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Old 06-10-2014, 10:55 AM   #1
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Looking at Ultra Light TT

Hi all,
My wife and I are kinda new to the forums...been lurking for a couple of weeks while researching various trailer makes and models for our first TT. But we find it's hard to get facts and specs online for many models. We're looking for a well made TT that will be reliable and comfortable for getaways with just the two of us. Price is not very relevant if it suits our needs properly. We have a few requirements:

First and foremost it must be Ultra Light weight - we'll be towing with a 2014 Kia Sorento V6 with tow package, so GVWR limit is 3500 lbs and the lighter the tongue the better.

Prefer slide outs for more room but not a hybrid, we want solid walls.

Large 6 cubic foot fridge/freezer unit that must be 2-way at least. Prefer 3-way if available but so far only small fridges seem to be 3-way? Double door would be nice too.

Double sink to make washing dishes easier, etc.

DSI gas/electric water heater to save fuel.

Must have true queen size (60"x80") bed cause I'm tall enough that a 75" double/full won't do.

Large water tanks because we'll be dry camping some of the time.

AM/FM Stereo with bluetooth or USB to play MP3's and must have both inside and outside speakers.

Dual 20lbs propane tanks for lots of runtime.

Powered electric hitch jack would be nice too.

Of course all the other usual features like awning, bathroom with toilet, sink, and shower with skylight. Microwave, overhead fan exhaust, roof A/C unit, heater, etc.

Closed in underbody? Is this needed or should it be open for easier access to pipes?


Examples of trailers we've browsed online:

GulfBreeze 19FBS
StreamLite 19FBS (these two look identical but have 355lbs weight difference?)

Travel Lite Cobblestone i18 - lots of nice features but small fridge and only single sink?

Lance 1575 with some options

Any others you guys and gals can recommend we look at?

Thanks...and waiting for the hints!
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Old 06-10-2014, 11:11 AM   #2
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Welcome- and best of luck ! can't wait to see more knowledgeable answers to this, but ???????????????? Think you need a better TV.

Jim
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Old 06-10-2014, 11:35 AM   #3
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Welcome aboard. I'll try to answer your question, although I've only been camping a little over a year. You refer to your GVWR as 3500lbs..is that your max tow capacity? I suspect it is and with that in mind, I submit the following: I towed a Coachmen Clipper 16b (hardside camper dry weight of 2400lbs) that had most of the amenities you mentioned with my 2012 Ford Escape V6 Limited. The Escape had a max tow capacity of 3500 lbs. I can tell you, towing the 2400 lb camper was not fun. Definite case of "just because you can doesn't mean you should". I figure with the wife and I and all our stuff, we were probably close to the max tow/GVWR weight of my truck. While she towed and stopped (camper has trailer brakes) adequately, what was rough was the buffeting and constant swaying while going down the highway. Most trips I was a nervous wreck by the time we got to our destination.

Once set up, we have found the camper to be too small for us. The living space is just too cramped and we can't get comfortable (the camper has a full bath, full size mattress with additional bunk beds, kitchen, radio, TV). Don't get me wrong, it is a good camper for what it is, just too small for two people.

I'd recommend you either get a larger tow vehicle OR a smaller camper. There is no way I would tow a 3000+lb camper with your Kia. Much too heavy, IMO. You need to stay within your tow limit and your GVWR, after you have loaded everything. The posted trailer weights are "dry" which means tanks are empty, nothing inside. If you insist, I'd recommend looking at the Coachmen Clipper line as they are about the lightest I have found. Good Luck.
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Old 06-10-2014, 12:03 PM   #4
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Im going to have to agree with mavagrand. Almost every option you say you want adds weight, and even at 3500 lbs it will be a miracle if you can set that up correctly so it isnt dragging your Kia all over the place. But even if you do get it set up correctly, I think you will be finding a lot of wear and tear on your Kia. Honestly, you need to upgrade to a larger vehicle
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Old 06-10-2014, 06:49 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by compatico View Post
Large 6 cubic foot fridge/freezer unit that must be 2-way at least. Prefer 3-way if available but so far only small fridges seem to be 3-way? Double door would be nice too. You really don't want a three way refr, unless you add batteries and solar.

AM/FM Stereo with bluetooth or USB to play MP3's and must have both inside and outside speakers. Basically standard.

Dual 20lbs propane tanks for lots of runtime. Basically standard. 30lbs are better, but 20lbs heavier.

Powered electric hitch jack would be nice too. Almost standard.

Closed in underbody? Is this needed or should it be open for easier access to pipes? Closed is better for insulation from cold and heat. It can be removed easily.
Replied in red.
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Old 06-11-2014, 04:55 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mavagrand View Post
You refer to your GVWR as 3500lbs..is that your max tow capacity?
Yes, rated tow capacity is 3500 lbs but I know that the rating is actually 900 lbs higher for the same vehicle in other countries at 4400. However, I'm keeping the weight below 3500 to avoid any hassles with warranty here in Canada.

