RV News RVBusiness 2021 Top 10 RVs of the Year, plus 56 additional debuts and must-see units → ×
RV Trip Planning Discussions

Go Back   iRV2 Forums > TRAVEL TRAILER, 5th WHEEL & TRUCK CAMPER FORUMS > Travel Trailer Discussion
Click Here to Login
Join iRV2 Today

Mission Statement: Supporting thoughtful exchange of knowledge, values and experience among RV enthusiasts.
Reply
  This discussion is proudly sponsored by:
Please support our sponsors and let them know you heard about their products on iRV2
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
 
Old 11-28-2020, 07:59 PM   #1
TWX
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2020
Posts: 8
Thinking about getting into off road RVing

Greetings from Phoenix.

We're considering getting a travel trailer of some sort and are looking into our options. For certain we need sleeping for three on two beds, possibly for four on three beds. Principal use would be visiting rural areas off of paved roads with some light offroading, with a secondary use for road-tripping greater distances.

My '15 Frontier 4x4 and '95 Impala are the two most likely tow vehicles, I have 6200# and 5000# towing each respectively. Wife's '15 Renegade 4x4 in the North American market is considered to have 2000# towing but in Europe the same vehicle gets closer to 3000#, so it's a distant third. In an ideal world I'd get the dry weight below 3000# but I know that's asking a lot. I expect to need a trailer brake controller at a minimum, and depending on the model possibly some kind of load-leveling or anti-sway. I have airbags in the Impala already and I could do something for the Frontier easily enough.

Basically I'm looking for information on what will survive gravel, dirt, and sandy forest-service roads along with crossing the occasional washout, while being loaded up for boondocking. Tent trailers and hybrids are out at this point, and unfortunately popup hard-side units don't seem to have as much in the way of bathroom facilities. Ages traveling will range from three to possibly 85 for on-pavement roadtrips. At the moment we're looking at 20' to 22' units, more of the taller suspension models. We've looked at Gulf Stream 18RBD (Envision series in particular), Forest River Wolf Pup 17JG and 18TO, Keystone Hideout 172TX Toy Hauler, and and Jayco Jayflight 184BS.

We also looked at Riverside Retro 135 and Braxton Creek Bushwhacker 17BH, the former was a little too small if we're going to have four people, the latter had its grey and black tank drains so low that I didn't see how they would survive leaving asphalt and gas lines and water lines ran along the bottom edges of frame rails and drill holes were visible through the floors from peeking my head down from the side, not confidence inspiring. Wife said the main "bed" converted dinette was incredibly uncomfortable too.

Suggestions and opinions on various manufacturers and their respective quality would be much appreciated. As expensive as these things are I don't want to buy something that'll fall apart on a light offroading trip.
TWX is offline   Reply With Quote
Join the #1 RV Forum Today - It's Totally Free!

iRV2.com RV Community - Are you about to start a new improvement on your RV or need some help with some maintenance? Do you need advice on what products to buy? Or maybe you can give others some advice? No matter where you fit in you'll find that iRV2 is a great community to join. Best of all it's totally FREE!

You are currently viewing our boards as a guest so you have limited access to our community. Please take the time to register and you will gain a lot of great new features including; the ability to participate in discussions, network with other RV owners, see fewer ads, upload photographs, create an RV blog, send private messages and so much, much more!

Old 11-28-2020, 09:10 PM   #2
Senior Member
 
tuffr2's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Palm Coast Florida
Posts: 9,147
Your best tow vehicle is the Frontier and do not go by the bogus tow rating. If you are going to to on a highway at 70mph more than a few miles you need to stay around 4,000lbs.

If staying on back roads towing at 45 to 55 mph you can tow maybe 5,500lbs with the Frontier.

I have a friend that bought a trailer with bunks to sleep a 9 year old boy. The boy did not sleep in the bunk as it was kind of like a coffin to semi quote him. He slept on the dinnette that had to be made and then un-made.

It will not be easy to find a trailer exactly what you describe.
tuffr2 is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 11-28-2020, 09:25 PM   #3
TWX
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2020
Posts: 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by tuffr2 View Post
Your best tow vehicle is the Frontier and do not go by the bogus tow rating. If you are going to to on a highway at 70mph more than a few miles you need to stay around 4,000lbs.

