We owned a slide in camper several years ago, a Six Pac that went from a Ranger to a Toyota to a Nissan Hardbody, 4 cylinder automatic. We sold it when the kids got too big and the storage became an issue. Bought for $400, sold for $400 after 15 years.
We did some tent camping in the intervening years, but the DW decided, after borrowing my cousins Class C, that she would no longer sleep under canvas on cots.
The appropriate solution for us seemed to be a TT, since I have a ½ ton Silverado. I began scouring Craig’s List, RV trader, Ebay and anywhere else I could to locate the appropriate size trailer. I knew with 6300 lb tow capacity I wanted to try to stay at 5000 lb loaded trailer, 4000 lb empty.
I couldn’t find a used unit with the size and weight I wanted, but there were several new trailers that met my wants and needs, including the Shadow Cruiser S-260 BHS, Coachmen Apex 26BHS,Heartland Edge EDM22, Crossroads Slingshot GT29BH, R-Vision Trail Sport29BHSS and Forest River Surveyor Sport 280. Unfortunately I couldn’t find any for sale near me (Anaheim, CA), and I need to put my hands on something like that before buying.
Eventually I found this site and my dreams were dashed. As I read the responses to others regarding how much to tow I realized that I must be being unrealistic to believe I could tow anywhere near the capacity GM specified for my truck. After some of the responses I wasn’t even sure I should tow an empty U-Haul. I did find a few contrary opinions, but wasn’t sure that was adequate. After all, the RV dealer would send me out with anything on their lot. Maybe the contrarians are dealers.
One thing that really worried me was all the talk about using the GVW for the trailer and ignore empty weight. Well, the trailer I was considering has a GVW of 7405 lbs, 1100 lbs more than my towing capacity. But with an empty weight of 4255 lbs, that means a cargo capacity of 3150 lbs! I can’t imagine carrying that much stuff in anything but a toy hauler. I have seen other trailers with GVW over 7000 lbs with cargo capacity less than 1000 lbs, and I knew I could stay below 1000 lbs of stuff, so I decided to ignore that advice.
I mentioned about the Six Pac on the Nissan. I recalled that the camper was probably too heavy for that truck, but we had hauled it over the Rockies to South Dakota and back, besides numerous trips over Cajon and Tejon passes. We just had to slow down a little over some hills and shift down. That truck died at about 305,000 miles, and then only because my son ran it out of oil. If I am under loading the Silverado, and caring for it like the Nissan, I should have few problems.
Then I remembered the story of my parents. In 1951 they drove to California from Indiana towing a 28 foot trailer with a Dodge. A car, not a truck with a flathead 6, and probably no newer than 1948. If they could get from Crown Point to Pasadena with that rig, why couldn’t I tow a 5000 lb trailer with a 295 horsepower ½ ton pickup truck, with a 2.73 rear axle, heavy duty tow package and 1577 lb cargo capacity.
In the mean time a local dealer received a Shadow Cruiser S-260 BHS. Based on dealer locators on the manufacturer’s web sites the only other likely candidate in my short list was the Forest River Surveyor Sport 280. The DW and I went to see the Shadow Cruiser and immediately knew that it would work for us. Unfortunately it was already sold, and being readied to ship to Australia.
The Shadow Cruiser dealer told me they had another on order and would call me when it came in, I continued to look for another suitable trailer, I had just learned I would be able to go on the multi-family vacation that we take most years and needed to arrange lodging.
Two weeks before departure for the trip, on a Thursday, I was called. The trailer was in. I went to look at it that evening and signed the papers, arranging for pick up one week from the following Saturday, I had lots of preparations to make.
I replaced my P rated truck tires with LT 10 ply rating tires and found a storage yard. With the DW and DD we purchased linens, dishes and accessories for the trailer. From years of camper and tent camping we have plenty of pots, pans and cooking utensils that are dedicated to camping. There is a whole story to tell about the hitch, but this is too long already. Suffice it to say I got a Reese Dual Cam. I also made chocks and cut some 2x8’s for leveling and 4x4’s for blocks under the stabilizers and tongue jack.
We arrived at the dealer at 8 am Saturday morning to see our trailer ready for delivery. The service tech ran us through operation of all the equipment and gave a few pointers for happy rving while another tech installed the P2 brake controller. I had previously made arrangements to install the hitch in their service yard after the PDI, but when we hitched up the trailer it barely dropped the rear due to the low 405 lb tongue weight (10%.) I was comfortable towing it the 12 miles to our house the way it was, and more comfortable installing the hitch at home than in their yard.
With no sway control or weight distribution the empty trailer towed and tracked very well behind my truck. The engine definitely was working harder than empty, but I saw no real problem with that. At home I installed and adjusted the Reese while my family loaded in the items we had dedicated to the trailer, and then I set out again.
My plan was to visit a scale near the dealer and get some baseline numbers for the trailer and truck. Unfortunately, every freeway was stopped that Saturday afternoon. After crawling along the primary and 2 alternate routes for 2 hours I turned around. I had reserved a site in a campground 5 miles from home, so headed for there.
The DW was at a friend’s for this part of the adventure, so I was alone setting up the trailer for the first time, probably for the best. After setting up some friends arrived for a trailer warming, then a few more friends. Finally the DW arrived and saw the fully set up trailer. That night we had time to test everything on the trailer, but I forgot to turn on the water heater and we didn’t try the antenna.
We packed up Sunday morning, confident that all would be well when we departed on our one week trip in just 5 days.
What I took from the forum is: Use LT rated tires, get a WD hitch with sway control, you can make your own chocks and leveling pads, insist on a PDI when you pick up the trailer. What I figured out on my own: use the truck manufacturers weight ratings, and start with empty trailer weight plus a reasonable amount for loading, don’t necessarily worry about trailer GVW. Don’t ignore it either.
Bruce and Jennie
2012 Shadow Cruiser S260-BHS
2007 Silverado CC 1500 4.8L 3.73
I loved the intro and lessons, learned. It sounds like you'll have a lot of fun with it all.
I have to say I agree on the GVW of the trailer. My trailers GVW is 600lbs more than my max but I know I'm not loading it anywhere near that rating.
As far as the anti sway it's already built into the Reese Dual Cam.
Good luck and have fun in your new trailer.
1996 Suburban 4x4. 350, 4.10 3/4 ton
2005 Jayco Jay Flight 27BH
1986 Coleman Columbia Popup.
Nice write up. I agree with you on the TT's GVW. Our TT is 6189lb dry and 7200lbs loaded, with a GVW of 8400lbs. No way would just the wife and I haul 2300lbs of stuff, so we also ignored the TT's GVW and just used our previous experience for figuring how much we would take.
Congratulations and enjoy. I loved your comment, "After some of the responses I wasn’t even sure I should tow an empty U-Haul." The weight police will do that to you. If you haven't already done so, get to the scales and get your numbers. You know what you're doing.
2010 Sabre 30BHDS: 10 gal elct/gas dsi, 15k a/c, 1.5 bath, high fidelity package
2010 GMC Sierra 2500HD 4x4, 1 dog, 1 wife, 2 kids, 2 cats
To Open Spaces, I guess I wasn't clear, I chose the Reese dual cam to get weight distribution and sway control. I just think that's why it tracked so well on the trip.
To MitchF150, you have a different truck, that's why my lesson learned is look at the manufacturer's ratings for your vehicle. I ran the numbers and knew that I would be well below the 80% rule for towing, but would be above 90% of my GCVWR and GVRW. I am still comfortable towing that way, it seems you are, too.