You will probably not find EVERYTHING you want in a TT. Find your safe tow numbers and go from there. Once you find one close, think about having the dealer (or you guys) modify the unit to your personal preferences.
I noticed the Wildwood you picked out has a very high (dry) tongue weight compared to other similar and it is quite long at 35'. Just make sure your potential TV (no SUV) can handle it.
2011 F150 4x4 Ecoboost 6.5 SCREW 3.73 Max Tow
2011 Lacrosse 296BHS video tour
Me '77 DW '78
DD '04 DS '07
I think if you find a floor plan you like you will find the same or almost the same floor plan from several other manufactures.
if you look here you can shop floor plans from many makers.
and you, being from the Midwest may be able to take advantage of their prices?
Looked all around the various places about five years ago and had had my heart set for a fifth wheel with it more stable towing characteristics and we finally both found the one we liked real well.
Then the discussion of "what are we going to tow this with"...
The dealship insured us we have would have absolutly no problems towing this Flaggstaff 8528-RESS fifth wheel with our then owned 2004 F150 truck with the same options listed below with my present 2010 F150. I think the majic number for the fifth wheel was 8800lbs or something like that. My F150 was rated at 9100 lbs so I gave the go ahead to go with the purchase.
The dealership mounted the fifth wheel hitch and I already had 10-ply tires and air bags lifts. All looked great at the dealership after all was checked out and we was ready to roll down the road.
We left in a rain storm and headed for our house about 100 miles away and did just fine getting home. (even in a rain storm)... Was a first for me towing something that big...
Then after learning all we could about packing up and what to take camping etc we finally made our maiden trip to a local campground just an hour away and did just fine. I of course needed some more experience of backing into the camp spot but that would come with time...
Then about three weeks later we decided to make it to our usual camp site we really like to go to in the Gatlinburg TN area which had us going south on I81. My first big challange was getting up Afton Mtn on I64 and after I topped this mtn I commented that wasnt bad at all. It was up hill all the way and I did find out how well my truck pulled all of this up the hill and kept up with the traffic flow.
Then getting on I81 heading south we did great until we got to the Roanoke Mtns and made it up to top just great but then started the downhill side and was that a white knuckle trip. Right away I knew I was in trouble as the trailer took control on the down hill side and it "katie Bar the door" until we got to the bottom of the several miles down hill grade.
I pulled off into a truck stop turn area and got everything turned around and headed back for the house. Of course I had to do two more long grade down hill runs but finally got to see Fredericksburg VA coming up in front of us. Made it back to the house all in one piece and backed in my trailer and there it sits some five years later.
I know I chickened out on it and probably could have a done some changes to the truck to make it work and maybe learn better on how to come down a big hill but that was the way it ended for me and my "not enough Truck" for pulling the trailer safely.
We went and purhased the OFF-ROAD POPUP shown here in my profile and have towed it all over the VA country side, to the east coast, down to many of the states south, down to the gulf, and West as far as Wichita falls TX and Lawton, OKLA. As far north as PA... Never looked back haha... My POPUP weighs in at around 4200lbs when loaded down and has almost ZERO wind load behind my truck as I get 20-21MPG pulling this trailer when using Shell gasoline whether I am pulling the trailer or not. Even when my 2004 F150 needed replaced I still didnt get a bigger truck. My next Trailer will be something in the 21-24 foot size. With the ecomony the way it is I probably will keep the POPUP for several more years. Great gas mileage and I can still pull into a McDonalds and order a Big Mac at the drive-thru window for whatever that is worth haha...
Bottom line here is be sure you enough truck to pull the trailer of your dreams and don't listen to what the dealership tells you. All they want to do is sell trailers. Right now all of these LITE-WEIGHT trailers that are on the market says just about everyone one of them is 1/2-ton truck towable. I would really learn all of the ends an outs of that before buying.
The old school rule of thumb is still if the dry weight is around 5000lbs and the loaded weight is around 7000lbs then you have a pretty good shot of using a 1/2-ton pickup to tow them safely. Others will tell you different about what you can tow with a 1/2-ton truck but this is my story haha... It wasnt a safe experience for me to deal with while my family sitting in the truck.
Once you get one you cant easily get rid of it without taking a big beating.
We still just use our fifth wheel for our CAMP BACKYARD and camp in it quite regular. The Grandkids really have a ball in it when they spend the nights here with us...
I think everyone of the new JAYCO 2012 WHITE EAGLE line of trailers is rated to be 1/2-ton truck towable so the brochures say.
My Posts are IMHO based on my experiences - PM me Roy and Carolyn
RETIRED DOAF/DON/DOD/CONTR RADIO TECH (42yrs)
K9PHT (Since 1957) 146.52M
2010 F150, 5.4,3:73 Gears,SCab
2008 Starcraft 14RT EU2000i GEN
2005 Flagstaff 8528RESS
RV shows are good because you get to see multiple brands in one place. Bad side is they bring the ones they're trying to push, not necessarily the ones that are the best. My wife and I tend to RV shop spontaneously everywhere we go. Certain brands/models aren't available to us locally. We have an old one, but plan to buy a new one in the near future, so we "shop" constantly and all over the place when we can. Don't be in a rush and just keep saving while you're looking. It takes all the pressure off of it if you're not looking at a specific date to purchase.
Take your time. It's really hard to go back on this decision.
One suggestion I have, regardless of which one you choose, is to get the "add a room" for outside. It's a great way to add space when you have children. It also makes it easier to hang out after the kids are sleeping without worrying too much about waking them. Some places I can skip it and just hang out outside. But some places, and some times of year, make it difficult to hang out outside with the bugs. Just a thought.