If staying on back roads towing at 45 to 55 mph you can tow maybe 5,500lbs with the Frontier.

I have a friend that bought a trailer with bunks to sleep a 9 year old boy. The boy did not sleep in the bunk as it was kind of like a coffin to semi quote him. He slept on the dinnette that had to be made and then un-made.

It will not be easy to find a trailer exactly what you describe.

What exactly causes you to doubt the towing capacity? I have a crew cab long wheelbase truck that has a factory curb weight of 4700# before I add the weight of the canopy and passengers. Wheelbase is the same as the crew cab Titan trucks, frame rail width is the same, and the D40 chassis was the biggest consumer-grade Nissan pickup outside of North America.
TWX is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-28-2020, 10:50 PM   #4
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Posts: 496
You'll want to look over here...


https://expeditionportal.com/forum/
__________________
35' 5th Customized -16"Frame -200gFW -120gBlack -120gGrey -2x8K TimbrenSTI -TusonABS -900AhFLA -3KVictronMulti+GX -2.4K Solar -ARPAlarm -Propex 2800
ALLOY is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-29-2020, 03:16 AM   #5
TWX
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2020
Posts: 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by ALLOY View Post
You'll want to look over here...


https://expeditionportal.com/forum/

Been over there. I'm asking you guys because your emphasis looks to be different, and because I'm curious about the quality of traditional travel trailer manufacturers versus the much more expensive trailers that are marketed as expedition trailers but whose quality may not match the marketing hype.


I also figured that for camping there would be people here that leave the pavement and don't always stay in developed campgrounds. This doesn't mean seeking out a challenging rock crawl or mud bog but I figure some of you probably have had to get a trailer through a bad spot, would like to know how that went.
TWX is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-29-2020, 06:01 AM   #6
Senior Member
 
cavie's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2018
Posts: 2,981


__________________
2011 Keystone Sprinter 323 BHS. Port Charlotte Fl/Hinsdale MA. Retired Master Electrician. All Motor homes are RV's. All RV's are not Motor homes.
cavie is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-29-2020, 07:19 AM   #7
Senior Member
 
ShelbyM's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2020
Posts: 207
Yes, payload is likely to be more limiting than tow rating. Several passengers, your canopy, whatever you carry in the bed plus tongue weight. Even aside from ground clearance, most mainstream travel trailers won't do well on rough roads, they just aren't designed for that.
ShelbyM is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-29-2020, 07:37 AM   #8
Senior Member
 
Kurtsara's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 744
Seriously, a Impala?
Kurtsara is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-29-2020, 09:32 AM   #9
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Oregon
Posts: 4,801
Add up your passengers weight and all the gear weight that would go in the Nissan then subtract that from the curb weight. Use CAT scales.
Thats what you have left for tongue weight. Stick with an Andersen WDH to save weight as well.
I towed a 21' 4050 lb loaded TT with a Frontier V6 AT and didn't like it at all. Handling was fine, it was the terrible mpg's and lack of power on anything not semi flat.

Something to think about is many times you'll be a ways from a fuel station when dirt roading it. With the Frontiers small gas tank you'll need to pack gas in cans.

As far as anything including the ones you listed being suitable for your situation goes, I wouldn't want to take any of them off road but on occasion. What you're looking at are entry level units. They build them with the cheapest stuff. Thats why they cost less.

None of them are anything near off roadable. Jacked up suspensions and 4x4 stickers do nothing for them. The components used to make the frame and suspension are low quality and will fail overtime.

There's lots of market hype for different trends such as Off Grid, Off Road, 4 Seasons, etc. Sometimes is validated, most times it's not.

My theory is that if you can take a Honda Civic down the road then it's suitable for an RV. Stick to very smooth dirt and gravel roads and those trailers you listed will work.

FWIW keep and eye on tank capacities. You'll want the biggest tanks when dry camping.
Cumminsfan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-29-2020, 10:16 AM   #10
TWX
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2020
Posts: 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cumminsfan View Post
Add up your passengers weight and all the gear weight that would go in the Nissan then subtract that from the curb weight. Use CAT scales.
Thats what you have left for tongue weight. Stick with an Andersen WDH to save weight as well.
I towed a 21' 4050 lb loaded TT with a Frontier V6 AT and didn't like it at all. Handling was fine, it was the terrible mpg's and lack of power on anything not semi flat.

