Hello. I'm sure you all get this a lot but I was hoping you could help my family narrow our search for a new travel trailer.
I've spent hours reading posts on the forums (extremely informative) and have learned a lot. We have also spent several weekends looking at dealerships in the area which helped us figure out exactly what are needs are.
We are a young family, two little girls one is 20 months, the other is 2 months. We're planning on keeping this for awhile so need something that will grown with our family.
- at least two bunks and a queen bed for us
- Full slideout, we want as much open floor space as possible for our two little movers and shakers
- Lightweight, the goal is under 5000 lbs. Our current TV will have no problems but we are looking at eventually getting an SUV, a Tahoe or something similar and want to make sure we can pull it.
- My husband would prefer a fiberglass exterior, but we're willing to look at aluminum, if we can meet our weight goals.
At the moment we are leaning towards the Keystone Passport 2650bh, but recently saw a Shadow Cruiser for a lot less money and I have to say its an attractive alternative. I'm wondering if anyone can give me any information/opinions on the Shadow Cruiser travel trailers, or can reccomend any other trailers that we should be looking at.
Any information you can offer is greatly appreciated.
I might be biased but I'd throw a vote out there for the Passport as well. Also, how tall are mom and dad? The full-size queen (80x60) in the Passport is roomier than the short-queen (74x60) in the Shadow.
The Passport 6-gallon water heater will run on either or both of gas or electric. The Shadow's appears to be gas only. This will matter more as the whole family starts needing back-to-back showers/baths.
The Passport has an enclosed and heated underbelly. Can't tell if the Shadow has that or not - it might. That matters if you camp in cold weather when freezing water lines could be an issue.
The axles on the Passport are spread apart wider than on the Shadow. This makes the passport more towable as it distributes weight better once you load your gear in. On the side of the Shadow, having closer axles means a few more options for gadgets that stabilize the trailer when camping.
Also, both units have an aerodynamic front cap. But the one on the passport is a bit more aggressive - probably ever so slightly better for fuel economy.
Otherwise, from what I can tell, they are fairly comparable units.
2011 Keystone Passport 3220BH GT Ltd. Edition
2012 Chevrolet Silverado LT Crew Cab 4x4 w/6.2L and Max Tow Pkg
2002 Chevrolet Suburban LT/Autoride & AirLift air springs (Traded)
Reese Strait-Line WD with dual-cam sway control
My blog - www.CampDestinations.com
Hello and welcome. You need to think about what your needs and wants are. You have started doing this but a few more things you need to do. Think about how you will use the TT. Will you be camping in mountains or flatlands or both? Will you be traveling tight twisty roads or major highways? Will you be staying in RV parks, national forests, state parks, or boondocking (off the beaten path, no campground, no amenities, no hookups type place)? What seasons and temperatures will you be camping in (this tells you if you need a 4 season trailer)?
Next spend some time sitting in various TT's as a family and pretend to do daily activities. Have mom cook, dad watch tv, walk to the bathroom, kids playing, if you have a dog think about tripping over it. Will the kids have space to do activities (ie play with any toys) on a rainy day? Where will you put things (ie moms clothes in that cabinet, pots and pans in this cabinet, toys in that drawer, chairs go in this compartment and so on). The more you see yourself using this TT the more you can narrow it down. We were able to automatically eliminate anything without dinette drawers and overhead storage. We wanted an L shaped countertop (think about cooking space when pretending to cook). Think about holding tank sizes for those water/electric type sites.
Once you start to have a list of must haves and must not haves, start a spreadsheet w/ these things across the top and the make/model down the side. We were able to drop from about 4 pages of TT's to 2 trailers pretty quickly this way. Pay attention to things like length of warranty (some companies like crossroads and primetime and maybe jayco offer a 2 yr warranty while others only a 1 yr warranty). Pay attention to customer service rep as most trailers will need some sort of warranty work. For this, you can check out owners forums. If you don't see a direct link from manufacturer website, then just google brand x owners forum. You will find them. This helped steer us to our crossroads zinger. They have a great customer service rep and provide a nice TT for a reasonable price.