We purchased a Zinger 32QB last year and absolutely love it. It has nearly everything you are looking for and is reasonably priced. It is a bit over 30ft and doesn't have the bathroom door (we wanted that too) but it has the rear bunkhouse which has 3/4 bunks and a dinette for the kids. The build quality is good and Crossroads is known for their customer service. It isn't light so you will appreciate a 3/4 ton truck to pull it but it might be OK with a 1/2 ton. You'll have to check the numbers.
Not sure of what size you are after but Sabre by Palomino has some layouts that I think would fit what you are after. We looked at them at the Omaha Boat Sport and Travel show last weekend and we really liked them. Forrest River has some in their Patriot series that looked like what you are after too.
Went to the RV show last weekend. It helped some. It's just hard to know how big is too big to tow in 2 years when we are ready to travel with it instead of parking it, and how small is too small when we are going to be in it every weekend plus a day all summer long....
I appreciate all of your advice-- it's very helpful. I am a chronic over thinker and I so feel like the pressure is on to get it right.
My wife and I like things simple, if something becomes too hard we change course and find a new route to the top.
Some of the new campers have more amenities than our home and the related maintenance and costs seems the opposite of easy. When we had the "wanting" to camp in the past we had a tent, now I like to get some sleep and a TC was enough for us to have a bed, stove and some place to protect us from the elements and give some privacy when "Going" in the woods.
We are now moving into a TT as we would like to take a few longer trips and our TC is limited for the 2 of us and our 2 mutts, we only had one previously.
I also knew we needed something our 05 Tundra could pull, cause I'm not getting a new truck, that's WAY OUTSIDE easy.
On top of "family" trips, the TT will be a ski trailer for some friends and I, 4 adults total.
We decided on a list for things we had to have VS want to have for our TT.
4 beds, stove, heater, bathroom (no shower), Kit sink, outside storage, ski locker.......
Outside BBQ, TV, Stereo, Converter/charger, LED and regular lights, 30 or 50 amp service, Clothes dryer.........
I'm going to go opposite of most on here and say DON'T buy too big of a rig that will be unpleasant to tow.
A TT is light years ahead of camping in a tent, but don't forget "we" have been "camping" for about 10,000 years and some things are a WANT not a NEED when picking out new RV's.
05 Tundra 4x4
1976' SIX PAC, cut to size and function.
$800 1977' Road Ranger, not yet road worthy (AUG '11')
You have a good idea of what you want in a floorplan, that is a great start. Make a spread sheet with the options you want and don't want across the top. Make sure you include things like GVWR of TT, sizes of all the tanks and tongue weight. Down the side list makes/models you like. THis will help to narrow down the search as it will rule in and out several trailers for you. As stated above, you need to sit in the TT as a family and imagine where everyone will sleep (where will you put that pack n play, some put it on the folded down dinnette), where will you put everything (ie moms clothes in that cabinet, dishes go here, kids toys there etc). This will help you with storage ideas. We found the drawers under the dinette a must for us and DDs inside toys and books go there. We looked for every nook and cranny to be able to store stuff. We found the Zinger to have a good amount of storage in the trailer and the pack n play option is great for carrying the outside toys and chairs etc. Not so good for the bikes that they advertise. We carry the bikes on the TV (on a bike rack w/ the old armada and in the bed w/ our F250).
As to worrying about length and weight. What will you be towing with? It is important to understand exactly what your TV's capabilities are when shopping for a TT. I know you said it will be sitting at a permanent site for 2 yr and then it will be getting towed places. Do you have a TV or will it be towed to the permanent site for you and then you will buy a TV down the road? In order to properly match the TV to the TT, you need to understand that dry weights (UVW) and the posted Tongue weight (TW) numbers are useless. YOu will never tow a dry or unloaded trailer. The safest thing to do is to use the TT's GVWR when looking at weights because you shouldn't go over that number. To figure the tongue weight, figure about 13-15% of the GVWR. Then you need to look at your TV, what is your specific model (with your engine and rear axle ratio) rated to tow? Look at the sticker in the door to find your TV's available payload. This # will only include an allotted 150 lbs for a driver. You can either weigh everything that will be in your TV (family, pets, gear etc) and subtract that from your payload # on the door to get the available payload. Or you can load your TV up for camping w/ all the gear and family etc you plan to have in it, fill up the gas tank and go weigh it at a truck scale. Subtract this # from the TV's GVWR to get your available payload. The payload number is important because it will tell you what your TV can really handle in TW or pin weight (if you get a 5er). Most 1/2 ton SUV's and trucks run out of payload before they run out of towing capacity. This is why many will recommend a 3/4 ton TV. It is not always necessary to have a 3/4 ton TV depending on the weights of your TT and capacities of your TV, however as your family grows your TV's payload will diminish.
You are like us, you are shopping w/ a long term plan. We shopped w/ a 10 yr plan. We wanted room in case we had another kid or for friends to come along as DD got older. Two things you will absolutely want w/ small kids, a tub in the bathroom and an outside shower for those really muddy or sandy kids.
Some trailers to look into: Crossroads makes a great product. I have the Zinger and love it. I have friends w/ the cruiser 5er and love it. They have great customer service and a 2 yr warranty (not all trailers have a 2 yr warranty, many only have 1 yr warranty). The zinger is a reasonably priced trailer. Without knowing your tow capacities, the ZT26BH sounds exactly like what you are looking for. The ZT28BH has double bunks on top and bottom.
Also check out Primetime. They also have a 2 yr warranty and good customer service. We had the primetime tracer on our short list. Although it is the Avenger that appears to have a floorplan you will like.
Most of all take your time, we researched for a year before buying our TT and it paid off. We have had our TT for a year. We went to a show in January and did not see a thing we would have traded in our trailer for. Happy hunting!