Been lurking for the last month or so. Coincidentally, that's also about how long we've been looking to move out of the tent to a trailer for this summer's camping adventures. I need some suggestions on what the experts around here would recommend for us as a first trailer.
Here's our situation. I have a GMC Yukon XL with a tow capacity of 7700 lbs. with the autoride air shock towing package. I want to come in well under (half?) that. Family is myself, wife, and two young boys, 10 and 8. We like to get out into some remote areas once in a while, so we really like the idea of a smaller trailer for ease of maneuverability. Don't want a pop-up (I'd just stay with the tent for that) or canvas hybrid. Trailer is for the typical self contained things like sleeping, light cooking (not about to give up my dutch oven over the coals), bathroom for the wife, etc.
What have we looked at so far? Oh, in my mind just about everything! My problem is I'm always concerned about quality of construction, and I hear all the issues that go along with this material, that roof, wood vs. aluminum, fiberglass or gelcoat, stick that insulation where the sun don't shine- I hope you get the idea. I know there's going to be maintenance involved, but I hate buying something that is going to be a problem sooner rather than later. Oh, I also buy to hold, not to sell in the near future. So I like things that last. What's the life expectancy of a trailer, anyway? Feel free to slap me upside the head on my logic on that one. I can handle it!
So that's my story. My preference right now is for something rather simple, 20 feet give or take, slide out not really necessary. I know the boys will grow fast, but then I'll just boot them outside anyway (what, you think I'd sell the tent? Haven't you been paying attention?). Floor plan is a bed for the wife and me, and bunks would be really good for the boys. If a sofa or dinette is convertible for when grandpa wants to tag along, great. Not a deal breaker (he snores too loud anyway and the bears might think he's one of them). Don't care if it's a walkaround bed since we're moving from the tent and I'll just make her sleep on the climb over side. Boondocking/dry camping ability is a major plus because I'm sure I'll have to avoid all of you because you'll be sick of the newb with all the questions and want to chain his axle to a tree.
Please recommend away! New, used; we're up for anything the experts here suggest. Well, almost anything. Some of the things I've been suggested to do were rather rude. Most of the time when that happened I have to admit my wife had a point, though.
TL;DR Help a family of four with a small trailer suggestion!
Go with 80% of your towing capacity with that truck and get as large a TT as you can afford. 20' is really small for four. I would look for something lightly used so you can get a feel for what your getting in to without paying the 'new' premium.
I can see your lurking has served you well. You understand your tow rig and what size of a TT would serve you well.
Since you appreciate the value of a quality rig, I would suggest any of the products made by Northwood or sister company Outdoors RV. We had our Arctic Fox 22h for eight seasons and it was the perfect little trailer for us. The boys were 6 and 4 when we started in 2000 so it took awhile to outgrow before we bumped up to a slightly larger with slideout. I would suggest having at least one slide out as the extra inches do make a difference.
Please add your general location to your profile. What works well in the gulf states could be all wrong for the pacific northwest.
2009 Komfort 256TS
2001 Dodge Ram 3500 QC 4x4 Cummins DRW
2005 Dodge Durango Limited AWD HEMI
2001 Sebring Convertible
1995 Miata M-Edition
1 Wife 2 Boys UW & Bellevue College
1 Trixie (Bichon Frise)
Only 23 years to retirement!!!!
Our 21 foot Forest River Surveyor is going into its 9th season and has been great. We finally had to do some repairs last year, it had a water leak in the front window (which I would recommend NOT getting a front window if you have the option), but that has been the only issue we've had with it. Ours has the U-shape dinette with a drop down table that turns in to a basically Queen size bed. Bunks in back, double bed below and twin above. Yes, we have to go through the "effort" of dropping the dinette, but it makes a huge bed that we improved the comfort of by adding a 2 inch memory foam pad when we sleep. Plus, on many trips we only plan on sleeping in the camper, so we just leave the bed setup the whole time.
The U-shaped dinette is great when we do use it. Plenty of room for 4, and easily handles 6 if needed, especially for games if it is raining. I did add a third leg to it for extra stability.
Our kids have grown up and we aren't camping nearly as much. When we do camp, the sleeping arrangements are myself and son on the dinette bed and wife and daughter on bottom double bed. Being teenagers, son and daughter would have a heart attack if they had to sleep in the same bed, lol. We also bring a tent most times with us, son or daughter will many times use the tent if they bring a friend along.
Now the upper bunk is only used for storage. It is quite nice to have that huge "shelf" there!
Friends of ours have a Jayco 19 foot that is laid out really nice, bunks in back (double bed bottom, twin on top) and a fold out couch in front that is really comfortable and almost enough room for two people - so for one person it is great. It also has a small dinette that can be dropped for a small bed.
The Jayco has aluminum sides, which I think I would prefer. The Jayco also seems to be a bit better built than ours.
Some other things to check on with campers - spare tire! Not all of them come with one. Power system - Our Forest River has an automatic inverter/converter: it senses if we are plugged into "shore power" (30 amp electric hookup at a campground or our house), and automatically switches from battery power to shore power... and then charges the TT's battery. Many, if not most, TTs have a similar power supply, but you should check when you are looking at campers exactly what kind of power supply it has and how it works. You may have to look up this information on your own, the dealer may or may not know what you are asking about.
Okay, I'll stop for now... I could go on forever with what you "should" buy! Have fun!
2008 F-250 CrewCab 5.4L,
2004 21' Forest River Surveyor