Something to think about is many times you'll be a ways from a fuel station when dirt roading it. With the Frontiers small gas tank you'll need to pack gas in cans.

As far as anything including the ones you listed being suitable for your situation goes, I wouldn't want to take any of them off road but on occasion. What you're looking at are entry level units. They build them with the cheapest stuff. Thats why they cost less.

None of them are anything near off roadable. Jacked up suspensions and 4x4 stickers do nothing for them. The components used to make the frame and suspension are low quality and will fail overtime.

There's lots of market hype for different trends such as Off Grid, Off Road, 4 Seasons, etc. Sometimes is validated, most times it's not.

My theory is that if you can take a Honda Civic down the road then it's suitable for an RV. Stick to very smooth dirt and gravel roads and those trailers you listed will work.

FWIW keep and eye on tank capacities. You'll want the biggest tanks when dry camping.

This is helpful, thanks.

The build quality on the Braxton Creek unit was especially bad, noticeable just getting down on the ground next to it with the original purpose of inspecting how the grey/black tank drains were plumbed. It made no sense that they'd run the gas lines literally under the frame from the tongue all of the way back except for the speed and ease of assembly. I mean, that's the first place the trailer is going to contact if the tongue/breakover were to high-center!

One of the units we looked at is technically a light toy hauler, ~1000# capacity for a small side-by-side or a couple of ATVs. I'm now wondering if its trailer frame build quality is a little better than the purpose-built travel trailers, simply because it's expected to see a fair amount of weight in a single point.

Any thoughts on the relative qualities and demerits of stick-and-tin versus composite-sandwich construction of the body? If we get one I should be able to store it at home but I probably won't be able to put a solid cover over the top of it. It'll be either out in the open or else covered with a slip cover. A lot of what I saw on used RVs stressed the roof and seam seals as the biggest weak points leading to deterioration through moisture ingress. I like the idea of composite panels but since they still have corners to join they're not exactly free from concern.
TWX is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-29-2020, 10:58 AM   #11
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2018
Location: Beaver Dam, Wisconsin
Posts: 1,733
Lots of good experienced advice above. You may dis-believe some of the negative comments, but they are true. Buying a TT is gambling. There is always a possibility of getting a bad one. The cheaper one's have high probability of a dud.

TT's have poor reliability when towed on paved roads. Reliability drops fast on rough roads. Look for off road suspensions. They often have larger wheels and look higher than other TT's.

Using the TT dry weight is a waste of time. Dealers will use it to sell you a TT that is too big for you to tow. The dealer will disavow any responsibility for selling you a TT that is too big for your tow vehicle. He will make a bigger profit and salesman will get bigger commission.

Actual weight is what you need. Wherever possible get actual weights from a commercial scale. (Not a state highway weigh station.) You can fully load your possible tow vehicles and get weights. Use the weight stickers inside the drivers door frame to determine maximums.

Some stickers have a maximum towing capacity. You will never achieve the unspoken requirements behind that tow rating. Calculate your remaining cargo capacity as posted above. Use actual weight of fully loaded tow vehicle.

Tongue weight of the TT must be at least 10% of the TT actual weight. 15% is more stable and the actual tongue weight may be double the published tongue weight.

Since you cannot get fully loaded actual weight of the TT before you buy, use the "Gross Vehicle Weight" from the sticker on the left front side of the TT. There are exceptions to this for TT's with exceptionally heavy duty axles.

My experience has been that the cheapest travel trailers are not necessarily the lowest cost to own. Avoid Dutchmen and Keystone brands. Advertising and build quality are exceptionally bad. Odds would be against you.

I wish you good luck and happy trials ahead!
__________________
Paul Bristol
Kodiak Cub 176RD
Nissan Pathfinder 2015
Persistent is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-29-2020, 11:55 AM   #12
Senior Member
 
tuffr2's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Palm Coast Florida
Posts: 9,147
I googled off road campers. The campers that came up where the Airstream Basecamp and the Cricket.

