewinterize so you can go back to using the water system again.

Livin Lite makes a Camplite 13QBB, that has 3 bunk beds if you order the optional bunk over the dinette. The dinette, which converts to a queen - size bed for sleeping, can seat 2 adults and 3 small children. The camper is 13 feet long, with maximum weight 3,000 lbs.

Loading this unit to the max means you will have to limit what you put into it to 750 lbs. With total weight of the camper at 3,000 lbs, you should have a minimum tongue weight of 12% of that, putting it at 360 lbs. The payload of the Odyssey is 1,350 lbs. 1,350 - 360 = 990 lbs of passengers, pets and other stuff that you can put into the Odyssey.
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Old 09-23-2014, 09:02 AM   #8
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The Odessy manual says you need a transmission cooler to pull 3500 lbs. That's why we are using our Ridgeline- all set up for towing and it will haul 5000 lbs. We got a Coachmen Clipper 17FQ. Way under max and it tows fine. We had an honest salesman who steered us away from a bigger unit that was too close to max. Others were not so honest. Don't know if you can find just what you want in this line but we're happy with ours so far. I know tanks are exposed on bottom so I wouldn't use in freezing weather. We down-sized from motor home.
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Old 09-23-2014, 10:00 AM   #9
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You need to find a TT that is 2500lbs dry. That way you will be 3500lbs when loaded. You tongue weight cannot exceed 350lbs. The hitch won't make any difference. Honda has set the limits already. Hidden Hitch, DrawTite and Curt all make hitches for the Odyssey. They are all 350/3500lbs.

TrailManor Website | The Smarter Way To RV makes several models that would work great for your Odyssey.
Jayco makes a light weight hybridhttp://www.jayco.com/products/travel...y-feather-slx/
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Old 09-24-2014, 12:49 AM   #10
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Thank you, everyone, and here's a little follow-up

We went to see a salesman in Albany yesterday at RV1, and he said a few things.

1. He loves Jayco above all other brands. "If there was a Palomini here in front of me," he said. "I would destroy it."

2. He would not want our Odyssey pulling more than 2800 dry, so he was suggesting the 184BH. Given everything you guys have said on the forum, I'm thinking we should go with the 145RB. Or is that even too much?

3. At Camping World, the salesman offered us the Jayco 18FDB (which he says is better because it has fiberglass rather than metal & wood) for around $16,000. The RV1 salesman said I was being "raped."

4. We told the salesman about those two guys at the gas station pulling 25 foot airstreams with regular cars and the salesman said they were idiots.

But I keep thinking about those Airstream guys. I'm sorry to belabor a point, but the Lexus-led Airstream guys told me to call a fellow named Andy from a Canadian company who specializes in setting up hitches. Can-Am RV Centre | #1 Airstream Dealer in Customer Satisfaction Worldwide | Your Full-Service RV Dealer is the website. We called them and the guy there said he's outfitted Odysseys to tow airstreams and other heavy trailers. Safely and reliably, he said. He said his methods have been tested and verified by RV Living and other magazines. That he himself tows his Airstream with a Passat. He designs his own hitches. He provides modifications to the car.

So this is sticking with me. I can't get it out of my head. I am seriously considering taking a trip to Canada to see these people.

My questions, given all this, if anyone cares to deal with me at this point...

1. What would you pay for a new 14 foot trailer? (maybe that's the way for us to go anyway…) Do you think I'm being "raped" over the 18FDB?

2. Here's a link to a post and a follow-up post by this guy Andy, from Canada. What do you guys think of this?

Has anyone towed with a Honda Odyssey? - Page 2 - Airstream Forums


The Jaycos:

2014 Jayco Jay Flight Swift SLX 145RB Travel Trailer Lacombe, LA Steves RV | Lacombe | Louisiana RV Dealer

2014 Jay Flight Swift SLX 184BH | Jayco, Inc.
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Old 09-24-2014, 11:06 AM   #11
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Both of those TT's have tiny holding tanks. You will always have to be hooked up to water and sewer. It would be virtually impossible for more than 2 people to shower with only a 15 gal grey tank. you still have to wash hands, clean dishes, etc and all that goes in the grey tank. I'm not sure what type of camping you're planning on doing but with 5 people and the 3 cuft fridge, you'll need to take a large cooler. Those TT's are really made for a weekend trip at the most. With the limited storage space and small fridge you'll be packing a lot of stuff in the Odyssey, which will be maxed out with the TT weight. Just doesn't look like a good idea if you are planning on traveling a lot. IMO you're trying to do too much with that Odyssey.
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Old 09-24-2014, 11:42 AM   #12
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Amybronwen, that Lexus CAN pull that Airstream because it's got a 400 horsepower motor and stronger chassis, but not for sure if it has a full framework like a truck. So there's your problem with the Odyssey. It's max horsepower is what 250 and built on a car/frontwheel drive system with NO full framework to help with the load system.

You need to compare apples to apples.

No matter what hitch system you find for the Odyssey, your vehicle just won't have the "guts" to pull the kind of TT you want, without damage to TV. May as well come to facts you need to either get a good used 1/2HD ton or 3/4T truck which have a "full framework" for many years of tow without difficulties for your growing family. Good luck on your decision.
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Old 09-24-2014, 03:48 PM   #13
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You'd be better off getting a small cargo trailer and then renting Yurts where you camp.

Or a tent trailer or lite weight one like thishttp://www.scottytrailers.com/sportsman.php
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Old 09-24-2014, 08:02 PM   #14
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Cumminsfan. Perfect trailer for a young family that does not want/cant upgrade the TV.
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