You will get recommedations for everyone's favorite brand of TT as most on here have one and just like ford vs chevy vs dodge, you are gonna see lovers and haters of every brand. The reality is all have good and bad TT's.
In terms of weight, are you asking for 5000lbs gvw or 5000 lbs dry weight? I haven't seen any models in what you are asking for with a 5000 lb gvwr. Most have a 5000+ dry weight and a 7000-8000 lb gvwr. That could work with some but not all suv's as you will be limited by those suv's payload (check their inside door sticker). You could look into a 3/4 ton suv when you shop and that would allow you to get what you want. You are wise to be looking to the future knowing that you want an suv for your family and getting what you want will be doable with the right combo, the trick as you are finding, is getting the right match TV and TT. I don't want to suggest brands/models until I better understand what you are looking for. Happy hunting.
Hate to break this to ya WIgirl...but that Keystone Passport will weigh close to 7200 lbs when loaded for camping...the weight 4876# listed on the Keystone website is just the dry weight as shipped from the factory!
And the SHadow Cruiser (260BHS?) of the same floor plan weighs a whopping 7540 lbs loaded.
Think smaller and lighter. This Jayco Jay Feather Ultra Lite 228 with smooth exterior is under 5000 lbs when loaded for camping, hard walls, 2 bunk beds, queen bed for you guys, really big "U" shaped dinette. No slideout however...but roomy floor plan. 25'9" length.
The other option is an "expandable"...solid walls, and 3 fold down tent end queen sized bunks (one for each kid and one for you guys), with all the stuff such as furnace, Air Conditioning, enclosed roomy bathrooms, kitchen, dinette slideout, etc...all the ammenities of a travel trailer but the Jayco Jay Feather Ultra Lite X23F and only weighs loaded for a trip 4995 lbs, and 24'7" when traveling.
Just giving you something to think about. Alternatives that are light weight but well made, and all the comforts of home., and easy to tow.
Most brands have simular RV's with floorplans like these Jayco's... Such as KZ, Rockwood Roo, Heartland, Crossroads, etc.
My posts shouldn't be taken for factual data. They are purely fictional, for entertainment purposes and should not be constituted as actually related to scientific, technical, engineering, legal, spiritual or practical advice. Amen.
You'll hear folks say "purchase your second trailer 1st" so we skipped the smaller used trailer and went for the 30' new trailer. Couldn't be happier. Check out the North Trail 28BRS (that's what we purchased for our family of five). Two access doors, bunks in the rear, slide and nice queen size bed up front. Like anaro mentioned above, decide how you plan to use the trailer and it'll help you decide what you need.
We towed the TT 1 year with a 2007 Ford Expedition but decided to upgrade to our Dodge Ram 2500 Mega Cab. It tows much better and the Mega Cab provides lots of room for the kids. The Expedition towed okay on flat land but we live by the rockies and now really enjoy towing with the Cummins diesel. The Heartland North Trail is nice and was priced well. We bought ours from a local Colorado dealer. Below is a link that shows some pictures. I recommend it. Plus it weighs close to what you were looking for. http://www.rvwholesalers.com/inventory/view.php?ccode=132009402356666
Thank you so much for responding, I wanted to get on and reply before my kids wake up, my hands are full once that happens.
As far as weight, the truck is able to handle towing 7600 lbs, but my husband is pretty meticulous about our vehicles (especially his truck) and doesn't want to make it "work too hard", hence the dry weight goal of 5000 lbs. A new TV is still several years away, but we would definitely take the trailer into account when shopping for that.
In any case, we are planning on sticking pretty close to home. We usually don't travel more than an hour or two away, so it will be almost exclusively highway travel, no mountains or rough terrain. Additionally, we usually camp with our extended families in campgrounds so water hookups are available. The one exception would be once a year during hunting season, my husband is hoping to take the trailer up North and "rough it" for a week by himself. However, even then, he would probably fill the water tanks at his uncle's place then drive just a few miles to his final destination.
Once again, I want to thank you all for taking the time to respond. You have already supplied us with a lot of good information (love the spreadsheet idea, I don't know why I didn't think of that)and will definitely take a look at some of the other models suggested.
