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Old 10-22-2011, 01:01 PM   #1
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Need help picking a trailer and SUV to tow with

Hi,

I live in Seattle and love to camp, but tent camping is not that fun 9 months out of the year here (rainy, cold). So I'm looking to get a trailer and something to tow it with. I'd like a SUV (with three rows of seats) as I have kids.

I know nothing about trailers or towing vehicles, so I'm looking for resources to learn from.

Random things:
  • It's wet in Seattle. i don't have a coverered garage. Will leaving the airstream outside be a problem?
  • I would like one full length (double or queen sized bed), plus room to sleep two more people (the second bed should be at least six feet)
  • Do trailers come with a generator? Or is that something generally purchased later? I'd love to be able to work (with a laptop) in a quiet environment in the woods.
  • If I buy used, what should I be looking for? Is there any advantage buying from a dealer?
  • For a family of four with the above sleeping arrangements, what's the smallest trailer that would be comfortable to spend weeks in?
  • I'm assuming newer trailers are generally nicer than older ones, but are there any other advantages to buying a newer trailer? Would they be much lighter and easier to tow?
  • Would something other than an airstream be better suited for my needs?
  • Is there anything else I should be considering?

Thanks,
Joe
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Old 10-23-2011, 03:30 PM   #2
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I think one should look at tow vehicles and trailer concurrently, with more emphasis on your trailer needs, perhaps, then get the right vehicle fit.

As to what trailer to buy, on this forum the answer is going to be Airstream! Airstream! Airstream!

Trailers do not generally come with a generator.

If you want a queen-sized bed, I believe the 27' is the "smallest" trailer that comes with QSB. My Flying Cloud is 27' and has the queen "island" bed, meaning you have access to both sides of the bed which is nice when it comes to making the bed and not disturbing your bed partner getting in or out. I like my floorplan because it is an actual bedroom vs. a "sleeping arrangement." I even have room in one corner for a small canvas dresser bureau with a T.V. on top. The trailer sleeps six all together.

I also live don the wet coast. Someday I hope to have a metal RV shed for my trailer; in the meantime, it lives outside. No problem - just make sure you are vigilant for leaks. I have coated my trailer with Walbernize Supershield and will soon be applying Boeshield to the outside panel edges for added protection. I am really impressed with the Walbernizing; the rain doesn't even bead on the trailer.

I am a part-time writer so also need my laptop while travelling. There's nothing like writing outside; the AS has an outside electrical outlet. However, if you're boondocking, you'll only have limited battery power unless you have a generator. If I'm writing inside, I usually do it at the dinette table. Not the quietest place unless you're travelling alone; again, my bedroom would have room for a very small computer table and chair.

As to buying new or used, it's akin to buying a house. If you have the time, knowledge, and patience, buying used or a fixer-upper isn't as daunting. I had little time, no knowledge and absolutely no patience so bought new with the extended warranty. So, I have a good support system for the next four (or is it six years?) I'll have to look that up.

Old or new, Airstreams are easier to tow than the other white-box trailers. That was also important to me. Going down the freeway on my recent first trip, I hardly noticed it behind me. However, they are heavier than I thought. My 1/2 ton truck was straining going up a steep, long, mountain incline. Make sure you know the payload of your potential towing vehicle so you can match that to your trailer.

Since you have kids (and wrote you need three rows of seats) another option may be a Class C motorhome. I decided against as I like the idea of setting up a "base camp." With a motorhome you either have to take it with you wherever you go, or have to tow a car for detached sight-seeing/day trips. I know a guy with kids and a Class C. As soon as they get parked somewhere, the kids want to go and see something. Hey dad! Can we go to the waterslide park? So, he has to disconnect, put dishes away etc. A "PITA" according to him.

Anyway, if you love camping....go for it. Trailer or motorhome - you'll definitely get more use out of it than a tent. I just came back from the Cascade Mountains; was chilly, but was comfortable and warm in my Airstream cocoon. I loved it. Hope to get another trip in before winter.
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Old 10-23-2011, 05:27 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joevandyk View Post
It's wet in Seattle. Would something other than an airstream be better suited for my needs?
In my limited experience . . . yes.

Airstreams like mine are prone to leaking, hiding their leaks, and hiding the damage caused by the leaks. I like the looks of Airstreams. They're sure pretty sitting in front of the shop. Inside storage would help a LOT!
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Old 10-23-2011, 06:37 PM   #4
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Joe, a few thoughts/questions:

- Any idea what your budget is? You could go out and buy a new Dodge Durango ($38k or so) and a new 23FB Flying Cloud (shortest AS with a queen bed, around $52k haggled price new) - but $90k is a long way from avoiding a tent.

The budget can majorly affect if you'll be going new or used AS and tow vehicle.

- Have you tried RVing? One of the best things we did was to buy a relatively cheap used trailer and try this out first. We resold the trailer, without taking much of a loss, and then moved on to our vintage trailer.

- Have you been to an AS dealer (or any other RV dealership, or RV show)? Spending time wandering around RVs really speeds some of the decisions on what sort of space and floorplan you want.

Tom
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Old 11-06-2011, 10:17 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joevandyk View Post
Hi, I live in Seattle and love to camp, but tent camping is not that fun 9 months out of the year here (rainy, cold). So I'm looking to get a trailer and something to tow it with. I'd like a SUV (with three rows of seats) as I have kids. I know nothing about trailers or towing vehicles, so I'm looking for resources to learn from.
Random things:

It's wet in Seattle. i don't have a coverered garage. Will leaving the airstream outside be a problem?
I would like one full length (double or queen sized bed), plus room to sleep two more people (the second bed should be at least six feet)
Do trailers come with a generator? Or is that something generally purchased later? I'd love to be able to work (with a laptop) in a quiet environment in the woods.
If I buy used, what should I be looking for? Is there any advantage buying from a dealer?
For a family of four with the above sleeping arrangements, what's the smallest trailer that would be comfortable to spend weeks in?
I'm assuming newer trailers are generally nicer than older ones, but are there any other advantages to buying a newer trailer? Would they be much lighter and easier to tow?
Would something other than an airstream be better suited for my needs?
Is there anything else I should be considering?



