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Old 02-12-2014, 03:59 PM   #1
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New To Travel Trailers

My wife and I used to go camping in a tent twenty years ago. Last year we rented an RV from Cruise America in Colorado it was a good experience. Now we would like to purchase a travel trailer to travel around the country. We have been looking at small light weight travel trailers like the StarCraft AR-ONE 14RB, the Sportsmen Classic 14RB, and the Coachmen Clipper 14R. I have never owned a travel trailer before and would like to know if these types of travel trailers would withstand the rigors of a cross-country trip from Connecticut to the western states like Colorado. Any suggestions or comments would be appreciated.

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Old 02-12-2014, 04:44 PM   #2
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We really liked our Coachman Freedom Express. Very well built and pulled really easy with our 1/2 ton truck. I recommend going as big as your budget can afford and as much as your truck can pull. It's surprising how quickly you outgrow an RV.

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Old 02-12-2014, 04:56 PM   #3
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Most importantly make sure you have the right set up. Hopefully the rv dealer will take care of you because you don't want to be white knuckling it across the country. If you end up with a trailer that you are not comfortable pulling because of sway etc...... before getting rid of it, google Hensley hitch and watch their video...... the hitch is expensive and that is why I say before making the very expensive decision of getting rid of your trailer, consider a good hitch system that may restore your faith in your setup. And no I do not work for Hensley.
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Old 02-12-2014, 06:27 PM   #4
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I presently have a 14' TT and DW wants something bigger. You don't say what you will use for a TV. I had a Ford 3.0 V6 Ranger and it was sufficient to tow with but now I am looking for a larger trailer so I have now moved up to a F-150 Super Crew with a 5.0 V8. I bought it used and it has a rear end that doesn't let me have more than a 7900# tow capacity. Which is ok since it is now my only vehicle and it gets decent gas mileage. So the first thing you should consider is what you will tow with.

Next, the trailer. For us, just 2 of us, we want to have a queen bed that is always made up. A "walk around" and a decent size bath, granted none are like the bathroom at home. A shower is preferred over a tub/shower but that is sometimes hard to get. Either a sofa or 2 chairs and if able also a separate dinette.

My plans are to stay in a lot of National Forest Parks, Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Land Management, State Parks, County Parks, etc. I, like you want to see the country side and not park in a RV resort for a month. Thus, length comes into play. Most desirable is to be under 25' to be maneuverable on narrow roads and in the parks. Easier to back up into a park site. Light weight so I don't tax the TV in the mountains. Well, that choice isn't real easy to find. So many models are bunk houses which I don't need and most are 30' and over which I don't want either. I have now expanded my choices from 21' to 28' keeping under 7600# which is quite doable.

You may want to take a look at a Forest River Flagstaff Micro Lite 21FBRS on ebay. The listing doesn't tell you the manufacturer, it is listed as "Ultra Lite 21FBRS". It has 1 slide for a sofa, a queen bed, power awning, outside grill, rubber torsion axles (which I prefer over springs) and LED lighting. So it appears to be well equipped for the "buy it now" price of $13,999. If you check around this trailer will go for $1,000 to $1,500 more at most dealers. Also the gross weight capacity is about 4700# which is about as light as you will find for a trailer this long (21' 8"). In all it appears to have good specs and construction and features. My only desire over what they offer is I want a stove with an oven which isn't on the ebay item. I want to be able to make cinnamon rolls in the morning.

There are other manufacturers that have something similar but not at that price.

Good Luck in looking for what your needs are. Since forums are always well covered by experts (which I am not) you will find many choices and opinions so try to get what fits you and your wife's desire for traveling pleasure.

Just remember a 14' trailer gets a little confining when it is raining in your campground and you have to make a choice between a bed or a dinette.
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Old 02-12-2014, 11:27 PM   #5
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"I want to make cinnamon rolls in the morning".....

