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Old 02-22-2021, 08:07 PM   #1
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Under 3,500lb is a minefield for a newbie!

Hi all,

I'm living in NJ and looking to buy our first trailer. It will be for myself, my wife and daughter (and occasionally we'll bring our miniature schnauzer if the neighbors don't want to keep him!)

Ideally, we want a queen bed and either another bed (permanent) on one side or a bunk perhaps. The prerequisite is that it needs to be under 3500lbs because I will be using my wrangler to tow it.

I guess I'm looking for advice. I've seen so many online that fit the bill but I can't determine what's going to be the best option. Things I've looked at so far -

Sonic Lite SL 1469VUD (the con is that I can't find a dealer near me to check one out!)
Winnebago Micro Minnie 1700bh (Quality looks good, but it looks very small?)
Starcraft Autumn Ridge 171RD (again this looks like good quality but without the slide out is it very tight?)
Shasta 18BH (I'd never heard of these until I started researching, considering the low price I'd be nervous of quality?)
Jayco 184BS (I've seen this brand around a lot but dont know anything about them)
Salem FSX 179 (I like the idea of the murphy bed and the double bunks. It gives us the option at night of pulling down the bed or crawlin into sleep with our daughter and makes daytime much larger? Or am i missing something)

Then there is Forest River, who seem to have LOADS of brands that would work. On a strange scale we have the E-Pro which doesn't have bunks but a full size queen at one end and a convertible large dinette at the other, which could work?

I have seen a couple of models which come in at just 3513lbs UVW. However, that is over the recommended 3500lbs from Jeep. Does this matter from a safety and insurance POV?

Finally I was drawn to the NOBO range, but I think it's just because they look cool. The 16.6 satisfies the need but is it good? No Boundaries NB16.6 | Forest River RV - Manufacturer of Travel Trailers - Fifth Wheels - Tent Campers - Motorhomes

I know this is a terribly long post but with the closest RV centres about 50-100 miles away, and in addition they only stock certain items I'm really at a loss. Where the heck do I start? What am I not considering? Any advice

Thanks in advance, I'd appreciate all the guidance.
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Old 02-22-2021, 09:33 PM   #2
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Have you looked at pop-ups? They are easy to tow and some of them come fairly full-featured. Otherwise, drive as far as necessary to see the models on your list in person. Also, keep in mind brochure UVW or dry weights are a fiction. Look at the actual weight stickers on the trailers at the dealerships.
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Old 02-22-2021, 09:37 PM   #3
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A Jeep Wrangler is a popular vehicle for people who drive motorhomes because it can be easily towed flat. It's not a great tow vehicle. I have a couple of Highlanders, one was rated for towing 3500 pounds the other for 5000. We towed a 5x8 cargo trailer to haul astronomy and camping gear and used it as a bedroom at the campsite. The Highlander did fine with a 1300-1400 pound load. The wind profile of a full size travel trailer is a lot for a Wrangler. If it is limited to short trips at slower speeds you may be ok. If you plan on going 65 mph down the Interstate you may be putting the family at risk.

Look at the payload sticker in the door. Figure out how much you, your spouse, child and and any other gear weight and subtract that from the payload sticker. That is you limit on tongue weight on you tow hitch. My first Highlander had a 350 pound hitch limit regardless of payload. The 2nd had a 500 pound limit. My payload limit was about 1150 pounds.

A pop-up tent camper may be ok with a smaller vehicle. A full size travel trailer needs at least a half-ton truck to do the job well.
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Old 02-22-2021, 09:42 PM   #4
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Under 3,500lb is a minefield for a newbie!

Many issues here that you will need to work through before you go too far. All/most of these focusing on towing and not the TT brand. Recommend you visit the Trailer Towing section and download a few of the towing calculators in the ‘stickies’ section. If you are limited to 3,500 lb towing capacity on the Jeep, bear in mind this is based on one driver that is only 150 lb weight. All else deducts from this including passengers, cargo, Schnausers, etc. Next is the Jeep’s payload capacity as printed on the yellow sticker on your door frame. That payload capacity includes passengers, cargo in Jeep, etc. BUT it also includes the tongue/hitch weight of your prospective Travel Trailer (TT). For stable towing, that must be a minimum of 10% to 15% of the total (gross) weight of the TT. 10% ok for flat loads like flatbed or popups; 12%-15% for wind-catching TT. You must also check the rear axle capacity of your Tow Vehicle (TV), but I am guessing that shouldn’t be a problem for a Jeep. For these reasons, I think you will end up being only around 2,500 lbs max for an unloaded vehicle weight (UVW) or “dry” weight of TT. And mfr listed brochure UVW are notoriously advertised on the low side and actual weights could be hundreds of lbs heavier due to options and option packages. To be safe, you might want to stick around 2,000 lbs, or a midsize popup or small teardrop. My 12-ft Coleman popup has an UVW of 2,000 lbs without toilet/shower, awning, microwave/oven, overhead cabinets, etc.

