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Old 07-03-2020, 11:21 AM   #1
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Help! I Need a TT & TV Solution!

Hello all you wise, experienced and gracious TT owners!

I'm new to the forums here, and have been "researching" TT options for the past few weeks (drowning in info, more like). I've Google searched, forum searched, lit incense and prayed to the RV Gods for clarity to no avail...

Here's my scenario:

I work aboard ships for about 6 months per year. I had an epiphany of sorts recently and thought an RV might be my best "home base" option when I'm ashore. I usually have about 8 weeks between shipping contracts, and would love to explore more of the US. At first I was looking at Class C / Class B options, but ultimately decided that a TT I could store easily, make my "home" anywhere when needed, and drop/park when I wanted to go more "off-road" would be a better choice...so...I started looking at my options...

Here's where things got sticky...I drive a 2015 Jeep GC with a V6 and no factory tow package. "No prob", I'm thinking, I can look for light/small, add aftermarket hitch/cooling/etc, because I really LIKE my current ride. So, I google the [mod edit] out of the topic to find the perfect size/weight/features in a TT that will match with my JGC as TV, and while I found some TT options that would fit my needs/desires, I keep coming back to the issue of my TV's ability to work safely and effectively.

Basically, what I'm discovering is that my current rig as a TV WILL work, BUT it will require some moderate/major upgrades, AND still may end up right on the edge of being able to tow with ease. I'd really rather not be the "white knuckle" guy, especially as most of my adventures/exploration will involve elevation gain...WHICH leads me to my question(s) for you all!

First of all, I'm looking at 16 to 19 foot lightweight TT's. Some that have piqued my interest include:

Winnebago Micro Minnie 1700BH
Winnebago Hike
Forest River Flagstaff E-Pro E19BH / Rockwood Geo Pro
Forest River NoBo 19.3

Anyone (currently or previously) have one of these (or comparable weight/size) and tow with same/similar SUV? Insights on handling, power, safety?

Secondly--and I'm thinking that I'll most likely have to upgrade TV--what are your recommendations for a truck/suv that will EASILY, SAFELY, EFFICIENTLY tow a 3500-5500 lb trailer (gvwr? is that the correct spec?)?

I've read that the F150 w/3.5 EcoBoost is great in this range, but what other options (make/model) would you suggest?

Lastly, as the TT I ultimately purchase will be a combo of "home" and "storage" for my toys/belongings for the next few years, am I looking in the right place as far as type of TT?? I really need the TT to do the following for me, if possible:

Haul 2 bikes (MTB, road), snowboard, surfboard and associated tools and gear (hence the BH w/door models)
Be capable of adding rack type storage (bumper, tongue or roof)
Be comfortable and functional for 1-2 people
Be well-built (no wood, prefer aluminum frame and laminate/composite construction)
Be able to boondock when necessary

IF YOU'VE READ THIS FAR, THANK YOU!! I truly appreciate your help and insights as I wade into the RV world. I look forward to hearing from you!
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Old 07-03-2020, 11:46 AM   #2
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I will do my best to help as I have many years of RV experience with several different types of RV. At present we own a 20' Sportsman Classic, ultra-lite travel trailer from KZ which has a gross weight of about 4k#. We towed it for several years with a V6 powered SUV which did the job but it was tiring to drive and required full concentration. I then was fortunate to be able to purchase a very good, used Dodge 2500, diesel powered, 4 door truck and began towing with it. The difference is amazing! The truck is more than really needed for what I tow, but even in high winds you hardly notice it back there and never does it significantly impact the truck control. I think that your choice of the F-150 Econo-boost would handle what you are thinking to buy, but it will also burn a lot of fuel when doing so. The frontal area of a travel trailer is one of the largest factors in towing, so even the light weight ones have a bit impact on fuel consumption.