What makes me think your 6,200lb tow rating is bogus is the payload on your truck. Look at the drivers side door jam and look for a yellow sticker that says 'Occupant and cargo should never exceed ◊◊◊◊ kilos ◊◊◊◊ pounds' That sticker allows you to tow a 6,200lb flat bed trailer with the cargo right over the axles. A flatbed trailer that will not catch much wind.

A travel trailer is the hardest type of trailer to tow. Even a boat would be easier.

I owned a Honda Ridgeline with a payload of 1,500lbs with a tow rating of 5,000lbs but that little truck could not tow a 4,400lb trailer comfortably on the highway.

I also have a friend that tried to tow a 4,600lb 7' wide trailer with a 2015 Toyota Tacoma. He said he did not like towing it. Now he has a bigger truck and bigger trailer.

If you have the $$$ to get a bigger truck it would not hurt to try the Frontier and see for yourself. You might say it is good enough, but my bet is within a year you will have a bigger truck.
tuffr2 is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 11-29-2020, 11:56 AM   #13
TWX
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2020
Posts: 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by Persistent View Post
Lots of good experienced advice above. You may dis-believe some of the negative comments, but they are true. Buying a TT is gambling. There is always a possibility of getting a bad one. The cheaper one's have high probability of a dud.

TT's have poor reliability when towed on paved roads. Reliability drops fast on rough roads. Look for off road suspensions. They often have larger wheels and look higher than other TT's.

...


Since you cannot get fully loaded actual weight of the TT before you buy, use the "Gross Vehicle Weight" from the sticker on the left front side of the TT. There are exceptions to this for TT's with exceptionally heavy duty axles.

My experience has been that the cheapest travel trailers are not necessarily the lowest cost to own. Avoid Dutchmen and Keystone brands. Advertising and build quality are exceptionally bad. Odds would be against you.

I wish you good luck and happy trials ahead!

It's not just a matter of disbelieving, I'm already shopping based on trailer GVWR, and trying to keep GVWR not only below the towing capacity of the various vehicles, but well below the towing capacity. Before I set foot into a trailer I'm checking the VIN and specifications tags to know if it's even worth my time. Ideally I'd keep trailer GVWR below 3500# both for strain on the tow vehicle and to make the unit less likely to bog down if a forest road turns to sand without warning. Given the 10-15% weight for tongue weight I know that also the lighter the trailer, the lighter the tongue.


I had thought the above was obvious, but I must not have been clear from the outset. I guess my frustrations were in that miscommunication. Obviously the trailer needs to be light enough, and obviously the salespeople earn their commissions on sales and may not steer a customer towards the right choices if they think the customer strongly wants something that's unsuited towards their tow vehicle.


I'll bear in mind your concerns for Keystone and Dutchmen. I'm not particular to any brands at all, figuring out what to generally avoid is helpful.
TWX is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-29-2020, 12:07 PM   #14
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2015
Location: Washington
Posts: 589
If you figure out how to make a lightweight trailer that is very robust, well built and inexpensive you will make a ton of money.

To make things lightweight you have to take out material somewhere. If you want durable the weight, type of material and cost go way up.

I am not sure what your capabilities are, but it sounds like you might be better off making your own. Finding an empty cargo style trailer the size that you want and then adding what you need.

Mine was larger, but that is how my first trailer was. I built mine to be convertible depending on what we were doing with it. I built a rail and rack system out of E-Track so I could have beds, tables, racks for SCUBA gear, or haul my ATV's. It was far from fancy but it worked well.
__________________
2016 Chevy 3500 DRW, crew cab (Soon to be 2014 Volvo 630).
2016 Fuzion 325T
675ah AGM, MSH 3012 inverter, 960w Solar.
Nwcid is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
rving



Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
On-off on off on off off off rear view camera Bahcml Newmar Owner's Forum 5 08-12-2019 11:44 PM
Thinking about getting back into the game Triboy Country Coach Owners Forum 2 11-21-2015 11:04 AM
Just getting into RVing mihiggie62 New Member Check-In 13 07-09-2014 02:08 PM
Getting back into RVing Borderbuster New Member Check-In 6 10-21-2013 08:41 PM
Finally Getting Back Into RVing Need Advice Traildust 5th Wheel Discussion 9 09-18-2012 09:41 AM


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 06:09 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2021, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.