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Old 01-21-2021, 08:01 AM   #1
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Trying to find a small travel trailer that will work for me

Hi Folks,

I'm considering a small travel trailer that will facilitate cross-country travel with my wife and our dog. Unfortunately, I am extremely limited by my tow vehicle. I have a 2010 Toyota Highlander SE (V6 4WD with tow prep package). A new tow vehicle is out of the question, so I'm looking for something that will tow comfortably behind a mid-size crossover.

Tent pop-ups and hybrids are out - don't want to deal with canvas. Must-haves include an indoor kitchen, bathroom, room for a 6' person to stand up straight, and either a queen bed or two comfy beds that would each accommodate an adult. A wet bath may be o.k. as long as it has enough room to stand up and turn around. From what I can tell, these requirements eliminate all small-med teardrops and almost all A-frame pop-ups.

I'm looking in the approx. $15k and under market.

My requirements tend to lead me toward small conventional travel trailers, but that's where the tow vehicle limitations come in. The Highlander is technically rated for up to 5,000 lbs., but from everything I've read, I don't want to get anywhere close to that weight for long-distance travel because of strain on the engine and transmission. Also, the Highlander apparently does not do well with high-sided trailers because of wind resistance. I've been on one of the Toyota forums and read several accounts from Highlander owners towing 3,500 - 4,500 lb high-sided trailers, and they typically report very low gas mileage and spending a lot of time turning 4,000 rpms in 3rd gear. I don't want that kind of strain for long-distance towing. However, reports suggest that a lower profile trailer in the 3,000 lb range is a much more comfortable tow.

I've been looking (virtually) at the large Braxton Creek Bushwhacker teardrops, but I fear even those would put up too much wind resistance. They are over 8' tall and 7' wide, which isn't much different from small conventional trailers. I also have concerns about lack of headroom.

So pretty much I'm left with TrailManors in the sub-27' range, or possibly a 16' Scamp (though I have concerns about the size of Scamp beds, and possibly wind resistance). New TrailManors are out of reach price-wise, and used ones are scarcer than hen's teeth. Used Scamps also seem to be very scarce; I haven't been able to find any price info on new Scamps, but I'm guessing they may also be out of reach.

Am I missing something? Or is the situation truly as intractable as it seems?
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Old 01-21-2021, 08:14 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wellibe View Post
Hi Folks,

I'm considering a small travel trailer that will facilitate cross-country travel with my wife and our dog. Unfortunately, I am extremely limited by my tow vehicle. I have a 2010 Toyota Highlander SE (V6 4WD with tow prep package). A new tow vehicle is out of the question, so I'm looking for something that will tow comfortably behind a mid-size crossover.

Tent pop-ups and hybrids are out - don't want to deal with canvas. Must-haves include an indoor kitchen, bathroom, room for a 6' person to stand up straight, and either a queen bed or two comfy beds that would each accommodate an adult. A wet bath may be o.k. as long as it has enough room to stand up and turn around. From what I can tell, these requirements eliminate all small-med teardrops and almost all A-frame pop-ups.

I'm looking in the approx. $15k and under market.

My requirements tend to lead me toward small conventional travel trailers, but that's where the tow vehicle limitations come in. The Highlander is technically rated for up to 5,000 lbs., but from everything I've read, I don't want to get anywhere close to that weight for long-distance travel because of strain on the engine and transmission. Also, the Highlander apparently does not do well with high-sided trailers because of wind resistance. I've been on one of the Toyota forums and read several accounts from Highlander owners towing 3,500 - 4,500 lb high-sided trailers, and they typically report very low gas mileage and spending a lot of time turning 4,000 rpms in 3rd gear. I don't want that kind of strain for long-distance towing. However, reports suggest that a lower profile trailer in the 3,000 lb range is a much more comfortable tow.

I've been looking (virtually) at the large Braxton Creek Bushwhacker teardrops, but I fear even those would put up too much wind resistance. They are over 8' tall and 7' wide, which isn't much different from small conventional trailers. I also have concerns about lack of headroom.

So pretty much I'm left with TrailManors in the sub-27' range, or possibly a 16' Scamp (though I have concerns about the size of Scamp beds, and possibly wind resistance). New TrailManors are out of reach price-wise, and used ones are scarcer than hen's teeth. Used Scamps also seem to be very scarce; I haven't been able to find any price info on new Scamps, but I'm guessing they may also be out of reach.

Am I missing something? Or is the situation truly as intractable as it seems?
Two members come to mind that may help - Profdan - and Jon Vermilye - both have great blogs and travel with smaller tow vehicles - reach out to them.

Both have been just about everywhere - even if they don't have the answers you are after they - post great images and stories to follow.

https://www.irv2.com/forums/f93/trip...st-519485.html

Jon's Journeys

Hope this helps,
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Old 01-21-2021, 08:19 AM   #3
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Trying to find a small travel trailer that will work for me

Honestly, the various smaller eggs are probably your best bet if you want stand up room.