We're light packers, so cargo won't be an issue...we're looking at 300-400 lbs max for added cargo in the trailer, and only a couple hundred in the truck.
Quote:
I suspect it is and with that in mind, I submit the following: I towed a Coachmen Clipper 16b (hardside camper dry weight of 2400lbs) that had most of the amenities you mentioned with my 2012 Ford Escape V6 Limited. The Escape had a max tow capacity of 3500 lbs. I can tell you, towing the 2400 lb camper was not fun. Definite case of "just because you can doesn't mean you should". I figure with the wife and I and all our stuff, we were probably close to the max tow/GVWR weight of my truck. While she towed and stopped (camper has trailer brakes) adequately, what was rough was the buffeting and constant swaying while going down the highway. Most trips I was a nervous wreck by the time we got to our destination.
This isn't my first time towing...I've been towing for 20 years, but it'll be my first travel trailer with a larger profile. I've towed popup campers 2000 lbs, utility trailers 2500 lbs, dollys, etc. so normal buffeting and sidewinds don't bother me at all. I've driven pickups with trailers too, and you always get some sway from a high profile trailer. That doesn't really concern me. I'll be using the electric brakes with a controller too.
Quote:
Once set up, we have found the camper to be too small for us.
We've been camping for years in 6'x8' tents and popup campers. This will be a huge improvement and won't be cramped at all. When we looked at a few on the weekend, we both thought the 16-18 foot trailers were so "big". When you spend years having to sit on the floor to put your pants on in the morning, standing in a TT is a vast improvement for us.

Quote:
There is no way I would tow a 3000+lb camper with your Kia. Much too heavy, IMO. You need to stay within your tow limit and your GVWR, after you have loaded everything. The posted trailer weights are "dry" which means tanks are empty, nothing inside.
The GVWR of the Sorento is 1200 lbs over it's curb weight. So with the tongue weight, me and the wife, cargo, we're still about 400 lbs below GVWR in the truck. The trailer will be some 500 lbs below it's max rating, and a couple hundred pounds under the rated tow capacity of the truck.
Quote:
I'd recommend you either get a larger tow vehicle OR a smaller camper.
We won't be getting a larger vehicle. We bought this one because it has a strong V6, 6-speed tranny, and is roomy. We knew we would be towing with it, and planned on getting a TT later on. All indications are that the Sorento has no issues pulling 3500 lbs., and it has hill start assist to prevent roll back, and a very low first gear to get rolling. I don't see it being a problem really.
Quote:
If you insist, I'd recommend looking at the Coachmen Clipper line as they are about the lightest I have found. Good Luck.
Thanks, we looked at the Coachmen Clipper series but for the weight 2503 lbs of the 16FB, it lacks too many of the needed features. It also has a small bed at 54"x74" which just won't do for us - queen size is essential.

None of the models I've looked at recently have everything, so we'll have to compromise most likely. I'm always looking for input about other models that we haven't seen yet.
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Old 06-11-2014, 05:10 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jesilvas View Post
Replied in red.
Originally Posted by compatico
Large 6 cubic foot fridge/freezer unit that must be 2-way at least. Prefer 3-way if available but so far only small fridges seem to be 3-way? Double door would be nice too. You really don't want a three way refr, unless you add batteries and solar.
Thanks for the input...we're actually looking at solar to reduce battery usage. If it's not available on the trailer model we choose, I'll be adding it myself.
Quote:
Dual 20lbs propane tanks for lots of runtime. Basically standard. 30lbs are better, but 20lbs heavier.
About half of the trailers in our weight class have just single tanks. That may be one of the compromises we'll have to live with. Getting propane topped up isn't really an issue, but I like having more available to reduce the trips needed.
Quote:
Powered electric hitch jack would be nice too. Almost standard.
At first I wasn't too concerned about it, but after reading that aftermarket jacks are easily installed, I definitely want one. No need to crank the trailer up/down when hooking up is a nice feature.
Quote:
Closed in underbody? Is this needed or should it be open for easier access to pipes? Closed is better for insulation from cold and heat. It can be removed easily.
That's what I was hoping...insulating properties being the major factor. It'll help reduce A/C usage on hot days. I don't anticipate using the heater much as we only camp in suitable temps. I figure we'll have a few cool nights in the spring and fall, but not enough to worry about it.

Thanks for your input.
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Old 06-11-2014, 06:21 AM   #8
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"The GVWR of the Sorento is 1200 lbs over it's curb weight."

What is the curb weight of your Kia? Not what it says on the sticker, but what does it actually weigh on a scale when full of fuel? I will be willing to bet it is more than your curb weight.

You are more than welcome to do as you wish, we are just trying to give you advice to help prevent possible damage to your vehicle or safety issues.

Here is the way I look at it, what vehicles do you usually see towing any TT? Im not saying it CANT be done, but I cant remember the last time I ever saw a Kia towing a TT.

