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Old 01-18-2021, 01:51 AM   #1
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Hunting for a TT

Hello Everyone!

We are new to RVs, and we are looking to buy a travel trailer this spring or summer. We currently live overseas, but will be looking to buy as soon as we return. We will mostly be doing weekend camping trips, but we need something that we can pull across the country as well because we move often.

Since we aren't "full time" campers, I really want to stay with a 1/2 ton truck because it will be my primary commuter vehicle as well. I've read through the forums pretty thoroughly, and I think I understand the basics of trailer weights, payloads, and hitch weights.

Currently, our starting point for the TT is a Forest River 178BHSK. It grosses out at 5000 pounds, which puts a hitch weight at about 645 pounds. I'm looking at Ram 1500s - some internet research puts a realistic payload for a crew cab, 4WD, V8 1500 somewhere around 1500 pounds. That accomodates our family and stuff pretty comfortably. The payload has a couple of hundred pounds leftover (after accounting for a WD hitch), and the tow weight is at about 75%.

Our TT "must haves" are bunks for our two kids (9 & 7) and a separate toilet/shower. We will be staying in state/national parks or RV camps - no off grid camping. Other than that, we are minimalists even in our normal lives. We moved overseas with less than 4000 pounds of stuff...and that's EVERYTHING we currently have! I can't imagine ever putting more 500-600 pounds in a trailer. Our goal is to stay lightweight and mobile.

So, a few questions questions:
- Am I approaching this search in the right way?
- Is the Forest River a decent product?
- What other TT makes/models should be looking at?

Thanks for your help!
Jason
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Old 01-18-2021, 09:02 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flyingfrog View Post
Our TT "must haves" are bunks for our two kids (9 & 7) and a separate toilet/shower. We will be staying in state/national parks or RV camps - no off grid camping. Other than that, we are minimalists even in our normal lives. We moved overseas with less than 4000 pounds of stuff...and that's EVERYTHING we currently have! I can't imagine ever putting more 500-600 pounds in a trailer. Our goal is to stay lightweight and mobile.

So, a few questions questions:
- Am I approaching this search in the right way?
- Is the Forest River a decent product?
- What other TT makes/models should be looking at?

Jason
Having personally moved overseas (and back) with ~3000lbs of stuff and having a travel setup that allows me to travel indefinitely with only carry on, I'm going to tell you that you'll want to put more weight in a trailer than you expect. You see, unlike travel and overseas moving, when it comes to a trailer, "lightweight" and "mobile" are at odds with each other. See, you keep weight down by keeping stuff OUT of the trailer. Like, do you really need to take the giant Costco package of 1000 paper plates with you every time you go camping for a weekend? Of course not! But if you put the big package of plates in your house, that means every time you go camping you have to take some plates out of the house and put them in the trailer. Rinse and repeat for everything you're going to need: napkins, toilet paper, tooth paste, matches, band aids, garbage bags, etc, etc. Sure you can minimize the weight in your trailer, but you're going to end up spending hours packing before each trip. Whereas if you just leave everything in the trailer, it's simply a matter of food, clothes and water. And "20-30 minutes to pack just a couple things" is FAR more mobile than hours of gear sorting and re-stocking.

Think about it: if you travel as much as I think you do, you keep a well-stocked bag of toiletries in your suitcase and never take it out, even when you get back from a trip. Why not? Because it takes too long to go hunt all that stuff down, verify that it's all there, re-pack it, etc, etc. Your trailer will be like that but will far more stuff. And keep in mind, if you run out of something, there's no front desk to just ring up and send up whatever you need. You'll likely have to go to a store that could be 30-60 minutes away. Couple missed hikes/adventures because you ran out of something essential and you'll be wanting to keep a little extra in the trailer...
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Old 01-18-2021, 09:02 AM   #3
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we have a freedom express 246RKS..it's a little under 6000# when towing and our 1500 ram 5.7 hemi pulls it fine..I can set cruise for 68-69 and get 8.5-10 mpg depending on the terrain. like you, I cant imagine putting that many # of stuff in the trailer either..our food is usually 2 tubs worth at about 30-40# each and we may have 50# of pots and pans and space heater and small vacuum and a few blankets. we dont take more than 10# of clothes..so more like about 200# of stuff. but then there is a gas griddle and a cpl. camp chairs in the storage bin. our ram 1500 laramie only has 1324# cargo cap so we dont put much in the truck bed either. people will sometimes pull numbers out of a hat on these forums so the best way to be sure what you have is load up and drive by a CAT scale.
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Old 01-18-2021, 10:13 AM   #4
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Quality Travel Trailer Brands

Winter of 2018 I joined the Dutchmen Owners forum and expressed my disappointment with my new Dutchmen Kodiak Cub. My opinion of Dutchmen travel trailers has not improved since then. Total cost of ownership has not been lower than much higher priced trailers.