Scamp, Casita, and the like. They last forever so perhaps something vintage. I met a pair of couples (!) going cross country in a single 1980 u-haul in Amarillo some time ago pulled by a minivan. They were having a blast!


https://www.fiberglassrv.com/
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Old 01-21-2021, 09:01 AM   #4
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Check out Casita. They may be a little bigger than Scamp. Also look at the "A" frame folding campers. We used an Alpine Chalet for more than 10 years. Rockwood and others make something similar. It worked well for two adults and a dog.

Our first tow vehicle was a Toyota Solara. But the RAV4 performed a lot better. Setup and take down was less than 5 minutes. Gas mileage seemed terrible until we started towing a tall TT with 7 square corners. It was qualified for camping in National Park bear country. Tent trailers were not.

Our Dutchmen Kodiak Cub requires 8 to 11 mpg at 60 miles per hour and a big SUV to pull it. The Alpine required 26 to 29 mpg at 65 mph. (The Solara got 33 mpg at 75 mph without the trailer.)

I wish you good luck and happy trails ahead!
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Old 01-21-2021, 09:10 AM   #5
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With the Highlander, I would look at nothing larger than a Casita or a tear-drop trailer. You need to face the fact that the Highlander is a small SUV and cannot tow much.

Ken
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Old 01-21-2021, 09:55 AM   #6
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Think outside the box also... Look into finding a light toy hauler TT, one with single axle. Reason is, is, wile the inside may be less fluffy, but that can be changed, the tanks will be bigger, and one can drop down the tail gate and ad an adda room for more space. The dog would love to sit in back looking out the screen and smelling the smells. Bikes, grill and stuff can be put in camper and tied down for travel, nice, neat and safe. Best of search luck
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Old 01-21-2021, 10:09 AM   #7
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Your tow vehicle is going to limit you pretty severely. With your "must-haves", I think your best (possibly only) option would be an A-frame pop up. Check out some of the older videos by Slim Potatohead on You Tube. He is currently using a small fiberglass "egg" camper like the Scamp or Casita (he's Canadian, so I think it's a Canadian model), but he has lots of older videos with an A-frame, so you can get an idea of what is possible with it and how it is used. I think he pulled it with a mid-sized Jeep SUV, so should work well with your Highlander.
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Old 01-21-2021, 07:48 PM   #8
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Trying to find a small travel trailer that will work for me

Your Highlander will not be limited by your 5,000-lb tow rating. It will be limited by your payload and rear axle weight rating. Suggest you limit your TT search to about 60% of your 5,000-lb rating or 3,000-lb “dry” weight (or sometimes noted as Unloaded Vehicle Weight or UVW) as advertised in mfrs brochures. Your actual wet and loaded (or Gross) weight could be many hundreds of pounds heavier depending on many options, option packages, and cargo in the TT. Then you need 10%-15% (suggest 12%) minimum tongue load for good towing behaviour, thus loading your hitch and rear axle of your Highlander.

There are a number of small, aerodynamic, single axle TTs out there plus teardrops that should be close to 3,000-lb. If just the two of you and doggie, then you could get something a bit heavier but not too much. Most very lightweight TTs are lightly built. Some higher quality, lightweight TT like Lance are built with higher quality materials and are $$$. Suggest looking at Coachmen Apex Nano, KZ Escape and Sportsmen Classic, Gulfstream Vista Cruiser, Jayco Jay Flight SLX 7, Starcraft Comet and Satellite, and Winnebago Minnie Drop and Micro Minnie.
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Old 01-22-2021, 06:01 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Persistent View Post
Check out Casita. They may be a little bigger than Scamp. Also look at the "A" frame folding campers. We used an Alpine Chalet for more than 10 years. Rockwood and others make something similar. It worked well for two adults and a dog.
Quote:
Originally Posted by TXiceman View Post
With the Highlander, I would look at nothing larger than a Casita or a tear-drop trailer. You need to face the fact that the Highlander is a small SUV and cannot tow much.

Ken
I've been thinking a Casita might be a bit too large (tongue weight and wind resistance), but maybe I need to do a closer look at all the models to see if they make something that might work. Perhaps moot, though, as used ones seem to very rarely show up in any of my searches.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jergle View Post
Your tow vehicle is going to limit you pretty severely. With your "must-haves", I think your best (possibly only) option would be an A-frame pop up. Check out some of the older videos by Slim Potatohead on You Tube. He is currently using a small fiberglass "egg" camper like the Scamp or Casita (he's Canadian, so I think it's a Canadian model), but he has lots of older videos with an A-frame, so you can get an idea of what is possible with it and how it is used. I think he pulled it with a mid-sized Jeep SUV, so should work well with your Highlander.
A couple of folks mentioned A-frames. I was thinking A-frames didn't have bathrooms, but upon digging a little deeper, I see that Chalet, Aliner, and Rockwood each make a model that has a wet bath. I'm not finding any used ones available in a quick search, but it looks like a new Rockwood A214HW might just make the upper limit of my budget. Going to see one in person would require a several hundred mile trip.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Desert Flyer View Post
Your Highlander will not be limited by your 5,000-lb tow rating. It will be limited by your payload and rear axle weight rating. Suggest you limit your TT search to about 60% of your 5,000-lb rating or 3,000-lb “dry” weight (or sometimes noted as Unloaded Vehicle Weight or UVW) as advertised in mfrs brochures. Your actual wet and loaded (or Gross) weight could be many hundreds of pounds heavier depending on many options, option packages, and cargo in the TT. Then you need 10%-15% (suggest 12%) minimum tongue load for good towing behaviour, thus loading your hitch and rear axle of your Highlander.

