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Old 09-02-2021, 09:38 AM   #1
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Question New here, advice on travel trailers, solution for a (hopefully) growing family

Hello All,

I'm hoping for some insight as I'm in the midst of my travel trailer search. I've gotten the "bug" as it were after spending some time in my parent's 26' Passport a few weeks ago. I'm starting to love the idea of traveling around the country, setting up shop in our trailer, and exploring. I'm running into a conundrum however when it comes to finding a trailer that could fit our lifestyle. There are so many options that I'm running into analysis paralysis!

Tow Vehicle
2021 Outback Limited XT, 3500lb towing capacity 350 tongue. I purchased her a few months ago and getting another tow vehicle is a non-starter. I know there are some mixed things out there with towing trailers with Outbacks, which is why I want to be careful with what I select.

My budget is 30K max. I've looked at everything from a Scamp 13/16 and other fiberglass eggs (Casita), to Aliners, and finally a T@B 320. Nothing really in my weight bracket that has everything I would like. Ideally we'd have something that could sleep 3 (we're just a couple currently, but hoping for a little one someday soon), and that has at least a toilet inside.

There doesn't seem to be much of anything that fits the weight requirements on the Outback while providing room for at least a cassette toilet and sleeping for 3.

I'm looking at a T@B 320 on Friday, though small, folks have setup tents connecting to the unit and I love the look/build quality.

Are their any brands/models I should consider? Are there similar folks in my situation? If so, how did you tackle it?

Thank you!

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Old 09-02-2021, 10:07 AM   #2
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Tow Vehicle
2021 Outback Limited XT, 3500lb towing capacity 350 tongue.

That limits you -----
Check out A-Frame and Pop-Up trailers
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Old 09-02-2021, 10:24 AM   #3
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Your tow vehicle severely limits the trailers you can safely tow. In reality you will be limited to A-frame and popup trailers unless you move up to a larger vehicle.

Remember that passengers and cargo reduce your towing capacity and tongue weight.

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Old 09-02-2021, 12:42 PM   #4
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Find a used Class-C and tow the outback.
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Old 09-02-2021, 01:11 PM   #5
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Ditto the weight concerns/capacity with an Outback.

With that said, this one has possibilities.
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Old 09-02-2021, 02:16 PM   #6
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I hate to be discouraging, but a 3500 rating is a significant problem. The issue is not just the wear and tear on the tow vehicle -- you are looking at potential transmission failure (especially on a long downhill grade) and brake failure.

Most experienced trailer owners look for a substantial cushion between the weight of the trailer and the rated capacity of the tow vehicle.
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Old 09-02-2021, 11:06 PM   #7
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If you think your Outback can safely tow 3500 lbs then you'll certainly want in on my beachfront timeshare in Nebraska.
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Old 09-03-2021, 03:02 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by NewBlackDak View Post
Find a used Class-C and tow the outback.
This seems like the best solution.
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Old 09-03-2021, 05:35 AM   #9
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There are a multitude of both hard and soft side pop up campers out there that would fit your needs. Your MPG on the Outback will go way down and hills will not be your friend. Travel trailers are really not an option for your TV.
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Old 09-03-2021, 07:02 AM   #10
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I have an Outback as well. The tow rating is really for utility trailers or boats. A travel trailer is a different animal. I really like that Dawn model another poster showed but it’s too close to your limit. I have a Ram pickup with a 10500 tow rating and tow a Winnebago TT that’s 6300 lbs. I wouldn’t think of trying to tow 10500 lbs with it. My 6300 lb TT is the most I would do before buying a bigger truck. You don’t want to push the limit. Also weight capacity of the vehicle comes into play. The dawn for example has a 230 lb tongue weight. Add passengers and cargo to your vehicle to calculate. Like others have said an a-liner or pop up is your best bet. A Tab will probably fit and scamp makes one that’s about 1500 lbs. our CVT transmission may be fragile. There’s a reason Subaru gave us a free extension on the warranty of 100000 miles for the trans. It’s a great vehicle but not really a tow vehicle. If you can afford it a small truck like a Tacoma will give you better options. This is the worst time to shop for a vehicle though. Good luck, keep it light as possible.
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Old 09-03-2021, 10:54 AM   #11
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It seems wrong...