In 2018 I found a thread on iRV2.com started by a new member who wanted advice on what to buy for his first travel trailer. What followed was a compilation of 1000ís of camper hours of experience and a list of brands from owners with firsthand experience. Needless to say Dutchmen and many other Thor companies were specifically not recommended. Their only advantage is low purchase price. Jayco is now a Thor company and the last 5? model years are also specifically not recommended. A short list of recommended brands and brief comments follow. I wish I had this information before buying.
Artic Fox
Difficult to find east of the Mississippi
$25k to $50k thermal pane windows
Hamersville Ohio (Cincinnati)
Outdoor RV
Difficult to find east of the Mississippi , $25k to $50k
Thermal pane windows, dealer in Denver.
Cooler in sun, Excellent support
Lance are $10-$25k more than the same length ORV Creekside or Timber Ridge.
2018 28'8" Timber Ridge was $34,700
Air Stream
Recent corrosion problem
Grand Design
Insulated well
Winnebago

Others to avoid for better odds at a good experience:
Keystone
Voltage
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Old 01-18-2021, 11:05 AM   #5
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For the truck I'd go Ford 3.5 Eco Boost, 3.55 gears Super Crew 6.5 bed and look at door jamb stickers to find one with cargo capacity north of 1700 lbs.
2nd there's really no best trailer out there. It's just that some are a little better than others.
Keeping you weight near 6,000 lbs and needing bunks along with quality will be tough.
You don't say what you budget is so I'll say Lance would be my 1st choice. They make a better quality BH TT near 6,000 lbs.
Forest River is typical of everything out of Elkhart Indiana. Yes FR does have plants in other states but the build process is the same regardless.

The Wildwood you're looking at is near the bottom in terms of quality. Not necessarily constructed poorly, just constructed with cheaper materials.

My son had a 17BH Coachman Clipper. It was pretty cheap looking compared to my Outdoors RV. However he never had any major issues. Kept it for 3 years and sold it only because it was not as user friendly as it 1st seemed to be.
He had a budget and it met his needs.

For the price of the Wildwood new I'd be inclined to look for a used tandem axle TT with bunks.
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Old 01-20-2021, 03:35 PM   #6
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flyingfrog --

Welcome to the forum! There are many good forum member willing to provide help at anytime.

The Wildwood 178BHSK is "OK" if your children are quite young. However as they growin size that travel trailer will quickly become too small to be enjoyable for your family.

Ten years ago I purchased a new 30 foot (32 feet overall lenth) ultra-light weight travel trailer made by Prime Time Manufacturing -- their Tracer Executive 3000 BHD model -- to use as my temporary home while I was serving as a Project Manager for a large capital project and then to use for my wife, kids and grandkids for a family weekend outing at an LSU foot ballgame. The sales brochure showing the 3000 BHD floor plan is attached. A nice aspect of the 3000 BHD "bunk house" design is the couch in the bunkhouse provided seating room for my grandkids and folded down into a nice size bed for them. There was also a fold down bunk above the couch. And with oppposing slide-outs, the inside of the TT has nice open space.

That Tracer travel trailer was well constructed and being an ultra-light weight design had an "empty weight" of 5,700 pounds. The 2011 Chevrolet Silverado Crew Cab 4x4 had no problems towing that trailer (the Silverado has a 10,000# tow rating with a weight distribution hitch). The only towing concerns I had was when a strong cross wind was present causing the trailer to sway some. I added sway control bars to the tongue of the trailer to solve that problem (anti-sway weight distribution hitches were not readily available ten years ago as they are now).