Thanks, Joe
Joe you are doing the right thing by asking before buying, of coarse like others I am going to say Airstream, not because this is an Airstream site but because of other reasons such as wear, durability, value, ease of tow, storage, etc.
Q1-An AS being outside wont have the problems because Alum does not rot, granted they are prone to leaks but not any more than any other type of trailer that sits in the weather and is a used unit.
Q2 You will most likely want to stay with at least a 28, but a 30/31 would be best because it is large enough for both the adults and kids, Some come with twin beds some with queen, all if not most all have a couch that folds down into a another bed big enough for 1 adult or 2 kids. Also with the 30/31 it leaves enough room for a cot or 2 to be placed for extra sleeping room. Some 31s have a dinette which also add to sleeping accomodations. 1 thing you want to ask yourself with having kids "is there enough room for the kids if it rains/storms.
Q3 No no towable comes with a generator unless it is something that was installed after purchase by another owner, and really not a good idea anyways because of noise and smell from exhaust and gas. in most cases you should have hard line power but in the event you dont then a generator is the next thing unless you install solar. As far as the computer you can get a 100 watt inverter and run your computer right off the battery on the trailer or even from your vehicle. Some have a 110 plug from the trailer batts that will run things like ph chargers and laptops.
Q4 When ever possible if you have the funds dealers can be good because they make sure everythings works or can repair most anything that dont. Open your search to more than your local area because you may save money as well as end up with a better unit. buying direct from the owner gives you the advantage of knowing how the trailer was taken care of.
Q5 Family of 4 anything above a 25, me personally I would always rather have more than I need and not use it as not have it and need it. I would say a 28-31 footer, can be pulled with most vehicles especially the newer vehicles such as the F150 with tow capacity of 10,000 lbs. As far as tow vehicles with 3 row seating, unless you get into the larger SUV's most of those are not going to have the needed tow rating, of coarse you can make any vehicle hook up to just about any trailer but safety is the next question, otherwise you dont want to pull a 8000lb trailer with a mini van or small suv that is rated at 4000 lbs because they are just not made for that weight in pulling, stopping, wind, handling.
Q6 As far as new vs used, most in here as well as myself will tell you that with used all the bugs have been worked out. I consider the older ones to be better than the new ones, the new ones just dont seem to have the quality issues and I find that not only with Airstreams but will all manufacutuers. It will all come down to what you can afford and what you want.
We started out with a 31, downsized 1 size then went back to 31 and now we have a 35 as we have 3 sometimes 4 grandkids that travel with us when we go. In the 31 we had the rear twins where the wife and I slept sometimes and the 2 girls on the couch folded down with 1 the boy on a cot, sometime the wife and I would sleep on the couch, 1 kid on each twin with 1 on air mattress on the floor between.
If you can do a new vehicle take a look at the F150 crew with eco boost engine and a topper, then a 28 or 31 AS trailer used. There is a really nice 31 Excella that would fit your needs that just came up for sale here near me for 8500.00 negotiable.

Sarge
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Old 11-06-2011, 11:40 AM   #6
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Help picking trailer

Our guideline as to the number of people an RV can sleep applies to trailers, Class A mohos, boats and tents. We learned it with tents years ago and it seems to work:

First take the advertised number and divide by 2, as in "sleeps six' means 6/2=3.

Then subtract 1 for inclement weather, tents, adult family members or casual acquaintances - to follow the above: 6/2 = 3 - 1 = 2. (Can be ignored for small children, if required/desired. Large dogs do not count.)

This quideline never fails and has been known to prevent a lot of difficulties on the road.
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Old 11-06-2011, 12:00 PM   #7
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Joe,

Everybody has a different answer for their needs. You didn't say how many kids or how old they are. There are personal limits to how much you can spend. You didn't say what time of year you want to camp.

You will have to make beds each day if you are using the dinette or a sofa for sleeping. That gets old for some people, but not for everyone. Queen beds are available on 23's, 25' FB, and up. At least one version has a king, I believe. If you have lots of people and you plan staying out more than a few days, you will need lots of storage for clothes and food, so a longer version may work best.

Only the larger ones have true sofas. The gaucho sofa is simply a bench with a back that gets wider for sleeping. I think you will have to look hard at the specs for all the trailers to find one with a 6' long bed. RV beds are smaller than the ones you buy for your home, so check specs on the Airstream website and then go to a dealer and measure.

Airstreams are 3 season trailers. Insulation is not good and windows are single pane. It can work ok for several days in temps down in the teens, but you will use a lot of propane. The Pacific coast is fairly mild in winter, so camping on the coast is possible.

Some people will tell you to get a diesel tow vehicle for a larger trailer. It is not necessary because modern gas engines have plenty of power. A large SUV will have less payload than a comparable pickup with a crew cab, but you seem to need seats for 4 or 5 kids. If you buy an SUV, you may not want to bring a generator and gas can inside it though some do.

Look to see if there are any RV shows and go there to look at all brands. Go to Airstream dealers and check out all the models. Read books on RV'ing and, of course, browse this forum to learn more. Airstreams are not for everyone and your needs may or may not fit. It will take research and thought to come up with what is best. There inevitably be compromises.

And, welcome to the Forum.

Gene
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