It seems wrong that people advise you to not push the towing limits of your tow vehicle. If the manufacture says it can, then why not.

Experience says otherwise and many things about the manufacturers specifications are not easy to find or understand.

Forget "dry weight" or "unloaded weight". It is a useless specification for planning purposes. Actual weight while towing is what matters. You cannot know actual weight before buying and loading the trailer. Use Maximum Gross Weight of the trailer as the best substitute.

Published tongue weights are fictitious. Manufacturers often calculate them based on an over simplified mathematical formula. Tongue weight on a small trailer may be more than twice the published value.

Both of my small travel trailers came in at more than double the published tongue weight and dealers refused to allow me to weigh the tongue before buying them.

Wind resistance at highway speeds is a major downside to a fixed height travel trailer. The height and width produce high wind resistance regardless of how long it is or how heavy it is.

Your tow vehicle is not designed to run at or near full power for long periods. Even on flat terrain and without a head wind, the engine will be under high strain.

A trailer that folds or collapses will greatly mitigate wind resistance. Rounded front, rear and corners on a TT will help greatly, so a tear drop or molded fiber glass trailer will make a big difference.

The rounded front cap found on many TT's is not a solution. There are four front corners and four rear corners. (Yes, the rear matters as much as the front.) Rounding one on the front is a small fraction of the turbulence produced. Turbulence loading from each 90 degree corner increase with the square of the speed.

Tow Vehicle:
Many possible tow vehicles have a "Maximum Towing Capacity" on a sticker on the driver's door frame. That indeed is the maximum safe towing capacity. Never exceed that for highway driving.

However, it always overstates the capacity. You will never tow under conditions that the specification requires. Absolutely everything you put into or add onto that vehicle subtracts from the specified capacity.

Passengers, luggage, trailer hitch, aftermarket accessories weights all subtract from specified capacity. For small tow vehicles like yours, the "Cargo Capacity" (also specified on the door sticker) is usually the limiting factor.

Subtract the weight of absolutely everything added to the vehicle since it left the factory. (The spec includes 150 pounds for a driver.) What remains is available for trailer tongue weight. Remember published tongue weights are fictitious.

Learn to do the math. It is complicated. It is required for pushing the tow vehicle limits.

I wish you good luck and happy trails ahead!
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Old 09-03-2021, 06:25 PM   #12
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Don’t let the nay sayers scare you. you’re car wil tow a 17ft CASITA with no problems and it will sleep 3 with a bath, sink, shower, stove, microwave. You buy a new one for way under your budget, Or search for a clean used one which will take some work and require a quick trip to wherever you can find one. Be prepared to act quick or it will be sold. You will have to travel with a almost empty water tank and limit the amount of stuff you carry, (wait to buy those cases of beer till you get to your destination).Best of all you will probably most all of your money back if that family grows even bigger.
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Old 09-04-2021, 07:49 AM   #13
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Thanks for all the info everyone! A lot to think about ��
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Old 09-04-2021, 08:08 AM   #14
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A lot about the RV lifestyle is relaxation and enjoyment. I prefer to arrive at my campsite relaxed and in a fairly decent mood. I've owned, carried, driven or towed around 30 RVs in my lifetime. I've learned I don't enjoy going up a hill at 30 mph with a dozen cars stacked up behind me all while watching the temp gauge hoping I don't toast the transmission. It makes me tense and crabby. I've learned that with a gas tow vehicle I start to get crabby at about 60% of the towing capacity. I've also learned that short wheelbase TVs are a challenge to stay relaxed in while driving. Diesels are another animal. I'm currently at about 90% of my payload and towing about 8 tons. Travel is enjoyable.

Take away is just cause you can tow it doesn't mean you will like it. Tow whatever you want but be aware you will have more mechanical issues and a less enjoyable experience if you overload your rig.
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