There are a number of small, aerodynamic, single axle TTs out there plus teardrops that should be close to 3,000-lb. If just the two of you and doggie, then you could get something a bit heavier but not too much. Most very lightweight TTs are lightly built. Some higher quality, lightweight TT like Lance are built with higher quality materials and are $$$. Suggest looking at Coachmen Apex Nano, KZ Escape and Sportsmen Classic, Gulfstream Vista Cruiser, Jayco Jay Flight SLX 7, Starcraft Comet and Satellite, and Winnebago Minnie Drop and Micro Minnie.
Yeah, I was thinking 3,000-3,500 GVWR would be about the limit. I'll check out those suggestions. Anything over 3,000 likely would require weight distribution, which I understand is a tricky thing for a unibody vehicle. But wind resistance is at least as big of a concern as weight, which is what is limiting my choices so much. While the Highlander might technically be capable of moving a high-sided trailer down the road, putting on 10,000 miles a year while turning high rpms in 3rd gear probably isn't going to be very good for the engine and transmission.

Thanks for all the feedback, everyone.
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Old 01-22-2021, 07:03 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Wellibe View Post
I've been thinking a Casita might be a bit too large (tongue weight and wind resistance), but maybe I need to do a closer look at all the models to see if they make something that might work. Perhaps moot, though, as used ones seem to very rarely show up in any of my searches.



A couple of folks mentioned A-frames. I was thinking A-frames didn't have bathrooms, but upon digging a little deeper, I see that Chalet, Aliner, and Rockwood each make a model that has a wet bath. I'm not finding any used ones available in a quick search, but it looks like a new Rockwood A214HW might just make the upper limit of my budget. Going to see one in person would require a several hundred mile trip.



Yeah, I was thinking 3,000-3,500 GVWR would be about the limit. I'll check out those suggestions. Anything over 3,000 likely would require weight distribution, which I understand is a tricky thing for a unibody vehicle. But wind resistance is at least as big of a concern as weight, which is what is limiting my choices so much. While the Highlander might technically be capable of moving a high-sided trailer down the road, putting on 10,000 miles a year while turning high rpms in 3rd gear probably isn't going to be very good for the engine and transmission.

Thanks for all the feedback, everyone.
Would this work - https://www.libertyrvmo.com/product/...139-1165441-29

https://library.rvusa.com/brochure/funfinderx.pdf



?
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Old 01-22-2021, 07:38 AM   #11
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Looks like the 139 and 160 models would work weight-wise. I'm not completely sure where my limits lie in regard to wind resistance. They advertise them as being aerodynamic and towable by mid-size SUVs. But short of hearing from someone who owns one, or taking one for a test-tow, I don't know how I would determine whether it would work with my Highlander.

Thanks much for the suggestion. That one wasn't on my radar, so you've helped give me something else to consider.
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Old 01-22-2021, 08:19 AM   #12
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This would be perfect in terms of amenities, it barely fits within my 3,500 lb GVWR limit, and it might even be within budget:

https://www.rvusa.com/rv-guide/2021-...-180bh-tr49196

But it's 9 feet tall by 7 feet wide. Any guesses as to what kind of wind resistance I could expect?

This one would work and would be lighter, but still has essentially the same height and width:

https://www.rvusa.com/rv-guide/2021-...-130rb-tr49192
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Old 01-31-2021, 06:46 PM   #13
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Years ago we had a casita we towed with a highlander. It seemed to have plenty of power. But the suspension on the highlander is a strut type which was its weak point in my opinion.
We towed it for a few years then upgraded to a 1/2 ton truck. Then we didn’t know the casita was there. So we upgraded the trailer. Last year I upgraded to an F350. Where will it end! 🤷*♂️Click image for larger version

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Old 01-31-2021, 07:35 PM   #14
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Years ago we had a casita we towed with a highlander. It seemed to have plenty of power. But the suspension on the highlander is a strut type which was its weak point in my opinion.
We towed it for a few years then upgraded to a 1/2 ton truck. Then we didn’t know the casita was there. So we upgraded the trailer. Last year I upgraded to an F350. Where will it end! 🤷*♂️Attachment 316557

What kind of issues did you have with the Highlander's suspension?
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