On your trailer choice, you need to realize that a trailer that small will have only very limited storage space. We have a shell on the truck because there simply isn't enough storage for what we need when we travel for several months and we don't travel with a snowboard or surfboard, and only a few tools. Back when we lived in the RV fulltime, there is no possible way that the combination we now own would have had sufficient storage. I think that if you do this, you need to also keep a rented storage space for the things that won't fit into that trailer.
Good Travelin! Kirk
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Old 07-03-2020, 11:53 AM   #3
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I have a similar size trailer (3500 lb dry/5000 lb gvwr). I tow it with a 2017 Ram 1500 4x4 with factory tow package. I have zero issues with towing. I live at sea level (Los angeles) and 2/3 of My trips are to Yosemite and Sequoia, so over 6000 ft. My comments for you would be:
1. I don't think I would be happy living in my tt. I'd want something a little bigger. Specifically in this size you have to choose a table or a recliner. I would want both.
2. I often wish I bought the 2500. I am under my capability but close enough I have to pay attention to loading and cargo. And I don't live in it so I only take what I need for each trip. All my crap isn't always in it. I have weighed everything I put in the trailer and it is less than half the 1500 lb payload. But again most my stuff is at home.
3. Downhill braking is what worries me most. I use low gears and engine braking successfully most of the time but on steep, very windy roads, there is no choice but to use brakes. 2500 is bigger better brakes.
4. I might consider a toy hauler due to increased cargo and I could adapt the layout to my wishes easier if I was going to live in it.
Good luck.
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Old 07-04-2020, 10:00 PM   #4
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Co-worker owned a 30 ft Avion and 3500 Ram duallie. On a lark he found a 2015 Winnebago Micro Minnie 1706FB (first year of the MM and only model WBO made of the MM that year). Anyhow, he bought it from a guy in the Navy who was living off base in it and was getting married and she said it wasn't gonna work. Nice trailer, they kept it in good condition.

My friend also had a Jeep GC V6, I think about a 2015 model, not sure. He researched it and bought the FACTORY receiver hitch which replaces a section of bolt in frame in the back, looks nicer than the add ons. Bought the factory 7 pin connector as the GC's all come with the harness from front to rear, but ended up paying the dealer a $100 to do a software activation of the tow harness. He was going to install the more powerful fan from the tow package till we discovered the extreme difference in wiring and the hassles of making it work.

The GC has been a good vehicle after he replaced the plastic oil filter housing that was cracked and leaking (extreme common problem) which was a lot of work.

I think he towed the trailer with the GC one time, possibly twice and finally realized it simply wasn't a good TV for a 5500 lb trailer (newer MM 1706 models have a higher GW).

Anyhow, he finally sold the Avion after some anguish (if it had been 25 ft instead of 30 he never would have sold it, just too long for the two of them) and also sold the '04 duallie and bought a 2017 2500 RAM with diesel.

Basically, the moral of this story is that the GC, while capable, proved to not be comfortable towing with that V6.

'03 Ram 2500 CTD, 5.9HO six speed std cab long bed Leer top and 2008 Bigfoot 25B21RB.. Previous, Being repaired and will be sold, is a 2008 Thor/Dutchman Freedom Spirit 180. SOLD - 2007 Winnebago View 23H Motorhome.
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Old 07-04-2020, 11:04 PM   #5
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For towing your “toys”, you really need to look at Toy Hauler travel trailers. They are a little more heavy duty than normal TT due to their cargo. Also due to the toys in the back, the rear axle is a little bit further back to more directly support that load. Consequently, their tongue weights will be higher, especially after loading your other cargo. This will make a truck required as a TV. Forget about SUVs.
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Old 07-11-2020, 06:20 PM   #6
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Thank you for the replies and the info! I feel, now, like I at least have a direction to look at both the TT and TV.
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Old 07-11-2020, 06:42 PM   #7
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Sounds like you need a F-150 with the FX4 package or a Ram Rebel or a GM 1500 with off road ability.

IMHO you need a V8 or Ford 3.5 Eco-Boost to have the power to tow. I say this because I tried to tow with 2 different V6 vehicles at two different times about 12 years apart. Anyway I moved to V8 power as soon as I could.

My Honda Ridgeline towing a 4,800lb trailer could not keep up with 72mph traffic while towing. It seemed much happier at 62 mph which IMHO was way to slow for the highway. I moved to a V8 powered 2011 F-150 and keeping up and passing slower vehicles was easy.

You will want a 4x4 truck with a locking rear differential and some skid plates for off road travel. This is were the jeep excels. Too bad it does not make a good tow vehicle in the V6 model.
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Old 07-11-2020, 08:12 PM   #8
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as above ^^^ you'd be real happy with a 150 or 1/2 ton gm or dodge you could put a canopy on the box and use it to haul some of your stuff.
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Old 07-11-2020, 08:21 PM   #9
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Why not consider a Class C? You could keep your jeep and tow it behind you? I'm obviously a Class A owner but... it costs just $80 a month to store it in a covered facility. I'm frankly envious of your maritime job. Wish I could have done that.
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Old 08-11-2020, 10:42 PM   #10
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I really appreciate the responses and insights!