I'd encourage you to at least look at 28 -30 ultra-lilght weight design larger travel trailer to provide comfort for your family especially as your children grow and can be easily towed by a 1/2 ton truck.

Prime Time no longer manufactures the 3000 BHS but their current 29 and 31 foot models, which are still ultra-light weight design, may interest you and would be towable with a 1/2 ton truck. Their 31 foot model overall length of 34 feet may be too long for some state and national parks --> https://www.primetimerv.com/travel-trailers/tracer

Hope this helps!
Attached Files
File Type: pdf Tracer Travel Trailer Brochure.pdf (1.88 MB, 6 views)
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Old 01-22-2021, 11:18 AM   #7
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That Forest River trailer is not a great choice. I went with a Grand Design 21BHE. That model or the 23bhe would be my only option If you want light and well made. Tanks are large and they are a solid camper.
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Old 01-22-2021, 01:43 PM   #8
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First time poster here. I purchased a forest river 273qbxl about a month ago. Pull it with my ram 1500 just fine. Dry weight right at 6000 lbs.
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Old 01-23-2021, 02:48 AM   #9
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Thanks to everyone for sharing your insight and experience. It is really helpful.

The going advice is to look at bigger, nicer trailers. I am certainly not opposed to that, but I see the truck as a limitation. I'm committed to buying a 1/2 ton truck because it will be a daily commuter. When I run the math on the weight,

Total payload: Family + dog + WD hitch + 100 lbs to spare = 735 lbs

It looks like the average realistic payload for a Ram 1500 Crew 4x4 is about 1500 lbs.

1500lbs - 735 lbs = 765 lbs max hitch weight.

When I divide 736 /.13 to back out a max trailer weight, I get 5,885 lbs.

So, based on the tow weight wisdom I've collected from the forums, the max loaded weight of the trailer should be no more than about 6,000 lbs. That eliminates many of the nicer, larger trailers discussed above (some of which have empty weights exceeding 6,000 lbs)

Am I looking at this the wrong way? I know the 1/2 ton is a major limitation on what you can tow from a payload perspective, but moving up to a 3/4 ton really doesn't make sense for our family.

Again, I appreciate all of your thoughts. And please let me know if I'm in left field. This is a new world for us. Thank again!
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Old 01-23-2021, 05:25 AM   #10
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Hi when i divide 736 by .13 i get 5661 . what did i miss i am trying to figure out what i can haul with my truck , thanks
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Old 01-23-2021, 05:35 AM   #11
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1). 6000 pounds for a 1/2 ton will be a pretty good number leaving plenty of margin. The math looks good but I didnít check your arithmetic

2). A 3/4 ton gas truck may ride a lot better than you think it will but I daily a DRW so make of that what you will.

3). Not a fan of Forrest River products generally or anything made by the big companies for that matter. I certainly wouldnít buy new from those guys. Lots of people seem to like theirs though so mileage varies.

4). Good luck. Small, inexpensive trailers are *hot* right now...
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Old 01-23-2021, 06:17 AM   #12
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I would look at Artic Fox units. We had a Forest river product first it was junk. Had problems from first day. It was top of their line at the time. I would recommend that you find the trailer that fits your needs first , then get a vehicle capable of pulling it comfortably. You will be much happier in the long run.
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Old 01-23-2021, 06:24 AM   #13
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We have a class A, not a TT and tow a Wrangler so take this advice for what you will. My daily driver is a 3/4 ton Ram and we tow various different trailers often. My next door neighbor has a F150 ecoboost and we have also towed with that. I can honestly tell you that there is no comparison between the 2 trucks when it comes to towing. Yes the F150 is a slightly better ride when empty but not that much. You say that at some point you will be going cross country and I would suggest a slightly larger trailer and I would definitely buy the 3/4 ton truck. NOBODY has ever posted here that they were unhappy that they bought the heavier truck. The same can't be said for the 1/2 ton. Will the 1/2 ton do the job ? The answer is yes but the 3/4 will do it better. JMHO, worth exactly what you paid for it.
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Old 01-23-2021, 06:46 AM   #14
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Are you willing to consider a Ford? I ask because the 2021 F-150s have payloads between 2000 and 3000lbs, depending on configuration. (The hybrids have the 2000lb payload as they come with 900lbs of batteries.)
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