General rule of thumb is your gross weight on the trailer, should not exceed 80% of the towing capacity of tow vehicle. Above that 80%, can make an unpleasant, possibly unsafe towing experience, and the truck will work very hard.
The Passport 2650BH has a gross weight of 7200 lbs. That is 95% of your tow capacity. Gross weight on the Shadow Cruiser is 300 lbs more. With 7600 lbs capacity, your 80% number is around 6100 lbs, fully loaded.
You mentioned hunting in northern Wisconsin. If that is deer season, it can get a bit cold. In your search for a trailer, you will want to find out about tank heat (holding tanks are useless when frozen). RV manufacturers use varying degrees of tank protection and they all call it "heated tanks". Some only enclose the underbelly, some enclose the underbelly and run heating ductwork near the tanks, some enclose underbelly and run heating ductwork near the tanks with heated air blowing in tank area, and some do all of the above with electric heat pads attached to the tanks. Forest River (Flagstaff, Rockwood, Surveyor, etc) is one who does the electric heating pads. Keystone (Passport) does not install the electric pads.
If the salesman says tanks are heated, ask him to explain (in detail) how they are heated.
GVWR is less important than dry weight. A family will load the same amount of stuff in any RV, about 1000-1500 pounds. 300 pounds either way will not be perceptibly different when it comes time to tow. Pick which one you like better.
I always liked the Passport 2650 and Shadow Cruiser 260 floorplan. Perfect for a family of 4 with occasional guests. I really like my 2nd door and bath entrance though, and it makes more sense with 3 kids for single over double (or double over double). As delivered 5500 pounds dry and longer, but light tongue weight. The Shadow Cruiser has a little larger tanks, which is helpful for Michigan state parks that tend to have only electricity hookup.
A & A parents of DD 2005, DS1 2007, DS2 2009 2011 Suburban 2500 6.0L 3.73 pulling 2011 Heartland North Trail 28BRS 2012 VW Passat TDI
I have a 2012 Passport 238MLWE, which is a non-slideout bunkhouse (queen, 2 bunks). I tow it with a 2003 4x4 Tahoe with the factory tow package and 3.73 gears, and while towing the experience is generally pleasant, I'm not sure I would go much heavier or longer with the trailer unless I went to a Suburban or pickup truck, or at least got the 6 speed transmission. I have the 5.3L engine with the 4 speed transmission but I tow it a lot in the mountains. It has the engine power but the spacing between 2nd and 3rd gear is uncomfortably wide. (I use tow/haul mode). It needs a gear between 2nd and 3rd to offer comfortable long uphill pulls. I can stay in 3rd on most hills if I hit them above 60 mph, but if I need to slow down below 55 and hold a hill it will downshift to second gear and it gets really loud. It will shift into 4th on the flats but any small uphill grade or headwind and it's back into third, so I usually keep it in 3rd and keep the speed between 55 and 60. It is quite comfortable and happy on the flats. My transmission temperatures haven't gone over 185 yet according to my scangauge. I don't drive above 65 while towing because of the maypop Chinese tires the trailer came with, they are only rated to 65.
My trailer has a loaded weight of 4300 pounds on the trailer axles, using a WD hitch with sway control. The Tahoe is well within the GAWR on both front and rear according to my local scale, and the spread axle design seems to keep the sway pretty minimal while in the wind or being passed by semis, but if I was going to go to a heavier or larger trailer I'd want the extra wheelbase of the Suburban for additional stability, or I'd at least spend a lot of money on one of the expensive super hitches like the Hensley.
The Passport series just has enclosed underbelly and relies on the furnace ducting to keep the tanks warm. The fresh water tank in mine is under the bed in the cabin. You could probably install an aftermarket tank heater if you wanted to, but I'm not sure I would really want to do extensive winter camping in mine with or without tank heat. The aluminum frame is just behind the interior walls and I get condensation on the walls where the studs are located if it is really cold outside and humid inside. I solve that by running a small 120V dehumidifier when I winter camp, but that requires electricity. Mine also has single pane windows. The Passport series has nice features for the price and is really light weight, but there are downsides to that. I'm happy with mine for what I use it for, but you may not be.