Finally, remember that RV dealers out and out lie to your face as to whether or not your TV can tow such and such TT in order to make a sale.

Be careful and buyer beware.
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Old 02-22-2021, 09:56 PM   #5
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Popups like Rockwood and teardrop trailers are about the only thing you could safely pull with a Wrangler. Wheel base is too short to pull just about any of the trailers you mentioned. No way to control sway of any full size trailer.

This is the likely result:
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Old 02-22-2021, 10:44 PM   #6
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Also consider the total frontal area limit for the trailer being towed. I found a reference for Wranglers that states 25 square feet for 2 door and 32 square feet for 4 door models.

A six foot wide travel trailer with a 6 foot high front wall is 36 square feet.
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Old 02-22-2021, 11:02 PM   #7
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We LOVE Jeeps!

We have 4...

We have, and tow a 2018 Wrangler behind our RV..... (look under the bumper)

So I don't say this lightly......

The Jeep Wrangler might be the WORST vehicle in the world to use to tow a pull trailer with... PERIOD!

Sorry but it's true. If you are serious about getting a pull trailer and don't want to endanger your wife or child. Forget about using the Wrangler to tow.

For arguments sake, If you want a REAL family friendly trailer, start with a real truck. Skip the mid-size Gladiator's, Tacoma's, Rangers. and go to the F-150 or Ram 1500 series trucks to start. Even then you will have limitations with what you can get but. at least you will be safe.

Like everyone said above, the largest you want to go is 80% of the max number, that is the standard for almost everyone on here. By the time you add clothes, food, camping gear, and fill the tanks you will be near the max weight. Some go over and have to purge stuff. Many like stick to the 80% number.... fully loaded. Get the right tool for the job.

(Click picture to enlarge)

Good Luck!
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Old 02-23-2021, 06:42 AM   #8
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cooper man, have you tried perusing through the Expandables, Hybrids, & Lightweights Discussion forum?
Seriously, I owned a 1999 TJ and I could never recommend anyone tow any type of TT, it’s just to much air displacement behind that Wrangler.
There are some great pop-ups out there built for off-roading that will better fit the roll of a Wrangler or purchase something to tow the Wrangler.
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Old 02-23-2021, 07:38 AM   #9
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I tried to tow a mostly empty aluminum living lite camper (no bathroom, no propane one battery) with my 2015 JKUR. I had to keep it in 3rd or 4th gear to TRY to maintain 65mph. I could not do the speed limit.

Get a pop-up or a truck.
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Old 02-23-2021, 08:03 AM   #10
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You really need to get out a test drive any new truck. Just to see how nice they ride. Since you do not have a truck I would look at the hard sided 'A' frame campers like the 'A' Liner. But Rockwood probably makes a better version of the 'A' Liner. These are 'A' liner type campers. They fold down so you are not pulling a big sail through the air.Click image for larger version

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Old 02-23-2021, 08:06 AM   #11
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All harsh but true comments. If you really need to prove it to yourself go rent a small trailer this spring and try it. This is a pretty useful forum, best to consider the information.
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Old 02-23-2021, 09:00 AM   #12
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This is all incredible advice people! Thank you for your honesty and being so straight forward.

The good news is, all is NOT lost :-)

So my wife's car is due for replacement in May (she has a Tiguan) we were considering replacing with a Q7 or a Atlas both of which have towing capacity of over 5,000lb.

However, given your feedback, I think it would be wise to stick within the same weight range of 3000-3500. We will have the dog, bikes, a small grill, bedding, BEERS etc. Before you know it we'd be up at 4,000?

I'm going to take a look at extendables and hybrids. I've been conscious of the comfort in them, am I wrong?

Any thoughts on the preliminary list?

I can see myself getting addicted to this forum lol
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Old 02-23-2021, 09:25 AM   #13
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A bit of advice from a former newbie.....published dry weight it very misleading. Most trailers have a weight at the VIN where the trailer was weighed when it left the factory. This doesn't include battery or propane. My trailers published dry weight was 2700 weight on the VIN tag was 3076....that is with nothing in the trailer and no battery or propane.
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Old 02-23-2021, 10:40 AM   #14
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Totally ignore DRY WEIGHTS numbers.
Only number to look at is GVWR of trailer.
By the time you load up, you will be close to that number.
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