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Old 02-13-2014, 12:10 AM   #6
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We just got our first TT also, a used 2000 Keystone Springdale 26 ft.with a sofa slide. Its just the 2 of us and we are quite comfortable in it, but couldnt see going any smaller if your going to spend a lot of time in it. Again and very important you must have a suffient tow vehicle was a good safety margin. Our unit weighs around 4800 # and my Dodge 4.7 V8 is rated for around 6500 max., the truck pulls it fine , mpg drops from around 21 commuting to work, to the best we have gotten pulling the TT is 10.8 mpg , So if we ever get bigger, it will be with a diesel !!

Jim & Pat
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Old 02-15-2014, 05:31 AM   #7
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Starcraft and Jayco are very good companies...we owned Starcraft popup campers. In our search for a new trailer last summer, my only complaint with Jayco is that they are putting rather short awnings on many of their trailers. What I mean by that is that they are using a 14 or 15' awning where a 19' awning could have been used.

We were trying to find a higher quality travel trailer, which is rather difficult in the travel trailer market. Higher quality units are easier to find in the fifth wheel market. That being said, we ended up purchasing a Winnebago Towable trailer because the quality seems to be above average, and in a under 27' lightweight trailer, the 2201DS had a floorplan that we like and an incredible amount of storage. We've only had it out for about three trips, but so far, we're very happy with it. Customer service from Winnebago has been outstanding....took it to the factory for a roof ladder, and have contacted them about replacing the trailer to truck cord as I screwed up and allowed the cord to drag while headed down the highway. I'd rather replace the cord than have a splice or another plug/receiver connection in the cord.

Just about any trailer manufactured will hold up for a trip across country. The issue is about long term durability. I've seen some trailers on the market with lower quality parts and construction which tend to make me think that if you were to buy one, you would want to trade it in no more than 5 or 6 years later. Personally, I'd rather spend a little more and have a trailer that I can keep for at least 10 years or more. That's why we bought a Sunline trailer back in 2003 and it served us well until we traded it in this past summer.

If you look at a lot of trailers by different manufacturers at a lot of different dealers and a rv show or two, you can see the quality variation. Just take your time and really look at construction, fit and finish, etc.

Good luck...hope you find a real winner!
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Old 02-15-2014, 07:56 AM   #8
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Take a look at the holding tank sizes on the AR-One. It may not be important to you, depending on the type camping you do
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Old 02-15-2014, 08:19 AM   #9
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Welcome to the world of RV camping. On a RV trailer you have to think of it as your "condo on wheels". So what would you like in your home away from home?

~ First off you have to purchase a RV that your tow vehicle can handle. It has to be under the total towing capacity including cargo...And trust me..you will keep putting "stuff" in until the cabinets and storage cubby's are full. For a 24' tt, you can easily pack 600-1000 of stuff. #2 in this category tongue weight limit of you vehicle. On my old medium size SUV (4Runner V-8) it was 750 lbs W/O a weight Distribution hitch and 1100 lbs with a WD hitch. My first 24' hybrid tt had a dry tongue of 300 lbs with a small slide. My current 25' hybrid tt has a 530 lb. dry tongue. The current one has a larger slide that has more weight up front. So depending where the storage cabinets are located and a slide figure adding 200 to 250 to the dry tongue weights.

~ If you can handle the weight, get a tt with a slide...any slide will open up the unit.

~ Watch your fresh water tank size. Some are very small 20-25 gallons. Were on our 2nd Aerolite (2013) and they are 53 gallons. The first 24' Aerolite (2005) was 47. Also in this catagory a Hot water tank that runs on both LP and electric and with automatic ignition (DSI). Bare bones tt's will have just a manual lighting gas HW tank. Buying the 2005 didn't think we would use the shower much, but found out it is sure nice to take a shower in your own unit before bed, especially if the campground shower is a far way off or is dirty.