Please dont take this as an argument or an insult, its not intended that way, just trying to make sure you are safe and have a great time with your new purchase.
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Old 06-11-2014, 10:03 AM   #9
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Good morning, Comp. My initial post was based on my experiences towing at or close to the max capacity of a smaller SUV. If you don't mind the buffeting and sway that is inherent with the smaller SUVs, then knock yourself out. Just take a moment and think about what you would do in an emergency situation. What will happen should you have to stop quickly? Or swerve to avoid a collision? Those thoughts were foremost in my mind as I towed my camper. Thankfully, I never had to but shudder at what the results might have been. As others have said, not trying to be confrontational, just sharing my experience/opinion. Either way, have a good day.
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Old 06-11-2014, 07:22 PM   #10
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"The GVWR of the Sorento is 1200 lbs over it's curb weight."
What is the curb weight of your Kia? Not what it says on the sticker, but what does it actually weigh on a scale when full of fuel? I will be willing to bet it is more than your curb weight.
I haven't put it on a scale, but curb weight for the AWD is about 3900 lbs depending on features (I round up to 4000) and it holds 60 liters of fuel which is 96 lbs, with a GVWR of 5182 (5468 for 7-passenger). We can subtract that and we're still over 1100 lbs below its max rating here in Canada (in Europe we would be more than 2500 lbs under so I know the truck is fine with the weight). I already did all the math before I bought the truck, and I'm not too concerned with the weight limits, it'll be well within max capacity. I intend to do more frequent engine and tranny fluid changes (already change oil at 5000 km) to held reduce wear, and we won't be driving across the country, just a couple hundred kms.
Quote:
You are more than welcome to do as you wish, we are just trying to give you advice to help prevent possible damage to your vehicle or safety issues.
I understand that, and appreciate the input.
But the vehicles were designed to pull trailers - the Sorento comes with tow package and has frame holes to bolt on a hitch. And in Europe pulling a 2500 lbs "caravan" is very common with SUVs like the Misubishi Outlander, Kia Sorento, Honda CRV, Subaru Forrester, Mazda CX-7, even the VW Golf. Granted they often outfit them with diesel engines but then the power and torque are often lower than the 3.3L V6 in our Sorento.
Quote:
Here is the way I look at it, what vehicles do you usually see towing any TT? Im not saying it CANT be done, but I cant remember the last time I ever saw a Kia towing a TT.
I agree...I've never seen a Sorento towing ANYTHING here, and most don't have a hitch installed. I believe North American mentality leans toward the concept that large trucks are required for towing since pickups are so common here. In the rest of the world, people tow TT's with I4 cars and SUVs because large pickups are not common.
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Please dont take this as an argument or an insult, its not intended that way, just trying to make sure you are safe and have a great time with your new purchase.
I'm not offended...I just think the mentality here is that you must use a large V8 pickup to tow anything. Here an SUV is a family vehicle and on the highway most of them have just one occupant driving to/from work. Large vehicles in North America is like pasta in Italy - everyone has it.
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Old 06-11-2014, 07:59 PM   #11
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Just take a moment and think about what you would do in an emergency situation. What will happen should you have to stop quickly? Or swerve to avoid a collision? Those thoughts were foremost in my mind as I towed my camper.
You should go to the Practical Caravan Youtube channel and see their videos of cars and SUV's with a 3000 lbs TT going through a lane change slalom course! Whoa...
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Old 06-11-2014, 09:52 PM   #12
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Check out the R-Pods. Many different layouts, some with a slide and lightweight. We went a little heavier with an Apex 18...3000lbs but it has a big U-shaped dinette and a separate queen size bed with a bunk that we use as a large shelf for storage. We did end up buying a used truck to pull the trailer since we plan on bringing bikes and kayaks. Having been boat campers for many years we made do with small square footage and survived each other, so the 18ft is plenty big enough.
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Old 06-11-2014, 11:50 PM   #13
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If your vehicle is rated 4400lb somewhere you can go with this number and forget about 3500. But you need to watch your hitch weight as well as GVWR since many states/provinces prohibit exceeding it. You will need good WD hitch and probably hitch receiver reinforcement (Can-Am RV Centre | #1 Airstream Dealer in Customer Satisfaction Worldwide | Your Full-Service RV Dealer). You will need to find all aluminum unit with relatively low hitch weight. Extra foot or two in length will not change towing performance much; you will be fighting front resistance most of the time; the trailer should meet your needs and you should like what you buy
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Old 06-12-2014, 08:43 AM   #14
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Check out the R-Pods. Many different layouts, some with a slide and lightweight.
Thanks, we looked at them at the dealer and didn't care for the layouts, and the curved roof felt cramped as I couldn't stand up completely at either end. Weights are in the same area as the GulfBreeze and Cobblestone models we viewed, so not much lighter. Neat idea though with the pop-outs in a small trailer.
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