Part 1 of Operation: "Living in a Trailer Down by the River" is now complete. After a mind numbing amount of research, weeks of online searches and two days of test drives, I have the first part of the equation:

2018 F150 3.5 Ecoboost Super Crew w/Max Tow Package (see below)

NOW I could use the communities' expertise to narrow down the second part...

I've come to the following decisions/parameters:
  • Bunkhouse w/Large Access Door & Flip Up Bottom Bunk for Bikes and Storage
  • Dual Axles for CCC and Stability
  • Convertible Couch and Queen Murphy Bed
  • Under 26' Overall Length, preferably

I still like the NoBo 19.3 a lot, although I have yet to see one in person. The MicroMinnie 1800/2100BH models look good as well. The Lance 2185 checks the boxes and looks (pics/vids) really well built, but is much pricier (although I have "in" for a possible discount). Lastly, I was able to see a Nash 18 footer today, and was impressed with the fit/finish, although they don't have a bunkhouse version until the 28'/9000lb mark...

Does anyone have insight/experience with the above Brands/Models? If I DO go with the NoBo, I'd likely purchase through Couch's, but would appreciate input on others' experiences with them...I've seen lots of positive reviews here but enough negative reviews elsewhere to make me a bit leery.

Thanks again, and in advance for your help! Almost there...!
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Old 08-12-2020, 10:16 AM   #11
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Everybody has different needs, or has greater emphasis on what’s important to them.
Probably, just need to get out there and spend some time in a few of your options mentioned. They all are good options. Learn the construction of each, because some are very different in the materials they use for, construction, and insulation. Check out plumbing, and wiring. Are they neatly ran, and installed with proper support.
Take your time, and look over every detail.
I know Lance very well, and the 2185 is very tongue heavy for its size.
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Old 08-14-2020, 12:35 AM   #12
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I think that you will also find ORV similar to the Nash (same parent company). I think I would look at a small toy hauler - ORV has a 21 and 24' models that might work for you. I have seen some more lightweight toy haulers - since you have lightweight toys - there is a model out there that has a large compartment up front for bikes etc.

I see where Rockwood has a mini toy hauler in the GeoPro line
as does Salem - go to the Forest River website for more details on these and other models. They seem to have the most small toy haulers out there.
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Old 08-14-2020, 06:21 AM   #13
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Help! I Need a TT & TV Solution!

Toy haulers, especially when empty, are insanely tongue heavy. I definitely recommend against that with a half ton.

OP - post up a picture of the yellow door tag showing your trucks actual cargo carrying capacity. That will help us steer you clear of TT's that might actually push your truck too far (like a toyhauler).

Also - consider buying used. Not for price alone, but because many new (from ANY brand) RV's can require multiple trips to the RV dealer for warranty work, fixing the same cheap components they're all built with. It's been 3 months since I bought my last new TT and I just got it back now for the millionth time, supposedly finally fully functional...

With your limited shore time you might want to avoid this hassle...
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Old 08-14-2020, 06:53 AM   #14
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Since a camper is really just a tool to help us achieve the "job" of getting outdoors, let's take a page out of the shop class teacher's handbook and "always choose the right tool for the job".

Much of your stated goals revolve around back-country, biking, paddling, etc. 1-2 people, maybe including boondocking. I agree with the toyhauler approach.

Storage of stuff while you are away, and during bad weather, will take a lot more space than you think, and the traditional travel trailer will fill up fast.

Toy haulers often have heavier tongue weights (on purpose), so watch that. I agree, lighter and tougher is better for your goals, but they don't often go together.

Ditto Randy's recommendation:

Aluminum Toy Hauler (ATC toy hauler)
Look at the 8.5 x 25 bedroom model
ATC Toy Hauler Models

Just for discussion and ideas, here's what we did to support our outdoor habit. The market really didn't offer anything that would meet our needs and budget. Nearly indestructible even on forest service roads. It also stores all our gear when not in use:
Teardrops n Tiny Travel Trailers • View topic - 4 kids+ 6 bikes+ 4 kayaks+ 1 canoe+ camp stuff=7x16 CTC

IntechRV used to make a tandem axle toy hauler called Discover. I'm waiting for them to make one with a small kitchen and bath, then I think they would have a winner for the light outdoor gear crowd.

Here's IntechRV's small toy hauler

Maybe you could order one from their sister company, (Intech Trailer) get them to build it the way you wanted?

Good Luck!
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