~ Like others said, get a tt you can afford. With that said, having a couch is sure nice on rainy days. That is why we are on our 2nd hybrid, with the beds being in the bunks it leaves plenty of room for a couch and a bunch of cabinets. Our 05' tt had 26 cabinet doors and storage spaces...Our newer one has 24 places of storage.

~ You have to look at many floorplans and envision yourself relaxing, cooking, packing. Do you have enough counter space? Is the cabinet storage enough. If the weather is bad outside do you have places to all relax?, If you plan to take showers in the unit you choose is it large enough and have the water capacity to handle 3-4 days of showering and dish washing.
Jim, Diane & Robert ~ NE. OH.
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Old 02-19-2014, 09:12 PM   #10
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Hi Dave49 - I have a version of the models in your post with the Dutchmen 814RB. We are towing it with a half ton truck with a tow package and a standard hitch. It does well here in the hills of West Virginia and the surrounding states. I would not hesitate to take mine cross country.
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Old 02-19-2014, 10:07 PM   #11
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Dave49; consider starting with a good used trailer. Good enough to enjoy, but cheap enough to leave at the dump, and drive away from it, if the mood took you. Spend a year or two with something like that, and you'll know much better what you will value in a trailer. We packed 4 kids into an inexpensive trailer for the first 8 years, then upgraded to the same size (19 foot) that we think will be perfectly suitable and comfortable for us as we head into retirement. Point is, ownership and usage will show you what's important for you, when or if you choose to upgrade. Happy choosing and using!
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Old 02-20-2014, 06:14 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Nick B View Post
Dave49; consider starting with a good used trailer. Good enough to enjoy, but cheap enough to leave at the dump, and drive away from it, if the mood took you. Spend a year or two with something like that, and you'll know much better what you will value in a trailer. We packed 4 kids into an inexpensive trailer for the first 8 years, then upgraded to the same size (19 foot) that we think will be perfectly suitable and comfortable for us as we head into retirement. Point is, ownership and usage will show you what's important for you, when or if you choose to upgrade. Happy choosing and using!
Great advise. Cheap trailers come in big and small sizes
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Old 02-20-2014, 07:12 PM   #13
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hensley hitch might be over kill for a light or med trailer..I have a Reese weight distribution hitch with dual cams that limit sway-worked well on a 19 ft and now on a 25 ft'er
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Old 02-21-2014, 08:37 AM   #14
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My first TT was a 19' Shadow Cruiser. It had a bunk over the short-queen bed and the couch in the slide made a bed. There was no dinette, just a little fold-up table. It was far and away too small, even for just Dee Dee and I. My daughter and son-in-law were enamored with it so they have it now. We bought a 29' and we are happy with it. It has one long, but shallow slide that has the couch and wardrobe in it. Loaded it weighs about 6,200# and my F-150 tows it fine. The only thing I would like more would be opposing slides in the living area. It would open it up more and make that space more usable. Also, mine has a gray tank for the galley and a separate gray tank for the bath. It's like 70 gallons total. The bath fills every couple of nights with 3 men on a fishing trip... so we have a portable dump tank for use when there's no sewer. I wish manufacturers would use real-world experience when designing these tanks. That one could stand to be much larger... I usually don't go to parks without full hook-ups, but I'm prepared if I have to...

My recommendation would be to skip the small-trailer first step. You will get more and spend less in the long run. What I originally thought would be adequate quickly became just too cramped... I mean first trip quickly... We knew immediately that we would be getting a bigger TT. Now we enjoy week-long trips, even with a little rain in the mix.

Welcome to RVing... It's more fun than I thought it would be. We stayed by the river this week and had a great time, great weather, and great fishing. It was the best trip my sons and I have had since they got me into fly fishing. I used to think it was silly to spend money for an RV... since motels and cabins were available. It's different in an RV. One night someone was playing guitar and singing (quite well) a few campsites down. We listened for over an hour, and thoroughly enjoyed it.

See you out on the road...

Jack and Dee Dee Weatherford, Texas
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